A Spirit of Adoption

From Horae Homileticae (1832)

Eunuchs and strangers were disqualified by the law from entering into the congregation of Jehovah (Deut. 23:1-8). But God promises, under the Christian dispensation, to admit all without any exception, provided their dispositions and habits be such as he approves. Yes, God himself will “bring them to his holy mountain” (Heb. 12:22), by sending his shepherds to search them out, and to bring them upon their shoulders rejoicing.

Moreover, God will “make them joyful in his house of prayer.” This is a blessing experienced by none but those who are truly upright. In the house of preaching indeed, the vilest hypocrites may be delighted (Ezek. 33:30-32): and it would be well if the undue preference given to preaching, and the late attendance at public worship, observable among religious professors in the present day, did not give reason to fear, that their religion is in their ears only, and not in their hearts.[1]

Certain it is, that, among those who are truly upright, such conduct would be abhorred. They delight to draw nigh to God, and to pour out their hearts before him: and this, not only when some fluent person is exhibiting his gifts, but when the prayers of our Liturgy (better than which were never composed by mortal man) are offered up in the presence of the congregation. The man that has not his heart in tune for such prayers as those, has yet to learn what his wants are, and what should be the posture of his soul before God. To the penitent and contrite soul they will often be as marrow and fatness; and to join in them will be the most sublime pleasure he can enjoy.

While they “draw nigh to God, God will also draw nigh to them,” and will “manifest his acceptance” of them by some special tokens of his love. In former times he often testified his acceptance of the sacrifices by sending fire from heaven, to consume them upon the altar. Now he will do the same, as it were, in a more secret way: he will send his Spirit into the soul as a Spirit of adoption, he will “shed abroad his love there,” and will fill it with an abundance of grace and peace.

Charles Simeon (1759-1836) was an English cleric, the most prominent evangelical Anglican leader of his time. He served Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge for 43 years, converting thousands of students, and inspiring many to ordained ministry, especially in the mission field.  He helped to organize the Church Missionary Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society. His great work was the Horae Homileticae, a sermonical commentary on the whole Bible. He is commemorated on November 12 on the calendars of several Anglican churches.

[1] Simeon, who served Holy Trinity, Cambridge, here reflects the distinction between attending a sermon but not attending the church’s liturgy (most likely Morning Prayer and Ante-Communion), the sermon being popularly considered more entertaining or engaging than the act of worship.


Online Archives