Be you therefore followers of God, as dear children;
I. WHEREIN WE ARE TO RESEMBLE Genesis The context mentions one thing in particular, viz., pardoning and forgiving the wrongs done us by others. We need not confine our thoughts, however, to that only. In Scripture we are pressed to follow God in two things — in holiness and mercy. Well, then, let us now state the matter.
1. Negatively. This following and resembling of God standeth not in His natural, but moral perfections. God doth not say, Be ye strong, as I am strong, or, Be ye happy, as I am happy; but, Be ye holy, as I am holy; merciful, as I am merciful. Our loss by sin is more in point of goodness than of power and knowledge.
2. Positively. The chiefest excellencies are —
(1) His holiness.
(2) His goodness. "God is love."
2. He hath given us the example of Christ, or God in our nature, who came for this end and purpose, that we, who cannot fathom the unsearchable depth of the Godhead, might see the Divine perfections shining forth in the human nature of Christ, who was the character and express image of His Divine glory (Hebrews 1:3): Christ was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Hebrews 7:26). They that cannot directly look on the sun may see the motion of it in a basin of water. To express an image, there must be similitude or likeness, and a means of deduction or conveying the likeness.
II. WHAT PROVISION GOD HATH MADE THAT WE MAY BE FOLLOWERS OF HIM.
1. He hath given us His Word to stamp His image upon our souls.
2. He hath given us the example of Christ, or God in our nature.
3. He hath given us His spirit to change us into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). None else is able to renew us to the image of God, there being such an averseness in man's heart, which cannot be cured by our bare thoughts.
III. I PROVE THE POINT BY THESE REASONS.
1. This image of God was our primitive glory and excellency. "Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness." (Genesis 1:26).
2. This is the effect, of our new creation and regeneration; for it is said (2 Peter 1:4), that to us are given exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the Divine nature, Nothing so like Him as the new creature.
3. This is that which we hope shall be completed in heaven, and therefore it must be endeavoured here. "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2; Psalm 17:15). The heaven that we look fro' is such a vision as maketh way for assimilation, and such an assimilation to God as maketh way for complete satisfaction and blessedness in Him.
4. We must not omit the argument of the text — "as dear children"; wherein two things are considerable.
(1) The relation;
(2) The love that accompanieth it.
1. The relation. Ye are children. Children usually resemble their parents, either by nature, in the lineaments of their face, or by institution and education, in the quality of their minds. It may fail there, but it always holdeth good here; for none are God's children but those that are like Him.
2. The love that accompanieth and goeth along with this relation — "as dear children."(1) There was a great deal of love showed in giving us our new nature in regeneration, and taking us into so near a relation to Himself as that of children (1 John 3:1).
(2) There is a great love and tenderness exercised towards those that are in this relation. They are His "dear children," and they shall know it by His fatherly dealing with them.
(3) The more like to God we are, the more dear we are to Him, and the more amiable in His sight; so that you are not only loved, but lovely.
(4) Our chief worship of God consists in imitation; not in contemplation or admiration only, or in bare praise and adoration, but in imitation, when we study to be like Him. Now to this end —
1. Get a due conception of God.
2. Esteem these things as amiable. We can neither praise, nor love, nor imitate, what we do net esteem. Is holiness the glory of God? and will you either scorn it in others, or neglect to get it yourselves?
3. Desire God to change your natures, that you may bear the image of the heavenly One (1 Corinthians 15:49).
4. Bewail your imperfections, and come nearer to your Pattern every day.
(T. Manton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;