Suffering Attends God's Children
Romans 8:17
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him…

In the text itself there are two general parts considerable — the supposition and the inference. The supposition that is in these words, "If so be we suffer with Christ." First, here is the condition of God's children considered absolutely. And that is, that it is a state of suffering, "If so be that we suffer." Many are the troubles of the righteous. Not to stand upon the proof of that by testimony, which experience does so frequently evidence, we may take some account of it in these particulars. First, there is somewhat for it in their nature, which they have in common with other men (Job 5:7). But, secondly, not only so, but more particularly which is founded in grace, and that holy profession which they bear upon them. First, I say, the malice and hatred of the world. Those whom men hate, they will afflict and disturb, if it lies in their power. Secondly, there is also the goodness of God, and His wise providence towards His servants, which has an influence hereupon likewise. God will have His people here in this world to suffer for divers reasons. As, first, for the trial and exercise of their graces. Secondly, God orders afflictions to His children, thereby to wear off that rust which is in them, and to take away their defilements from them, as it is in Isaiah 27:9. Thirdly, to wean them from the world and an inordinate love of these things here below, and to make them more willing to be gone when He calls for them. Lastly, in Fatherly discipline, to keep His children regular and in good order, and to prevent them from worse things to come (1 Corinthians 11:32). The consideration of this point may be thus far useful to us. First, as it serves to teach us patience under those trials which God at any time in His providence exercises us withal. Secondly, we learn hence also to expect it and to prepare for it. Thirdly, we learn from hence also to take heed of passing rash censure either upon ourselves or other men, occasionally from these conditions. Now the second is, as it is considerable relatively; and that is, that it is a suffering with Christ. "If we suffer with Him." This they are called, first, from that mystical union which is betwixt Him and us. As by virtue of this union, that which is His, is ours; so, by virtue of the same union, that which is ours is also His. Secondly, by way of sympathy and compassion, we suffer with Him, and He suffers with us, in a suitableness and correspondency of affection. Thirdly, the sufferings of God's children are called the sufferings of Christ, forasmuch as it is He that strengthens them and enables them for to suffer them, and as we suffer by Him. With Him; that is, with His assistance and through His enablement, and by power communicated from Him. The godly have a supply from Christ for the enduring of that which they endure. And their sufferings are in that respect His. Fourthly and lastly, and principally, they are the sufferings of Christ, forasmuch as they are in Christ's cause, and for the particular things which He suffered; that is, indeed, for righteousness sake, and the doing of that which is good (thus Psalm 38:20; 1 Peter 3:17, 18; Matthew 5:11, 12). This teaches also Christians not to rest themselves contented in this, that they suffer, but to observe both how and what they suffer for. What they suffer for as to the cause of their suffering; and how they suffer, as to the manner and carriage of their suffering — each of which have a necessary influence upon this business of suffering with Christ, and are most requisite ingredients to the making and constituting of it. The second is the inference in these words, "That we may be also glorified together." First, to look upon this passage according to the exclusive emphasis; and so I say there is this in it: that there is no coming to glory but by suffering. Suffering it is the beaten path to glory, and that common road which all take that come to that end. Now there is a various account which may be given hereof unto us. First, that herein we may be conformable to Christ our Head. Secondly, suffering goes before glory, thereby to set a greater price upon glory itself, and to make it so much the more glorious. Thirdly, that so by this means He may in some manner fit us for glory, and prepare us and dispose us thereunto (Colossians 1:12). But against this may be haply objected that there are divers of the children of God, and such as we have cause to hope well of, who yet have a very quiet and comfortable life, wherein they meet with little sorrow or trouble at all. And how, then, is this so generally true whereof we now speak? To this I answer, that the providence of God is very mysterious in this particular in His different carriage to different of His servants here in this life. And that with some it fareth better than others in this respect. But yet there are none but in some kind or other, at some time or other, in some sense or other, have the experiment of this truth upon them. Sometimes the servants of God are more troubled with inward conflicts than with outward afflictions. Sometimes, again, God afflicts them in others, though not immediately in their own persons, which yet, notwithstanding, according as they improve it, proves an affliction unto them. As Esther mourning for her people and kindred while she was herself in great prosperity; and Nehemiah, for his brethren's captivity, when himself was in great favour. But then, further, this is that which all God's children do in a manner prepare for, and so dispose themselves as to make account of it. And it is their wisdom so to do. As a man that takes a journey by sea, he may chance to sail, it may be, without storms, in regard of the event; but yet he expects them, and makes account of them, as incident unto him. And so must Christians in this sea of the world. Now the second is that emphasis which is inclusive. "If we suffer with Him, we shall be also glorified together"; that is, the one it shall certainly follow upon the other. Wherein, again, there are two things further considerable. The one is the conjunction of conditions, and the other is the conjunction of persons, in reference to those conditions. First, here is the conjunction of conditions: glory joined with suffering. Christians that suffer in this life, they shall be glorified in the life to come. So after that He hath called them to suffering, He does at last bring them to glory. This He does in His infinite wisdom and goodness, and as carrying a special comeliness and congruity with it (as 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8). As there is a beauty in all the works and ways of God besides, so amongst the rest also in this. Look at those who have had the greatest pleasure and delight in sin, they shall hereafter have the greatest punishment and vexation. There are three considerations especially which are matters of great supportment and satisfaction to God's children in suffering. First, the comfort which they have in it. As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. God's children have never more embracings and cherishings from Him than at such time as they are under greatest afflictions. As the mother tends the sick child especially, and is most fond of that. Secondly, the benefit which they have by it or from it; that is another thing here considerable. Thirdly, another encouragement is the glory which comes after it (Matthew 19:28; 2 Timothy 2:11, 12; 2 Corinthians 1:7). Where still we must observe and remember this: that it is said, "If we suffer with Him." It is not suffering considered indefinitely that does entitle to glory. First, not mere suffering in a way of common providence, which even a natural man may do. Secondly, not suffering in a way of public, justice, which an evil man may do. Thirdly, not suffering neither with murmuring and repining. There may want glory as to either of these things. The second is the conjunction of the persons in reference to these conditions. Believers are joined with Christ, and in particular joined with Him in glory. This phrase of "together with Him" does imply divers things in it. First, conformity. "We shall be glorified with Him"; that is, we shall be like to Him in glory (thus John 17:22). Secondly, concomitancy. "We shall be glorified with Him"; that is, we shall be joined to Him and present with Him in glory (John 17:24; 1 Thessalonians 4:17). A concomitancy both of fate and of time, there and then. Thirdly, conveyance or derivation. "We shall be glorified with Him"; that is, we shall be glorified from. Him. His glory shall reflect upon us and be transmitted to us. We shall shine in His beams. Affliction, it is such a condition as is irksome to flesh and blood, and we all by nature are ready to shrink at it and at the thoughts of it; but grace is much satisfied about it. God will at last make all His children amends for any troubles which here He lays upon them. Heaven, it will swallow up all.

(Thomas Horton, D.D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

WEB: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him.

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