Romans 8:17
Moses displayed a beautiful absence of jealousy when he cried, "Would to God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them!" His wish is realized under the Christian dispensation, where "the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." This gift is the fulfilment of Christ's promise that his disciples should not be left "orphans," and our investiture with his Spirit is a testimony to the efficacy of the work of Christ. The Spirit operates silently but powerfully on the heart; though unseen, his presence is most real. Science acquaints us with subtle forces that work on matter. Place a bar of steel in the magnetic meridian with the north end downward, and, if struck with a wooden mallet, the bar will be magnetized. ]No outward difference is perceptible, yet the particles have assumed a uniform direction, have acquired new properties. So does the Spirit impart a new tendency, a new nature, and the whole man is changed. The Spirit works not like the influences of our environment from without inwardly, but from within outwardly.

I. THE LEADING FOR WHICH THAT OF THE SPIRIT IS SUBSTITUTED. It is called "self," or "the flesh," where the inimical power of the great adversary is the chief factor. The aim of the life may not be clear to the man possessed. He may seem to have no definable object of pursuit; led on now by one impulse, now by another, its force and persistency varying in all degrees. Some rely on their own native wisdom for the steerage of their course, others are governed by the maxims and customs of the society in which they move. The "spirit of the age" is a prevalent controlling force. In proportion as any one goal is kept in view, and "reached forth to' perseveringly, is the man esteemed strong and successful. And the Christian is strong according to the heartiness and fidelity with which he surrenders himself to the guidance of the Spirit. He acknowledges that "it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."

II. THE ROAD TRAVELLED UNDER THE GUIDANCE OF THE SPIRIT. It is a heavenward journey; the affections are "set on things above." It begins with taking up the cross to follow Christ, and implies self-denial in order to please God. It is a pilgrimage. This world is not our rest, or our final home. It involves a warfare, for many foes beset our path, and there is no turning aside to By-path Meadows for the man under the influence of the Spirit. How the natural life is glorified and transfigured by this conception of the unseen hand impelling us! No man is ever harmed by the Spirit's leading, and if he falls into a snare it is because he has mistaken the Divine indications of his route.

III. ASCERTAINING THE MIND OF THE SPIRIT. We are not led blindfold and irresistibly; the reason is illumined, the emotions are quickened. All that strengthens the spiritual life contributes to the clearness with which we recognize the Spirit's prompting, and to the readiness with which we yield to his gentlest touch. Prayer keeps open the communication with the spiritual realm. Ask for guidance before, not after, commencing an enterprise; nor expect the Holy Spirit to come in as a deus ex machina to rectify your errors. Compare your judgment and conduct with the precepts and principles of Scripture, and with the example of good men, especially of Jesus Christ. We are taught in his school. Like an artist intently studying some work of genius and imbibing its spirit, so meditate on Christ till you catch his enthusiasm for goodness and consecration to the will of God. Make the most of the seasons when you are blessedly conscious that you are "in the Spirit," be it on "the Lord's day" or any other. It is sin that darkens our spiritual perceptions, as some accident to the body may blunt the finer sensations, may dull the hearing and dim the sight.

IV. THE FAMILY LIKENESS WHICH THIS GUIDANCE IMPARTS. The Spirit of God enables us to realize our sonship. Hatred and disobedience and fear are exchanged for glad communion and willing service. We become increasingly like our Father, like our elder Brother Christ, and like the rest of the redeemed children. It is not identical sameness, but similarity, which results. Members of the same home may differ much in exact lineaments, yet the stranger can discern a family likeness. By his Spirit is the Saviour preparing his brethren for their heavenly home, to enter with intelligent zest into its enjoyments, the society of the angels and of the blest, into holier worship and higher service than we can render here. - S.R.A.







And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.
It is not easy to imagine a more cautious, lawyer-like record than that of Lord Eldon's, "I was born, I believe, on the 4th of June, 1751." We may suppose that this hesitating statement refers to the date, and not to the fact of his birth. Many, however, are just as uncertain about their spiritual birth. It is a grand thing to be able to say, "We have passed from death unto life," even though we may not be able to post a date to it.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

God Himself is His greatest gift. The loftiest blessing which we can receive is that we should be heirs, possessors of God. The text tells us —

I. NO INHERITANCE WITHOUT SONSHIP,

1. The lower creatures are shut out from the gifts which belong to the higher forms of life, because these cannot find entrance into their nature. Man has higher gifts because he has higher capacities. In man there are more windows and doors knocked out. He can think, and feel, and desire, and will, and resolve; and so he stands on a higher level.

2. And so Spiritual blessings require a spiritual capacity for the reception of them; you cannot have the inheritance unless you are sons. Salvation is not chiefly a deliverance from outward consequences, but a renewal of the nature that makes these consequences certain.

3. But the inheritance is also future, and the same principle applies there. There is no heaven without sonship; because all its blessings are spiritual. It is not the golden harps, etc. that makes the heaven of heaven; but the possession of God. To dwell in His love, and to be filled with His light, and to walk for ever in the glory of His sunlit face, to do His will, and to bear His character stamped upon our foreheads — that is the glory and the perfectness to which we are aspiring. Do not then rest in the symbols that show us, darkly and far-off, what that future glory is.

4. Well then, if all that be true, what a flood of light does it cast upon the text! For who can possess God but they who love Him? who can love but they who know His love? How can there be fellowship betwixt Him and any one except the man who is a son because he hath received of the Divine nature, and in whom that Divine nature is growing up into a Divine likeness?

II. NO SONSHIP WITHOUT A SPIRITUAL BIRTH.

1. The Apostle John, in that most wonderful preface to his Gospel, teaches that sonship is not a relation into which we are born by natural birth, that we become sons after we are men, and that we become sons by a Divine act, the communication of a spiritual life, whereby we are born of God. The same apostle, in his Epistles, contrasts the sons of God who are known for such because they do righteousness, and the world which knew not Christ, and says, "In this the children of God are manifested and the children of the devil" — echoing thus Christ's words, "If God were your Father, ye would love Me: ye are of your father, the devil."

2. Nothing in all this contradicts the belief that all men are the children of God inasmuch as they are shaped by His Divine hand, and He has breathed into their nostrils the breath of life, But, notwithstanding, it still remains true that there are men created by God, loved and cared for by Him, for whom Christ died, who might be, but are not, sons of God.

3. Fatherhood! what does that word itself teach us? It involves that the Father and the child shall have kindred life, and that between the Father's heart and the child's heart there shall pass answering love, flashing backwards and forwards, like the lightning that touches the earth and rises from it again. A simple appeal to your own consciousness will decide if that be the condition of all men. No sonship except by spiritual birth; and if not such sonship, then the spirit of bondage. You are sons because born again, or slaves and "enemies by wicked works."

III. NO SPIRITUAL BIRTH WITHOUT CHRIST. If for sonship there must be a birth, the very symbol shows that such a process does not lie within our own power. The centre point of the gospel is this regeneration. If we understand that the gospel simply comes to make men live better, to work out a moral reformation — why, there is no need for a gospel at all. If the change were a simple change of habit and action on the part of men, we could do without a Christ. But if redemption be the giving of life from God, and the change of position in reference to God's love and God's law, neither of these two changes can a man effect for himself. No new birth without Christ; no escape from the old standing-place, "enemies to God by wicked works," by anything that we can do. But Christ has effected an actual change in the aspect of the Divine government to us; and He has carried in the golden urn of His humanity a new spirit and a new life which He has set down in the midst of the race; and the urn was broken on the Cross of Calvary, and the water flowed out, and whithersoever that water comes there is life, and whithersoever it comes not there is death!

IV. NO CHRIST WITHOUT FAITH. Unless we are wedded to Jesus Christ by the simple act of trust in His mercy and His power, Christ is nothing to us. We may talk about Christ for ever. He may be to us much that is very precious; but the question of questions, on which everything else depends, is, Am I trusting to Him as my Divine Redeemer? am I resting in Him as the Son of God? Ceremonies, notions, beliefs, formal participation in worship is nothing. Christ is everything to him that trusts Him. Christ is nothing but a judge and a condemnation to him that trusts Him not.

(A. Maclaren, D.D.)

We begin in order with the privilege itself, which belongs to God's children by virtue of their adoption: "And if children, then heirs." That all God's children are heirs. Whosoever do partake of the relation, they do partake of the inheritance. This is suitable and agreeable to some other places of Scripture (Galatians 3:28, 29; Galatians 4:7; Titus 3:7). Now there is a various account which may be given hereof unto us, which we may take in these following particulars. First, their Father's affection and special love which He bears unto them. Affection has a very great influence oftentimes upon an inheritance. There is affection and there is the constancy and immutability of it. Secondly, as there is their Father's affection, so there is likewise their Father's promise; as we know how Bathsheba urged it to David in the case of Solomon, against Adonijah (1 Kings 1:17). Thirdly, their very relation and condition wherein they are it gives them right and title hereto. Fourthly, the largeness and vastness of the estate, that is another advancement hereunto. All God's children are heirs, because there is means enough for them all. But here it may be seasonably demanded, What is it that God's children do inherit, and are heirs unto? First, for the things of this life. They are heirs of them, and have a special right and title to them. "All things are yours," says the apostle, and amongst the rest he reckons the world (1 Corinthians 3:21, 22). It is true that these things are not their portion. But yet they are oftentimes their possession. God's children they have an interest and a propriety even in temporal blessings; and such as none other else have besides themselves, for they have a sanctified right in them. No good thing will God withhold from them that walk uprightly. Secondly, they are heirs more especially of the things of a better; and they are reducible to two heads, as the Scripture itself reduces them. Grace and glory (Psalm 84:11) — the one considered as the means, and the other considered as the end. God's children they are heirs of them both. First, for grace and holiness. This is not a small kind of portion which God's children have an interest in. "Heirs of the grace of life" (1 Peter 3:7). All the graces of the Spirit, they belong to the children of God, and they are heirs, as it were, of them. Secondly, which is here principally to be understood: they are heirs of glory, and so frequently denominated. "Heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14); "heirs of the kingdom" (James 2:5); "heirs of eternal life" (Titus 3:7; Colossians 1:12). This we have assured unto us by the firstfruits of the Spirit within us. We may see what we are likely to have hereafter by what already we partake of here, in the beginnings of heaven to us. In what proportion this inheritance of the saints is dispensed and distributed unto them. Because it is said here that they all have a share in this business. That though all God's children are heirs of eternal happiness and glory, yet they are not all of them in the same degree partakers of it. As a father may give portions to all his children, but one may have a greater portion than the rest. It is said of Elkanah, in his carriage to Hannah, that he gave her a worthy portion, or, as some read it, a double portion. And Benjamin's lot from Joseph it was five times as much as of the rest of his brethren. Thus is it likewise in God's dispensations. He gives a portion to all His children, but He gives not the same portion to them all. Though the same for kind and specification, yet not the same for degrees and intention. All the saints shall come to heaven, but some may go further in than the rest. Therefore this should stir us all up to an endeavour after the greatest measure that may be. And now for the life and application of the whole doctrine itself to our selves. We may draw it forth in a threefold improvement especially. First: Here is that which may satisfy God's children which are in a mean and low condition here in the world, as it is possible for them to be, and as sometimes they are. Though they may be destitute of many things here, yet they are heirs of heaven. Secondly, it further teaches God's children to live answerably to this noble condition, and the inheritance which they are appointed unto. First, in a holy magnanimity and nobleness of spirit. Secondly, in making good their titles, and clearing their evidences for heaven. Those who are great heirs they are careful to make good their inheritances, and to prove their right and interest in them, Thirdly, in more cheerful service and obedience to God's commands. We should henceforth serve Him not as bare hirelings, but as those who are sons and heirs. Fourthly, take heed of losing it and parting with it upon any terms whatsoever. Take heed of Esau, that parted with his birthright. Lastly, seeing God's children are heirs, and are heirs of glory, we see then from hence the vanity of those persons who would make salvation to be a matter of merit. The second is the explication or amplification of this privilege to them, and that consists of two branches. The first is taken from the person that they are heirs of: "heirs of God." And the second is taken from the person that they are heirs with: "joint heirs with Christ." We begin with the first of these branches, viz., the person that they are: "Heirs of God." This is added here by the Apostle Paul both by way of explication and of enlargement. When we hear that God's children are heirs we might be ready, it may be, presently to dream of some earthly inheritance. They are heirs of God, as the giver of the inheritance; and they are heirs of God, as the inheritance itself which is given unto them. First, they are so relative. Heirs of God, as related to Him for such a purpose as this is. It is He that does entitle them to all the things. They are heirs of God, they have a worthy and an honourable inheritance. There is some credit in being heir unto Him. Secondly, in point of profit, heirs of God. Heirs of God; therefore not only honourable, but rich. They must needs be great heirs, because He is great Himself and has great revenues (1 Corinthians 10:26). Thirdly, in point of conveniency and accommodation. There is a great matter in point of inheritance. The manner of ordering and disposing of it to the best advantage of him that shall heir it, and as to the circumstances wherewith he does enjoy it. Secondly, heirs of God. They are such as do inherit God Himself. He that is their Father is also their portion. And He which gives them the inheritance is the inheritance itself which He gives them. Sometimes the Lord is pleased to account His people to be His inheritance. "The Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance" (Deuteronomy 32:9). And sometimes again He is pleased to declare Himself to be theirs (Psalm 73:25, 26; Lamentations 3:24; Psalm 16:5; Genesis 16:1; Genesis 17:1). Now for the opening of this point unto us, that we may know what this business is of inheriting God Himself. The meaning of it is this — to have full interest in all His attributes. His wisdom is theirs, to direct them. His power is theirs, to preserve them. His goodness is theirs, to relieve them. His justice is theirs, to avenge them. His faithfulness is theirs, to support them. Every good is so much the more excellent, and the rather to be prized by us, as it is anything more large and comprehensive, and is containing of other things in it. Why thus it is now to be an heir of God. We have in Him everything else. All the beams of comfort in the creature they are derived from this Sun. And so again, in the want of other things, he may very much comfort himself in this. Alas, what are the stars to the sun? And what are the streams to the fountain? The second is taken from the person whom they are heirs with — "Joint heirs with Christ." Believers, they do partake of the same inheritance with the Son of God Himself. First, here is this implied, that Christ Himself is an heir, and an heir of God. Thus Hebrews 1:2 He is called "the heir of all things." Again, besides, as He is an heir by nature, so He is also an heir by donation. Therefore He is said in the place before alleged to be appointed heir. The Father hath given all things to Christ (Matthew 11:27). Thus is Christ an heir by gift. Therefore we see what great cause we have to please Him, and to endeavour to be in favour with Him. We see how it is amongst men. How careful they are to give contentment to an heir if it be but of some ordinary inheritance. The second is that which is expressed, that as Christ Himself is an heir, so God's children are heirs also with Him (Galatians 4:7; Matthew 19:28). This must needs be so. First, in regard of that union which is knit betwixt Christ and His Church. God's children, they are members of Christ, therefore they must be heirs with Him (1 Corinthians 3, 22). Secondly, this is grounded in His promise which He hath made to us. Thirdly, His prayer for us (John 17:20-24). Fourthly, His office towards us as He is the Mediator of the Church. Therefore all things which come to us they must come to us through His hands. Now the life of all to ourselves comes to this. First, we see here how nearly it concerns us to find ourselves to be ingrafted into Christ and to become members of Him. Secondly, we may from hence see the certainty and infallibility of a Christian's salvation. We are joint-heirs with Christ. Therefore He being glorified, we shall be glorified also. Thirdly, we should hence learn to love Christ, and to give Him the glory of all. Considering that all we have it is from Him, and by Him. If we are elected, we are elected in Christ. If we are justified, we are justified for Christ. If we are sanctified we are sanctified through Christ. If we are glorified we are glorified with Christ. Christ is all in all unto us.

(Thomas Horton, D.D.)

I. THE PRIVILEGES OF GOD'S CHILDREN.

1. Heirs of God.

2. Joint heirs with Christ.

3. Glorified together.

II. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE PRIVILEGE AND THE RELATION.

1. None but children.

2. All children participate.

III. THE CONDITION OF FINAL GLORY.

1. If so be we suffer.

2. With Christ.

3. For Him.

4. Like Him.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I. THE GROUND OF HEIRSHIP.

1. It does not follow from ordinary creation. It is not "if creatures, then heirs."

2. Neither is it found in natural descent. It is not "if children of Abraham then heirs" (Romans 9:7-13).

3. Nor can it come by meritorious service. It is not "if servants, then heirs" (Galatians 4:30).

4. Nor by ceremonial observances. It is not "if circumcised or baptized, then heirs" (Romans 4:9-12).

5. Our being born again of God by His Spirit is the one ground of heirship. Let us inquire —

(1)Have we been born again (John 3:3)?

(2)Have we the spirit of adoption (Galatians 4:6)?

(3)Are we fashioned in the likeness of God (Colossians 3:10)?

(4)Have we believed on Jesus (John 1:12)?

II. THE UNIVERSALITY OF THE HEIRSHIP. "Children, then heirs."

1. The principle of priority as to time cannot enter into this question. The elder and the younger in the Divine family are equally heirs.

2. The love of God is the same to them all.

3. They are all blessed under the same promise (Hebrews 6:17).

4. They are all equally related to that great First-born Son through whom their heirship comes to them. He is the first-born among many brethren.

5. The inheritance is large enough for them all. They are not all prophets, preachers, apostles, or even well-instructed and eminent saints; they are not all rich and influential; they are not all strong and useful; but they are all heirs. Let us, then, all live as such, and rejoice in our portion.

III. THE INHERITANCE WHICH IS THE SUBJECT OF HEIRSHIP. "Heirs of God."

1. Our inheritance is Divinely great. We are — Heirs of —

(1)All things (Revelation 21:7; 2 Corinthians 3:21).

(2)Salvation (Hebrews 1:14).

(3)Eternal life (Titus 3:7).

(4)Promise (Hebrews 6:17).

(5)The grace of life (1 Peter 3:7).

(6)Righteousness (Hebrews 11:7).

(7)The kingdom (James 2:5).

2. Whereas we are said to be "heirs of God," it must mean that we are heirs of —

(1)All that God possesses.

(2)All that God is. Of His love; for God is love. Hence heirs of all possible good; for God is good.

(3)God Himself. What an infinite portion!

(4)All that Jesus has and is, as God and man.

IV. THE PARTNERSHIP OF THE CLAIMANTS TO HEIRSHIP. "And joint heirs with Christ."

1. This is the test of our heirship. We are not heirs except with Christ, through Christ, and in Christ.

2. This sweetens it all. Fellowship with Jesus is our best portion.

3. This shows the greatness of the inheritance. Worthy of Jesus. Such an inheritance as the Father gives to the well-beloved.

4. This ensures it to us; for Jesus will not lose it, and His title-deed and ours are one and indivisible.

5. This reveals and endears His love. That He should become a partner with us in all things is love unbounded.

(1)His taking us into union with Himself secures our inheritance.

(2)His prayer for us attains it.

(3)His going into heaven before us prepares it.

(4)His coming again will bring us the full enjoyment of it.

6. This joint heirship binds us faster to Jesus, since we are nothing, and have nothing apart from Him.Conclusion —

1. Let us joyfully accept the present suffering with Christ, for it is part of the heritage.

2. Let us believe in the ultimate glorification and anticipate it with joy.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THEN THE CHRISTIAN IS GOING TO A RICH HOME AND A GLORIOUS FUTURE. Therefore, he ought not to be too much elated or depressed by the pleasures or privations of the journey. An eye to the rest and glory at the end should keep him from getting weary of the way.

II. THEN THE CHRISTIAN SHOULD NOT DEBASE HIMSELF BY AN UNDUE ATTACHMENT TO THE THINGS OF TIME. How unreasonable to see an "heir of God" so swallowed up in the world that he has neither taste nor time to pray, or make suitable efforts to get ready for His Heavenly inheritance.

III. THEN NO MAN SHOULD SPEAK OF HAVING MADE SACRIFICES IN BECOMING A CHRISTIAN.

IV. THEN AN HEIR OF GOD SHOULD BE MADE "MEET FOR HIS INHERITANCE." Without a meetness for it, the inheritance would be a burden rather than a blessing.

V. THEN, IN SECURING THIS MEETNESS, THE CHRISTIAN MAY CONFIDENTLY EXPECT DIVINE AID.

(T. Kelly).

I. THE PRIVILEGE OF GOD'S CHILDREN.

1. As the law of nature and the institutions of society authorise children to expect the possession of property which once belonged to their parents, so God has pledged Himself that He will act the part of a Father.

2. Looked at with the eye of sense, the inheritance of God's children on this world is not much to be envied; but, in reality, whatever be their outward lot, they are all the while richer than the richest, and greater than the greatest.

3. They may be said to be heirs of God even at present, inasmuch as they are entitled, by virtue of His covenant, to as much of what God is, and has, as shall be requisite for their welfare.

4. Of the future inheritance we have various accounts. It is —(1) "An inheritance among them that are sanctified." Heaven will confer on those who are admitted into it, a much higher degree of holiness than they before attained.(2) "An inheritance of the saints in light." In heaven we shall receive a great addition to our knowledge.(3) "An inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away." The circumstances of earthly parents may be suddenly reversed, and their children therefore deprived of the inheritance. But the children of God have nothing to apprehend from reverses. All those ideas are epitomised in the text. God shall be, in heaven, fully and perfectly His people's portion. More than this God cannot promise or give.

5. Further particulars are included in the phrase, "joint-heirs with Christ," and "glorified together," viz: —(1) That we are altogether indebted to God's mercy in Christ, for our title to the inheritance. Heaven is a purchased possession; not by penitence or faith, holiness or usefulness, suffering or dying, but by the precious blood of Christ.(2) That the title of true believers is in the highest degree valid and satisfactory. Christ's title is unquestionable; what He hath amply merited He hath a right to bestow; and He wills to bestow it upon all believers. There are, indeed, differences between Christ's title and ours. His is original, earned by Himself; ours is borrowed. His is one actually recognised. He is in possession of the inheritance; whereas we are but on our way to it. But He has gone as our forerunner to take possession for us.(3) That there shall be a blessed similarity in point of nature — though, of course, not in degree — between the enjoyment of Christ in heaven and the enjoyment of His glorified people there. "The glory which Thou givest Me I have given them."

II. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THIS PRIVILEGE AND OUR RELATION TO GOD AS HIS CHILDREN. "If children, then heirs." This, of course, implies —

1. That none but children will be recognised as heirs, or be allowed to inherit.

2. That all children are heirs. In the arrangements of human society, and it often happens that the estates descend exclusively to the male children, or to the eldest. But this is not the rule which God will adept. "If children" — it matters not whether sons or daughters — "then heirs." Nor will this inheritance lose any value from being distributed among so many. Every man in heaven will feel himself much the happier, because he will know there are so many millions of ransomed spirits who share the same bliss.

III. THE WAY IN WHICH WE ARE TO WALK SO AS TO SECURE THE ACTUAL BESTOWMENT OF THIS PRIVILEGE. First of all, to become children, we must apply to God in the way of penitence and faith that our sentence of alienation may be reversed. But if children, we are not to conclude that there is no further need of watchfulness or prayer. We are to remember the other clause: — "If so be," etc. Not that the sufferings of the saints are — like those of Christ — meritorious. Yet they may be fitly termed "suffering with Christ" —

1. Because a large portion of the suffering of good people comes upon them in consequence of their devotedness to the truth, and cause, and service of Christ. If we would forsake Christ we should then escape much of —

(1)The world's reproach.

(2)Temptation from Satan.

(3)Self-denial.

(4)Providential sufferings. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth."

2. If it be endured in the temper and spirit of Christ, who said, "Not My will, but Thine be done." The servant is not above his lord. Ought the private soldier to complain of privations or perils to which his general submits? It is not hard or unreasonable that we suffer with Christ before we are glorified, because the subsequent glory will far more than compensate the previous suffering (ver. 18). Conclusion: We learn from this subject the extreme desirableness and importance of being found among the regenerated people of God. Many of you have realised these privileges. Then —

1. Be thankful.

2. Be submissive to your worldly lot.

3. Be consistent, be heavenly minded.

4. Remember what God requires of you in order to your being glorified — that you should suffer with Him.

(J. Bunting, D.D.)

I. THE SUPPOSITION. "If children, then heirs."

1. Unquestionably, in a general sense, God is the Father of all mankind. But the New Testament continually speaks of a higher form of paternity and childhood. This men may or may not sustain. If all men, without exception, were the children of God there would be no "if" about it, just as any hypothetical expression is unknown in heaven; or if all men were so placed that it was impossible for them ever to sustain any relation to God, but the general one of creatures, then, also, there would be no room for question, just as there is none in respect to the brutes that perish, or to the devils and the damned in hell. The possibility of using conditional language, in relation to men, involves the idea that while they may be, in the language of Scripture, "children of the wicked one," they may also be sons of God in the highest and most emphatic acceptation. In relation to this subject, we may employ the language, "Howbeit, that is not first that is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterwards that which is spiritual." In neither case, however, does it necessarily follow that the spiritual must succeed the natural. Men may live and never be changed in the spirit of their minds; and they may die, and not rise after the likeness of the Lord's glorious body. But if any man is a child of God, then the Scripture teaches that this is his second state, not his first; that he has undergone, or been the subject of, a process by which he has passed from the one to the other.

2. This process is described as being "born of the Spirit," "created anew," "quickened," "raised from the dead," etc., and we cannot suppose that this is accomplished by the mechanical agency of any outward rite. It is represented as connected with repentance and faith in Christ.

3. In addition to an actual spiritual birth, we have the frequent use of the word "adoption," to illustrate the process by which man passes from his first to his second condition. This word is used in allusion to the reception into a family of a slave or a stranger. In like manner men, who, contemplated as sinners, are strangers, foreigners, and in bondage to the devil, are taken out of this state of distance and degradation, and, by an act of God's grace adopted into His family and constituted His sons.

4. And however humbling it may be to think of the necessity in which we stand of adoption and renewal, yet that nature is not to be disparaged, respecting which such things are possible. A brute animal could not be adopted and made a child by man; nor if it were could it be made the subject of human sympathies and affections. And so, unless man, in spite of all his corruption, had within him a nature distinguished by moral and religious capacity, it would be impossible for him to be either adopted by or born of God; and that nature of which this can be said, however ruined now, must have been originally great and God-like.

II. THE DISTINGUISHED PRIVILEGE.

1. An heir is one who, by legal or natural right, possesses a title to an inheritance. A stranger may be constituted such, in virtue of the will and deed of another; a child may be such from natural relationship. Both these ideas are employed in Scripture to illustrate the subject. Men, considered as guilty, need pardon or justification, which is a legal as well as merciful act on the part of God, by which the relation of men to law is altered. It is in connection with this act that adoption is more especially to be regarded, and the heirship of the adopted as flowing from that act. Thus Paul speaks in the Epistle to Titus — "being justified, we are made heirs, according to the hope of eternal life." As possessing a corrupt nature men need to be regenerated, in virtue of which they become God's children, not merely by a legal or declaratory act, but by the positive sanctification of their nature, and then heirship results by way of natural consequence. "Thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir."

2. "Heirs of God." It would seem to be impossible to have too high ideas of what may be anticipated by those who are the children and heirs of a Divine Parent; of Him who created and who possesses all things; whose paternal affection is measureless, and who even speaks of Himself as the portion of His people.

3. "Joint heirs with Christ." There is something in this expression more than the idea of filial relationship to God. That to which the Christian is heir is not merely the inheritance of a son, but of such a son as Christ is represented to be: "the only begotten and well-beloved of the Father, in whom He is ever well pleased." The Church is His body, and whatever glory invests the head, the members participate.Conclusion: From all this we learn —

1. The love and power of God.

2. The ultimate security of the Church.

3. Obligations and motives to obedience.

4. Encouragement to all anxious and earnest men, who are seriously inquiring for and seeking after God.

(T. Binney).

This little word "if" intimates to us that all men are not children of God. No doubt there is a sense in which His intelligent creatures generally may be regarded as His offspring. But the title "sons of God" is confined exclusively to those who have been re-created in His image.

I. How, then, MAY WE KNOW WHETHER WE BE THE CHILDREN OF GOD OR NOT?

1. By the consciousness we have that we have complied with those conditions of repentance and faith, on the fulfilment of which the privilege is suspended.

2. By believing the testimony of the Word, which declares that all those who thus repent and believe are acknowledged to be the children of God.

3. By considering the fruits of grace in our lives, and then comparing these with the characteristics of sonship which are delineated in the Word of God.

4. By the fact that we have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

5. By the direct witnessing of the Spirit itself, with and to our spirits, that we are the children of God.

II. " IF CHILDREN, THEN HEIRS." The children of the wealthy and noble are the heirs of nobility and wealth. Now, it is not strange that God's children should also be heirs; for who is so rich and noble as their Heavenly Father?

1. They come into possession of their inheritance, not on the death of their Father (for He can never die), but when they reach their majority. This occurs at different periods of spiritual life, and under varying circumstances of purification and trial; for some are no sooner born of God than they are ready for translation, while others have, like the Captain of their salvation, to "be made perfect through suffering."

2. That inheritance is —(1) A reality. It may not, indeed, consist of tangible tenements, land, silver and gold; but it does consist of all that can gratify the cravings of an immortal spirit. Whether you call heaven a place or a state, it is a possession and an enjoyment —(2) Vast and grand, surpassing all that earthly potentates have ever coveted or earthly conquerors won.(3) Pure and undefiled, neither acquired by injustice nor retained by wrong.(4) Ensured. Every child of the new birth is born to it; nor is there any man who can rob him of it.(4) Enduring. It fadeth not away.(5) There is this difference, that whereas on earth the portion of each diminishes as the number of heirs is increased, in heaven it is quite the reverse. Have we not, then, a direct interest in seeking to take others with us to glory?

III. "JOINT HEIRS WITH CHRIST."

1. Our heavenly happiness is to be of the same nature as His. If His consists of transcendent holiness, and dignity, authority, and power, then ours will comprehend the same elements of felicity.

2. Our happiness will be realised in the same state, or place, or sphere as His. Where He is, we shall be also.

3. Our inheritance has been purchased, or procured by the same means as His. By His sufferings, for after these came the glory; and all those sufferings were endured for us. Jesus has conquered for us our inheritance by the conquest of His own.In conclusion:

1. Be humble. The heirs of earthly kingdoms are apt to be elated with pride in proportion to the magnitude of their prospective possessions. But with the sons of God, the clearer their views of future glory, the more astounded are they with the greatness of the gift of God; and this proportionally makes them feel their own unworthiness.

2. Be hearty. How much owest thou to thy Lord? How, then, shouldst thou love, praise, own, obey, and serve Him!

3. Be holy. Thou art an heir of glory. How, then, shouldest thou prepare for it?

(T. G. Horton.)

I was in a provincial town some time ago, when I was told of a nobleman who for many years worked as a porter in the railway station, because he did not know his true position in the world, till one day a gentleman entered the station, and after saluting him said, "Sir, may I ask your name?" "John — ," was the answer. "I have come to tell you that you are the Earl of — , and entitled to a large estate," replied the visitor. Do you think that man stood about the station touching his cap for tips any longer? Not he. He took possession of his inheritance at once. That is just what we Christians should do.

Let us —

I. CONSIDER THE TERMS OF THE WILL.

1. Our right to the Divine heritage stands or falls with Christ's right to the same.(1) If He be not truly an heir, neither are we.(a) If there be any flaw in the will, then it is no more valid for Christ than it is for us.(b) Perhaps there may be a suit in law made against the will. But then it is Christ's interest that is at stake as well as mine. If Satan bring an accusation against us, that accusation is made against Christ, for we are one with Him. You must enter your suit against the Head if you would attack the members.(c) Yet suppose, after the will has been proved, it shall be found that nothing is left to distribute, or a debt against the estate? Why, if we get nothing, Christ gets nothing; if there should be no heaven for us, there is no heaven for Christ.(d) And then suppose that, though there be something left, yet it be a mere trifle; that heaven should be but inferior joy, such as might be found even in this world. Then saints with little glory means Christ with little.(2) 1 have been dwelling upon the black side in order to bring the bright one out by contrast. Let us revel in that contrast.(a) There is no flaw in God's will with regard to Christ, and He has said, " I will that they whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am."(b) No suit in law can stand against Christ. He has satisfied God's law. Who shall accuse the Redeemer? Nor can any creature accuse His saints, nor infringe upon our title so long as His title stands.(c) And there is no fear that the Son of God, the infinitely rich, will have a trifling portion. And "all things are yours, for ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's."

2. If we are joint heirs with Christ, we legally have no inheritance apart from Him. The signature of the one will not avail to alienate the estate, nor can he sell it by his own right, nor have it all at his own separate disposal. You have no right to heaven in yourself; your right lieth in Christ. The promises are yea and amen, but only in Christ Jesus, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance.

3. Christ, as co-heir, has so identified Himself with us, that His rights are not to be viewed apart from ours. Before we leave this point, note what an honour is conferred upon us. To have anything to do with a great man is thought to be a distinguished privilege; but what honour is conferred on the believer to be joint heir with the King of kings I Lift up thine head; think no man's princeship worth thy coveting; thou art greater than the greatest, for thou art joint heir with Christ.

II. VIEW THE ESTATES.

1. The inheritance of suffering.(1) Just on the edge of your Father's great inheritance lies the swamp of affliction. Now this is yours. If this be not yours, neither are the rest, for they are bequeathed to you in the same will. The same legacy that left peace also left tribulation. No cross, no crown. But, remember, Christ is co-heir with you in this. "In all their afflictions He was afflicted."(2) You must also be the heir of persecution. Christ had to be persecuted, and so must you.(3) Another black portion is temptation. In this, too, Christ is your co-heir. "He was tempted in all points like as we are."

2. Now let us march joyfully to the other part of the inheritance. As in matters of wills everything should be proven and sworn to, let us have the evidence of God, that cannot lie.(1) As co-heirs with Christ, we are heirs of God (Psalm 16:5; 63:26).(2) In Romans 4:13 the promise made to the Seed was that He should be heir of the world. "Ask of Me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance," etc. "The world is ours," because it is Christ's by right of inheritance. There is nothing here below which does not belong to a believer. If he hath wealth, let him use it in his Master's service, for it is his. If he hath poverty, poverty is his to help him to be sanctified, and to long for heaven. Whatever happens to him — sickness or health — everything is his here below. "The meek shall inherit the earth."(3) In Hebrews 1:2, we are told that God has appointed Christ heir of all things. Then we are heirs of all things conceivable and inconceivable, finite and infinite, human and Divine. Christ's property extends to all, and we are co-heirs.(4) Then in James 2:5, we are spoken of as being heirs of the kingdom. Doth Christ call Himself a King? He hath made us kings. Does He sit upon a throne? We shall overcome and sit down with Him upon His throne. Will He judge the nations? The saints shall judge the world. Will He be received with triumph by His Father? So shall we when His Father shall say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Hath He joy? We shall have His joy. Is He everlasting? So shall we be, for because He lives, we shall live also.

III. ADMINISTER THE EFFECTS.

1. There is one part of the property which we may enjoy at once. Take your cross up and bear it with joy. Resignation takes the weight out of the cross, but a proud spirit that will not bow to God's will changes a wooden cross into an iron one. Say, "I count it to be my joy to be permitted to be a partaker of the sufferings of Christ." All the sheep of the Great Shepherd are marked with the cross, and this not only in the fleece, but in the flesh. "If ye be without chastisement whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons."

2. Why cannot we administer also to the blessed part of the testament?(1) If you have faith enough, you may this morning be raised up to sit together in heavenly places with Christ Jesus,(2) God has given Christ the heathen for His inheritance, and the uttermost ends of the earth for His possession, and we are co-heirs with Him. Let us advance to take the property. Some of you can do so by preaching in the streets. Others, by teaching your children in the class. You can say, "God has given these souls to Christ; I am going to take them in Christ's name." Others, who can do little themselves, can assist by sending forth men to preach the gospel. All that the Church wants to-day is courage and devotion. Let her, then, as Christ's queen, claim the earth as hers, and send her heralds forth from sea to sea to bid all men bow before Him, and confess Him to be their King.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

They are in a distinguishing sense —

I. THE CHILDREN OF GOD. They have —

1. A special resemblance to Him.

2. A special affection for Him.

3. A special attention from Him.

II. THE INHERITORS OF ALL GOOD.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.
Believers suffer with Christ —

I.IN THE SAME CAUSE — that of truth and righteousness.

II.FOR THE SAME END — the glory of God and the good of His Church.

III.FROM THE SAME HAND — Satan, their common enemy, and the world.

IV.IN THE SAME MANNER, and with the same spirit of patience and resignation.

(T. Robinson, D.D.)

I. SONSHIP WITH CHRIST NECESSARILY INVOLVES SUFFERING WITH HIM.

1. We misapprehend the force of this passage if we suppose it to refer merely to outward calamities, and see in it only that the sorrows of daily life may have in them a sign of our being children of God, and some power to prepare us for the glory that is to come. The text does not merely contain a law for a certain part of life, but for the whole of life. The foundation of it is not that Christ shares in our sufferings; but that we, as Christians, participate in Christ's.

2. Do not suppose that I am forgetting the awful sense in which Christ's suffering stands as a thing by itself, incapable of, and needing no, repetition. But do not let us forget that the very writers that emphasise this, say to us, "'Be planted together in the likeness of His death': you are 'crucified to the world' by the Cross of Christ; you are to 'fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ.'" He Himself speaks of our drinking of the cup that He drank of, etc. The fact is, that the life of Christ remains to be lived by every Christian, who in like manner has to fight with the world, to stand, by God's help, pure in the midst of a world that is full of evil.(1) The sufferings of the Lord were not only those that were wrought upon Calvary. Conceive of that perfect life in the midst of a system full of sin, and ask yourselves whether part of His sufferings did not spring from the contact with it. "Oh that I had wings like a dove," etc., must often be the language of those who are like Him in spirit and in consequent sufferings.(2) Another branch of the "sufferings of Christ" is to be found in that deep and mysterious fact that Christ wrought out His perfect obedience as a man, through temptation and by suffering. There was no sin within Him. "The Prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me." But yet, when that dark Power stood by His side, and said, "If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down," it was a real temptation, and not a sham one. And though the doing of His Father's will was His delight; yet obedience, sustained in the face of temptation and the "contradiction of sinners," may well be called suffering.(3) But not only is the life of Christ as a life of suffering a model for us, but His death, besides being an atonement, is a type of the Christian's life, which is to be one long and daily dying to sin, to self, to the world. There is the "old man," "the flesh," "the old Adam," your own godless, independent, selfish, proud being. And crucifying, plucking out the right eye, maiming self of the right hand, mortifying the deeds of the body, teach us that there is no growth without sore sorrow. And not until you can say, "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me," have you accomplished that to which you are consecrated and vowed by your sonship — "being conformed unto the likeness of His death," and "knowing the fellowship of His sufferings." On this high level, and not upon the lower one — viz., that Christ will help us to bear afflictions — do we find the true meaning of all that Scripture teaching; which says to us, If you want the power for holy living, have fellowship in that atoning death; and if you want the pattern of holy living, look at that Cross and feel, "I am crucified to the world by it, and the life that I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God."

3. Such considerations, however, do not necessarily exclude the comforting thought, "In all our affliction He is afflicted." In some trackless lands, when one friend passes through the pathless forests, he breaks a twig ever and anon as he goes, that those who come after may see the traces of his having been there, and know that they are not out of the road. So when we are journeying through the murky night, and the dark woods of affliction, it is something to find here and there a spray broken, or a leafy stem bent down with the tread of His foot and the brush of His hand as He passed; and to remember that the path He trod He has hallowed, and thus to find lingering fragrances and hidden strengths in the remembrance of Him as "in all points tempted like as we are," bearing grief for us, with us, like us.

4. Do not keep these sacred thoughts of Christ's companionship in sorrow for the larger trials of life. If the mote in the eye be large enough to annoy you, it is large enough to bring out His sympathy; and if the grief be too small for Him to compassionate and share, it is too small for you to be troubled by it. If you are ashamed to apply that Divine thought, "Christ bears this grief with me," to those petty molehills that you magnify into mountains sometimes, think it a shame to stumble over them. But never fear to be too familiar in the thought that Christ is willing to bear, and help me to bear, the most insignificant of daily annoyances. Whether it be a poison from one serpent sting, or from a million of tiny mosquitoes, if there be a smart, go to Him, and He will bear it with you; for if so be that we suffer with Him, He suffers with us.

II. THIS COMMUNITY OF SUFFERING IS A NECESSARY PREPARATION FOR THE COMMUNITY OF GLORY.

1. I name this principally for the sake of putting in a caution. The apostle does not mean that if a son of God have no occasion, by brevity of life or other causes, for passing through the discipline of sorrow, his inheritance would be forfeited. We must always take such passages as this in conjunction with the truth which completes them, that when a man has the love of God in His heart, there and then he is fit for the inheritance. Christian people make vast mistakes sometimes in talking about "being made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light," about being "ripe for glory," and the like. It is not the discipline that fits, it only develops the fitness. "God hath made us meet." That is a past act. The preparedness for heaven comes at the moment — if it be a momentary act — when a man turns to Christ. The one may be dispensed with, the other cannot. A Christian at any period of his Christian experience, if it please God to take him, is fit for the kingdom; yet in His mercy He is leaving you here, training you, disciplining you; and that all the glowing furnaces of fiery trial, and all the cold waters of affliction, are but the preparation through which the rough iron is to be passed before it becomes tempered steel, a shaft in the Master's hand. And so learn to look upon all trial as being at once the seal of your sonship, and the means by which God puts it within your power to win a loftier throne, a nobler crown, a closer fellowship with Him "who hath suffered, being tempted," and who will receive into His own blessedness and rest them that are tempted.

III. THAT INHERITANCE IS THE NECESSARY RESULT OF THE SUFFERING THAT HAS GONE BEFORE. The ground of mere compensation is a low one on which to rest the certainty of future bliss. But the inheritance is sure, because the one cause — union with the Lord — produces both the present result of fellowship in His sorrows, and the future result of joy in His joy, of possession in His possessions. The inheritance is sure, because earth's sorrows not merely require to be repaid by its peace, but because they fit us for it, and it would be destructive to all faith in God's wisdom not to believe that what He has wrought for us will be given to us. Trials have no meaning, unless they are means to an end. The end is the inheritance; and sorrows here, as well as the Spirit's work here, are the earnest of the inheritance. Measure the greatness of the glory by what has preceded it. If a fair measure of the greatness of any result be the length of time taken for getting it ready, we can dimly conceive what that joy must be for which seventy years of strife and sorrow are but a momentary preparation; and what must be the weight of that glory which is the counterpoise and consequence to the afflictions of this lower world. The further the pendulum swings on the one side, the further it goes up on the other. The deeper God plunges the comet into the darkness, the closer does it come to the sun at its nearest distance, and the longer does it stand glowing in the full blaze of the glory from the central orb. So in our revolution, the measure of the distance from the farthest point of our darkest earthly sorrow to the throne may help us to the measure of the closeness of the glory above when we are on the throne: for if so be that we are sons, we must suffer with Him; if so be that we suffer, we must be glorified together!

(A. Maclaren, D.D.)

I. WHAT BECOMES OF GOOD MEN IN THE FUTURE? They are "glorified with Christ." We have here —

1. A positive conception of the blessedness of heaven. Elsewhere we are told what heaven is not, rather than what it is. We seem more frequently to have promised to us relief from sufferings — no more sickness, night, curse, nor death — all of which we shrink from as if their absence was enough to make our bliss. But here heaven is presented as "glorification with Christ."

2. A striking contrast to those carnal views which unspiritual men hold upon this subject.

3. A heaven already realised — in the person of our Lord. He is already glorified. In the glorifying of Christ, our glorifying is involved.

4. A most consolatory and satisfactory prospect therefore. It is the fellowship, not the place, that makes up our happiness. With Christ fully revealed to us we could be happy anywhere.

II. WHAT PRECEDES THIS BLESSEDNESS? "Suffering with Him." "To suffer with" is to sympathise (1 Corinthians 12.).

1. Christ's sufferings were —

(1)Voluntary.

(2)Caused by sin.

(3)The result of the contrariety of His pure nature to the depravity of men amongst whom He came to live.

2. We partake of them —(1) Beneficially. There is a sense in which this is the only way whereby we can be partakers of His suffering — in which, therefore, lie is alone in suffering (Isaiah 63:3).(2) In consequence of our contact with the world. "As He was, so are we in this world." They who are like Christ must expect to have His sorrows and His treatment repeated.(3) Non-meritorious. Suffering for Christ as martyrs do is really suffering with Him, and finds its joy in the suffering itself. Only such minds could suffer with Him, and the having such a mind is itself the blessed thing.

(P. Strutt.)

The apostle does not affirm the absolute necessity of much suffering in order to our reaching heaven; for there are souls whose course on earth is short and happy; still less that there is any merit in our suffering; for nothing is plainer than that such a doctrine would be flatly opposed to the whole argument of this Epistle.

I. SUFFERING IS A COMMON CONDITION OF SONSHIP. Christ never promised His followers in this world anything else but tribulation, save only that in the midst of it all they should enjoy His peace and His Father's protection; and all the apostles speak of suffering as the common lot of the saints (1 Peter 4:12, 13, 16; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 Thessalonians 3:4; Hebrews 12.). In all these passages the same principle is involved which is contained in the text. The cause of our sufferings as Christians is found in the simple fact that we are Christians.

II. THIS AFFORDS A TEST OF OUR SONSHIP —

1. In the way of its infliction. If the world persecute us for Christ's sake, if it deem us worthy of such distinction, it must be because it is convinced that we are Christians, and therefore we may be comforted by the very malice of our enemies. "The villain's censure is the good man's praise."

2. In the manner in which we endure it. It is only the true saint who can bear reproach with meekness, take joyfully the spoiling of his goods, refuse to avenge himself, love his enemies, and yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness.

III. THE NATURE OF THE BELIEVER'S SUFFERINGS.

1. There are many which are not associated with Christ, and which do not result from sympathy with Him. The ungodly are not without their sufferings — the results of sinful folly and excess, or visitations of Divine indignation, and issue in the aggravated impiety of those who endure them. Beside which, how many of our trials and annoyances do we bring on ourselves by our pride and self-will, or by our compliance with evil temptation!

2. Sufferings with Christ are divisible into those which come from men and those which come from God. The former are persecutions; the latter, salutary chastisements.(1) Christ was persecuted, even unto death, and He has warned His disciples to expect the same treatment (Matthew 5:12). We in happy England are exempt from the fiery trial. But let us suppose the case to be otherwise. Could we, if called to it, bear imprisonment and torture, and final execution, for the Lord's sake? If so, how is it that we are so soon offended when the least troubles arise in connection with our Christian profession? And yet there are some who are not persecuted for Christ's sake. There are tradesmen who lose custom because they will be faithful to conscience. There are artisans who are injured and insulted unceasingly by their fellow-workmen for the same reason. There are wives whose piety brings on them rudest treatment from brutal husbands. But, after all, how light and little does this kind of trial appear in comparison with what our predecessors in the faith have endured. But, such as it is, it is a suffering with Christ, and should be met with calmness and borne with patience, fortitude, and hope.(2) The other class are those which resemble the pangs of Jesus, when it pleased the Father to put Him to grief. "It became Him," etc. But there are important points of difference. Both have relation to sin; but while ours are connected with our own sins, His were endured for the sins of others. His sufferings only exert an expiating efficacy. Yet Christ also learned obedience by the things which He suffered, in this respect our sufferings may resemble His. God may try us, as He tried Him, for the simple purpose of teaching us to renounce our own wish and will, and to say, with Christ, "Father, not my will, but Thine be done."

IV. IF WE SUFFER WITH CHRIST, WE SHALL ALSO BE GLORIFIED TOGETHER. Our afflictions are not for naught. They are like the early processes of the garden, when the soil is broken up and weeded, in order that fair flowers may at length adorn it. They are the quarrying and the chiselling of the marble before the living statue can stand out in symmetrical proportions. They are the tuning of the instruments, without which no harmony can be secured in the ultimate concert. They are the medicine of our convalescence, the drudgery of our education, the spring-pruning of our vine trees, without which we can never be healthy or happy, fit for heaven, or qualified to bring forth fruit whereby our Father may be glorified. Wherefore murmur not and faint not. Thou canst tread no path of hardship which Jesus hath not hallowed by His footsteps.

(T. G. Horton.)

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.)

Samuel Rutherford used to say, "I wonder many times that ever a child of God should have a sad heart, considering what the Lord is preparing for him." "When we shall come home, and enter into the possession of our Brother's fair kingdom, and when our heads shall find the weight of the eternal crown of glory, and when we shall look back to pains and suffering, then shall we see life and sorrow to be less than one step or stride from a prison to glory, and that our little inch of time-suffering is not worthy of our first night's welcome home to heaven."

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