rag tbe sincerity of his heart and life. Obrave lastly, That there is no safe and secure way to prove our adoption, but by testimonies brought of our sanctificalion: the privy seal of our adoption must be thus attested under the brood seal of our sanctification; the goodness of our state and condition must be evidenced by the holiness of our lives and conversation.

17 Anil if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ ;—

Our apostle, having asserted and insured the believers adoption in the foregoing verses, doth in this verse infer the certainty of his inheritance: If children, then heirs. Learn thence, That all God's children, by special grace and adoption, are undoubted heirs of a blessed and glorious inheritance. He next declares whom they arc heirs of, and whom they are heirs with; they are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. 1. They are heirs of God, they do inherit God himself, their Father is their portion: man leaves his heirs what he has, God gives his heirs what he is; he which gives them the inheritance, is the inheritance itself which he gives them, by being not only heirs to him, but heirs of him: they have an interest in all his attributes: his wisdom is theirs to guide and direct them, his power is theirs to sustain and preserve them, his mercy and pity is theirs to relieve and succour them. O happy and blessed privilege of God's adopted ones! Tlicy are not heirs of heaven, but heirs of God himself; they have him for their portion, and exceeding great reward. 2. Tbey are heirs with Christ; as Christ is God's heir, so arc they heirs with Christ; Christ is God's heir by nature, as he is the Son of God by nature, whatever is God's a his; and they are heirs with Christ; they are members of him, and shall be heirs with him, 1 Cor. iii. ult. All is yours, and ye are Christ's, Eph. i. 11. In him we have obtained the inheritance; we are heirs in his right. O blessed Jesus! how endearing are our obligations to thee! All that we have is from thee, by thee, and in thee: we are chosen in thee, justified by thee, sanctified through thee, and shall be glorified with thee: For if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. It follows,

If so be that we suffer with

bim, that we may be also glorified together.

Here we see what accompanicth our adoption, namely, present affliction; we are now to suffer, but not alone, we suffer with Christ; If so be that we suffer with him. This if is not a word of ambiguity and doubting, but a word of certainty and assurance, and signifies as much as, seeing that we suffer with him. Learn hence, 1. That a state of suffering and affliction on earth is one condition of obtaining our glorious inheritance in heaven; we must suffer, that God may be glorified, our graces improved, our love to the world mortified, our longings for heaven increased. Learn, 2. That the sufferings of believers are the sufferings of Christ; they suffer with him, and he with them: they suffer with him in a way of conformity, he with them in a way of tender sympathy; they arc sensible of any indignity offered to him, and he is sensible of any injury offered to them; the suffering saint pledges Christ in his own cup. Farther, they suffer with him, when they suffer for him, when they suffer in his cause, and for his sake, that is, for doing their duty. Finally, they suffer with him, wlien they suffer by an assistance derived from him, when by his enablement, and by a power communicated from him, they suffer hard things for his name and truth. Learn, 3. That as sufferings go before glory, so glory shall certainly follow sufferings: If we suffer with him, we shall tc also glorified together. Suffering is the beaten path to glory, and that which makes it so much the more glorious; suffering fits us for glory, and disposes us for the reception and fruition of it; by the cross we are fitted for the crown. Learn, 4. The suffering members shall not only be glorified, but be conformable to their glorified head in glory; as they have here suffered with him, they shall hereafter ie glorified together, not with equal glory, but with the same kind of glory. Three things are implied in our being glorified together with Christ: 1, Conformity: we shall be liko him in glory. 2. Concomitancy: we shall accompany him, and be present with him in glory. 3. Conveyance or derivation: we shall be glorified with him; that is, our glory shall be derived from him.; his glory shall be reflected upon us, and we shall shine in his beams. O happy condition of God's adopted and afflicted children; The supports which you have under suffering, the comfort which you have in suffering, the benefits which you have by suffering, and the glory which will follow

after suffermg, render it not only tolerable but desirable; well may they glory in tribulation, which expect such a glory after it.

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Observe here, 1. The nature and property of the saints' present sufferings: they are short and momentary, the sufferings of this present time. If sharp, they shall yet be short; though great, they cannot be long; for their afflictions cannot last longer than their lives; the one shall end when the other ends. O blessed condition of the righteous! your afflictions are only for the present time, the grave will set you beyond the reach of trouble. Ah, wretched condition of the wicked! your sufferings are not only for this present time, but for eternal ages; your worm will never die, your fire never be quenched, but you shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord. Observe, 2. The nature and property of the saints' future glory : 'tis hidden, 'tis a glor/y that shall he revealed. Learn hence, That the glory which God has prepared for his suffering samts and children, is an hidden glory; for it is hidden from the eye of the world, and lies altogether out of their sight and view, and it is in a great measure hidden from the saints themselves; it is now the object of their faith, but ere long it shall be the object of their sight. Observe, 3. The vast disproportion between the christian's present suffering, and his future glory and happiness: the one is not worthy to be compared with the other: The sufferings of this present time are not worthii to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed. Learn hence, That the weight of the saints' cross is not comparable with the glory of their crown; the happiness of their future glorified state doth infinitely outweigh the misery of their present afflicted state, they are not to be named in the same day. Observe, 4. The apostle's judgment or determination about this matter: J reckon. "I have cast up the matter," as if the apostle had said, " and have had my share of sufferings; but I make light of them, they are not worth speaking of, compared with the glory I shall receive as the reward of my sufferings." Learn hence, That such of the saints of God as have been exercised and tried with

the heaviest sufferings, make lightest of them, having the highest account of heaven's glory: I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory, See.

19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope; 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

Observe here, 1. That there is a time indeed a-coming, when all the sons of God, all his adopted children, shall be made manifest. How manifest? 1. In their persons: It shall then appear who arc God's sons, and who are Satan's servants; they shall then be made manifest to themselves, to one another; yea, to the very consciences of the wicked. 2. In their actions, 1 Cor. iii. 13. Every man's work shall be made manifest of what nature it is, what they have done, whose interest they were in. 3. In their condition, their glory and happiness shall be made manifest: When Christ their life shall appear, they shall appear with him in glory. Observe, 2. That the creature, or whole creation, expecteth, waiteth, and longeth, for the time of this manifestation. Some by the creature, and the whole creation, liere understand the Gentile world; and then the sense is, " That the heathens shall, by the preaching of the gospel, be rescued from their idolatry, unto which they have been long enslaved, and be brought into the glorious condition of Christ's redeemed ones, to whom the glorious inheritance of heaven doth belong." But others, by the creature, and the whole creation, understand this miserable world, sensitive and rational, animate and inanimate; and then the sense is, " That the whole frame and course of the creation is so ordered and disposed of by God, as that it carries in it a vehement desire and earnest longing for the full manifestation of God's glory in and towards his children." Observe, 3. The present condition which the creature is

subjected to through the Bin of man, it is made subject to vanity; that is, to corruption and mortality, to servitude and servility: the sin of man did not only stain the glory of man, but marred and spoiled the beauty of the whole creation; all creatures arc fallen from the first perfection by the fall of our first parents. Observe, 4. The restlessness and uneasiness of the creature under this vanity and servility: it groans like a man under a burden, or like a travailing woman in labour. Learn hence, That the sin of man is burdensome to the senseless creature: it 1s in continual labour to serve man's necessity; it is ofttimes punished together with man fur the sin of man; witness the old world, and Sodom; and as they are oft-times constrained and compelled by men to serve the lusts of men, thus the whole creation groaneth under the burden of man's sin, when he himself groans not: and accordingly the groans of the creature are upbraiding groans, they upbraid our stupidity and unthankfulness; they arc accusing groans, as they will witness against 11» at the bar of God; they are awakening groans, to excite and stir us up to sigh and long for abetter state; and they are instructive groans, to teach us our sins, and their vanity. 5. The expectation which the creature is under of a state of liberty and freedom from the vanity and corruption which they are now subject to for our sin: it has an earnest expectation of being delivered from this bondage. But how can the senseless and inanimate part of the creation be said to have an earnest expectation? Not properly, as if the creature was able to put forth such an act directly; for then it must be supposed to have not only life and sense, but reason and grace: but the meaning is, That there is a vehement inclination in 1 he creature to be restored to that first condition which it was in before the fall; and accordingly it is said to wait for the manifestation of the sons of Goti; that is,for that liberty and freedom from servility and corruption, which, according to their capacity, the creatures hope for and expect, when the full privileges and dignities of the sons of God shall be manifested. Observe lastly, That the liberty which God's children are reserved for, and appointed to, is a glorious liberty; that is, a liberty which shall be attended with unspeakable glory: The creature shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

And not only they: that is, all the creatures in the visible creation, join in this, they groan together; they do not some groan, and others sing; some travail in pain, and others in pleasure. But they all groan and travail together in pain until now, that is, until the glorious manifestation of the sons of God ; but not only do they groan, but we ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, &c. Observe here, 1. A special description of God's adopted children: they have the first-fruits of the Spirit; that is, they have the Holy Spirit in its sanctifying gifts, and graces, and comforts, in some measure; called here first-fruits, because of the smallncss of their quantity. The first-fruits were but an handful, a little portion in comparison of the whole crop; yet was it an evidence and pledge that God would give them the full crop. Thus grace is an earnest of glory, it is a pledge of everlasting life; the beginnings of grace here are certain forerunners of the accomplishment of glory hereafter. Observe, 2. The actions attributed to the fore-mentioned persons: they groan, they wait. 1. They groan, We who have the first-fruits of the Spirit do groan ; they groan under the burden of sin and affliction: the guilt of sin, the pollution of sin, the sad remains of indwelling sin, make them groan ; their proneness and inclination to evil, their backwardness and indisposition to good, make them groan; their too frequent backslidings, their daily infirmities make them groan; their sufferings also from God, and from man for God's sake, cause them to groan: but it is added, We groan within ourselves; that is, secretly to ourselves, undiscerned by tlie world, and in a manner peculiar to ourselves, as persons influenced by religion and grace: as christians have joys and comforts, so have they griefs and groans, peculiar to themselves. 2. They wait: but for what? I. For the adoption, that is, for the completing of their adoption, for the last finishing stroke in their sanctification, and for their perfect glorification. 2. For the redemption of their bodies; that is, for their resurrection, for their redemption from mortality and corruption, for tire redemption of theirwhole man, soul and body, do believers wait: their bodies were members of Christ, temples of the Holy Ghost, instruments of and companions with the soul in holy duties; and accordingly the hour is coming when the complete redemption both of soul and body shall be fully and finally perfected; but in the mean time they groan and wait for it. Learn from the whole, That all sanctified christians, who have received the first-fruits of the Spirit, do groan and wait for a much better' state than what they do at present enjoy.

24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope "for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

We are saved by hope; that is, we arc at present supported by hope, our present expectation of our future glorious condition , beareth up our spirit under its sufferings, and carrieth us joyfully through all difficultits: or, We are saved by hope; that is, all the salvation which we have at present is in hope, not in hand; in expectation, not in possession; heaven in hope is more worth than the whole world in hand; and seeing there is a certainty of hope, there is also of salvation: We are saved by hope. Observe next, The nature of hope declared: 'tis an expectation of good things promised, but not enjoyed; vision and fruiticn put an end to hope; none hopes for that he already enjoys. Hope is conversant about things unseen, as well as faith: Faith is the evidence of things not seen, and hope is the expectation of those things: The object of hope is a future good, a possible good, a promised good, a good promised by God, and believed by us. Observe lastly, The necessary adjunct and the inseparable companion of hope; and that is patience, and waiting for the good hoped for: If we hope, eec . then do we with patience wait, See Learn hence, That they only hope for eternal life aright, who continue in the pursuit of it with patience and perseverance: there must be found with us a waiting patience, a working patience, a bearing and forbearing patience, with a persevering continuance in well-doing, if we hope for glory, immortality, and eternal life.

26 Likewise the Spirit itself helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we

ought: but the Spirit itself maketli intercession for us with groaning* which cannot be uttered.

Learn hence, 1. That the holiest and best of saints labour oft-times under great infirmities in the work and duty of prayer, not knowing what to pray for, or how to manage that important affair as they ought. Hence it was that the apostles themselves, being sensible of their own disability in this kind, made their addresses to Christ himself to teach and instruct them how to pray. Luke\\. 1. Learn, 2. That it is the work and office of the Holy Spirit of God to help our infirmities in prayer, or, as the word signifies, to help together with us, to set bis shoulder to ours, and lift with us at the same burden: the Spirit of Christ and our own spirit must both do their part in carrying on this work; if ever we expect the Spirit's assistance, we must exert our own endeavours. More particularly; the Spirit helps us in prayer, by working in us a deep sense of our spiritual wants, by giving us an insight into the promises, and enabling us to plead them at the throne of grace, by creating and stirring up desires in our souls to have our wants supplied, by encouraging and emboldening us to come to God in prayer as to a father, with an humble reverence and child-like confidence. But though the Holy Spirit be our guide and assistant in this duty, yet not so as to give us occasion to think that the words of prayer are immediately inspired ajid dictated to us by the Holy Ghost: let us have a care that we mistake not an idle and foolish loquacity, a frothy eloquence and affected language, outward vehemency and boldness of speech, a natural fervency, or an acquired fluency of expression, for the Spirit's help and assistance in prayer. Implore the Spirit's help, and he will help thy infirmities: he will show thee thy sins, to give thee matter of confession ; he will show thee thy wants, to give thee matter of petition ; he will show thee the mercies and blessings of God, to yield thee matter of thanksgiving; he will show thee the church's miseries and necessities, to furnish thee with matter of intercession. Thus the Spirit will assist thee, but never expect that he should act without thee. Learn, 3. What is the proper work and office of the Holy Spirit in prayer: it is to make intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. But how is the Spirit our intercessor? Is not that Christ's office? Ans. Christ is an intercessor for us, the Holy Spirit is an intercessor in us. Christ, in respect of his meritorious sufferings, is an advocate, mediator, and intercessor with the Father for us. The Holy Spirit intercedes in us, by enabling us for, and assisting us in, the duty; by quickening our affections, and enlarging our desires; bv setting us a-groaning after the Lord. Groaning notes the strength and ardency of desire, which through the fervency of it puts the soul to pain, and an holy impatience till it be beard. Lord, how flat and dead are our hearts sometimes in prayer! How much are our spirits straitened! But, if we want words, let us not want groans; let thy Spirit help us to groan out a prayer, when we want ability to utter it; for silent groans proceeding from thy Spirit shall be heard in thine ears, when the loudest cries shall not be heard without it.

27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what it the mind of the Spirit, because he makcth intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Observe here, 1. The title or attribute given and appropriated unto God: He searcheth, or knoweth, the heart. He was the maker of the heart, and is the disposer of the heart, and will judge every man according to his heart; and therefore he must know the heart thoroughly and perfectly, certainly and infallibly; and it is the joy of an upright person, that God knoweth and searcheth the heart. When the world condemns him for insincerity, he rejoiccth that God "knoweth his integrity; and when he has it in the purpose of his heart to do good, but wants power in his hand to accomplish and effect it, this is his consolation, That God accepts as done, what he did desire and resolve to do, 2 Chron. vi. 8. Observe, 2. The action here attributed to the heart-searching God: he knoweth <ahat is the mind of the Spirit: that is, he knoweth the workings of the Holy Spirit, and of our own spirits also, in the duty of prayer. It is a great comfort to the children of God, that the Lord knoweth what kind of spirit is working in their hearts, when they are before him upon their knees. Do we labour under difficulty of utterance in prayer? Are we attended with distractions in prayer? Do we at any time forget and leave out in prayer what we intended to put into it? The Lord

knoweth what is the mind of our spirits in that matter. God doth not only hear his people's prayers, but he hears their desires: and grants not only the desires of our lips, but the desires of our hearts, which have not been expressed by our lips. Observe, 3. Who the persons are whom the Holy Spirit intercedes for in prayer: they are saints, He makcth intercession for the saints: for them exclusively, and none but them; for them inclusively, for all and -every one of them: the Spirit sanctifies all those in whom and for whom he intercedes: he is first a spirit of regeneration, before he is a spirit of intercession; he first puts gracious dispositions into us, and then stirs up holy desires in us. Observe, 4. The qualification necessary to render our prayers acceptable to God, they must be according to God; that is, according to the will and mind of God. And that, 1. In respect of the matter of them: we must pray only for things lawful and warrantable. 2. In regard of the manner of them: we must pray in faith, with fervency, and in the name of Christ. 3. In respect of the end of them, and what we propound to ourselves in them ; which is, the glory of God. Notwithstanding Christ's mediation, and the Spirit's intercession, we may ask, and not receive, if we ask amiss; that is, for bad ends, that we may consume it upon our lusts.

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to Ats purpose.

That is," All dispensations of providence whatsoever, whether they be ordinary afflictions, or extraordinary trials, which do befall the children of God in this life, shall certainly be directed by his wisdom, and overruled by his power and goodness, for the temporal, spiritual, and eternal good of his children and people." Observe here, 1. What those things are, which are especially intended in that comprehensive term, All things. By all things here, we are to understand, Omnia tristia, von Omnia turpia;" All the saints' afflictions, not their sins;" for then they might rejoice in their sins and wickedness, which is damnable impiety, as well as in their sufferings for Christ, seeing they may rejoice in that which by God's designation tendeth to their good. But by all things, the apostle means all providential

« ElőzőTovább »