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ject, and approach the table of the Lord with enlarged expectations of obtaining all that is necessary to render them truly happy. God perfectly knoweth what we stand most in need of: he knoweth whether health or sickness, riches or poverty ; whether cordials to cherish, or medicines of a different operation, are best for us. With re. spect to these, it is our duty and our interest to subject our choice entirely to his pleasure. This should be our chief, our only care, to renew from the beart our thankful acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ; and then we may be assured that nothing can come amiss to us : For he that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, shall certainly with him also freely give us all things. Amen.
ROMANS viii. 31.
What shall we then say to these things ? If God be for
us, who can be against us ?
This chapter contains a large and animated detail of the privileges that belong to believers in Christ Jesus; and lays open those springs of true consolation with which the gospel-covenant is plentifully stored. No. thing is wanting that our present condition renders necessary or desirable; a suitable and an effectual remedy is provided both for our guilt and pollution. No sin can exceed the merit of a Redeemer's blood; no lust can withstand the power of his victorious grace ; so that we may justly adopt the words of the returning prodigal, and say, as he did, that “ in our Father's house there is bread enough and to spare.”
In the two preceding verses, the Apostle leads us upward to the source and fountain of all those blessings we presently possess, or hope to enjoy; namely, the eternal love of an unchangeable God. It was his self-moving goodness that prompted bim to devise the metbod of our recovery; and the scheme is so widely laid, so complete and finished in all its parts, that no power or policy can defeat the execution of it: “ For whom God did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called ; and whom he called, them he also justified ; and whom he justified, them he also glorified." So that the man whom God hath “ called by his grace," is just as safe as Omnipotence can make him. Looking backward to God's purpose before time commenced, and forward to the glory that awaits him when time shall be no more, he may boldly bid defiance to every adverse power, saying, in the triumphant language of this Apostle; “ Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect ?" and, “ Who shall separate us from the love of God?"
The words I am to discourse upon, present the inspired author to our view in a very striking and agreeable light. Transported and overpowered with the greatness of the subject, he makes a sudden and solemn pause; and then asks the question, What shall we say to these things ? Nothing can be said against them; and it is impossible to exceed in their just commendation. What then shall we say to them? What use shall we make of these comfortable truths ? or what conclusion shall we draw from them? This I take to be the true meaning of the question. And an important question it is : Blessed be God, who put into the heart of his servant both to propose and answer it. Well, then, what doth a St. Paul say to these things? or rather what answer doth the Spirit of God indite? Let every believer in Christ listen with joy, and apply it to himself, If God be for us who can be against us?
As the Apostle, through the whole of this chapter, speaks in the character of an assured Christian, the word if cannot be supposed to imply any doubtfulness or uncertainty about the truth of the proposition to which it relates; but rather taketh it for granted, and is of the same import as though the Apostle bad expressed himself thus : Seeing that God is for us : And therefore, instead of proving what none will deny, namely, that this privilege doth really belong to sanctified believers, I shall rather, in the first place, briefly unfold its meaning and worth ; and then shew, in the second place, what a solid foundation it lays for the joyful conclusion, or rather the triumphant challenge, in the close of the verse, Who can be against us?
I begin with unfolding the privilege itself, God is for us. And it necessarily implies, that
God is our friend. This is the very lowest sense the words will bear; and yet, my brethren, who can tell, nay, who can conceive the importance and worth of this single blessing? To be in a state of favour with the greatest and the best of Beings, the Father of our spirits too, upon whom we constautly depend for life and all things; how delightful the thought! How dismal to suppose ourselves in the opposite condition! As I speak at present to real Christians only, I need not enlarge upon
this branch of your happiness. Many of you, doubtless, can remember the time when, lying under the sense of unpardoned guilt, and the fearful apprehensions of deserved wrath, you would have parted with ten thousand worlds like this, for one ray of God's countenance, for the remotest hint of pardon and acceptance. Such, I know, will require no commendation of the divine friendship: You have already learned from experience, the surest and most convincing teacher, that no enjoyment is comparable to the assurance of God's love; nay, that all other enjoyments are tasteless, or rather bitter, without it.
But the expression carries in it a higher meaning than this: It not only imports that God is reconciled to us, but that he likewise taketh our part, and is active for our good. God is for us ; that is, he is on our side, and employs all his perfections for our safety and happiness. He not only graciously forgives what hath formerly been done by us against himself; but, as far as can consist with the perfection and happiness of his nature, he feels and resents what by others is at any time done against us, “ He that toucheth you," saith he, “ toucheth the apple of mine eye." And what shall we think of this? Balaam could say, “Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel;" for “the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them." Yet this privilege is common to all believers in Christ: the Lord of hosts is their guardian as well as their friend; he chargeth himself with their protection ; he adopts them into bis family; and not only dignifies them with the title of children, but doth likewise enrich them with all the immunities and privileges which that high and endearing appellation imports. And what may they not expect from such
á Father? whose wisdom is infinite, whose power is irresistible, whose 6
mercy is everlasting," and whose 6 truth endureth to all generations.” And when I mention the truth of God, this leads me to observe another important sense, in which it may be justly said that God is for us; namely,
That he is our God in covenant, and hath pledged his veracity and faithfulness for every blessing our circumstances can require. It is comfortable to know that God is not only reconciled to us, but that he likewise taketh our part, and is active for our good. Nevertheless, as that jealousy which is inseparable from a consciousness of guilt might still suggest to us, that some unforeseen cause may throw us out of his protection; therefore, “God being willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, hath confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” God hath not left us to spell out our privileges, or to reason ourselves into the hope of good things; he bath plainly told us what is in bis heart; he hath put his merciful designs into the form of a covenant, and expressed them in a variety of gra. cious promises; by the help of which we may lay hold upon bis truth, and plead the honour of the Godhead for every blessing we need. Nay, this covenant is seal. ed with the blood of his own Son; upon which account it sometimes gets the name of a Testament; that is, an irrevocable deed, made sure and unalterable by the death of the testator. Hereby the firmest foundation is laid for our faith and hope; and that our joy may be full, he hath instituted the holy sacrament of the supper, wherein visible pledges of his love are put into our