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not do it, he has destroyed the works of the devil, and conquered principalities and powers, so as the gates of hell cannot prevail : that men in the world might not do it, he has overcome the world : and that death may not do it, he has removed the sting of death:- Why then, what remains to obstruct their good, and hinder their eternal salvation ?
Again, as he has removed all things that might obstruct their good, so he has purchased all things that can contribute to their good: “ All spiritual blessings, in heavenly places," Eph. i. 3. The men of the world may deprive them of their riches, honour, liberty, and good name, and outward peace; but they cannot hinder them from peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost ; nor deprive them of their right and title to glory. Christ hath purchased all these things, Luke i. 74, 75. Men cannot lay a restraint upon our spirit, nor hinder us to
go to God.
In a word, Christ, by his Spirit, is always with them; 'he has promised, that “ He will never leave them, nor
forsake them:" therefore, whatever way the wind blows, att weathers will contribute to their prosperous voyage heaven-ward. And, as Christ's own sufferings did work for his glory; so shall the sufferings of the saints in Christ. If physic be good for the head, it is good for the members of the body; but his love is mixed with the bitterest physic that he orders, and his love makes it work for their good: and nothing in the world can turn the tide of his love from them. And therefore, all things shall work together for good to them.
3. A third reason or argument, upon which we know that all things shall work together for good to them, is drawn from the covenant of
venant of grace and promise: there is a solemn vow and oath, on God's part, that he wilt do so and so for his people. 'All the believing children of Abraham have the same security with him: “ God swears by himself, because he could swear by no greater, that in blessing he would bless them,” Heb. vi. 14. And why does he confirm his promise by his oath; but to shew more abundantly the immutability of his counsel ? " That by two immutable things, wherein it was im.
possible for him to lie, we might have strong consolation who have fled for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before us.” As “ All the promises are Yea and Amen in Christ,” so, the grand comprehensive promise is, “1 will be thy God :” and, “ Happy is the people whose God is the Lord!" This everlasting God, is the everlasting good of his people: he is the God that was, and is to come: and he is a good in the preterit, present, and future tense; therefore, all things past, present, and to come, must work for their good, to whoin he is a God by covenant and promise.
4. The fourth reason or argument, whereby we know that all things shall work together for good to them that love God, is drawn from the people themselves, to whom the promise is made: why, they are his relations and his lovers.
(1.) They are his relations : they are the birth of his everlasting purpose ; being, in time, called according to his purpose ; and so brought under a special relation to him. He is their everlasting Father: before they were children, he was their Father. He is their Husband : and what will he not do for his spouse, the bride, the Lamb's wife? He is their Head : and what will he not do for his members ? He is their Physician; and what will be not take care of his patients ? “ I am the Lord that healeth thee :" yea, he will heal and help them in wonderful ways, by making all things work together for their good.
(2.) They are his lovers : and this leads me to another branch of this head that I proposed, namely,
To observe the suitableness and connexion between this character of being lovers of God, and this privilege, That all things work together for their good. This love to God has a subserviency for making all things work together for good to such lovers; for,
1. Love to God in Christ makes them count all things loss and Jung for the excellency of this glorious One, whom they love. Why, says God, do you count all things loss for me? Then I will make all things gain to you. You shall lose nothing; all things shall work together for good to you.
2. Love to God makes them suffer the loss of all things, and deny themselves of all things for his sake : why then, says God, I will make all things contribute to repair your loss ; so that, if you lose all things one way, you shall gain all things another: you shall be coheirs with him who is the heir of all things; Rev. xxi. 7. “ He that overcometh, shall inherit all things.”
3. Love to God inclines them to rely upon him, and to depend upon him for all things they need, and to put all things in his hand : they put their wants and weaknesses in his hand, in order to be supplied and helped; they put their diseases in his hand, in order to be healed; they put their sin and guilt in bis hand, in order that he may pardon them; they put their enemies in his hand, that he may rebuke them; they put their strong corruptions in his band, that he may subdue them; they put their burdens in his band, that he may bear them; they put their heart and soul in his hand, that he may keep them. What! dost thou put all things in my hand, and that by warrant from my own call! “ Cast thy burden on the Lord!" All things shall work together for good to thee.
4. Love makes them desire to do all they do for the glory of God; he bath created them for himself, to shew forth his praise : and as he has given them a disposition to do all that they do, to his glory; so, he has a mind to make all that be doth and orders, contribute for their good. As the desire, whether they eat or drink: or whatsoever they do, to do all to the glory of God; so I will not be behind with them : as they would have all things contributing to his glory; so he will make all things contribute for their good.
5. Love to God keeps in the soul good thoughts of God, do what he will ; knowing that he is most wise, holy, gracious and loving; and therefore doth nothing but what is best, and knows best what is good for his people. The apostle says, "Love (or charity) thinketh no eyil :" and surely, true love to God, can think no evil of him, and bode no evil at his hand : such a soul cannot be disappointed ; all things must work together for good. Indeed, unbelief works by enmity, and expects no good at God's hand; but “ Faith works by love," and expects no evil at his hand, and shall find none; because, whatever heavy trials such a loving soul, meets with, love makes it take all patiently and pleasantly out of the hand of God : for, as love thinks no evil, so it suffers long, doth not behave itself unseemly, is not easily provoked, but beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, and endureth all things, i Cor. xii, 4, 5. 7. Therefore, all things work together for good to the lovers of God.
6. Love to God takes the heart off from the world, and all things in it, and especially such things as would hurt it, namely, all that is in the world, the last of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life; the more perfect love is, the more it casts out fear, and casts off harm, as Paul did the viper off his hand, into the fire. All things must work for good to the loving soul that overcomes all things that would work for evil.
7. Love draws the heart to God, the chief good. Trials and afflictions set the soul in motion : and love draws it near to God ; and what is the consequence of this; “ It is good for me to draw near unto God," Psal. Ixxiii. 28. Therefore, all things must work for good to the lovers of God.
8. As love draws the soul to God, so it makes the soul to abide with God, when brought unto him : for, “ He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him," 1 John iv. 14. And he that thus dwells on high, no evil can reach him. “ He dwells in the secret place of the Most High, and abides under the shadow of the Almighty," Psal. xci. 1. 10. Nothing can work for hurt to him, but all must work for good. And whatever seems to hurt him; yet this love is such a healing thing, and such a strengthening thing, love be ing stronger than death, and a powerful restorative, that by its active kind of energy it quickly makes all well again. Hence the more that the believer is in the exercise of love to God, kindled by a view of God's everlasting love to him, the more will he have of the sensible and comfortable relish of this privilege, and see all things working together for good to him: whereas
the less love to God, by the faith of God's love to him ; the less will he see and feel this truth to his advantage ; but rather fear the contrary, with Jacob, saying, “ All these things are against me."
Thụs you see the influence and subserviency of this love unto this privilege; or the connection between the character of being lovers of God, and the privilege of all things working together for good; and so upon what solid reason and good evidence the apostle did, and all believers may assert and say, “ We know that all things shall work together for good to them that love God, and that are the called according to his purpose."
VI. The sixth thing proposed was, To make application of the subject.
Here is a foundation laid for a very large application; but I must confine myself within as narrow bounds as possible.
The first use 1 make of this doctrine is, of information. Is it so, That all things work together for good to them that love God?
1. Hence see and admire the infinite wisdom of God, and the depth of divine providence, even when he suffers all thing seemingly to work for hurt to his church and people, that even then he is making all things work together for good to them. O believer! do not believe sense; it is a fool and a knave, when it speaks contrary to God: whatever appearance things have, and be as they will, all things shall work for good to the lovers of God. It shall be so toward every lover of God in particular, and much more will it be so towards the whole community of lovers, and of Christ's friends.
Perhaps there was never greater evils of one sort and another taking place in the world, and even in the midst of the visible church, than now-a-days; yet I dare assert, that out of all the evils of our day, God shall bring forth much good to his friends and lovers. But if
you cannot see to the bottom of his ways, which are unsearchable, believe upon trust, saying, as it is, Isa. viii. 17.
• I will wait upon the Lord, that bideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him." See Mic. vii 6,-9. " Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before