ROMANS, viii, 17, 18.
"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 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."

'AND if children, then heirs.'
The one implies relationship to God, the other a right of property from Him - differing from the corresponding right in society in this - that for one man to be the heir of another, implies a right to that which the other possesses upon his relinquishing it by death. It is a right in reversion; but which, instead of entering upon at the death of another, he enters upon at his own death. And he is an heir of God, not because at that period he succeeds Him, but because at that period he is admitted by Him into the full enjoyment of Himself - nay into as full a participation as his limited faculties will allow, of the very joys and the very characteristics of the Godhead.

He then enters on the glory that is to be revealed, and he is then filled with the whole fulness of God. St. John felt himself unable to enter into the details of what that is which the children of God shall be, but still he could say in the general that we shall be like Him. He knew of himself and of his fellow-disciples that they were the sons of God, and exclaims at the manner of love wherewith God had loved them in that they should be so called; and then he seems to pass from their relationship as sons of which he spake with present certainty, to their relationship as heirs of which he could only speak distantly and dimly - yet speaks in such a way as makes out a very apposite conception of our property in God; for what can give us a nearer use and enjoyment of the Deity, than we have by actually seeing Him as He is, and so gazing with unexpended delight on all those lovely and venerable graces by which He is irradiated - and, what comes nearer to a communication of Himself unto us or to our having a portion in the Divinity, than our being made like unto Him?

It would look too as if the circumstance of our seeing Him led, by a sort of casual or influential energy, to the circumstance of our being assimilated to Him - as if we gathered, by a sort of radiation from His glory, the reflection of a kindred glory upon our own persons - as if His excellencies passed into us when ushered into His visible presence, and became ours by sympathy or ours by transmission. He does not part with His character; but He multiplies His character by the diffusion of it through all the members of the blest household that is above; and they may most significantly be called heirs of God - may be most significantly said to have God for their portion, and God for their inheritance - When not only admitted to the full and immediate sight of Him; but when the efficacy of that sight is to actuate and inspire them with His very affections, is to cover and adorn them with His very moral and spiritual glories.

'Heirs of God.' This phrase brings us to the same conclusion as that in which we have often been landed, by the consideration of other phrases and other passages of the Bible, in regard to the kind of happiness that is to be enjoyed in heaven. To be filled with the fulness of God, is to have a full view of Him as He is; and not merely a full view of His character, but a full participation of it. This is the inheritance that we have to look forward. to. An heir hath something in prospect, and something in reversion; and this is our prospect. There is a glory to the revealed; and of which we shall be admitted as the beholders, and not only the beholders but also the sharers of it. Our eye will be direct on the manifested Godhead; and in the act of looking to Him we shall be made like unto Him. We shall imbibe the very character that we gaze upon; and not only shall we have unspotted moral excellence in full and faultless perfection before us, but we shall have all that inherent delight; which springs from the ample possession of it. So that after all, it is not the happiness of sense but mainly and substantially the happiness of sacredness. It is the very kind of happiness wherein God hath dwelt from everlasting; and in which He had supreme and ineffable enjoyment before the world was. It is that happiness to which the viewless Spirit of the Eternal is competent; and which lay profoundly seated in the depths of His incomprehensible nature, ere there was any sensible delight to be tasted or any sensible beauty to gaze upon. He was happy in the contemplation of His own virtues; and this is a happiness that we are made to inherit, when, admitted into His presence, these virtues stand in illuminated glory before us.

And He was happy in the complacent possession of these virtues - in the harmony within to which they ever attune the bosom of their serene and abiding occupation - in the deep and capacious peacefulness, wherewith they pervaded the very essence of the Divinity - in that fulness of joy, whereof purity and righteousness and love are the sole but the sufficient elements. This happiness too we are made to inherit, when the character of God is not only set before us in radiant perspective, but is made ours in real and actual possession - when all His moralities take up their dwelling-place in our own souls, and have over them entire and absolute dominion - when, in the ethereal play of our kind and holy and heavenly affections, we shall have pleasure for evermore - when ours shall be the blessedness that essentially resides in every well-conditioned and well-constituted spirit; and opposed to all that turbulence and misery, which wrath and malice and deceit and the fierceness of unhallowed desire are ever stirring in the heart which they agitate and possess - there will be a well of living water in the soul, the play of a celestial fountain that yields to the feelings a perpetual refreshment; and which, apart from all external gratification, can minister the choicest sweets of elysium from the deep and inward complacencies of rectitude alone. And then there is the sympathy of all this conscious feeling between soul and soul, - there is the diffusion of God's own likeness over all the individuals of Heaven's family - there is the moral radiance that issues from His throne, and is reflected back again from the countenance of all the worshippers who are around it - there is the law of kindness, that emanates from the central place of glory, and circulates throughout the mighty hosts both of the redeemed and the unfallen - These are the properties of that divine, inheritance whereunto we are called - these are the beatitudes to which, as the heirs of God, we are invited to look forward; and though we do believe of the paradise above, that it will be lighted up in material splendour, and have all the hues and graces of material loveliness scattered over it in rich and infinite profusion - yet will it be in the healthful temperament of spirits; in the action of mind, upon mind; in the worth, and the beneficence, and the piety, that are inwardly felt by each, and spread abroad in one tide of joyful communication among all - it will be in these that the happiness of immortals shall essentially lie.

It will be a moral and a spiritual gladness that shall hold jubilee there; and the high and heaven-born festivities that are there enjoyed will be characteristic, not of a place of sense, but of a place of sacredness. And this should hold out a lesson to all who are pressing forward to acquire, or who do now entertain the hopes of the gospel. It; is a hope which should lead directly unto holiness. The son, who is also heir, receives upon his spirit an impression and a tinge from the nature of his inheritance. If it be an inheritance of wealth - he may now be busied with all the plans, and have entered in some degree upon the habits of expenditure. If it be the inheritance of an official dignity - he even now rises upward in thought to the measure of the elevation that awaits him. If it be a place of duty, and where eloquence or scholarship or high philosophy be indispensable to the discharge of it - then will he give himself up to the toils of an unseen but busy solitude, to the labours of the midnight oil in the work of preparation. And so if it be a place of holy delights and holy exercises - will there even now be a foretaste of the coming joy, and a preparation for the coming services. The expectants of heaven will even now, be of heavenly character and heavenly conversation. There will be a mortification unto the present, there will be an engrossnient with the concerns of the future. The urgencies of sense will be resisted, because they are not the delights of sense which are to constitute the portion of their eternity. The high communions of sacredness will be aspired after, because it is a habitation of sacredness whither they are going. The spirit of holiness that is in them here, will be the earnest to them of a holy inheritance hereafter. They will know themselves to be strangers and pilgrims; and their affections will be kindred with the country to which they travel, and not with the country through which they pass. They will sit loose to this world's cares and this world's pleasures; and thus a patience under all earthly discomforts, and a self-denial to all earthly gratifications, will be to them the discipline that shall at once inspire the hope and qualify for the enjoyment of higher gratifications.

'Joint-heirs with Christ.' - The term son implies only a relationship. The term heir implies something more - a right to something in reversion, and on which we are afterwards to enter. The heir hath.a title to the inheritance; and joint- heirs have a joint or common title thereunto. We who believe in Christ have a common title with Christ, to the inheritance that is above. It is a title by us possessed, but by Him purchased. It is called a purchased inheritance, because a price was given for it - a ransom or a redemption-price, whereby the title that we had forfeited is again made up to us - a right that we share along with Him who earned it - and of which it is most material that you should know, that by Him it was altogether bought, and to us it is altogether rendered in the form of a present.
There is not a greater stumbling-block in the way of our entrance upon the divine life, than the legal imagination that we often set out with, of making good as our claim that which is freely offered to us as a gratuity. We either never shall be satisfied with the goodness of such a claim, and so be all along haunted bya most oppressive sense of insecurity; or, if we are satisfied, it is only by dishonouring God - by bringing down His law to the measure of our loyalty, - by an affronting comparison between the lofty commandment of Heaven and our unworthy and polluted services.

And, accordingly, this is a point on which the gospel will stoop to no compromise whatever with human guilt. It makes you welcome to heaven, but not through the works of righteousness that you have done; and if you persist to make this the footing on which you rest your hopes of immortality - this it denounces as a presumption on your part which it resents to the uttermost, and for which it has no toleration. You must take the gift of eternal life,.if you are to obtain it at all, on the footing of that mercy which hath saved us - and of mercy too, that, not satisfied with giving it as a simple donation, gives it conjoined with all the securities of a title-deed, and of a legal investiture. It is given to you in consideration of a righteousness, and that not your own but the righteousness of Jesus Christ; and you altogether defeat the economy of the gospel, and miss the very spirit which it is designed to impress upon sinners, if you hold not by your hopes of a coming inheritance, on the terms that to you it is freely given, because by Him it has been amply earned.

But though we had no part with Christ in the purchase of that inheritance which belongs jointly to Him and to us, yet there is one thing that is common betwixt us. He alone achieved the purchase. He trode the wine-press alone. And when, He saw that there was none to help, His own arm brought Him salvation. But whilst there is no similarity between Him and us as to the fulfilment of that righteousness by which heaven is purchased, there is a similarity as to the fulfilment of that righteousness by which heaven is prepared for. It was He who reared the pathway of communication between earth and heaven; but He not only reared it, He also walked upon it, and we have to follow His steps. For this purpose He was set forth as an example; and, to make it an applicable and an imitable one, He assumed such a humanity as felt the power of temptation, though He overcame it - as was tried by sufferings, and was actually schooled into perfection thereby - as was exercised by affliction in such a way as to be taught by it, and from it to learn obedience. We have nought but revelation to guide us through the mysteries of a nature that none but He ever realised - yet it was a nature so conformable to ours, as that we could make a study and a copy of it; and, accordingly, we are told by the apostle in his epistle to the Hebrews, that the Captain of our salvation was,made perfect through sufferings - that by the things which He did suffer He learned obedience - that He become qualified by this process of discipline to make our sufferings the instruments of our sanctification, even as His sufferings were the instruments as we are expressly told of His sanctification - that both He who sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are in this respect one - that from the like contests of trials here, there is the like crown of triumph hereafter - and that He hath not only pointed out this way by describing it before us, but hath been enabled thereby to help us over all its difficulties; for “to him that overcometh” he says “will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father on his throne.”

'If so be that we suffer with him that we may be also glorified together ' - or 'seeing that we suffer with him that we may also be glorified together.'
There is this difference you will perceive of import between the two phrases 'ifso be that,' and 'seeing that.' By the former phrase, the present suffering is made the essential condition of our future glory. By the latter phrase, the present suffering is recognised as that which hath actually happened; and the future glory as that in which it will most assuredly terminate. And though we would not say of sufferings in time, that they are indispensable to the triumphs of eternity - yet, certain it is, that the one is often made the stepping-stone to the other. Certain it is, that, in point of fact, they are the instruments of a salutary discipline for the growth and establishment of a believer in holiness. They not only go before our glory in heaven; but it is expressly said that they work out that glory.
“Our light afflictions which are but for a moment work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” The chastisements of God yield, it is said, the peaceable fruit of righteousness; and they are inflicted for the express purpose of making us partakers of His own holiness. “ It is good” for me says the Psalmist “that I have been afflicted.” “ Ere I was afflicted I went astray.” And it is very remarkable that the Saviour who assumed the person, and put on the infirmities, and became subject to the temptations of a man - that He also exemplified the very processes by which humanity is purified and exalted unto a meetness for the celestial habitations - that He, of whom we might well imagine that ile had nothing to learn, actually learned obedience by the things which He suffered - that He, of whom no one could think that any imperfection adhered to Him, actually became perfect through suffering - that He, whose natural manhood was carried forward from infancy in a way analogous to the rest of the species, seems to have grown to His moral and spiritual manhood in the same way, being cradled among the elements of suffering and pain, being tutored in the school of adversity, being tried and at length established in virtue under the lessons of the severe teacher - So becoming in all points, with the single exception of sin, like as we are - not feeling only as we ought to feel, and acting as we ought to act, but learning as we ought to learn.

I have had occasion formerly to explain in your hearing the beneficial efficacy of an afflictive process - how it emptied the heart of an idol that had seduced or withdrawn us too much from God - how it loosened the tie by which man is so often bound to the vanities of a perishable world - how, by rending asunder the connection that there formerly was between our affections and certain earthly objects by which these affections were seeularised, it left the soul more clear and unoccupied for, the things of God and, eternity - how, additionally to all this, it tried our faith and patience, and by the very trial strengthened them the more - how it, in a manner, compelled us upon our resources in heaven, to make up for crosses and deficiencies on earth; and, in so doing, brought us into closer contact and made us have more abundant conversation there - So, in a word, as to confirm our attitude of strangers and pilgrims upon earth; and habituate us to the frame of those, who, looking forward to another restingplace, sit loose to the world and to all its treacherous enjoyments.

And it would greatly lighten the burden of our afflictions, did we but lay our account with them - did we regard them as forming a necessary part of ourlot - .-did we, forewarned of their frequency, stand in the attitude of readiness and were prepared to receive them. It would serve to repress the murmurs of our impatience, and reconcile us to the hardships of life, did we look on life as a journey whose hardships must be traversed; and that they, in fact, were the steps of' that laborious ascent which led to the higher scenes of a sinless and unsuffering kingdom. There is nought which aggravates more the painfulness of affliction, than the thought that we have been singled out for calamities whichare but rarely exemplified in the world; and one of the most familiar effusions of discontent is - that never was man so beset and tormented and cruelly agonised both by misfortune and injustice, as I have been.

To meet this tendency, the apostle makes use of many arguments. He tells us that our afflictions are not rare - "Think not that any strange thing hath happened unto you,” and that others experience the same - "There has nought befallen you that is not common to the rest of your brethren in the world,” and that it is not so great as might easily be imagined - "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin;” and, lastly, that they are useful in the great work of our spiritual education. Be reconciled therefore and patient. You do not know what others suffer as well as you. The heart knoweth its own bitterness: And each believer hath his own appropriate visitation laid upon him, by the God who chastens because He loves; and who conforms us to Christ in suffering, because He means that we shall be conformed unto Him in glory.

Ver. 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.'
This is a testimony which cometh well from the apostle Paul who was so singimlarly afflicted in his day; who stood at all times in imminent peril of his life, from the unrelenting enemies of that faith which he so steadfastly adhered to; who, in addition to fightings from without, had fears and forebodings within; and whose spirit, made the subject of constant agitation and turmoil both from his misgivings as to. the success of his ministry and from that deep and tender sensibility of,conseience which rendered him so alive to his own weakness, was well nigh wearied into utter despondency - so that he longed to depart from the world, and to be with Christ which he deemed far better. Such a testimony from a man of so much experience in the sufferings of life, should be prized by the sufferers of after ages - even as the record of that grace and mercy which were bestowed upon him a sinful persecutor, should be prized by the sinners of all after ages. It is a signal exhibition of the power of faith, proving that with him immortality was somewhat more than a dream - that it was embodied into a practical reality; and had the same substantial influence to console him, in the dark and trying hour of adversity, as the near prospect of deliverance even in this world. The man who frets impatiently, under the little crosses and disasters of our peaceable day - who abandons himself to despair, when his visions of prosperity on this side of time are scattered by the hand of misfortune into nothing - who feels that all is lost, because the earthly portion upon which he set his heart is lost - who, differently reckoning from Paul, reckons himself an outcast from hope and happiness because of the clouds that sit on this tempor ary scene - He may try himself by these marks, and learn how little indeed it is that he lives by the power of a coming world - learn how, after all, 'when his faith is brought to a really practical test, it is found most wofully to fail him - and, more especially learn, how possible it is to have quite the form of sound words, and to have all the notions and phrases of the evangelical system, without being impregnated with that faith which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

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