Thomas Chalmers

Lectures on Romans
ROMANS, viii, 31.

"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"

WE have endeavoured to make it good, that the encouragement of the last verse might be taken on two separate grounds - first on the ground of direct faith in the calls and promises of the gospel, and secondly on the ground of certain fufillrnents which personally and experimentally take place on those who have believed the gospel. The first encouragement then might be addressed to all - for it might be embodied in the very first overtures of the gospel; and these should be laid before all for their acceptance, on the moment of which a reconciliation with Heaven ensues and God is upon their side. The second encouragement is for those who have found and tasted that God is gracious, in the change that by grace He has wrought upon themselves - in the pledges which they have already received of a coming glory in heaven, even by a conscious preparation for it going on within their own heart and upon their own history on earth - in the first-fruits of the Spirit upon their souls, and by which the evidence of God’s friendship has been carried forward from promises to gifts, from those promises which they relied on at the moment of their first believing, to those gifts wherewith even in this life the believer is privileged.

Now it so happens that this very distinction is still more obviously spread before us in the 32nd and 33rd verses - for, instead of being enveloped under the covering of one verse as in the 31st that we have already attempted to expound, we find that of the two following verses, the former is addrest to a belief which may or may not have as yet been accompanied with experience; and the latter is addrest to experience alone. When He spared not His own Son, He delivered Him up for us all; and He is so far given to every one of you, that, though not yours in possession, He is at least yours in offer. In this sense God may be said to havo given to each and to every eternal life, which life is in His Son. And so much has every one a warrant to lay hold of this gift, that God is offended if he do not. He feels it an indignity to Himself, if you do not have confidence in the honesty of His offer - He is affronted by it as if by an imputation of falsehood, saying that "he who believeth not the record which God hath given of his Son makes God a liar, and this is the record even that God hath given to us eternal life and this life is in his Son."

All ought even now to close with this overture; and, on the instant of his doing so, he is instated in the full benefit of the apostle’s argument, and might confidently join him in the question of my text 'He that spared not his own Son but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?’

This is an argument of which the apostle seems on more occasions than one to have felt the great strength and importance, and to have urged it accordingly. There cannot, in fact, be imagined a firmer basis on which to rest our confidence in God. He has already done the greatest thing for us, and why not expect then that He will do what is less? The great and heavy expense has already been incurred, and surely He will not leave unfinished what with so much cost and difficulty He hath carried so far. He will not make abortive that, to begin which required such a sacrifice at His hand; but now to end or to complete which, will require but the free indulgence of His own kind and generous desires for the happiness of those whom He has formed. Before that He gave up His Son unto the death, there was a let and a hindrance in the way of His mercy to sinners; but now that the let is overcome, now that the hindrance is moved away, now that justice and truth have been vindicated and no longer forbid the exercise of His tenderest compassion towards the men of our guilty world - now will that compassion flow over in blissful and bounteous exuberance on all who shall put themselves in its way; and He who spared not His own Son, but gave Him up unto the death for us all, is now free and ready to give us all things.

There is an expression used elsewhere by the apostle of the unsearchable riches of Christ. We are apt to look at the truth that is in Jesus, as if it were a meagre and very limited sort of doctrine - consisting perhaps of a few bare catechetical propositions, which we can get by heart just as we do the rules of syntax or arithmetic; and which, almost as little as these, excite any sensibility or awaken any glow, whether of imagination or feeling, on the part of its disciples. It is marvellous how many there be, who, familiar with all the terms of orthodoxy, are utter strangers to the warmth and the vividness and the power which lie in the truths of it; and who, though they can listlessly repeat the whole phraseology of evangelical sentiment, have not yet entered into the life and substance and variety of thought and of application which belong to it. The interrogation of the text, we will venture to say, way have been read by some of you a hundred times over, without your being aware of the comfort and power of argument wherewith it is so thoroughly replete - read with that sort of unmoved torpor in which so many prosecute their daily mechanical task of perusing a chapter in the Bible - run over much in the same way that a traveller passes rapidly along in a vehicle whose blinds have been raised, so as to intercept all the diversified loveliness of that scenery which he has not once looked upon. He can speak of the miles he has described, as you can of the chapters. Both of you have made progress; but the one without having had his senses regaled by the prospects of beauty and fertility in the landscape, and the other without having had his spirit regaled by aught in the promises of Scripture or in the preciousness of its consolations.

Now this verse is so very pregnant with these, that if I could but unfold the matter aright - it might perhaps let you in to the significance and the descriptive truth of the apostle’s phrase - the unsearchable riches of Christ. The fruit of our search may be such a view of gospel wealth, or the fulness of gospel blessings, as not only to regale our spirits with all that we have found, but as to convince us that there is as much more to find as might furnish the delightful employment of an eternity. We may be made to see more of the ways of God, than are yet known or conceived by us; and yet after all say with Job, " Lo these are parts of his ways. and how little a portion is heard of him!" The economy of our redemption is a theme for the understanding, as well as for the affections, to dwell upon - it being not more hard to feel as we ought, than it is to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, and to comprehend the length and the breadth and the depth and the height thereof.

But, to go rapidly over a few of the leading points, First - God hath already given the very greatest thing to set my salvation agoing, and what security then is there that He shall give all other things which are needful to complete that salvation? He hath given what every parent who had but one beloved son would surely feel the greatest of his treasures, He hath given His only and His well-beloved Son for us all. In human transactions, the first fruits of an engagement are generally but a small fraction of the whole - the pledge is but a minute proportion of the final and complete performance - the earnest is a mere mantling of that main bulk which is still in reversion - the instalment only, a part, and generally a small part, of the sum that is due - And yet in each of these cases, there is a distinct and additional hope awakened of the entire fulfilment, from the token that has thus been put into your hands. But in this transaction between heaven and earth, the matter is reversed - the pledge is more dear and valuable to Him who is the giver, than all that He hath pledged Himself for - the earnest of what He will do in future, is a mightier surrender than all put together which He hath promised to do. It is true, that, in reference to our own interest and feelings, the joys of the coming eternity may be of greater value to us, than all the first fruits and tokens, which, in the shape of grace and a growing meetness for heaven, are conferred upon believers in time. But, in reference to God, He has already given up in our behalf what to Himself was of the greatest value. He has given up the Son of His love to the death for us all; - and, having done this, what a ground of confidence that He will freely give all things!

But secondly, take into account the deep and mysterious suffering that was incurred, at this first and greatest step in the historical process of our salvation - and that now the suffering is over. Take into account that the travail of Christ’s soul hath already gone by; and that now He has only to see of the fruit of this travail.and be satisfied. Remember that when He set forth from His place of glory on the errand of our world’s restoration, He had the dark imagery of persecution and distress and cruel martyrdom before Him; and that what He thus originated with pain, He has only now to prosecute in peace and triumph to its final Consummation. And remember that we estimate the matter wrong, if we think not of His death as a substantial atonement - if we measure not the sore infliction that He sustained, and that drew tears and agonies and cries even from that Being who had the strength of the Divinity to uphold Him- if we measure not His big distress by that guilt of millions, which an eternity of manifold and multiplied vengeance could not have washed away. And all this He did, and all this His Father consented that He should do and suffer, in order to open up a clear avenue towards the restoration of the human family - And think you it possible, that, having done thus much with sore and heavy labour, He will not go forward on the path that He Himself hath struck out, and on which He can now advance by easy and delightful procession toward the full accomplishment of His great undertaking? Will the Father who spared not His own Son from the indignities and the pains of a deep humiliation, and that to commence the enterprise of our recovery to God - will He now refuse to magnify His Son, by most willingly giving all and doing all that might be needful to perfect this recovery, and bring the enterprise of Him who is the Captain of this glorious warfare to its most honourable termination? In other words, after so much has been endured to set on foot the salvation of our world, will He suffer it that all this endurance should go for nothing; and will, not He who has already given for sinners His only-beloved Son, give to them also the needful grace upon earth and the finished and everlasting blessedness in heaven?

And thirdly - remember that all which God hath done from first to last in the work of our redemption, has been entirely of free will. It was not because He owed it to us, but because His own heart was set upon it. It has all along been with Him a matter of purest and most perfect freeness - not the reluctant discharge of an obligation, but the forth-putting of His own spontaneous generosity. This makes it a wholly different case from that of a debtor, who, after having made payment of so much, would like to get off from his obligation for the remainder. There is nought of this kind to stint or to straiten the liberality of God. There is no such straitening with Him, however much we may be straitened in our own narrow and selfish and suspicious bosoms. The truth is, that when He did give up His Son, it was because He so loved the world. It was His own love for us, that prompted this wondrous movement on the part of Heaven, towards the earth which had strayed into a wide and wretched departure away from it. His desire is towards a restoration; and though there be many who would like to stop short of the debt which they owe being fully paid, there is none who would like to stop short of the desire which they feel being fully accomplished. The thing were a contradiction; and, more especially, if such was the force of this desire that it bore itself through the struggles and difficulties of a most arduous outset - it is utterly impossible that it will make a dead stand, and refuse to go farther when there is nought but an inviting and a gentle progress before it. It was because of God’s longing desire after the world, that He gave up His Son unto the sacrifice; and, after the sacrifice has been gone through, He will not turn round upon His own favourite object, and recede from the world which He has done so much to save. That force of affection which bore down the obstacle that stood in its way, will, now that the obstacle is removed, bear onward with accelerated might and speed to the accomplishment of all the good that it is set upon. To do otherwise would be throwing away the purchase after the purchase-money had been given for it; and well may we be assured that after God had freely given such a price for our salvation, He will freely give all things necessary to make good that salvation.

But - fourthly - it should still more be recollected, that when He did give up His Son, it was on behalf of sinners with whom at the time He was in a state of unreconciled variance. It was in the very heat and soreness of the controversy. It was at the period when His broken law had as yet obtained no reparation - when insult without a satisfaction, when disobedience without an apology and without a compensation, had been rendered to Him - when a blow had been inflicted on the sovereign state and dignity of His government, and a sore outrage laid on Heaven’s high throne by the defiance of creatures whom its power could annihilate or sweep away. That was the time of Heaven’s love, and the time at which the Son of God went forth unto the sacrifice. Now the state of matters is altered. The breach has been healed. The debt has been paid. The sinner has got hold of his surety, and may be no longer reckoned with. The law has been set up again in vindicated dignity; and, by means of an expiation for the rebel’s guilt, the monarchy of God rises in untainted honour above the rebellion that earth had waged against it. And if God did so much for sinners then, will He do nothing for them now? If in the season of their unmitigated guilt He gave up His Son, will He cease from giving now in the season of their atonement? If, when nought ascended from the world but a smoke of abomination, the price of its redemption was freely surrendered - will there be no movement of grace or liberality now that there arises with every prayer which is uttered in the name of Christ, and every mention which is made of His offering, the acceptable incense of a sweet-smelling savour?

If there was such a forthputting of kindness to the children of men, when looked to by God in the native deformity of their own guilt - will there be no forth-putting now, when He looks to them as covered and arrayed in the goodly investiture of His Son’s righteousness? And if in our state of condemnation then, He delivered Him up for us all - is not the assurance doubly sure, that, in our state of acceptance now, He will with Him also freely give us all things?
But once more. He gave up His Son, at a time when mercy was closed in as it were by the other attributes of His nature - when it had not yet found a way through that justice and holiness of truth, which seemed to bar the exercise of it altogether - when it had to struggle therefore and make head against an obstacle, high as the dignity of Heaven’s throne, and firmly seated as the eternal character and constitution of the Godhead. It was in fact on very purpose to open an avenue through this else impassable barrier, that Christ went forth; and, by a substitution of His own obedience for ours, and a sacrifice by His own death instead of ours, magnified the law in that very act wherewith He averted its penalties from the head of our devoted species. And is not the inference as resistless as it is animating - that the same mercy, which forced a passage for itself through the imprisonment of all those difficulties which hemmed it in, will, now that they are cleared away, burst forth in freest and kindest exuberance among all those for whom it scaled the mountain of separation; and, now that the middle wall of partition between God and the guilty is broken down by this tide of coinpassion, that it will set in upon our world, fraught with the richest blessings from that throne whereon sitteth the God of love - who rejoices over the success of that enterprise by which He might again beckon to Himself His wandering family. He who gave His Son while Justice was yet unappeased, will freely give all things now that Justice is satisfied; and if when the obstruction lay between the Lawgiver and the rebel, if then it was that the mightiest surrender on the part of Heaven was made, the conclusion is irresistible, that, on the obstruction being done away, there is ready to shower down upon the earth the most plenteous dispensation of all that is good and generous and friendly.
But I feel this subject to be inexhaustible. It is not the preciousness of Christ as being Himself a gift that the text leads me to expatiate on. It is the goodness of it as a pledge of other gifts. Unspeakable blessing in itself, it is the sure harbinger of every other blessing in its train - rich in the promise of things to come, as well as great in the performance of a present stupendous benefit; and, along with the full acquittal and the all-perfect righteousness which it brings along with it to the believer now, affording the best guarantee for all the grace and all the glory that shall afterwards accrue to him. There are even other securities for this than those on which I have insisted - other aspects in which the sure and well-ordered covenant may be regarded, other evolutions of its solidity and strength, that might well cause the believer to rejoice in it as in a treasure the whole value of which is inestimable; and to delight himself greatly in the abundance of peace and of privilege that with Christ are invariably made over to him. For will God stamp dishonour on this His own great enterprise of the world’s redemption? Will He leave unfinished that which He hath so laboriously begun? Will He hold forth the economy of grace as an impotent abortion to the scorn of His enemies; and more especially of him, against whom the Captain of our salvation has gone forth on a warfare, to root up his empire over the hearts of men and to destroy it? Is not the very hostility of Satan to all the designs and doings of our Saviour in itself a guarantee, that we, who have run to Him for refuge, shall be covered over with His protection and be at length brought out by Him in triumph? It was to destroy the works of the Devil that our Saviour went forth, and, after having done so much to silence him as an accuser, will He then stop short and leave him in full possession of his hateful ascendancy over the spirits of men? He hath furnished His disciples with the merit of His own obedience and death as their plea of justification, and by which they can repel the charges of their great adversary. Will He furnish them with nothing by which they might repel his temptations? Will He only release them from the prison-house of condemnation, and suffer them to remain as helplessly the slaves of corruption as before? Will He not complete their deliverance from the great enemy of human souls; and, after having so thoroughly purchased their forgivenness at the court of heaven, will He not give them all things that might be needed to achieve their sanctification also?

Never then, in all the views that can be taken of it, was there a firmer basis for hope to rest upon, than that gift of Jesus Christ that has already been bestowed - regarded as the pledge or the guarantee of all those future gifts, that make out for those who trust in Him a full and a finished salvation. Never was foundation more surely laid, nor can we tell how many those unshaken props are by which it upholds the confidence of a believer. We invite you to cast upon it the whole burden of your reliance. In the quietness and the confidence wherewith you lie down upon it, you shall have strength. You will be in the very attitude wherein God delights to pour down upon you of the prodigality of His blessings - when you stand before Him ifl the attitude of dependence. He will not dishonour the trust that you lay upon His Son, by leaving you to the mortifying experience that it is a vain treacherous reliance, and wholly unproductive of any good to your souls. 0 then lean upon it the whole weight of your expectations; and be very sure, that He who hath given you His Son, will with Him also freely give you all things.

All things.’ We are not to understand this absolutely - but rather appropriately to the condition of one who has set forth upon the good of eternity, as the great and engrossing object of his heart. All things certainly which to an immortal being, and who is in full pursuit of the blessings of immortality, are worth the caring for - all those things for which he has a warrant to pray, and which if he pray for in faith he shall receive - all those things which are held out to him in promise, and which go to complete his privileges as a believer - all things qualified in the way which Peter has done, when, speaking of the great and precious promises, he makes them embrace all things which are necessary to life and to godliness - all things that belong to the relation of one, who, by receiving Christ, has become a child of God’s adopted family; and therefore, in a more special manner than all the rest, referring to that gift which by way of distinction has been termed the promise of the Father - or, as pre-eminent in the list of those things which God bestows upon His now reconciled children, the Holy Spirit. "Because ye are sons God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts" - a gift so universally bestowed upon those who are Christ’s, that it may be affirmed without exception "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his." And so, were we called upon to specify the most prominent of those all things which God giveth unto all who receive Christ, we would say, that they were those things which prospered and carried forward the sanctification of a believer, which furnished him with the grace and enabled him to render the services of new obedience - those things which marked him as a new creature, and stamped that holiness upon his character here which rendered him meet for the only kind of happiness that shall be enjoyed hereafter. In a word, the great gift which is in reserve for the believer after he bath laid hold of an offered Christ, is the gift of a clean heart and a right spirit - whereby he is inclined to walk in the way of those commandments that he had aforetime violated - whereby he renounces ungodliness; and that Being, who ere then was habitually forgotten, is now habitually referred to as a Father to whom he owes all filial and affectionate regards. "For as many as receive Christ, to them gave he power to become the sons of God."

You thus see how it is that the gospel of Jesus Christ, ushers in all those who embrace it to a life of virtue and of progressive holiness. Their purification is as much a free gift as their pardon is. The Spirit called a free Spirit is as much a ministration from on high, as is that act of forgiveness which passes upon all at the moment of their believing in the Saviour. Christ is given, and all those things of which He is the pledge are given also. Eternal life is a gift through Him, and so is meetness for eternal life a gift through Him. The Christian disciple is as much and more a man of performance, than the disciple of mere morality is; Only he performs, not with that strength which he natively possesses; but he performs with that strength which he has prayed for. It is this which forms the grand peculiarity of his practice. Most strenuous and painstaking in all his duties; but there is ever mixed up with his various and unceasing activities the apostolical sentiment, " Nevertheless not me but the grace of God that is in me." It is thus that his, humility and his holiness keep pace together; and he feels himself not more a pensioner upon God for the pardon of his offences, than he is for ability to think a right thought or to do a right and acceptable thing.
The two gifts are inseparable. All who are justified are sanctified. All who truly receive Christ enter immediately upon a course of sanctification - in which course they prosecute a departure from all iniquity, and press .forward to the perfection of holiness as the mark of their earnest and persevering ambition. Be assured, that you have not received Christ if you have not received an impulse upon your spirits on the side of goodness and righteousness and truth - that if He be not washing you, you have no part in Him - and that in the very act of stretching forth upon you the hand of a Saviour, He stretches forth upon you the hand of a Sanctifier. Hence it is that there are certain tokens, by which a man may most assuredly know that as yet he hath no part nor lot in the matter. If ye have not yet begun a struggle with sin - if he do not feel a new tenderness upon his conscience - if he be not visited with a sight and sense of his ungodliness - if he be not breaking off from that which he knows to be offensive to God - if the state of his heart and practice be not a thing of practical concern with him - Then is there every reason to fear, or rather every reason to conclude, that as yet Christ is not his and he is not Christ’s. If Christ had really been given to him, a change of spirit and of life would have been among the very first of the all things given along with Christ. And if no such change has actually taken place, there is as yet no interest of any kind in the Saviour.

This is a point on which we should like you to have a clear and consistent understanding. Do not wait till you be holy, ere you shall cast your confidence on the Saviour; but cast your confidence on Him even now, and you shall be made holy. It is not your faith that is the accompaniment of your holiness - but it is your holiness that is the accompaniment of your faith. The gift of Jesus Christ is not to you as a holy, but to you as a sinful creature; and we entreat the most sinful of you all to lay hold of Him. With Him you shall receive holiness. After ye have believed, ye shall be sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. I do not want to embarrass the simplicity of your dependence upon Christ, when I speak of holiness as the unfailing mark of your discipleship. I barely inform you what you have to look for as the fruit of that dependence. Go to Him now and accept of the offered Saviour; and certain it is, that, along with Him, you shall be made to accept of a clean heart and a right spirit. But do not invert this order, else you shall never arrive at peace of conscience; and as little will you ever arrive at holiness of character. It is not your sanctification that forms the stepping-stone to your peace; but your peace that forms the stepping-stone to your sanctification. Lay hold upon Christ as your peace offering; and then the very God of peace shall sanctify yon wholly. Come forward at the gospel call, and touch the sceptre of forgiveness which it holds out to you. There is a virtue in the touch - a purifying as well as a pacifying virtue. There is not merely spiritual comfort but spiritual health in it; and the soul of the patient is more than reconciled from a state of wrath into a state of acceptance - it is renewed from sin unto holiness.

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