THIS is a sweet and blessed chapter. It begins, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." Here is a cordial for a poor soul. I am that man complete in Christ, and stand perfect in him. The archangels cannot sing so loud of redeeming love as we shall. We are exalted above angels because Christ passed by the nature of angels and took our nature upon him, and became God with us. As far as a wife is exalted above a servant, so far are we exalted beyond angels. Are we in Christ? are we loved by him, and chosen in him? "Ye are complete in Christ." (Col. 2:10) We are called upon to ask ourselves these questions solemnly.
"The sinner that truly believes,
And trusts in his crucified God,
His justification receives,
Redemption in full, through his blood."
Are we united to Christ by a true and living faith, drawing all from him? We must know this by happy experience. "I am the vine, ye are the branches." (John 15:5) If you are walking after the flesh, don't talk of having unity with Christ. It is an absurdity. Romans 8:2, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." This is a personal work, and you must try your religion by it. "They that are in the flesh cannot please God," do what they will. Have you had a sweet application of Christ's precious atonement to your soul? Romans 8:13, "For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live,"--that is, through the indwelling of the Spirit. All mortification in the flesh is useless. By flesh we generally understand all the corruptions of our nature. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." Paul says, "In me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing." Therefore it is said, "Put ye on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Eph. 4:24) "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection (says Paul), lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." (1 Cor. 9:27) Romans 8:14, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Would you know whether you are the sons of God? It is said, "With weeping and supplications will I lead them." Are you led to seek God in all things? Christ said, "When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:....he shall receive of mine and shall shew it unto you." (John 16:13,14) Are you earnest in searching the Scriptures to see whether you have the marrow of them in your heart? This will prove that you are led by the Spirit of God, and if so, you are a son. Verses 14,15,16, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage," etc. This is the religion I want to have every day. This witnessing is the testifying to your conscience with sweet peace of your adoption. Verse 28, here I intend to begin. "And we know that all things work together for good." This text has often been quoted as a promise, but it don't read so. It is quoted thus: "shall work," but it is in the present tense, "do work." "We know," etc. I hope I can with humility say so. Look at the characters here described. Do we know? and are we called?
"Let us ask th' important question--
Brethren, be not too secure--
What it is to be a Christian?
How we may our hearts assure?"
Chap. 1:7, shows the persons referred to. "To all that be in Rome beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." Here you have the marrow and essence of religion. You see they are beloved first, and then called. If loved of God, then they are loved to the end. "Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10) When did this love commence? From everlasting. "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." (Jer. 31:3) If you can prove that you are effectually called out of the world with a holy calling, then I can prove that this springs from God's love to you. Has he internally called and separated you from the world? An external separation alone will not do. I was separated from the world and all my relations. Abram was called from his kindred and his father's house, and he went out not knowing whither he went. I bless God that he enabled me to follow these steps of our father Abraham.
If you are truly called you will have a willingness to leave the vanity of the world, the customs of the world, and even the profits of the world. "They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition." "For the love of money is the root of all evil," etc. Look at Levi, he was sitting at the receipt of custom, getting money very fast; but when Christ said to him, "Follow me," he left all and followed him. The other apostles did the same. Some left their ships, and others left their father, Zebedee. You must leave all. There are no half-way folks in Christ's kingdom. There are plenty of such professors in the present day, who speak a language half Ashdod. God teaches me every day that there is only this--the infusion of the Spirit and grace of God in the heart by which we really obey his word. "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you." (2 Cor. 6:17) Did you ever have a soft word drop into your heart? That it is that "breaketh the bone." Can you adopt Peter's words, "Thou knowest that I love thee?" I found that, like Mary, I was sitting at Christ's feet, and hearing his words. Have you ever in distress been led to seek God, and have you had a sweet answer to prayer, and have you felt a glowing affection for him in return? That will do. "I love the Lord because he hath heard my voice and my supplications." Have you done so and found your heart conquered by his love? Have you had a sense of his pardoning love? The Lord said of the woman who anointed his feet and wiped them with the hair of her head, "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much." If ever you had your heart glow with love to Christ, this is pardoning love. Then all things work together for your good. Have you ever found that while you were musing the fire kindled in your heart? This is the fire of love. Another testimony you have in Luke 24. The two disciples going to Emmaus when Christ was dead and buried. This cast them down, and it was the third day--the last extremity. It looked very dark. Now Christ joins them in a most tender manner. Have you ever found in the hearing of the Word that your experience was opened, and your heart glowed with love? If Christ gives you a sweet love visit this will be the case. He says to them in effect, Why are ye so sad? And so the believing David addresses the unbelieving David--"Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God, for I shall yet praise him." Love to Christ and to his children go together. "Every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him." "We know that we are passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." If ever you have found a love to Christ, or to his children, because of his image in them, then you are born again. My call was according to his eternal purpose, and I hope yours is so too. "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure." (2 Peter 1:10) It was forty-seven years ago since God called me out of the world; and I can testify that everything, however dark it appeared, has since worked together for my good. I have had a longer schooling than most of you to teach me my own foolishness. This prevents our contending.
"But strife and diff'ence will subsist,
While men will something seem;
Let them but singly look to Christ,
And all are one in him."
We must make Christ all in all. Verses 29,30--"For whom he did foreknow," etc. Here is the golden chain of salvation. "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:2) "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his." (2 Tim. 2:19) "To be conformed to the image of his Son." A very sweet word, setting forth the unity between the head and the members. Our calling flows out of his predestination. Verse 31--"What shall we then say," etc. Is God for us? I want to ascertain this day by day; without it I feel that I am undone to all intents and purposes. Is not this a most glorious plan of salvation, every way worthy of the wisdom and power of God? Is it a matter of importance to you to know this? "Greater is he that is for us than he that is against us." Verse 32--"Freely give us all things," that is, to those whom God the Father gave to his Son; the elect mentioned in the next verse, "He spared not his own Son." In one respect he spared him not. He did not keep him back. Abraham did not keep back Isaac, and he was a type of God the Father in this. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He spared not, but demanded satisfaction to the fullest extent of his own Son--to the last mite. No composition; but full payment. "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd," (Zech. 13:7) as if he said, Don't spare him. Law and justice must be satisfied. The justice of God is not much considered in this kingdom. One has said, "A God all mercy is a God unjust." By the active and passive obedience of Christ the law was satisfied. "He magnified the law and made it honourable." (Isa. 42:21) He did all that it required, and suffered all the penalty of it. Thus his obedience was active and passive. Verse 34--"Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died," etc. Here is the death of Christ set forth as a full payment, and his resurrection as a full and legal discharge for the debt. May God give you an unctuous experience of these things--that you may have a sweet rejoicing in yourselves that your names are written in heaven.