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HII. What is the meaning of their working, and
working together for good. IV. Inquire a little into the character of these who
are thus privileged, namely, as they are lovers of
God, being called according to his purpose. V. Show whence it is, that all things shall thus work
together for good to them; and so point out the evidences the apostle hath for saying, We know that it shall be so; and here also observe the suitableness and connexion between this character of loving God, and this privilege of all things work
ing together for good.” VI. Deduce some inferences for the application of
the whole. 1. We are first to open up this note of universality, ALL THINGS This we shall essay both negatively and positively..
1st, View it negatively. And in general, we are not to understand it simply or absolutely, but relatively or respectively : that is to say, we are not so to view it, as if all things indefinitely, even these that the believer has no concern in, or notice of; such as all things that fall out in China or Japan were to work for his good who lives here: but we are to understand it relatively, of all things that relate to bim, and wherein he is immediately concerned, and whereby he is exercised, such as all afflictive things, whereof the apostle had been speaking. Therefore,
2dly, Let us view it positively, and more particularly; all things that he hath to do with, whether good or bad. I shall offer a short catalogue of good things and evil things that shall work for the believer's good and advantage : here is a little word ALL, but it is great in signification : and all that can be said of all things must be but a few things; for all things is a subject that would never be exhausted.
[1.] I offer a catalogue of good things, that shall work for their advantage.
1. To begin with the best, God himself, who is the chief good, he works for their good. He that made all things, and orders all things, and governs, all things, and to whom all things are nothing, and by whom all things subsist and move; if he work for their good, all things must do so, according as he orders them: but so it is, that God, and all things in God work for their good.
All the attributes of God work for their good; his wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, faithfulness : his infinity, eternity, unchangeableness.--I might particularly instance in every one of them, but I only consider them altogether working for their good, Gen. xvii. 1, 2. “I am God all sufficient; walk before me, and be thou perfect. I will make my covenant between me and thee;" intimating, his all sufficiency was to be forthcoming by way of free covenant promise ; " My grace shall be sufficient for thee;" my wisdom shall be sufficient for thy direction: my power, for thy protection'; my holiness, for thy sanctification : my justification, upon the footing of a justice-satisfying sacrifice; my mercy, for thy commiseration: my truth and faithfulness, for thy consolation; my unchangeableness, for thy security and confirmation; and my eternal bea ing for thy eternal blessedness.
Again, as all the attributes of God, so all the works of God that ever he made, work for his people's good : his great end in making the world, was for the glory of his name and the good of his eleet. Wherefore made he heaven and earth? Why, he made the heaven, for their habitation, in the end ; and earth, for their accommodation by the way: and hence not only are they heirs of heaven but of the earth also; 6 Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth,” Mat. v. 3.
Again, not only all his works, but all his words work for their good; both law and gospel : the law is their schoolmaster to lead them to Christ, by shewing them their sin and misery: the gospel is the glass wherein they see the glory of Christ, and of God in him to their transformation, 2 Cor. iii. 18. In short, all the threat. enings of the word, are for their excitation; all the promises, for their consolation ; all the precepts, for their direction; all the doetrines of it, for their information ; and all the parts of it, even every thing in it, for their edification.
Again, not only all the words and actions of God, but all the thoughts and purposes of God work for their good ; " I know the thoughts which I think towards you, thoughts of good, and not of evil, to give you an expected end," Jer. xxix. 11. As they are called according to his purpose; so they are justified, sanctified, and saved according to bis purpose, and will be glorified to eternity, according to his purpose.
2. CHRIST, and all his furniture, work for their good; for, “ He is made of God to them, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,” 1 Cor. i. 30.-All that Christ did in the flesh; all that he suffered ; all that he has done from eternity, and in time ; all that he is doing in heaven; and all that he will do'at the great day, work for their good.--All his appearances are for their good : he lived for their sakes, and died for their sins, and rose for their justification. See how the apostle triumphs in the good that comes by Christ's death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession in the context here, ver. 33, 34.-All his offices work for their good : as a Prophet, he is the wisdom of God, for their illumination; as a Priest, the righteousness of God, for their justification ; and as a King, the power of God, for their sanctification.-0! what matter is here, were we to speak of all things that belong to his person and his purchase ; his authority and ability to save ; his fulness to supply ; his fitness to redeem : his sweetness to endear, and his brighteness to display all the glorious perfections of God! See Col. ii. 9. john i. 14. 16,
3. The SPIRIT, and all his fulness, work for their good; and his operations and influences, John xvi. 8. ; all his fruits and graces spoken of, Gal. v. 22.: all his various motions; whether as water, for cleansing them: as wind, for refreshing them; as fire, for warming their hearts; or as oil, for anointing the wheels of their souls: all the sanctifying operations of the Spirit; all his comforting operations ; all his enlightening, quickening, strenghtening, enlarging, and sealing operations : 1 must here but mention the fields that I mightgothrough. The Spirit works for their good as be is a Spirit of faith, a Spirit of repentance a Spirit of love, and power, and of a sound mind; as he is a Spirit of prayer, grace, and supplication ; helping our infirmities, and teaching us to pray with groanings which cannot be uttered, as you see in the verses immediately preceding the text.
4. The everlasting Covenant, and all the blessings of it, work for their good ; yea, This is their salvation, and all their pleasure, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. This covenant of promise is a bundle or heap of good things laid up for them. The fulness of the covenant brings good news of supply to them, however poor and empty they are. The freeness of the covenant brings good news of salvation to them, however guilty and unworthy they are in themselves. The stability of the covenant brings good news of perseverance to them, however fickle, and changeable, and unstable they are in themselves. The blood of the covenant, which is the condition thereof, the everlasting righteousness of Christ, brings the good news of all spiritual blessings bought with his blood, “In whom all the promises are Yea and Amen."
5. All divine Providences work for their good; “ His eyes run to and fro, throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in their behalf," 2 Chron. xvi. 9... All the special acts of providence; all that befel Adam before the fall, in the fall, and after the fall. He was in a state of innocency; yet he sinned ; and what need have I to be watchful, may the believer say, though I be in a state of grace? Thus bis innocency works for good. In Adam's fall he sees how sin was brought into the world, and that he hath sinned. What happened to Adam after the fall
, gives a view both of the misery of a natural state, and of the remedy that God hath provided in Christ, the promised seed.-All that befel the good angels, is a part of merciful providence that works for their good : they received their confirmation in their happy state by the Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ; and how much more may believers expect to be confirmed in a state of grace by the Lord Jesus, who took not on him the nature of angels, to be their Redeemer, but the seed of Abraham ?-All the great deliverances wrought for the church and people of God, in all ages, work for their good. What he did for Israel in Egypt at the Red sea, in the wilderness; what he did for them at Jordan; what he did for them in Canaan; how he droye out the heathen, and rebuked kings for their sakes: what he has done for his church in general, and his children in particular, all work for the good of his people, to encourage their faith, and forward their confidence in the Lord.
6. All divine Ordinances work for their good ; such as, a gospel-ministry, and all the ministerial gifts; they are designed for perfecting the saints, and edifying of the body of Christ, Eph. iv. 12. Gospel sacraments, viz. baptism, and the Lord's supper; the one a seal of their incorporation into Christ, and the other a seal of their confirmation. If the sacramental solemnity work any saving good to you, it is a fruit of this promise. All the gifts and graces, not only of ministers, but of private Christians, work for their good, as well as their own gifts and graces; for, not only Paul and Apollos, and Cephas, is theirs, but the communion of saints contributes for their good, Heb. x. 24, 25.--All the prayers of the saints work for their good: as their prayers, their fervent prayers avail much; so it is a great comfort to have a stock, or numerous conjunction of prayers going up for them, when they themselves are in distress, or out of tune, or unfit for this exercise. -All divine ordinances, word and sacraments, thus work for good. The word is the savour of life to them; and the sacraments, the medicine of life: and no wonder ; for, in the word, there is the breath of God; and in the sacraments, the blood of God.
7. In a word, all the mercies of God, temporal and spiritual, work for their good; for, the goodness of God leads them to repentance: and all the works of the godly work for the good of believers; their good works, and good example, serving for their excitation and imitation. I might,
[2.] Offer a catalogue of evil things that work for their good.
1. To begin with the worst ; Sin itself, the evil of all evils, though, in its own nature, it works death and