EXTRACT FROM THE PREFACE
There are two things, which I have always looked upon as difficult: the one is, to make the wicked sad; the other is, to make the godly joyful.—Dejection in the godly, arises from a double spring; either because their inward comforts are darkened, or their outward comforts are disturbed—to cure both which troubles, I have put forth this ensuing piece, hoping, by the blessing of God, it will buoy up their desponding hearts, and make them look with a more pleasant aspect; I would prescribe them to take, now and then, a little of this Cordial: All these things shall work together for good to them that love god. To know that nothing hurts the godly, is a matter of comfort; but to be assured that all things which fall out, shall cooperate for their good, that their crosses shall be turned into blessings, that showers of affliction water the withering root of their grace, and make it flourish more; this may fill their hearts with joy till they run over.
We know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.—Romans 8:28.
If the whole scripture be the feast of the soul, as Ambrose saith, then this chapter may be a dish at that feast, and with its sweet variety may very much refresh and animate the hearts of God's people. In the preceding verses, the apostle had been wading through the great doctrines of justification and adoption: mysteries so arduous and profound, that without the help and conduct of the Spirit, he might soon have waded beyond his depth. In this verse the apostle touches upon that pleasant string of consolation; "We know that all things work together for good, to them that love god." Not a word but is weighty; therefore I shall gather up every filing of this gold, that nothing be lost.
In the text there are three general branches.
First, A glorious privilege, All things work for good.
Second. The persons interested in this privilege; and they are doubly specified. They are lovers of God—They are called.
Third. The original and spring of this effectual calling; set down in these words, "according to his purpose."
First. The glorious privilege. Here are two things to be considered. I. The certainty of the privilege—We know. II. The excellency of the privilege—All things work together for good.
I. The certainty of the privilege: We know. It is not a matter wavering or doubtful; the apostle does not say, We hope, or conjecture, but it is like an article in our creed, We know that all things work for good: Whence observe—That the truths of the gospel are evident and infallible.
A christian may come not merely to a vague opinion, but to a certainty of what he holds. As axioms, and aphorisms are evident to reason; so the truths of religion are evident to faith: "We know," saith the apostle. Though a christian hath not a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the gospel, yet he hath a certain knowledge. "We see through a glass darkly," 1 Cor. 13:12. therefore we have not perfection of knowledge; but, "we behold with open face," 2 Cor. 3:18. therefore we have certainty. The Spirit of God imprints heavenly truths upon the heart, as with the point of a diamond. A christian may know infallibly that there is an evil in sin, and a beauty in holiness: he may know that he is in the state grace, "We know that we have passed from death to life," 1 John 3:14.
He may know that he shall go to heaven. "We know that if our earthly tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens," 2 Cor. 5:1. The Lord doth not leave his people at uncertainties in matters of salvation. The apostle says, We know; we have arrived at a holy confidence; we have both the Spirit of God, and our own experience, setting seal to it.
Let us then not rest in scepticism or doubts, but labour to come to a certainty in the things of religion. As that martyr-woman said, I cannot dispute for Christ, but I can burn for Christ. God knows whether we may be called forth to be witnesses to his truth; therefore it concerns us to be well grounded, and confirmed in it. If we are doubtful christians, we shall be wavering christians: whence is apostacy, but from incredulity? Men first question the truth, and then fall from the truth. O beg the Spirit of God, not only to anoint you, but to seal you. 2 Cor. 1:22.
II. The excellency of the privilege, All things work together for good.
This is as Jacob's staff in the hand of faith, with which we may walk cheerfully to the mount of God: what will satisfy or give content, if this will not? All things work together for good. This expression "work together," refers to medicine. Several poisonous ingredients put together, being tempered by the skill of the apothecary, make a sovereign medicine, and work together for the good of the patient. So all God's providences, being divinely tempered and sanctified, do work together for the best, to the saints. He who loves God, and is called according to his purpose, may rest assured that every thing in the world shall be for his good. This is a christian's cordial, which may warm him—make him like Jonathan, who, when he had tasted the honey at the end of the rod, "his eyes were enlightened," 1 Sam. 14:27. Why should a christian destroy himself? why should he kill himself with care, when all things shall sweetly concur, yea, conspire for his good? The result of the text is this,
That all the various dealings of God with his children, do by a special providence turn to their good
"All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant." Psalm 25:10. If every path hath mercy in it, then it works for good. We shall consider,
First, What things work for good to the godly. And,
Second. Why all things work for their good.
Watson, T. (1846). A Divine Cordial; The Saint's Spiritual Delight; The Holy Eucharist; and Other Treatises (pp. 71–142). The Religious Tract Society.
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