Inferences from the proposition that all things work for the good of the saints.…
(6) Learn how little cause we have then to be discontented at outward trials and emergencies! What! discontented at that which shall do us good! All things shall work for good. There are no sins God’s people are more subject to than unbelief and impatience. They are ready either to faint through unbelief, or to fret through impatience. When men fly out against God by discontent and impatience it is a sign they do not believe this text. Discontent is an ungrateful sin, because we have more mercies than afflictions; and it is an irrational sin, because afflictions work for good. Discontent is a sin which puts us upon sin. ‘Fret not thyself to do evil’ (Psalm 37.8). He that frets will be ready to do evil: fretting Jonah was sinning Jonah (Jonah 4.9). The devil blows the coals of passion and discontent, and then warms himself at the fire. Oh, let us not nourish this angry viper in our breast. Let this text produce patience, ‘All things work together for good to them that love God’ (Rom. 8.28). Shall we be discontented at that which works for our good? If one friend should throw a bag of money at another, and in throwing it, should graze his head, he would not be troubled much, seeing by this means he had got a bag of money. So the Lord may bruise us by afflictions, but it is to enrich us. These afflictions work for us a weight of glory, and shall we be discontented?
(7) See here that Scripture fulfilled, ‘God is good to Israel’ (Psalm 73.1). When we look upon adverse providences, and see the Lord covering His people with ashes, and ‘making them drunk with wormwood’ (Lam. 3.15), we may be ready to call in question the love of God, and to say that He deals hardly with His people. But, oh no, yet God is good to Israel, because He makes all things work for good. Is not He a good God, who turns all to good? He works out sin, and works in grace; is not this good? ‘We are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world’ (1 Cor. 11.32). The depth of affliction is to save us from the depth of damnation. Let us always justify God; when our outward condition is ever so bad, let us say, ‘Yet God is good.’
(8) See what cause the saints have to be frequent in the work of thanksgiving. In this Christians are defective; though they are much in supplication, yet little in gratulation. The apostle says, ‘In everything give thanks’ (1 Thess. 5.18). Why so? Because God makes everything work for our good. We thank the physician, though he gives us a bitter medicine which makes us sick, because it is to make us well; we thank any man that does us a good turn; and shall we not be thankful to God, who makes everything work for good to us? God loves a thankful Christian. Job thanked God when He took all away: ‘The Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord’ (Job 1.21). Many will thank God when He gives; Job thanks Him when He takes away, because he knew God would work good out of it. We read of saints with harps in their hands (Rev. 14.2), an emblem of praise. We meet many Christians who have tears in their eyes, and complaints in their mouths; but there are few with their harps in their hands, who praise God in affliction. To be thankful in affliction is a work peculiar to a saint. Every bird can sing in spring, but some birds will sing in the dead of winter. Everyone, almost, can be thankful in prosperity, but a true saint can be thankful in adversity. A good Christian will bless God, not only at sun-rise, but at sun-set. Well may we, in the worst that befalls us, have a psalm of thankfulness, because all things work for good. Oh, be much in blessing of God: we will thank Him that doth befriend us.
(9) Think, if the worst things work for good to a believer, what shall the best things – Christ, and heaven! How much more shall these work for good! If the cross has so much good in it, what has the crown? If such precious clusters grow in Golgotha, how delicious is that fruit which grows in Canaan? If there be any sweetness in the waters of Marah, what is there in the wine of Paradise? If God’s rod has honey at the end of it, what has His golden sceptre? If the bread of affliction tastes so savoury, what is manna? what is the heavenly ambrosia? If God’s blow and stroke work for good, what shall the smiles of His face do? If temptations and sufferings have matter of joy in them, what shall glory have? If there be so much good out of evil, what then is that good where there shall be no evil? If God’s chastening mercies are so great, what will His crowning mercies be? Wherefore comfort one another with these words. ‘
(10) Consider, that if God makes all things to turn to our good, how right it is that” we should make all things tend to His glory! ‘Do all to the glory of God’ (1 Cor. 10.31). The angels glorify God, they sing divine anthems of praise. How then ought man to glorify Him, for whom God has done more than for angels! He has dignified us above them in uniting our nature with the Godhead. Christ has died for us, and not the angels. The Lord has given us, not only out of the common stock of His bounty, but He has enriched us with covenant blessings, He has bestowed upon us His Spirit. He studies our welfare, He makes everything work for our good; free-grace has laid a plan for our salvation. If God seeks our good, shall we not seek His glory?