God is With Us
“If God be for us, who can be against us?”—Romans 8:31.
THE truth here asserted is indisputable. Even heathens have taken this for their motto, and emblazoned it upon their standards of war. “God is for us!” has been the war-cry of many a warrior as he has dashed to the fight; however out of place it was in such association its force was clearly perceived. Our text, however, protects itself from ill-usage, for you observe that the text is guarded with the little word “If,” as a sentinel. No man, therefore, has any right to the treasures of this text, unless he can give the pass-word d, and answer the question. It is not every man who can say that God is on his side; on the contrary. the most of men are fighting against the Lord. By nature we are the friends of sin, and then God is against us; with all the powers of justice he is against us for our destruction unless we turn and repent. Is God for us? Remember he is so if we have been reconciled to him by the death of his Son; but an absolute God must be in arms against us, for even our God is a consuming fire. It is only when we behold the Lord Jehovah in the person of Jesus Christ that our hope and joy can begin; when we see Deity incarnate, when we see God surrendering the glories of his throne to become man, and then stooping to the shameful death of the cross—it is then that we perceive Emmanuel, “God with us,” and perceiving him, we feel that he is on our side. Question thyself then, soul, whether thou art in Christ. He who is not with Christ is not with God. If thou art without Christ, thou art without God, and a stranger from the commonwealth of Israel; but if through the sprinkled blood thou canst say that thou art reconciled unto God, then take the full meaning of this text, and feast upon it, and be thou blessed, for “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
We shall handle the text thus, and may the Holy Spirit make it profitable: how is God for us? secondly, who are against us? and thirdly, who are not against us?
I. First, HOW IS GOD FOR US?
Augustine, in his notes upon the verses preceding our text, has very beautifully said that God is for us, according to the preceding words of the chapter, in four senses. Look back a verse or two, and you will find it. He is for us, for he hath predestinated us; he is for us, for he hath called us; he is for us, for he hath justified us; he is for us, because he hath virtually glorified us, and will actually do so. To the people of God here are four very prolific subjects of thought.
1. God is for us, because, according to the words of the apostle, he hath 'predestinated his people to be conformed to the image of his own dear Son. Now, if God hath predestinated us to eternal life, who can be against us? Must not the predestinating decree of God take effect? If God hath determined it. who shall disannul it? If God hath said it shall be, who is he that shall stay his hand, or resist the omnipotent fiat of the Most High? He said, “Let there be light: and there was light;” he bade the world spring out of nothing, and forth it came. All things obey him; heaven adores him; hell trembles at him. No creature can resist him. As the potter moulds the clay according to his own will while it revolves upon the wheel, even so the infinite, the omnipotent Jehovah doeth according to his good pleasure in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of this lower world. “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grass-hop hoppers;” he taketh up the isles as a very little thing; who then, out of these little things, can stand against or resist him? See, my brethren, the force of God's decree of old in the case of Israel. The Lord had promised to Abraham that his seed should inherit the whole land of Canaan, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates. See, amid the smoke of the brickkilns, Israel toils in Egypt. How was God’s decree to be fulfilled? When God makes bare his arm, you shall see and wonder. Pharaoh and all his hosts cannot hold those captives whom God determines to set free. There they go, led forth like sheep by the hands of Moses and Aaron. They cross the desert until they come to the sea, even to the Red Sea. See, the mighty stream rolls before them, and their ferocious enemies are behind, but the Lord hath determined that they shall inherit the land, and therefore - neither can the sea refuse to divide, nor can Pharaoh save himself when he goeth down into the depths thereof. They are in the wilderness ness: famine shall destroy them! No, the heavens drop with manna! Thirst shall scorch them! No, the rock follows them with its living stream! The serpents shall surely bite them! Nay, but the brazen serpent is lifted up, and whosoever looketh shall be healed. The Amalekites attack them, but while Moses holds up his hands Joshua puts the foe to the route. They come to the banks of the Jordan: what ailed thee, O Jordan, that thou wast driven back? The priests go through dry-shod d, and all the people of God march after them. Then the Canaanites, with their chariots of iron, came against them in battle; the kings of mighty cities anointed the shield, and laid hold on sword and buckler; but which of them prevailed? Did not Jehovah destroy them all? As he had given them Og, king of Bashan, because “his mercy endured for ever,” and Sihon, king of the Amorites, “because his mercy endured for ever;” so not a man could stand against them until they possessed the land. The right hand of the Lord fulfilled his own decree. His own right hand and his holy arm hath gotten him the victory. As with a rod of iron he dasheth his enemies in pieces like a potter's vessel. None could withstand the hosts of Israel, the walled cities were cast down and the people of God dwelt in the fat of the land. See, beloved, the result of God's decree. The sons of Jacob were feeble and weak, but yet the Lord made them strong enough to drive out the Anakim, who were men of gigantic stature; for his purpose shall stand, he will do all his pleasure. Let us beware of fighting against one who has God in league with him, for it is in vain to fight against God. It was a good remark of the soothsayers to Haman of old; they said, “If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him ;” and so if any man be of the company of the elect, if he be one of those whose names are written in the book of life, his enemies may contend, but they shall never prevail against him. He must stand whom the Lord ordains to hold; and if God determines his salvation, neither mortal nor infernal power shall prevail to destroy him. On this account we may boldly say with the apostle, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” You cannot believe in a disappointed God; you cannot imagine the imperial decree from the throne of heaven treated as waste paper; it would be far from us so to blaspheme God as to think that any power, known or unknown, can ever overcome him. “Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Hath he commanded and shall it not come to pass?” If thy soul be written upon the palms of Jesus’ hands, and graven on his heart, no weapon which is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue which riseth against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn?
2. But in looking back, you observe the second thing: God is on our side, for he has called us. In the Word of God much stress is laid upon calling. When Abraham left the land of his forefathers, and went forth, not knowing whither he went, he was quite safe, though in the midst of implacable enemies, because God had called him. “Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings?” Who but the God that called him? On that memorable occasion, when Abraham returned from the slaughter of the kings, you remember Melchizedek met him. At that time Abraham was in great peril, for there was every probability that the defeated kings would gather again their troops, would form alliances with other kings, and would certainly come up to cut down so insignificant a person as that wandering shepherd, Abraham; but what does God say to him—“Fear not, Abraham, I am thy shield, and thine exceeding great reward.” This became his comfort—God had called him. He was a called man, and where God calls, he will not desert his chosen. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance;” he does not reverse the call which he has given, but having once called his children, he remaineth faithful to the call he has given. To use the illustration we have had before: when God called his son out of Egypt, when he fetched Israel from the furnace, who could stand against the called Israelites? Plague after plague ravaged the land; the cattle died; the crops were blasted; frogs came up into the king's chamber; lice covered all their borders; at last the firstborn of Egypt died, and they besought Israel to go forth; for when God called them out, who could hold them in? When he said to his prisoners, “Go forth,” what bolts of iron, or what gates of brass could keep them captives? Let the Lord call by the effectual voice, who is he that shall stand against him? Many of us, I trust, have heard the sacred call—we have made our calling and election sure. You know how you were called from darkness to light—from sin to holiness—from self-righteousness to spiritual faith in Jesus. Now, he who hath called you is faithful, and he will not forsake the work of his own hands. He has not called you in order to put you to shame; he has not quickened you, and preserved you, and brought you thus tar to deliver you over to the hands of your enemies. “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart;” wait upon the Lord still, for his call will give thee comfort. “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
3. But again: God proves that he is for us, by having justified us. All the people of God are wrapped about with the righteousness of Christ, and, wearing that glorious robe, the eye of God sees no fault in them--Jehovah sees no sin in Jacob, neither iniquity in Israel. Christ is seen, and not the sinner; Christ being therefore perfection's own self, the believer is seen as perfect in him. God regards his people with the same affection as that wherewith he loves his only-begotten Son. He hath pronounced them clean, and clean they are; he hath proclaimed them just, covered with the righteousness of Christ, and just they are. Come on thou accusing devil—come on ye who lay a thousand things to our charge, but if our Jesus pronounces our acquittal, who is he that condemn? if he mounts the chariot of salvation, who is he that can be against us? Is it not a mysteriously blessed thing to wear upon one's soul the mark of complete justification? The heathen have a custom of marking themselves upon the forehead with the seal of their god; but, oh! what a seal is this to wear—what a mark of the Lord Jesus, to go about this world a perfectly justified man! God looketh upon common mon men with anger—they are not reconciled unto him; but towards his people he looketh always with eyes of love: no anger is in his heart to them, not a jot of wrath; all this has been put away through the great sacrifice. Towards them his whole heart goeth out—“The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry.” Being justified, they have peace with God, through Jesus Christ their Lord. O dear friends, if God be at peace with you, it matters not who is at war with you; if your Master acquits, it little matters who condemns; if Jehovah absolves, your name may be cast out as evil, you may be ranked among the vilest of the vile, your name may be a by-word and a proverb, only fit to be wrought up into the drunkard’s song—but who is he that can be against you? What are all these things, if put into the balance, but lighter than vanity, if Jehovah himself hath justified you?
4. And yet again, another sweet reflection comes here, he hath also glorified us. Remember the four golden links of the chain—“Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Now, in one sense, God’s people are glorified even now, for he “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Mark, it does not say, “He hath promised that we shall sit there,” but he “hath” made us sit there. We do sit there at this hour, for Christ is the representative of every soul for whom he shed his blood; and when Christ took his seat in heaven, every elect soul took his seat in heaven representatively. Remember, beloved, that the glorification of of God's people is a certain fact; it is not a thing which may be, but it is a thing which must be. What does Jesus Christ say to his people when he gathers them at the right hand? “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Do observe that. Do you think God has prepared a kingdom, and that he will not bring his people there? Moreover it is said, “Prepared for you”—for you, the chosen people of God; and do you imagine that the covenant wisdom of God would prepare a kingdom for men who would not ultimately get there? Would he plan and arrange how to make them eternally blessed, and yet suffer them to perish by the way? “Prepared for you,” remember, “from the foundation of the world.” There is a crown in heaven which no head can fit but mine; there is a harp there which no fingers must ever touch but mine. Child of God! there is a mansion in heaven which will never be rightly tenanted if you do not get there; and there is a place at God's right hand which must be empty—it will be said “David’s seat was empty,” unless you shall arrive there. Will it be so? Will there be empty mansions in heaven? Will there be crowns without heads to wear them? Will there be harps without hands to strike them? No; the muster-roll of the redeemed shall be read, and not one shall be found absent; as many as were written upon the breastplate of the great High Priest shall be securely found there:—
“Not death nor hell shall e’er divide
His chosen from his breast;
In the dear bosom of his love
They must for ever rest.”
This gives a fourth reason why God is for us. But, 0 my brethren, though this brings in the context, I cannot—it is impossible for any human speech to bring out the depth of the meaning of how God is for us. He was for us before the worlds were made: he was for us, or else he never would have given his Son; he was for us even when he smote the only-begotten, and laid the full weight of his wrath upon him—he was for us, though he was against him; he was for us when we were ruined in the fall—he loved us notwithstanding all; he was for us when we were against him, and with a high hand were bidding him defiance: he was for us, or else he never would have brought us humbly to seek eek his face. He has been for us in many struggles; we have had to fight through multitudes of difficulties; we have had temptations from without and within—how could we have held on until now if he had not been with us? He is for us, let me say, with all the infinity of his heart, with all the omnipotence of his love; for us with all his boundless wisdom; arrayed in all the attributes which make him God he is for us—eternally and immutably for us; for us when yon blue skies shall be rolled up like a worn out vesture; for us throughout eternity. Here, child of God, is matter enough for thought, even though thou hadst ages to meditate upon it: God is for thee; and if God be for thee, who can be against thee?
II. In the second place, WHO ARE AGAINST US?
The apostle never meant to say that Christians have no enemies, for he knew a great deal better. An old Latin writer observes upon this text, that the succeeding context will show us the enemies we have who are against us. Very briefly let us notice that there are four main enemies who conspire against the life of the children of God: there are man, the world, the flesh, and the devil. These always will be against us, but who are they?
1. First, there is man. How man has struggled against man! Man is the wolf of mankind. Not the elements in all their fury, nor the wild beasts of prey in all their cruelty, have ever been such terrible enemies to man as man has been to his own fellow. When you read the story of the Marian persecution in England, you are astounded that ever creatures wearing a human form could be so bloodthirsty. Call these Catholics who thus persecuted the Protestants? Call them Catholics? Much better call them cannibals, for they behaved more like savages than Christians, in their bloody martyrdoms and murders of the saints of God. We do not in this age feel the cruelty of man to that extent, but this is only because the custom of the land will not allow it; for there are many who dare not smite with the hand, who are very busy in laying on their tongue, and this not by exposing our errors, which they have a perfect right to do, but in many cases the children of God are misrepresented, slandered, abused, persecuted, ridiculed for truth’s sake; and we know many instances where other means are resorted to—anything to drive the servants of God away from their integrity and from their simple following of their Master. Well did the Lord Jesus say, “Beware of men.” “Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Do not expect men to be the friends of your piety, or if they are, suspect the reality of that piety of which ungodly man is a friend. Thou must expect to be sometimes bullied and sometimes coerced, to be sometimes flattered, and, anon, threatened; thou must expect > at one time to meet with the oily tongue which hath under it the drawn sword, and at another time with the drawn sword itself. Look out and expect that men will be against you. But what are they all? Suppose every living man in the world were against you, and that you had to stand in solitude like Athanasius, you might say, as Athanasius did, “I, Athanasius, against the whole world; I know I have truth on my side, and therefore against the world I stand” Of what use was the malice of men against Martin Luther. They thought to burn him, but he died in his bed despite them all. They thought to put an end to him, but his little tracts went everywhere, and the words of Luther seemed to be carried on the wings of angels, until in the most distant places the Pope found an enemy suddenly springing up, where he thought the good seed had all been destroyed. I do not know that it is of any very great service to have numbers with you. I question whether truth has not generally to be with the minority, and whether it is not quite as honourable to serve God with two or three as it would be with two or three millions; for if numbers could make a thing right idolatry ought to be the right religion; and if in countries across the sea numbers made the thing right, why. those who fear the Lord would be few indeed, and idolatry and Romanism would be the right thing. Never judge according to numbers; say they are nothing but men after all; if they be good men fight on their side, but if they and the truth fall out, fall out with them. Be a friend to the truth; make your appeal to the law and to the testimony, and if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them; and if there be no light in them do not trust your soul with them: for if the blind lead the blind, they shall both fall into the ditch. Who then, what then, are men? Only puppets moved by God's hand; he has the spring to pull them all which way he wills, and if they will not serve him he can soon let them quietly into the grave. Therefore be not afraid of the son of man who is but a worm, a little heap of dust; be not thou dismayed at him; and if he put on a black and terrific face, look him in the face with thine own truthfulness, and put him to the blush. That was grand of Latimer when he preached before Henry VIII. He had greatly displeased his majesty by his boldness in a sermon preached before the king, and was ordered to preach again on the following Sabbath, and to make an apology for the offence he had given. After reading his text, the bishop thus began his sermon:—“Hugh Latimer, dost thou know before whom thou art this day to speak? To the high and mighty monarch, the king's most excellent majesty, who can take away thy life if thou offendest; therefore, take heed that thou speakest not a word that may displease; but then consider well, Hugh, dost thou not know from whence thou comest; upon whose message thou art sent? Even by the great and mighty God! who is all-present -present, and who beholdeth all thy ways, and who is able to cast thy soul into hell! Therefore, take care that thou deliverest thy message faithfully.” He then proceeded with the same sermon he had preached the preceding Sabbath, but with considerably more energy. Such courage should all God’s children show when they have to do with man. Thou art thyself nothing but a worm; but if God puts his truth into thee, do not play the coward, or stammer out his message, but stand up manfully for God and for his truth. Some people are for ever crying up what they call a becoming modesty. Modesty is very becoming, but an ambassador of God must recollect there are other virtues besides modesty. If Her Majesty sent an ambassador to a country with whom we were at war, and the little man should step into the conference, and say, “I humbly hope you will excuse my being here; I wish to be in all things complacent to your honors and lordships the plenipotentiaries; I feel I am a young man, and you are much older than I am, and therefore I cheerfully submit my judgment to your superior wisdom and experience,” and so on; why I am sure Her Majesty would command him back again, and then command him into a long retirement. What business has he to humble himself when he is an ambassador for the Queen! He must remember he is clothed with the dignity of the power which sent him. And even so is God's minister, and he counts it foul shame to stoop to any man; he takes for his motto, Cedo nulli, “I yield to none,” and preaching God’s truth in love and honesty, he hopes to be able to render a fair account to his Master at last, for unto his Master only doth he stand or fall.
2. The second adversary is the world. This world is like a great field covered with brambles, and thorns, and thistles, and as the Christian goes through it he is continually in danger of rending his garments or cutting his feet. Yet
“The dear path to thine abode,
Lies through this barren land."
Every citizen of heaven must be taught with thorns and briars, as were the men of Succoth. Every child of God must march through the enemies’ land, for Christ says, “I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil." When is a Christian out of danger? Never. If he be prosperous, then he is apt to grow purse-proud or carnally secure; if adversities press upon him, then he is apt to murmur and to grow unbelieving. There are temptations in the high places of the earth, and the valleys are not without them. When the Christian is in honour he is in great peril. Ah! how many have found the high places to be slippery ones! When the believer is in shame and disrepute, he is in danger too, for many professors have found this cross too heavy for their shoulders. A believer ought to walk through this world expecting to meet with an enemy behind every hedge, reckoning it a wonder if he shall escape for a single day without a bullet from the foe. You are in an enemy’s country, and this enemy is on the alert continually; you may sleep, but the world never sleeps; its customs are always seeking to bind you with their chains; its spirit is creeping over you while you are on the exchange, or in the market, or even in the family; you will find the very atmosphere of this world tends to make you sleep as do others. You will have much ado while you are in this state of temptation to stand your ground, and unless you watch and pray, the world will be too much for you. O brethren, I would that we knew the world to be more our enemy than we do, for many walk as if they were friends with this world. But such is not the Christian's position; he can say, “The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Luther used to say there was no love lost between him and the world, for the world hated him and he hated it no less. There is a memorable story told of a good old minister, when some young minister went weeping to him because he had been slandered. “Ah,” said he, “that is a trouble I shall never have again, for I lost my character the first year of my ministry, and slander itself can say no more than she has said.” God’s servants must expect to lose their characters, to have every virtue denied them, and every vice imputed to them; but under all this they can face the world, and say to it, “Thou thinkest badly of me, dost thou! not so badly as I think of thee; thou throwest this and that in my teeth; I throw worse things in thine; and whereas thou sayest I am a noisy busy-body and a meddler, I will tell thee I purpose to be viler still, and to be noisier still against thee, and to meddle yet more with thy vanities which ruin the souls of men.” The world is a terrible assailant if we are left alone in the conflict, but what is the world after all if God be for us? As for this present age, where will it be in forty years? I see a long line of turf mounds, and many a “Here he lies,” and this generation is all gone, it passeth away in the fashion thereof; it is like a candle-snuff, and he that cares for it is like a man worshipping a dying taper. Care little for this world, but think much of the world to come. This poor quicksand, get off of it lest it swallow thee up; but yonder rock of ages, build thou on it, and thou shalt never suffer loss.
3. I think we said there is a third enemy, and that is the flesh. It is the worst of the three. We should never need to fear man nor the world, if we had not this wicked flesh to carry about with us. Inbred corruption is the worst of corruption. “Lord,” said Augustine, “deliver me from my worst enemy, that wicked man myself.” If a Christian could lay himself down, and run away from himself, and never see himself again, he would be delighted beyond measure, for “truly in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing,” is the experience, not of the apostle only, but of every child of God. When you would do good, evil is present with you; you want to fly, but, like the hawk which hath a chain to her leg, you can but stretch your wings and flutter, for you cannot mount aloft. You long to feel your heart as hot as an oven, but there is a mountain of ice within you which chills your flaming desires. To will is present with you—oh! if you could be what you would be!—but how to perform that which is good, you find not, by reason of the infirmity and weakness of your nature, and the depravity you have inherited from your parents. Some of you have an irritable temper; it will be your plague until you die. Others find that though you desire to be liberal to the cause of God, yet a covetous disposition has to be struggled with. Some have to fight against levity, others against pride; and, on the other hand, there are some of us whose daily burden is to fight against despondency and lowness of spirits; so that we have all some besetting sin, but if God be for us, what matters the flesh? Ah! poor flesh! Thou mayst kick and struggle as thou wilt, but when God holds his silver scepter over thee, thou shalt surely yield. When Jehovah decrees that a man shall hall be sanctified, that man's flesh may cry and groan, but the furnace shall refine him; the Holy Spirit shall purify him, and experience shall teach him, and the blood of Christ shall perfect him. Despite that wicked heart of ours, we shall on eagles’ wings ascend, and be found without fault before the throne of God.
4. The last enemy is the devil. I do not know whether he is worse than the flesh or not, but I think I may put him down as being about on a par with it; for when the devil meets our flesh, the two shake hands, and say, “How dost thou do, brother?” Truly the two are brethren—for our flesh was originally in the family of wrath. Ah! that arch-traitor Satan! little do we know what temptations he is plotting and planning for us even now. He is so crafty, that he understands human nature better than human nature understands itself. He has been playing the trade of a tempter for six thousand years, he ought to be a thorough master of the business; and certainly he is. He who made us knows more of us than Satan does; but, next to God, Satan is the best student of humanity. He knows our weak points too; he understands where to touch us, so as to touch our bone, and our flesh; he knows how to cover up the hook with the bait; for every soul he has his lure, and for every sinner he has his trap; he knoweth how to take one this way, and the other the opposite—some by straining after pretended spirituality, and others by descending into the grossest sensuality. Depend on it, my brother, thou mayst think thyself to be safe against Satan, but there is a joint in thy harness, and he will find it out; and remember, as one leak may sink a ship, so one weak point may be, and would be thy ruin, if God did not prevent it. But what matters the devil when we have this text—“If God be for us, who can be against us?” The devil is mighty, but God is almighty; Satan is strong, but all strength belongeth unto God. What is Satan, after all, but an enemy who has had his head broken? He is a broken-headed dragon, The Lord has a hook in his nose, and a bridle in his jaws, and he knows how to pull him back. Sometimes I wish he would take him up a link or two, that he might not be so busy amongst some of our Churches; but he is a chained enemy—the Lord lets him go just so far, but never any further. Oh! if the fiend could get just a little further, what havoc he would work! You know how it was with Job: Satan dared not touch his flesh at first—he could only touch his children and cattle; he had to get permission to touch his flesh, and even then he dared not touch his life. He went as far as his tether, and vexed poor Job with sore blains: he could not go any further, for God restrained him. Rejoice, Christian, whether it be man, or the whole world, or thy flesh, or Satan, if God hath predestinated thee, called thee, justified thee, and in the person of Jesus Christ glorified thee, thou mayst put the whole together, and then say, “Who can be against us?” “As chaff is driven away, so, O Lord, hast thou driven them away.”
III. We shall close our meditation this morning—God make it profitable to his own people!—by observing WHO ARE THOSE WHO ARE NOT AGAINST US, for there are some who cannot be our enemies. Here is a very pleasing part of the subject.
God the Father cannot be against us. He is our Father; he cannot be against his own children. He hath chosen us, he will not cast us away; he hath adopted us into his family, he will never discard us; he hath been pleased to ordain us unto eternal life, he will never reverse the decree. He was for us in the covenant of grace, when he planned the way to save rebellious man. He hath been for us in the great ordering of providence—all things have worked together for good for us until now. We wonder how we have arrived where we now are: but surely providence, under God, has wrought wondrously on our behalf. He is for us in all the decrees which are yet to be fulfilled. There is not a single line in the great book which is against the Christian. You may rest assured that whether earth shall rock and reel, or the moon be black as sackcloth of hair, or the earth be licked up with tongues of fire, still Jehovah has not a single thought, nor wish, nor word, nor look, against any one of the blood-bought ones; they are all safe in him. God the Father cannot be against us.
Then God the Son is not against us. 0 beloved, how sweetly he has been for us! Methinks I see him now, lifting up that face all covered with bloody sweat, and saying to every believer, “I am for thee; these gouts of gore fall to the dust for you; I sweat great drops of blood that I might redeem you.” He stands before Pilate; and when he is brought forth with the “Ecce homo,” I think I hear him say, “Poor sinner inner, I am for you.” I see him carrying the cross upon his bleeding shoulders, and every step he takes is to this tune, “I am for you.” I behold him bleeding upon the tree with outstretched hands, and all his wounds, and all the drops of blood which flow from his side, all say, “Christ is for you." To-day, as he pleads before the eternal throne, this is the tenour of his plea, “I am for you.” When he shall come a second time without a sin-offering, unto salvation, the sound of the mighty trumpet which shall herald his advent, will ring out, “Christ is for you, O ye blood-bought bought saints.” When he shall sit upon the throne of his Father, and his kingdom shall come, whereof there shall be no end; this shall be the tenour of that kingdom, “I am for my people; I will rule my people righteously, and bless the nations upon earth.” Christ cannot be against you. You cannot look into that dear face of his, and think that he will ever leave you. Your husband is married to you, and he has proved his love by such indisputable tokens, that you must not, oh! you cannot doubt it. Child of God, I almost defy you to doubt the love of your Lord Jesus Christ. How can he put you away? Could he have bought you at such a price—could he have suffered so much for you, and yet leave you, throw you away upon the dunghill? Impossible! impossible! Those wounds for ever seal your everlasting security.
Then the Holy Spirit cannot be against us. He must always, as the comforter, comfort his own people; as the illuminator he must lead us into the truth; as the great giver of life he must always quicken us from our death of sin. Whatever power the Holy Spirit has it is all engaged for us, “Lo! I am with you alwav, even unto the end of the world.”
Then the holy angels—these cannot be against us. When Elisha opened his servant's eyes, the servant had cried before, “Alas! master, what shall we do?” when he saw the Syrians and their chariots, but now he sees horses of fire and chariots of fire round about Elisha. It is so with you. The angels are ministering spirits who minister unto the heirs of salvation; they bear you up in their hands lest you dash your foot against a stone. Millions of spiritual creatures walk this earth, both when we wake and when we sleep; and when the black angels come to attack us, the good angels contend against them, and many a heavenly duel is fought where none but spirit eyes can see; many a sacred fight goes on for the defence of the saints, even as Michael fought with the dragon for the body of Moses. The good angels are all for us, and here we may rejoice.
Then we know the law of God cannot be against us. It was our enemy once through our sins, but it is now satisfied; Christ has made it honourable; it has not a word to say against any soul that is justified in Christ.
The justice of God has not a word to say against the Christian; on the contrary, justice is well content to confirm the saving decree; for, says Justice, “That sinner owes me nothing—Christ has discharged his debts; I will not put that sinner in prison—I have no right to do so, for Christ was imprisoned instead of him; I will not lay my whip upon his shoulders, for Christ suffered with his much-ploughed shoulders, in the stead of that poor believing soul.” So, Christian, whoever may be against you, here is a comfort—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, never can be against you: the angels of heaven, the law and justice of God, must always be for you; and if it be so, who can be against you?
Two remarks, and then I have done. One is, there is an opposite to all this, and it belongs to some who are present here this morning. If God be against you, who can be for you? If you are an enemy to God this morning, your very blessings are curses to you; your pleasures are only the prelude to your pains. Remember, sinner, that whether you have adversity or prosperity, so long as God is against you, you can never truly prosper. If you spread yourself like a green bay tree, it is only that you may be ready for the axe; you may be fattened with wealth, but you are only prepared as the bullock for the slaughter. Take these words home, I pray you, and let them ring in your ears—“If God be against me”—just that supposition, a supposition which is fact, because you have not believed in Christ, you have not given your heart to God. “If God be against me!” Will you just think this over on your road home; take half-an-hour hour this afternoon to think it over. “If God be against me, what then?—what will become of me in time and eternity? If God be against me, how shall I die—how shall I rise again? How shall I face him in the day of judgment, if God be against me?” It is not an impossible “if,” but an “if” which amounts to a certainty, I fear, in the case of many who are sitting in this house to-day.
Then Christian, here is another thought, and I have done. If God be for you do you not see how you ought to be for God? If God has espoused your cause, ought you not to espouse his? I pleaded with you last Sabbath day, since Christ hath pleaded the causes of your soul, to plead the cause of Christ. There is a great battle which has only just began! the trumpet which musters the warriors soundeth loud and long, and the fight will be stern and desperate between Christ's pure truth and the ceremonials of the world's Church; and ye must take your post, every one of you, on one side or the other. “If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” One side or the other ye must be on, and I ask you, if God has been for you and defended you, stand up for him. Never bate a jot of Christ's truth. Not a hair of the head of Christ's truth must ever be suffered to be touched with the smell of the fire of compromise. Be not as the harlots were who stood before Solomon. You remember one was quite content to have half the living child; but be your motto, “All or none: I will never take a particle of error. Death to it all!” No amalgamation, no compromise, no peace with error. The men of this generation cry to me, and say, “Is there peace?” and my answer is, “What peace can there be so long as the sins of Jezebel are so many?” Then they revile me and say, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel;” “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim” Stand up and bear witness against regeneration by baptism, and against those who use Popish words, and would have us believe that it is right to attach another sense to them. Take your part with Christ and his despised people, and when the day comes when he shall distribute his rewards, happy shall that man be who never flinched; and blessed shall he be, and shall she be who stood fast in the evil day, and stood still in the integrity of the Lord, and in the firmness of his truth, firm even to the end.
The Lord bless you in this thing for Christ's sake. Amen.