Romans 8:18


If so be that we suffer with him. Then we do suffer? Yes, even as he did. For ours is a redemptive history, and redemption is not without pain. But the future - oh, how the glory eclipses all the momentary trial! So was it with himself. "For the joy that was set before him," he "endured the cross, despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2). And so shall it be with us. We may well join the apostle in his triumphant outburst of hope, "For I reckon," etc. Ours is the hope of an immortal glory; nay, the hope is the hope of the world: "the earnest expectation of the creation," etc. So, then, we have for our consideration - the present pains, the future glory.

I. THE PRESENT PAINS.

1. Of the creation. This expression must not be toned down. It refers to all the creation, outside of man himself, with which man has to do; our "world," which is connected by a mysterious solidarity with ourselves, sorrowing in our sorrow, rejoicing in our joy. Once? It was "very good;" all was harmony, beauty, peace. We may not tell what were the joys of the early creation, but it was the garden of the Lord, the paradise of man. The ravages of the storm, the desolations of the wilderness, were then unknown; the creatures preyed not one upon another then; love, liberty, and life were all in all. But man's fall drew a shadow-oh, how dark! - across the beauty; and for love, liberty, and life, there were then strife, bondage, death! "The creation was subjected to vanity;" yes, cursed was the world for man's sake. And now? Look around you: "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together." The earthquake and storm, the arid desert and dreary seas, the inhospitable clime, the unfriendly skies, the blighted harvests - the shadow of the cross! And the ravages of the animal world: destruction, pain, death. And at last? "The fashion of this world passeth away!"

2. Of ourselves. The nature-part of us is likewise "subject to vanity:" we groan. Disease, death - of our own frame and organic life; of our relationships. Oh, how we are mocked: dust, dust, dust!

II. THE FUTURE GLORY.

1. Of ourselves. We are God's children by faith in Christ; his adopted ones. But though the adoption is real, it is not yet manifest to the universe. No, nor to ourselves in its fulness. As though a beggar-child were adopted by a king, but for a while must still appear in beggar-garments. Oh, it shall not be always so! The beggar-garments shall be cast away, and the royal robe assumed; our sonship shall be made manifest to all: we wait "for the redemption of our body." Yes, God's purposes shall be accomplished; in the resurrection of the Son they are pledged to fulfilment; the body of our humiliation shall be made like to the body of his glory, and "then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."

2. Of the creation. But if we wait, and wait in hope, so does our creation wait, groan, yearn for the revealing of the sons of God. The ἀποκαραδοκία! The decay and death not intrinsically pertaining to it; no, not if God's world. The vanity to which it was subjected, the mockery of aim, the frustration of purpose, this was all "in hope." And as by man came the curse, by man comes the blessing. Bondage, corruption, through the sin? Yes; and liberty, glory, through the great redemption! Whatever of evil was done, shall be undone; the blot shall be wiped away; the shadow shall pass that the eternal light may shine. And all our relationships with the world, and with one another, these shall be remade then; delivered, glorified! Oh, how the heart has bled - bled because of the frustrations and rendings of this world. Oh, how the heart shall bound - bound with the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ; a gospel, not in word only, but in power, delivering power that shall work its deliverance on man's whole nature, all man's relationships, man's whole world! Shall ours, then, not be the patience - "we wait for it "? Yes for he giveth grace. But shall we not know something of the triumph too? Shall we not grasp the future, and almost live in it as though the present were not? Yes; for ourselves, for our dear ones, for our dear world, "I reckon" etc. - T.F.L.









For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory.
Clerical World.
Men exaggerate the importance of what is close at hand, and diminish the value of what lies in the far future. Prudence teaches men to free themselves from this tendency. And religion summons men to take into their calculation the distant but not uncertain prospect.

I. THE SUFFERINGS OF THE PRESENT MAY BE SEVERE. Every human being has many pains, troubles, anxieties, to bear. And every Christian has his own especial sufferings. Nothing is gained by concealing these facts. Let every reasonable being "count the cost" of following Christ.

II. THE GLORY OF THE FUTURE IS REVEALED. We need no revelation to make us sensible of the pressure of present pains. But experience and reason fail to make us know the glory which is to be. This is declared to us by inspiration, viz., that when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall appear with Him in glory. That glory consists in the knowledge, favour, and fellowship of the Redeemer.

III. THE ESTIMATE AND CALCULATION IS THAT THE GLORY OF THE FUTURE OUTWEIGHS THE SUFFERINGS OF THE PRESENT.

1. This was the personal conviction of the apostle himself. He was a reasonable man, and he reckoned, etc. He acted upon his persuasion, and throughout his life accepted hardships, braved dangers, endured persecution, animated by the blessed hope of victory and of glory.

2. This has been the principle which has underlain the endurances which have always characterised the Christian life. Who would willingly endure the self-denial and the oppression, the insult, the privation and the martyrdom, except for the sake of the approval of the Divine Master, whose victory and whose throne it is promised that all His faithful followers shall share?

(Clerical World.)

I. THE APOSTLE'S ESTIMATE.

1. Of this world. A scene of —

(1)Vanity.

(2)Bondage.

(3)Suffering.

2. Of the world to come.

(1)Glory.

(2)Liberty.

(3)Happiness.

II. THE EFFECTS OF THIS ESTIMATE.

1. Hope.

2. Patience.

3. Earnest desire.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I. GOD'S SUFFERING SONS. Sonship does not exempt from sufferings — sometimes it even causes them — as when we are called to suffer on account of religion, especially in times of persecution. But we need not look for "some great thing" to bring the text into conformity with daily experience. No sufferings are small that have power to affect the mind. The strife of tongues, the petty persecutions of home, the long continuance of some chronic disease, the anxiety connected with our occupation, may be doing for us what greater trials did for the martyrs. We may be sufferers in the intensity of emotion, even when the instruments of suffering may not be the prison and the stake. The gospel, then, does not imply immunity from suffering. And this fact teaches that suffering to the believer is —

1. Good and not evil — like medicine, which may be nauseous to the taste but healing in its effects.

2. Best when least deserved. "I could have borne it had I merited it," is the world's word. God's Word says, "If the will of God be so, it is better to suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing." To do wrong is a greater evil than to suffer wrong.

3. Confined to "this present time."

II. THE COMPARISON WITH FUTURE GLORY. "I reckon" — as if it were a calm and deliberate mental process. If we allow our feelings to predominate we shall allow our experience of pain to prevail over the revelations of faith. The glory is yet future — it is not yet felt — whilst the suffering is felt. We need to bring into the comparison, in order to feel alleviation, those vast objects in the presence of which all temporal sorrow dwindles.We might compare, e.g., our own sufferings —

1. With the far severer sufferings of many of our fellow-Christians who are as dear to God as we are.

2. With our deserts and our deep sense of the evil of sin.

3. With our mercies and alleviations, and be ashamed to think of our ingratitude in permitting one sorrow to blind us to a thousand joys.

4. With the bitter sufferings which our Lord endured, and think of the double honour which is given us on behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him but to suffer for His sake.

5. But the apostle brings before us the glory that shall be revealed in us, as if he would compare the poor accommodation of the roadside inn where the traveller passes the night, with the enduring blessedness of the home. One day in heaven will repay all the sufferings of earth.

(P. Strutt.)

I. COUNTERBALANCING TEMPORAL THINGS WITH ETERNAL, IS THE WAY TO CLEAR OUR MISTAKES, OR PREVENT THE DELUSIONS OF THE FLESH. The apostle observeth this method here and elsewhere (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18). This may be done in four ways. Comparing —

1. Temporal good things with eternal good things, that we may draw off our hearts from the one to the other, and so check the delights of sense (Hebrews 10:34; Psalm 16:11; John 5:44).

2. Temporal bad things with eternal bad things; so to defeat the terrors of sense. All the sufferings of the world are but the scratch of a pin to that tribulation that abideth for every soul that doth evil (Luke 12:4, 5).

3. Temporal good for eternal evil (Hebrews 11:25).

4. Temporal bad things, with eternal good things (2 Corinthians 4:17).(1) Our sufferings come from men, but our glory from God; now as the agent is, so is the effect; man afflicts as a finite creature, but God rewards as an infinite being; man showeth himself in his wrath, and God in His love (Isaiah 51:12).(2) Our sufferings are earthly, but our glory is heavenly, As the place, is, so is the estate; here both the good and evil is partial, but there both are complete. Here we have the earnest, there the whole bargain; here a taste, there a full feast.(3) Our sufferings are but short, but our glory eternal (1 Peter 1:6; 1 Peter 5:10).(4) As they are short, so they are light (2 Corinthians 4:17).(5) The sufferings are in our mortal bodies, but the glory is both in soul and body.(6) Sufferings do mostly deprive us of those things which are without a man; but this is a glory which shall be revealed in us.(7) Our sufferings dishonour us in the sight of the world, but this glory maketh us amiable in the sight of God.(8) The order is to be considered. As to the wicked, God will turn their glory into shame; so as to the godly, He will turn their shame into glory (John 16:20).

II. THE COMPARISON, THOUGH IT BE RIGHTLY WEIGHED, WILT HAVE NO EFFICACY UNLESS WE HAVE FAITH, or a deep sense of the world to come. It is easy to show how much eternal things exceed temporal; but this taketh no hold of the heart, till there be a firm belief of the glory reserved for God's people (Hebrews 11:1; 2 Peter 1:9).

III. THIS FAITH MUST BE OFTEN EXERCISED BY SERIOUS MEDITATIONS. For the greatest truths work not, if we do not think of them. Faith showeth us a truth, but consideration is the means to improve it (Luke 14:28-30).

IV. There is, besides, NEED OF THE ASSISTANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Sense is too strong for reason without faith; and faith cannot do its office without the Spirit.

(T. Manton, D.D.)

First, of the subject or antecedent: "The sufferings of this present time." By sufferings here we are to understand the sufferings of the servants of God more especially. First, to look upon it in the first reference, of the time in order to suffering; and so, I say, there is this in it, that the present time it is a time of affliction. Where we must first of all explain what is here meant by this present time. First, the state of this world it is expressed by the time or season, ὁ χωρίς. And so, indeed, it is. It is a time of great opportunity, which God does afford unto us. Those that will be saved hereafter, they must be sanctified now. And therefore accordingly does it concern us to mind this time, and to be sure to be good husbands of it; not to strive or squander it away we care not how, but to have a special regard hereunto. That is the first term of emphasis, the time, or season. The second is, that it is called the present time, which is to be taken in an exclusive sense, as that which shall not be hereafter. It is present, and it is present but for a while. It has a disparagement of transitoriness upon it. The second is of suffering in order to the time. And so there is this in it, that affliction it is only for a season. The suffering of this present time, that is, as much as this moment any suffering; this suffering, which is but of short continuance. Thus we shall find the Scripture to express it (2 Corinthians 4:17; Hebrews 10:37; 1 Peter 1:6; 1 Peter 5:10). These and the like are the expressions whereby the shortness of affliction is set forth unto us. This it serves, first, to put a difference betwixt the children of God and other men. As for wicked and ungodly persons, their sufferings are not only for time present, but as well for time to come, and for that especially. Therefore, secondly, it should keep up their hearts from fainting and sinking under them. The second is the predicate, or consequent, in these words, "Are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." Wherein we have the state of God's people in the world to come set forth under a threefold notion or description. First, from the nature of it; and secondly, from the order of it; and thirdly, from the degree of it. First, here is a description of the future state of the children of God, from the nature of it; and that is of glory to be revealed in them. First, for the matter of it, it is glory. He does not only say it is rest, as He does in another place (2 Thessalonians 1:7). Heaven it does not only consist in the removal of former evils, but in the addition of further comforts. And mark here what this comfort is, for the condition and quality of it, while it is expressed by glory; wherein the Spirit of God seems to labour to satisfy us and to uphold us against the scorn and reproach of affliction. If here now it shall be further demanded what this glory we now speak of is, and wherein it consists. First, in the glorious qualifications which both soul and body together shall be endued withal. The body raised up to the excellencies and perfections of a spirit — a spiritual body — and the soul endued with a great measure of knowledge in all particulars. Secondly, in the glorious company and society which we shall there partake of. Thirdly, in the glorious actions and performances which we shall then be employed in: in sitting upon thrones, judging the world, even angels themselves. And finally, in an universal freedom from whatsoever might cause any annoyance. Secondly, we may here take notice of the dispensation, as it is said to be such as shall be revealed in us. While it is said that it shall be revealed, there are two things implied in this expression. First, its present secrecy. It shall be revealed; therefore as yet it is hid, and so it is. That glory which a Christian shall one day partake of in heaven it is for the present concealed (1 John 3:2). The second is the future discovery, or manifestation, which is here expressed. It is the discovery of it only which is future and has yet to come. It is already in being, so far forth as it is prepared for us, as the Scripture assures us. This glory, which for the present is hid, it shall hereafter be revealed both to the children of God and other men. First, it shall be revealed to God's children for their comfort and greater reward. God will now at last make them amends for all their long expectations and dependencies upon Him. Secondly, to wicked men it shall be revealed also for their shame and confusion. There is one word more which is here considerable of us, and that is the subject of this glory — ourselves. It is not only to us, but in us. Glory may be revealed to a man, which himself has no interest in. But the glory of heaven it is such as shall be revealed in us, that is, we shall partake of this glory. This it holds a proportion to our capacity and reception of grace. Look as the children of God. The second is taken from the order of it, or method in which it is dispensed, and that is, in succession to affliction. God's children, in regard of that state which happens unto them, have their best still at last. And this it goes before that, Look as it was with Christ Himself, even so it is also with the members of Christ. For Christ Himself — we know how it was with Him — He suffered before He reigned. The harvest is after the seed-time. This is matter of great encouragement and consolation to all true believers in the saddest condition that befalls them. It may be that for the present they may lie under very grievous afflictions. Well, but here is that which may satisfy them: that there is the greater comfort behind, that waits upon them. The third is the measure or degree of it; and that is, glory transcendent to affliction. Present suffering is incomparable to future happiness. First, to show you that it is so. There must needs be an infinite excellency and transcendency of glory above suffering upon this account. First, the reason and argument which God uses and takes from glory to persuade His children to suffering. That can by no means be an argument which is not itself a truth; at least such an argument as the God of truth shall vouchsafe to use. Indeed Satan he many times offers those things for encouragements which have no substance or reality in them. But the Lord He does not do so. He will make good every argument which He presses for the doing of any duty. Secondly, as this may be cleared from God's own arguments and reasonings, so also from the saints' apprehensions and improvements of those arguments. Thirdly, this may be also evinced unto us, even from the principles of superstition itself. We may see what future glory is, in regard of present sufferings, from the voluntary sufferings which many people lay upon themselves. Fourthly, the first-fruits of the Spirit, and the beginnings of glory here in this present life, these are an evidence hereof unto us. Now, further, secondly, we are to consider wherein this disparity and eminency and transcendency does mainly consist, which we may take notice of according to these following explications of it. First, in weight; secondly, in number; and thirdly, in duration. Now the second is the apostle's judgment, or determination about it, in this word, I reckon, or make account. The word in the Greek signifies properly to reason, or cast up accounts. And so it is a metaphor either taken from logic or from arithmetic. If we take it from logic, so it is a drawing of the conclusion from the premises; if we take it from arithmetic, so it is by casting up the account to find out the true total sum. First, take it from logic; I reckon, that is, I conclude; so we find the word used in other places, as in Romans 3:28: "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith," etc. It is the same word which is here in the text. And so there is this in it, that a good Christian has the best and perfectest reason. And therefore let all proud wits stoop and veil to this. But, secondly, it may be a metaphor taken from arithmetic; I reckon, that is, I make account. That the receipts do exceed the expenses; the present suffering it comes short of the future glory by infinite degrees. That a Christian is the best accountant. Especially he is so in this point of religion, as to the preferring of glory to suffering. St. Paul had a very great advantage of many others in this particular. First, he had skill; he had a wit and understanding for this purpose. Every one has not the art of arithmetic, especially of this spiritual arithmetic. Secondly, he had experience. He had the trial of both estates, and so was best able to judge of both (2 Corinthians 11:23; 2 Corinthians 12:4). Thirdly, he had the advantage also of practice. The expedite casting up of accounts it is a matter of use, and the facility is contracted by custom. Now St. Paul he had this also, he was used hereunto, and he had done it often again and again. As a man that will be sure of an account, he goes over it the second time, and the third, and if it still proves the same, then he determines it and sets it down for certain.

(Thomas Horton, D.D.)

In Hebrews 11:25, 26, there is a similar course of reasoning. See how he loads the scales. On the world's side, "pleasures" and "treasures"; on Christ's side, "reproaches " and "afflictions." But with the former he throws in "for a season"; with the latter he casts in "with the people of God"; and in a moment the world kicks the beam.

I. THE PRINCIPLE WHICH GUIDED THE APOSTLE TO HIS CONCLUSION IS TO BRING ETERNITY INTO EVERY CALCULATION, and to judge of everything as it affects our eternity. Everything has in it an eternity of consequence. There is not a pain, nor a pleasure, a word, nor a thought, which, either directly or indirectly, does not reach out for ever and ever. Now, to an immortal being, the rule and standard of measurement must be eternity. Ask the man on the eve to "depart, and be with Christ," what he thinks of the affairs of this present life? and he will answer in the spirit of my text.

II. THE EXACT POINT OF THE COMPARISON AS IT STOOD IN THE APOSTLE'S MIND. It would have been quite natural to have spoken of "the glory that should be shown to us," as of the object which we are all reaching to in heaven; but it was a far higher range of thought when it dwelt on "the glory that should be shown in heaven in us." For what is that "glory" which is to make heaven? Unquestionably the same to which David looked (Psalm 17:15). Perfect reflection of the brightness of God in our person — of the judgment of God in our intellect — of the love of God in our affections — of the will of God in our motives — of the unity of God in the harmony of our whole being. Everything is "glorious" as it respects or admits Deity. Now every "suffering" here, of body or of mind, has reference to, and affects that reflection of "glory." We Christians are passing through the processes which are essential to our final condition; the school-time, which is preparatory to maturity, or, the furnace, melting the material, making it capable of receiving the impression of its influence. And, if we once admit that, then we hold a chain of reasoning which justifies, nay, reproves, nay, rejoices in every sorrow; and establishes a proportion between the degree of "the sufferings," and the degree of "the glory." The height of the glory depends upon the attainment of the grace; and the attainment of the grace is according to the elevation of the faith; and the degree of the faith is in proportion to its exercise; and the exercise lays among afflictions. And surely the thought of consummation ought to be sufficient to swallow up all the pain of this present world. What, if the body "groans, being burdened," when it is all "but for a moment," and eternity will be spent in rapturous ministrations.

(J. Vaughan, M.A.)

I. There can be no comparison between the sufferings of the present time, and the consummated glory of the heavenly world, IN RESPECT OF NATURE. Without some resemblance of nature, comparison cannot be instituted at all. We may compare the sun with the moon, or with a star, or even with the flame of a candle; because, however much smaller, these are all luminous objects. But we cannot very well compare the sun to a tree or to a reptile, because of the dissimilarity of nature. So, also, we may institute a comparison, however remote, between the ocean and a lake, or river, or fountain, because water is essential in all; but there cannot well be a comparison between the ocean and a quadruped or a flower. So, as there is no sameness of nature in sufferings and glory, they cannot be compared, unless to point out their dissimilarity be comparison.

II. There can be no comparison between present sufferings and future glory, IN RESPECT OF ATTENDANT CIRCUMSTANCES.

1. One of the circumstances frequently attendant on the sufferings of this life is solitude.

2. It is another circumstance attendant on suffering, that we cannot always see the good which is designed.

3. It may be mentioned as a further circumstance attendant on suffering, that the causes of grief are seldom single. It has grown into a proverb — Misfortunes come in troops!

4. Let us now reflect, that in the time of that "glory which shall be revealed in us," this array of sorrow will be for ever passed away! Instead of neglect and solitude, will be the banquet with "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven"; "the innumerable company of angels — the general assembly and church of the first-born — the spirits of just men made perfect"; and more than all, the beatific vision of the immortal God! Instead of the doubt and obscurity of this mortal state, will be the bright result of things; the visible demonstration how these light and momentary afflictions work out "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Instead of the thousand forms of human woe which crowd the span of life with diversified sorrow, there will be consummated happiness; every form of pleasure which holy and exalted souls can take in.

III. It is an unworthy comparison between the sufferings of the present life and the glory of the life to come, IN REFERENCE TO DEGREE. It is a fact in the constitution of man's present being, that he cannot endure suffering of any kind beyond a given limit. If pushed beyond that limit, suffering relieves itself. Swooning, and even death itself comes in, to the relief of those whose burden of woe is too great to be borne! Nor should it be forgotten, that in our present being we can no more bear the excess of joy than that of grief. But in the glory which shall be revealed in us, the powers of man shall be, beyond all our present conception, exalted and enlarged.

IV. There can be no comparison between the sufferings of the present life and the consummated glory of the heavenly world, IN RESPECT OF DURATION. Time may be compared with time, and one finite thing with another thing which is finite; but time cannot be compared with eternity, a thing which is finite with one that is infinite. The sufferings of this present time will have an end. Were every hour of every day crowded with agony, we know the last hour will soon arrive, and the sorrows of earth be no more! But the glory to be revealed in us has no end! The crown of life never fades: the fountains of pure delight never cease to flow. After this illustration of the apostle's doctrine, we are justified in using it to the following purposes —

1. As a most urgent reason, why we should take care that in all our sorrows we suffer as Christians.

2. The apostle's doctrine is certainly a lesson of patience and submission, under those afflictions it may please Almighty God to permit to come upon us.

3. It will not be possible to give full credit to the apostle's doctrine, and to lay it seriously to heart, without feeling it a call to live in a constant reference to other and brighter worlds.

(J. Bromley.)

1. It is a saying as ancient as the oldest book in the Bible that "man is born to trouble." And Christians, while they are exposed to various afflictions "common to man," have trials, often pungent and severe, peculiar to themselves. But Christians have, also, consolations peculiar to themselves, and proportioned to their sorrows.

2. In the text the apostle represents himself as having instituted a comparison between "the sufferings of this present time," and "the glory that shall be revealed," with his eye on their respective magnitudes; with the result that "the sufferings are not worthy to be regarded, in comparison with the glory."

3. There are two circumstances which confirm and commend the apostle's authority on this subject —(1) The large experience he had received of present afflictions (2 Corinthians 11.). We are accustomed to attach weight to the opinions of those who have had much experience in the things of which they speak. Yet, with his enlarged experience, Paul declares that the present sufferings of Christians are "not worthy to be compared with" their future glory. What are our sufferings in comparison with his? If, then, those greater afflictions, much more our smaller trials, vanish in such a contrast.(2) The apostle has been distinguished, perhaps above all other men, by an anticipated experience of the glory of the future state (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). And, looking at both worlds with this connected and enlarged experience, he pronounces the judgment stated in the text.

4. Observe, also, the force of "the glory that shall be revealed." The same emphatic expression is used by Peter, in apparent allusion to the words before us (1 Peter 4:1). A small and dim reflection of that glory is all that is at present conveyed by Divine revelation; like the glimmering of those distant suns that irradiate infinite space; an infantine perception proportioned to our infantine faculties. It is a glory that must be revealed; that can be discerned only by its own splendour. In looking at the comparison, therefore, we must take into consideration the disadvantages arising from the one side being matter of experience and clearly discernible, while the other side is matter of faith, and placed beyond the power of human conception. The things that are temporal are seen; the sufferings are present: but the things that are eternal are not seen; the glory is to be revealed.

5. There are, however, certain alleviating circumstances connected with our present sufferings, which render them unworthy to sustain a comparison with that contrasted glory which is free from all deductions.

I. THEY SELDOM PROCEED FROM THE HIGHEST SOURCE OF SUFFERING, and hence they are never sufferings of the severest nature. The sufferings of a good man cannot arise from the horrors of a guilty conscience that sees nothing in futurity but an angry God and eternal woe! We can measure our strength in the contemplation of temporal calamities, but not in the prospect of eternal ruin. The Christian, whatever his sufferings, may have peace in his conscience, and their edge is effectually taken off in his experience. They are thus rendered very imperfect. But the future glory is of a nature to fill the soul, to satisfy its highest conceptions, its largest capacities of good.

II. THEY ARE SUBJECT TO INTERRUPTIONS AND INTERVALS OF REPOSE. The storms of adversity do not prevail through the whole period of the most afflicted life; they are relieved by intervals of calm and sunshine (Psalm 125.). It is because our sufferings are thus interrupted that they become the more conspicuous. Health, for example, is the ordinary state of our being; sickness is an interruption of that state; hence we dwell on a few days or even hours of pain, while we let years of ease and vigour pass unnoticed. But in the heavenly world there is no suspension of good, no intrusion of distress. There will prevail an unbroken continuity of bliss. Who, then, would compare the occasional sufferings of this present time with the enjoyment of undisturbed felicity?

III. THEY ARE ATTENDED BY MANY ALLEVIATING CIRCUMSTANCES. None touch us at once in all points and put an end to every enjoyment. God attempers His chastisements to our weakness; and, in general, so mingles goodness with severity, as even, amidst our sorrows, to call forth our thanksgivings. If our health and ease is impaired we are often attended by kind friends, and we have all the assistance which the physician's art can afford, and, for the support of our hearts, the rich promises of Scripture, and the influences of the Divine Comforter. But in the future state of glory there is no admixture of suffering; it is a state of pure fruition; a scene of unimpaired beatitude. With the perfect nature of that glory, the very imperfect nature of our present sufferings, as modified by many alleviating circumstances, renders them not worthy to be compared.

IV. EVEN WHEN WE MAY BE REDUCED TO THE GREATEST POSSIBLE DISTRESS, STILL WE RETAIN HOPE, which operates with a resisting force against the assaults of adversity. And what a source of joy does this principle open to the Christian! (ver. 24; Hebrews 11:1). But in the happiness of heaven there exists no disturbing fear to correspond with the hope that allays the sufferings of time. Once admitted to that bright world, we shall look back on "the sufferings of this present time," as on the faint recollection of a vision of the night: they will only serve to enhance our beatitude, to swell our song of praise!

V. Present sufferings ARE PROPORTIONED TO OUR PRESENT POWERS OF ENDURING; but the glories of the future world, to another state of faculties, a very different order of capacities. At the resurrection there will take place a great, an inconceivable enlargement of our energies in mind and body, our capacities of action and enjoyment (1 Corinthians 15.). The body will be "raised in power," like that of angels who "excel in strength." The eye will be strengthened to behold those beams of Divine effulgence which, were they to be manifested to us now, would blind us with their blaze. The ear will be fitted to receive, the voice to respond, those eternal hallelujah! Every cloud will be dispelled from the mind, every imperfection of its powers removed. What are our limited sufferings, proportioned as they are to our present limited powers, placed in comparison with that ineffable glory, to which powers of a different order are adapted?

VI. And note THE IMMEASURABLE DISPARITY BETWEEN THE DURATION OF TEMPORAL AFFLICTIONS AND THE DURATION OF CELESTIAL GLORY. If they extended through the whole period of life, and that period were protracted to antediluvian longevity, still they would be lost in less than a moment, in comparison with eternal glories: weighed against that "exceeding weight," these light afflictions would appear as the almost invisible motes of the sunbeam. Conclusion:

1. Let Christians derive support and encouragement under their various afflictions. When we are ready to be cast down by some pressing burden, let us balance it against an "eternal weight of glory."

2. Let others, who may not as yet have turned their attention to eternal realities, be prevailed upon no longer to neglect the great salvation. Who would hesitate between a few years of doubtful enjoyment, invaded by sufferings "common to man," and inconceivable happiness prolonged and progressive through infinite duration?

(Robert Hall, M.A.)

1. "Present time" may mean the sufferings of any one at any time, or of any one during his whole life, or of all persons during their life; or, still again, of all persons consolidated in their experience of one person.

2. "Glory" is splendour, magnificence. Then, as according to the text, suffering is not to be compared with the glory. They must be placed in contrast, as to their —

I. ORIGIN — the one from sin, the other from God.

II. NATURE. All suffering is mixed; glory is unmixed.

III. REALISATION. Suffering comprehensible; glory incomprehensible.

IV. DURATION. Suffering ends; glory never — it is everlasting. To be like Christ; to be with Christ; to be equal heirs with Christ — this is glory. And yet we cannot travel to the end of such infinite glory. Is there not enough in this view of our text to inspire the Christian with zeal and devotion, and to send the sinner weeping to the Cross?

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

I. WHAT ARE THE SUFFERINGS HERE INTENDED.

1. Those of "this present time" in the present disordered and fallen state of things. While man was a stranger to sin, he was also a stranger to suffering. But when sin found an entrance it made an opening for suffering. How various are the kinds and degrees of suffering, and how many are the quarters from whence it arises! What faculty of mind, what sense or member of body, what possession, connection, or enjoyment in life, may not become a source of sorrow? We may suffer through fires, inundations, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, inclement seasons. And what is more dreadful than any of them, we may see fields of battle covered with the dead, and resounding with the groans of the dying. Behold the widow, orphan, prisoner, slave. We may "return and consider all the oppressions done under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 4:1, 2), all introduced by sin, that pregnant womb.

2. Now, even in these general sufferings the people of God have more or less their share. But, besides these, they have sufferings peculiar to themselves. They mourn in Zion, sorrow for sins, their own or those of others: they "deny themselves," and "take up their cross," "crucify the flesh," are "reproached for the name of Christ," and, in various ways, are made partakers of Christ's sufferings.

3. But the apostle spoke more particularly of the Church in that age, when the sufferings of its members were peculiarly aggravated (2 Corinthians 4:8; 1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 6:4, 5; Romans 8:35; Hebrews 10:32-34; Hebrews 11:36-38).

II. WHAT IS THE GLORY TO BE REVEALED. This cannot be at present fully comprehended (1 John 3:2). It implies, however —

1. A perfect state of soul, gloriously enlightened (1 Corinthians 13:12), glorious in holiness (1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:4), in happiness (Revelation 21:3-6; Revelation 22:1-5), in authority, power, and dominion (Luke 22:28-30; James 1:12; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 3:21).

2. A perfect and glorious state of body (Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 43, 49, 51; Ephesians 1:19, 20; Colossians 3:4; 1 John 3:2). This is justly termed "the manifestation of the sons of God"(ver. 19), and "the adoption" (vers. 23, 29).

3. The being placed in a world of glory, which will far exceed this world.

4. The being admitted into glorious society, even that of patriarchs and prophets, evangelists and apostles, saints and angels.

5. The having free, constant, uninterrupted communion with the Father of glory through the Lord of glory, and by the glorious Spirit.

III. HOW IT APPEARS THAT THE SUFFERINGS ARE NOT TO BE COMPARED TO THE GLORY. Compare —

1. The subjects of the suffering and of the glory. Our powers of body and mind are limited. Any great weight of affliction soon crushes the frail body, and causes it to seek repose in death. The narrow capacity of the mind, likewise, cannot admit at once a very large measure of trouble of any kind; one sorrow is wont to displace another.

2. But the glory to be revealed in us will be the glory of an angel. Our vessels will then be wonderfully enlarged, and rendered capable of containing a large measure of felicity and glory.

3. Their nature and design.(1) The sufferings are not designed to be a proper punishment of sin. God only corrects that He may reform and amend.(2) The glory, however, will be a reward proper for an infinite Being to bestow on those whom He acknowledges to be His children (chap. Romans 9:23; Hebrews 11:16).

4. The degree of the one and the other. The sufferings of the present time, however great, are not without any mixture of consolation. But the glory to be revealed will be pure glory and felicity, unmixed with the least alloy of sorrow.

5. The constancy of the one and the other. The sufferings of the present life are seldom, if ever, incessant, but the glory will be incessant, without change, unless for the better.

6. Their duration. The sufferings of the present time are the sufferings of a creature of a day (1 Corinthians 7:29-31). But the glory is that of an immortal being; a being that can die no more either in soul or body.

IV. IN WHOM THIS GLORY WILL BE REVEALED; OR WHO HAVE A RIGHT TO EXPECT IT?

1. Not in mankind in general, though all be redeemed with the blood of Christ. For a man may "frustrate the grace of God" (Galatians 2:21).

2. Not in all that profess Christianity. For a man may "profess to know God, and by works deny Him."

3. Not in all that are outwardly unblameable. For a man may "have a name to live and be dead."

4. But in all that so believe the gospel as to find it "the power of God unto salvation."

(J. Benson.)

There was an ancient sect who held that the highest virtue was to triumph over pain. The Stoics aimed high; but the road they took was paved with crushed desires, with petrified affections, and strewn with the ashes of distinguished loves. But Christianity does not save us by rendering us incapable of sorrow, but through sorrow, it leads us into the joy of God. Note —

I. THE RECKONING.

1. It is a reckoning, not a full realisation. The apostle does not say, "I know," for he had not drained the cup of earthly sorrow, and had but tasted the cup of heavenly joy. But neither does he say, "I think or conjecture," for although he knew not the whole, he knew a good deal of both. What he does say lies between the two. "I reckon" is the language of faith, which accepts its present as the sure ground of a larger experience.

2. It is a reckoning about "present" suffering. It was then a time of persecution; but the truth of our text is not to be confined to such a time. Are we not apt to exaggerate the sufferings of a time of open persecution, as compared with calmer times? Do we not pass people every day who are suffering more for the sake of principle than ever martyr did? Their death is no less a martyrdom because it is a slow death. The Christian suffers both as a man and a Christian. He does not escape through faith the common lot. And besides, the spiritual nature has sufferings peculiar to itself. It begins in suffering. We have to pass Sinai, and see the terrors of the Lord. There is the struggle of conscience, with sin and unbelief, and the pangs of the new birth. Sanctification is but the deepening and broadening of our conversion, and it is carried on through suffering. The higher a nature rises, it increases in tenderness and sympathy, and while it has to maintain a conflict with evil, the heart must be the home of many great griefs.

3. It is a reckoning about present suffering in connection with future glory. The mere mention of the two cannot but suggest that the former is unworthy of comparison with the latter. The magnanimity of Paul prevents him from dragging his afflictions into comparison with the glory of God. The memory of past hardships is all but swallowed up in the enthusiasm of hope; and in this he follows his Master, "who, for the joy set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame."

II. THE GROUND OF THE RECKONING.

1. The grace of God in the heart, since it so reveals God to the soul, so brings down heaven to earth, that the possessor of it can say that his sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in him.

2. This grace is the root both of the sufferings and the glory. If the two things were really opposed, then some comparison might be made; but this is not the case. Suffering is the first-fruit of grace, glory the last. The one is the fruit of grace in time, the other its fruit in eternity. To have the grace of God in the heart is to have a principle of life there that must come into bitterest conflict with evil. Jesus Christ must needs suffer to enter into His glory. As He was, so are we in this world. We have to "fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ." Dwelling in the believer Christ has still to meet the temptations of the devil and the contradictions of sinners.

3. The suffering leads to the glory. Suffering is in no sense the purchase of the glory. The sufferings of Christ have both paid the penalty of all sin, and purchased all blessing; and it would not accord with justice that we should have to pay the same penalty over again in our suffering. Certainly, if present suffering could purchase future glory, it would be a great bargain. Willingly might we undertake a pilgrimage to any shrine — gladly might we give our bosom to the knife, if the gates of Paradise would thereby open to us. But, although our suffering is in no sense the foundation or price of the glory, the one, nevertheless, leads to the other — is a condition of, or contribution to the other, as is stated in the preceding verse. The suffering, then, is not to be compared with the glory, as if the one were a deduction from the other; for the one enhances the other. As the light of the precious stone is brought out by cutting; as the veins of the marble are revealed by polishing; as the storms that fight with the young tree rock it into sturdier strength; so the Christian life is strengthened and beautified by suffering. Conclusion: Should any one standing on the threshold of the Christian life hesitate in view of its sufferings; or having put his hand to the plough, be disposed to look back; let him know that he is not fit for the kingdom of heaven. Those difficulties before which he pauses as great obstacles to his setting out on the way to glory are the very way itself. Who can show us a way to glory of any kind that is not paved with suffering? Is the glory the soldier seeks to be had with ease? Is the prize of fortune the merchant seeks to be had with folded arms? Are the ends on which the student is bent achieved by laying his head on a soft pillow and dreaming of them? One is apt to say there is no royal road to the glory of God; but that would be a great mistake. Suffering is the royal road, for by it the King passed into His glory.

(F. Ferguson.)

When the sailor encounters heavy weather, one thought cheers him — the ship may roll and pitch in the angry sea, the cold spray may drench him, his work may be hard and perilous, but he can look towards the shore; far away over the vessel's bow, far away across the tumbling waves is the shore, the haven where he would be, and for the sake of this, by remembering this, he can bear his present troubles, though the waves of the sea rage horribly It was this feeling of hope which carried the great heroes and discoverers of old through all their trials. When Columbus set forth to discover the new world he could bear the hardships and dangers in his way because he looked towards the shore; and at last, when he beheld the broken sea-weed floating past his ship, and the birds wheeling round him, he knew that his purpose was gained, and that the land which he sought to win lay before him. So I bid you to do; when the waves of affliction swell and roll towards you, when strong under-currents of temptation catch you and sweep you along, when you are weary and faint with buffeting the tide of sin, and sorrow, and frailty, look to the shore, look past the sins and the sorrow, past the noise of the whirlpool of life, past the high tide of accumulated trial, and the low water-mark of despondency and despair — look to the shore, there is peace there, there are flowers there, there is rest there remaining for the people of God.

(H. J. W. Buxton, M.A.)

e: —

1. Little souls, superficial minds, reckon it as wisdom to argue away the mass of sufferings, or at least to belittle them, to conceal the dark shadows with rosy veils, and to place opposite a longer account of pleasures. But the truth is found in the plaints which are known by all, and which Job expressed (Job 7:1-3). Our apostle likewise gives full expression to the truth. In the phrases, "earnest expectation " (ver. 19), and "from the bondage of corruption" (ver. 21), he expresses the magnitude of the afflictions, and in the oft-repeated "creature," "whole creation" (ver. 22), is expressed its extent, its generality, which knows of no exception.

2. Neither does he treat the origin superficially. It was not so from the beginning, neither was there necessity that it should be so, "not willingly" (ver. 20). The creature was made subject to vanity. It is not a blind, puzzling game of chance concerning which it would be best not to investigate; but the apostle knows and speaks boldly that this woe has a reasonable, just, and Divine cause, "by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope," i.e., on account of human sin, because the holy God desired to mark sin with the unmistakable mark of misery and enmity to God.

3. But the apostle likewise knows that from the beginning — i.e., in the will of God — this is no unchangeable and eternal relation or condition ("in hope," ver. 20). Glory, which excludes every woe, is the certain destiny of the Christian, so that the sorrowful condition of the present world appears to him as a prophecy of this destiny. (Compare the "for" in ver. 19). Adoption (ver. 23), has undoubtedly and completely taken place (ver. 19, "manifestation of the sons of God"). Enjoyment of that which is promised in the testament, afterward the revealed and distributed inheritance (ver. 17). Separation from every temporal fetter, also of the mortal body; hence glorious freedom (ver. 21, and "redemption of the body," ver. 23), is the destiny of those who belong to Christ ("in us," ver. 18, is explained by ver. 14); in which destiny all creation shall share (ver. 22). This clear aim in view, guaranteed by the " possession of the first fruits of the Spirit" (ver. 23), causes the present sufferings to be only of momentary consequence (ver. 18); the Christian longs for heaven (ver. 23), and this homesickness is termed the blessedness of hope (ver. 24).

(Prof. Cosack.)

1. This was the reckoning of one who could not mistake — for the text is not merely the opinion of the apostle, but as the declaration of God Himself, for the eternal comfort of His Church.

2. And this leads us to remember how very little is said in Scripture of the glories of the world to come. It seems solemnly determined by our Master that His Church shall walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 12:4). Those who die come not back again. Doubtless they sometimes wish it (Luke 16:27-30), but it is a vain wish. He tells us, instead, much about the sufferings and trials which await us in this life. There is a great deal said about a cross: much tribulation, the need of purity of heart, and self-denial. These are not the things by which the world induces us to love and serve it. The world keeps pain in the background, and talks of pleasure. Christ keeps pleasure in the background, and talks of pain. And it is not hard to guess why. It is because the world has so little pleasure to offer as a bribe, that it had need to talk much about it; whereas the Lord of glory has so huge an amount of blessedness in store for those who love Him that if He were to reveal the greatness thereof faith would be swallowed up in present certainty and hope in present enjoyment.

3. And yet the solemn silence of Scripture concerning heaven is now and then all but broken. The lips are sometimes opened, as it were, to speak; and, though closed again immediately, enough has escaped to fill the soul with wonder and to make the spirit attentive. The apostle in the text does not describe heaven; but he tells us that something wonderful might be told. Something of the same kind is found in 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18, and 1 Corinthians 2:9. We may think as we will, and what we will; and we shall still be far, far behind! To see patriarchs, prophets, apostles, the early Churches, will be much, to be sure; yet will it be as nothing compared to what shall be! So again (and oh, the unspeakably higher privilege!) — so again, the beholding of the face of the Son of Man. Or again, to be shown the providences which watched over our lives; to recognise the hand of Love in every blow which overtook us, every disappointment which afflicted us; yea, to be restored, and that eternally, to everything we had ever loved and lost — these things and more, told over ten thousand times, convey but a feeble picture, a faint image of the blessedness of Heaven! To conclude. The use of these declarations is clearly this — to reconcile good men to present sorrow. There is a bright prospect beyond.

(Dean Burgon.)

I know the obstacles, but I know as well the power behind! I do not see success as yet, but I know that it is coming. So I do not see the cathedral as yet, when I go into the confused quarry-yard and see there the half-wrought stones, the clumsy blocks that are by and by to be decorated capitals. But when at last they are finished in form and brought together, the mighty building rises in the air, an ever-during psalm in rock. I do not see the picture yet, when I look upon the palette with its blotches and stains and lumps of colour. By and by, when the skilful brush of the painter has distributed those colours, I see the radiant beauty of the Madonna, the pathos of the Magdalene; I see the beauty of the landscape spread out upon the canvas, with meadow and hill and winding stream, and the splendours of the sunset crowning the whole. I do not see yet the perfect kingdom of God upon earth, but I see the colours which are to blend in it. I see the already half-chiselled rock out of which it shall be wrought; and I am not going to despond now, when so much already has been accomplished.

(R. S. Storrs.)

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