"The Christian's Joint Heirship"

"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Romans 8:17

"Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:17

"And since we are his children, we will share his treasures—for everything God gives to his Son, Christ, is ours, too. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering." Romans 8:17

It is a natural and graceful transition this from a consideration of the believer's relationship to God, and the nature of the evidence which makes it certain, to a consideration of his heirship, and the nature of the inheritance to which that relationship links him. "If children, then heirs." The first truth that demands our attention is a vast and comprehensive one- God himself the inheritance of his people. Not only are they begotten by God as his children, and by a sovereign act of his most free mercy, have become the heirs of an inheritance- but subjectively, they are made the heirs of himself. "Heirs of God." Not only are all things in the covenant theirs, but the God of the covenant is theirs. This is their greatest mercy. "I am your part and your inheritance," are his words addressed to all his spiritual Levites. Not only are they put in possession of all that God has- a boundless wealth; but they are in present possession of all that God is- an infinite Portion. And what an immense truth is this, "I will be their God, and they shall be my people!" Take out this truth from the covenant of grace, were it possible, and what remains? It is the chief wealth and the great glory of that covenant that God is our God. This it is that gives substance to its blessings, and security to its foundation. So long as faith can retain its hold upon the God of the covenant, as our God, it can repose with perfect security in expectation of the full bestowment of all the rest. Here lies our vast, infinite, and incomputable wealth. What constitutes the abject poverty of an ungodly man? His being without God in the world. His earthly possessions may be boundless; he may look out from the crystal windows of his castellated mansion upon a far-spreading and magnificent domain, and exclaim, "This is all my own" yet is he poor! and when death relaxes his grasp, and summons him to the account of his stewardship, he closes his eyes upon all his proud possessions, and his only portion, and that forever, is the "worm that never dies, and the fire that is never quenched." Be you, my reader, rich or poor, high or low in this world, without God, you are undone to all eternity! It is but of trivial moment whether you die in rags and lowliness, or go in ermine and pomp to the torments of the lost- those torments will be your changeless inheritance, living and dying without God, and without Christ, and without hope. But contrast this with the state of the poorest child of God. The universe is not only his- "for all things are yours"- but the God of the universe is his- "The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore will I hope in him." We have a deathless interest in every perfection of the Divine nature. Is it Wisdom? It counsels him. Is it Power? It shields him. Is it Love? It soothes him. Is it Mercy? It upholds him. Is it Truth? It cleaves to him. "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people, from henceforth, even for evermore." What more can we ask than this? If God be ours, we possess the substance and the security of every other blessing. When the Lord appeared to Abraham, with what truth did he seek to win his confidence, and ask his obedience! "I am the Almighty God." And then follows the precept, "Walk before me and be perfect." And this is just the truth with which God would preface every blessing, and comfort us in all our tribulation. "They shall be my people, and I will be their God." He would bring us to an absolute trust in an absolute God. Winning us to an entire relinquishment of all expectation from any other source, he would allure us to his feet with the language of the Church breathing from our lips- "Behold we come unto you, for you are the Lord our God. Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel." And again, "Asshur shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, You are our gods: for in you the fatherless finds mercy." Only in the Lord our God is our salvation- only in him does the orphan find the mercy that soothes, provides, and encompasses him as a shield. Nor the fatherless only: is he not equally the covenant God of the widow? "I am married unto you," says God. And again, "Your Maker is your husband (the Lord of hosts is his name)." And yet again, "Let your widows trust in me." Thus does he by words the most persuasive, and by imagery the most touching, seek to endear himself to us as our Portion. It is in the heart of our God to give us the chief and the best. Had there been a greater, and a better, and a sweeter, and a more satisfying portion than himself, then that portion had been ours. But since there is not, nor can be, a greater than he, the love, the everlasting, changeless love that he bears to us, constrains him to give himself as our God, our Portion, our All. And have we not experienced him to be God all-sufficient? Have we ever found a lack in him? May he not justly challenge us, and ask, "Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? " Oh no! God is all-sufficient, and no arid wilderness, and no dreary land have we experienced him to be. There is in him an all-sufficiency of love to comfort us; an all-sufficiency of strength to uphold us; an all-sufficiency of power to protect us; an all-sufficiency of good to satisfy us; an all-sufficiency of wisdom to guide us; an all-sufficiency of glory to reward us; and an all-sufficiency of bliss to make us happy here, and happy to all eternity! "This God is our God forever and ever, and he will be our guide even unto death." "In your presence there is fulness of joy, and at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Such is the inheritance to which, as children of God, we are the heirs.

"Joint-heirs with Christ." This must be understood in a limited, though still in a very enlarged sense. In its highest meaning- touching the Essential Deity of our Lord- he is the Heir of all things. All worlds and all souls are his. All things were created by, and for him. Heaven is his throne, and
earth is his footstool. To participation in this heirship we cannot be admitted. Nor can there be any conjointure with Christ in the merit that purchased our redemption. Here again he is alone, no creature aiding the work, or dividing the glory. But, mediatorially, in consequence of the union subsisting between Christ and his people, they become heirs with him in all the privileges and hopes appertaining to
his kingdom. Our union to the Lord Jesus brings us into the possession of vast and untold blessings. On the basis of his atonement we build our claim. He merits all, and we possess all. All the immunities and glories of our present and eternal inheritance flow to us through Christ. "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance." "If a son, then an heir
of God through Christ." We cannot lay too great stress on this truth. We possess nothing- we receive nothing- we expect nothing but through Christ. All is given to us in consideration of a Righteousness which upholds and honors the Divine Government. Jesus is the meritorious Recipient, and we receive only through him. "If you be Christ's, then are you Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." "Knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance." And yet again, alluding to our right to, and our possession of, our inheritance, the Apostle traces both to the atonement of the Son of God- "And for this cause he is the Mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." Thus it is alone through the "fitness" imparted by Christ, the merit he substitutes in our behalf, and the righteousness he imputes to us, that we become "partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Blessed Redeemer! to what dignity and honor, to what privilege and blessing, to what hope and glory our union with you has advanced us! We were fallen, and you have lifted us up; we were poor, and you have enriched us; we were naked, and you have clothed us; we were aliens, and you have made us children; we were bankrupts, and you have made us heirs; we lost all from fatal union with the first Adam; we receive all, and infinitely more, by our glorious union with you, the Second Adam. Oh for a heart to love you! Oh for grace to glorify you! Be increasingly precious to us, and may we be increasingly devoted to you!

But observe in what this joint-heirship consists- suffering, and glory.
"If so be that we suffer with him." It is first an heirship of suffering. "If so be," or, as it has been rendered, "Seeing that we suffer with him;" thus removing any seeming idea of suffering being a meritorious cause of glory. As Christ is the Head, and we the body, there is a fellowship of condition, a sympathy of suffering of the closest character. Most assuredly there is a sense in which we could have no actual participation in the sufferings of our Lord- the sense in which those sufferings were expiatory. But mystically, the church suffered with the Head. And having begun in suffering, suffering more or less, tracks our course to glory. "If any man will come after me," says Christ, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." "If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with him." Suffering in inseparable from true godliness. "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution." Thus our very union with Christ involves suffering with Christ. We are joint-heirs with the "Man of sorrows." We are united to a crucified Head. We cannot assert any valid claim to a union with Christ, and plead exemption from trial. Our fellowship with him in his sufferings is the seal of our heirship with him in his glory. Do you see a professed disciple of the Lord Jesus exempt from all sorrow- from that sorrow, we mean, peculiar to the chastened and disciplined sons of God? you see him lacking one of the strongest and most valid evidences of sonship. "For if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you illegitimate children and not true sons." Suffering is the beaten path to heaven. A public avowal of adherence to Christ- allegiance to his authority- fidelity to his truth- separation from the world as a professed disciple of Jesus- will often entail suffering of a most humiliating and painful character.
But let us not overlook the alleviations. It is not, as in the case of our Lord, unmixed suffering- suffering borne alone. When he sorrowed in the garden, his disciples slept. When he was accused at Pilate's bar, one of them denied him. When suspended upon the cross, all of them forsook him. He was alone in suffering. But when we suffer, it is a suffering with Christ. In all our affliction he is afflicted. He suffers with us. There is an outflow of the purest, tenderest human sympathy. Our spirit is never oppressed, our heart is never sad, our love is never wounded, our principles are never assailed, our persons are never persecuted, but Christ is with us in the closest alliance. "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute ME?" With such a fellow-sufferer at our side, why should we fret and murmur and repine? "Unto us it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake." We must, if his true disciples, drink of the cup that he drank of, and be baptized with the baptism that he was baptized with; for "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps." Oh, sweet words! "If so be that we suffer with him." Not as he suffered. Oh, no! there is no curse, no wrath, no hell in the cup of sorrow which we drink. All these ingredients composed his bitter draught. Yet he suffers with us, and permits our afflictions to be called the "afflictions of
Christ." He is with you on that bed of sickness; he is with you on that couch of languishing; he is with you in that darkened room; he kneels with you at that coffin; and he weeps with you by the side of that sepulcher. Oh, may it not reconcile us to all the suffering we have ever endured, or may yet be called to endure, to feel the perfect oneness, the presence, the sympathy, the succourings of such a Savior? Who would wish to shun the obloquy of his cross, the scorn of his name, the lowliness of his kingdom, the self-denial of his religion, allied in the tenderest sympathy at every step with this illustrious Martyr- this Prince of sufferers- this Brother born for adversity? Blessed school of heavenly training! By this afflictive process, oh, of what profounder teaching, what deeper purification have we become the favored subjects! It is good for us to have been afflicted. Now have we, like our Lord, learned obedience by the things which we have suffered; and like him, too, are being made perfect through suffering. The heart has been emptied of its self-confidence- the shrine has been despoiled of its idol- the affections that had been seduced from God, have returned to their rest- the ties that bound us to the vanities of a world, perishing in its very using, have become loosened- the engagements that absorbed our sympathies, and secularized our minds, have lost their fascination and their power- the beguiling and treacherous enjoyments that wove their spell around us, have grown tasteless and insipid- and thus, by all these blessed and hallowed results of our trial, the image of the earthy has become more entirely effaced, and the image of the heavenly more deeply engraven, and more distinctly legible.

"That we may be glorified together." As suffering precedes glory, so glory assuredly follows suffering. Thus was it with our Lord. "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" The Apostle speaks of himself as a "witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed." Our Lord is in glory. The head that once bowed in death, pale and bleeding, is now raised in life, encircled with a glory brighter than ten thousand suns. The humanity that was despised from the lowliness of its birth, that was mocked, and scourged, and spit upon, and slain, is now, from its indissoluble union with the Deity, exalted far above principalities and powers, glorified with the glory he had with the Father before the world was. Having purged our sins, he is set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. To that glory which belongs to him as the Mediator of the Church, each suffering confessor of Christ shall be exalted- the body with the Head, and each part of that body with the whole. A joint-heirship of suffering, it is now a joint-heirship of glory: "We shall be glorified together with Christ." Still the oneness is manifest, and never so clearly seen as now. Glory bathes it in its light, and eternity impresses it with its seal. It is an undimmed and changeless glory. And Christ acknowledges their right to this oneness in glory. As they were not ashamed of him among men, he is not now ashamed of them among angels. As they linked themselves to his cross, he binds them to his throne. As they confessed him before the world, he now confesses them before his Father. "Glorified together." Wondrous words! Elevated to his side- leaning upon his bosom- gazing on his beauty- listening to his voice- entering into his joy- at home, and forever with the Lord. Now is answered in its fulness, the prayer mingled with tears, and breathed from the scene of his suffering below- "Father, I will that they also whom you have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory." Welcome the suffering, succeeded by such glory. Welcome the cross, followed by such a crown.
Let us learn to regard our present tutorage as preparatory to our future inheritance. "The heir as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant, though he be Lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father." Thus is it with us. But soon we shall attain our adulthood and come into possession of our estate. Before long we shall be done with governors and tutors, and need no more the lessons of the school, and the discipline of suffering. Oh, let us live in its near anticipation.
To the poor of Christ's flock how animating the prospect! "Has not God chosen the poor of this world, to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?" What though straitened resources, what though pinching poverty, what though absolute neediness, be your present allotment, lift up your heads with joy, for you have a joint-heirship with Christ in a kingdom which your Heavenly Father will give. Confide in its security. It is made sure to you by Divine oath- "Wherein God willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath." Thus inalienably is it secured. Death, which robs the earthly heir of his inheritance, puts you in possession of yours. Your estate comes not to you robed in mourning, for your Father never dies. No succession awaits you, for your inheritance is yours forever. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time."