First. Gospel peace prepares the heart for suffering, as it brings along with it, and possesseth the soul where it comes, with such glorious privileges as lift it above all danger from any sufferings whatever, from God man, or devils. If a man could be assured he might walk as safely on the waves of the sea, or in the flames of fire, as he doth in his garden, he would be no more afraid of the one than he is to do the other. Or, if a man had some coat of mail secretly about him, that would undoubtedly resist all blows and quench all shot that are sent against him, it would be no such scareful thing for him to stand in the midst of swords and guns. Now, the soul that is indeed at peace with God, is invested with such privileges as do set it above all hurt and damage from sufferings. ‘The peace of God’ is said ‘to garrison the believer’s heart and mind,’ Php. 4:7. He is surrounded with such blessed privileges, that he is as safe as one in an impregnable castle.
- Privilege. A person at peace with God becomes then a child of God. And when once the Christian comes to know his relation, and the dear love of his heavenly Father to him, afflictions for or sufferings from him, dread him not, because he knows it is inconsistent with the love of a father, either to hurt his child himself, or to suffer him to be hurt by another, if he can help it. I have often wondered at Isaac’s patience to submit to be bound for a sacrifice, and see the knife so near his throat, without any hideous outcries or strugglings that we read of. He was old enough to be apprehensive of death, and the horror of it, being conceived by some to be above twenty years of age. That he was of good growth is out of doubt by the wood which Abraham caused him to carry for the sacrifice. But, such was the authority Abraham had over his son, and the confidence that Isaac had in his father, that he durst put his knife into his hands; which, had the knife been in any other hand, he would hardly have done. Whoever may be the instrument of any trouble to a saint, the rod or sword is at God’s disposure. Christ saw the cup in his Father’s hand, and that made him take it willingly.
- Privilege. Every soul at peace with God is heir to God. This follows his relation. ‘If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ,’ Rom. 8:17. This is such a transcendent privilege, that the soul to whom the joyful news of it comes is lift up above the amazing and affrightening fears of any suffering. The apostle having, in the forenamed place, but a little sweetened his thoughts with a few meditations on this soul-ravishing subject, see how his blessed soul is raised into a holy slighting of all the troubles of this life: ‘I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us,’ Rom. 8:18. He will not allow his own soul, or any that hath the hope of this inheritance, so far to undervalue the glory thereof, or the love of God that settled it on them, as to mention the greatness of their sufferings in any way of pitying themselves for them. As if he had said, ‘Hath God made us his heirs, and bestowed heaven upon us in reversion, and shall we be so poor-spirited to sit down and bemoan ourselves for our present sorrows, that are no more to be compared with the glory that we are going to, than the little point of time, into which our short life with all our sufferings are contracted, is to be compared with the vast circumference of that eternity which we are to spend in endless bliss and happiness?’ He is a poor man, we say, that one or two petty losses quite undoes; and he is a poor Christian that cries out he is undone by any cross in this life. We may safely conclude such a one either is heir to nothing in the other world, or hath little or no evidence for what he hath here.