1. Attend to the description given of true believers: they are such as "love God," and are " called according to his purpose."
2. They are called according to his purpose. This is expressive of the change wrought upon the soul in regeneration, whereby the calls of the gospel are rendered effectual. "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power."
Three things are implied
(1) That this call is under the special direction of God, being "according to his purpose." Many are called by the gospel, and but few chosen.
(2) That when God calls a sinner he does it effectually: it is easy to him whose work it is. Herein' he acts as a Sovereign.
(1) All the plots and contrivances of their enemies, however artfully formed or executed.
(2 ) All the evils and stratagems of Satan to ruin and destroy, shall be overruled for good. He can do no more than what God permits him.
(3) The withdrawment of spiritual comfort and the hidings of God's face shall terminate in the good of them that love him.
(4) All manner of afflictions, whether ordinary or otherwise, shall be overruled for good. Pain and sickness, worldly losses and disappointments, the unkindness of friends, and the opposition of enemies, shall all be overruled by a wise and holy Providence.
(5) Death itself, of whatsoever kind it may be, is the Christian's gain.
I have not mentioned moral evil as among the things which work for good, as the apostle does not appear to have had any reference to it, but to those natural evils which are common to all believers, and which are noticed in different parts of this chapter. It is true indeed that God may and often does overrule even the sins of his people for their good; but as this is not within the compass of the promise, so it is more than in ordinary cases we are warranted to expect. The spirit wounded for sin is often made more watchful against it; and the saints when recovered from their falls are known to walk more circumspectly, and become more useful. But the nature of sin itself is evil, only evil, and its natural consequence is wrath.
2. Notice in what manner all things are productive of good to them that love God, and who are called according to his purpose. They are said to " work together" for this purpose.
(1) Things do not work together for our good by any inherent or physical efficacy, but by virtue of a divine appointment and designation.
(2) Not always visibly, though really. Jacob said, "All these things are against me;" but it was not so.
(3) Not immediately, but eventually. In Abraham's vision the smoking furnace went before the burning lamp: one indicated the sorrows and sufferings of the church, and the other their happy issue.
(4) Not apart, but in conjunction : all things "work together" for good. It is not one single event that produces the desired effect, but all the providences of God in connexion with each other, like the different parts of a machine which is at work for one great end.