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That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God, and the Lord Jesus Christ.—2 Thes. i. 12.
DOCT. That our complete salvation, from the first step to the last period, doth merely flow from the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
Let me first possess you of the full sense of the point.
First, Observe, the goodness of God to us is called grace. By grace is meant God’s free favour. There are several names by which the Lord’s goodness is expressed—love, benignity, mankindness, mercy, grace. Love showeth God’s self-inclination to do good; benignity or bounty, his beneficial goodness, or actual doing good. Mankindness: Titus iii. 4, ‘After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared,’ φιλανθρωπία. The restoration and recovery was prepared for man, and offered to man, not to fallen angels. But the usual expressions are mercy and grace. Mercy noteth his goodness to mankind, notwithstanding their misery; grace, is doing good freely and without desert. This grace of God is the first cause and fountain of all good. God’s external motive is our misery; his internal is his own grace. Mercy respects us, as we are in ourselves worthy of condemnation; grace as compared with others, who have not received the like favour. If the question be, why we are accepted unto life and salvation, who are so sinful and miserable? I answer—Mercy. But if the question be, why we, and not they who perish in their sins? I answer—Grace. The good angels, that never sinned, are not saved out of mercy, for they were never miserable; but out of grace, which doth all things gratis freely. There is no merit on the creature’s part, but we are saved out of mercy and grace too. That the world of the ungodly are damned is due desert; that any are saved, it is mere grace and favour. The notion of mercy is of great use to prevent despair, which may befall the sinning creature. So is also the notion of grace 343to prevent carnal confidence, or glorying in ourselves, which is very incident to us. Mercy it is called, that broken-hearted creatures, who are sensible of their great misery, may not be cut off from all hope; grace, that no flesh may glory in itself, Eph. ii. 9; for from first to last, in the whole business of our salvation, we hear of nothing but grace. Election is called the election of grace, Rom. xi. 5. Calling is of grace: 2 Tim. i. 9, ‘Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace.’ Then election breaketh out in time, and becometh actual grace. Sanctification is of grace: Eph. ii. 5, ‘When we were dead in sins, he hath quickened us together with Christ; by grace ye are saved.’ Justification is by grace: Rom. iii. 24, ‘Justified freely by his grace,’ δωρεὰν, and τῆ αὐτοῦ χὰριτι. ‘Freely,’ to note the readiness of his inclination; and ‘by his grace,’ to exclude the merit of our works; that is, by the mere grace of God, not excited by any worth or deserving of ours, but working of its own accord. And finally, we are glorified by grace, ‘for it is the grace of God which bringeth salvation to us,’ Titus ii. 11.
Secondly, Observe, grace is ascribed both to God and Christ. To God the Father, as the giver; and to Jesus Christ, as the meritorious procurer of it. Whatsoever God bestoweth upon us by his grace, he doeth it by Jesus Christ: 1 Cor. viii. 6, ‘To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.’ All is from God, and by Christ, and for God, and through Christ. If you consider the goodness of God, as it is issued from him in a way of creation, nothing was made without him: John i. 3, ‘Without him nothing was made that was made.’ If it were thus in a way of nature, it is much more so in a way of grace. Whatever gift we have cometh to us by Jesus Christ. Sometimes these kind of blessings are said to come from him, and sometimes by him. From him, to show that he is not only a mediator to procure, but a God to act: John xiv. 13, 14, ‘Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it for you.’ These expressions show him to be God, and the author of grace, as well as mediator. But most usually we are said to receive these blessings by him and through him; as Titus iii. 6, ‘The renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he hath shed on us abundantly through Christ Jesus our Lord.’ the reason is, because fallen man cannot converse with God without a mediator. Two things hinder our commerce with him—distance, and difference; distance by reason of imparity, and difference by reason of enmity.
1. Distance. God is a god of glorious majesty, and we are poor despicable creatures, unworthy of immediate access to him, unless one that is more near and dear to him than we are intercede for us. God is out of the reach of our commerce, till he cometh nearer, and is made more accessible to us in Jesus Christ, who is God-man in one person: John i. 14, ‘The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us;’ 1 Tim. iii. 16, ‘Great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh.’ Otherwise how could we address ourselves with any confidence to one so far above us?344
2. Difference. God is angry, and man is guilty; therefore our conscience representeth him as terrible to us. He is a consuming fire, and we are as stubble fully dry; and ‘Who among us can dwell with devouring burnings?’ Isa. xxxiii. 14. Of ourselves we cannot approach an offended majesty in any friendly manner, and expect mercy from him; therefore Christ interposeth as a propitiation for our sins, 1 John ii. 2, that he may satisfy God’s provoked justice, and thereupon he may become propitious to us. Though God be merciful, and inclined to pardon and bless; yet he is just also, and some expiation must be made to demonstrate his purest holiness and hatred of sin, and that he may not suffer his just and holy laws to be trampled under foot. Therefore Christ must stand in the sinner’s stead: 2 Cor. v. 21, ‘Become sin for us,’ &c.; that is, a sin-offering, or a sacrifice of propitiation, that his mercy may the more freely and abundantly flow forth to us.
Thirdly, Observe, that in the context there are causes, means, and ends mentioned.
1. The causes are the pleasure of God’s goodness, and his divine power. Now one of the causes is the same with grace; the other, his power, is set a-work by grace, to effect and bring about our salvation. The one (grace) is principium imperans; power, principium esequens. So that the spring and rise of all is in the pleasure of his goodness, or of his grace, as will appear by this consideration. If you ask why so much wisdom and power was set a-work to effect so great a work for us, here is the reason or answer at hand—Because of his love, good will, or grace. But if you ask again why he loved us at such a rate, no reason can be given of that, but that he loved us, or such was his grace towards us; we can go no higher: Mat. xi. 26, ‘Father, so it seemed good in thy sight.’
2. Come we to the means. They are of two sorts—(1.) Impetration; (2.) Application.
[1.] Impetration. Christ’s death is not mentioned in the former verse indeed, but plainly implied in the text: ‘The grace of our God, and the Lord Jesus Christ.’ And therein his grace appeareth to us, partly because grace appointed the Son of God to die for us: John iii. 16, ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,’ &c. God loved lost mankind so that he sent his Son to suffer, and do the office of a mediator, that through his mediation he might communicate his love to us in a way agreeable, to his justice. His love was antecedent to his giving Christ, and the cause of it. Secondly, it was grace that Christ undertook it. His life was not forced from him by man, but voluntarily laid down by himself: John xvi. 18, ‘No man taketh my life from me, but I have power to lay it down of myself, and take it up again.’ And though he did it in obedience to his Father, yet that doth not diminish his love and grace, because he so freely offered himself to this work. Sometimes Christ’s death is made an act of obedience: Rom. v. 19, ‘By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous;’ Phil. ii. 7, ‘He took upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient to death.’ Sometimes an act of love: Gal. ii. 20, ‘The life which I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me;’ Rev. i. 5, ‘Unto him 345that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood.’ So, thirdly, it was grace, in that what he did and suffered was accepted in our name: Rom. iii. 24, 25, ‘Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood;’ Job xxxiii. 24, ‘Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom.’ When the ram was taken, Isaac was let go. We were in the hands of our judge, ready for our execution; but he accepted a ransom instead of us, and so we were dismissed from punishment.
[2.] For the means of application. Three are mentioned—(1.) Calling; (2.) Faith; (3.) Work of faith.
(1.) For calling, it is a mere act of God’s grace: 2 Tim. i. 9, ‘Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling; not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ before the world began.’ That is, not that we had deserved this mercy, but out of his free goodness designed to us in Christ, long before it took effect. His own grace only moved God, as is plain if we consider the estate wherein calling found us, sinful and wicked, sense less of our misery, and careless of our remedy; the estate in which he left us; from enemies, we became friends; from strangers, we became domestics and children of his family; from carnal and unholy, we became spiritual and sanctified. Or lastly, the estate into which he will bring us, to eternal happiness; and all this passing by thousands and ten thousands, who, for their deserts, were all as good as we, and for outward respects far better than ourselves.
(2.) For faith, it is the gift of God to us: Eph. ii. 8, ‘By grace ye are saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.’ It was the mere undeserved mercy of God that gave us this grace of believing. The very means of faith is a mere free gift, the matter of the gospel being no way to be known but by divine revelation. It was grace that he sent the gospel to us; his working faith in you being an act of God’s free will, and merciful pleasure; for where the gospel is sent, all do not embrace it: Acts xvii. 3, 4, ‘Some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas: but the Jews which believed not, moved with envy,’ &c. For if you had heard of Christ never so much, could you ever have believed that the carpenter’s son was the Son of God, and he that was persecuted to the death was the Lord of life and glory; that they that are dead shall live, the body dissolved into dust, and that dust mingled with other dust? Could you believe this without faith? Could you ever have brought your own mind to quit all things you see and love, for a God and glory you never saw; and closed with these supernatural and spiritual truths with so much disadvantage and loss to yourselves, without God’s powerful, internal illumination, and be willing to row against the stream of flesh and blood for a happiness that lieth in another world? Think of these things, and tell me who worketh faith.
(3.) The work of faith. It is accomplished in you by the grace of God, which hath enabled such unworthy wretches to perform that obedience which may be accepted with him: Heb. xiii. 21, ‘The God of peace make you perfect in every good work to do his will, 346working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen.’ It is God that doth incline and prepare our hearts for all christian duties, and enable and excite us to do what is acceptable and pleasing to him; without the sanctifying grace of God none of this can be done. Look, what preservation and providence is to creation, so is this perfecting to regeneration. As we are created in Christ to good works, so we are perfected in Christ. Unless he work in us and with us, and that of his own good pleasure, we can do nothing, Phil. ii. 12, 13. Still we depend upon God, as for the power given and continued to us, so for the working itself; both will and deed are from him, and he causeth us actually to do whatever we do, and this mercy we obtain of God by Christ.
3. The ends, that Christ may be glorified in us, and we in him.
[1.] All the glory Christ hath from his people, or communicateth to them, is from grace: Rom. viii. 36, ‘Of him, and through him, and to him are all things.’ And therefore we must not sacrilegiously rob him of the glory of his grace, in whole or in part. More particularly—
(1.) It is from grace that he is glorified in us by the work of faith. Take it either for constant and patient suffering; it is a special gift that merely cometh from the Lord’s grace: Phil. i. 29, ‘To you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.’ God of his goodness hath vouchsafed you this favour, not only to believe in Christ, but to suffer for him. It is beyond the power of natural strength to suffer christianly; all things necessary thereunto are given us by grace, they are purchased to our hand by Christ, and freely given us by God, which should encourage the most cowardly and dastardly. God will not be wanting to you, if you will own the truth which you believe.
(2.) For the work of christian obedience, whereby Christ is glorified, it still cometh from the influence of grace: Phil. i. 11, ‘Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Christ Jesus to the praise and glory of God.’ All those works of godliness, charity, and righteousness, which are commanded in the gospel, are done by God’s grace, to his praise and glory. The work must be done by strength from Christ, as well as for the honour of God.
[2.] As we are glorified in him. Our glorious estate in heaven is the fruit of his grace: Rom. vi. 23, ‘The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life,’ χάρισμα θεοῦ. Sin deserveth hell by a proper merit, therefore death is called wages; but all that we suffer doth not deserve glory, therefore eternal life is not called ὀψωνία, wages; nay, it is called88 Qu. ‘not called’?—ED. μίσθος, the reward; not δῶρον, but χάρισμα, Vulgar, gratia Dei, the freest, richest gift. If in any sort it might be merited or deserved, the apostle questionless would have said it is ὀψωνία, wages, or at least μίσθος; but because reward includeth rationem dati, some thing given, not always a reward of mere bounty, he doth not say, the reward of God, &c., not δῶρον, a gift of kindness, for one kindness may deserve another; but it is χάρισμα, the most undeserved gift that can be given; a word incompatible with all conceit of merit. But not to insist on words only, what is the reason of the difference, that one should be merit, the other grace? Herein they agree, that 347the one as well as the other is the fruit of men’s several ways; but herein they differ, God doth never punish men above or beyond their desert, but he rewardeth them, not only far above, but altogether with out any desert, merely of his grace, rewarding his gifts in them.
II. To prove the point to you, I will do it by these two considerations—
1. That deserveth most to be taken notice of which is most eminent and conspicuous in any work. If an artificer showeth you any curious piece of workmanship, he expecteth to be praised, not for his riches, but his skill; a wrestler, not for his beauty, but his strength; a king in his royal gifts, not for his wisdom, but magnificence; and a judge, not for the comeliness of his person, but his justice. To commend a man that is sick for his abstinence is a ridiculous commendation; it is much more proper to commend him for his patience. A painter would take himself affronted if you should commend his work for the richness of the clothes, and not the art or good painting. Every one expecteth his proper praise, and such as belongeth to the work represented to your view. So God hath acquainted us with a glorious design for man’s good, and a curious frame of counsels exactly laid together; and all over interwoven with grace, that you cannot consider it but presently grace occurreth to your view and observation. The apostle telleth us, Rom. v. 8, ‘That he commendeth his love to us in our redemption by Christ.’ When he sent his. Son to die for a sinful world, he laid a curious draught of love and grace before your eyes. So Eph. i. 6, ‘He hath made us accepted in the Beloved, to the praise of his glorious grace.’ His work towards his people is so carried on, that not only free grace begins it, but the further it goeth on, grace still is further manifested and magnified, and more to be seen at the very close of it than at the beginning; so that we may be still crying out, Grace, grace. This is the glory that he expecteth from you, for this is most eminent and conspicuous in the whole work of our salvation; and therefore what is our duty, but to praise, admire, and esteem this glorious grace, and to manifest our value of it in the whole course and tenor of our lives? Men and angels cannot consider or look into it, but they see matter of praise and thanksgiving for his rich and free grace.
2. Because salvation is so contrived and stated that there could be no other cause but his grace, whether you consider God or the creature.
[1.] God. His glorious excellences show that nothing but his grace could incline him to do good to the creatures. I shall single out a few.
(1.) His self-sufficiency. He stood in no need of us, having an in finite contentment and happiness in himself, to which we cannot make any addition; for infiniteness cannot be increased, and if it could, how by us who are so far beneath God? Job xxxv. 6-8, ‘Look unto the heavens, and see, and behold the clouds which are higher than thou. If thou sinnest, what dost thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what dost thou unto him? thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art, and thy righteousness may profit the son of man;’ but what is it to God, who is above our benefits and injuries? Our sins, like darts or arrows shot up into the air, fall upon our own heads; and 348our duties, like incense, may refresh the standers-by; but this sweet cloud vanisheth before it can reach heaven, or is gone out of our sight. Man cannot reach the most high God, either with his good or evil. Among men one hath need of another. The world is upheld, as the stones in an arch, by a combination of interests; the head cannot say to the foot, I have no need of thee. The prince needeth the peasant, as the peasant needeth the prince; but God hath no need of us, who hath such infinite satisfaction in himself. He is ἀνενδεὴς, ‘He is not worshipped with men’s hands, as if he needed anything that man can do,’ Acts xvii. 25. We need his blessing, but he doth not need our service to support his being and dignity. When Christ was in the state of humiliation, he was subject to wants as we are. When they loosed the foal, they were to answer, ‘The Lord hath need of him,’ Mat. xxi. 3. But surely God needeth not the being of man or angel, else why did he not make the world sooner, that he might be sooner happy? therefore nothing but love and grace could engage him to take this way to bring about our supreme and final happiness.
(2.) His liberty, freedom, and power over his own actions, by reason of his sovereign and independent will; therefore, if he will show mercy to sinners, what inclineth him but the pleasure of his goodness and most free grace? If God did not what he did for us out of grace, it must be out of necessity of nature, or from some superior command and law; but neither of these can be supposed in God.
(1st.) Not by necessity of nature, as fire burneth or water floweth; it can do no otherwise. It was the error of Aristotle to say that the first cause acted out of servile necessity, and that he must needs do what he doth. This conceit is a blasphemy, and lessens our obligations to God. No; God is a free agent, who ‘worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will,’ Eph. i. 11; that is, according to his most wise and free purpose. Being sovereign lord of all his actions, he might have left us remediless in everlasting misery; but according to his own heart, he hath done us good. The salvation of sinners is opus liberi consilii, the work of free choice; he might have done or not done it, but grace cast the scales.
(2ly.) Not any external law; for who can be above God, to prescribe him such a law? Man is a subordinate creature; his duty is measured out to him by a rule, and he must give an account; but God is supreme, his will is his rule; he loveth because he loveth, and doth all because it pleaseth him.
(3.) His supremacy and majesty, as he is the first cause of all things: Rom. xi. 35, ‘Who hath first given to him? and it shall be given to him again.’ The apostle challengeth all the world to come and enter their action against God. If they can plead any debt or obligation they have laid upon him, he undertaketh that man shall be satisfied. No; they can never prove it; therefore he cutteth off all pretence by an argument: ‘All things are of him, and through him, and to him.’ The cause oweth nothing to the effect, but the effect all to the cause. Now God is the supreme cause of all things, both in nature and grace. The sea hath nothing from the rivers, though they all return thither; but the rivers all from the sea, Or the fountain oweth nothing to the stream, but the stream all to the fountain. The sun oweth nothing to 349the beam, but the beam hath its whole being from the sun. God is not indebted to us for our holiness and righteousness, but we owe all to him, for we have all from him: Job xli. 11, ‘Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him?’ Men have a conceit upon their hearts, as if God were obliged to them some way or other, and bound to requite them. No, God was never prevented by a good turn, that might put him in debt to his creatures. Thus you see it is more for the honour of God that our salvation all along should be carried as a free gift. Acts of free grace are more for the honour of superiors than acts of debt and duty. He is aforehand with us, and beginneth with us, and not we with him; for that which is highest in order of being must be highest also in order of working. All cometh from his grace and bounty to us.
[2.] The creature.
(1.) Their estate. There was no worth in us to move him, or good that he could foresee in us or expect from us, but what was the fruit of his own grace. In our natural condition we were the cursed off spring of sinful Adam, unworthy and polluted creatures, who had sold ourselves to Satan, and cast away the mercies of our creation; and when we were wallowing in our blood and filthiness, then he said to us, ‘Live,’ Ezek. xvi. 6. We had lost the image and favour of God, were banished out of his presence, sentenced to death, ready for execution. Then came Christ to work salvation for us, and restore our estate; and God called us with an holy calling when we were altogether senseless and careless, did not so much as sue to God for any mercy; then he sought us out, and effectually tendered his grace to us. After conversion, all we do is a due debt to God: Luke xvii. 10, ‘When ye have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants, we have done but what was our duty to do.’ There is a sinful defect in all we do: Isa. lxiv. 6, ‘We are all an unclean thing, and our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.’ So that still it is grace. We deserve nothing, unless it be condemnation.
(2.) It is most for their benefit to recover their hearts from the flesh and the world to God. Nothing is more apt to gain upon us, and to beget love in us, than the wonders of grace: 1 John iv. 19, ‘We love him, because he first loved us.’ This is the most taking, congruous way, to prevail on the hearts of men. But of this more anon.
Use 1. Information.
1. That the merit of Christ is consistent enough with the grace of God; for the merit of Christ is a part of this grace, therefore they are conjoined in the text. And the merit of the Redeemer is the most convenient means and way to bring about the effects of it: Rom. iii. 24, ‘Ye are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.’ How freely, when not without so great a price and satisfaction? It is free to us, but dear to him. It is the greater ground of confidence to us when our salvation standeth on a bottom of merit as well as of grace. Our privileges were dear bought, and therefore more likely to stand. So that it doth not derogate from the grace of God, but much amplify and enlarge it. For Christ by his merit and intercession hath satisfied divine justice, which put in a bar against us, and doth acquire unto us all those things which love and mercy 350hath prepared for us: Isa. liii. 5, ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.’
2. That grace doth not exclude faith, repentance, nor new obedience, or good works; for here is faith, and the work of faith, &c: Eph. ii. 8, ‘By grace ye are saved, through faith.’ Grace bringeth about our salvation in this way and order. Though neither faith, nor repentance, nor good works, have a causal influence in our salvation, much less are con-causes with the grace of God and Jesus Christ, yet God taketh this method and way. Principal causes do not exclude necessary means, but comprise them. Therefore do not set grace against grace, and say, God will save you by his grace, and therefore we need not take care to repent, or believe, or obey the gospel, and that, if we be predestinated, we shall be saved, whatever we do or howsoever we live. No; there is required of us first a serious entrance into the gospel covenant, and afterwards a strict obedience to Christ’s laws; otherwise we make Christ an encourager of sin, or, as the apostle phraseth it, a ‘Minister of sin,’ Gal. ii. 17; and you pretend grace for your carnal security and sloth.
3. That Christ is to be eyed so in the communications of grace that we forget not the Father; but we ought to see the fulness and rich good-will of the Father, in what Christ giveth: ‘The grace of our God,’ in the text. In the whole dispensation of grace the Father’s honour must be secured and reserved. God is still the fountain of grace. Christ came to evidence his Father’s love: John iii. 16, ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life;’ 2 Cor. v. 19, ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;’ Rom. viii. 32, ‘He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all; how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?’ To represent the amiableness of the divine nature; and therefore we must not look upon him as harsh, inexorable, and severe. On the other side, we must not so look to the mercy of God as to overlook the merit and intercession of Christ. The Father’s love preventeth us, Christ’s intercession maketh way for us.
Use 2. Direction, both for prayer and praise. From God, as supreme, we derive all our graces; to God, as supreme, we direct all our services, but still in and by the Mediator.
1. In prayer, we ground our hope of audience on the Father’s love and Christ’s intercession. We put up our suits in his name. There is no speaking to God, or hoping for anything from God, but by Christ: ‘But through him we come boldly,’ Heb. iv. 16. It is by this beloved hand that we present our petitions to God.
2. Praise. Every mercy we receive from God must be taken out of the hands of Christ; we must look upon it as procured by his death, and as swimming to us in his blood, as the fruit of his mediatory dispensation: Eph. i. 3, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.’ All blessings come perfumed with his hand. Paul giveth thanks to Christ: 1 Tim. i. 12, ‘I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me.’ It is the grace of our Lord that is exceeding abundant in me.351
Use 3. Exhortation.
1. To admire grace. Let grace appear glorious, and be more magnified in our hearts, by every saving mercy which we receive. This was God’s great end in saving the elect, that he might have the praise of his glorious grace. This is beneficial to us. You are strangers to God if you do not continually admire grace. This is the daily feast of a gracious soul; by this means we come to taste of the joy of the saints, and live like the redeemed of the Lord. Yea, this doth most powerfully draw in the hearts of sinners to God. Consider how this grace deserveth our most lively thoughts and affections.
[1.] It is an ancient grace: Eph. i. 4, ‘He hath chosen us in Christ before the foundations of the world.’ It prevented all actual and foreseen worth in those that were elected.
[2.] It is a free grace: Hosea xiv. 4, ‘I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely.’ In what a pitiful state were we by nature! Rom. v. 20, ‘The law entered, that the offence might abound: but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound,’ ὑπερεπερίσσευσεν did over over-bound: 1 Tim. i. 13, ‘Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecuter, and injurious; but I obtained mercy,’ ἠλεήθην.
[3.] It is a powerful grace to pardon so many sins, and accept us to so great a blessedness: John xii. 32, ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.’ What can stand before the face of this love?
[4.] It is a liberal grace: Ps. lxxxiv. 11, ‘The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory, no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly;’ Ps. xxxi. 19, ‘Oh, how great is thy goodness which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee, which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee, before the sons of men!’
[5.] It is a glorious grace: Eph. i. 6, ‘To the praise of the glory of his grace.’ So glorious that no created understanding can conceive it: Eph. iii. 19, ‘And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.’ No tongue can express it.
2. Let the grace of God lead you to repentance, Rom. ii. 4. God is gracious, but not to those that continue in their sins, without any change or conversion: Ps. lxviii. 21, ‘He will wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses.’ Grace giveth hope, justice giveth only what is due, and considereth not who needeth, but who deserveth; but we may use the church’s plea, Hosea xiv. 2, ‘Receive us graciously.’ It is dangerous to stand out against grace: 2 Cor. vi. 4, ‘We beseech you receive not this grace in vain;’ to neglect God’s offers. In point of gratitude, wonders of grace should melt our hearts, and be as coals of fire on our heads, Hosea iii. 5. Can we offend so good a God? Oh, be not so disingenuous! Cheerfully serve so good a master, where grace sup plieth all to you.
3. Do not wrong grace, to quiet and strengthen you in your sin, or to embolden you to disobey Christ. Vain people will say, We need not make so much ado about heaven; mercy and grace will save us: Jude 4, ‘There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our 352God into lasciviousness,’ μετατιθέντες. You wrest it from its proper use. This is to make grace our enemy, when we make a dung-cart of it, only to carry away our filth; like riotous children, presuming on their father’s estate and goodness; you debauch it to a vile use.
4. Be thankful for grace. The whole design of salvation by Christ bespeaketh gratitude. That we by the grace of God should be put into a capacity of life eternal, what should be the whole business of our lives but a thankful obedience to God? 2 Cor. v. 14, 15, ‘For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live to themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again.’353
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