Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Of the Nature, Purpose, Manifestation, Word,

Spirit, and Principle of GRACE, as set forth in Scripture light.

S E C Τ Ι Ο Ν Ι.

Of the Nature of Grace in general.
HE doctrine maintained by the apostles of

T

framed by the wisdom of men, in that it is a system of pure grace. They asserted, that man must stand before his maker either upon the footing of the law of works; or the gospel of grace. Upon the former ground they fully demonstrate, that no flesh living can be accepted, because the whole world is become guilty before God, and so justly condemned by his law; therefore they affert, that if any of the fallen race of Adam are saved, it must be by sovereign grace alone. In the apostles' days, however, many asserted with them that falvation was of grace, meant something thereby very different, from the obvious sense of their words; and it is hardly to be questioned, that the greatest part of those who call themselves christians, in our day, will affirm in like manner, that we are saved by grace; while yet, when they come to explain themselves upon the point, few will he found to understand the term, in the sense in which it is plain the apostles used it.The inspired witnesses, aware of the errors which many ran into in their own day, about grace; and also of the more general opposition that would be made against it after their decease ; declared themselves upon the subject, with, the greatest precision. Thus when Peter had written upon the truth of the gospel, he tells those who had received his doctrine, This is the TRUE grace of God wherein ye stand, i Peter, v. 12. It was Paul's peculiar consolation that the Colossians knew the grace of God IN TRUTH; Col. i. 6. that is, as opposed to every falfhood, or counterfeit of it: they had been taught the truth as it is in Jesus, and so had received the grace of God in incorruption. And it was his grief to find, that the Galatians had fallen from grace ; Gal. v. 4. that is, if we attend to what he says in the beginning of this epistle, they had received a perverted gospel, which led them to entertain wrong notions of the true grace of God. In his epiftle to the Hebrews, he exhorts profefling believers to Watch diligently; left any man fail of the grace of God, &c. Heb. xii, 15.

who yet

Now as every one chuses to affix his own notion to the words of scripture he has occasion to use; and seeing that an error about grace is, of all others, the most dangerous, yea the very source of all other errors, under a profession of religion, and must therefore prove fatal, if not perceived and corrected ; it is needful that we should search diligently, into the trire nature of that grace which is revealed, and by which alone we can be saved.

Grace, in the scriptures of truth, stands in direct opposition to works of every kind, and every degree; so that it is utterly impossible there should be any, even the least mixture of the one with the other før fuch is the purity of grace, and fo opposite in its nature to human works, that a coalition would destroy its very being'; grace would be no more

grace.

grace. This appears plain from Paul's writings, Rom. xi. 6, And if of grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.

But if it be of works, then it is no more of grace ; otherwise work is no more work. If this passage does not state the most glaring opposition between works and grace, it is past a poflibility to make a contrast. They, therefore, who attempt to join them, to the same end and for the same purpose, even though it might be under the most plausible pretence of securing the interests of holiness, are, under a fatal mistake, in the most effential points of the gospel, and as far from standing in the true grace of God, as the east is from being joined with the weft. For to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace but of debt, Rom. iv. 4.

And here let it be carefully observed, that the grace of God stands in opposition, not only to those legal works, by which the Jews went about to esta*blish their own righteousness, but also to all works whatever wrought by the creature,

Whether they be works of the law, or works of the gospel ; exercises of the heart, or actions of the life, done while we are in a state of nature, or after we are born of God, they are all, and every of them, equally set aside, as being either the cause, condition, qualification, or medium, either in the purpose, manifestation, or bestowment of grace, in any of its abounding blessings ; in order that every madow of glorying, should be for ever cut off from the creature, and God in Christ receive the unrivalled honor of falvation in all its parts.

Divine grace therefore is the free favor, the undeserved compassion of Jehovah, through Christ Jesus, to the absolutely wretched; and includes the bestowment of all fpiritual and eternal blemings.The properties of divine grace are, sovereign, rich, - and free; that is, sovereign, as it bestows its favors where and on whomfoever it pleases ;-rich, as being exceeding abundant in all manner of supplies, extended to the utmost ncceflities of the poor and wretched ;-and free, because not upon the account of any inviting qualifications, not in rewarding him that willeth or runneth, but, in all its bestowments, wearing the pleasing appearance of reigning mercy. In short, grace confers the greatest blessings and highest favors, upon the most undeserving amongst the sons of men, according to the good pleasure of the divine goodness. The scriptures always preserve these ideas, whenever the term grace is mentioned. Thus the pospel is called the grace of God, because it reveals the grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ, and opens up the eternal purposes of fovereign grace and abounding mercy in him. If the new creatura be at any time designed bị this term, it still preferves the fame endearing fignification. For God who tonimanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined into our hearts to give us the light

tended

of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ

. 2 Cor. iv. 6. Titus iii 4, 6. Who hath faved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to kis own purpose and grace, which was given us in Chrisl. Jefus before the world began : 2 Tim. 1. g." If acts of liberality or a good conversation, 2 Cor. Viin. be called grace; it directly leads our thoughts from the effect to the cause, 2 Cor. ix.

I shall close this section with the words one had occafion to use when giving cautions against the counterfeit grace.

66. The doctrine of free grace being so illustrious in the scriptures as not to be (poken against; they (the Arminians) will talk as high of it in general terms as any other, and tell us what great prétenfions their doctrine hath to magnify grace; and that they design nothing more than the honor of that : when indeed, it is not grace, but a contrary thing set up with that name: for follow the stream either upward or downward, and as it arises from, so it all runs into advancement of self.

SECTION

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

was

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

TOTHING is more capable of deinonstration,

if we take it for granted that the scriptures are the word of God, than that the self moved good e pleasure of Jehovah's eternal purpose, is the grand e original source of all spiritual and eternal blessings

according as it is written, Who hath saved and called us-according to his own purpose and grace

which given us in Chris Jesus before the world began.--The e choice of the Mediator's person, in whom men

should be blessed, and his fore-ordination to be the beginning of the new-creation, was the effect of mere good pleasure, and fovereign favor, I will Give thee for, a covenant to the people, is the language of pure grace. In the eternal purpose CHRIST Itands the first and chief elect. Hence the father calls him Mine elect, in whom, my soul delighteth. He is the first born among many brethren in the household of faith, the family of heaven; the center of Jehovah's delights amongst the sons of men. In him God is well pleased, and out of him, he is nothing but displealure against finners. Hence The remnant according to the election of grace, are chosen in him; and unleis

this had been the case, there could have been no, į salvation.---That Jehovah's good pleasure was the

only cause, of a people being chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, and of grace being treasured up in him, by the divine decree, for the falvation and glorification of numberless finners, is a fact which Ihines with the clearest lustre, and is demonstrated and confirmed in the oracles of uns : erring truth. Hencewe read of A remnant according to the election of grace of Predeffingtion to the adoption of children, afcording to the good pleasure of his will

, which he had purposed in himself. Sase And it is en oriw siurt os til os visible did. qually

« PreviousContinue »