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GRACE, FAITH, AND EXPERIENCE.
Of the Nature, Purpofe, Manifeftation, Word, Spirit, and Principle of GRACE, as fet forth in Scripture light.
Of the Nature of GRACE in general.
by the apostles of
TChrift, is diftinguifhed from every scheme
framed by the wifdom of men, in that it is a fyftem of pure grace. They afferted, 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 demonftrate, that no flesh living can be accepted, because the whole world is become guilty before GOD, and fo juftly condemned by his law; therefore they affert, that if any of the fallen race of Adam are faved, it must be by fovereign grace alone. In the apoftles' days, however, many afferted with them that falvation was of grace, who yet meant fomething thereby very different, from the obvious fenfe of their words; and it is hardly to be queftioned, that the greatest part of those who call themselves chriftians, in our day, will affirm in like manner, that we are faved by grace; while yet, when they come to explain themselves upon the
point, few will he found to understand the term, in the fenfe in which it is plain the apoftles used it.The infpired witneffes, aware of the errors which many ran into in their own day, about grace; and alfo of the more general oppofition that would be made against it after their decease; declared themfelves upon the fubject, with, the greatest precision. Thus when Peter had written upon the truth of the gofpel, he tells those who had received his doctrine, This is the TRUE grace of God wherein ye ftand, I Peter, v. 12. It was Paul's peculiar confolation that the Coloffians knew the grace of God IN TRUTH; Col. i. 6. that is, as oppofed to every falfhood, or counterfeit of it: they had been taught the truth as it is in Jefus, and fo 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 fays in the beginning of this epiftle, 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 profeffing believers to Watch diligently, left any man fail of the grace of God, &c. Heb. xii, 15.
Now as every one chufes to affix his own notion to the words of fcripture he has occafion to use; and feeing that an error about grace is, of all others, the most dangerous, yea the very fource of all other errors, under a profeffion of religion, and must therefore prove fatal, if not perceived and corrected; it is needful that we fhould fearch diligently, into the true nature of that grace which is revealed, and by which alone we can be faved.
Grace, in the fcriptures of truth, ftands in direct oppofition to works of every kind, and every degree; fo that it is utterly impoffible there fhould be any, even the leaft mixture of the one with the other for fuch is the purity of grace, and fo oppofite in its nature to human works, that a coalition would deftroy its very being; grace would be no more
grace. This appears plain from Paul's writings, Rom. xi. 6, And if of grace, then it is no more of works; otherwife grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more of grace; otherwife work is no more work. If this paffage does not state the most glaring oppofition between works and grace, it is paft a poffibility to make a contraft. They, there fore, who attempt to join them, to the fame end and for the fame purpose, even though it might be under the most plaufible pretence of fecuring the interefts 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 eaft 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 obferved, that the grace of God ftands in oppofition, not only to those legal works, by which the Jews went about to establish their own righteousness, but also to all works whatever wrought by the creature. Whether they be works of the law, or works of the gofpel; exercises of the heart, or actions of the life, done while we are in a ftate of nature, or after we are born of God, they are all, and every of them, equally fet afide, as being either the caufe, condition, qualification, or medium, either in the purpose, manifeftation, or bestowment of grace, in any of its abounding bleffings; in order that every fhadow of glorying, fhould be for ever cut off from the creature, and God in Chrift receive the unrivalled honor of salvation in all its parts.
Divine grace therefore is the free favor, the undeferved compaffion of Jehovah, through Chrift Jefus, to the abfolutely wretched; and includes the beftowment of all fpiritual and eternal bleffings.The properties of divine grace are, fovereign, rich, and free; that is, fovereign, as it beftows its favors where and on whomfoever it pleafes ;-rich, as being exceeding abundant in all manner of fupplies, extended
tended to the utmoft neceflities 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 pleafing appearance of reigning mercy. In fhort, grace confers the greateft bleffings and higheft favors, upon the most undeferving amongst the fons of men, according to the good pleasure of the divine goodnefs.The fcriptures always preferve thefe ideas, whenever the term grace is mentioned.Thus the gospel is called the grace of God, because it reveals the grace and truth that came by Jefus Chrift, and opens up the eternal purpofes of fovereign grace and abounding mercy in him. If the new creature be at any time defigned by this term, it fill preferves the fame endearing fignification. For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined into our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jefus 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 his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Chrift Jefus before the world began: 2 Tim. i. 9. If acts of liberality or a good converfation,2 Cor. viii. 7. be called grace; it directly leads our thoughts from the effect to the caufe, 2 Cor. ix.
I fhall clofe this fection with the words one had. occafion to ufe when giving cautions against the counterfeit grace. The doctrine of free grace being fo illuftrious in the feriptures as not to be fpoken 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 defign nothing more than the honor of that: when indeed, it is not grace, but a contrary thing fet up with that name; for follow the ftream either upward or downward, and as it arifes from, so it all runs into advancement of self.”
TOTHING is more capable of demonstration, if we take it for granted that the fcriptures are the word of God, than that the felf moved good pleasure of Jehovah's eternal purpose, is the grand original fource of all fpiritual and eternal bleffings: according as it is written, Who hath faved and called us-according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.-The choice of the Mediator's perfon, in whom men fhould be bleffed, and his fore-ordination to be the beginning of the new-creation, was the effect of mere good pleafure, and fovereign favor. I will GIVE thee for a covenant to the people, is the language of pure grace. In the eternal purpose CHRIST ftands. the first and chief elect. Hence the father calls him Mine elect in whom my foul 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 fons of men. In him God is well pleafed; and out of him, he is nothing but difpleafure againft finners. Hence The remnant according to the election of grace, are chofen in him; and unlefs this had been the cafe, there could have been no falvation. That Jehovah's good pleafure was the only caufe, of a people being chofen in Chrift before the foundation of the world, and of grace being treafured up in him, by the divine decree, for the falvation and glorification of numberless finners, is a fact which hines with the cleareft luftre, and is demonstrated and confirmed in the oracles of unerring truth. Hence we read of 4 remnant according to the election of grace of Predeftination to the adoption of children according to the good pleasure of his will, which he had purpafed in himself, &c. And it is en odw słod or blot tos offul-lls me endingually