« AnteriorContinua »
Without grace we cannot please God upon earth, nor be admitted to the enjoyment of him in heaven ; as into the New Jerusalem there entereth nothing that defileth. Without
Without grace we are unfit for the work of life, and must be eternally miserable at the end of it; as hell is the doleful residence awaiting gracelefs fouls. Nothing can supply the want of grace, or stand us in stead without it. This is the principal thing, and whatever else we can gain that leaves us destitute of this, we are notwithstanding loft.
It is grace that crowns all outward mercies, and speaks and makes them mercies indeed ; and nothing but this can sweeten afflictions, and make our heaviest crosses light. The soul that no grace, has no interest in Christ, and so no hope of pardon or justification thro' him ; for they that are pardoned in his blood, are such as are also fanctified by his spirit. God indeed, is said to justify the ungodly, but not those that continue fo: if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Whatever claim others may make to him from external profession, it will avail them nothing : for he will say to the workers of iniquity, Depart from me, I know you not. They that are without grace, are unlike to God, loathsome in his fight, under the dominion of fin, led captive by Satan, vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, and in danger every moment of being sealed up under it.
This is the deplorable state of all by nature : If
any are set free, it must be by grace. So neceffary is this to all that are saved, that to make way for it, the Son of God assumed our nature,
and submitted to the bitterest sufferings and death. He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works : as by the nature of the thing, as well as the constitution of heaven, impure fouls cannot see or be happy in an holy God. The heirs of heaven must first become the excellent of the earth, or they can never come there. Likeness and love to God are absolutely necessary to all that would dwell with him. God is light, and dwells in it, and unconverted finners are darkness; and what communion hath light with darkness? To be in heaven is to be with Christ; but graceless souls are enemies to him : and what concord hath Christ with Belial? In a word, without regeneration there is no falvation. Sanctification is necessary to heaven, and an essential qualification for entering into it. Our Lord over and over, in the most folemn manner declares this : Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born again, be cannot see the kingdom of God, John iïi. 3, 5.
If that which is absolutely necessary be valuaa ble, grace is fo.
3. The excellency of grace may be argued, from the happy distinction it makes in them. As it distinguishes those in whom it is wrought,
From fallen angels,
From their former felves. (1.) From fallen angels. With whatever moral amiable qualities and perfections they were at first endowed, upon their leaving their own ha
bitation, and rebelling against God, they lost their excellency, and of bright and beautiful creatures, are now become most abominable, enemies to God, and to all that is good; filled with evil, and as it were turned into it. Hence the, devil. is called the evil and the wicked one : he is destitute of grace, and irrecoverably excluded the regions of glory, being reserved in chains of darkness to the judgment of the great day. This is the case of those fallen spirits.
But at how wide and happy a distance are they set from them who are made partakers of grace? Whilst God spared not the angels that sinned, but left them to be monuments of his wrath, gracious fouls have a Saviour provided for them; the fanctifying Spirit has been, and is still at work in them; heaven is set open before them, whither they are tending, and where none of those spirits that kept not their first estate therein, can ever come.
Grace distinguishes from fallen angels.
(2.) From the rest of mankind. We read of some redeemed from among men, Rev. xiv. 4. All the chosen of God are fo; and being effectually called, and renewed by grace, they are a peculiar people. There are none like them in all the world.
In their natural state, whilst lying among the children of wrath, this was God's voice to them by the gospel, Come out from among them, and be je separate, faith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you,
my sons and daughters, 2 Cor. vi. 17. 18. To this they Vol. II.
are erabled cried to aniver, Lo el come
The apotte foea'ss thus cf faints isdeed, We
of the air, the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience; but have their conversation in heaven, as being under the conduct of the Spirit that came from thence.
Their former companions may wonder that they run not with them to the same excess of riot; but the reason is within them : grace
hath taken possession of their hearts, and by a power going along with the gospel discovery of salvation, they are taught to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present evil world. As being become truly wile, their way is above to depart from hell beneath: and what numbers foever they meet crowding the rod to destruction, they will not follow a multitude to do evil; but in the midit of a common degeneracy, will make the word their rule, and ask the way to Sion with their faces thicherward.
Ilely fouls are fuch in whom God has made oud that promile; Exi. xxxvi. 26, 27. A neza
beart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony beart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And 1 will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye Sall keep my judgments, and do them. Hereupon, they are Men of another Spirit, and with Caleb and Joshua, follow God fully, whilst others do it only in pretence, and the most turn their backs
him. (3.) Grace distinguishes those in whom it is, from their former felves. They who were once darkness, are now made light in the Lord ; and hereupon judge of things in a very different manner from what they did before, and in fome measure act accordingly. Sin that they once made light of, and too much delighted in, they now see to be the greatest evil, and groan under it as their burden. Christ, that in their account was without form or comliness to engage
their eye, and had no beauty to attract their desire, is now the chiefest of ten thousand, yea altogether lovely to them.
They could once contentedly live without God, and said unto the Almighty, depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways; but now they are sensible, they have more to do with him than all the world, and their language is, Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. The world was once to them instead of God, and they placed and pursued their happiness in it: but now they look upon it all, as vain and vanishing, and deprecate nothing more than beM 2