« PrécédentContinuer »
depends on the support and concurrence of Providence. In the spiritual life, we are no less dependent on the influence of grace. As our encouragement to worldly. industry arises from a belief, that God's Providence always attends us, so our animation in the Christian life springs from a persuasion, that God's grace is suf. ficient for us. The just shall live by faith."
Salvation is the purchase of Christ; but still it no less originates from God's good pleasure; "for in this was manifested the love of God toward us, because he sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." God, who is rich in mercy," says our Apostle, "for the great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, that in the ages to come, he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness to us by Jesus Christ. For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any may should boast; for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God hath ordained, that we should walk in them."
This brings us to our last observation,
VI. That the great purpose for which God has chosen and called us, is the praise of the glory of his grace. God's grace is here represented as eminently glori ous. Goodness is the glory of the divine character; grace is the glory of the divine goodness; the plan of salvation for sinners by Jesus Christ, is the glory of divine grace. Here grace is exercised toward the most unworthy creatures, in the bestowment of the greatest of all benefits, by a method the most wonderful and expensive, even the death of a divine Saviour. The salvation of the smallest sinner is abundant grace; but where sin has abounded, grace much more abounds.
God has made this display of his grace, that unworthy creatures might apply to him for salvation. His calls, invitations and commands are to all, without dis
tinction of character. "The righteousness of God, through the faith of Jesus Christ, is unto all, and upon all them who believe, and there is no difference." And lest sinners, conscious of aggravated guilt, should fear an exclusion from salvation, particular assurance is given, that Christ came to save the chief of sinners; and such are distinctly invited to come and receive the benefit of God's abundant grace.
The heralds of the gospel were sent forth to proclaim among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, not only that men might know, what was the hope of their calling, and what the glory of the heavenly inheritance, but also that principalities and powers in heavenly places might learn more of the manifold wisdom of God.
We are to praise the glory of God's grace by a cheerful compliance with the precepts, and thankful acceptance of the blessings of the gospel. If, when God of fers us his salvation, we will not receive it-if, when he holds out his pardon, we will continue in our sins→→ if, when Jesus has once died to expiate our guilt, we will open his bleeding wounds by our impenitence and unbelief-if, when the Spirit of grace strives for our recovery, we will resist it-and when patience waits, we will harden our hearts; we treat the God of heaven with such ingratitude-we trample on his grace with such contempt, that the heavens must be astonished. If he who wilfully transgresses God's law deserves death without mercy, of how much sorer punishment will they be judged worthy, who thus despise and abuse his grace !
We are to praise God's glorious grace by a holy life. We then honor it best, when under the influence of it we have our conversation as becomes the gospel. "The love of Christ constrains us," says the Apostle, " because we thus judge, that if Christ died for us, we who live should not henceforth live to ourselves, but to him who died for us and rose again; therefore, if any VOL. III.
man be in Christ, he is a new creature." He rejects with abhorrence the idea, that we should continue in sin, when grace abounds; for, says he, "How shalt we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein ?"
Christians are "a chosen generation, a peculiar people, that they should shew forth the praises of him, who hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light." Since they have obtained such mercy, let them abstain from fleshly lusts, and have their conversation in all his good works.
We are to glorify God's grace by encouraging others to accept it. "God hath quickened us in Christ," says the Apostle, "that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness to us by Jesus Christ." Of himself he says, "I obtained mercy, that in me Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering for a pattern to them, who should afterward believe in him to life everlasting." St. Peter exhorts those who had been called into God's marvellous light, "Have your conversation honest among the Gentiles, that by your good works, which they behold, they may glorify God in the day of visitation." If, while we profess to be partakers of God's grace, we by the impurity of our lives strengthen bold transgressors, and lay stumbling blocks in the way of little ones, we dishonor and reproach that grace which we ought to exalt.
Believers will in a more perfect manner shew forth the praise of God's glorious grace in the future world. Grace will there be all the burthen of their song; and this they will sing in the highest strains. They will tune their harps to sound the wonders of Creation and Providence But when the glory of divine grace in the salvation of sinners, especially in their own salvation, becomes the theme, then they will touch the most sonorous strings. When they strike on this new song, "Thou art worthy for thou hast redeemed us by thy blood, and made us kings and priests unto thee," not
only saints, but angels all around will catch the sound, and every creature in heaven, and those redeemed from i the earth, will feel the theme, and join their voices, saying, "Worthy is the lamb, that was slain to receive power, and riches, and glory, and blessing; and be these ascribed to him who sitteth on the throne, and to the lamb for ever and ever."
What now remains, my brethren, but that we all joyfully accept the overtures of divine grace? Are you convinced of your guilty helpless condition? Here in Christ Jesus is grace to help, and mercy to pardon you. Say not in your hearts, "We are by the purpose of God excluded from salvation."-God's purpose is not contrary to his word; his election contradicts not his grace. You are already chosen to the enjoyment of the gospel: You have already been made partakers of some awakening influences of the spirit: You have been called by the invitations of God. His word excludes you not, and you have no right to exclude yourselves. Remember, that they who are chosen to salvation, are chosen to be holy. In a way of faith and penitence salvation is offered; in this way make your election sure. Comply with God's calls-his word will never fail. Remember your dependence on his seek grace, it humbly, accept it thankfully, receive it not in vain, walk worthy of him who has called you to his king. dom and glory.
EPHESIANS 1. 7. 6.
whom we have redemption through his blood the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.
THE Apostle, in the third verse of the context, celebrates the grace of God in the spiritual blessings bestowed on our fallen race; and then proceeds to enumerate these blessings. He hath chosen us to be holy-predestinated us to the adoption of children-made us accepted in the beloved-granted us redemption through Christ's blood-revealed to us the mystery of his will gathered both Jews and Gentiles together in one body-and sealed us with the holy spirit of prom ise, which is the earnest of our inheritance."*
The blessing mentioned in the text, is our redemp tion.
For the illustration of this privilege we may er-Who are the subjects of it ?-What is the nature of it ?—The way in which it is procured-The foun tain from which it originates-And the wisdom displayed in it.
I. We are to consider, Who are the subjects of this redemption?
The Apostle says, "WE have redemption;" that We who were chosen in Christ to be holy-we