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unto you.ble privilege through that
When Jesus was personally with his disciples he said unto them, “ It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away the Comforter will not come. But if I go away I will send him unto you.” Do you, my reader, esteem it an inconceivable privilege to hold communion with God ? This you enjoy through that Divine advocate : who ever liveth to make intercession for us. Do you seek and obtain the enlightening, sancti. fying, and consoling influence of the Holy Spirit ? This blessing is shed upon you through Jesus Christ our Lord. The experience of these favours endears the gracious Redeemer.
4. Christ is precious to believers, on account of his free, sovereign, all-sufficient grace. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is free, undeserved favour. Were salvation to depend on any native, inherent goodness, or any meritorious per-formances of the creature, we might despair of ever attaining it, “ for in us there dwelleth no good thing." " But it is of faith, that it might be by grace, to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed.” In nothing do the ignorance, pride, obstinacy, and ingratitude of men more plainly appear than in their backwardness frankly to acknowledge, that every spiritual blessing flows solely from the covenant mercy of God, through Jesus Christ. All the schemes of false doctrine,
which assume so many shapes, and invent for their support so many plausible pleas, arise from disallowing the Saviour, and setting up self in his stead. The language of the Holy Spirit therefore on this subject is remarkably explicit, as intended to destroy, root and branch, that overweening opinion of their own goodness, which so directly tends to puff up men of corrupt minds. “ By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Eph. ii, 8. The reason assigned why it is not of ourselves, nor of works, is, that pride may have no room to spread its ostentatious plumes. “Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay, but by the law of faith.” This doctrine not only cuts off the buds of vain glory, which shoot forth with a luxuriant growth ; but also deadens, to its very root, the parent stock, the principle of self-righteousness, from which they spring. The true Christian, humbled to the dust under a sense of his utter unworthiness, and filled with gr&titude at the view of his vast obligations, can exclaim, “ By the grace of God I am what I am.”
A very little attention to the sacred Scriptures may suffice to convince us, that as God is the giver of every blessing, so he has a sovereign right to bestow or withhold his favours, according to the good pleasure of his will. None without presumption can question his wisdom or authority, and say, What doest thou ? None can arraign his justice, without charging God foolishly. Art thou then a subject under the government of reigning grace ? Who maketh thee to differ? or what hast thou that thou hast not received ? Surely all, who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, have great reason to adore the hand that singled them out from the thoughtless multitude, and snatched them as brands from the burning. Works, as a cause of salvation, as a ground of acceptance, are irreconcilably opposed to the whole scheme of sovereign, discriminating mercy.
“ If it be by grace, it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace.” Rom. xi, 6.
The saint is compassed with infirmities, he has many wants to be supplied, many corruptions within to be subdued, and many foes and temptations without to be resisted. Where then are his resources ? Whence does he derive his supplies ? How is he strengthened to do and suffer according to the will of God? I answer, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is exceeding abundant, with faith and love, which are in Christ Jesus. Here is a fountain which can never be exhausted by the application of saints, through every age. Hither the feeble and the strong, the babe, the young man, and the father, repair for fresh succours and constant help. From his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. Are you, my reader, deeply conscious of your own insufficiency, and willing to rely wholly on an Almighty arm ? It is true, you have to wage warfare against hosts of subtle and powerful enemies, but be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. You have sometimes to meet temptations, and bear afflictions, which are painful as thorns in the flesh ; but the Saviour stands by and whispers, “My grace is sufficient for thee, my strength is perfect in weakness.” Are not these reasons sufficient to render Christ precious to those who truly believe ?
It may not be improper here to subjoin a few words of caution.'
1. Let not any think, that these privileges encourage, or even permit licentiousness. Some, under a pretext of zeal for virtue and holiness, raise an objection to the doctrines above stated. If, say they, men be pardoned, justified, and saved, through the atoning blood, imputed righteousness, and unmerited favour of Christ, without any dependence on their own works ; it is a matter of no consequence how they live, there remains no check to evil, nor motive to what is good. This, if it were well founded, would be a formidable objection. But let us examine it. We
read in the Scriptures, indeed, of ungodly, men turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, but they are, on that very account, censured in the strongest language. There is no doctrine which has not been misrepresented, nor any blessing which may not be perverted. It is expressly said, we are justified freely by his grace. What then, shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. Every one, who receives the truth in the love of it, must revolt with abhorrence from the very thought of a conduct marked with the most shameful ingratidude. To make the privilege of abounding mercy a licence to sin, is to
“ Rebel, because 'tis easy to obey,
If you, reader, feel inclined to take the doctrines of the Gospel as a pillow for indolence, or a cover for sensual indulgence ; it is a sad sign that you are living without hope and without God in the world. În vain is your head stored with sound doctrines, if your heart be unsanctified. The best motives to obedience spring from evangelical principles. '“The grace of God, wherever it is truly received, teacheth to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present evil world.”