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own Works; so (.hat no person whatsoever, can be saved partly by grace, and partly by his own works. In the same sense the word seems to be used where the Apostle says, "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but, according to his purpose and grace, winch was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began; that is, God hath brought us into a state of salvation, and called us to be a holy people; not because, by our works, wfihad merited this high favour; but according to his own gracious purpose, which was to save without exception, all who repent and believe, all who by a lively faith, embrace that mercy and grace, so richly provided, and so freely offered in the gospel.
By Grace, we also understand the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost, which he communicates to the mind, whereby we are created anew, and brought into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. In this sense the word is used, where it is said, "And all we out ot his fulness have received, and grace for grace." We believers have received out of the unbounded fulness, which is in Christ Jesus, grace upon grace, or an abundance of grace. So likewise the Apostle uses the word, when he exhorts us to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge and love of God;" and so it is also used in many other passages of the Holy Scriptures. This is by far the most common acceptation ot the word, in this sense it is used in the text; and in this sense we generally use it, in conversation one with another. It is sometimes called "the love of God, which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us." It h by St. Peter called " the divine nature," which every believer is made a partaker of, in a greater or in a less degree: It is that" heavenly treasure," which ifce Apostle says, "we have in our earthen vessels;" and it may be very properly called, the one thing needful; that one thing which it is absolutely necessary for us to enjoy, in order to our eternal happiness. It is that sovereign antidote, which the blessed God hath provided, against the poison of the old serpent, with which we are all so deeply infected; and is therefore designed of God, to bring us into a spiritual and heavenly state of mind. Hence it i* that our gracious Lord compares it to a little leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures ot meal, till the whole lump was leavened: Here we are taught how the grace of God influences the mind. Leaven will naturally diffuse its own sour nature throughout the whole quantity of meal, in which it is hid: iti divine grace, as it stands in direct opposition to the carnal mind, or to our original depravity, is designed of God, <o be diffused through all the powers and faculties of the soul, in order that it may enlighten our understanding, conquer and renew our will, subdue our evil tempers, regulate our desires, spiritualize all our affections, and fix them upon their proper objects. Yea, it is designed of God, to make us pure in heart, and to fit us for his service here, and lor the enloyment ot heaven hereafter.
. This brings us to the Second particular, which is to shew, How we, in the exercise of this grace, are enabled to serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly tear.
To set this in as clear a light as may be, it will be necessary to observe, that divine giace or divine love, considered as communicated to the mind, is the fountain and spring of all true evangelical obedience, of that obedience which is well-pleasing in the sight of God. "Thvv that are in the flesh," saiih the Apostle, "cannot please God:" They cannot, why? Because they are carnal; they are not brought into a proper state ot mind. "If ye love me," sauh our blessed Lord, "keep my commandments: He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." And again: "If any man love me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."
Hence we Bee, that in order to serve God acceptably, divine love or divine grace, must be communicated to us; and it appears, that the partial and constrained obedience, which springs trom a principle ot servile tear, is not wellpleasing in the sight of God. There are some men who do not, and who will not live in the commission of outward gross sin, but carefully and constantly avoid it: But it you enquire into the reason why they act thus, you will find, it is not because their minds are enlightened by the Divine Spirit, so that they see the exceeding sintulness of sin, and therefore, hate.it, as the accursed thing: O no; but they believ,e the dreadful threatmngs, which God hath denounced against the sins which they have forsaken: and therefore thev hope they shall escape punishment. These men also serve God after a sort, they perform religious duties, attend upon divine ordinances, appear very serious and devout while so doing, a.nd many other things which appear very good, they do; but it you enquire on what account they do all this, you will i-oon find it is not because divine grace has renewed their minds, so that they love the service of d, ,aod deligly to walk in his way; but because they think, fhat it they only endeavour to be very gciod, and serve God after this manner, then doubtless they shall be saved. But you will always find this sort ot people exceedinglv contracted in their minds; they are against extremes in religion; they will tell you, that there is no need of so very much strictness, that God is very merciful, and does not require it at our hands; that those people are very unreasonable, who carrv every thing in religion,to so great an height; these they say are righteous over-much; they make religion a burthensotne thing, and their own lives very uncomfortable. Now nothing is more certain than that such persons have not a single grain of religion, they do not so much as know what religion is; if they did, they would never dream ot a person's being righteous over-much; tor, in reality, there never was such a person upon earth, nor ever will be: Much less would they suppose, that a man's lite would be made unhappy, by being so very religious. It a person was gravely to tell us, " Health is, beyond all dispute, a very great blessing; and to have a moderate share of it, contributes very much co our present happiness; but to have perfect, uninterrupted health, is not a blessing, but the contrary; tor the happiness of life consists in being partly sick, and partly well." Upon any one speaking thus, we should justly think that he was1 deprived ot his-reason: But such a person reasons as wisely as another would da, who will tell us, that religion is a very great blessing, and a moderate degree of it would contribute very much to our present happiness; but to be wholly religious is not a blessing at all, but would make our lives quite melancholy. Religion is that to the mind which health is to the body; it cures every disease ot the soul, and restores it to a state of health and soundness. Supposing a person to be as righteous, or what is the same thing, as religious as an angel of God; his lite would be so far from being made gloomy and unhappy thereby, that he would'only be made so much more like an angel, both in holiness and happiness: Nay, supposing a person to be as righteous as the Lord Jesus Christ himself, it is beyond a doubt, that he would be so much the more abundantly happy; and the reason, is holiness and happiness aie so united, by the Lord himself, that they can never be separated.
But how does it appear that divine grace enables a person to serve God from a more noble principle, and in a more excellent way? This will appear it we consider, that the man who is made a partaker oi the grace of God, is brought into his favour, and is blest with an assurance of the love of God in Christ Jesus, to his. own soul; the Lord hath embraced him in .the. arms of his mercy, and hath cast his sins behind his. back. Let any one only be thus highly favoured of God, let him clearly see that the God of Love hath plucked his soul as a brand out of the fire, that he hath saved him from the opening jaws of everlasting misery, that all his guilt and condemnation are removed, and that God is now his reconciled father and friend, and the language of ,his very soul will be, "What shall I render to the Lord, for all the benefits which he hath done unto me! O what return shall I make unto him, for his unmerited mercy and love!"
In this sense the love of God, in Christ Jesus, sweetly and powerfully constrameth him, arid he becomes a willing and obedient servant of God. The truth of this will appear, by 3 .very familiar similitude. Supposing that any one of us had contracted a vast immense debt, and we are not able to pay the smallest part of it, o;ir creditor arrests us, and casts us into prison, till we shall pay the whole; but as we have no hope of ever doing this, we are likely to remain there for life: A third person hears of our deplorable condition, and being moved with tender pity towards us, unsolicited by us, be undertakes our cause, goes to our creditor, and pays our whole debt, but he does it at the expence of his own life; and in consequence of this, we are released out of prison, and restored to all our former rights and privileges: Supposing this benevolent person to be alive again, how should we feel our minds affected towards him? Would not our hearts overflow with gratitude and love, and should we not be entirely willing to make him the very best return that we possibly could tor his great kindness? Surely we should. Only apply this, I am that vast debtor, I have contracted a debt with God of more than ten thousand talents, and I cannot pay one single mite; My creditor, arrests me, and condemns me to the prison of hell for ever; but the Lord Jesus Christ undertakes my cause, he bears the punishment due to me for my sins, in his own body upon the tree; by so doing, he pays my whole debt, and in consequence thereof I am set free, all my sins are forgiven: Shall I not then most unfeignedly love this blessed Redeemer of my soul, and shall I not willingly make him the best return in my power, for his unspeakable mercy extended unto me? Surely I ought.
May not this also be illustrated by that remarkable story, which is told in the Life of Cyrus. Among the many captives which he ,ha4 taken in the wars, he had the king of Armenia, and his beautiful queen. Upon a certain day they 'ivere brought before him, in order to know what each was willing to give lor their ransom. The question being put to the king, he replied, that as to his own lite it was not dear to him, but if Cyrus would only be so kind as to release his queen, and to send her to her own country, he was very willing to lay down his life for her sake. Cyrus was so struck, that he pardoned them both, and sent them home. When they were on their journey, the king said to his queen, "Cyrus is a very amiable person:" She replied, " I did not sec him." "Not see him," said he, "where were your eyes?" "My eyes," said she, "were fixed upon that most generous man, who kindly offered to save my lite, by laying down his own." Now if this woman was so deeply affected by an offer ot that kind from her hu'fband, (and well she might) how ought we to be affected towards that ever blessed Redeemer of our souls, who not only offered, but who actually laid down his life, to procure pardon and peace for us? Shall it npt be the one grand concern of our lives to glorify -him in all things? Surely it should.
2. But every one who is made a partaker of divine grace, is thereby put in a capacity, and blest with ability to serve God acceptably, he is thereby delivered from the power of th_e carnal mind, which is enmity against God, and serious godliness. Grace not only takes that enmity, that dislike to religion, away; but inclines and disposes the mind to love and delight in religion; so that the truly gracious soul is never so happy, never so much in its own proper element, as when rightly disposed towards God, and employed in his service. Divine grace sets the soul at liberty from the bonds and fetters of sin and corruption, with which it was entangled; it sets the mind free from those strong propensities to evil, those carnal appetites and passions which had the dominion over it; the mind is brought into a spiritual state, and therefore it delights in spiritual enjoyments, in spiritual persons and things, and in spiritual employments.
A gracious state then, is a state of inward liberty, and however carnal we may have been, grace reigns through righteousness, unto eternal life, and we are of a different spirit and temper than we were before. I say of a different spirit and temper; for if grace does not conquer our own spirit, subdue our evil tempers, and make us inwardly spiritual and heavenly, meek and lowly, patient and resigned, it has not done that for us, which it was designed to do: But grace always did, and always must do this, in every mind that enjoys it; and therefore it enables us to serve God acceptably.