The Doctrine of Grace.

We use the singular number because the Bible does so, for salvation is a divine unity, and throughout the Scriptures this oneness is set forth. “That form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Rom 6:17), “My doctrine” (John 7:16), “The apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42), “Sound doctrine” (2 Tim 4:3). In writing and speaking we, of necessity, describe first one phase of the doctrine and then another; doctrines are, as Bunyan says of the two natures of Christ, “plain to be distinguished, but impossible to be divided,” but all are comprehended in the word Grace, which means favour, and there can be no favour which is not sovereign and free. Grace always flows down to creatures who do not deserve it. Therefore all that God does for us in Christ, and all that is disclosed to us of His goodwill in the gospel, is called grace. The Church was chosen from eternity in the glorious Person of the Son of God; every member of it is washed in the fountain of the most precious blood of Christ, justified by His perfect obedience, and in due time quickened from spiritual death by the invincible power of the Holy Ghost, sanctified by His heavenly grace, conformed to the suffering image of God’s dear Son, and at the last presented “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” Election shines throughout the Word; without it not one sinner could have been saved. Man is fallen; there is no limit to the universality or extent of evil in his soul; his “carnal mind is enmity with God,” and how could he choose to be a child of the all-holy God? How could his salvation ever be attained, if it were left to his own will? Can unbelieving ingenuity twist and warp Ephesians 1, and hundreds of other passages, to mean something conditional, uncertain, or contingent? The quickened sinner can never be satisfied with anything but a salvation that saves and a redemption that redeems. Arguments do but harden; we appeal to Scripture and to the experience of all who know and feel what sin is; with one accord they say, “God began with me.” That man is unfaithful who obscures this great truth; who apologises for it; who says that he holds it, but that it should not be prominent in the ministry; or who, by the tenor of his speech or the company he keeps, practically declares that this foundation is not of primary importance to him. God will honour clear testimony when it comes from a heart graciously stirred. Why “be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass”? (Is 51:12). To be pitied, to be derided, to be shunned, to be spoken against, are distasteful to the flesh; but our Lord’s smile, the powerful peace the Holy Ghost gives, and “the answer of a good conscience,” will make amends for all. We know of nothing more beautiful and scriptural upon justification by Christ and effectual calling than Great-heart’s discourse to the pilgrims at the place where Christian’s burden fell off his back. This “act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardoneth all our sins and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us and received by faith alone,” is described in its blessedness by Bunyan. Pardon by word and by deed is explained: “The righteousness of His Godhead gives virtue to His obedience; the righteousness of His manhood giveth capability to His obedience to justify; and the righteousness that standeth in the union of these two natures to His office giveth authority to that righteousness to do the work for which it is ordained. Thus has He ransomed you from your transgressions by blood, and covered your polluted and deformed souls with righteousness.” The Holy Spirit, Lord and Life-giver, applies eternal redemption, laying its fruits upon the soul, and effectually and indissolubly making it ours. He works repentance and faith in us, and persuades and enables by His omnipotent grace. Every doctrine we are taught by Him, sanctifies; all holy and happy affections are to be traced to His indwelling and to the effusions of His grace. Through Him come assurance of God’s love, and stedfastness, constancy, endurance, and final perseverance. Let us seek never to preach Christ apart from His Church, or to speak of the Church apart from Him. To do so is to separate Head from body; to lose sight of Christ and to dwell on the Church, means Churchianity; and to separate in thought and ministry Christ from His Church is to be wrong in relation to the work of our blessed Redeemer and the plan of salvation. Preach Christ in His Person, His finished work, His covenant offices, His High Priesthood in the heavens, and His second coming “without sin unto salvation.” Dwell much upon His resurrection, of what it is a pledge and a token, and what it secures for all His people. The very dust of His children to Him is dear.

“God, my Redeemer, lives,
And often from the skies
Looks down and watches o’er my dust,
Till He shall bid it rise.”


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