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grace displayed in the gospel. : “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Ilaving predestinated us to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved; in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” He pursues this pleasing subject in the next chapter, and carries the idea of grace as high as language can carry it. “But God who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. That in ages to come, he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us through Jesus Christ. For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.
I might observe, that he calls the gospel the grace of God—the grace of God in truth—the dispensation of the
grace of God the grace of God which bringeth salvation. And I might still further observe, that in the salutations of almost every epistle, the apostles abundantly celebrate the grace of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, displayed in the work of redemption. But without adducing any more passages of Scripture, I shall rest the truth of the doctrine upon the plain texts which I have already cited. These are not loose, independent sentences, but chiefly distinct arguments, linked together in a chain of clear and strong l'easoning, by which the apostle demonstrates the gospel to be, in its whole frame and contexture, a scheme of divine grace.
I now beg the patience and attention of my hearers, while I proceed to point out a number of truths, which immediately flow from the nature of the gospel.
1. If the gospel is a scheme of divine grace, then the work of redemption is the most glorious of all the works of God. His works of creation are great and glorious. When he created the world, he made bright displays of his power, wisdom and goodness. These works, however, gave him no opportunity to display the attribute of grace. And had he continued creating world after world, and system after system to this day, he might, indeed, have astonished all intelligent beings with the variety and magnitude of his works, but could have made no discovery of his grace, without the work of redemption. This is the only work in which grace is concerned, and in which grace is displayed. This work therefore is very diverse from all the other works of God, and as much superior to them, as it is different from them. The wonders of divine grace displayed in this work, divert the attention of the most exalted creatures from every other object in the universe. The angels, those morning stars, who saw the world created, and who have been acquainted with all the works of God, still desire to look into the work of redemption, in order to make new and larger discoveries in the divine character. And when all the works of God shall be completed, and all holy beings collected, it will be their everlasting employment to celebrate the displays of divine grace in the work of redemption. Indeed this work, which has employed the thoughts of God from eternity, which has brought the Son of God from heaven to earth, and which has raised the guilty sons of men from earth to heaven, will forever remain the grand mirror, to reflect the brightest beams of the divine glary. 2. If the gospel is a scheme of divine grace, then it is really founded on this single truth, that all the human race deserve complete and endless ruin. This I take it for granted, is the dreadful misery, from which the gospel is designed to save sinners. And this misery they deserve, if there be the least grace in the gospel. For grace consists in saving men from deserved misery. There is no grace in saving them from undeserved evils, however great and dreadful. If they were exposed to eternal destruction, and if the gospel should save them from it, yet there would be no grace displayed in their salvation, unless they deserved the damnation of hell. The gospel therefore, which bringeth salvation to sinners upon the footing of grace, necessarily supposes that they deserve eternal destruction upon the footing of justice. So that if the gospel be a scheme of grace, which is designed to save sinners from eternal misery, then it must solely rest on the ground of their just desert of complete and endless ruin. “If one died for all, says the apostle, then were all dead;” so if the gospel offers grace to all, then all deserve to be damned. If we admit, therefore that the gospel offers to save us from eternal destruction, upon the footing of grace, we must admit that we are ill-deserving, and hell-deserving creatures. This character we must not only believe but feel, if we ever feel and enjoy the grace of the gospel.
3. Jf the gospel is a scheme of divine grace, then all the essential or fundamental doctrines which compose it, are doctrines of grace. The gospel is built upon a number of essential doctrines, which constitute its nature, and distinguish it from every other scheme of religion. Every system of religion, as well as every form of government, must have some peculiar and fundamental principles. This we must grant, or else deny that there is any essential difference between the religion of a Christian, and that of a Turk or a Pagan. If the gos. pel then must have some fundamental principles, we may safely conclude, that these are the doctrines of grace. We have no occasion to determine the number, in order to determine the nature ofthe first principles of thegospel. To determine the nature of the gospel, is sufficient to determine the nature of all its leading and fundamental principles. We have shewn that the gospel is a scheme of divine grace, and this shews that all the doctrines which are necessary to compose this scheme of religion are doctrines of grace. The nature of the gospel, therefore, directs us how to find its fundamental doctrines, and how to distinguish them from all oth: er doctrines which are not essential to Christianity, or which are subversive of it.
4. If the gospel is a scheme of religion composed of the doctrines of grace, then to deny the doctrines of
grace, is to deny the gospel. To deny the first principles of any system of sentiments, is to deny the system. To deny the first principles of Newton's philosophy, is to deny his system of philosophy. To de ny the first principles of Bishop Berkley's ideal system, is to deny his system of metaphysics. So to deny the doctrines of grace, which are the first principles of the gospel, is to deny the gospel. It is by no means necessary to deny the inspiration of the scriptures, in or. der to deny the Christian religion. The Jews readily acknowledged the inspiration of the scriptures; but yet they denied the doctrines of grace which were contained in the writings of Moses and the prophets, and for that reason, denied and rejected the gospel of grace, which Christ preached in all its purity and simplicity. And there were some in the apostle's day, who believed the gospel as a divine Revelation, but at the same time denied the doctrines of
and therefore in the apostle's view, really and totally denied the gospel. “I marvel,” says he to the Galatians, "that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” The apostle here considers the gospel of Christ as a gospel of grace, and therefore considers any system of doctrines which is contrary to grace, as another gospel. But not, strictly speaking, as another gospel, because no system of sentiments which is contrary to grace, deserves the name of a gospel. Besides, he considers every one, who preaches a scheme of religion which is contrary to grace, as denying and subverting the gospel of Christ. This passage of the apostle therefore, fully proves what our subject suggests, that to deny the doctrines of grace, is to deny the gospel.
5. If the gospel is a scheme of religion composed of the doctrines of grace, then it must disapprove and condemn all schemes of religion, which are not built upon these peculiar principles. Accordingly we find the gospel has, under every dispensation, disapproved and condemned every other scheme of religion, with, out distinction. To this peculiarity of the gospel, we must ascribe the general enmity, opposition, and virulence of mankind against it, in every age of the world. It was on this account, bishop Warburton observes, that the enemies of the Jewish religion agreed to stigmatize it, as the unsociable religion. The Jews might have lived in harmony among the Pagans, had they only exercised a little catholicism to. wards the Pagan religion. But they insisted with inflexibility, that their religion was the only true and divine religion, and every other false and absurd. And this uncharitableness towards the various species of the Pagan religion, drew upon them a load of infamy,