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ESSAY III.

ON THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF DIVINE GRACE*.

SECTION I.

Concerning the Scripture Evidences of the
Doctrine of Grace.

BY the doctrine of grace is here meant the doctrine concerning Divine operations restoring the divine image in the hearts of sinners, and carrying it on gradually towards perfection. Prayer to God for holiness is founded on the belief of such operations. The doctrine of grace is therefore far from being a mere speculation: our belief concerning it must regulate our practice in matters of the highest importance. In considering this doctrine, it is needful to remember, that it is justly represented in Scripture as a doctrine that contains the most powerful motives and encouragements, not only to prayer, but to the diligent use of all other appointed means of holiness t.

The sanctification of the Holy Spirit, and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, are joined toge

Written about the year 1732.

+ Though holiness is often distinguished from faith, it is sometimes used in this discourse in a large sense, as comprehending conformity to the whole revealed will of God.

ther by the apostle Peter, as the two great causes of our salvation and happiness, 1 Pet. i. 2. And indeed these two important doctrines, namely that of redemption by the Son of God, and sanctification by his Spirit, applying that redemption to us, are frequently joined together, though in various expressions, as the main peculiar principles of revelation. The other most essential doctrines that may be some way distinguished from them, are either evidently included in them, or have a necessary connexion with them.

The change wrought on the heart of a sinner, when he turns from sin to God, is represented in Scripture as the greatest, the most desirable and most important change in the world. It is called regeneration, or a new birth. They whose hearts are thus changed, are said to become new creatures old things are done away, and all things are become new. They are said to have their hearts of stone taken away, and hearts of flesh given them, and to have their hearts circumcised to love the Lord their God with all their heart and soul. They are said to put off the old man, and to put on the new man; to be quickened, and as it were raised from the dead. There are people who cannot relish the Scripture-style concerning this important change yet some noted Deistical authors have thought fit to adopt some of these strong expressions in speaking of those who attain to solid virtue, according to their notion of it. They say that such men are truly new creatures.

The scriptures which express the change in view in the manner just now mentioned, affirm it to be the effect of an internal divine operation. Some scriptures mention the power and operation of God in more general expressions, other scriptures make particular mention of the Holy Ghost. It is reasonable to explain the former sort of scriptures by the latter; and scripture testimonies of both sorts

are proofs of the doctrine of grace. A great number of the scriptures which contain that doctrine may be reduced to the following classes. Some of them treat of the beginning of holiness, or of spiritual life; others, of its continuance and progress. Again, some scriptures ascribe to the Spirit of God the work of sanctification, or of the new creation in general; others make particular mention of the chief parts of it.

Thus, as to the beginning of spiritual life, we are taught that sinners are saved by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which God sheds abroad abundantly through Jesus Christ, Tit. iii. and that, except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God, John iii. To the same purpose are the following expressions relating to the same subject: "Of his own will begat be

us with the word of truth that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures," James i. 18. 66 To as many as received him (viz. Christ) gave he power to become the sons of God-which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God." And when the Prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel describe the great blessings of the new covenant, the divine promises run thus: "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts," Jer. xxxi. 33. "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh; and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes: and ye shall keep my judgments and do them," Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27.

These, and the like scriptures, ascribe to the Spirit of God the beginning of holiness, and some of them plainly enough ascribe to him also the continuance of it. But this second point is asserted more directly in various other places. Real Chris

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tians are said "to be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." He who " begins the good work carries it on to the day of the Lord." Our Saviour, speaking of every branch in him that brings forth fruit, says, that "his Father will purge it that it may bring forth more fruit.” When Paul is praying in behalf of the Ephesians who had already begun a course of sincere holiness, he prays that they might be made to know the exceeding greatness of God's power towards them that believe." The same apostle tells us that sincere Christians, "beholding the glory of the Lord as in a glass, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." These expressions evidently ascribe to the Spirit of God, that faith by which we behold his glory, and that holiness which consists in conformity to him, and our perseverance and progress in it.

There are various scriptures, which ascribe to the Spirit of God the work of sanctification, or of the new creation, in general terms, which prove that both the beginning and continuance of holiness are the effects of his power. To this purpose are the following testimonies. "Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." "Sanctify them by thy truth, thy word is truth." Here God's word is affirmed to be the means of holiness, but God himself is plainly said to be the cause of it. We are exhorted to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, because it is God who worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. We have expressions very like these in the Psalms, where we are told, that the Lord's people shall be willing in the day of his power. The Spirit of God is supposed to be the cause of all the parts of holiness, where God promises to write his laws on our hearts, and to cause

us to walk in his statutes. Accordingly, a holy life and a holy walk are called, in Scripture style, living in the Spirit and walking in the Spirit. The efficacy of God's Spirit on the Christian's walk is explained by the scriptures which treat of his ef ficacy on the Christian's heart. The apostle tells the pious Corinthians that they were manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. Hence sincere Christians are called the temples of the Holy Ghost, and he is said to dwell and abide in them. The apostle tells the Romans, that if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his. No words could give a more peremptory decision concerning the necessity of divine grace.

These, and the like scriptures, speak of the Spirit of God as the cause and author of holiness in general. There are other scriptures which make particular mention of some chief parts of it, and ascribe them to the energy of the grace or Spirit of God. When the apostle Paul is exhorting the Galatians to the study of holiness, he makes particular mention of various holy dispositions, and expressly calls them the fruits of the Spirit. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.'

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The grace of God is in many scriptures represented as the cause of faith. Paul prays for the Thessalonians, that God would fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power. He prays for the Ephesians, that God would strengthen them with might by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ might dwell in their hearts by faith. He prays for the Romans, that God would fill them with joy and peace in believing, that they might abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost. This is a plain

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