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I shall now, therefore, in pursuance of the design of the Apostle, endeavour, First, to illustrate the nature and abundance of this Grace : Next, guard the grateful doctrine against the abuse that may be made of it; and THEN, direct the mind to the

proper improvement of it.

I shall, FIRST, then, endeavour to illustrate the nature and abundance of this Grace. The term Grace, is generally employed to denote that favour which is conferred, both, without any compulsion on the part of the Giver, and also, without any merit on the part of the Receiver. Both these circumstances, I apprehend, necessarily enter into the notion of grace. For if the giver act, in any wise, under the influence of compulsion, what he gives, may be called a benefit; but can never, with justice, be denominated grace; because it wants that entire freedom from constraint, which the only idea we have of grace always implies. Or if, on the other hand, what he gives, be merited on the part of the receiver, far from being the same with what we understand by the term grace, its nature is directly the reverse. It is, in this case,

but giving what the donor was under an obligation to give ; for, to use the language of the Apostle, “ to him that meriteth, the “ reward is not of grace, but of debt.”. The true and only notion, then, which we have of grace, is gratuitous favour given and received ;-unforced from him who gives, and unmerited by him who receives.

The particular display of grace to which the Apostle refers, is the grace of God, in sparing not his only begotten and well-beloved Son, but delivering him up to death for our offences, and then raising him again for our justification. Now this great, this unspeakable gift of God, exactly corresponds to the two leading circumstances just now mentioned, as necessarily entering into the idea of

grace. It was uncompelled on the part of our heavenly Father who gave it, and totally unmerited on the part of us his rebellious children, who are invited to receive it.

It was uncompelled on the part of God.

To think of compulsion being possible to be used over the Almighty, is an idea not only perfectly blasphemous, but to the last

degree glaringly absurd. Clothed with irresistible power, the combined

the combined energy of all created beings could never control the operations of his hand : and possessed of infinite knowledge and unerring wisdom, all the policy of the universe would never be able to induce Him to effect what it was not, previously, his pleasure to accomplish. -Hence, it is abundantly evident, that the unspeakable gift of Christ, like all the other gifts of God to the children of men, could not be the forced effect of a constrained and reluctant beneficence; but was the spontaneous fruit of an eternally pure and disinterested love.

It was also grace unmerited on the part of man.--To be capable of meriting from any one, it is necessary both that we be independent of that one, and also that we be able to do him some essential good. But if both these be requisite to merit, how is it possible for us to merit of our Maker ? As creatures, it was from his infinite goodness alone, that we were brought into existence;

and as sinners, it is because his compassions fail not, that we are not consumed. For almost every thought of our hearts, and every action of our lives, we have reason, rather to sue for pardon than seek for reward. We are unworthy of any, even the smallest of the ordinary gifts of God's providence, and surely much less worthy are we of his greatest and best gift -that of his only begotten Son.

Thus doth it appear that Christ, and the benefits through Him to be obtained, are, in the strictest and properest sense of the tèrm, denominated grace ; for they are, on the one hand, bestowed by God, without the least compulsion, and, are on the other hand, to be received by man, without the slightest claim to them, as his reward.

But, besides thus barely considering the nature of this grace, let us also attend to its uparalleled abundance. And truly we can say, that, in this view, it appears to be unspeakable. It surpasses all the powers of language to express, and, I may safely add,

, even the powers of imagination fully to conceive. The circumstances which tend most to enhance the value of any particular instance of grace, must surely be the surpas

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sing worth of the gift itself; the high rank of him who bestows it; the expense at which it was bestowed, and the meanness and ill-desert of those upon whom it is bestowed.-Now, all these enhancing and endearing circumstances, we cannot but be sensible, conspire to increase to us the value of the riches of that grace, which we are now endeavouring to contemplate. For let us only think of the incomparable blessings which it confers : of the dignity both of that Being who originally designed, and of Him who was appointed to confer them; of the unprecedented humiliation and sufferings submitted to, in order to confer them ;-and to crown all, let us think of the low condition and guilty character of those

upon whom they are conferred. Let all this be duly meditated, and I am fully persuaded, that even the most prejudiced and unfeeling will be ready to join the Apostle and

say,

that " where sin abound“ ed, grace did much more abound.”

To aid our conceptions upon this subject, we are first to consider the incomparable blessings which this grace

confers.

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