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owing to the grace of God, to the utter exclusion of all worth and merit in themselves. I am,
First, to explain the import of the terms, grace, and salvation, their nature and extent.--The word grace is used in a great variety of senses in the New Testament,-sometimes it is used to signify the New, or Gospel Dispensation, in opposition to the Mosaical: “ the law was given
by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus “ Clirist.”-“ Ye are not under the law, but un“ der grace.” The grace of God which bringeth “ salvation, hath appeared to all men;" and in many other places to the same purpose. It frequently signifies the gifts and operations of the Spirit of God upon the souls of men. Thus, “ I “thank my God always on your behalf, for the
grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in every thing ye are enriched by
him, in all utterance and in all knowledge, so “ that ye come behind in no gift*.”_"With great
power gave the apostles witness of the resurrec« tion of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was
upon them allt:" it is used in this sense too, in that usual valedictory blessing with which our apostle concludes most of his epistles, grace “ be with you all,” which he sometimes enlarges into,“ the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and
f Asts iv, 33.
1 Cor. i. 4.
it the love of God, the Father, and the commu“nion of the Holy Ghost be with you all.” It is used to signify the whole of christianity, both practice and profession, “ looking diligently lest
any man fail of, or fall from the grace of God *," that is, apostatize from the christian religion; but, to mention no more, grace in its most usual and proper import signifies, the free, unmerited love and favour of God, in pardoning the sins of men, and admitting them to a state of peace and reconciliation with himself, for the sake, and on account of the merits of his own Son Jesus Christ; and that, not only without any respect of, but, on the contrary, in direct opposition to the good works of which they may boast. The apostle states this distinction with the greatest accuracy and precision, in his epistle to the Romans; “ Even so then at this present time also there is a “ remnant according to the election of grace. “ And if by grace, then is it no more of works: “ otherwise grace is no more grace.
But if it “ be of works, then is it no more grace: other“ wise work is no more work.t". In this last sense of the word it is evidently used here in the text, as the very same distinction between grace and works is kept up as in the passage just now cited; “ by grace are ye saved, and that not “ of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of * Heb. xii. 15.
+ Rom. xi. 5; 6.
“ of works, lest any man should boast;" which we may paraphrase thus: “ Ye who were once “ dead in trespasses and sins, under the power “ and dominion of Satan, and of consequence « children of wrath, and heirs of hell, are now
quickened together with Christ; inspired with
a principle of spiritual and divine life, and “ raised to the blessed hope of a glorious immor
tality, and of sitting together in heavenly “ places, with Christ Jesus: but it will certainly “ be the greatest folly, presumption, and ingrati“ tude to ascribe this, or any part of it, to your“ selves; for it is only because God is rich in
mercy, and out of that great love wherewith “ he loved us, that we are delivered from all this “ wretchedness, and raised to all this glory and “ happiness; and therefore it becomes you hum“ bly to adore, and admire the abundant grace, " the unmerited, unsolicited love and goodness “ of God, to which you are so infinitely in« debted.”
I am next to explain the nature of the salvation here mentioned, or what we are to understand by being saved. In order to do this more distinctly, it will be necessary to consider shortly the sense given to this whole passage by some commentators, who present to us a very narrow and limited view of this salvation, by restricting it to a favourable change of external circumstances merely; “ the apostle,” say they, “ is “ writing to Gentiles, who, before the light of the
gospel shone upon them, were buried in hea" thenish superstition and idolatry: and to this “ ignorant, stupid, condition of theirs, he opposes " their present agreeable circumstances in the enjoyment of the gospel revelation, whereby the
of salvation were afforded them, which upon their belief and obedience to the terms “ of it, would undoubtedly be conferred upon “ them.” According to this view, the description in the beginning of the chapter of those Ephesians as being dead in trespasses and sins, alludes to their situation as heathen idolaters, their being subjected to "the prince of the power “ of the air," to that worship they paid to demons and false divinities. And the salvation here celebrated in such high terms, will, of course, amount to no more than a bare possibility of discovering and forsaking their former errors, and a sufficiency of means to instruct them in the doctrines and practice of christianity. All I shall say in answer to this is that whatever sense of a word or phrase is most correspondent to the author's main scope and design, is undoubtedly the true and proper one; if we attend therefore to our apostle's evident aim through the whole of this epistle, namely, to magnify the riches of free grace in the redemption of mankind, it will appear in the clearest light, that this salvation must be taken in a much more august and sublime sense. It was doubtless an instance of the most amazing goodness in God to afford any of the guilty race of Adam the means of knowing their natural wickedness, and to point out the way whereby they might be delivered from it. But as this, alas, could have availed us but little, considering our utter inability to embrace even the terms of the gospel, considering our weakness, blindness, guiltiness, how gloriously is the goodness of God magnified, in not only pointing out the way that leadeth on to life, but supporting us in it; administering repeated supplies of courage and strength; conducting us as it were by the hand through all the dangers and difficulties that oppose our progress to endless glory and bliss, and at last putting us in the actual possession of them. By being saved then, is here meant not only those spiritual blessings which the people of God enjoy in this world, such as deliverance from the guilt and reigning power of sin,“ peace of conscience, “joy in the Holy Ghost,” support and comfort under all the troubles and afflictions this mortal state is subject to; but likewise, that per