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that you receive not the grace of age of the church; to explain and God 'in vain."-In discoursing on enforce the doctrine of salvation, as these words, I would,
laid down in the word of God. And I. Shew you what we are to un- to this the Apostle seems immederstand by “ the grace of God.” diately to refer in the text, when he
II. Consider what it is to "receive says a little above, “ We, as amthis grace in vain.”
bassadors ”from Heaven,"pray you, III. Advance some arguments to in Christ's stead, to be reconciled dissuade you from receiving it thus. to God ;” and “ as workers together
I. I am briefly to shew you what with God, we beseech you that ye we are to understand by “ the grace would not receive the grace of God of God.”
in vain." The serious admonitions Grace properly signifies any fa- of parents and Christian friends, vour, or benefit, received from an- also are means which God often other. The grace of God must makes use of to awaken us to a signify all those favours which we sense of our duty, and to lead us receive from his bountiful hand; home to himself. Again, the opeincluding those of a temporal nature, rations of Divine Providence are as well as spiritual blessings. In the adapted to engage us to accept of text it signifies the offers of salvation the Gospel salvation. The prospeby Christ, as laid down in the Go rity and pleasure that we enjoy in spel; and all the means which God life are intended as a demonstration has made use of to induce us heartily of God's care over us; and as an to accept of them.
intimation of his readiness to bestow 1. By the grace of God we are still nobler blessings upon us, if we here to understand the offers of sal- can be persuaded to accept of them. vation by a Redeemer, as proposed And all the afflictions he exercises in the Gospel. This will appear us with are to make us sensible of from considering the context. The the terrors of his wrath, and of our Apostle had been telling the Corin- own incapacity to endure or resist thians, that “ God was in Christ it. The operations of the Holy reconciling the world unto himself;" Spirit of God upon the heart are and that he had made his Son a also very important means, by which sin-offering for our justification" and he persuades us to accept of the salvation. Now, says he, “ let not Gospel salvation. He awakens us this grace," these discoveries and to a conviction of the guilt and miproposals of reconciliation and life, sery of our state by nature, to a * be received in vain” by you. Now solicitous concern for an interest in it is evident that the Gospel may the righteousness of the great Mevery properly be spoken of as “the diator, and to resolutions of repentgrace of God;" as it was God's free ance and reformation of life. These goodness and mercy, and not the means are often expressed in Scripprospect of any valuable return from ture by the phrase used in the text : us, which induced him to contrive a they all may be comprehended, way for our happiness; and as the where Christians are spoken of method in which this salvation is under the character of those who proposed is exceedingly gracious had « believed through grace;" and indulgent.
that is, through the preaching of 2. The grace of God may further the word of God, and the co-operasignify all those means which God tion of his providence and Spirit ; is pleased to make use of to induce but especially the working of the us to accept of the Gospel salvation. Holy Spirit upon the heart, to form There is a great variety of these. it to a Divine temper, and engage God has both given us the instruc. it to an acceptance of the Gospel tions in the Bible, and has appointed salvation. a succession of ministers in every II. I now come to consider what it is to receive the grace of God very miserable state; that Christ is in vain." They “receive the grace a suitable Saviour; and, it may be, of God in vain," who are not at all to rejoice in the news of salvation affected with it; and so do they also, by him ; who yet, possibly, rest who, though they may be brought here, and conceive that knowledge, under some transient affections, yet and conviction, and some transient do not embrace it with a full con- affections, to be sufficient to entitle sent of heart and obedience of life. them to the Gospel salvation ;
1. Those most evidently receive though, while they profess to know the grace of God in vain, who are or to love Christ, they in works deny not at all affected with it. If a man him. Or, perhaps, they form some hears the message of salvation by a instant purposes and resolutions, Redeemer, but is not at all sensible that hereafter they will return to that be stands in any need of this God, and break off their sins ; Redeemer; nor solicitous to inquire though, for the present, the violence what is this salvation which he pro- of temptation prevails upon them, poses, wbat is the method in which and their worldly affairs are so urit is offered, or to examine whether gent as not to allow them sufficient he has fallen in with that method ; leisure to attempt a change of so if he hears of the being and go- great difficulty and importance. vernment of God, and his obliga- These are the persons whom our tions to love and serve him, but will Lord speaks of under the character yet “ live as without God in the of the “stony.ground hearers; who world,” and cast off fear, and re- when they had heard the word, restrain prayer before him; if he hearsceived it with joy; but had no root of eternal happiness and misery, in themselves, and so in a time of which God will “ render to every temptation fell away." Now, it is man according to his works,” but very evident, that such persons “reatterly disregards the unchangeable ceive the grace of God in vain;" and world which he is going to, and this will appear, if you consider entertains not any serious thought what is the end of the Gospel. It is of the reception which he shall meet plainly intended to restore fallen with there, but goes on in a course man to the favour of God, and so, of sin, earnestly pursuing his world- to everlasting happiness in heaven. ly designs and entertainments; while Now it is evident from the whole God, and Christ, and eternity, are tenor of Scripture, that those who forgotten ; surely, such a man has rest in a transient affection, without * received the grace of God in vain.” sincere, constant, practical obediThe grace of God was intended to ence, will never be accepted by God, accomplish some end; but can and made happy in heaven. Christ have no end at all with a person is the “author of eternal salvation," who will not take any notice of it, but it is only “to all those who but will overlook it as if it were only obey him.” “ Not every one who a “ cunningly devised fable.” says, Lord, Lord, shall enter into
2. Those do as really “receive the kingdom of heaven ; but he who the grace of God in vain," wlio, does the will of the Father.” though they may be in some tran- III. I now proceed to propose sient manner affected by it, yet do some arguments to dissuade you not embrace it with a full consent from “receiving the grace of God in : of heart, and sincere obedience of vain.” And here consider, both the life. There are many such persons excellency and the freedom of it, who have heard the great truths of your own need of an interest in it, religion very plainly proposed, and and the consequences of finally recannot be utterly unaffected by jecting it. thera,—who are ready to acknow-, 1. Consider the riches and excelledge, that they are naturally in a lency of this grace. The inspired CHRIST. Observ. No. 301.
penmen to whom it was committed able Friend, whom our sins had armed say, it is “an unspeakable gift, an with vengeance against us. It has instance of the great love wherewith also opened the prospect of a future God has loved us.” “ This redemp- state, and “ brought life and immortion is given us according to the tality to light.” Let us survey the deriches of his grace:" it is “the riches scription of heaven, as contained in of the glory of his inheritance.” And the word of God; and then say, is that the grace of God, proposed to it not rich grace that is proposed to mankind in the Gospel, is indeed so us? To be surrounded with all those exceedingly valuable, and deserves scenes of beauty, and of glory, which to be spoken of in such exalted lan- God has prepared for the riches of guage, may be shewn from a great his magnificence and his love, and variety of considerations. We may for the reception of his most faconclude it from the pomp and so- vourite creatures : to have our falemnity with which God introduced culties brightened and enlarged to the declaration of it. The Apostle the capacities of angels ; and then, argues it to be a “great salvation;" for ever entertained with the conbecause it was at “first preached templation of the most important by the Lord Jesus Christ, and after- truths, and the most surprising wards confirmed by them who heard mysteries : to feel in our breasts him, God also bearing them witness an entire conformity to the Divine by signs, and wonders, and divers likeness; the perfection of holiness, miracles.” And to raise your ideas without the least interruption of a of it, look into the word of God, and forbidden thought or irregular desee in what exalted language the sire: to live in the most intimate Holy Ghost speaks of this Gospel friendship with the brightest and salvation ; and what contempt it most glorious creatures; but, above pours on every thing in life that is all, to dwell before the throne of great and illustrious, when once it our exalted Redeemer, and behold comes in competition with it. For the face of our reconciled Father ; this, says an inspired Apostle, “I for God to shine upon our souls have already suffered the loss of all with the mildest beams of his grace things; and for this I count them and love: to be breathing out our but loss." And is this “ grace to souls in devotion to him, and embe received in vain ?” Consider also ploying all our enlarged capacities the nature of this salvation, as de- in tendering him the most worthy scribed in Scripture; and then judge and excellent service: to be graof the excellency of it, and of the ciously accepted by him, and conmanner in which it is to be received. tinually rewarded with new accesThe grace of God, in the Gospel, sions of glory, and new capacities of offers you the pardon of ten thou- further service: and to be secure sand aggravated offences, which you of the enjoyinent, and the increase have committed against the Majesty of this happiness, throughout the of heaven; and for which Gud may endless ages of eternity; this is the most righteously subject you, not happiness proposed to us in the only to some present pain and un- Gospel; this is that which is given easiness, during your abode in this us by Christ Jesus our Lord. mortal life, but to everlasting misery. 2. Consider the freedom, as well But further, it does not only deliver as the riches of this grace, as a furyou from this abyss of misery, into ther argument against receiving it which you were sinking, but it raises in vain. We are told, that we “are you to the hopes of the most solid justified freely by his grace.” All and substantial felicity. By it we the favours that God bestows upon are enabled to lift up our heads to his creatures must be freely bestowHeaven with hope, and with joy; and ed. The degrees of favour that he to behold that God as our unchange. bestows on the brightest angels are vise,
free; much more those that are im- now offered, inflexible justice will parted to us “ who live in houses of seize and destroy them? clay, and whose habitations are in 4. Consider the dreadful consethe dust." The freedom of this quences of your refusal of this Go. grace will further appear, if we con- spel grace. You see the time will sider that, as we were mean, so we come when you will need it. But were sinful creatures. We had rea. if you will go on to neglect it, you son to expect a messenger of ven- will then be excluded from all begeance, when God sent his Son as nefit by it. Nay, it will serve to the messenger of grace. And the aggravate your condemnation and argument will be further illustrated misery. For, says our Redeemer, if we consider the methods in which “he who knoweth his Master's will, salvation is imparted by this Re- and does it not, shall be beaten with deemer. It is proposed, not only many stripes." in a possible, but in a most equita- I conclude with a few words of ble and delightful, way. God does application. And here I would adnot insist upon a variety of burdensome ceremonies; no, “ the yoke of 1. That we every one seriously the Redeemer is easy, and his bur. inquire, whether we have received den is light.” In the whole system the grace of God, or not. And, of the Gospel
, nothing is required considering the infinite importance but what is wholly reasonable, and, of the question, we should prosecute to a pious soul, exceedingly delight- it with serious, diligent examination. ful; and nothing forbidden, which If we have been hitherto utterly is not mean and despicable; and unaffected with the Gospel, the antherefore, in its immediate or its re- swer will be sufficiently plain and mote tendency, pernicious both to obvious. But we must remember, ourselves and others.
that we are not to rest in any tran3. Consider the need you have sient impressions that have been of this grace, as an important argu- made now upon our minds; but are rent against receiving it in vain.- to judge of the safety of our state, When Christ speaks of his being by the resolution of our hearts for sent into the world, as the minister God; and to judge of the sincerity of it, he represents the world as in of that resolution, by the prevalency a wretched condition. “God so of it in the general course of our loved the world, that he gave his lives. only begotten Son, that whosoever 2. If, upon an inquiry, you find believeth in him should not perish, you have received the grace of God but have everlasting life.” Consider in vain, consider your guilt and your own circumstances, and you danger, as it has now been reprewill see the propriety of that repre- sented. Urge the arguments that sentation. You are poor, indigent have been pleaded with you; and, creatures, entirely at the disposal of knowing on the one hand the terrors God; and sink into nothing, if you of the Lord, and on the other the are left destitute of his grace. You mercy of our God, be prevailed upare also guilty creatures, who are on no longer to trifle; but, in the justly obnoxious to his displeasure. strength of that grace which God is By your own confession, then, you already communicating to you, seek need this grace, and are undone him for further degrees of it, till you without it. And will you yet re- are led on to a saving conversion, ceive it in vain ? Shall it be in vain and so entitled to everlasting hapthat mercy and everlasting salvation piness. were offered to guilty creatures, who 3. If we have received the grace are about to leave this world, and of God to saving purposes, let us to enter helpless upon another; admire the goodness of God, who where, without this mercy which is has so happily distinguished us from many others, and made that grace One rule of construction, which salvation to us, which to many others has been brought forward in your proves but “a savour of death unto pages, is this,—That the officiating death.” Let us be humbled, that minister is always supposed to stand, though we have not been entirely except in those cases in which he is neglecting the grace of God, it has specially directed to kneel; and been no better improved by us. another, That the rubrical words, And let us be excited, in the Di- "all kneeling," do not in general vine strength, to endeavour to cor- include the officiating minister. rect what has been amiss, and to Neither of these rules appears to supply what has hitherto been de rest on a solid foundation. fective. Let us labour after greater Let us briefly examine the actual degrees of holiness and of usefulness state of the case. To the introducthan we have ever attained to. Lettory sentences and general exhorus prize the grace of God more tation no posture is appropriated. highly; and let us use our utmost The custom of standing, which seems endeavour with others, to awaken to be universal, appears to be a them to a sense of their duty and reverential practice, acquiesced in interest, after the example of the from traditionary habit and common blessed Apostle in the text. And sense of propriety. Before the gehaving found grace ourselves, let us neral confession the first direction each, in our respective stations, be of the kind occurs; and it is this entreating and beseeching others, “ To be said of the whole congregathat “they receive not the grace tion after the minister, all kneeling." of God in vain."
In this case (it is admitted) the words, all kneeling, include the mi
nister; for in the following rubric Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.
he alone is directed to change his posture thus:
“ The absolution DURING the last few years several or remission of sins to be pronouncarticles have appeared in your mis- ed by the priest alone, standing, the cellany, which throw light on the people still kneeling." Next follows interpretation of the rubrical direc- a rubric, which is plainly intended tions in our common prayer-book. to apply comprehensively. " Then As it is incumbent on those who the minister shall kneel, and say the profess to belong to our church to Lord's Prayer with an audible voice; understand and conform to its rules, the people also kneeling and repeatI presume that a collection of some ing it with him, both here and whereof these scattered notices may not soever else it is used in Divine serbe without its use. I have therefore vice." It follows from this, that, looked through several of your for- both in the commencement of the mer Numbers with the view of bring communion-service and before the ing into one article the result of sermon, the people ought to repeat many discussions.
the Lord's Prayer after the minister The first subject to which I shall without any special direction for advert, is that of the postures direct- that purpose. After the few sened to be used during Divine service tences which then follow, comes the both by the minister and by the direction--" Here, all standing up, people. It is obvious, that these the priest shall say :" where again directions are in many instances the word, all
, clearly includes the loose and general, being in some minister. The next place where a places defective, and in others re- similar direction occurs, is after the dundant. In ambiguous cases, there. Apostles' Creed; and there again fore, we must determine by analogy the words, “all devoutly kneeling," rather than by the mere exactness include the minister; so that this of literal construction,
particular rule, though supported