The unworthiness and
unlikeliness of its objects!
"The Attributes of
The Gospel addresses men as
perishing criminals. It declares that the most chaste
moralist is in the same terrible plight as is the most
voluptuous profligate; and the zealous professor,
with all his religious performances, is no better off
than the most profane infidel.
The Gospel contemplates every person as a fallen,
polluted, hell-deserving and helpless sinner. The
grace which the Gospel publishes is his only hope!
Grace is a perfection of the divine character which
is exercised only toward the elect. Divine grace is
the sovereign and saving favor of God exercised in
the bestowment of blessings upon those who have
no merit in them, and for which no compensation
is demanded from them.
Nay, more; grace is the favor of God shown to those
who not only have no positive deserts of their own,
but who are thoroughly ill-deserving and hell-deserving!
Divine grace is completely unmerited and unsought,
and is altogether unattracted by anything in or from
or by the objects upon which it is bestowed. Grace can
neither be bought, earned, nor won by the creature. If
it could be, it would cease to be grace. When a thing is
said to be of "grace," we mean that the recipient has
no claim upon it--that it was not in any way due him.
It comes to him as pure charity, and, at first, unasked
Because grace is unmerited favor, it must be exercised
in a sovereign manner. Therefore does the Lord declare,
"I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious." Exod. 33:19
The great God is under no obligation to any of His creatures,
least of all to those who are rebels against Him.
The distinguishing grace of God is seen in saving those
people whom He has sovereignly singled out to be His
high favorites. By "distinguishing" we mean that grace
discriminates, makes differences, chooses some and
passes by others. Nowhere does the glory of God's free
and sovereign grace shine more conspicuously, than in
the unworthiness and unlikeliness of its
Nothing more riles the natural man, and brings to the
surface his innate and inveterate enmity against God,
than to press upon him the eternality, the freeness, and
the absolute sovereignty of divine grace. That grace
cannot be earned or won by any efforts of
man, is too
self-emptying for self-righteousness. And that
singles out whom it pleases to be its favored object,
arouses hot protests from haughty rebels.