The grace of God

by J. C. Philpot

What a view the believing soul sometimes gets of the fullness, freeness, suitability, and blessedness of the grace of God, as revealed in the Person, blood, and righteousness of the Son of his love; and how it sees it reaching down, as it were, its delivering arms from heaven to earth, enfolding and sustaining in its sovereign embrace all the objects of his eternal choice. To the carnal, the profane, the worldly-minded, lovers of pleasure, anything that breathes of the holy air of heaven is hateful, as condemning their sensuality and ungodliness. They can do with precepts which they never practice, and with commandments which they never perform; but a religion that would save them from the enjoyment of the sins they so madly love, a breath from the holiness and purity of heaven that would lift them out of their darling lusts and divorce them from their beloved idols, is to them a sentence of imprisonment and death—as hateful to their vagrant minds as a prison cell to a thief, or a workhouse has to a filthy tramp.

Grace must begin a work in the heart before there can be any movement of the mind toward it; and the two-edged sword that goes out of Christ's mouth must make a wound in the conscience before the balm of free grace in his atoning blood and dying love can be revealed and applied by a divine power to the soul. But no sooner does the Blessed Spirit open up to a poor law-cursed, conscience-condemned sinner the way of salvation through the blood and righteousness of Christ—and that all is of grace from first to last, than at once his ears are opened to drink in the sweet melody of that joyful sound. There is in salvation by grace such a suitability to all his wants and woes; it is so opened up to his enlightened understanding as reconciling those conflicting claims of justice and mercy which he could not solve, and by which he was racked and torn; it is so commended to his conscience as taking away all merit from the creature, which he well knows can have none—and as giving the whole glory to God, who, he is sure, deserves it all; and it drops with such sweetness and power into his soul as a word of consolation and encouragement, that he embraces it with every tender feeling and warm affection of his heart.

No language can describe the feelings of the soul when it first emerges out of darkness into light; when it passes from bondage, guilt, and condemnation into peace, liberty, and love. How different are the feelings and the language of a soul under the first shinings in of the Sun of righteousness from the scoffing recklessness of the profane worldling, the rebellion and enmity of the self-righteous Pharisee, and the hard, unfeeling, talkative presumption of the dead professor. The mere 'doctrine' of grace does nothing for the soul. As long as it is a 'mere notion or opinion', it has no more saving or sanctifying power than any other notion or opinion. A man may have an opinion that such and such water is very pure and clear, or such and such wine very choice and delicious, or such and such food very nourishing and strengthening; but if the water be still in the well, the wine in the cellar, and the food at the grocer, and neither drop nor morsel of one or the other reach his mouth, he may die of hunger and thirst in the midst of his opinions.

How many, O how many of those who sit in our chapels amid the saints of God are perishing in their sins with the Bible and hymn-book before their eyes, the sound of the gospel in their ears, the doctrine of grace in their lips, but the love of the world in their hearts! Not so with the soul under the teaching and blessing of God. GRACE is to him "a charming sound," not because the word pleases his ear or the doctrine gratifies his mind, but because its inexpressible sweetness and power have reached his inmost soul.

And as grace suits the young believer, when he first tastes that the Lord is gracious, and feeds on the sincere milk of the word that he may grow thereby, so in every after-stage of his experience, down to the very grave, it is made more and more suitable, and becomes more and more precious to his heart. For as he journeys onward in the path of temptation and tribulation, he has many painful lessons to learn of which the young Christian knows little or nothing. The dreadful evils of his heart, the snares laid for his feet by Satan, his continual conflicts with the unbelief and infidelity, the pride and rebellion of his fallen nature, the grievous backslidings, departures, and wanderings of his heart from the Lord, the experience he has of his own coldness, deadness, and base ingratitude—these, and a thousand other trials and temptations, make grace, in its blessed manifestations, most suitable to the saint of God who has been for any time in the strait and narrow way.

Grace is the spring of all his happiness and holiness, of all his salvation and sanctification, of all his faith and hope, love and obedience. It revives him when dead, renews him when all heavenly feeling seems lost and gone, delivers him from bondage and condemnation, comforts him in affliction and sorrow, separates him from the world, subdues his iniquities, keeps alive the fear of God in his bosom, draws out prayer and supplication, makes sin hateful and Christ precious, and gives him not only his title but his fitness for glory. And when we come to his last hours upon earth,
"When sickness and disease invade
This trembling house of clay,"
when nature sinks under a load of pain and languishing, what then can support the soul in the immediate prospect of eternity but that grace which saves from death and hell? In fact, when we have a spiritual view of the majesty and purity of God, the unbending justice of his holy law, and our own vileness and pollution, our guilt, and sin, and shame before him, our thorough emptiness of all good, our thorough fullness of all evil, there is not, there cannot be a single ray of hope for our ruined souls but what grace reveals and applies through a Savior's blood.

The grace of God plucks the brand from the burning, delivers the vessel of mercy from the power of darkness and translates it into the kingdom of God's dear Son.