The Grace of Christ, or,
Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness

William S. Plumer, 1853

"We believe it is through the grace of our
 Lord Jesus that we are saved." Acts 15:11

The PROPERTIES of grace. It is free,
sufficient, unselfish, rich in blessings.


In many things the grace of God differs from all other manifestations of favor. We should not be surprised at this when we reflect that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts. There are none like Jehovah in love, or in majesty, in glory or in condescension. Beyond everything else, grace is FREE. It is beyond the power of man to earn it, to deserve it, to purchase it. No price is to be paid for it. To offer anything as an equivalent for it is to insult God. "Without money and without price" is the sole method of its bestowment. This grace is absolutely, everlastingly, immutably free. If you ever secure it, it will not be by paying for it thousands of rivers of oil, the cattle on a thousand hills, or the wealth of the world.

This grace is, moreover, ALL-SUFFICIENT. It alone does all. He, who has it, is rich beyond the power of need, is strong beyond the possibility of being finally vanquished, is justified so that he can never come into condemnation. It meets every demand of justice, every temptation, every emergency. "My grace is sufficient for you," are words as sweet as ever reached the ears of mortals.

Another property of divine grace is that it is UNSELFISH. It is pure grace. The happiness of the King of kings is not augmented by having kings and priests to bow before him. God is, and was, and shall be blessed for evermore. God's almightiness excludes all need, by excluding all weakness. If God could fail in anything, he might cease to be blessed and so cease to be God. When there was as yet no created spirit, and the eternal God existed in solitary grandeur in the universe, that Infinite and Eternal Mind was as happy as it is now, or ever shall be. To the divine blessedness there is no limit, there comes no change. Like his wisdom, power, holiness and truth, his happiness cannot vary. Neither creation nor redemption was undertaken to heighten the bliss of the Godhead.

The Bible teaches that if men were even spotlessly holy, they would still be unprofitable servants. "If you sin, how does that affect him? If your sins are many, what does that do to him? If you are righteous, what do you give to him, or what does he receive from your hand? Your wickedness affects only a man like yourself, and your righteousness only the sons of men. Can a man be of benefit to God? Can even a wise man benefit him? What pleasure would it give the Almighty if you were righteous? What would he gain if your ways were blameless?" Job 35:6-8 and 22:2-3. God does indeed order all things for his own honor and glory; but that is not for the increase of his infinite blessedness. Pure grace and unbought love have done all for sinners. There is no mixture of God's grace and man's goodness in salvation. God owed nothing, could owe nothing to apostate man. It is a shameful and wicked derogation from the grace of the Gospel to assert that God intended thereby to make amends to our race for the defects of the covenant of works. That covenant was wise, holy, just and good. Under it the angels enjoy all their bliss. As long as man kept it, he was unspeakably happy. And when he fell under the curse of that covenant, he did it not by any inevitable necessity of nature, but by his own voluntary choice of that which had been forbidden.

Nowhere in the Bible is it hinted that God originated the covenant of grace as something due to us. On the contrary, it traces all to divine bountifulness and mercifulness. It speaks on this wise: "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:4-9. Many other portions of Scripture teach the same truth, but this one is so full and explicit that nothing but perversity and blindness can misconstrue its precious doctrine.

The peculiar sweetness and excellence of this view of the subject is, first, that it renders illustrious beyond a parallel, the mercy of God in Christ, and thus lays a sure foundation for the temple of praise which is now rising to the sovereign love of God. Secondly, this view brings strong consolation to the godly, because if God had gracious regards towards them when they had no holiness nor good desires, they may assuredly hope that having freely given them new hearts, and having also freely justified them—he will not abandon them to ruin, nor hand them over to condemnation. Nor is this grace in its bestowments limited to a few small items. It would have been unmerited kindness for eternal mercy to have expressed any pity for man. It would have been more than man deserved for God to have given him a respite of a thousand years from the fiery doom, which was before him. It is mere mercy that keeps a sinner out of hell even for an hour! But when God undertook to be gracious, he confined himself to no little work, but devised a plan incomprehensibly great and glorious, running through all coming time, and the eternity beyond that, and embracing in its effects in some way, myriads on myriads of happy creatures, who study it, admire it, or taste its abundant provisions. So that on this side of heaven there is no higher exercise of virtue than simply to believe and cordially to rely upon the statements of God's word respecting this greatest of all devices.

The first result attained by the works of grace in our world, is the securing of an unparalleled revenue of renown to the divine government. Glory to God in the highest is an effect peculiar to the work of redemption. To men the results are as happy, as to God they are honorable. The fruits of God's grace are so many, and so rich, and so necessary, that we may safely say, without them existence is not desirable; but with them life is a great blessing and blessing, though it should be begun by ten thousand years of such affliction as the saints on earth are subject to. God's plan of mercy in Christ secures us against all conceivable ills, except such as shall themselves be made the means of ultimate and eternal gain to us. It also secures the possession of all conceivable good things for this world and the next, and at the best possible time. The tenor of Scripture on these points is unmistakable: "All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and you are Christ's; and Christ is God's." 1 Cor. 3:21-23.

Even inspired men seem at a loss for words to convey an adequate conception of any of God's saving mercies. In his gospel, John says, "God so loved the world." And in his first epistle he says, "Behold! How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" Paul breaks out, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"

With our Lord and his apostles, crowns and kingdoms are favorite emblems of the riches of our inheritance in Christ. Nor does God ever revoke any promise made to man in Christ Jesus. "The Lord is not man that he should repent." He never begins to build and finds himself unable to finish. Nor has he affixed to the gospel offer any meritorious condition to be performed by us. Jesus Christ fulfilled the entire conditions of the covenant of grace—so far as satisfying the law and bringing in righteousness are concerned. The fourth property of this grace, then, is that it is exceedingly fruitful in the most precious and most permanent blessings!