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
A pious minister, in preaching to his people, invariably
spoke of the performance of relative duties as a necessary proof of the
sincerity of a Christian profession. He was right. Bad parents, bad
children, bad husbands, bad wives, bad masters, bad servants, bad rulers,
bad subjects—cannot be good Christians. On all these points the Scriptures
speak explicitly: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this
is right. Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring
them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Slaves, obey
your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart,
just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when
their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from
your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men,
because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he
does, whether he is slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in
the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their
Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him."
This is but a specimen of the stringent and clear
teachings of God's word. Particularly has God put high honor upon the
family relation and guarded it at every point. It was formed in
paradise, and has been continued ever since with many divine sanctions. The
proper duties of it are pointed out in the ten commandments. Jesus Christ
personally set an example of domestic subordination in his childhood and
youth, and of filial piety when he was dying. It is worthy of note that in
the most thoroughly doctrinal epistles of the New Testament, the apostles
find room for pressing these duties. Nor is there a more striking difference
between heathenism and Christianity, or between the pure and the corrupt
forms of Christianity—than in their respective influence on families and on
social life in general.
The reasons urged in God's word for the careful
performance of relative duties are many, and striking. They are such as
these: "For that is right." "That he, who is of the contrary part, may be
ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you." "That you may put to silence
the ignorance of foolish men." "That if any of them do not believe the word,
they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they
see the purity and reverence of your lives." "That the name of God and his
doctrine be not blasphemed." "That they may adorn the doctrine of God our
Savior in all things." "If any provides not for his own, and especially for
those of his own house, he has denied the faith and is worse than an
Such reasonings cannot be answered, though their force
may be evaded. No good man will try to diminish their power over him. The
virulence and malignity of communism are seen in nothing more plainly than
in its various and violent assaults on the family institution. The folly of
the leaders of this dreadful form of wickedness has commonly been made very
manifest. The wild confusion, which has reigned over their practical
endeavors, has in most cases resulted in speedy disorganization. Order
supposes subordination; and without this all attempts to improve men or
manners are vain.
When one sees the waves dashing against the rock of
Gibraltar, he fears not that it will be carried away. So when men foam out
their own shame and fury against institutions, which find their necessity in
human nature, their sanction in God's revealed will, and their foundation in
his unvarying ordinances, the result is not doubtful. When a spirit, leading
men to canvass all opinions and to unsettle everything, first appears in
each generation, the timid cry out: "What are we coming to?" The ignorant
gaze and gape as though they were about to see wonders. The rash raise a
shout and cry, "Here is wisdom." But the wise calmly set themselves to look
at the foundations of things, and soon perceive the rock of truth, after
which they are no more afraid with any amazement. "Those who attempt to
level all distinctions, never equalize." They destroy, but they build not.
Domestic happiness requires the elements of truth,
justice, consistency, humility, candor, gentleness and kindness from
superiors; respect, love, obedience, honor from inferiors; truth,
justice, tenderness and brotherly kindness from equals. A family thus
regulated will be an emblem of the family named in heaven—an emblem, faint
indeed, but clear enough to make a good man say: "It is good to be here."
The very last place on earth, where the fires of virtue and piety burn, is
the domestic hearth. A profession of religion, when not accompanied by a
cheerful and habitual performance of family duties, is worth nothing. Heaven
is not a den of outlaws. If we love not our brother whom we have seen, how
can we love God whom we have not seen? The merciful shall obtain mercy; the
cruel shall reap the fruit of their own doings; the meek shall inherit the
earth, but violent men shall not live out half their days. Tyrants and
rebels are alike rejected. As truth is always in order to godliness, so it
will produce its fruits under all circumstances.
The rules for domestic happiness are few and simple. He
who runs, may read. Yet how little are they heeded except where impressed by
Christian sanctions and inwrought in the soul by the power of God's Spirit.
Then they are mighty. Who can but admire the effects produced in a Christian
household by such maxims and precepts as these?
1. Be humble. "Pride only breeds quarrels."
2. "Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from
3. Find your own happiness in trying to make others
4. Mind your own business. Be not meddlesome.
5. Beware of a fretful, suspicious, or censorious temper.
6. "Overcome evil with good." "Bless and curse not."
7. "Love one another deeply, from the heart."
8. Do not magnify the trials or afflictions of life.
9. Beware of sloth. There is no greater enemy of peace
10. Make it your business to serve God.
11. Keep out of debt. "Owe no man anything." Loans breed
bad tempers and harsh dispositions.
12. Keep the ultimate purpose of life in view. This will
repress many vain wishes and chasten immoderate desires.
13. Let your prayers be frequent and fervent.
14. Never listen to scandal nor backbiting.
15. Grieve not for things which cannot be helped.
16. Set the Lord always before you. Seek His glory. Do
and suffer His will with readiness. Let Christ be all and in all. Trust in
the Lord forever.
There is something peculiarly pleasing in the
manifestations of the grace of Christ in a truly pious family, however poor
their condition in life. Hitherto the Lord has gathered a far richer harvest
of praise from the dwellings of the poor than from the palaces of kings. Not
that humble souls in any rank of life are excluded, but it is so hard for
the great to lie down in the dust—that most of them are offended in Christ.