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." Ephesians 6

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 infidel."

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 speaking deceit."

3. Find your own happiness in trying to make others happy.

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 and happiness.

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.