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


Though it is not profane, yet it is foolish to speak lightly of the devil. He is not a sacred person—but he is a dangerous person. Thoughts of levity concerning him are quite out of place. They throw us off our guard, make us secure, lead us to sloth and carelessness—and thus to sin. He who is our adversary, and has slain his thousands and tens of thousands—is never more sure of his prey than when there is least fear of him. He began his work of revolt in heaven, afterwards invaded Eden, assaulted the Son of God himself with the greatest violence and rancor, and will always be busy until he is chained down in the pit. His ways are various. Sometimes he appears as an angel of light. He has cordials for wounded consciences. He speaks much of mercy. He delights in corrupting the truth. His great object is to keep men from embracing Christ. He has much to do with religious men and religious ordinances. He never misses a sermon. He knows that men can go to hell in the pew of a church, as well as in the seat of a theater. If they will rest in 'religious forms' and be satisfied with the ordinances of God without the God of the ordinances, if they will go about to establish their own righteousness, and not submit to the righteousness of Christ, he will encourage them, and help them to be joyful. He frequents our closets and there practices the same arts.

Again, he will turn accuser. He will tell men it is too late to repent, and that it is vain for them to hope for mercy. He will roar like a lion. He delights in terrifying souls from Christ. He would scare all away from the cross. He has no pity. He is wholly malignant and unscrupulous. To dishonor God, destroy souls, fill earth with woe and hell with the damned, is his trade and his delight. The keener the anguish, the more pitiless the remorse and the deeper the guilt of man, the more is Satan gratified. He does all he can to make earth like hell, men like devils, and saints like sinners. He delights in seeing all wickedness raging and rioting on earth. He is the god of the men of this world. He commands and they obey. He is the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. His empire is built on usurpation and fraud, cruelty and crime, blood and rebellion.

Christ came to destroy the reign of devils, nor will he rest until his enemies are put down. The most terrible blow Satan's empire ever received was in the death of Christ. In compassing that, Satan missed his mark. The resurrection, ascension to heaven, and session at the right hand of power showed the end of Christ's death and his Sonship with God. By all these Christ has bruised Satan under him. By pouring out the Holy Spirit, Christ continually weakens the power of the enemy. Satan rages, and hates, and lies, and murders the saints; but his kingdom must fall. The kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ. Glorious things are spoken of Zion, and they shall all be fulfilled. Yet these very things awaken the malice of the arch enemy. Finding he cannot rule, he tempts and annoys the children of God. He is their great foe. He studies their tempers, and adapts his temptations to their age, station and inclination. He commonly attacks them in the weakest point. He worries those whom he cannot destroy. If he cannot prevent their getting a crown, he will at least labor that it shall not be a bright one.

There is no deeper distress of mind on earth than is sometimes felt by men sorely tempted by thoughts of unbelief, despair, blasphemy, or other sins. A few words of counsel are here offered to the tempted.

1. Resist the devil, and he shall flee from you. Fight on. Be not terrified, nor faint at his assaults. He is not almighty.

2. Do not attempt to out-wit and out-reason your adversary; but like Christ, quote the word of God to him. The metal of that Sword is too high and its edge too keen for him. He hates to hear, "It is written," or "Thus says the Lord."

3. Lay firm hold on the promises made to the tempted, and be strong in the Lord. "He will not allow you to be tempted above that you are able to bear." "With the temptation he will provide a way of escape." The promises, when believed, are fatal to Satan's suggestions. "My grace is sufficient for you," rendered harmless all the buffetings of Satan in the case of Paul. Know God's word. Beware of ignorance.

4. Be much on your guard in times of high religious privilege and enjoyment. Pirates let empty vessels pass without molestation, but attack those which are well freighted. "If you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for temptation."

5. Be on your guard in the day of fear and sadness. Satan loves to terrify those already affrighted, and to oppress those already sorrowful. Encourage yourself in the Lord your God.

6. "When a Christian is about some notable enterprise for God's glory, then will Satan lie like a serpent in the way, or as an adder in the path, to bite the horse's heels that the rider may fall backward." In all new and difficult circumstances, be vigilant.

7. If formerly you have fallen under the power of any evil, take heed that you fall not again. One lapse often paves the way for another.

8. Beware of attempting to comprehend things beyond your reach, to understand things unintelligible, or to know things not revealed. "There are three kinds of straits, wherein Satan attempts to entrap believers—puzzling questions, obscure scriptures, and dark providences."

9. Be humble. Humility is a defense better than all gifts besides. "All temptations are laid in self-righteousness and self-excellency. God pursues you by setting Satan upon you, as Laban pursued Jacob for his images. These must be torn from you—however unwilling you are. These hinder Christ from coming in." Humility cannot be too profound. "With the humble is wisdom."

10. If you have been led astray in the least, hasten your return to God. Stay not away because you have sinned much or little. The message is the same to all who have sinned, "O Israel, return unto the Lord your God; for you have fallen by your iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord."

11. If you have been able to repel the assaults of the wicked one, be encouraged, but not careless. "Be not high-minded but fear." "Let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall." "Satan's opportunity is a soul off its guard," said Hewitson. "The saint's sleeping time is the devil's tempting time," says Gurnall. Haweis says: "As not ignorant of his devices, we should especially beware of security. Let not him who puts on the armor, boast as he who puts it off. When the cold turf covers our head—only then the wicked will cease from troubling, and the weary have perfect rest; but here every step we take we are among lions, and must stand on our watch-tower, fearing always, and working out our salvation with that trembling and care which alone can secure it. A holy fear is the great preservative against falling away. The moment we begin to slumber, our watchful adversary is ready to take advantage against us; but blessed is the man whom his Lord shall find watching, when He comes."

12. Be greatly on your guard in solitude, or when called to perform duty alone, and without the aid and encouragement of others. Watch closely then your thoughts and ways. "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up." Ecc. 4:9, 10. It seems to have been when Eve was alone, that she was tempted and overcome—and so she was first in the transgression. Satan knew what an advantage solitude would give him in plying the blessed Master with his wicked suggestions when he was in the wilderness. Doubtless our Lord felt this at that time. It is certain he felt his solitude in his last temptation, when "he came unto his disciples, and found them asleep, and said unto Peter, What! could you not watch with me one hour?"

13. When you find yourself quite fascinated with any temporal plans, pursuits or pleasures, set a double guard against temptation. "We should suspect some danger near—where we possess delight." The Bible urges moderation and the suppression of inordinate affection by the most solemn considerations, such as that "the Judge stands at the door." "The Lord is at hand."

14. Be prepared for temptations at all times. Satan invades our most sacred retirements. He follows us everywhere. He is the "lion of the evening." He may assault you even when dying. When the great John Knox was near his end, he lay with his eyes closed for a while, but sighed deeply. Being asked the cause, he said: "I have formerly, during my frail life, sustained many contests and many assaults of Satan, but at present that roaring lion has assailed me most furiously, and put forth all his strength to devour and make an end of me at once. Often before has he placed my sins before my eyes, often tempted me to despair, often attempted to ensnare me by the allurements of the world; but these weapons being broken by the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, he could not prevail. Now he has attacked me in another way. The cunning serpent has labored to persuade me that I have merited heaven and eternal blessedness by the faithful discharge of my ministry. But, blessed be God, who has enabled me to beat down and quench his fiery darts by suggesting to me such passages of Scripture as these: 'What do you have—which you have not received? By the grace of God I am what I am. Not I, but the grace of God in me.' Being thus vanquished, he left me."

15. Beware of idleness. Be diligent in business. Keep your mind employed in something profitable, and your hands engaged in something lawful. "Our idle days are the devil's busy ones," says Hall.

16. Our great refuge in temptation is the throne of grace, sprinkled with atoning blood. In vain will we watch unless we pray. In vain will we pray, if we plead any goodness of our own. Let us make mention of Christ's righteousness, even of his alone. "There are no saving views of God—but in Christ. And there are no gracious views God has of men—but in Christ. If we look on God outside of Christ, we are dazzled with an overwhelming, confounding majesty. If God look on us outside of Christ, he sees hateful and hated sinners."

Nothing but the blood of Christ can quench the fire of God's wrath, the fire of lust, or the fiery darts of Satan! That blood can be found at the throne of grace, and nowhere else. Hold fast also all God's word says of Christ's intercession. It is life from the dead to the tempted. "Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not." Luke 22:31, 32. "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:14-16.

"Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say—Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death." Revelation 12:10-11. Are you content, are you resolved to walk in their footsteps? If so, you too shall soon overcome!