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 gospel is called the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Nor is it losing any of its efficacy. In the hands of the Holy Spirit it works wonders. The secret of its power is chiefly in its grace. By revealing love it begets love. "Responsibility prevents crimes and makes all attempts against law dangerous." But love goes much further. It never ceases to desire to serve and please. It is ingenious in devising methods of service. It is full of alacrity, life and energy. It never counts the cost, and is patient of endurance; even as "Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her." It is an honor peculiar to revealed truth, that it converts the soul. It not only converts men; but it also guides and cheers, purifies and elevates their minds. It throws floods of light on the darkness which surrounds us, and makes us sweetly submissive to God's will and authority. Who does not need such help? There is no sober mind on earth, which, like the sundial, notes only the unclouded hours. We all have our days of darkness. "Man, who is born of a woman, is of few days, and full of trouble." "Who has not lost a friend?" Who has not wept over departed joys, blighted hopes, and darkened prospects? At times nature casts a dark pall over all her face, providence assumes a threatening aspect, fears rise up like mountains in our path, and trouble comes in like waves of the sea, or falls like water-spouts from heaven. At such a time, God's Spirit can pour light and joy into our hearts, and give us songs in the house of our pilgrimage.

But if so, he will put great honor upon the Bible. "Remember the word unto your servant, upon which you have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for your word has quickened me." Psalm 119:49, 50. Solid peace to the troubled mind, must be based in the pardon of sin and the favor of God. The gospel calls the poor and needy, the weary and heavy-laden, the sad and sorrowful—and leads them to Christ; and through his blood and righteousness gives comfort, which can be found nowhere else. Even a little divine knowledge firmly believed will do great things for us in the day of calamity, while a soul without acquaintance with God is shut up to misery.

Marcus Quintilian was a great orator. He was the friend of Pliny, and received the favor of the emperors. He died at Rome A. D. 60. His great work is his "Institutes of the Orator." The introduction to the sixth book of this treatise relates the loss of his wife and children, and especially the recent death of a promising son. What are his thoughts on an occasion so full of interest? He complains of the "bitterness of fortune," and says that this was "the second wound that was struck deep to afflict me, now a childless father! What then shall I do? or on what shall I any more employ the unhappy talents, which the gods seem to reprove? It was my misfortune to be borne down by a like stroke, when I set about writing the book, which I gave to the public, 'On the Causes of the Corruption of Eloquence.' Why then did I not cast into the fire that accursed work? Why did not I commit it, with that little unhappy learning I might have, to the flames of the funeral pile kindled so untimely to consume my affections? What good parent would pardon me, if I again engaged in study? Who would not detest my insensibility, if I made any other use of my voice, than to vent complaints against the injustice of the gods, who have made me survive all that was dearest to me in the world; if I did not proclaim aloud that there is no providence in the regulation of human affairs? There reigns a secret envy, jealous of our happiness, which pleases itself in nipping the bud of our hopes. If my life be my crime, it shall also be my punishment. I can brave fortune; it has brought my vexations to their height, and in this I find a doleful but just security."

Who can without a shudder of horror read such effusions of rage, pride, sullenness and impiety? A human soul, thus stung, rebellious and maddened, is one of the saddest spectacles ever beheld on earth. A wild bull caught in a net, and filling the forest with his roaring, is a Hebrew emblem of a man thus minded. In the day of calamity how gloomy is heathenism, how cheerless is philosophy! Neither brings any solace to the stricken heart. On the other hand, a little light from heaven is a blessing.

JOB, the man of Uz was also a great orator. "Unto him men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at his counsel." After his words "they spoke not again, and they waited for him as for the rain." He was held in the highest veneration. "When the young men saw him, they hid themselves." In his presence "the aged arose and stood up. The princes refrained talking, and laid their hands on their mouth. The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their jaws." He was also the greatest captain of his age. "He dwelt as king in the army. He broke the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth." He was also a great philanthropist. "When the ear heard him then it blessed him; and when the eye saw him, it gave witness to him; because he delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. He caused the widow's heart to sing for joy; he was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame. He was a father to the poor: and the cause, which he knew not, he searched out." He was also the richest man in the East. "He washed his steps with butter, and the rock poured him out rivers of oil." For a long time he enjoyed this prosperity and said, "I shall die in my nest, and multiply my days as the sand." "His root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon his branch. His glory was fresh in him, and his bow was renewed in his hand." He had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, and a great number of servants. He had also ten children—seven sons and three daughters.

Yet in one day all were taken from him. He was bereft indeed, and with crushing suddenness. Suspicion instantly wrapped him in her poisoned mantle, and neglect from his servants, and scorn from the abjects speedily followed. "At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." Job 1:20-22. It is commonly believed that Job lived before any part of God's word was written, though not before many important truths had been revealed to the fathers. He had some light, though not the full light of the gospel. He also embraced the truth as far as he knew it. Behold the difference between the proud Roman and the humble Arabian, the former without God in the world, the latter saying, "I will trust him though he slays me."

Quintilian lived in the days of Christ and his apostles, and might have heard Paul preach, and might have known the truth as it is in Jesus. In one sentence of his work he is thought by some to have made a scornful allusion to the Christians. Strange that a man should blaspheme his own gods, and yet see no need of a better religion. Without the light of gospel truth, life is without happiness, and death is without hope. A false religion is a horrible engine of torture. But the gospel freely offers precious blessings to all the sons of men, and especially to the children of sorrow. So that all, who heartily embrace it, may even "rejoice in tribulation."

How strange it is that any should oppose the spread of the gospel. How can one defend himself from the charge of malignancy, when he would withhold from the wretched of his race, the cup of divine consolations? Let those, who tell of the happiness of the heathen, henceforth keep silence. "Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god." "Our God is in heaven and does whatever He pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk. They cannot make a sound with their throats. Those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them." Psalm 115:3-8

There is but one only living and true God; and Jesus Christ is his Son. His mediation alone can bring salvation. His word is truth. His blood is the sole efficacious sacrifice for sin. His gospel is glad tidings of great joy to all who hear the joyful sound. Blessed are they, all they, and only they—who have made Jehovah their refuge, and hope and portion. This must be done with the heart. The Holy Spirit must illumine the darkened understanding, else we shall be like the bat and the owl, which see not at noon. The divine Spirit alone can so reveal to us the fullness and excellency of Christ, as to enable us to "glory in tribulation." Oh that all the wretched would come and with joy draw water out of the wells of salvation. Jesus came "to appoint unto them who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." "Hallelujah! My soul, praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing to the Lord as long as I live. Do not trust in nobles, in man, who cannot save. When his breath leaves him, he returns to the ground; on that day his plans die. Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them. He remains faithful forever, executing justice for the exploited and giving food to the hungry. The Lord frees prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord raises up those who are oppressed. The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord protects foreigners and helps the fatherless and the widow, but He frustrates the ways of the wicked. The Lord reigns forever; Zion, your God reigns for all generations. Hallelujah!" Psalm 146.