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 Judgment shall be immediately followed by amazing
bliss and glory! In this heavenly happiness, the entire persons of the
saints shall partake. This is the hope, the desire and the inheritance of
all true Christians. They are heirs of salvation, heirs according to the
hope of eternal life, heirs according to the promise, heirs of righteousness
by faith, heirs of the grace of life, heirs of the kingdom, heirs of God and
joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is "the
pledge of our inheritance." Present sufferings for Christ's sake are sure
pledges of our winning the kingdom. "If we suffer with him, we shall also
reign with him." Our calling to be saints is a token of our share in coming
glory. "God has called us to his kingdom and glory." Our conformity to God
is a sign that cannot be mistaken. "The Father has made us fit to be
partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Our justification
proves the same. "Those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of
righteousness, shall reign in life by Jesus Christ." The Lord Jesus has so
ordained. "I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father has appointed
unto me; that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom." They inherit
everlasting life, a kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the
world. "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will make him my
There is a very pleasing variety in the modes of
presenting heavenly things to our conceptions. At one time in view of the
greatness of the way, heaven is called a rest. Again it is styled a crown, a
kingdom, an inheritance, glory, honor, immortality, eternal life, a house
not made with hands, our Father's house, an heavenly temple, Mount Zion, the
new heavens, the new Jerusalem. By selecting a great variety of the best and
most excellent things known on earth, and yet showing no steadfast
attachment to any one form of speech, the inspired writers leave us to
infer, that their clearest representations are but faint emblems of
celestial bliss. Indeed they seem at a great loss for words to express their
own conceptions on the subject of heavenly bliss.
What two things are more unlike than gold and pure glass?
One is transparent, the other opaque. One is colorless, the other yellow.
One is brittle, the other may be hammered to the thinnest leaf. One is a
human fabric, the other cannot be made by man. And yet John says, "The city
was pure gold, as clear as glass." Indeed, "eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has
prepared for those who love him."
Two people admitted within the walls of the celestial
city have returned to dwell on earth. One was Lazarus of Bethany, the
brother of Mary and Martha. Whether he ever told his friends anything of
what he had seen and heard in the invisible world, we have no means of
knowing. Tradition says that after his return to life he never seemed deeply
interested in worldly affairs, and ascribes this change in him to the
visions of glory, which he had enjoyed. The other was Paul, who was caught
up into Paradise, into the third heavens. Yet his account is short: "I heard
unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." This is his
whole narrative. Angels have often visited our world, but even when they
have assumed a human form and conversed with men, none of them ever
attempted a description of the world of light, from which they came.
Inspired men sometimes speak on the subject, but commonly
in language highly figurative. Thus John tells us that the walls of the
celestial city are fifteen hundred miles on each of its four sides, and as
high as they are long. Is he giving us the exact dimensions of the great
capital of God's dominions? or does he merely design to convey to our minds
conceptions of vastness and magnificence quite beyond the scale of anything
known on earth? John says expressly, "It does not yet appear what we shall
be." Paul also says: "Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but
then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is
partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as
God knows me now." 1 Cor. 13:12. The saints in light probably in an hour
gain more just and adequate and satisfying knowledge of that upper world,
than the ablest divines have acquired in a long life-time of reading and
meditation. As carnal men have very vague and erroneous conceptions of what
it is to be born again, so the best men on earth know but little of what it
is to be born into glory.
To prepare for this eternal glory is the great business
of life. Nothing is wiser than to make everything subordinate to the
attainment of a crown of righteousness. To have the least fitness for heaven
is an unspeakable blessing; and "to be rich in grace is the sure pledge that
we shall be rich in glory." Indeed glory is grace completed, crowned,
triumphant. There vast and accurate knowledge
shall feed the immortal mind. "We shall know even as we are
known." "The works and government of God will ever afford themes of inquiry,
reflection and wonder." Under infallible guidance, the mind of man can make
hitherto unthought-of advances in knowledge.
The heavenly world is full of
love, not of idle pretenses and hollow professions, but of pure,
holy affections. If in this world all men were fully benevolent and loving,
how happy men would be! Yet in the best of men on earth love is imperfect.
Not so in heaven. There God, who is Love, reigns forever. There Christ, who
is full of divine compassion and gentleness, sits on the Mediatorial throne.
There the love of the Spirit warms all hearts. The Seraphim are burning
ones, because their natures are all on fire with pure, kind, grateful,
peaceful and benevolent affections. There the spirits of just men are made
perfect in love. There is no lack of friendship in that exalted society. The
company is select, being made up of God's elect. The whole body of the
redeemed are there publicly married to Christ.
The great attraction of heaven is the Lord Jesus Christ.
"I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!" Philippians
1:23. "The Lamb is the light thereof." "We shall be ever with the Lord." "He
who sits on the throne shall dwell among them." Even in this world Christ is
the delight of pious men. In viewing his character and love that great
preacher, John Welch, exclaimed: "O love of love! O the height, and the
depth, and the breadth, and the length of that love of yours, which passes
knowledge! O uncreated love! Beginning without beginning, and ending without
end! You are my glory, my joy, my gain, my crown. You have set me under your
shadow with great delight, and your fruit is sweet to my taste. You have
brought me into your banqueting-house, and placed me in your table. Stay me
with your flagons, and comfort me with your apples: for I am sick with love,
and my soul is wounded with your love." If such elevations of the affections
can be attained here, what will not heavenly love be?
Heaven is also the abode of joy.
"Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord!" It
is called the joy of the Lord, because the Lord has prepared our bliss for
us, and because he himself is the object chiefly enjoyed. "In your presence
is fullness of joy, and at your right hand are pleasures for evermore!" Here
on earth, our greatest joys are short-lived, imperfect and unsatisfying.
Nothing continues in a perpetually happy state. All is unsettled, and easily
marred. There all is stable as eternity. Here on earth, sorrows beset us in
troops. There sorrows cease; sickness, sadness and sighing flee away;
bereavement never desolates; tears never flow, tempests never rage;
temptations never vex; poverty, war, and death never enter; rust never
corrupts; thieves never steal; days of weariness and nights of vanity are
forever unknown; sin never defiles; and peace reigns unbroken. There "the
wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest." "There is no
darkness there; for the Lord God gives them light, and the Lamb is the light
The people that dwell there shall be forgiven their
iniquity. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more. There are no
discords, tumults, or enmities there. The employments never fatigue, never
disgust, are never trite. Excess is unknown. There is no dullness among the
redeemed. The cruel mockings of earth shall be followed by kind
congratulations and songs of deliverance. The eternal anthem is, "All praise
to Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding His blood for
us! Give to Him everlasting glory! He rules forever and ever! Amen!"
If we are believers, heaven is just before us. "It is
strange that a subject of grace, should be so reluctant to become a subject
of glory." Who would not wish to "Burst from the thraldom of encumbering
clay—and spring to liberty, and light, and life?"
The choicest portion of every Christian's existence is
before him. Nature is inferior to grace, and nature and grace are both
inferior to glory. "The sons of God have much in hand—and more in hope." The
sights seen, the sounds heard, and the emotions felt in heaven are peculiar
to that blessed abode; and all is durable as the throne of God! All flows
from the bounty of an infinite God and Savior! The grace of Christ in heaven
displays its richest fruits to the rapturous gaze and boundless admiration
of all holy creatures. Could we but believe what God has spoken on this
blessed theme, we might each say:
"Farewell, vain world; my soul can bid adieu;
My Savior taught me to abandon you!
Your charms may gratify a sensual mind,
But cannot please a soul for God inclined.
Forbear to entice, cease then my soul to call;
'Tis fixed through grace; my God shall be my all.
While he thus lets me heavenly glories view,
Your beauties fade, my heart's no room for you."
The Hallelujahs of the multitudes above are as the sound
of many waters and of mighty thunderings. Their songs are of victory. They
all have palms in their hands and are harping with their harps.
How near heaven may be—none on earth can tell. The hill
of Zion, the mount of God, the temple not made with hands, are often near
by, when we think them far distant. At all times we may say to God's people,
"Now is your salvation nearer than when you believed." Many of the saints
daily arrive at their long sought home. The doves will all find their
windows. "To be content to stay always in this world is above the obedience
In all ages the saints have longed and fainted for an
entrance into the upper sanctuary. Often have they cried, "O Lord, how
long?" The prayer of one long since gathered to his people, well suits
multitudes: "Lord, gather me with your flock: they are fast a-gathering; the
church's Head is gone; he has left the earth and entered into his glory!
Many of my brethren and friends have arrived where he is—I am yet behind! O
how great is the difference between my state and theirs. I am groaning out
my complaint—they are singing God's praise! I sit in darkness and cannot see
your face, but they behold you face to face. O should I be satisfied to stay
behind, when my friends are gone? Shall I wander here in a howling desert,
when they are triumphing above, and dividing the spoils?"
Let men think much of heavenly glory. Let them seek that
city which has foundations, whose Maker and Builder is God. "He who seldom
thinks of heaven—is not likely to get there. The only sure way to hit the
mark is to keep the eye steadily fixed upon it." Men do not go to that
blessed land without desiring it, intending it, forsaking all for it! If you
do not love to think of heaven while you live—you will not be in heaven when
you die. It is pleasant to long for the day when we shall enter into rest,
provided there be no self-will or impatience indulged. How can it be sinful
for us to wish to see the Lord? Would you make sure of heaven? Make sure of
a saving interest in Christ by faith. Would you be a partaker of his glory,
then accept his grace. The celestial gates will be open to all such as are
by God's Spirit fitted for the joys of paradise. None can be thus prepared
but such as know Jesus Christ, and the power of his resurrection, who have
made a covenant with him by sacrifice, and fled to him for refuge. JESUS IS
THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE!
"Your heart must not be troubled. In My Father's house
are many dwelling places. I am going away to prepare a place for you. I will
come back and receive you to Myself—so that where I am you may be also!"