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Christian Joy and The Beauty of Grace

Thomas Watson Christian Joy and the Beauty of Grace Spiritual joy can go without silver crutches to support it. Spiritual joy is built higher, than upon creatures, for it is built on the love of God, on the promises of Scripture, and on the blood of Christ. What shall we do to obtain this spiritual joy? Walk consistently and spiritually. God gives joy after long and close walking with him. This is the application (to obtain Christian joy) (1.) Observe your hours. Set time every day apart for God. (2.) Mourn for sin. “Mourning is the seed,” as Basil says, “out of which the flower of spiritual joy grows.” “I will comfort those who mourn.” Isa 57: 18. (3.) Keep the book of conscience fair written. Do not by presumptuous sins, blur your evidences. A good conscience is the ark in which God puts the hidden manna! (4.) Be often upon your knees- pray with life and fervency

Thomas Watson Christian Joy and the Beauty of Grace Spiritual joy can go without silver crutches to support it. Spiritual joy is built higher, than upon creatures, for it is built on the love of God, on the promises of Scripture, and on the blood of Christ. What shall we do to obtain this spiritual joy? Walk consistently and spiritually. God gives joy after long and close walking with him.

This is the application (to obtain Christian joy)

(1.) Observe your hours. Set time every day apart for God.
(2.) Mourn for sin. “Mourning is the seed,” as Basil says, “out of which the flower of spiritual joy grows.” “I will comfort those who mourn.” Isa 57: 18.
(3.) Keep the book of conscience fair written. Do not by presumptuous sins, blur your evidences. A good conscience is the ark in which God puts the hidden manna!
(4.) Be often upon your knees- pray with life and fervency

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CHRISTIAN JOY

&

THE BEAUTY OF GRACE

by

Thomas Watson 1620 – 1686

Let us then ascribe the whole work of grace to the pleasure of God's Will. God did

not choose us because we were worthy - but by choosing us, He makes us worthy.

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CHRISTIAN JOY

by Thomas Watson

"The fruit of the Spirit is joy." Gal. 5:22.

The third fruit of justification, adoption, and sanctification—is joy

in the Holy Spirit. Joy is setting the soul upon the top of a

pinnacle—it is the cream of the sincere milk of the word. Spiritual

joy is a sweet and delightful passion, arising from the

apprehension and feeling of some good, whereby the soul is

supported under present troubles, and fenced against future fear.

I. Joy is a delightful passion. It is contrary to sorrow, which is a

perturbation of mind, whereby the heart is perplexed and cast

down. Joy is a sweet and pleasant affection—which eases the mind,

and exhilarates and comforts the spirits.

II. Joy arises from the feeling of some good. Joy is not a mere

imagination; but is rational, and arises from the feeling of some

good, as the sense of God's love and favor. Joy is so real a thing, that

it makes a sudden change in a person; and turns mourning into

melody. As in the spring-time, when the sun comes to our horizon,

it makes a sudden alteration in the face of the universe—the birds

sing, the flowers appear, the fig-tree puts forth her green figs;

everything seems to rejoice and put off its mourning, as being

revived with the sweet influence of the sun. Just so, when the Sun

of Righteousness arises on the soul, it makes a sudden alteration,

and the soul is infinitely rejoiced with the golden beams of God's

love.

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III. By joy, the soul is supported under present troubles. Joy

stupefies and swallows up troubles; it carries the heart above them,

as the oil swims above the water.

IV. By joy, the heart is fenced against future fear. Joy is both

a cordial and an antidote. It is a cordial which gives present relief to

the spirits when they are sad; and an antidote, which fences off the

fear of approaching danger. "I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff they comfort me."

How is this joy wrought?

(1.) It arises partly from the promise. As the bee lies at the breast

of the flower, and sucks out its sweetness; just so, faith lies at the

breast of a promise, and sucks out the quintessence of joy. "Your

comforts delight my soul;" that is, the comforts which distill from

the promises.

(2.) The Spirit of God who is called the 'Comforter', sometimes

drops this golden oil of joy into the soul." John 14:26. The Spirit

whispers the remission of his sin to a believer—and sheds God's

love abroad in the heart, whence flows infinite joy and delight.

Rom 5:5.

What are the SEASONS in which God usually gives his people

divine joys? There are five Seasons.

(1.) Sometimes at the blessed Supper. The soul comes weeping

after Christ in the Lord's Supper, and God sends it away weeping for

joy. The Jews had a custom at their feasts, of pouring ointment on

their guests and kissing them; in the Lord's Supper, God often

pours the oil of gladness on the saints, and kisses them with the

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kisses of his lips. There are two grand ends of the Lord's Supper—

the strengthening of faith, and the flourishing of joy. Here, in this

ordinance, God displays the banner of his love; here believers taste

not only sacramental bread—but hidden manna. Not that God

always meets the soul with joy. He may give increase of grace, when

not increase of joy. But oftentimes he pours in the oil of gladness, and

gives the soul a secret seal of his love; as Christ made himself

known in the breaking of bread to the two disciples.

(2.) Before God calls his people to suffering. "Be of good cheer,

Paul." Acts 23:11. When God was about to give Paul a cup of blood to

drink—he spiced it with joy. "As the sufferings of Christ abound in

us, so our consolation also abounds." 2 Cor 1:5. This made the

martyrs' flames, to be beds of roses to them. When Stephen was

being stoned he saw heaven open, and the Sun of Righteousness

shone upon his face. God candies our wormwood, with sugar.

(3.) After sore conflicts with Satan. He is the red dragon who

troubles the waters; he puts the soul into frights, makes it believe

that it has no grace, and that God does not love it. Though he

cannot blot out a Christian's evidence for heaven—yet he may cast

such a mist before his eyes, that he cannot read it. When the soul

has been bruised with temptations, God will comfort the bruised

reed by giving joy—to confirm a Christian's title to heaven. After

Satan's fiery darts, comes the white stone. No better balm to heal a

tempted soul, than the oil of gladness! After Christ was tempted,

an angel came to comfort him.

(4.) After spiritual desertion. Desertion is a poisoned arrow

which shoots to the heart. "For the Almighty has struck me down

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with his arrows. He has sent his poisoned arrows deep within my

spirit. All God's terrors are arrayed against me!" Job 6:4. God is

called a fire and a light: the deserted soul feels the fire—but does

not see the light; it cries out, as Asaph, "Has the Lord rejected me

forever? Will he never again show me favor? Is his unfailing love

gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God

forgotten to be kind? Has he slammed the door on his

compassion?" Psalms 77:7-9. When the soul is in this case, and

ready to faint away in despair, God shines upon it, and gives it

some apprehension of his favor, and turns the shadow of death into

the light of the morning. God keeps his cordials for a time of fainting.

Joy after a time of desertion, is like a resurrection from the dead.

(5.) At the hour of death. Of those even who have had no joy in

their lifetime. God puts this sugar in the bottom of the cup—to make

their death sweet. At the last hour, when all other comforts are

gone, God sends the Comforter; and when their appetite to food

fails, he feeds them with hidden manna. As the wicked before they

die, have some apprehensions of hell and wrath in their

conscience; so the godly have some foretastes of God's everlasting

favor, though sometimes their diseases may be such, and their

bodies so oppressed, that they cannot express what they feel. Jacob

laid himself to sleep on a stone and saw a vision of a ladder, and the

angels ascending and descending upon it. Just so, when saints lay

themselves down to sleep the sleep of death, they have often a

vision—they see the light of God's face, and have the evidences of

his love sealed up to them forever.

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W h a t a r e t h e d i ff e r e n c e s b e t w e e n w o r l d l y j o y s

and spiritual joys? The gleanings of spiritual joys, are better than

the vintage of the worldly joys.

(1.) Spiritual joys help to make us BETTER, worldly joys often

make us worse. "I spoke unto you in your prosperity—but you

said, I will not hear." Jer 22:21. Pride and luxury are the two worms

which are bred from worldly pleasures. Wine is the inflamer of

lust. As Satan entered in the sop, so often in the cup. But spiritual joy

makes one better; it is like cordial medicine, which, as physicians

say, not only cheers the heart—but purges out the noxious

humours. Just so, divine joy is cordial medicine, which not only

comforts but purifies; it makes a Christian more holy; it causes an

antipathy against sin; it infuses strength to live and suffer for

Christ. "The joy of the Lord is your strength." Some colors not

only delight the eye—but strengthen the sight. Just so, the joys of God

not only refresh the soul—but strengthen it.

(2.) Spiritual joys are INWARD, they are heart joys. "Your heart

shall rejoice." John 16:22. True joy is hidden within, worldly joy lies

on the outside, like the dew which wets the leaf. We read of those

who "rejoice in appearance," in the Greek, in the face. 2 Cor 5:12. It

goes no farther than the face, it is not within. "Laughter can conceal

a heavy heart; when the laughter ends, the grief remains." Proverbs

14:13. Like a house which has a gilded frontispiece—but all the

rooms within are hung in mourning. But spiritual joy lies

most within. "Your heart shall rejoice." Divine joy is like a spring of

water which runs underground! Others can see the sufferings of a

Christian—but they see not his joy. "Each heart knows its own

bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy." Prov 14:10. His

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joy is hidden manna—hidden from the eye of the world; he has

joyful music which others cannot hear. The marrow lies within, the

best joy is within the heart.

(3.) Spiritual joys are SWEETER than worldly joys. "Your love is

sweeter than wine!" Song of Songs 1:2. Spiritual joys are a

Christian's festival; they are the golden pot and the sweet manna,

they are so sweet, that they make everything else sweet! Spiritual

joys sweeten health and estate, as sweet water poured on flowers

makes them more fragrant and aromatic. Divine joys are so

delicious and ravishing, that they put our mouth out of taste for

earthly delights; just as he who has been drinking cordials tastes

little sweetness in water. Paul had so tasted these divine joys, that

his mouth was out of taste for worldly things; the world was

crucified to him, it was like a dead thing, he could find no

sweetness in it. Gal 6:14.

(4.) Spiritual joys are more PURE, they are not tempered with

any bitter ingredients. A sinner's joy is mixed with dregs, it is

embittered with fear and guilt—he drinks wormwood wine. But

spiritual joy is not muddied with guilt—but like a crystal stream, it

runs pure. It is a rose without prickles; it is honey without wax.

(5.) Spiritual joys are SATISFYING joys. "Ask, that your joy may

be full." Worldly joys can no more fill the heart than a drop can fill

an ocean; they may please the palate or imagination—but cannot

satisfy the soul. "No matter how much we see—we are never

satisfied. No matter how much we hear—we are not content."

Ecclesiastes 1:8. But the joys of God satisfy. "Your comforts delight

my soul." Psalm 94:19. There is as much difference between

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spiritual joys and earthly joys—as between a banquet which is eaten

and one which is painted on the wall!

(6.) Spiritual joys are STRONGER joys than worldly

joys. "Strong consolation." Heb 6:18. They are strong joys indeed,

which can bear up a Christian's heart in trials and afflictions.

"Having received the word in much affliction, with joy." These joys

are roses which grow in winter! These joys can sweeten the bitter

waters of Marah! He who has these joys, can gather grapes from

thorns, and fetch honey out of the carcass of a lion! "As sorrowing

—yet always rejoicing." 2 Cor 6: 10. At the end of the rod—a

Christian tastes honey!

(7.) Spiritual joys are UNWEARIED joys. Other joys, when in

excess, often cause loathing; too much honey nauseates. One may

be tired of pleasure, as well as labor. King Xerxes offered a reward to

him who could find out a new pleasure! But the joys of God, though

they satisfy—yet they never glut. A drop of joy is sweet—but the

more of this wine the better! Such as drink of the joys of heaven—

are never glutted. Their satiety is without loathing, because they

still desire more of the joy with which they are satiated.

(8.) Spiritual joys are ABIDING joys. Worldly joys are soon gone.

Such as crown themselves with rosebuds, and bathe in the

perfumed waters of pleasure—may have joys which seem to

be sweet—but they are swift. They are like meteors, which give a

bright and sudden flash, and then disappear. But the joys which

believers have are abiding; they are a blossom of eternity—a pledge

of those rivers of pleasure which run at God's right hand! "In Your

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presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures!"

Psalm 16:11

Why is this joy to be labored for?

(1.) Because it is self-existent. Spiritual joy can exist in the

absence of all other carnal joy. This joy does not depend upon

outward things. As the philosophers said, when the musicians

came to them, "Philosophers can be merry without music;" so he

who has this spiritual joy can be cheerful in the deficiency of carnal

joys; he can rejoice in God, in sure hope of glory! "Even though the

fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine;

even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and

barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns

are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of

my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18. Spiritual joy can go without silver

crutches to support it. Spiritual joy is built higher, than upon

creatures, for it is built on the love of God, on the promises of

Scripture, and on the blood of Christ.

(2.) Because spiritual joy carries the soul through duty

cheerfully. Religion becomes a recreation. Fear and sorrow hinder

us in the discharge of duty; but a Christian serves God with

activity, when he serves him with joy. The oil of joy makes the wheels

of obedience move faster. How fervently did they pray, whom God

made joyful in the house of prayer! "I will bring them also to my

holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house

of prayer." Isaiah 56:7.

(3.) It is called the kingdom of God, because it is a taste of that

which the saints have in the kingdom of God. "For the Kingdom

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of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of

goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17. What is

the heaven of the angels—but the smiles of God's face, the sensible

perception and feeling of those joys which are infinitely ravishing

and full of glory!

To encourage and quicken us in seeking after them, consider, that

Christ died to purchase this joy for his saints. He was a man of

sorrows—that we might be full of joy; he prayed that the saints

might have this divine joy. "And now I am coming to you. I have

told them many things while I was with them so they would be filled

with my joy." John 17:13. Christ knows we never love him so much—

as when we feel his love; which may encourage us to seek after this

joy. We pray for that which Christ himself is praying for, when we

pray that his joy may be fulfilled in us.

What shall we do to obtain this spiritual joy?

Walk consistently and spiritually. God gives joy after long and close

walking with him.

(1.) Observe your hours. Set time every day apart for God.

(2.) Mourn for sin. "Mourning is the seed," as Basil says, "out of

which the flower of spiritual joy grows." "I will comfort those who

mourn." Isa 57:18.

(3.) Keep the book of conscience fair written. Do not by presumptuous

sins, blur your evidences. A good conscience is the ark in which God

puts the hidden manna!

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(4.) Be often upon your knees—pray with life and fervency. The

same Spirit who fills the heart with sighs—fills it with joys. The

same Spirit who inspires the prayer—seals it. When Hannah had

prayed, her countenance was no longer sad. I Sam 1:18. Praying

Christians have much fellowship with God; and none are so likely

to have the secrets of his love imparted, as those who hold

correspondence with him. By close walking with God, we get

clusters of Eshcol's grapes along the way, which are pledge of

future happiness.

How shall we comfort those who lack joy?

Such as walk in close communion with God—have more joy than

others.

(1.) Initial joy, joy in the seed. "Light is shed upon the righteous, and

joy on the upright in heart." Psalm 97:11. Grace in the heart, is a

seed of joy. Though a Christian lacks the sun, he has a day-star in

his heart.

(2.) A believer has real joy—though not royal comforts. He has, as

Aquinas says, "joy in God, though not from God." Joy in God, is the

delight and pleasure the soul takes in God. "My soul shall be glad in

the Lord." He who is truly gracious, is so far joyful as to take

comfort in God. Though he cannot say that God rejoices in him; he

can say that he rejoices in God.

(3.) He has supporting joy—though not transporting comforts. He

has as much as keeps him from sinking. "You strengthen me with

strength in my soul." Psalm 138:3. If a Christian has not God's arm

to embrace him—yet he has it to uphold him. Thus a Christian who

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walks with God has something which bears up his heart from

sinking; and it is but waiting awhile, and he is sure of those eternal

joys which are unspeakable and full of glory!

Use one: See that true religion is no melancholy thing—it

brings joy. The fruit of the Spirit is joy. Joy may vary—but it is

never totally destroyed. A poor Christian who exists on bread and

water, may have purer joy than the greatest monarch. Though

he fares hard—he feeds high. He has a table spread from heaven—

angels' food, and the hidden manna. He has sometimes sweet

raptures of joy—which cause jubilation of spirit; he has that which

is better felt—than can be expressed. "But I do know that I was caught

up into paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot

be told." 2 Corinthians 12:4.

Use two: If God gives his people such joy in this life, oh! then,

what glorious joy will he give them in heaven! "Enter into the

joy of your Lord!" Matt 25:21. Here on earth—joy begins to enter

into us; there in heaven—we shall enter into joy. God keeps his best

wine until last. Heliogabalus bathed himself in sweet perfumed

waters. What joy will that be—when the soul shall forever bathe

itself in the pure and pleasant fountain of God's love! What joy will

that be—to see the orient brightness of Christ's face, and have the

kisses of those lips which drop sweet-smelling myrrh! "The Bride

will rejoice in the embrace of her Lord," Augustine. Oh! if a cluster

of grapes here is so sweet, what will the full vintage be! How may

this set us all longing for that place where sorrow cannot live—and

where joy cannot die!

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The Beauty of Grace

by Thomas Watson

"May grace and peace be multiplied to you." 1 Peter 1:2

The blessed apostle, having felt the efficacy and sovereignty of

grace, is taken up with the thoughts of it; and so sweet is this wine of

paradise, that he commends it to those dispersed Christians to

whom he writes, wishing them all an increase of it.

"May grace and peace be multiplied to you." The words run in the form of

a salutation. When we greet our friends, we cannot wish them a

greater blessing than grace and peace. Other mercies lie outside the

pale—and are dispersed in common to men; but grace is a special

gift bestowed on those who are the favorites of heaven. Observe

the connection and the order of the words.

The connection: grace and peace. The way to have peace is to have

grace; grace is the breeder of peace; the one is the root, the other

the flower. Peace is the sweet water which distills from a gracious

heart.

The order: first grace, then peace; grace has the priority. Grace and

peace are two sisters—but grace is the eldest sister; and give me

permission at this time to prefer the elder before the younger. "May

grace be multiplied to you."

Here we shall consider:

the meaning of grace;

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the author of grace;

why it is called grace;

the necessity of grace.

1. The MEANING of grace. This word "grace" has various

acceptable uses in Scripture:

Grace is sometimes taken for the favor of God. Genesis 6:8: "Noah

found grace in the eyes of the Lord." God cast a gracious aspect

upon him.

Grace is taken for beauty, as when we say something is graceful.

James 1:11, "The flower fails—and the grace of the fashion of it

perishes."

Grace is taken figuratively—and improperly, for the show of

grace; as we call that a face in a looking-glass which is but the idea

and resemblance of a face. So John 2:23: "Many believed in His

name." That believing was but a show of faith.

Grace is taken in a genuine and proper sense, as in our text: "May

grace be multiplied to you." It may admit this description: grace is the

infusion of a new and holy principle into the heart, whereby it

is changed from what it was—and is made after God's own

heart. Grace does not make a moral change only—but a sacred

one; it biases the soul heavenward—and stamps upon it the image

and superscription of God.

2. The AUTHOR or efficient cause of grace, namely, the Spirit of

God, who is therefore called "the Spirit of grace" in Zechariah 12:10.

The Spirit is the fountain from whence the crystal streams of grace

flow. Man, as Clemens Alexandrinus observes, is God's harp or

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timbrel; the harp will not sound unless touched with the finger. So

the heart of man cannot put forth any sweet melody or harmony

until first it is touched with the finger of God's Spirit.

T h i s b l e s s e d S p i r i t w o r k s g r a c e i n t h e s u b j e c t ,

both universally and progressively.

Universally. 1 Thessalonians 5:23: "May the God of peace sanctify

you wholly." The Spirit of God infuses grace into all the faculties of

the soul. Though grace is wrought but in part—yet in every part. In

the understanding, grace works light; in the conscience, grace works

tenderness; in the will, grace works consent; in the affections, grace

works harmony. Therefore grace is compared to leaven in Matthew

13:33, because it swells itself in the whole soul and makes the life to

swell and rise as high as heaven.

Progressively. The Spirit of God works grace progressively. He

carries it on from one degree to another. The Pelagians hold that

the beginning of grace is from God—but the progress of grace is from

ourselves. They teach that God is the Author of our faith—and we

are the finishers. God shall lay the first stone, and we the

superstructure. But, alas, we need the continual influence of the

Spirit to carry on the work of grace in our hearts. Should God

withdraw His Spirit from the most holy men, their grace might fail

and be annihilated. If the sun withdraws its light, though ever so

little, there follows darkness in the air. We need not only saving

grace—but assisting, exciting and upholding grace. The ship needs

not only the sails—but the winds to carry it. We need not only the

sails of our abilities and endeavors—but the wind of the Spirit. to

blow us to the heavenly port.

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3. Why is the work of holiness in the heart called grace?

First, because it has a supereminence above nature. It is a flower

that does not grow in nature's garden; it is of a divine extraction.

By reason we live the life of men; by grace we live the life of God.

Second, it is called grace because it is a work of free grace; every

link in the golden chain of our salvation is wrought and enameled

with free grace. That one should be sanctified and not another is of

grace; that God should pass by many of the noble, rich and learned

and graft His heavenly endowments upon a more wild stock, of a

churlish nature and weaker parts—may well be called "grace."

QUESTION. Why is saving grace not bestowed upon all?

ANSWER. We must hold with Zanchius that there is always a just

reason for God's will. But in particular I answer:

God gives grace to one and denies it to another—to show His

sovereignty. God is not bound to give grace to all. Romans 9:15: "I

will have mercy on whom I will have mercy." Suppose two

malefactors were brought before the king; one he will pardon—but

not the other. If any demands the reason, he will answer, "It is my

prerogative." So God will give grace to one and not to another. He

will make one a vessel of mercy, the other a vessel of wrath—and

this is His prerogative. The apostle has silenced all disputes in this

kind in Romans 9:20-21: "But who are you, O man, to talk back to

God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you

make me like this?' Does not the potter have the right to make out

of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and

some for common use?" If we could suppose a plant to speak, it

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might ask, "Why was not I made a bird or an animal? Why should I

not have the ability to reason?" Just so it is when vain man enters

into contest with God and demands, "Why should not I have grace

as well as another?" Do not dispute against God's sovereignty; let

not the clay contend with the almighty Potter.

God may justly deny His grace to any wicked man, because once he

had grace and lost it. If a father gave his son stock to trade with and

the son loses it, the father is not bound to set him up again. God

gave Adam a stock of grace to begin the world with. Adam lost it

and made all his children bankrupt. And God is not obliged to give

him grace again.

God may justly deny His grace to every wicked man because he is a

despiser of grace. He tramples this pearl under foot (Proverbs 1:7).

Is God bound to give grace to those who despise it? If a king's

pardon is rejected once, he is not bound to offer it any more.

4. The NECESSITY of grace. Grace is most needful because it fits

us for communion with God. 2 Corinthians 6:14: "What

communion has light with darkness?" God can no more converse

with an ungracious soul—than a king can converse with a swine. It

is by grace that we keep a constant fellowship with heaven.

APPLICATION

I. Exhortation. Let me with the greatest zeal and earnestness,

persuade all who have souls to save—to endeavor after grace. Grace

will be desirable at death; it is useful now—and more seasonable to

look after. Proverbs 4:7: "With all your getting, get understanding."

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Alexander was presented with a rich cabinet that had belonged to

King Darius; he reserved it to put Homer's works in, since he

considered those to be of great value. The heart is a spiritual

cabinet into which the jewel of grace should be put; we should

desire grace above other things, above the gifts of the Spirit, nay,

above the comforts of the Spirit. Comfort is sweet—but grace is

better than comfort, just as bread is better than honey. We may go

to heaven without comfort—but not without grace. It is grace which

makes us blessed in life and death.

I shall show you twelve rare excellencies in grace. I shall set this

fair virgin of grace before you, hoping that you will be enticed to

fall in love with it.

1. Grace has a soul-QUICKENING excellency in it. Hebrews

10:38: "The just shall live by faith." Men void of grace are dead; they

have breath—yet lack life. They are walking dead men (Ephesians

2:1). The life of sin—is the death of the soul; a sinner has all the

signs of one who is dead. He has no pulse—the affections are the

pulse of the soul; his pulse does not beat after God. He has

no feeling. Ephesians 4:19: "Who being past feeling." Dead things

have no beauty; there is no beauty in a dead flower. Dead things are

not capable of privilege; the dead heir is not crowned. But grace is

the vital artery of the soul; it not only irradiates, but animates.

Therefore it is called "the light of life" in John 8:12. Believers are

said to have their grave clothes pulled off, and to be alive from the

dead (Romans 6:13). By grace the soul is grafted into Christ, the true

Vine (John 15:5)—and is made not only living but lively (1 Peter 1:3).

Grace puts forth a divine energy into the soul.

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2. Grace has a soul-ENRICHING excellency. 1 Corinthians 1:5:

"You are enriched in all knowledge." As the sun enriches the world

with its golden beams, so knowledge bespangles and enriches the

mind. Faith is an enriching grace. James 2:5 speaks of being "rich in

faith." Faith brings Christ's riches into the soul! Faith entitles the soul to

the promises. The promises are full of riches: justification,

adoption and glory; and faith is the key which unlocks this cabinet

of the promises and empties their treasure into the soul. The riches

of grace excel all other riches. Grace "is more profitable than silver

and yields better returns than gold." (Proverbs 3:14).

These riches make a man wise. Wisdom is the best possession;

other riches cannot make one wise. A man may have a full purse

and an empty brain. A rich heir, though he lives until he becomes

of age, may never comes to years of discretion; but these riches of

grace have the power to make a man wise. Psalm 111:10: "The fear of

the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." The saints are compared

to wise virgins in Matthew 25. Grace makes a man wise to know

Satan's devices and subtleties (2 Corinthians 2:11); it makes him

wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:15). Grace puts the serpent's eye—

in the dove's head.

These spiritual riches sanctify other riches. Riches without grace

are hurtful; they are golden snares; they are the bellows of pride and

the fuel of lust. They set open hell's gates for men; they are unblessed

blessings.

But grace sanctifies our riches; it corrects the poison; it takes away

the curse; it makes other riches beneficial to us. These riches shall

be certificates of God's love, wings to lift us up to paradise. Thus

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grace, by a divine chemistry, extracts heaven out of earth—and gives

us not only venison—but the blessing.

Grace satisfies while other riches cannot (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Riches

can no more fill the heart—than a triangle can fill a circle; but

grace fills up every chink and space of the soul. It dilates the heart,

and ravishes the affections with joy (Romans 15:13), which joy, as

Chrysostom said, is a foretaste of heaven.

3. Grace has a soul-ADORNING excellency. Grace puts a beauty

and luster upon a person. 1 Peter 3:3-5: "Don't be concerned about

the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive

jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty

that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet

spirit, which is so precious to God. That is the way the holy women

of old made themselves beautiful." If a man has gold and jewels,

expensive clothing, hanging tapestries, these adorn the house, not

the man; the glory of a man is grace. Proverbs 4:9: "She shall give to

your head an ornament of grace." The graces are a chain of pearls,

which adorns Christ's bride; the heart inlaid and enameled with

grace is like the king's daughter—all glorious within (Psalm 45:13).

A gracious soul is the image of God, meticulously drawn with the

pencil of the Holy Spirit. A heart beautified with grace is the angels'

joy (Luke 15:7)—and is God's lesser heaven (Isaiah 57:15; Ephesians

3:17).

Grace exceeds reason. Grace changes corruption into perfection;

nothing so graces a man as grace does. Grace is the purest

complexion of the soul, for it makes it like God. Grace is the flower

of delight which Christ loves to smell. Grace is to the soul—as

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the eye to the body, as the sun to the world, as the diamond to the ring

—it bespangles and beautifies. A soul decked with grace is as the

dove covered with silver wings and golden feathers!

4. Grace has a soul-CLEANSING excellency. By nature we are

defiled; sin makes things filthy (2 Corinthians 7:1). A sinner's heart

is so black that nothing but hell can equal it; but grace is a spiritual

laver—and therefore it is called "the washing of regeneration" in

Titus 3:5. The grace of repentance cleanses. Mary's tears, as they

washed Christ's feet—so they washed her heart. Faith has a

cleansing virtue. Acts 15:9: "Having purified their hearts by faith."

Grace whitens the soul; it takes out the leopard spots—and turns it

into an azure beauty. Grace is of a celestial nature; though it does

not wholly remove sin—it does subdue it. Though it does not keep

sin out, it does keep it under control. Though sin in a gracious soul

does not totally die—yet it dies daily. Grace makes the heart into a

spiritual temple which has this inscription on it: "Holiness to the

Lord!"

5. Grace has a soul-STRENGTHENING excellency. Grace enables

a man to do that which exceeds the power of nature. Grace teaches

us to mortify our sins, to love our enemies—and to prefer the glory

of Christ before our own lives. Thus the three Hebrew children in

Daniel, by the power of grace, marched in the face of death; neither

the sound of the music could allure them—nor the heat of the

furnace frighten them (Daniel 3:17). Grace is a Christian's armor,

which does more than any other armor can—it not only defends

him, but puts courage into him. Grace makes us not only bear

suffering—but rejoice in suffering (Romans 5:3). A soul steeled and

animated with grace, can tread upon the lion and adder (Psalm

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91:13), and with the leviathan can laugh at the shaking of a spear

(Job 41:29). Thus does grace infuse a heroic spirit and drive strength

into a man—making him act above the sphere of nature.

6. Grace has a soul-RAISING excellency. Grace is a divine spark

which ascends. When the heart is divinely touched with the

magnet of the Spirit—it is drawn up to God. Proverbs 15:24: "The

path of the wise leads to life above." Grace raises a man above

others; he lives in the altitudes, while others creep on the earth and

are almost buried in it. A Christian, by the wings of grace, flies

aloft; the saints mount up as eagles (Isaiah 40:31). A believer is a

citizen of heaven; there he trades by faith. Grace shoots the heart

above the world (Psalm 139:17; Philippians 3:21). Grace gives

us conformity to Christ and communion with Him. 1 John 1:3: "Our

fellowship is with the Father—and with His Son Jesus." A man full

of grace has Christ in his heart—and the world under his feet!

Grace humbles—yet elevates.

7. Grace has a PERFUMING excellency. Grace makes us a sweet

fragrance to God. Hence grace is compared to those spices which

are most odoriferous and fragrant: myrrh, cinnamon, and

frankincense (Song of Solomon 4:14). There is a double perfume

that grace sends forth.

First, it perfumes our NAMES. Hebrews 11:2: "By faith the elders

obtained a good report." Grace was the spice which perfumed their

names. How renowned was Abraham for his faith, Moses for his

meekness, or Phinehas for his zeal? What a fresh perfume their

names send forth to this day. The very wicked cannot but see a

resplendent majesty in the graces of the saints; and though with

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their tongues they revile grace—yet with their hearts they

reverence it. Thus grace is aromatic; it embalms the names of men.

When a gracious person dies—he carries a good conscience with

him, and leaves a good name behind him.

Second, grace perfumes our DUTIES. Psalm 141:2: "Let my prayer

be set forth before You as incense." Noah's sacrifice was a perfume.

Genesis 8:21: "The Lord smelled a sweet fragrance." The sighs of a

wicked man are an offensive breath; his solemn sacrifice is dung

(Malachi 2:3). There is such a foul stench coming from a sinner's

duties, that God will not come near! Who can endure the smell of a

dead corpse? "I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of

your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept

your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won't even notice all

your choice peace offerings. Away with your hymns of praise! They

are only noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter

how lovely it is." Amos 5:21-23.

But grace gives a fragrance and redolence to our holy things.

Hebrews 11:4: "It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable

offering to God than Cain did. God accepted Abel's offering." Abel's

sacrifice was better-scented. God smelled a sweet fragrance in it,

for He accepted his gifts. If it is asked what this testimony was that

God gave of Abel's sacrifice, Jerome said that God set his sacrifice

on fire (1 Kings 18:38), so from heaven testifying His acceptance of

Abel's offering. And if grace so perfumes you, wear this flower not

in your bosoms—but in your hearts!

8. Grace has a soul-ENNOBLING excellency. Grace ennobles a

man. Grace makes us vessels of honor; it sets us above princes and

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nobles. Theodosius thought it more dignity to be Christ's servant,

and wear His livery laced with the silver graces of the Spirit—than

to be great and renowned in the world. Isaiah 43:4: "Since you were

precious in My sight, you have been honorable."

Sin debases a man. Christ tells wicked men of their pedigree in

John 8:44: "You are of your father the devil." They may put a cloven

foot in their chariots. An ungracious person is a vile person.

Nahum 1:14: "You are vile." The Hebrew word for "vile" signifies to be

lightly esteemed; there is nothing so vile but an ungracious man

will do it. He is pliable to anything; he is like wire, which will be

bent any way. He will snare his conscience, stain his credit, and run

as a slave after the sinful injunctions of men. But grace ennobles;

he who is divinely inspired, as he is high born (1 John 3:1), so he acts

suitable to his birth. He hates whatever is hypocritical and sordid.

The saints are called kings and priests for their dignity (Revelation

1:6), and jewels for their value (Malachi 3:17).

9 . G r a c e h a s a s o u l- S E C U R I N G e xc e l l e nc y. G r a c e

brings safety along with it. You all desire to be safe in dangerous

times; if sword or pestilence comes, if death peeps in at your windows

—would you be safe? Nothing will secure you in times of danger—

but grace. Grace is the best lifeguard; it puts Christians out of

gunshot, and frees them from the power of hell and damnation.

Proverbs 10:2: "Righteousness delivers from death." Do not

righteous men die? Yes—but righteousness delivers from the sting

of the first death, and the fear of the second death. It was the

saying of one, "I am not afraid to die—but to be damned." But here

is a believer's comfort—the fire of God's wrath can never kindle

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upon him! Grace is God's own image stamped on the soul—and He

will not destroy His own image!

Xerxes the Persian, when he destroyed all the temples in Greece,

caused the temple of Diana to be preserved for its beautiful

structure. Just so, that soul which has the beauty of holiness

shining in it, shall be preserved for the glory of the structure. God

will not allow His own temple to be destroyed. Would you be

secured in evil times? Get grace and fortify this garrison; a good

conscience is a Christian's royal fort. David's enemies lay round

about him; yet, he said, "I lay down and slept. I woke up in safety,

for the Lord was watching over me" (Psalm 3:5). A good conscience

can sleep in the mouth of a cannon. Grace is a Christian's coat of

armor, which fears neither the arrow nor the bullet. True grace may

be shot at—but can never be shot through. Grace puts the soul into

Christ, and there it is safe—as the bee is safe in the hive, and as the

dove is safe in the ark. Romans 8:1: "There is no condemnation to

those who are in Christ Jesus."

10. Grace has a heart-ESTABLISHING excellency in it. Hebrews

13:9: "It is a good thing that the heart is established with grace."

Before the infusion of grace, the heart is like a ship without a

ballast; it wavers and tosses, being ready to overturn. Therefore a

man void of grace is called a double-minded man in James 1:8. He

acts for and against—as if he had two souls. He is unresolved:

today of one mind, tomorrow of another. Today he will hear a

preacher who is orthodox, tomorrow one who is heterodox. He will

be as the times are—and change his religion as fast as the

chameleon does his color. Hearts unsanctified will be unsettled;

they will join the popular side. They will follow not what is best—

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ut what is safest; they are not for that religion which has the Word

to guide it—but for that which has the sword to back it. This is what

Seneca called a mind that rolls up and down, and settles nowhere.

But grace consolidates and fixes the heart. Psalm 57:7: "My heart is

fixed, O God." Hypocrites are like meteors in the air—but David

was a fixed star. Grace keeps the heart upright; and the more

sincere, the more steadfast. Grace carries the heart to God as the

center, and there it rests (Psalm 116; Psalm 7). A gracious heart

cleaves to God, and let whatever changes come, the soul is settled as

a ship at anchor.

11. Grace has a PREPARATORY excellency in it. Grace prepares

and fits us for glory. Glory is the highest peg of our felicity; it

transcends all our thoughts. Glory can have no hyperbole. Now

grace tunes and fits the soul for glory. 2 Peter 1:3: "Who has called

us to glory and virtue." Virtue leads to glory. First you cleanse the

vessel, and then pour in wine. God first cleanses us by His grace,

and then pours in the wine of glory. The silver link of grace draws

the golden link of glory after it! Indeed, grace differs little from glory.

Grace is glory in the bud—and glory is grace in the full flower.

Glory is nothing but the consummation of grace.

12. Grace has an ABIDING excellency. Temporal things are for a

season—but grace has eternity stamped upon it. It is called

"durable riches" in Proverbs 8:18. Other riches take wings and fly

from us; grace takes wings and flies with us to heaven. Some tell us

of falling away from grace. I grant that "seeming grace" may be lost

—as a blazing comet will spend and evaporate. Saving grace may

fail in the degree; it may suffer an eclipse; it may lose all its sweet

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fruit of joy and peace—but still there is sap in the vine, and the

seed of God remains (1 John 3:9).

Grace is a blossom of eternity. 1 John 2:27 speaks of "the anointing

which abides." Colors laid in oil are durable; those hearts which are

laid in oil, and have the anointing of God, hold their colors and

endure forever. Grace is compared to a river of the water of life in John

7:38. This river can never be dried up, for the Spirit of God is the

spring that feeds it. Grace is not like a lease which soon expires. So

the Pelagians would make it: today a believer, tomorrow an

unbeliever; today justified, tomorrow unjustified. This would be

like a lease soon run out; but God settles grace on the saints as an

inheritance, and He will see that the legacy shall never be cut off.

He who has true grace can no more fall away than the angels—

which are fixed stars in their heavenly orbs.

The arguments to prove the perpetuation of grace are:

1. God's election, which I ground upon Romans 8:29-30: "For those

God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness

of his Son." Predestination is the grand cause of the saint's

preservation. God chooses to salvation, as well as to faith (2

Thessalonians 2:13). What shall make God's election void?

2. The power of God. 1 Peter 1:5: "We are kept by the power of God

through faith unto salvation." I deny not, but that grace in itself

may perish (our grace is no better coin than Adam's). But grace in

God's keeping cannot perish; the saints' graces of themselves may

break as glasses—but these glasses in the hand of God never break.

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3. God's solemn engagement. The Lord has passed it under hand

and seal. He has given bond for the saints' perseverance. Jeremiah

32:40: "I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will

not turn away from them, and they shall not depart from Me." A

believer's charter is confirmed under the broad seal of heaven; and

if grace does not endure to eternity—it is either because God

lacks power to make good what He has decreed, or truth to make

good what He has promised; either of which, to assert, would be

blasphemy.

Besides all this, Jesus Christ our blessed High Priest, who has the

golden plate on His forehead, appears in the court of heaven for

His people. And as He poured out blood on the cross, so He pours

forth prayers in heaven for the saints' perseverance. Hebrews 7:25:

"He ever lives to make intercession for them." And Christ is not

only a Priest—but a Son; and therefore He will prevail. And also,

which puts the matter out of doubt, what Christ prays for as He is

man—He has power to give as He is God. John 17:24: "Father, I will."

When He says, "Father," there He prays as man. When He says, "I

will," there He gives as God.

So that grace is an abiding thing; Christians, you may lose your

friends, your estates, and your lives—but you shall never lose your

grace. Those who hold falling away from grace, would make a

believer wear Cain's mark, which was a continual shaking and

trembling in his flesh. They would spill a Christian's cordial, and

break a link of the chain of salvation.

II. Examination. Let us test whether our grace is true; there is

something which looks like grace—which is not true grace.

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Chrysostom said that the devil has a counterfeit chain to all the

graces, and he would deceive us with it. Jewelers have ways to try

their precious stones; let us try our grace by a Scripture touchstone.

The painted Christian shall have a painted paradise!

True grace is seen by an aversion and antipathy against

sin. Psalm 119:104: "I hate every false way." Grace sets itself against

one's darling sins (Psalm 18:23), and against the sins of the times

(Revelation 2:2).

True grace is known by its growth; growth evidences life. Dead

things do not grow. A picture will not grow. Just so, a hypocrite,

who is but a picture of piety, does not grow. But a sincere Christian

grows in love to Christ, in humility, and in good works. Hosea 14:5:

"I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. It will

blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the

cedars in Lebanon.

6 Its branches will spread out like those of beautiful olive trees, as

fragrant as the cedar forests of Lebanon." When the Spirit of God

distills as dew upon the soul—it makes grace flourish and put forth

into maturity.

True grace will make us willing to suffer for Christ. Grace is

like gold: it will abide the fiery trial (1 Peter 1:7). And if, upon a

serious scrutiny and trial, we find that we have the right jewel, the

grace of God in truth (Colossians 1:6), this will be a deathbed

cordial. We may, with Simeon, depart in peace, being assured that

though we cannot resist death—yet we shall overcome it.

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III. Direction. Let me lay down some directions for the attaining

of grace.

Direction 1. If we would be enriched with this jewel of grace—

let us take pains for it. We are bid to make a search after

knowledge, as a man who searches for a vein of gold or hidden

treasure. (Proverbs 2:2-3). Our salvation cost Christ blood—it will

cost us sweat.

Direction 2. Let us go to God for grace. He is called "the God of

all grace" in 1 Peter 5:10. We could lose grace of ourselves—but we

cannot find it of ourselves. The sheep can wander from the fold—but

cannot return without the help of the shepherd. Go to the God of all

grace. He is the first planter, the promoter, and the perfecter of grace.

God is the Father of lights (James 1:17). He must light up this candle

of grace in the soul. Grace is in His gift.

Oh, then, go to God in prayer; lay your heart before Him: "Lord, I

lack grace. I lack a humble, believing heart; and You are the God of

all grace. All my springs are in You. Oh, enrich me with grace; do

not deny me this before I die. What is gold in the bag—if I have no

oil in the lamp? Give me that anointing of God. I read in Your Word

of the fruits of the Spirit. Lord, my heart is barren soil; plant some

of these supernatural fruits in me so that I may be more useful and

serviceable. Lord, I cannot be put off with other things. Who will

You give grace to—if not to such as ask, and are resolved not to stop

asking?"

Direction 3. If you would have grace, engage the prayers of

others on your behalf. He is likely to be rich—who has several

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stocks going. He is in the way of spiritual thriving—who has

several stocks of prayer going for him. If you had a child who was

sick, you would beg the prayers of others. You have a soul that is

sick, sick with pride and lust, sick unto death. Oh, beg the prayers

of godly friends that God will heal you with His grace. Moses and

Jacob had much power with God; believers can prevail sometimes

not only for themselves—but for their friends. A godly man's

prayers may do you more good, than if he should bestow upon you

all his lands of inheritance.

Direction 4. If you would have grace, frequent the means of

grace. Lie at the pool of Bethesda; wait at the posts of wisdom's

door. Inward grace is wrought by outward means; the preaching

the Word is the engine that God uses to work grace; it is called "the

rod of His strength" (Psalm 110:2) and "the breath of His

lips" (Isaiah 11:4). By this God causes breath to enter; out of this

golden pipe of the sanctuary, God empties the golden oil of grace into

the soul. The ministry of the gospel is called the ministry of the

Spirit in 2 Corinthians 3:8, because the Spirit of God ordinarily

makes use of this to work grace. This ministry of the Spirit is to be

preferred before the ministry of angels.

QUESTION. Why is the Word preached the ordinary means to

convey grace? Why not conversation or reading?

ANSWER. The reason is because God has appointed it to this end,

and He will grace His own ordinances. 1 Corinthians 11: "It pleased

God." What reason could be given why the waters of Damascus

should not have as sovereign a virtue to heal Naaman's leprosy, as

the waters of Jordan? Only this, because the Lord appointed and

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sanctified the one to this work—and not the other. If therefore we

would have grace, let us wait where the manna falls, and there

expect the dew of the Spirit to fall with manna. The power of God

goes along with His Word.

How we should delight in ordinances! Sleidan said there was a

church in France formerly which the Protestants called "paradise,"

as if they thought themselves in paradise while they were in the

house of God. Those ordinances should be our paradise, which are

the power of God to salvation.

Christian Classic Online Resources

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