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THE BEAUTY OF GRACE
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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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
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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
(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.
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!"
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
How shall we comfort those who lack joy?
Such as walk in close communion with God—have more joy than
(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
(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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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