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was thus freely and immeasurably bestowed. Was it upon those who did justly and loved mercy, and walked humbly before God? Was it upon
those who never once offended him, but who rejoiced always to fulfil his pleasure? Or was it even upon those who, though they had offended him, yet mourned for their offence, and on their bended knees were imploring his forgiveness ?-Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished thou earth! for it was upon those whose character was directly the reverse that Divine Grace conferred salvation. It was upon the ungrateful and rebellious; upon those who had not God in all their thoughts, who were as far from imploring his mercy as they were from deserving it, who were running blindfold
upon their own ruin, and by their wicked works sinking themselves deeper and deeper in the bottomless gulph of wretchedness and woe ;-it was for these, for the redemption and everlasting happiness of these, that the Most High over all the earth, laid bare his own almighty arm, spared not his only begotten Son, but laid upon
him the iniquities of us all, delivered him up to contempt and persecution, to agony and torture, to death and the grave. - This is
grace of God, and it surpasseth knowledge. This " is the Lord's doing, and it «« is wondrous in our eyes.”
But lest this abundance of grace, which the truly pious soul will ever remember with gratitude, and delight to glory in, should by any, be perverted into an occasion of licentiousness, I should now proceed to guard men against the abuse that may be made of it, and direct their minds to the proper improvement of it. But upon this I forbear, , at present, to enter.
Suffice it now for me to say,
that if this unparalleled grace dwell not upon our minds, if it win not our affections, and sweetly constrain us to obey and to love, we must be insensible to the charms of goodness, and lost to every finer feeling of the human heart. We are a disgrace to our nature, we are stains in the creation, we are the monsters of our kind. Heaven will blush, the earth, gross as it is, may be shocked ;-yea, hell itself may be ashamed to witness our ingratitude.
THE GRACE OF GOD.
ROMANS V. 20.
But where sin abounded,
did much more abound.
The chief end of the Apostle, in writing this epistle to the Romans, is to convince them of the great superiority of the gospel above the legal dispensation. The law denounces the sentence of death ; but the gospel, he informs them, delivers the words of eternal life. By the law, the whole world is concluded under sin, and declared obnoxious both to present and future punishment; but from this sin and its necessary punishment, the grace of God, published in the gospel, provides a complete redemption. This redemption, indeed, there were some who expected to be obtained by the law; but all such expectations, the Apostle clearly proves to be not only vain but preposterous; for the law entered, he adds, not to remove “ the offence," not to free men from its guilt, or ransom them from its punishment, but, on the contrary, “that " the offence might abound,” that its guilt might appear more aggravated, and the awful punishment annexed to it, more justly merited. But where sin, by the entrance of the law, was thus made to abound, there did that grace which is manifested in the gospel much more abound :"—its amazing extent more fully appeared, and its unsearchable riches became more copiously displayed. This grace of God which the Apostle himself always gloried in, and which he is here at so much pains to illustrate to his brethren, I too would, after his example, earnestly recommend to all, as a most improving subject of thought, and as a doctrine worthy of the most cordial acceptation.
To state, therefore, the nature and abundance of this grace; then, to guard men against the abuse that may be made of it; and next, to direct their minds to the pro
per improvement of it, is what I have proposed in the discussion of this subject.To the elucidation of the first of these topics only, I have, as yet, confined my attention. -The term grace, it has been observed, is employed to denote that favour which is conferred, both without any compulsion on the part of the giver, and also without any merit on the part of the receiver. And the grace of God, in delivering up his only begotten Son for our offences, and raising him again for our justification, which is the grace here meant, exactly corresponds, it was remarked, to the two leading circumstances in this definition. It was uncompelled on the part of our Heavenly Father who gave it, and totally unmerited on the part of us, , his rebellious children, who are invited to receive it. And after thus defining its nature, I proceeded to illustrate its unparalleled abundance. Accordingly, to aidour conceptions
upon this subject, I solicited devout attention, first, to the incomparable blessings which this grace confers; next, to the dignity both of that Being who originally designed, and of him who was appointed to confer them; then to the unprecedented humiliation and sufferings submitted to, in order to con