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SERMONS ON GRACE AND FAITH.
On Salvation by Grace.
Ephes. ii. 8.-For by Grace are ye saved, through Faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the Gift of God.
You are often, my dear brethren and friends, hearing of the
duties of a religious life: And it cannot but be a pleasure to every faithful minister of Christ to observe, how willing, nay, how glad you are to hear of them; and with respect to many of you, how ready you are to practise them. But I am now coming to you with a renewed admonition on another head, which is always to be taken in connection with the former; and which, I persuade myself, will in that view be welcome to you all. I am to inculcate it upon you, that when you have Done your utmost, how much soever that be, you should still say, that you are unprofitable servants*: and endeavour to maintain a deep sense of it upon your hearts, that, as the apostle admonishes the believing Ephesians in the words of the text, by grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.
The apostle, in his preceding discourse, speaks of the happy change which the gospel had made in the state of these poor Heathens. He freely acknowledges on this occasion, that the Jews were likewise in a very bad state, and if not entirely sunk into the same enormities, yet Were by nature children of wrath even as others. So that on the whole, both Were (as it might be expressed by an easy and very proper figure) dead in trespasses and sins, indisposed for any religious sensations and actions, and far more odious to God than a putrid carcase is to men. But he adds, that God by his grace had saved them; that his unmerited goodness had begun their salvation, and having thus far carried it on, would undoubtedly complete it: And
Ver. 1, 5.
*Luke xvii. 10.
† Eph. ii. 3.
glory and with a cheerful expectation, through divine grace, that I shall ere long meet many of you in it; I close this sermon, and these discourses: Not without an humble hope, that when we arrive at this blessed world, these hours which we have spent together in the house of God in attending them, will come into a pleasant remembrance; and that the God of all grace, to whose glory they are faithfully devoted, and to whose blessing they are humbly committed, will honour them as the means of increasing his family, as well as of feeding and quickening those who are already his regenerate children. Amen!
SALVATION BY GRACE
ILLUSTRATED AND IMPROVED, IN TWO SERMONS.
I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST; FOR IT IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION, TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH.-Rom. i. 16.
and truth of God saith, He that believeth not, shall be damned *. He shall not, as the baptist says, see life +: Nay, as our Lord himself expresses it in the strongest terms, He that believeth not, is condemned already; not only on account of all those other sins for which the wrath of God, to which he became immedi ately obnoxious, still abideth upon him; but for this additional reason of dreadful provocation, Because he hath not believed in the venerable and majestic name of the only-begotten son of God.
Without this faith, there is no knowledge that will save a man, though it should be the most various, and the most exact knowledge of the most divine and important subjects, which ever entered into a human mind. So far is it from this, that one need not scruple to say, a man might as reasonably expect to be saved by skill in the mathematics, or in music, as by skill in polemical divinity, though it were in its most essential branches, if after all it were no more than mere speculation.
And it is no less certain, that without this faith, morality will not save a man, be it ever so unexceptionable, be it ever so exemplary. This is indeed much better than the former; but if there be nothing more, it will be fatally ineffectual to the great purpose which we have now in view. I speak not now, as you may easily imagine, of such a continual and uniform obedience to the divine will, as perfectly answers the demands of God's original law; for no man ever has attained to this, or will ever in fact attain to it in this world: But I speak of what the world generally calls morality, a freedom from gross impiety and scandalous vice, yea, though attended with the practice of the humane and social virtues. This is indeed amiable and honourable so far as it goes; and will undoubtedly have its reward, in the pleasure of such a conduct, in the esteem and love of mankind, and in the possession of many temporal advantages and blessings, which in the common course of providence are connected with it. But alas! it is after all a very partial and imperfect thing: And as a man may be temperate in himself; just, faithful, and benevolent to men; without having any appearance of religion towards God, or making any pretence to it: So he may have some sense of God upon his spirit, which one would think none but an atheist could entirely avoid, while for the neglect, or it may be the rejection of the gospel, he stands exposed to its sentence of condemnation. If Christ be not regarded as the rock on which we build our hopes, the foundation is sandy, and will be ruinous; and if we do not receive
CHURCH AND CONGREGATION
TO WHOM THE SUBSTANCE OF THESE SERMONS WAS PREACHED, AND AT WHOSE DESIRE THEY ARE PUBLISHED.
My Dear Brethren and Friends, beloved in our common Lord, WHEN I first preached these plain sermons to my own congregation, which I here offer to your perusal, I was much surprised at the request which several of them made, that they might be printed: But I was yet more surprised, when, after having delivered the substance of them in one discourse at Rowell some time after, you so unanimously and affectionately made that request your own. I apprehended, that though the many excellent treatises we have on this subject already, might excuse my backwardness to comply with the first motion of this kind; yet absolutely to have refused your repeated solicitation might have appeared disrespectful to my good friends, and perhaps have looked like some unwillingness to bear my testimony to this great and important doctrine, in an age, in which the credit of many evangelical truths seems to be fallen very low.
I am really sorry I have delayed this little service so long; but it was chiefly owing to my desire of finishing my Sermons on Regeneration, which indeed cost me more labour than I at first apprehended. That seemed a business of such importance, that I knew not how to interrupt it: But as they are now almost printed off, I send out these discourses as a kind of supplement to them; and therefore they are printed in a form very fit to bind up with them. The delay is more excusable, as salvation by grace is not a subject which grows out of date in a few months. This glorious doctrine has been the joy of the church in all ages on earth; and it will be the song of all that have received it in truth throughout the ages of eternity, and be pursued in the heavenly regions with evergrowing admiration and delight.
I cannot conclude this short address, without congratulating you on the abundant goodness of God to you as a church, in bringing among you that worthy and excellent person*, under whose pastoral care you are now so happily placed. I know he is a faithful witness to the truths of the gospel, and rejoice in that rich abundance of gifts and graces which render him so fit to state and improve them in the most advantageous, as well as most agree
*The Rev. Mr. Jonathan Saunderson.