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ciple, they acquaint bim of their pure benevolence or holy love.opinion of a certain man, whom The scripture more frequently they found casting out devils.- speaks of the gracious exercises of 66 And John answered him saying, God towards men, than their exerMaster; we saw one casting out cises of grace towards bim and one devils in thy name, and he follow- another. But the term grace is eth not us; and we forbade him very often used to signify the holy because he followeth not us. But exercises of the renewed heart. Jesus said, Forbid him not: for In this sense Paul uses the word, there is no man wbich shall do a when be exhorts christians 66 to miracle in my name that cap light- sing to the Lord, with grace in ly speak evil of me. For he that their hearts.” And when he says, is not against us, is on our part.-- " Let your speech be always with “ As if he had said, he that is not grace seasoned with salt." unfriendly to me is friendly; and other place he says, “Let us have be that is friendly to me in the least grace, whereby we may serve degree, is a real friend or one of God acceptably with reverence my true disciples : because there and godly fear." And again, “ It is no medium between love and ha- is a good thing that the heart be tred, grace and sin.” Hence the established with grace." The spirit of the text warrants us to apostle Peter also exhorts christsay,
ians to grow in grace and in the That the least degree of grace knowledge of our Lord Jesus constitutes a real saint. I shall Christ.” In all these instances, show,
the word grace, is evidently used 1. What is meant by grace. to denote holy and devout exercis
II. That the least degree of it es of heart. And from this constitutes a real saiot. And, of the word in scripture, it has III. Why it does this.
become common and familiar to I. Let us consider what is to be call holy affections, the exercises understood by grace.
of grace. Accordingly when I By this word we commonly mean use the phrase, the least degree of to express some holy exercise of grace, I mean the least or lowest, heart; and when we say any per exercise of holy love or true beson is in the exercise of grace, we nevolence, in which all holiness mean that he is in the exercise of consists. } proceed, some holy affection, which is pe- II. To show that the least deculiar to a good man. By grace gree of grace constitutes a real in God, we mean that exercise of saint. This will appear from vaholiness or benevolence, which is rious considerations. called compassion or forgiveness 1. The least degree of grace is to the guilty. But by grace in represented as the fruit of the men, we mean every exercise of renewing or sanctifying influence
of the Holy Spirit. The least de- holy and virtuous affection bé th gree of divine love is represented fruit of regenerating or sanctifying as flowing from this cause. The influences of the spirit of God; apostle John says, “Beloved, let then the least degree of grace us love one another; for love is of must constitute a real saint. For God, and every one that loveth is every one who is renewed and born of God." And the apostle sanctified, or born of God, is a Paul says,
66 The love of God is good man. This is an infallible shed abroad in our hearts by the criterion of a true believer. John Holy Ghost which is given unto says, “ We know that whatsoever
True faith also is said to be is born of God sipneth not.” And the fruit of the Spirit. The apos- again, “ Whatsoever is born of tle John says, “ Whosoever believ- God doth not commit sin ; for his eth that Jesus is the Christ, is seed remaineth in him: and he born of God.” Agreeably to this cannot sin, because he is born of Paul tells the believers at Corinth, God. In this the children of God " Ye are risen with him, (that is are manifest, and the children of Christ,) through the faith of the the devil.” Or in other words operation of God.” And receiving this is the essential difference beChrist, or what is the same thing tween saints and sinners; saints believing in him,is represented in are born of God, but sinners are the same light in the first chapter not; saints have some grace, of John. 6 But as many as receive and sinners have none. The least ed him, to them gave he power spark of grace, therefore, forms to become the sons of God, even a real saint. to them that believed on his name, 2. Divine promises are made which were born, not of blood, nor to the least degree of grace, which of the will of the flesh, nor of the is another evidence, that the least will of man, but of God." The degree of grace forms the christa first and lowest degree of grace is ian character. If we look into the ascribed to the regenerating influ- bible, we shall find gracious promence of the Holy Spirit, by Christ ises made to all gracious exercises. in the third chapter of this gospel. God declares, “I love them that "That which is born of the spirit love me, and those that seek me is spirit.” That is, every holy or early shall find me.” The apostle spiritual affection is the effect of John says, “ God is love : and he the regenerating influence of tho that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in divine spirit. And in perfect con- God, and God in him." Christ sistency with this, we are told, says, “ He that loveth me shall be 66 The fruit of the Spirit is love, loved of my Father, and I will love joy, peace, long-suffering, gentle- him, and will manifest myself to ness, faith, meekness." Now if him." And the apostle Paul asevery degree of grace, if every serts, “ All things shall work to
gether for good to them that love most worthless and ill-deserving God.” In all these passages, the sinners, that if they will sincerely promise of divine love and favor say what the prodigal did, they is made to love, and to love of the shall be pardoned and accepted. — lowest degree. Accordingly, the Yea, “ Thus saith the High and the apostle scruples not to say, Lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity 66 Grace be with all them that love whose name is holy; I dwell in the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” the high and holy place, with him The lowest degree of true, sincere also that is of a contrite and humlove, entitles any person to all ble spirit, to revive the spirit of the promises of the gospel. Par- the humble, and to revive the don is promised to repentance heart of the contrite ones." The throughout the Old and New Tes- promise of salvation is every tament. God promises to pardon where and in every form, in the
. every penitent, contrite, broken- New Testament made to the exhearted sinner. When the three ercise of faith. Christ said, “him thousand said unto Peter and to that cometh to me I will in no the rest of the apostles, “ Men wise cast out.” Christ said, “ Whoand brethren, what shall we do? soerer should believe on him, Then Peter said unto them, Re- should not come into condemnapent, and be baptized every one tion, should not die-should not of you in the name of Jesus Christ perish ; but should have everlastfor the remission of sins, and ye ing life.” And he gave it in comshall receive the gift of the Holy mission to all his apostles and minGhost.” And the next day he said isters, to preach the gospel to evto a great many more under similar ery creature in these words, " He circumstances, 6 Repent ye there that believeth shall be saved; but fore and be converted, that your he that believeth not shall be sins may be blotted out. Our damned.” Thus the lowest degree Savior said to sinners, - Come un- of love, or repentance, or faith, ento me, all ye that labour and are titles men to the favor and enjoyheavy laden, and I will give you ment of God. This doctrine rest.” And he spake several par. Christ more fully and emphaticalables to illustrate this truth, that ly taught in his sermon
on the the least degree of genuine re- mount, in which he said, “ Blessed pentance would entitle sinners to are the poor in spirit; for theirs pardoning mercy. The parable is the kingdom of heaven. Blesof the publican was designed to sed are they that mourn : for they teach us, that whosoever shall say shall be comforted. Blessed are in sincerity, “ God be merciful to the meek: for they shall inherit me a sioner,” shall find mercy.-- the earth. Blessed are they who And the parable of the prodigal do hunger and thirst after rightson was designed to teach the ousness : for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful : for they cup of water to drink in my name, shall obtain mercy. Blessed are because ye belong to Christ, verithe pure in heart: for they shall ly I say unto you he shall not see God.
Just before his cruci- lose his reward." Such a small fixion, Jesus stood and cried, " If action done in gracious sincerity, any man thirst, let him come and or to express love to Christ shall drink.” And after his ascension meet a final and eternal reward. to heaven, he commanded it to be This sentiment Christ frequently written. 6. The spirit and the inculcated. He
in the tenth bride say, come: let him that of Matthew, 6. He that receiveth heareth say, come: let him that you, receiveth me ; and he that is athirst come : and whosoever receiveth me, receiveth him that will, let him come and take the sent me. He that receiveth a water of life freely.” According prophet in the name of a prophet, to these declarations of scripture, shall receive a prophet's reward, the lowest degree of hungering, and he that receiveth a righteous thirsting, and desiring, entitles man in the name of a righteous any one to pardon and salvation. man, shall receive a righteous But we know that all promises are man's reward.” And in the in Christ, yea, and amen. God twenty fifth chapter, where he promises no good to sinners, as describes the process of the great such ; and therefore all to whom day, he represents the righteous the promises of God apply, are as being rewarded for the smallchristians, believers, or real saints. est expressions of benevolence, And since the lowest degree of even such as they could hardly grace secures the promise of eter- recollect, " Then shall the right. nal life : this implies that the least eous answer him, saying, Lord degree of grace forms the essen- when saw we an hungered, and fed tial distinction between a saint and thee? or thirsty, and gare thee a sinner.
drink, &c. And the King shall 3. God promises to reward answer, and say unto them. Verimen for the least action done in a ly I say unto you, inasmuch as ye gracious manner; which implies did it to one of the least of these that the least degree of grace my brethern, ye did it unto me." will place men at the right hand from this representation it apof the Judge, at the last day. pears, that the least action done This our Savior suggests in con- in a gracious manner, shall be nection with the text, and in or- finally and forever rewarded.-der to illustrate the truth con- But the persons of men must be tained in it. Having said, “ he accepted, before their actions can that is not against us, is on our be accepted, or they must be parpart,” he immediately subjoins," doned, before they are rewarded. ss for whosoever shall give you a All; therefore, whose actions are
rewarded must be real saints.— than the applause of the worlu, The consequence is plain and but, more than the friendship of undeniable, that the least degree their nearest and dearest conof grace constitutes the christian nections. 6 He that loveth fathcharacter. If a man has the least er or mother more than me, is not love to Christ, or the least love worthy of me : and he that loveth to his friends, or does the least son or daughter more than me, is gracious act, he is a gracious man, not worthy of me!” and he carries and belongs to the number of the idea higher still, “He that Christ's trae disciples, and shall taketh not his cross, and followeth be openly acknowledged and re- after me, is not worthy of me." warded, at the great and last day. He advances a step further and It only remains to show.
men must love him III. Why the least degree of more than their own lives " He grace constitutes a real saint.-- that findeth his life shall lose it, And here it may be observed, and he that loseth his life for my
1. That the least degree of sake shall find it.” And in another grace implies supreme love to place he says, “ He that forsaketh God and the divine Redeemer.- not all that he hath, cannot be This is more than
intimated my disciple.” When he interroin the text. • He that is not a- gated Peter respecting the sincergainst us, is on our part.” Grace, ity of his love, he asks, 6 Simon, we have observed, consists in ho- son of Jonas, lovest thou me more liness or true benevolence. than these." If there can be no True benevolence is universal true love to any divine
person, and disinterested love. And this which is not supreme, then, there love gives God and Christ the can be no true love to God, or supreme place in the heart. The Christ, which is not supreme.least degree of true love or real And Christ represents it to be grace places God on the throne, really absurd to suppose, that any and rejoices in his absolute sove- man can be a true friend and serreignty. Hence Christ in de- vant to God, without supreme scribing true love to himself, re- affection to him. presents it as absolutely and nec- serve two masters ; for either he essarily supreme. 66 Whosoever will hate the one, and love the shall confess me before men, him other : or else he will hold to will I also confess before my Fa- the one, and despise the other.-ther wbo is in heaven. But who- Ye cannot serve God and mamsoeter shall depy me before men, mon.” And the apostle John teachhim will I also deny before my es the same doctrine. 66 Love Fatber who is in heaven." He not the world, neither thie things goes on to say, that his true disci- of world. ples must love him not only more the world, the love of the Fa
66 No man