Grace itself is an holy principle, not an attribute, but an embodiment of God’s love to his chosen people. It is a beneficent presence, wielding a power over all the combined powers of darkness. It emanates alone from God. It superabounds in the sensible, conscious sinner above the abounding of sin. It is a saving principle, a life-giving principle. Its source and supply are both limitless. In speaking of its amplitude, the only word we can use is “sufficiency,” for it covers every need. It enters the secret place of our mortal life, and circumcises the heart. Its vital forces are invisible, and the citadel which it attacks, it holds forevermore. It is light in a dark place, it is the Spirit of Christ, and the abundance and fullness of his love. The walls which it builds are called “Salvation,” and they are invulnerable against every invading foe. Its garden of nuts and of spices is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Its trysting-places, “assemblies of the saints,” are places of gospel rest and gospel feeding. Its pure atmosphere destroys every germ of the foul disease of sin. In the building of its house of lively stones, it employs three chief architects: faith, hope and charity, “And the greatest of these is charity,” while the chief Corner-stone of the building is its own substance (Jesus Christ), of which the Lord God says, “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” In this wondrous building of grace rare and costly tools are used, for he says, “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet.” Grace being spiritual, the house which it builds is altogether spiritual. Its stones are made “lively stones “by its own revivifying power; grace is not supplied because it is merited by him to whom it is given; the carnal mind demands it not, neither does it want it, for it has all that it needs or cares for from an earthly source. This is especially why its effect is so precious to the recipients of it. Grace works its wonders in the children of men “by faith, not by sight,” It is the active principle in the great work of salvation. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Grace is not sown promiscuously over all the field of this world, but the provident husbandman sows the seed in each individual heart of them whom he has chosen out of the world to present them as a precious gift to his darling Son. It is then an exclusive principle also, it is the secret of the Lord, and the world has never found it. It is a hidden mystery, and it is deposited in the treasury of every circumcised heart. The primary effect of grace on its subject is to bring it out of death into life. Jesus said of his sheep, “I give unto them eternal life;” and the effect of grace is such that by its spiritual strength we die to the desires and lusts of the things of the flesh in the natural life. It creates the necessity for spiritual food, and then supplies the need; it causes us to walk in delighted and delightful obedience to the things which we once abhorred and spurned; it raises the beggar from the dunghill and sets him among princes; it causes him to seek the assemblies of the saints of God, while before he sought the haunts of evil companions in the places of darkness, which lead down to the grave of endless woe. Grace takes hold of and embraces every incident and all of the little things of this life, and moulds them into a beautiful christian experience. The life of faith manifests the salvation of the sinner by the grace of God; it is the holy essence of God’s divine love, which embraces his dearly beloved Son, and the children of his choice, so that the effect of grace is revealed only within the inclosure of its perfect work, and that inclosure is the new Jerusalem, the city of our God. A very important effect of grace is to bring its subject into willing and humble obedience to the heavenly vision, and to the divine commandment. A growth out of self (which means a denial of self and of the thing which the flesh seeks after,) invariably means a growth in the things which belong to grace. Grace furnishes all the necessary instruments in our spiritual warfare, nothing is omitted, the whole armor of God is provided, that we may be able to stand in the evil day. Thus, says the spirit of grace as our Jehovah-jireh, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” – Eph. vi. 18. By the power of grace through faith we are enabled to pray unto the God of our salvation, for he indited our prayers by his Spirit which strengtheneth us. There is no adequate natural illustration to clearly set forth the effect of the work of grace in the heart, that which faintly illustrates it is the surrounding elements which support and sustain the natural child from its infancy on to old age. During all the progressive changes which mark the different epochs in the life of man, the creature himself has no part or parcel in the work, he is altogether passive, and under the influence of a law whose mighty secret working-power was given by the Creator to all animate creation. These surrounding elements, the atmosphere which he breathes, the food and drink which he takes into his body, all contribute to his sustenance through all the changes that take place from prattling infancy to ripe old age of threescore years and ten. Had we the power to check or hinder that unceasing work through time, would we not do so? God’s laws are immutable, unchangeable and unsearchable. So in the spiritual life, (more glorious and yet more wonderful than the natural,) the child is born from above, born of God and made manifest by the light of the spirit of faith. The child that is now born enters into a new atmosphere, which it breathes, (the atmosphere of the grace of God,) it hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and grace supplies the need by the gift of God in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this atmosphere and on this spiritual food the child grows and grows from childhood to old age, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” And as in the natural, so in the spiritual, the subject of grace is passive, moulded and fitted for eternity by the great spiritual Potter, whose work is perfect, whose law is wisdom and whose promises are sure.
B. F. COULTER,
Philadelphia, Pa., Aug. 1, 1906
Signs Of The Times
Volume 74., No. 19.
OCTOBER 1, 1906.