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THE NATURE OF PURCHASED GRACE
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2. Of the grace of sanctification; the several parts of it.
The fountain of that purchased grace wherein the saints have communion with Christ being discovered, in the next place the nature of this grace itself may be considered. As was said, it may be referred unto three heads: —
1. Grace of acceptation with God.
2. Grace of sanctification from God.
3. Grace of privileges with and before God.
1. Of acceptation with God. Out of Christ, we are in a state of alienation from God, accepted neither in our persons nor our services. Sin makes a separation between God and us: — that state, with all its consequences and attendancies, [it] is not my business to unfold. The first issue of purchased grace is to restore us into a state of acceptation. And this is done two ways: —
(1.) By a removal of that for which we are refused, — the cause of the enmity.
(2.) By a bestowing of that for which we are accepted.
Not only all causes of quarrel were to be taken away, that so we should not be under displeasure, but also that was to be given unto us that makes us the objects of God’s delight and pleasure, on the account of the want whereof we are distanced from God: —
(1.) It gives a removal of that for which we are refused. This is sin in the guilt, and all the attendancies thereof. The first issue of purchased grace tends to the taking away of sin in its guilt, that it shall not bind over the soul to the wages of it, which is death.
How this is accomplished and brought about by Christ, was evidenced in the close of the foregoing chapter. It is the fruit and effect of his death for us. Guilt of sin was the only cause of our separation and distance from God, as has been said. This made us obnoxious to wrath, punishment, and the whole displeasure of God; on the account hereof were we imprisoned under the curse of the law, and given up to the power of Satan. This is the state of our unacceptation. By his death, Christ — bearing the curse, undergoing the punishment that was due to us, paying the ransom that was due for us — delivers us from this condition. And thus far the death of Christ is the sole cause of our acceptation with God, — that all cause of quarrel and rejection of us is thereby taken away. And to that end are his sufferings reckoned to us; for, being “made sin for us,” 2 Corinthians 5:21, he is made “righteousness unto us,” 1 Corinthians 1:30.
The old quarrel may be laid aside, and yet no new friendship begun; we may be not sinners, and yet not be so far righteous as to have a right to the kingdom of heaven. Adam had no right to life because he was innocent; he must, moreover, “do this,” and then he shall “live.” He must not only have a negative righteousness, — he was not guilty of any thing; but also a positive righteousness, — he must do all things.
(2.) This, then, is required, in the second place, to our complete acceptation, that we have not only the not imputation of sin, but also a reckoning of righteousness. Now, this we have in the obedience of the life of Christ. This also was discovered in the last chapter. The obedience of the life of Christ was for us, is imputed to us, and is our righteousness before God; — by his obedience are we “made righteous,” Romans 5:19. On what score the obedience of faith takes place, shall be afterward declared.
These two things, then, complete our grace of acceptation. Sin being removed, and righteousness bestowed, we have peace with God, — are continually accepted before him. There is not any thing to charge us withal: that which was, is taken out of the way by Christ, and nailed to his cross, — made fast there; yea, publicly and legally canceled, that it can never be admitted again as an evidence. What court among men would admit of an evidence that has been publicly canceled, and nailed up for all to see it? So has Christ dealt with that which was against us; and not only so, but also he puts that upon us for which we are received into favor. He makes us comely through his beauty; gives us white raiment to stand before the Lord. This is the first part of purchased grace wherein the saints have communion with Jesus Christ. In remission of sin and imputation of righteousness does it consist; from the death of Christ, as a price, sacrifice, and a punishment, — from the life of Christ spent in obedience to the law, does it arise. The great product it is of the Father’s righteousness, wisdom, love, and grace; — the great and astonishable fruit of the love and condescension of the Son; — the great discovery of the Holy Ghost in the revelation of the mystery of the gospel.
2. The second is grace of sanctification. He makes us not only accepted, but also acceptable. He does not only purchase love for his saints, but also makes them lovely. He came not by blood only, but by water and blood.
He does not only justify his saints from the guilt of sin, but also sanctify and wash them from the filth of sin. The first is from his life and death as a sacrifice of propitiation; this from his death as a purchase, and his life as an example. So the apostle, Hebrews 9:14; as also Ephesians 5:26,27.
Two things are eminent in this issue of purchased grace: — (].) The removal of defilement; (2.) The bestowing of cleanness in actual grace.
(1.) For the first, it is also threefold: — [1.] The habitual cleansing of our nature. We are naturally unclean, defiled, — habitually so; for “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” Job 14:4; “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” John 3:6. It is in the pollution of our blood that we are born, Ezekiel 16, — wholly defiled and polluted. The grace of sanctification, purchased by the blood of Christ, removes this defilement of our nature. 1 Corinthians 6:11, “Such were some of you; but ye are washed, ye are sanctified.” So also Titus 3:3-5, “He has saved us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” How far this original, habitual pollution is removed, need not be disputed; it is certain the soul is made fair and beautiful in the sight of God.
Though the sin that does defile remains, yet its habitual defilement is taken away. But the handling of this lies not in my aim. [2.] Taking away the pollutions of all our actual transgressions.
There is a defilement attending every actual sin. Our own clothes make us to be abhorred, Job 9:31. A spot, a stain, rust, wrinkle, filth, blood, attends every sin. Now, 1 John 1:7, “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” Besides the defilement of our natures which he purgeth, Titus 3:5, he takes away the defilement of our persons by actual follies. “By one offering he perfected for ever them that are sanctified;” by himself he “purged our sins,” before he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, Hebrews 1:3. [3.] In our best duties we have defilement, Isaiah 64:6. Self, unbelief, form, drop themselves into all that we do. We may be ashamed of our choicest performances. God has promised that the saints’ good works shall follow them. Truly, were they to be measured by the rule as they come from us, and weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, it might be well for us that they might be buried for ever: But the Lord Christ first, as our high priest, bears the iniquity, the guilt, and provocation, which in severe justice does attend them, Exodus 28:38; and not only so, but he washes away all their filth and defilements.
He is as a refiner’s fire, to purge both the sons of Levi and their offerings; adding, moreover, sweet incense to them, that they may be accepted. Whatever is of the Spirit, of himself, of grace, — that remains; whatever is of self, flesh, unbelief (that is, hay and stubble), — that he consumes, wastes, takes away.
So that the saints’ good works shall meet them one day with a changed countenance, that they shall scarce know them: that which seemed to them to be black, deformed, defiled, shall appear beautiful and glorious; they shall not be afraid of them, but rejoice to see and follow them.
And this cleansing of our natures, persons, and duties, has its whole foundation in the death of Christ. Hence our washing and purifying, our cleansing and purging, is ascribed to his blood and the sprinkling thereof meritoriously, this work is done, by the shedding of the blood of Christ; efficiently, by its sprinkling. The sprinkling of the blood of Christ proceedeth from the communication of the Holy Ghost; which he promiseth to us, as purchased by him for us He is the pure water, wherewith we are sprinkled from all our sins, that spirit of judgement and burning that takes away the filth and blood of the daughters of Zion. And this is the first thing in the grace of sanctification; of which more afterward.
(2.) By bestowing cleanness as to actual grace. The blood of Christ in this purchased grace does not only take away defilement, but also it gives purity; and that also in a threefold gradation: — [1.] It gives the Spirit of holiness to dwell in us. “He is made unto us sanctification,” 1 Corinthians 1:30, by procuring for us the Spirit of sanctification. Our renewing is of the Holy Ghost, who is shed on us through Christ alone, Titus 3:6. This the apostle mainly insists on, Romans 8, — to wit, that the prime and principal gift of sanctification that we receive from Christ, is the indwelling of the Spirit, and our following after the guidance hereof. But what concerns the Spirit in any kind, must be referred to that which I have to offer concerning our communion with him. [2.] He gives us habitual grace; — a principle of grace, opposed to the principle of lust that is in us by nature. This is the grace that dwells in us, makes its abode with us; which, according to the distinct faculties of our souls wherein it is, or the distinct objects about which it is exercised, receiveth various appellation, being indeed all but one new principle of life. In the understanding, it is light; in the will, obedience; in the affections, love; in all, faith. So, also, it is differences in respect of its operations. When it carries out the soul to rest on Christ, it is faith; when to delight in him, it is love; but still one and the same habit of grace. And this is the second thing. [3.] Actual influence for the performance of every spiritual duty whatever. After the saints have both the former, yet Christ tells them that without him “they can do nothing,” John 15:5.
They are still in dependence upon him for new influences of grace, or supplies of the Spirit. They cannot live and spend upon the old stock; for every new act they must have new grace. He must “work in us to will and to do of his good pleasure,” Philippians 2:13. And in these three, thus briefly named, consists that purchased grace in the point of sanctification, as to the collating of purity and cleanness, wherein we have communion with Christ.
3. This purchased grace consists in privileges to stand before God, and these are of two sorts,-primary and consequential. Primary, is adoption, — the Spirit of adoption; consequential, are all the favors of the gospel, which the saints alone have right unto. But of this I shall speak when I come to the last branch, — of communion with the Holy Ghost.
These are the things wherein we have communion with Christ as to purchased grace in this life. Drive them up to perfection, and you have that which we call everlasting glory. Perfect acceptance, perfect holiness, perfect adoption, or inheritance of sons, — that is glory.
Our process now, in the next place, is to what I mainly intend, even the manner how we hold communion with Christ in these things; and that in the order laid down; as, — I. How we hold communion with him in the obedience of his life and merit of his death, as to acceptance with God the Father.
II. How we hold communion with Christ in his blood, as to the Spirit of sanctification, the habits and acts of grace.
III. How we hold communion with him as to the privileges we enjoy. Of which in the ensuing chapters.