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and it is from Him that it flows to us, as from its spring or fountain: for, as it is here expressly said, “ Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
It came by Jesus Christ, at its first coming into the world, and in all ages since; whatsoever grace and truth ever came into the world, it came by Him; but there hath been grace and truth in the world, from the beginning of it: and therefore Jesus Christ, by whom it came, must needs have been from the beginning too, which I note, by the way, against the Socinians; against whom the whole stream of Holy Scriptures runs so full, that I cannot but wonder what their heads, or rather what their hearts are made of, that they can or dare to stand against it.
These things being premised concerning the words in general, we shall now consider them more particularly, and shew how both “ grace and truth came by Jesus Christ;" which is one of the most noble and divine, as well as the most comfortable subjects that we can ever exercise our thoughts upon: for it contains the sum and substance of the whole Gospel, as it is distinguished from the law; the Gospel being nothing else but the glad tidings of grace and truth to mankind. And therefore when the Evangelist would shew us how both the law and the Gospel came into the world, he expresseth it in these terms, “ The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
But first grace, and then truth : grace is first, not in respect of time, but in order, and the nature of the thing; for they both came together into the world at first, and they always go together still : but grace made way, as it were, for the truth here spoken of to come; and truth therefore came, because grace did so: which therefore is placed first, and must accordingly be first considered.
What we are to understand by grace in this place, may be gathered from what we have already discoursed, concerning the word so often joined together with truth, in the Old Testament; even the free, undeserved favour, kindness or mercy of God, howsoever shewed or expressed to mankind. And so the word zágis,grace,' is generally used in the New Testament; and opposed to any thing that we can deserve by the works which we ourselves do. For to him that
Rom. 4. 4. ch. 11. 6.
SERM. worketh, saith the Apostle, “ The reward is not reckoned of
grace, but of debt.” And speaking of the election of grace, he saith, “ If by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace: bat if it be of works, then is it no more grace, otherwise work is no more work.” And in my text, grace as well as truth is opposed to the whole law, and so to all the works of it: and therefore it must needs here signify, whatsoever favour God is pleased to shew us, or to do for us; which we, by our own works, do no way deserve or merit at His hands. And seeing we cannot possibly of ourselves deserve any at all, therefore whatsoever we have, must come from His free grace and good will to us. This is that grace which is here said to come by Jesus Christ; even all the favour that God is pleased to have or do for any man in the world, of what sort or kind soever it is, it all comes by Jesus Christ.
That it doth so, we cannot doubt, having God's own Word for it : and how it comes by Him, we may easily understand, if we do but consider, that all mankind, from the first to the last man, having sinned, and so offended the Almighty Creator and Governor of the world, they are all, and every one in themselves, equally under His displeasure, and obnoxious to the dismal effects of it, as much as the apostate Angels are, to whom He never did, nor will shew any favour or mercy at all. But the Word being made flesh, and having in that flesh or nature of man suffered death, even the
death of the cross, He the said Word made Aesh, or Jesus 1 John 2. 2. Christ the Righteous, became thereby a “propitiation for
the sins of the world,” or for all mankind. So that God in Him is become propitious or gracious to men, and is reconciled again to them, as much as if they had never offended
Him. This is that great Evangelical doctrine which the 2 Cor. 5. Apostle teacheth, saying, “ All things are of God, who hath 18, 19.
reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." Christ having in our nature, and so in our stead, suffered the punishments which were due to us for our trespasses, therefore God doth not impute them to us; and not imputing to us the trespasses for which He was before displeased with us, He is therefore now reconciled, or pleased again with us : but all this, as we are here taught, is only in and by Jesus Christ. For, as the same Apostle saith in another place, “ It pleased the Father, that Col. 1. 19. in Him should all fulness dwell : and having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things to Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in Heaven: and you that were sometime alienated, and enemies in your minds, by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled, in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable, and unreprovable in His sight.” Where we see, that our peace with God is made through the blood of the cross; that it is by Him, whose blood was there shed, that we are reconciled to God ; and that we are so far reconciled through His death, that notwithstanding we were before alienated, and enemies to God, yet He“presents us holy, unblameable, unreprovable in His sight,” which is the same in effect with that beforementioned, that He doth not impute unto us our trespasses, but accepts of us as holy and righteous; and deals with us accordingly, not for any thing in ourselves, but only in Him, and for His sake, in whom all fulness dwells, that especially whereby He is said to be full of grace and truth. And therefore all the grace and favour that we, or any men, receive from God, we receive it only by Jesus Christ, out of that fulness of it that is in Him. It all flows to us only through His blood, insomuch, that if He had never died for us, we had all been in the same state with the fallen Angels; not only without having, but without hoping for any grace or mercy from God; yea, there would have been no such thing as grace and mercy in the world: for the only creatures that we know of, capable of it, are Angels and men. The Angels that kept their first estate have no occasion for it, having never offended God. And as He never shewed any to the Angels that fell, so He would never have shewed any to fallen men, if Jesus Christ had not died for them. And therefore it is by Him that grace came into the world at first, and it is by Him only that it comes to any one now. Hence it is, that it is so often called the grace of Christ, and sometimes the “grace that is in Christ Jesus.” And that 2 Tim. 2. 1.
1 Cor 16. 23.
Gal. 6. 18.
Col. 4. 18.
Tit. 3. 15.
SERM. St. Paul, as he begins all his Epistles with saying, “ Grace XXVIII.
16.and peace,” or “Grace, and mercy, and peace from God the 20, 24. Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ;” so he concludes most 2 Cor.13.14. of them, as St. John doth the Revelations, with, “ The grace
23. of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” The rest he conThess. 5. cludes with saying only, “ Grace be with you,” which is the 2 Thess. 3. same in effect; all grace being the grace of our Lord Jesus Philem. ver. Christ : there is none but what is in Him, and we can have Rev. 22. 21. none, but what comes from Him, and by Him.
S But blessed be His great name, there is no grace, no 2 Tim. 4. 22. favour, no mercy whatsoever that we are capable of, but we Eph. 6. 24. have it by Him: and whatsoever we have, we must acknow
ledge ourselves indebted to Him for it; which that we may be the more sensible of, I shall instance in some of those many and great favours which are particularly mentioned in God's Holy Word, as coming by Jesus Christ. As for example:
Are our sins pardoned, and our obligations to punishment for them cancelled and made void; so that God doth not execute the judgments upon us which He hath threatened?
This is an unspeakable mercy indeed; but we are wholly John 1. 29. beholden to Jesus Christ for it, for He is that “ Lamb of
God that taketh away the sins of the world ;” and it is in Eph. 1. 7; Him we “have redemption through His blood, even the for
giveness of sins, åccording to the riches of His grace.”
Are we justified before God? Are we accepted of, and accounted as righteous in His sight, notwithstanding that we are not really so in ourselves? This must be ascribed
wholly to the grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord; for Rom. 3. 24. we are “justified freely by His grace, through the redempch. 4. 25. tion that is in Jesus Christ.” “Who was delivered for our 2 Cor. 5. 21. offences, and was raised again for justification.” “Who was
made sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God
in Him." Do we sincerely repent of all our sins ? Are we Acts 26. 18. turned “ from darkness to light, from the power of Satan
unto God, that we may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that
is in Jesus Christ.” We must thank the said Lord Jesus Acts 5. 31. Christ for it; for it is His gift, whom “ God hath exalted
with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to
give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” And, “ who of God is made unto us wisdom,” as well as “ right- 1 Cor. 1. 30. eousness, and sanctification, as well as “ redemption.”
Have we power to overcome the world, and to live above it? to despise all things here below, and to have our conversation always in Heaven? “Who is he that overcometh 1 John 5.5. the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” Hath sin no dominion over us? It is because we are not under the law, but under grace, the grace of Jesus Rom. 4. 14. Christ. Are we delivered from this body of death and sin within us? We must thank God for that, through Jesus Rom. 7. 24, Christ our Lord, as His Apostle doth. Can we resist the 4Jam. 4. Devil, so as to make him fly from us? Who gives us that power, but He that was “ manifested” for that very purpose, 1 John 3. 8. " that He might destroy the works of the Devil ?” Have we access to the Almighty Creator and Governor of the world? Can we approach or draw nigh to Him, who is so infinitely above us, and so highly provoked by us? There is no way certainly of doing that but by Jesus Christ: “I,” John 14. 6. saith He, “am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me."
Are our prayers ever heard, and our petitions granted ? Is any thing we ask ever done for us? It is so, if we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, not otherwise; “ whatsoever ye John. 16.23. shall ask the Father,” saith He,“ in My name, He will give it you.” And,“ if ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will ch. 14. 14. do it.”
Do we ever receive any benefit by the means of grace, which God is pleased to vouchsafe unto us? Are our understandings thereby enlightened, our hearts opened, our consciences touched, our passions subdued, our souls renewed and sanctified? All this is done by Jesus Christ. It was He that opened His Apostles' understandings, “ that Luke 24.45. they might understand the Scriptures.” It was He that opened Lydia's heart, “ that she attended unto the things Acts 16. 14. which were spoken of Paul.” “And wheresoever two or Matt.18.20. three are gathered together in His name, there is He in the midst of them," on purpose to make His Word and Ordinance effectual to the purposes aforesaid.
Have we the honour and the favour to be called, and