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and where no worthiness is apparent—even that free and eternal love and favour of God, which is the secret and inexhaustible source of all the benefits which we receive from him.
"Grace," continued the lady of the manor, "is that ample and unlimited measure by which the Lord deals with those who are unworthy; therefore, those who are sinners, and those only, are the objects of grace. And this," continued she, "if properly understood, will explain to us the words of St. Paul—Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. (Rom. iv. 4.) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephes. ii. 8, 9.) If by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. (Rom. xi.6.)
One of the young ladies then said, "We are to understand that grace is the free favour of God, by which he bestows his blessings upon unworthy persons 7
"Yes," said the lady of the manor, "I believe you now comprehend the meaning of the word: but I wish you to understand also, that the grace of which we speak is eternal and'unchangeable in its nature; and that it was the original mover in our salvation, which must ever be considered as wholly flowing from the free and unmerited love of God."
"I think now," said one of the young ladies, " that I begin to have some little idea of the meaning of those verses in the Epistles on the subject of grace and works, some of which have been quoted on the present occasion; and which I have hitherto considered so difficult, that I have, I fear, never tried to understand them. Grace is the free and eternal love of God, and this grace has supplied the means of salvation: we are therefore to receive this salvation as a free gift, of which we are quite unworthy; while we abhor the thought of supposing that we ever have done, or even can do, any thing to deserve this great salvation."
"Moreover," replied the lady of the manor, "you must understand, that the only real objects of grace are such as feel and acknowledge their own unworthiness.
If therefore we endeavour to make ourselves worthy before we seek for grace, or independently of its influence, we render ourselves incapable of it."
"Well," said Miss Emmeline, "this is a very hard doctrine, and very wounding to our pride; for we find by it, that if we would be saved, we must cast away all our good works, and all our merits, and put ourselves on a level with the thief on the cross, and the woman who bathed our Saviour's feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair."
"And were we to throw our good works away," said the lady of the manor, smiling, "we shall not have much loss, I believe, Miss Emmeline; since were they ten thousand times better than they are, they would be but filthy garments compared with that robe of righteousness with which we may hope through divine grace to be clad."
The lady of the manor then proceeded to point out how grace might properly be said to reign throughout the whole wonderful process of man's salvation—in his election, his calling, his pardon, his justification, his adoption, his sanctification, and his perseverance to the end. And as these words were more or less unintelligible to the young people, she endeavoured as much as lay in her power to bring them down to their comprehension.
"'Election, or predestination to life,'" said the lady of the manor, speaking from the Article which had been before quoted, "' is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his own counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour.'
"Calling," proceeded the lady of the manor, "is that important change which takes place in the mind and views of a sinner when converted to Christ. Election, it is supposed, makes no real change in the state of its object; so that the chosen person often remains in an unconverted state to an advanced period of life, as may be proved from the parable of the labourers in the vineyard. But when the time of conversion comes, the Spirit of God state of relation and enjoyment of all the privileges of children, through Jesus Christ; according to that glorious promise of the new covenant—I will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord God Almighty.'
speaks to the soul, and awakens it as from the dead. Various are the means employed for the conversion of sinners; but whatever the outward means may be, the work is that of the Holy Spirit, and is generally effected through the instrumentality of the written and preached word of God.
"I could say much," continued the lady of the manor, "upon this subject; but as I shall have occasion to enlarge further upon it hereafter, I shall now forbear, and proceed to say—That pardon of sin is a blessing of inestimable value, which we also receive from divine grace. It is that which is absolutely necessary to the present peace and future happiness of the sinful race of Adam; and this pardon can only be obtained through Christ our Saviour. Therefore, we find these words in one of the Articles of our Church.—' They also are to be accursed, that presume to say that every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law and the light of nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the name of Jesus Christ whereby men must be saved.' (18fA Article of the Church of England.)
"Justification is also defined in our Articles; but as I must hereafter enter more largely into this subject, I think I shall content myself in this place with giving you the excellent words of the Article itself.—' We are accounted righteous before God only by the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith; and not for our own works and deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely expressed in the Homily of Justification.' (Wth Article.)
"Adoption," proceeded the lady of the manor, "is also a subject on which I must hereafter enlarge; I shall therefore at this time merely present you with a concise statement of the doctrine; and this I shall do in the words of a celebrated author on these subjects.—' Adoption signifies that act by which a person takes the child of another, not related to him, into the place, and entitles him to all the privileges, of his own son. And that spiritual and divine adoption about which we treat, is God's gracious admission of strangers and aliens into the
"Sanctification is that change of heart whereby we are made new creatures; it is that operation by which a sinner is cleansed from the pollution and filth of sin, made free from its power and dominion, and endued with a principle of holiness. Thus God by his Spirit in due time sanctifies those whom he has chosen.
"And finally, to speak of that crowning work of grace, whereby it enables poor weak and miserable mortals to persevere in the right way unto the end—we find from Scripture, that the Lord hath engaged himself in the behalf of those whom he hath begotten again to a lively hope, that he will keep them stedfast unto the end. It is very certain, that if God were suddenly to withdraw his help from the individual (whomsoever he may be) who is most advanced in the heavenly course, that man would certainly fall. Wherefore, unless we had the assurance that God would never forsake his people, we could have no hope of attaining the unknown felicities of everlasting life. But there are many texts of Scripture which give us this assurance; and the promises of God, those exceeding great and precious promises which are scattered in rich abundance through every part of the Bible, afford every believer the strongest possible consolation respecting this matter. Some of the sweetest among a countless number of passages to this purpose addressed to the elect are the following—For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. viii. 38, 39.)—Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ; grace unto you, and
peace be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according' to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again into a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and thatfadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Peter i. 1—5.)
After the lady of the manor had ceased to speak, the young ladies remained silent for a few minutes. At length one of them ventured to say, that she \\pA heard some people object to the doctrine of predestination on account of its tendency to produce pride in such individuals as might have the arrogance to suppose themselves of the number of the elect, and fo generate despair in others who might think themselves in the opposite condition.
"My dear young friend," said the lady of the manor, "whatever is found in Scripture is written for our learning, and consequently whatever is there revealed concerning God is no doubt revealed for our good. We may safely leave it with God to honour his own word; and he has done it, and will do it to the end. And it is remarkable, that God hath been pleased in all ages especially to honour this doctrine of election and free grace, although it is certainly possible that ill-designing persons may wrest these doctrines to evil purposes; because such is the depravity of our nature, that there is no doctrine, however pure, which we are not sometimes inclined to pervert. But I think it would not be hard to prove that there are more immoral men among those who maintain the contrary opinion, that works have some share in man's salvation."
"But surely, Madam," said Miss Emmeline, "we are not to understand that any unholy person, that is, a person given to evil works, can properly be called an heir of the kingdom of heaven V
"It is possible," replied the lady of the manor, " for a man now living in sin, and greedily committing evil works, to be one of the elect or chosen notwithstanding; for St. Paul was one of the elect while yet engaged in