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guished honours by applauding angels and an approving God! And, when the business of the general judgment is over, and every one takes his seat according to his sentence, if you do not sit immediately on the right hand of Christ, or on his left, in his kingdom ; may you rank high, and fill an elevated station, in that world, where“
they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever!”
THE NATURE AND IMPORTANCE OF THE GRACE
PREACHED MARCH 4, 1787.
1 Cor. xvi. 23.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
The season is now returned that calls many of you to sea again, and I have devoted this afternoon to taking leave. It is natural for your friends, when you are going abroad, to say, "I wish you well :' by which, in general, nothing more is meant than wishing you fair winds, short voyages, good health, a brisk market, large remittances, and
a safe return.* All this I wish you, as much as any of them: but I think I wish you something better than all this, when I shake you by the hand and say, “ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with
But it is not the sea that carries away all our friends: there are others whom we highly esteem who propose to leave us soon by land : and I would take this opportunity to take leave of them too. And if I were to do it in common language, it would be, God bless ye'—that is, in the world's dictionary, May you have a safe and pleasant
* Bideford's being a sea-port, will account for several allusions to sea-faring terms in this and some other sermons.
journey; may you find all at home well and happy; may the world continue to smile upon you ; and may you have good health to enjoy it.' -No one wishes you worldly prosperity more cordially, as far as it would do you good : but I believe you will accept it as a token of truer friendship and affection, if at parting I only say,
" The grace
of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Here you wish me to tell you,
I. What is meant by the grace of Christ; and on what accounts it is so desirable;
II. How it appears to be better than any thing else that could be wished you.
Let us consider then,
I. What is meant by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“ It hath pleased the father that in him should all fulness dwell :” and “ he hath given him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body;" and
6 of his fulness have all we received and grace for grace.” Whatever we want for the beginning or the carrying on of the divine life in our souls, cometh down from above, from the Father of lights, through the hands of his beloved Son, whom he hath appointed his almoner, the distributer of his gifts among the children of men. The “grace of Christ,” therefore, comprehends converting grace; sanctifying grace ; strengthening, quickening, comforting grace ;-it is, in short, the same as wishing that God would “ bless you with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” If
you have not this grace, it signifies nothing what other things you have; and if you have that, it matters little what other things you want.
You ask, Why it is so desirable. I answer, You can neither live nor die comfortably or safely without it; but more particularly,
1. You want it to deliver you from the condem, nation of hell.
You were by nature children of wrath, even as others ; and are every day as malefactors under the sentence of death ; and if you are cut off in that condition, you are undone for ever. It is a wonder how
you can venture to sea in such a state. Suppose a storm should rise; or suppose you should spring a leak, so that your lives be in danger; what horrors must you be thrown into, to think · Perhaps the next gust of wind will dash the vessel upon the rocks, and blow me into eternity! Perhaps the next wave may swallow us all sink, me deeper than the bottom of the ocean, --it may sink me into the bottomless pit !--Do you not shudder at the thoughts of it? Well, nothing but the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ can deliver you. He is "the way, and the truth, and the life ;" neither is there salvation in any other. You may be happy without so much money in your pocket, of such good clothes on your back, as some other of your acquaintance have; but you cannot be happy, and one, would think you would not be easy, a moment, without the grace of Christ: for he that hath not the Son, hath not life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” Whether you are at sea or ashore, in your cabins or upon deck, the curse of God follows:you, like your shadow, wherever you go, and you are in hourly danger of being drowned in perdition. But “there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” If he have made
peace by the blood of his cross; if his wrought a saving change in your heart and state ; if he have brought God to love you, and (which was the greater ditficulty of the two) if he have brought you to love God, and there be a mutual and cordial reconciliation: then you may go any where, and fear nothing; then no danger will terrify you ; your heart will be fixed, trusting in God : and when your graceless companions are trembling at the raging tempest, and ready to sink into distraction and despair, you will possess your souls in patience, and sing, with the Psalmist,
16 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble: therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea : though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” (Psalm xlvi. 1.)
2. You need it for the pardon of your daily sins.
And daily sins I suppose you will all have, which call for daily pardon. One Apostle saith, “In many things we offend all” (James iii. 2): and another, “ If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John i. 8.) It should seem there were some in the Apostles' days, and for aught I know there may be some in our own time, that boast of a sinless perfection in this life: but whoever they are that make this boast, we are here taught what to think of themnamely, that they deceive themselves, and that the truth is not in them. “Who can understand his errors !” says David (Psalm xix. 12:) “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from