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all guilt before the awakened soul could have any rest before God, and when the grace is known to this measure, there is unspeakable relief, and hence a tendency to conclude, that as grace had conferred so much no more was to come, because no more was needed for the salvation of the soul.
Now, if grace were to stop there, simply having met the measure of man's need, God's share and delight in the saved one would be overlooked. God, in His love, delights that you, once a sinner, on believing on Him, should not only be justified, but fitted to be in His own presence, for His own pleasure, which is infinitely greater than your own. The tendency is to regard grace only as it affects the sinner, and to omit the satisfaction it is to God to have us as His children with Him; “the excellent, in whom is all my delight."
Blessed God! Thy love desires my company, and would share Thy joys with me. And this love is shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto me.
If I were
not justified, it is evident that the holy God could not allow me to draw near to Him. Hence, justification is as it were, a definite step in the history of grace, but justification is not the measure of grace. I require to be justified first; the distance between me and God is not removed till then; I am not reconciled to Him until then; and He is not free to shew His favour to me until then. It is because of this that forgiveness of sins or salvation is so often regarded as the limit of the grace.
God desires to have me for Himself, to be a companion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a member of His body. Hence, His grace superabounds over the sin. Wherein I have lost anything by sin, which was a glory to a man, that is not restored to me in grace. Grace gives me something infinitely better, not to suit the man that was, but to suit me as brought to God.
The grace of God does not reinstate me in the paradise lost by sin, but sets me in a much greater one. I am forgiven like the prodigal, for all I have done, but nothing that I have squandered is restored to me. I get something entirely new; and I am made, as he was in figure, quite new, and fitted for the immense exaltation to which I am raised by grace. The prodigal was not restored to the land as a Jew would have expected, but he was received into the father's house, with a favour and distinction never accorded to any one before ; and this was all simply of grace. True, he had to be reconciled and kissed before he could be prepared for this immense excess in grace, that is, the measure of the grace beyond the need.
Thus with the thief on the cross ; as soon as grace could be declared, he finds that not only is he saved by grace through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom his heart can cling; but when he asks for the brightest hope for a Jew—to be in His kingdom which he had forfeited-he was told that a far greater height awaited him. Jesus said to him, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Transferred from the depth of moral degradation among men, to the glorious height of association with the Lord in the greatest place. To this wondrous height grace raises the wretched sinner, and fits him for it. Nothing of the old thief remains except his identity ; but entirely new he was with Christ in paradise. Thus Paul in spirit enters into that blessed place, and was there received, as one at home in the innermost circle there. He heard there the secrets of God, which he was not allowed to tell to men. Surely he was well qualified to tell us that we are made to sit in the heavenlies in Christ, and seeing that so much grace has been shewn to us, that in us
might be displayed in the coming ages, “ the surpassing riches of his grace in kind. ness towards us in Christ Jesus.” And thus only we arrive at the measure of the grace of which we are to be the expositors, as I might say, in the coming ages.
The Lord lead our hearts more and more into it for His name's sake.
THE LOVE OF CHRIST.
It is not only that Christ did great things for us, but He gave Himself : beyond this love could not go. The same love which made Him give Himself for us, is now occupied in separating us from everything that could separate us from Him. Nothing can express more the profound depths of the love of Christ for us than this, that His present occupation in heaven is devoted to removing everything that would cause distance between us and Him. John xiii. 5-12, is expressive of His present service for us; I am going to glory, He says, but I am going there to serve you. My mind's attention will be fixed on you, my heart's affections will be set on you, and I shall take care that nothing shall break the intimacy that subsists between us. I shall make it my business there to detach you from everything that would separate you from myself. He sets us apart from all that would hinder com