Samuel Pike

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Gospel of God’s Free & Sovereign Grace in Christ

“And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” {Ex.33:19} What is this glorious name? The remaining clause of the text, which is what I fix upon, gives is one grand particular of it, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, &c.” God is pleased to mention his sovereignty first, and to place it foremost in the account he gives of himself; as if it were the highest attribute belonging to his nature, and the greatest glory of his name. That saving Grace is sovereign Grace may be made to appear from the analogy of Faith. A phrase used by the Apostle, {Rom.12:6,} translated, the “proportion of faith;” by which I perceive that he meant something like what I now intend by it; namely, that central or fundamental Truth of the Gospel; by and according to which all our Doctrines and Exhortations ought to be regulated, in dispensing the Gospel; that Truth from whence all the lines of Gospel doctrine are extracted and in which they terminate and center, namely, that Jesus is the Christ, the only and perfect Savior of sinners as such; the only and sure Foundation of faith and hope towards God. This is the maxim of the Gospel, that there is Salvation in no other, and that in him all fullness dwells, and that in him alone God is well pleased. This is the Truth which every real Christian is persuaded of; for the explaining, illustrating and improving of which the whole Bible seems chiefly to be written. Now if we understand this Truth clearly, we shall easily perceive from it, the sovereignty of Grace in the affair of Salvation; for if Jesus Christ be the only Savior, then the sinner himself cannot be supposed to be his own savior in any degree. Is Christ the perfect Savior? Then the whole of the sinner’s Salvation is comprised in his Purchase and Fullness. Oh my brethren, this is the grand fundamental Truth of the Gospel; and it is its peculiar glory. Now can a person clearly believe this, and yet imagine, that anything found in him, or done by him, contributes towards his Salvation from wrath, or towards his title to eternal glory? Surely, he that apprehends and believes this Truth, must look upon his entire Hope and Salvation to be contained in Christ alone. From whence it follows that his Salvation is of absolutely free Grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Here is no room left for requisites, conditions or qualifications on the sinner’s part; and if so, nothing else but free and sovereign Grace must take place. If we then look upon the whole of Salvation as purchased by Christ, for sinners, for sinners as such, and even for the worst of sinners, we must naturally infer from hence, that the Grace which saves must be sovereign. But if we allow that there is anything in the creature’s will or power that gives the turning point, we practically deny that Christ is the only and perfect Savior of sinners. But it is evident, that persons are justified freely by God’s Grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. {Rom.3:24} These very persons will freely acknowledge for themselves, that they never did nor could contribute anything towards their own state of Salvation; for they know that their whole Salvation is in Christ; they dare not lay the least stress of their hope upon any but him; they know and own, that it is the Spirit alone that hath convinced them of sin and righteousness; that they themselves could have no hope if Christ were not a complete Savior in all respects; and that they themselves would never have known and embraced this hope, had they not been led by the Word and Spirit of God into this blessed Truth, and unto this only sure Foundation. If Grace were not absolutely free and sovereign, it would follow that some conditions are to be performed, some endeavors to be aimed at with this view, in order to entitle ourselves to the Divine favor some way or other. Now this plan would vastly suit the natural sentiments and desires of mankind; as it would set them about a round of self-righteous duties and devotions, in order to come up to the required terms and conditions, that they might lay some claim to the favor of God upon that account; but while a person is upon this plan of thought and duty, it is easy to make it appear that instead of bringing himself nearer to God, he is in every act and endeavor running counter to the spirit of the Gospel, is setting about to establish his own righteousness, is running back to a Law of works, is gratifying his natural pride; and so instead of being found able or willing to do anything aright, he is only found able and willing to fulfill one of the lusts of the flesh, and that lust which is as opposite to the Spirit of God and of the Gospel as any other. I might add, that upon this plan, a person could never come to a solid peace in his own conscience, because he may still have occasion to doubt, whether he had properly come up to the terms required; and if he had any peace, it would not be founded upon the Blood and Righteousness of Christ, but upon his own duties and qualifications. Oh; how would this detract from the honor of Christ! How would this swell the pride of the creature, making him think himself something, when in all respects he is nothing. That saving Grace is sovereign Grace appears further from our experience. As to experience; surely I may address myself to the children of God with freedom by asking such questions as these: Did you make yourself to differ from others? Have you ever contributed anything toward your being in a state of Salvation? Does your hope arise from anything found in or done by yourselves? To all questions of this kind you will answer in the negative, disclaiming and abominating the thought of attributing anything to yourselves. And thus the experience of every true believer is a standing proof of the sovereignty and freedom of Grace; so that we may make the appeal which the Apostle doth to the Galatians, “received ye the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of Faith;” by any duties you performed, or by the report of free and complete Grace in Christ? {Gal.3:2} Those who have slight thoughts of the sinfulness of their own sins, and the corruption of their hearts, and who fondly imagine they have some good dispositions, with some capacity to amend themselves, can repose themselves with some degree of satisfaction and contentment upon their notions of conditional Grace; for they lower the terms of Grace to what they imagine is in their own power or enlarge their apprehensions of their own ability to come up to the supposed terms; and thus they are in the most explicit manner seeking Justification as it were by the works of the Law. Now while persons are of this spirit, the doctrine of sovereign Grace must indeed be very distasteful to them. What a rebuke, what a disappointment must be felt by such, when they are told from the Divine Word that after all they can offer in their own favor, yet still it is a Truth that, “the Lord hath mercy on whom he will have mercy.” Not everyone that knows the nature of Gospel Faith and Conversion must see that all such reasonings in our own favor are the grand obstacle in the way of a sinner’s prizing the pure Gospel and loving the Lord Jesus under the character of a perfect Savior. That doctrine therefore which overturns all such self-righteous arguments and thoughts cannot be esteemed a useless one. Now let a person be once brought to believe the sovereignty of Grace upon its proper evidence as applicable to his own case, and all these false presumptuous hopes are demolished, and he is become dead unto the Law, that he might be married to Christ; for if Grace be really sovereign, then all these thoughts, hopes and reasonings are shown to be false and groundless. But oh; how difficult is it to persuade sinners who are really lost and undone in themselves, to believe in their consciences, that all these imaginations of theirs are but mere delusions. We are all so naturally prone to warm ourselves with sparks of our own kindling, while God will have the freeness and perfection of his Grace displayed; that, under the influence of his Word and Spirit, sinners may be convinced and humbled in themselves and brought to take all their peace and hope from this Grace in Christ Jesus alone. Upon the whole then we see, that if this doctrine of Sovereign Grace be rightly understood and cordially believed, it detects and demolishes both the legal hopes and the desponding fears of the sinner; it destroys both a self-righteous presumption and a legal despair; and accordingly removes every obstacle in the way of a sinner’s application to Christ upon the pure and true principles of the Gospel. This doctrine brings the greatest glory to God, for it gives us the highest and most exalted idea we can receive of the great Creator and Disposer of all things. It is absurd to suppose anything greater than Deity; it is impossible to imagine anything greater than God, or to have too elevated notions of him; and I apprehend that we have but a very lame and defective view of him, if we cast aside the attribute of sovereignty. “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen.” {Rom.11:36} {Nothing can be a greater evidence that the carnal mind is enmity against God, than this; that those doctrines which bring the greatest glory to God, are such as are most displeasing to man. This is so generally true, that it looks as if mankind envies the Lord his peculiar glory and dignity, and is utterly averse to give him the glory due to his name.} Were I to attempt a concise and more exalted description of the grandeur of Deity, I should find myself obliged to exceed the bounds of all language and conception; for here the Apostle exalts the truth to the highest by three words; “of” him, and “through” him, and “to” him are all things. All things are of him, as the great Creator of all things, and the absolute disposer of all events. All things are through him, as it is by his perpetual sustentation, concurrence and management that all things subsist, and every event is conducted. All things are to him, as they are to the praise of his glory and for the honor of all his perfections; and as the Apostle introduces these grand thoughts on occasion of his having treated upon the subject of Divine Sovereignty, let us see to it, that we, in our thoughts, connect the idea of Sovereignty with all his perfections and attributes, if we desire to speak and think in the language and spirit of the inspired Apostle; and if our thoughts are rightly conducted, we shall perceive that sovereignty is a general attribute, which belongs to, and is the special glory of all the other Divine perfections, whether we regard his infinite wisdom, power, holiness, justice or goodness. The voice of sovereign Grace serves to direct the hope; to tell the sinner where his only hope lies, to shut him up unto it, and to guard him against every other hope. This voice heard, understood and believed will not permit the soul to be seeking after any other refuge; or to rest himself upon any other prop; but on the contrary will fix the attention here; and as this truth appears more fully to view, the condemned sinner sees here a door of hope opened, that is perfectly consistent with all the perfections of the Godhead; he sees here offended justice satisfied, provoked wrath appeased, the broken Law fulfilled, by the perfect atonement and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Here then he sees enough to satisfy his disquieted guilty conscience. Here therefore the soul fixes; being assured from the word of God, that this and this only is the foundation for a poor helpless sinner; and here he is encouraged to trust and rest, because the same word assures him that this is a most safe and sure foundation, separate from everything else. This voice likewise serves to give a turn to the whole soul; as it reaches to and operates upon every faculty of the mind. Under the influences of the Spirit it turns the understanding from darkness to light, giving the believer quite a different view both of himself and of the Lord from what he had before. It likewise turns the will; so that he who before was rebelling against the light of the Gospel through the pride of his heart, or who was wanting something for the foundation of his hope, besides or along with Christ, through the unbelief and discouragement of his heart, is now brought cheerfully to submit to the Righteousness of Christ, and thus he is made willing in the day of Divine power. This voice of absolutely free Grace, likewise exceedingly suits to attract the affections, to set them on work towards God in Christ in a way of love and delight. This voice likewise serves to ennoble our conceptions; for we no longer delight or desire to consider God as altogether such a one as ourselves; to frame a deity according to our own inclinations and imaginations, but we are led to behold more and more of his infinite Dignity and Majesty. We do not want him to be less holy, less just, or less sovereign than he is; but desire more and more to rejoice in his Holiness, to submit to his Authority, to revere his Justice and to adore his Sovereignty. Until God reveals himself to our souls by the voice of free sovereign Grace, these perfections of his Nature are terrors to the mind; and in order to have a little ease, we must divert our thoughts from such disagreeable subjects, or else frame in our minds some lower, debasing thoughts of these glories of his nature; but now we can dare to think of him and enlarge our conceptions of him, without fear of being hurt, but in hopes of being benefited by such views of his infinite greatness. This voice likewise serves to excite our endeavors; and to make us willing and desirous to be and act to the praise of his glory; to love him with all our hearts, to serve him with all our strength, and that upon such principles and motives as are the most acceptable to him. A person therefore that complains of the way of the Lord as unequal, proclaims himself a stranger to his own heart, and to have a proud conceit of himself; as if he had done or could do something, which should make it meet, that God should accept him on that account. Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. This is the hope of the Gospel; this is the Truth which continually stands firm as a rock, for the relief and help of the otherwise wretched and desperate. You need not, you should not entertain the least suspicion about the firmness and solidity of this foundation, when separated from every other consideration. This singly viewed is the firm and immediate foundation of a sinner’s hope as such. Now all the great and grand things recorded in the Gospel concerning the Person, the Atonement, the Righteousness and Purchase of Jesus Christ arise clear to view in their majestic simplicity for the refreshment and consolation of those who cannot, who dare not entertain any hope in and from themselves or from any other quarter. Now Christ alone appears in the Gospel as the stable foundation upon which the worthless and helpless sinner may rest with the utmost confidence. They that rest their whole Salvation here shall never be put to confusion, and he that believeth will not make haste. To believers who acredit this doctrine of Absolute Free Grace, who see the necessity of it for themselves and the suitableness and fullness of it to their own condition, and accordingly take pleasure in it. Surely you are led to rest upon it, are made desirous to love and adore, to serve and honor the sovereign Lord upon this account. If so, then the grand end of this Truth is answered upon you, then it has reached your very hearts and taken possession of your souls. You find this free Grace in Christ working upon you to produce and promote a submission to the Divine Righteousness, a reverence of the Divine Majesty, a love of his Name and a delight in his Ways. You cannot but look upon every self-righteous endeavor as an affront to the freeness of this Grace, and every act of iniquity as the highest ingratitude to the riches of this Grace. You dare not seek after pleasure by any criminal indulgences, because this is a turning the back upon the love of God in Christ, which is the believers chief delight. You dare not give way to a light indifference of spirit in the love and service of the Lord, because that would be contempt upon this matchless love. Neither dare you seek rest to your souls from anything else, because this would be a going off from the true foundation, and placing your hope upon that which cannot secure you from the wrath of God due for sin. Samuel Pike {Saving Grace, Sovereign Grace; set forth in two Sermons preached in Pinner’s Hall, 1758}


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