Free Grace 30

Nothing in man doth precede or prevent the grace of God. The light and beams of grace do dispel the clouds of our sins. Not for our sakes, but for his Name’s sake he covereth our sins. It is God’s prerogative to free us from sin by grace, and to remove them far from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” {Ps.103:12} He only can remove sin against whom it is committed. He only can cast sin into the depths of the sea, who hath an ocean of grace in himself, in which he swalloweth them up. John Simpson {Perfection of Justification, 1648}

So that mercy is love to those who are miserable. Grace is love in him that is unobliged. Unobliged, I say, either by necessity, merit, or motive. Grace then, in God, is nothing but free love. 1. Free in respect of constraint; when there is no necessity he should fix his love upon this object at all, or upon this rather than another, this is spontaneum. 2. Free in respect of merit; when there is nothing in the object that deserves love, either absolutely or comparatively, this is gratuitum. 3. Free in respect of motive; when there is nothing in the object to move this affection to pitch upon it at all, or upon it rather than another, this is liberum, though it expresses it not fully. [David Clarkson, A Discourse of Free Grace]

Sin makes people miserable and they suffer for it in hell with the fullness of misery. If we could only see the misery of sin we would flee from it rather than drink iniquity like water. Mankind are born in that misery and they fill themselves full until the day of God’s choice when He removes them from this world. The only way to escape eternal misery is from God who alone understands that misery and who alone can remove men from misery. When it is said that God alone can remove men from misery, the idea that man cannot remove himself from that misery is purposefully included. Man is utterly helpless in sin and there is nothing he can do to remove himself from sin. Man cannot move God to save him and man can do nothing to extricate himself even in the slightest way from sin.

God can only be moved by Himself and with a love for Himself and within Himself. This points us to the greatness and glory of free-grace. While the common thought of grace is that man is just unworthy of it, though man has great worth, the common thought of grace is that there is something in man that moves God or that man can do something that moves God. If so, then grace is not free. But grace is free. There is nothing in or about man that can constrain God to save man. What would constrain God to fix His love upon man when man is a despicable creature worthy of nothing but divine wrath? What would constrain God to fix His love upon man when man is a hateful creature who hates God and is at enmity with Him? Nothing, absolutely nothing can constrain God to set His love on sinful man. Only God could and can freely, of Himself, and for His own glory set His love in sinful men. Nothing can overpower God and move Him to save men. Nothing can be greater than God’s love for Himself and His own glory. Therefore, nothing can constrain God to set His love on men. Grace is free or it is not grace at all.

Grace is always free in respect of merit. While we may agree with this theologically, it is impossible for us to divest ourselves of merit in our hearts. It is God alone who can save people who have no merit and yet in the secret places of their hearts rely on some merit in some way. Grace is either free of merit or no one would ever be saved. Romans 3:1-19 sets out how we have no righteousness and no merit before God, but instead we are full of demerit. There is nothing in us that can in the slightest way merit the love of God and as such God must set His love on sinners by free-grace alone. There is nothing in us that we have by nature that can possibly obtain merit and there is nothing we can do to obtain merit. We have no hope and no possible way of meriting in the slightest way the love of God. Not only, then, can anything possibly constrain God to set His love on men, but there is no way we can do anything but have demerit rather than merit. Grace is free of constraint and merit or it is not grace at all.

Grace must also be free of motives as found in man or it is not grace at all. God’s motive for setting His love on man cannot be because He has motives for man that is moved by men, but God’s motives must be found within Himself in order for His love to be by free-grace. For grace to be grace it must be free of all things within man (whether good or evil, though there is no good to be found in fallen sinners) and all the motives of God toward man to be found in God Himself. God is free to show grace to whom He pleases or it is not free-grace. God is free not to show grace to whom He is pleased not to show grace or grace is not free. We must fight for the Gospel of grace alone and the only kind of grace is free-grace or a true sovereign grace. There is utterly nothing that man can do to move God to show mercy to him. What we must see is that God saves sinners to the glory of His grace and as such it is free from all constraint, merit, or motives as found in man. God cannot be constrained by anyone, man cannot obtain merit before God, and God is moved by Himself and His love for His own glory rather than anything found in man. Grace is utterly free of all causation as found in man and is moved by God alone.

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