The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
by John Flavel
File 19
(... continued from file 18)

Sermon 17. 
Opening the eighth Motive to come to CHRIST, drawn from the sixth 
Benefit purchased by Christ for Believers. 
Eph. 1: 6. 
To thc praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us 
accepted in the Beloved. 
    IN our last discourse we opened to you the blessed privilege of 
remission of sin, from the following verse; in this verse lies 
another glorious privilege, viz. the acceptation that believers have 
with God through Jesus Christ; both which comprise (as the two main 
branches) our justification before God. In the words read, (to omit 
many things that might be profitably observed from the method and 
dependence of the apostle's discourse) three things are observable, 
    1. The privilege itself, 
    2. The meritorious cause, 
    3. The ultimate end thereof. 
    First, The privilege itself, which is exceeding rich and sweet 
in its own nature; "he has made us accepted;" the word is 
"echaritosen hemas", he has ingratiated us, or brought us into the 
grace, favour and acceptance of God the Father; endeared us to him, 
so that we find grace in his sight. 
    Secondly, The meritorious cause, purchasing and procuring this 
benefit for us, noted in the words, "en toi egapemenoi", in the 
Beloved; which words are a periphrasis of Christ, who is here 
emphatically stiled the Beloved, the great favourite of heaven, the 
delight of God's soul, the prime object of his love: it is he that 
obtaineth this benefit for believers: he is accepted for his own 
sake, and we for his. 
    Thirdly, The ultimate end and aim of conferring this benefit 
upon believers; "To the praise of the glory of his grace;" or, to 
the end that his grace might be made glorious in praises: there are 
riches of grace in this act of God; and the work and business of 
believers, both in this world and in that to come, is to search and 
admire, acknowledge and magnify God for his abundant grace herein. 
Hence the note is, 
    Doct. That Jesus Christ has purchased and procured special 
         favour and acceptation with God for all that are in him. 
    This point lies plain in scripture, Eph. 2: 13. "But now in 
Jesus Christ, ye who sometimes were afar off; are made nigh by the 
blood of Christ," ""engus egenetete", made nigh, a term of 
endearedness: nothing is taken into the very bosom and embraces but 
what is very dear, precious and acceptable, and in Rev. 2: 5, 6. 
believers are said to be made by Jesus Christ "kings and priests 
unto God, and his Father," i. e. dignified favourites, upon whom the 
special marks of honour are set by God. 
    In opening of this point three things must be doctrinally 
discussed and opened, viz. 
    1. What the acceptation of our persons with God is? 
    2. How it appears that believers are so accepted with God? 
    3. How Christ the Beloved procures this benefit for believers? 
    First, What the acceptation of our persons with God is? To open 
which, it may be proper to remember, that there is a twofold 
acceptance of persons mentioned in scripture. 
    1. One is the sinful act of corrupt man. 
    2. The other the gracious act of a merciful God. 
    First, Accepting of persons is noted in scripture as the sinful 
act of a corrupt man; a thing which God abhors, being the corruption 
and abuse of that power and authority which men have in judgement; 
overlooking the merit of the cause through sinful respect to the 
quality of the person whose cause it is; so that the cause doth not 
commend the person, but the person the cause. This God everywhere 
brands in men, as a vile perverting of judgement, and utterly 
disclaims it himself, Gal. 2: 6. "God accepteth no man's person;" 
Rom. 2: 11. "There is no respect of persons with God." 
    Secondly, There is also an accepting of persons, which is the 
gracious act of a merciful God; whereby he receives both the persons 
and duties of believers into special grace and favour for Christ's 
sake; and of this my text speaks. In which act of favour three 
things are supposed or included. 
    First, It supposes an estate of alienation and enmity; those 
only are accepted into favour that were out of favour; and indeed so 
stood the case with us, Eph. 2: 12, 13 "Ye were aliens and 
strangers, but now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were afar off, 
are made nigh by the blood of Christ". So the apostle Peter, in 1 
Pet. 2: 10. "Which in time past were not a people, but now are the 
people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained 
mercy." The fall made a fearful breach betwixt God and man. Sin, 
like a thick cloud, intercepted all the beams of divine favour from 
us; the satisfaction of Christ dissolves that cloud, Isa 44: 22. "I 
have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a 
cloud, thy sins." This dark cloud thus dissolved, the face of God 
shines forth again with cheerful beams of favour and love upon all, 
who, by faith, are interested in Jesus Christ. 
    Secondly, It includes the removing of guilt from the persons of 
believers, by the imputation of Christ's righteousness to them, Rom. 
5: 1, 2. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through 
our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into 
this grace wherein we stand:" for the face of God cannot shine upon 
the wicked; the person must be first made righteous, before he can 
be made accepted. 
    Thirdly, It includes the offering up, or tendering of our 
persons and duties to God by Jesus Christ. Accepting implies 
presenting or tendering: believers indeed do present themselves to 
God, Rom. 12: 50: But Christ's presenting them makes their tender of 
themselves acceptable to the Lord; Col. 1: 22. "In the body of his 
flesh through death to present you holy, and unblameable, and 
unreproveable, in his sight." Christ leads every believer, as it 
were, by the hand, into the gracious presence of God; after this 
manner bespeaking acceptance for him: "Father, here is a poor soul 
that was born in sin, has lived in rebellion against thee all his 
days; he has broken all thy laws, and deserved all thy wrath; yet he 
is one of that number which thou gavest me before the world was. I 
have made full payment by my blood for all his sins: I have opened 
his eyes to see the sinfulness and misery of his condition: broken 
his heart for his rebellions against thee, bowed his will in 
obedience unto thy will; united him to myself by faith, as a living 
member of my body: and now, Lord, since he is become mine by 
regeneration, let him be thine also by special acceptation: let the 
same love with which thou lovest me embrace him also, who is now 
become mine." And so much for the first particular, viz. What 
acceptation with God is. 
    Secondly, In the next place I must shew you how it appears that 
believers are thus ingratiated, or brought into the special favour 
of God by Jesus Christ. And this will be evinced divers ways. 
    First, By the titles of love and endearedness, with which the 
Lord graceth and honoureth believers, who are sometimes called, the 
household of God, Eph. 2: 19. The friends of God, James 2: 23. the 
dear children of God, Eph. 5: 1. the peculiar people of God, 1 Pet. 
2: 9. a crown of glory, and a royal diadem in the hand of their God, 
Isa 63: 3. The object of his delight and pleasure, Psal. 147: 10,11. 
0 what terms of endearedness doth God use towards his people! Does 
not all this speak them to be in special favour with him? Which of 
all these alone doth not signify a person highly in favour with God. 
    Secondly, The gracious manner in which he treats them upon 
the throne of grace, to which he allows them to come with boldness, 
Heb. 4: 16. This also speaks them in the special favour of God; he 
allows them to come to him in prayer, with the liberty, confidence 
and filial boldness of children to a father; Gal. 4: 6. "Because ye 
are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, 
crying Abba, Father;" the familiar voice of a dear child: yea, which 
is a wonderful condescension of the great God to poor worms of the 
earth, he saith, Isa. 14: 11. "Thus saith the Lord, the holy One of 
Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons; 
and concerning the work of my hands command ye me:" an expression so 
full of grace and special favour to believers, that it needs great 
caution in reading and understanding such an high and astonishing 
expression: the meaning is, that God has, as it were, subjected the 
works of his hands to the prayers of his saints; and it is as if he 
had said, if my glory, and your necessity shall require it, do but 
ask me in prayer, and whatever my Almighty Power can do, I will do 
it for you. However, let no favourite of heaven forget the infinite 
distance betwixt himself and God. Abraham was a great favourite of 
heaven, and was called the friend of God; yet see with what humility 
of spirit and reverential awe he addresseth God, Gen. 18:27. "Behold 
now I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust 
and ashes." So that you see the titles of favour above-mentioned are 
no empty titles. 
    Thirdly, God's readiness to grant, as well as their liberty to 
ask, speaks them the special favourites of God. The heart of God is 
so propense, and ready to grant the desires of believers, that it is 
but ask and have, Matth. 7: 7. The door of grace is opened by the 
key of prayer. That is a favourite indeed, to whom the king gives a 
blank to insert what request he will: "If ye abide in me, and my 
words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done 
unto you," John 15: 7. O blessed liberty of the sons of God! David 
did but say, "Lord, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into 
foolishness," and it was done as soon as asked, 2 Sam. 15: 31. 
Joshua did but say, Thou sun stand still in Gibeon," and a 
miraculous stop was presently put to its swift motion in the 
heavens; nay, which is wonderful to consider, a prayer, yet unborn, 
I mean conceived in the heart, and not yet uttered by the lips of 
believers, is often anticipated by the propensiveness of free grace, 
Isa. 65: 24. "And it shall come to pass, that before they call I 
will answer, and whilst they are yet speaking I will hear." The 
prayers of others are rejected as an abomination, Prov. 15: 8. God 
casts them back into their faces, Mal. 2: 3. But free grace signs 
the petitions of the saints more readily than they are presented; we 
have not that freedom to ask that God has to give: it is true, the 
answer of a believer's prayers may be a long time suspended from his 
sense and knowledge; but every prayer, according to the will of God, 
is presently granted in heaven, though, for wise and holy ends, they 
may be held in a doubtful suspense about them upon earth. 
    Fourthly, The free discoveries of the secrets of God's heart to 
believers, speak them to be his special favourites: men open not the 
counsels and secrets of their own hearts to enemies or strangers but 
to their most inward and intimate friends: "The secret of the Lord 
is with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant," 
Psal 25: 14. When God was about to destroy Sodom, he would do 
nothing in that work of judgement until he had acquainted Abraham 
his friend, with his purpose therein, Gen 18: 17. "And the Lord 
said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? For I know 
him," &c. So when a king was to be elected for Israel, and the 
person whom God had chosen was yet unknown to the people, God, as it 
were, whispered that secret unto Samuel the day before, 1 Sam. 9:15. 
"Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came:" 
according to the manner of princes with some special favourite. 
    Fifthly, The Lord's receiving every small thing that comes from 
them with grace and favour, when he rejects the greatest things 
offered by others, doth certainly bespeak believers the special 
favourites of God. There was but one good word in a whole sentence 
from Sarah, and that very word is noted and commended by God, 1 Pet. 
3: 6. "She called him Lord." There were but some small beginnings or 
buddings of grace in young Abijah, and the Lord took special notice 
thereof, 1 Kings 14: 13. "Because in him there is found some good 
thing toward the Lord God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam." Let 
this be an encouragement to young ones, in whom there are found any 
breathing desires after Christ; God will not reject them if any 
sincerity be found in them; a secret groan, uttered to God in 
sincerity, shall not be despised, Rom. 8: 26. The very bent of a 
believer's will when he had no more to offer unto God, is an 
acceptable present 2 Cor. 8: 11. The very intent and purpose that 
lie secretly in the heart of a believer, not yet executed, are 
accepted with him, 1 Kings 8: 18. "Whereas it was in thine heart to 
build an house to my name, thou didst well that it was in thine 
heart." Thus small things offered to God by believers find 
acceptance with him, whilst the greatest presents, even solemn 
assemblies, sabbaths, and prayers from others are rejected: "They 
are a trouble unto me; (saith God) I am weary to bear them", Isa 1: 
14, 15. "Incense from Sheba, the sweet cane from a far country" are 
not acceptable, nor sacrifices sweet from other hands, Jer. 6: 20. 
From all which it appears beyond doubt, that the persons and duties 
of believers are accepted in the special favour of God by Jesus 
Christ; which was the second thing to be spoken to, and brings us to 
the third general, viz. 
    Thirdly, How Christ, the beloved, procures this benefit for 
believers? And this he doth four ways. 
    First, By the satisfaction of his blood, Rom. 5: 10. "When we 
were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." No 
friendship without reconciliation, no reconciliation but by the 
blood of Christ: therefore the new and living way, by which 
believers come unto God with acceptance, is said to be consecrated 
for us through the veil of Christ's flesh; and hence believers have 
boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, Heb. 10: 
19, 20. 
    Secondly, The favour of God is procured for believers, by their 
mystical union with Christ, whereby they are made "members of his 
body, of his flesh, and of his bones", Eph. 5: 30. So that as Adam's 
posterity stood upon the same terms that he their natural head did, 
so believers, Christ's mystical members, stand in the favour of God, 
by the favour which Christ their spiritual head has, John 17: 33. "I 
in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and 
that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them 
as thou hast loved me. 
    Thirdly, Believers are brought into favour with God by Christ's 
becoming their altar, upon which their persons and duties are all 
offered up to God: The altar sanctifies the gift, Heb. 13: 10. And 
this was typified by the legal rite mentioned Luke 1: 9,10. Christ 
is that golden altar from whence all the prayers of the saints 
ascend to the throne of God, perfumed with the odours and incense of 
his merits, Rev. 8: 34. "And another angel came and stood at the 
altar, having a golden censer, and there was given unto him much 
incense that he should offer it, with the prayers of all the saints 
upon the golden altar which was before the throne; and the smoke of 
the incense which came with the prayers of the saints ascended up 
before God out of the angel's hand." And thus you see how the 
persons and duties of believers are brought into favour and 
acceptance with God by Jesus Christ. The uses follow. 
    Inf. 1. If all believers be in favour with God, how great a 
mercy is it to have the prayers of such engaged on our behalf. Would 
we have our business speed in heaven, let us get into the favour of 
God ourselves, and engage the prayers of his people, the favourites 
of heaven for us. Vis unita fortior, one believer can do much, many 
can do more: When Daniel designed to get the knowledge of that 
secret, hinted in the obscure dream of the king, which none but the 
God of heaven could make known, it is said, Dan. 2: 17. "Then Daniel 
went to his house, and made the thing known unto Hananiah, Mishael, 
and Azariah, his companions; that they would desire mercies of the 
God of heaven concerning this secret." The benefit of such 
assistance in prayer by the help of other favourites with God, is 
plainly intimated by Jesus Christ to us, Mat. 18: 19. "If two of you 
shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it 
shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." God 
sometimes stands upon a number of voices, for the carrying of some 
public mercy, because he delighteth in the harmony of many praying 
souls, and also loves to oblige and gratify many in the answer and 
return of the same prayer. I know this usage is grown too formal and 
complemental among professors; but certainly it is a great advantage 
to be sincere with them who are so with God. St. Bernard, 
prescribing rules for effectual prayer, closes them up with this 
wish, et cum talis fueris, momento mei, when thy heart is in this 
frame, then remember me. 
    Inf. 2. If believers be such favourites in heaven, in what a 
desperate condition is that cause and those persons, against whom 
the generality of believers are daily engaged in prayers and cries 
to heaven? 
    Certainly Rome shall feel the dint and force of the many 
millions of prayers that are gone up to heaven from the saints for 
many generations; the cries of the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, 
joined with the cries of thousands of believers, will bring down 
vengeance at last upon the man of sin. It is said, Rev. 8: 4, 5, 6. 
"That the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the 
saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand:" And 
immediately it is added, ver. 5. "And the angel took the censer and 
filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth, and 
there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and earthquakes; 
and the seven angels, which had the seven trumpets, prepared 
themselves to sound." The prayer of a single saint is sometimes 
followed with wonderful effects Psal. 18: 6, 7. "In my distress I 
called upon the Lord, and I cried unto my God: he heard my voice out 
of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears: then 
the earth shook and trembled; the foundation also of the hills moved 
and were shaken, because he was wroth:" what then can a thundering 
legion of such praying souls do? It was said of Luther, Iste vir 
potuit cum Deo quicquid voluit, that man could have of God what he 
would; his enemies felt the weight of his prayers, and the church of 
God reaped the benefit thereof. The queen of Scots professed she was 
more afraid of the prayers of Mr. Knox, than of an army of ten 
thousand men: these were mighty wrestlers with God, however 
contemned and vilified among their enemies. There will a time come, 
when God will hear the prayers of his people, who are continually 
crying in his ears, How long? Lord, how long? 
    Inf. 3. Let no believer be dejected at the contempts and 
slightings of men, so long as they stand in the grace and favour of 
God. It is the lot of the best men to have the worst usage in the 
world: those of whom the world was not worthy, were not thought 
worthy to live in the world, Heb. 11: 38. Paul and his companions 
were men of choice and excellent spirits; yet, saith he, 1 Cor. 4: 
12. "Being defamed, we intreat; we are made as the filth of the 
world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day." They 
are words signifying the basest, most contemptible, and abhorred 
things among men. How are heaven and earth divided in their 
judgements and estimations of the saints? Those whom men call filth 
and dirt, God calls a peculiar treasure, a crown of glory, a royal 
diadem. But trouble not thyself, believer, for the unjust censures 
of the blind world, they speak evil of the things they know not: "He 
that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no 
man," 1 Cor. 2: 14. You can discern the earthliness and baseness of 
their spirits: they want a faculty to discern the excellency and 
choiceness of your spirits: he that carries a dark lantern in the 
night can discern him that comes against him, and yet is not 
discerned by him. A courtier regards not a slight in the country, so 
long as he has the ear and favour of his prince. 
    Inf. 4. Never let believers fear the want of any good thing 
necessary for them in this world. The favour of God is the fountain 
of all blessings, provisions, protections, even of all that you 
need. He has promised that he will withhold no good thing from them 
that walk uprightly, Psal. 84: 11. He that is bountiful to his 
enemies will not withhold what is good from his friends. The favour 
of God will not only supply your needs, but protect your persons, 
Psal. 5: 12. "Thou wilt bless the righteous, with favour wilt thou 
compass him as with a shield." 
    Inf. 5. Hence also it follows, that the sins of believers are 
very piercing things to the heart of God. The unkindness of those 
whom he has received into his very bosom, upon whom he has set his 
special favour and delight, who are more obliged to him than all the 
people of the earth beside, O this wounds the very heart of God. 
What a melting expostulation was that which the Lord used with 
David, 2 Sam. 12: 7, 8. "I anointed thee king over Israel, and I 
delivered thee out of the hand of Saul, and I gave thee thy master's 
house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the 
house of Israel and Judah, and if that had been too little, I would 
moreover have given unto thee such and such things: wherefore hast 
thou despised the commandment of the Lord?" But reader, if thou be a 
reconciled person, a favourite with God, and hast grieved him by any 
eminent transgression, how should it melt thy heart to hear the Lord 
thus expostulating with thee: I delivered thee out of the hand of 
Satan; I gave thee into the bosom of Christ; I have pardoned unto 
thee millions of sins; I have bestowed upon thee the riches of 
mercy; my favour has made thee great: and, as if all this were too 
little, I have prepared heaven for thee: for which of all these 
favours cost thou thus requite me?" 
    Inf. 6. How precious should Jesus Christ be to believers, by 
whose blood they are ingratiated with God, and by whose intercession 
they are, and shall for ever be continued in his favour? When the 
apostle mentions the believer's translation, from the sad state of 
nature to the blessed privileged state of grace, see what a title he 
bestows upon Jesus Christ, the purchaser of that privilege, calling 
him the dear Son, Col. 1: 13. Not only dear to God, but exceeding 
dear to believers also. Christ is the favourite in heaven, to him 
you owe all the preferment there: Take away Christ, and you have no 
ground on which to stand one minute in the favour of God. O then let 
Jesus Christ, the fountain of your honour, be also the object of 
your love and praise. 
    Inf. 7. Estimate by this the state and condition of a deserted 
saint, upon whom the favour of God is eclipsed. If the favour of God 
be better than life, the hiding of it from a gracious soul must be 
more bitter than death: Deserted saints have reason to take the 
first place among all the mourners in the world: The darkness before 
conversion had indeed more danger, but this has more of trouble. 
Darkness after light is dismal darkness. Since therefore the case is 
so sad, let your preventing care be the more; grieve not the good 
Spirit of God; you prepare but for your own grief in so doing. 
    Inf. 8. Lastly, Let this persuade all men to accept Jesus 
Christ, as ever they expect to be accepted with the Lord themselves. 
It is a fearful case, for a man's person and duties to be rejected 
of God; to cry and not be heard: And much more terrible to be denied 
audience in the great and terrible day. Yea, as sure as the 
scriptures are the sealed and faithful sayings of God, this is no 
more than what every christless person must expect in that day, Mat. 
7: 22. Luke 13: 26. trace the history of all times, even as high as 
Abel, and you shall find that none but believers did ever find 
acceptance with God; all experience confirms this great truth, that 
they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Reader, if this be thy 
condition, let me beg thee to ponder the misery of it in a few sad 
    Consider how sad it is to be rejected of God, and forsaken by 
all creatures at once; what a day of straits thy dying day is like 
to be, when heaven and earth shall cast thee out together. Be 
assured whatever thy vain hopes for the present quiet thee withal, 
this must be thy case, the door of mercy will be shut against thee; 
no man cometh to the Father but by Christ. Sad was the case of Saul, 
when he told Samuel, "the Philistines make war against me, and God 
is departed from me," 1 Sam. 28: 15. The saints will have boldness 
in the day of judgement, 1 John 4: 17. But thou wilt be a confounded 
man; there is yet, blessed be the God of mercy, a capacity and 
opportunity for reconciliation, 2 Cor. 5: 19. Isa. 27: 5. But this 
can be of no long continuance. O therefore, by all the regard and 
love you have for the everlasting welfare of your own souls, come to 
Christ; embrace Christ in the offers of the gospel, that you may be 
made accepted in the beloved. 

The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
(continued in file 20...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: flamt-19.txt