Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied unto my beloved friends, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ", by the Holy Spirit, whose gracious and condescending office it is to communicate to every chosen vessel of mercy, in the appointed time and measure, all that is purposed for them by God the Father, and all that is possessed for them by God the Son as Mediator. Hence the apostle saith, "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ." O to belong to those "us." According to the apostle, they were by nature children of wrath, sinners, and many of them very great sinners; yet "God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved them, even when dead in sins," was pleased to interest them in all the work and grace of his dear Son, and to show unto ages to come the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards them by Christ Jesus, that we, through patience and comfort of the scripture, might have hope. For we learn by the precious word of God that grace is given to the very chief of sinners, and that none are denied that ask and seek in sincerity and truth, in God's own way. For ask and seek they never would, and from the awful depravity of nature they never could, unless God first freely gives them his grace to incline and enable them so to do; and the giving them that grace makes it manifest that they are vessels of mercy afore ordained to glory.
"Our seeking thy face is the fruit of thy grace,
Thy goodness deserves, and shall have all the praise.
No sinner can be beforehand with thee.
Thy grace is preventing, almighty, and free."
The Lord forms his people so as they may show forth his praise. Jesus Christ is made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; that, according as it is written, "Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord." The Holy Spirit continually convinces us of our sinfulness, and consequently of our helplessness, on purpose to show the freeness and efficacy of the grace of God, that we might be to the praise of the glory of his grace. We do not, God will not suffer us to sin, that grace may abound; but grace does abound over all our sinfulness. O for more humility, self-loathing, godly sorrow, precious faith, and unfeigned love. We may, each of us, say with David, "I am poor and needy." Grace in the heart is most assuredly the good treasure of the heart; and, at times, there is but little of it; yet the Lord thinketh of us, and favors us with fresh supplies to preserve us from bankruptcy and destruction.
May the Almighty bless every means of grace for that purpose, and make us diligent in his word, that we may attain to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ.
I remain, Yours affectionately,
Sunderland. S. TURNER.