Grace for Grace.
BY REV JAMES VAUGHAN
And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. "John i. i6.
WE are to lay it down as a first broad principle, — without which we can build up nothing", — that God has treasured up everything* for His Church in Jesus ChristThere was a plenitude in Him, as He walked this earth, of which everybody, whoever came in contact with Him, was made perfectly conscious, — a word for every need, — a look that spoke all sympathies, — a solution of all doubts, — a cure for all evil. It was not that every grace was in Him, but it was that it was in Him up to the culminating" point, — wisdom perfect, love manifold, power radiated. Everything" about Him was instinct with the g"reatness of its own intensity. It hardly needed to be .told us that "He had the Spirit without measure." When He went up to heaven, not only all things filled Him, but He filled all things; — He was the very "fulness of Him that filleth all in all.*' Whatever is beautiful, whatever is holy, whatever is grand, whatever is wonderful, gathered itself and centred itself in His one holy person. And remember, this was all human " fulness," — the "fulness" of a Man, in a Man, for a man. "It pleased the Father that," in the Man Christ Jesus, "should all fulness dwell."
Grace for Grace. 213 And it was a "fulness" made to communicate itself. Hence the distinction. "The first man Adam was made a living soul ;" he had simply life in himself, he could not impart it. " The last Adam was made a quickening- (/>., a life-giving) Spirit ;" He lives to emit the life He has. Upon that Head, the oil is poured, and it runs down to the farthest members, — to "the very skirts of His clothing." All the light of the universe is collected into that Sun, and " His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and His circuit unto the ends of it ; and there is
nothing hid from the heat thereof." Take two elementary truths. God has nothing for you out of Jesus Christ. He has provided for you abundantly ; but as jealously, He has deposited it all in His Son, " that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." If you have ever failed of any promised good, it is because you have not sought it sufficiently, and with sufficient exclusiveness, in the Lord Jesus Christ. And you never will find real good, — peace, strength, righteousness, truth, life, — till you are content to look for it all, and to look for it only, in Christ. While equally, whatever you can possibly want is there, and there for you, — a righteousness, an abundance of righteousness which you may put on, which you may use, which you may make yours, — to cover you, and to present you before God, — and a Spirit, a spirit of all wisdom to guide you, of all comfort to cheer you, and of all purity to refine you, which you may drink in, to your heart's content, from that fountain : — and a life, which you may not only live, but by transmitting, may make others live, and which you may derive from that living One, for He is the life of every living thing, " because He lives, we shall live also." But then, secondly, it is plain that all this emanation p
214 Grace for Grace. from Christ, pre-supposes that you are in some connection with Him. There must be an avenue through which all the " fulness " shall flow out into your being ; there must be a relation in which you stand to Him. Now that relation must be union ; that union of which our Holy Communion presently will be the pledge, the symbol, and the way. There must be a oneness between your heart and Jesus, such a oneness as that by which the sap of the vine flows into the branches,— secret, deep, spiritual, — the work of His own power, — recognized, felt, acted, eternal. But now we are to pass on to the character of that communication by which we receive, of the " fulness " of Christ, " grace for grace." These are words of suprising condensation, and short
for this very end that we may carry them the better in our hearts; but need some explanation and some quiet thought, in order that we may remember them intelligibly and to good purpose. There are three senses, I believe, in which they may be taken, of which the last which I shall menticMi, is perhaps the most grammatically correct. Still, if you leave out any one of the three, you will miss the completeness of the whole intention, — " grace for grace." The first interpretation of them connects itself with those words in the fourth chapter of the Ephesians, — " Unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ ; " and the lesson which we are to take is this, — that the grace in the believer is not only dependent upon the grace which i& in Jesus Christ; but that it is in a certain proportion to it ; — the more He has, the more we have also, by an eternal correspondence and similitude; — "grace for grace." Now I need not say that the measure of Christ's, grace
Grace for Grace. ^15 being" always infinite, and therefore always the same, this acceptation of the passage must mean practically, not that according" as the grace in Christ actually is, but that according as we believe it to be, and see it to be, so will our supply of that same grace be ; which gives us at once a personal, and yet not a selfish reason for always putting Christ higher and higher in our thoughts; — I say not selfish, for though it be to our great benefit, yet that benefit is again to His glory, and the final end of everything determines its character; therefore I say not selfish. Take, then, worthy and lofty views of Christ, and then by the same act, you are increasing your own mercies ; because if you raise one term in a proportion, you necessarily elevate also the other. Say, for instance, you desire very much any particular power or attainment in the divine life. Observe, trace, honor, meditate on, magnify, that special trait in your Lord and Master. As, to your eyes, it goes up in Him, as it comes out more saliently to your view, it will enlarge itself within you. God, pleased with that additional honor
laid upon His Son, will make it so. The higher the wellhead, the fuller the stream will run. As your soul fills itself out of His, you will understand, by a secret incommunicable process, what that is, — " grace for grace." The second sense of the passage belongs to the work of grace in the heart, and to the relation in which one grace, or one degree of grace, stands to another. This may be sub-divided into two parts. First, there must be a certain grace in a man to enable him and to prepare him for another grace. Without this setting, this second re-action, no " grace " will be " grace " indeed There must be a grace to precede grace, and
2i6 Gr ace for Grace. there must be a grace to follow grace. There is the grace to make the heart ready, so that it can contain and appreciate what God is going to do ; and then there is the grace to follow it, and give effect to the grace bestowed, without which that first grace will be only a responsibility and a burden. Between the graces thus linked together, and thus essential to one another, there is always an exquisite harmony in God's method. Each one has its mate, and you will not pray all you may pray, and all you ought to pray, if you do not pray, not only for grace, but for the grace which is that grace's supplement, — its needful precursor, or its safe sequence, — "grace for grace." And secondly, not only so, but the way in which you use a grace, you will always find it the rule of the measure in which you receive another grace. For God rewards grace by grace, till at last He rewards all grace by glory. Therefore, show to God His grace which He has given you in good exercise, and He — not of merit, but of grace — ^will add a new grace, and so on and on, in an evermultiplying series, till, as by necessary consequence, grace is glory ; and the principle records itself even in heaven, — "grace for grace." And this grows into the third, and that which is generally taught us to be the strictest construing; — God substitutes one grace for another grace. He gives a particular grace; and then He takes away that grace to put another in its place, and that which He gives in
substitution is always superior to that of which it now occupies the place. Thus, for example. He gives a deep sense of sin ; then. He takes away the sorrow of that deep sense of sin by
Grace for Grace, 217 putting in some faith. Again the faith is exchanged for peace. Then the peace merges itself into holiness, till the holiness is exchanged, or rather is transfigured, into heavenly exercises. Or the same principle may work more intricately. The peace, for instance, may go away, and you may be very unhappy about its loss. But God has been superseding peace by humility, — a higher gift than peace. You did not see it with your tearful eye, but it was "grace for grace," one grace instead of another grace, and a greater given you instead of a less. Or that deep sense of sin may come back again when you little look for it, — deeper, darker than it was at the first ; and you may think it retrogression, as you pass from joy back again to that great misery of mind on account of your transgressions, but indeed, the anguish is as gracious, more gracious than all the happiness. It is still ** grace for grace." Or it may be thus. You are suddenly removed from a very active to a very suffering condition. The good works have all ceased, — the whole tone of life is changed, — its level lowered, — its power and its sweetness gone. But, as in that stillness you drink in a deeper humility, and as you take, in that solitary, weary chamber, the clearer likeness of a suffering Master, and as you rise up to the mellow sanctities of the passive and the higher life of Jesus in the soul, you will know still better what it means, "Of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." When it is no longer " grace for grace," but all grace one, — then it will be no more discipline, but rest, — a Christ not shadowed, but seen ; not feebly learnt, but accurately reflected.
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