First, I begin with the thing described, ‘The grace of God.’ It is a term that admits of divers acceptations. Sometimes it is put for God’s eternal favour and good-will; sometimes for the effects of this favour, as grace infused and bestowed upon the creature: Eph. 4:7, ‘To every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ.’ Sometimes it is put for the gospel, which is the charter by which we hold this grace; and so it is said, Rom. 6:15, ‘You are not under the law, but under grace;’ i.e., under the state of the gospel. Here I take it in the first sense, viz., for the gracious will and good pleasure of God to do good to men, or to show mercy to the creature; for God’s kindness and bounty to men is expressed by several terms. The most usual are two—grace and mercy. I will show how they agree, and how they differ. They both agree in this, that they are attributes which merely respect the creature. The love and knowledge of God first falleth upon himself. God knows himself, and loves himself, and then the creature. But now the mercy and grace of God are merely transient, and pass out to and respect the creature only. God cannot be gracious to himself and merciful to himself, as he loves himself and knows himself; and therefore herein they agree. But now in some respects they differ. Grace properly signifies the freeness of God’s love; mercy relates to the misery of the creature. God’s external motive is our misery, and his internal motive is his own grace. Mercy respects us as we are in ourselves worthy of condemnation: grace respects us as we are compared with others that are not elected. As, for instance, if the question be, Why any are chosen to life? it is out of mercy, because they are lost and undone creatures. But then if the question be, Why these are chosen above others? then the ultimate reason is God’s grace. Once more, the angels that never sinned are saved merely out of grace, and not out of mercy. It is not proper to say they are saved out of mercy, for they were never miserable; but men, that were once miserable, are saved, not only out of grace, but also out of mercy. In short, mercy signifies that love of God which helps the miserable, and grace signifies a property in God to give forth things freely and without desert. Grace doth all gratis, freely, and without any merit or precedent obligation or debt. Note then—
Doct. 1. That the original and first moving cause of all the blessings we have from God is grace.
Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, vol. 16 (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1874), 38–39.