[This is an outline of the first quarter of Thomas Manton’s first sermon on Titus 2:11-14
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.—TITUS 2:11–14.
Having made some general observations on the structure of text he announces the first doctrine:
Doct. 1. That the original and first moving cause of all the blessings we have from God is grace.
I. Survey all the blessings of the covenant, and from first to last you will see grace doth all. Election, vocation, justification, sanctification, glorification, all is from grace. There is a clue of scriptures which will lead us through all these steps, and direct us to grace.
A. For election: Rom. 11:5, 6, There is an election; and why is there election? It is according to grace.
B. Our calling, 2 Tim. 1:9, Why doth God pick and choose, and cull here and there? The only reason is his own grace and his own purpose.
C. Justification: Rom. 3:24, ‘Being justified freely by his grace.’
D. Sanctification, all the parts whereof are called the graces of the Spirit; ….The same grace that giveth Christ, giveth faith to believe in Christ, that we may be possessed of his grace.
E. Glorification, which is the complement of all salvation. … So that when we come to heaven, this will be our great work, to sing forth the praises of grace, and to admire and glorify the grace of God to all eternity.
II. Secondly, To limit the point. Though it is of grace, yet not to exclude Christ, not to exclude the means of salvation.
A. Not to exclude Christ. [Both the giving of Christ and the imputation of his merit were the result of grace.]. Well, then, it is grace to find out the merit, and grace by which we are interested in it. Christ’s merit is most free, both on the part of God the Father freely sending Christ, and on the part of Christ taking this office upon him. It was grace that moved God to give Christ, and grace that moved Christ to give himself, ‘who loved me, and gave himself for me,’ Gal. 2:20. Nay, after all this, it is grace that gives us faith, that so we may be interested in the merit of Christ, that we which sinned with both hands earnestly, might take hold of God with both hands.
B. Not to exclude the means of salvation; not faith, nor obedience also, if rightly understood.[Do not confuse means and merit.]
1. Not faith; There is a condition required, and that is faith; but God himself gives the condition that he requireth. Grace cannot stand with anything that is in man, and of man as the condition of the covenant
2. And then for obedience, that is also subordinate to faith, as a necessary fruit and effect of it. As faith is the instrument, so obedience is required as a fruit of faith.
a. Though it come not into justification, yet it is an evidence of our interest in salvation. It is required as a testimony of faith, yet not as a condition, which is a cause of the thing promised. It is required, because though it be not of man, yet it is in man; it is given of God, but it is our work.
b. …There is a concurrence of works, but not by way of causality, but order. God will first justify, then sanctify, then glorify, and all of grace. Obedience is the conditio sine qua non—the condition without which we cannot be saved. The grace of God is the first moving cause; Christ is the meritorious procuring cause; faith is the instrument; and obedience is the fruit of faith.
III. Thirdly, My nest work shall be to give you some reasons why it must be so that grace is the original cause of all the blessings we receive from God; because it is most for the glory of God, and most for the comfort of the creature.
A. It is most convenient for the glory of God, to keep up the respects of the creature to him in a way suitable to his majesty.
1. Mark, God would dispense blessings in such a way as might beat down despair and carnal confidence at the same time. Man had need of mercy, but deserveth none. Despair would keep us from returning to God, and carnal confidence from ascribing all to God. Therefore, as the Lord would not have flesh to glory, so neither to be cut off from all hope.
2. It is of grace that we may hope, and keep up our respect to God; for there is nothing that keeps up the devotion and respects of the creature to God so much as grace.
3. If God did not deal with us upon terms of grace, despair would make us let go all sense of duty, and a guilty creature would stand at a distance, and fly from the sight of God. Some think that the only way to gain men to a sense of religion is by rubbing the conscience, and keeping it raw and sore with terror; but the psalmist saith, ‘There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.’ This is the best way to keep up the creature’s respects. False worships are merely supported by terror and fear; but God, that hath the best title to the heart, will gain it by love and grace.
B. It is most for the comfort of the creature. Grace is the original cause of all the good we expect and receive from God, that we may seek the favour of God with hope, and retain it with certainty.
1. That we may seek the favour of God with hope.
a. If we had to do with justice there could be no hope, for justice giveth only what is due, and doth not consider what we need, but what we deserve.
b. Merit-mongers are best confuted by experience. Let them use the same plea in their prayers which they do in their disputes, and plead the merit of their works, and say, Lord, give me not eternal life, and grace, and favour, till I deserve it at thy hand. Let them thus dispute with God or with their own consciences in the agonies of death, and under horrors of the Lord’s wrath. Surely those that cry up the merits of works are men of little spiritual experience, and seldom look into their own consciences, Dare they thus plead with God?—Lord, never look upon me in mercy if I do not deserve it.
c. So we read in the Life of Bernard, seeming to be cited before the tribunal of God, when Satan had spoken in his conscience, What! thou look for any favour at God’s hand? thou art not worthy. He replies, I confess I am not worthy, nor can I by my own deserts obtain the kingdom of heaven; but I have a double right, Hœreditate patris, et merito passionis—by the grace of my father, and by the merit of Christ’s passion; hereby I can take hold of God with both hands. by grace and merit; not my own, but Christ’s. Thus God’s best servants, their hopes have been established this way, by casting themselves upon mercy and grace.
2. That we may retain the favour of God with certainty: Rom. 4:16, ‘Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace, to the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed.’ We should never else be secured against doubts and fears. Believers, that offend daily, would be left to a sad uncertainty; but now we can the better expect glory when the foundation of it is laid in grace. I remember the great patron of the merit of works, Bellarmine, concludeth out of Bernard, propter incertitudinem propriæ justitiæ, et periculum inanis gloriæ, tutissimumi est fiduciam totam in solâ Dei misericordia et benignitate reponere—Because of the uncertainty of our own righteousness, and the danger of vain-glory, I confess it is the safest course to put our trust in the sole mercy and grace of God.