Stephen Charnock (Works, Vol. 5, pp. 195-196):
The gospel is the choicest mercy, and therefore the removal of it the sharpest misery. The gospel is so much the best of blessings, as God is the best of beings. This is the sun that enlightens the mind, this is the rain that waters the heart. Without this, we should sink into an heathen, brutish, or devilish superstition. By this, the quickening Spirit renews the soul, and begins a gracious and spiritual life in order to a glorious and eternal one. It is by this our souls are refined and our lusts consumed. Without it we are without help, and without hope; without it we have no prospect of a world to come, nor any sight of the paths that lead to happiness. This is the foundation of the peace and joy of our spirits here, this is the basis of our hopes of happiness hereafter. This is a pearl of great price; this is the glory and honour of a church, people, or person. This only instructs us to save our souls. Your trades may gain and preserve an estate, your bread may nourish your bodies, this only can fatten and prop your souls; had we the law only, which yet is the law of God, we should still find it weak through the flesh, it cannot now save us, though the observance of it might have made our father Adam happy. It is the gospel only that is strong to save through the Spirit. The law could bless an innocent man, but the gospel only restores a guilty man. When the candlestick, the gospel, therefore, is removed, the light is removed which is able to direct us, the pearl is removed which is able to enrich us. In the want of this is introduced a spiritual darkness, which ends in an eternal darkness. As the gospel is compared to heaven, and so called the kingdom of heaven, and a people in the enjoyment of it are said to be ‘lifted up to heaven,’ Mat. 10:23, so in the want of it they are said to be cast down into hell, so that what resemblance there is between heaven and the means of grace, that there is between the want of them and hell, both are a separation from God by divorce between God and a people.
Question: Are you a child of God or an adult?
Many Christians and some entire denominations think that the gospel is for adults. Maybe including teanagers, but certainly not for young children. Even the disciples of Jesus thought that way.
But Jesus said in Luke 18:15-17
15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.
16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.
17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
“Jesus shows his disciples how “of such is the kingdom of God,” for no one shall enter that kingdom unless he enters it as a little child. This statement is astonishing in every way. We should think as, alas, so many did and do think that a babe must receive the kingdom as an adult receives it, but absolutely the reverse is true. The child is the model, not the man. It is the unassuming humility and the unquestioning trustfulness of the child that makes it a pattern for all adults. This humility and this trustfulness, when they are directed to Christ, become the very essence of saving faith.”
Hugh Binning (Practical Sermons), Works, p. 626:
The kingdom of grace is worthy of all your affections and pains. That despised thing in the world called grace is the rarest piece of the creation, and if we could look on it aright, we would seek grace, and follow after it. Grace extracts a man out of the multitude of men that are all of one mass. Grace separates him from the rest of the world, and to this purpose are these usual phrases in scripture, “Such were some of you;” “Once ye were darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord;” “Among whom ye had your conversation in times past, fulfilling the desires of the flesh.” All men are alike by nature and birth, there is no difference. Grace brought to light by the gospel makes the difference, and separates the few chosen vessels of glory and mercy from the world, and now “they are not of the world, as I am not of the world.” All the rest of men’s aims and endeavours cannot do this. Learning makes not a man a Christian. Honour makes not a man differ from a Gentile or Pagan. Riches make you no better than infidels. Speak of what ye will, you shall never draw a man entirely out of the cursed race of Adam, never distinguish him from Gentiles before God, till the Spirit of regeneration blow where he listeth. And this is grace’s prerogative, beyond all other things.
Thomas Goodwin contrasts them in this way:
This I will say in the general to you: there are two covenants, the covenant of grace, and the covenant of works, and these two are incompatible one with another. Take the law as it is a covenant, it is incompatible with the covenant of grace. These two are two vicegerents in man’s heart; the law hath natural conscience in men’s hearts to keep its courts, and the gospel hath faith in the heart to keep Christ’s court. Now all men in the world, let them be never so much enlightened, and have not saving grace, they are under the law; therefore conscience is the supreme principle in them: all men that are godly are under grace, Rom. vii. 1, vi. 14; therefore they are under faith. Now here lies the great mystery of it: that still conscience would be the supreme principle, it would act according to the tenor of the law in a man’s spirit, it would keep a man under the law; for it is true to its master which naturally it is appointed to serve, and doth oppose the dignity of faith, and therefore only God can so subdue conscience unto faith, as the law ought to be subdued to the gospel (The Works of Thomas Goodwin, II, pp. 346-7).
Hugh Binning, Works, p. 560:
Fleeing unto a Saviour for refuge is a rational and deliberate action, which necessarily includes the sense of misery without him. But the sense of sin and misery is not urged as one thing which ye should go about to prepare, and fit yourselves for more welcome at Christ’s hand, as commonly it is taken. Here it is easy to understand how the command of believing belongs unto all who hear it, even to the vilest and grossest sinners, who are yet stout, hard-hearted, and far from righteousness (Isa. 46:12), those who are spending their money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfies not, and those whose hearts are uncircumcised, and their lives profane. And yet the commandment of coming to the Son and believing on him for life, is extended unto them all. All are invited, requested, commanded, and threatened to this duty. There is no bar of exclusion set down in the gospel to hold out one, and let in another.
Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/there-is-no-bar-of-exclusion.90315/, Comment 1
Hugh Binning, Works, p. 559:
Truly it is a wonder that there should be any need either of an invitation, or a request, or a command, or a threatening; that we should need to be invited, or requested, or commanded, or threatened to our own happiness. Might not a bare and simple offer, or proposal of Jesus Christ, his nature, and offices, of the redemption and salvation purchased by him, suffice? What needed more, but to declare unto us that we are lost and utterly undone by nature, and that there is a refuge and remedy provided in Christ? Surely in any other thing of little importance, we needed no entreaty. Were it not a good enough invitation to a man that is like to starve for hunger, to cast meat freely before him; or to a man that is in hazard of drowning, to cast a cord to him? We would seek no other persuasion to go and dig for a treasure of gold, than to show us where it is hid. But strange is the rebellious and perverse disposition of man’s heart. What an enmity is in it to the ways of God! What strange inclination to self-murder, ever since man destroyed himself!
Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/what-an-enmity-to-the-ways-of-god.90304/, Comment 1