Robert Traill (1642-1716) was a Puritan pastor whose works were re-issued by the Banner of Trust Trust in 1975. They include a series of six sermons on
Galatians 2:21: ‘I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.’
The six sermons are also available in their entirety here, and are highly recommended. What follows is a very abbreviated precis of the first two sermons:-
1. THE GRACE OF GOD SHINES GLORIOUSLY IN THE JUSTIFYING OF A SINNER THROUGH THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST.How the apostles loves to speak of God’s grace! – Rom 3:24, etc.
(a) What is justification? It is God’s acquitting a man, Rom 8:33. It is the opposite of condemnation.
(b) who is he who justifies? God alone, Rom 8:33 Mk 2:7. Justification is the act of a judge; and only the judge and law-giver can pronounce it, Jas 4:12.
(c) who is justified? The ungodly, Eph 2:1.
(d) Upon what account is all this done? The righteousness of Christ, Rom 3:24-25. When God justifies a man, the righteousness of Christ is reckoned to him, and he is treated as a man in Christ, 1 Cor 1:30 2 Cor 5:21.
See then how brightly shines the grace of God, since salvation is all of God, and nothing of ourselves: only God could find a way of thus justifying the sinner; only Christ could work it out, and bear the burden of our sins and God’s wrath, Heb 9:26; only the Holy Spirit could bring it to us, overcoming all our resistance; only God’s everlasting covenant could secure it, Mt 26:28.
See what vile sinners the receivers of this grace are: they cannot procure it, they do not deserve it, indeed, they have done much to deserve the contrary. According to Rom 5 we are ungodly, v6; sinners, v8; and enemies, v10. Cf Lk 18:13-14 1 Tim 1:15. Not only undeserving, but proud, Rev 3:17-18.
See how precious is this grace of God: it cost the Father dear to part with his Son, the Son dear to part with his own life, and the Spirit dear to bring it to us; it comes to us free, we have nothing to give, and the Lord will take nothing, Rom 3:24 Rev 22:17; it is everlasting, Rom 5:21, to be enjoyed for ever in heaven, Rev 19:8 Heb 2:13 Jn 17:24; it is very abundant: great things are referred to by the name of God, as ‘trees of God’, ‘the city of God’, and ‘the river of God’, this is ‘the grace of God’, cf 1 Tim 1:14, we have sins too numerous to mention, but grace overcomes them all, Rom 5:16-17.
Application In all your dealings, mind grace mainly. When you come for justification, when you receive it, when you give thanks for it, remember it is all of grace. Don’t imagine you don’t need it; don’t object that you don’t deserve it – isn’t a pardon suitable for the guilty? Don’t quarrel with it. Know that without it you are poverty-stricken; but with grace you rich indeed, 2 Cor 8:9.
2. TO FRUSTRATE THE GRACE OF GOD IS A GREAT SIN.
(a) How this sin is committed.
(i) By not receiving salvation when it is offered, 2 Cor 6:1. A man may be neglectful or indifferent towards it, Heb 2:3; may not see his need of it; may not believe that God’s grace can save him.
(ii) By taking other methods to obtain the favour of God. This is a universal heresy, for the doctrine of grace is above sinless nature. Moreover, it is contrary to sinful nature, which is, 1stly, blind and ignorant, Eph 5:8, with regard to the righteousness and holiness of God, the strictness of God’s law, and the righteousness of God in Christ; 2ndly, proud and self-sufficient, as a nobleman who has fallen on hard times will not beg for help; 3rdly, apt to trifle about the great concerns of salvation, being willing to do anything but face up to the great question, What must I do to be saved? How many who hear the gospel think seriously about it? 4thly, unbelief in God’s word. So the first temptation and the first sin, Gen 3:1,4. All tend to unbelief, Heb 3:12, and to disregard God’s commands, corrections, threats, and promises; men will believe anything, it seems, but the truth. Now, it is no wonder that the natural man looks for another way of salvation until these four things are overthrown: ignorance, pride, security, and unbelief.
The effects of this natural aversion to the grace of God.
(i) The world is full of fancies and devices of men to please God. All religions seek to render men acceptable to God, Mic 6:6, even to the extent of child-sacrifice.
(ii) Men go to the law and to the works of the law.
(iii) This aversion to grace works even amongst true believers, 1stly, by their being full of sorrow of heart when relief is so abundantly provided for them; 2ndly, by their resorting to works when besieged by sin and temptation; 3rdly, by their dying sadly, having leant on their own righteousness too much all their lives.
(b) The greatness of this sin of setting aside the grace of God.
(i) It is directly against man’s salvation, and tends directly to damnation. If a man sins against the law, he deserves death; if he sins against the gospel, he works out his own death.
(ii) It is directly against God’s glory, for his glory is particularly aimed at in the gospel. We cannot rob God of his glory, but woe to any who try!
Application. (a) Beware of the sin of setting aside the grace of God: those who have a moral, civil nature, and who do not see their need of grace; those who profess faith, but do not have the reality of it; those who have outward privileges, such as baptism, Christian teaching, and a clean life; awakened souls, lest they are not awakened enough to forsake duty and trust in Christ. (b) Give the grace of God a hearty welcome, and thus avoid setting it aside. Do not doubt your need of it. Do not delay your accepting of it, Heb 3:7. Do not question your title to it, if you have accepted it on God’s terms, Rev 22:17.