While talking about God’s glory in salvation (from Ps. 115:1), Augustus Toplady mentioned the doctrine of election found in Ephesians 1 and Romans 9-11. He spent quite a bit of time highlighting that every part of salvation is of grace, and grace alone, including the fact that God has chosen some to salvation. Here’s how he stated it:
This election is an election of grace, or a free, sovereign, and unmerited act of God. The apostle would not leave out the word grace, lest people should imagine that God elected them on account of something he saw in them above others. “Well, but” (may some say) “admitting election to be by grace, might not our foreseen good works have a little hand in the matter? Might not God have some small regard to our future good behavior?” No, answers the apostle: none at all. If election be by “grace,” that is, of mere mercy and sovereign love; then it is no more of “works,” whether directly or indirectly, in whole or in part; “otherwise, grace is no more grace.”
Would any thing human, though ever so little, be mixed with grace, as a motive with God for showing favor to Peter (for instance) above Judas, then grace would all evaporate, and be annihilated from that moment. For, as Augustine observes, ‘Gratia non est gratia, nisi sit omninò gratuita’: Grace ceases to be grace, unless it be totally and absolutely irrespective of any thing and of every thing, whether good or bad, in the objects of it. So that, as the apostle adds, was it possible for election to be “of works,” then would it be “no more” an act of “grace;” but a payment, instead of a gift; “otherwise, work were no more work.”
On one hand, “work” ceases to be considered as influential on election, if election is the daughter of “grace;” and, on the other hand, “grace” has nothing at all to do in election, if “works” have any concern in it. Grace and conditionality, are two incompatible opposites; the one totally destroys the other; and they can no more subsist together, than two particles of matter can occupy the same individual portion of space at the same point of time.
We’re justified by grace alone, apart from good works; similarly, God elects his people based on his good pleasure alone, not based on their good works. All is of grace, and grace only!