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ment, that salvation is necessary to all men : for all men have sinned; all are liable to the eternal punishment of sin ; and hence it becomes an infinitely important question, to be put by every human being, “What shall I do to be saved ?" Suppose that no answer could be given to this question; that there was no salvation-no hope ; nothing but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation to consume the wicked. What would be the feelings of a convinced sinner? Oh, how indescribable the anguish! And the day is coming, when to many this will really be the case; when it must be said, Now there is no salvation—now all hope is for ever fled. Oh, then, that none of us may defer a satisfactory answer to this question till it be too late ; for happily it can still be said, “ Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.” To every convinced and anxious penitent it is, by the divine word, said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”—This brings us to the second division of our dis
II. The way of salvation.
Salvation, in common use, is very generally restricted to deliverance from future misery, anticipated as the punishment of sin : but salvation, in the sense of sacred Scripture, is not confined to that, but includes also a deliverance from the tyranny of Satan, and from the dominion of sinful propensities in this life.
Although there be many in every country who seem to give themselves no concern about future happiness or misery, there is a large proportion of our species, whose minds are ill at ease on this subject; and there are a few, who are very
anxious about it. But there are various mistaken or false ways suggested; some more, and others less distantly removed from the true one.
We sometimes suppose that, in religious matters, the false must be diametrically opposite to the true. But Satan, who goes about seeking whom he may deceive, as well as whom he may devour, like all tempters, cheats, and counterfeits, often endeavours to make the false resemble the true. On this principle it is,
that false religion and superstition prevail so much in the world. Man's conscience is not easy without some religion, some object of worship; and the arch-apostate gains his malicious purpose by inducing men to be satisfied with the mere form of religion for the reality; and sometimes, to worship devils or demons, instead of God.
In order to be saved, to be forgiven, and made happy hereafter, the human mind has suggested sometimes things cruel, sometimes frivolous, and sometimes, seeming to us, not altogether irrational; but yet all different from the heaven-revealed way of salvation. It is to save himself, or to have merit to transfer for the salvation of others, that the devotee subjects himself to almost incredible austerities; it is to save herself infallibly, and her deceased kindred, (as well as from grief and affection) that the Hindoo widow submits to be burned to death in the fire which consumes the corpse of her deceased husband. Man's anxious mind has led him to say, “Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression; the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul!"
The philosophists, both Christian and Pagan, for the most part make a mock at the idea of sin, and it would be in vain for a serious awakened sinner, to ask them what he must do to be saved. The religionists of all kinds have more humanity in this respect. Many of these, however, suggest things which cannot profit-such as the reciting of certain formularies of words, which cannot often, with any propriety, be called prayers ; because, as in China for example, they consist of words which are unintelligible to the person pronouncing them. The incessant repetition of the name Amidah Budh! Amidah Budh! is a certain means of the remission of sin; but there is no reason, no plausible theory adduced, why it should be so. Four prostrations towards the south on the day of every new moon will procure the forgiveness of millions of sins. Others prescribe the lighting of candles, the burning of incense, the saying of masses for the salvation of the soul. These are examples of the false ways which may be denominated superstitious or frivolous.
Those ways of obtaining salvation which appear more reasonable, are the performance of meritorious deeds, or works of righteousness, charity, or almsgiving. The Chinese have a table of vices and of virtues, stated in exact numbers, and direct that the one be balanced against the other, by the sinner himself, that he may thence calculate whether his virtues are sufficient in number to make amends for his vices: and there are many persons amongst Christians, who deem that the sicknesses and other trials of this life merit a reward in the next; and some, with seeming reason, say, repentance and amendment of life constitute the meritorious ground of salvation.
But, according to the Scriptures, all these ways of being saved, proceed upon the erroneous supposition that austerities, ceremonies, and obedience to the law in some things, will make amends for disobedience in others; that man can atone for his own sin; that he can be saved by his own doings; that he can save himself; that he needs no Saviour. Not only does man's foolish heart dream of this capability to save himself; but it, in some parts of the world, imagines, that by austerities, mortifications, abstractions, &c. man can raise himself to be a divine person-a god; thereby perpetuating the foolish suggestion of the serpent in paradise, that eating the interdicted fruit would make the parents of mankind become as gods.
Self-Salvation is, perhaps, not more unscriptural than self-deification. The just sentence of condemnation, pronounced by the divine law, is not so easily removed ; deliverance from the captivity of Satan is not so easily effected; emancipation from the slavery of sin is not so easily procured, as the above-mentioned false ways of salvation seem to suppose.
“ The redemption of the soul is precious, and would cease for ever,” if left to man. He can neither save himself, nor redeem his brother. Salvation must come to man from a power beyond himself, and greater than his own. He is a brand fit only for the burning, and cannot pluck himself out of the fire. Falling, sinking, drowning, he cannot save himself.
But the sacred Scriptures reveal to us One who is mighty to save" able to save to the uttermost all who come to him.” He is more than man-more than angel. Him all the angels of God worship. He is “God manifest in the flesh.” “Help was laid upon Him." He undertook to crush the serpent's head; He was, from the beginning, (before Abraham's days,) the object of the sinner's hope. God so loved the world, and compassionated guilty man, as to constitute his beloved Son our surety-our Redeemer. He suffered for us ; he gave himself to be a sacrifice ; he became a propitiation ; he died, “the just for the unjust.” The Son of God is the author of salvation; in him the Father is well pleased. The Spirit of God that strives with man, is, through him, become the regenerator ; and thus God himself, Father, Son, and Spirit, has become our salvation; and in the Bible he
“ Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and beside me there is no Saviour.” Now, then, salvation is to be sought for out of ourselves, and not from works of righteousness that we can do. The glad tidings, the gospel of salvation, is promulgated to guilty man, and commanded to be preached to every human creature. He that avails him. self of it shall be saved; he that will not avail himself of it shall be condemned. Whosoever avails himself of this salvation shall not perish, but have eternal life. And how in the nature of things can a man avail hinself of it, but by believing the testimony of God our Saviour concerning the whole of this important subject? and hence the answer given by the Apostle to the jailer, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
Therefore the true way of salvation is by faith in Christ; and by faith alone ; without the deeds of the law; the works prescribed by any law, either ceremonial or moral. But the act of faith is not a meritorious thing, for which salvation is granted to us as a reward. It resembles somewhat the act of a beggar's stretching out his open hand to receive an alms; only the one is a physical act, the other a mental operation. It resembles a drowning man's grasping the outstretched arm of a humane friend, who is
anxious to save him from death. It resembles the act of a man's running from imminent destruction to a place of refuge and of safety. But the alms are gratuitous, not given because the beggar stretched his hand out. The attempt to save the drowning man was generous humanity, that preceded the grasp of the sinking person; and though the offer would have been unavailing had he not caught hold of the saving arm, still his salvation from temporal death was not the reward of any act of his. And so of every other illustration of this subject; they all shew, that whilst salvation is by faith in God our Saviour it is not the reward of faith. Salvation is by the free grace of God; it is perfectly gratuitous, and excludes from the creature every imaginable ground of boasting. Salvation is grantedby what law.? asks the Apostle, by the law of works ?nay, but by the law of faith ; for if salvation be by works, it is no more of grace, but of debt: but it is by faith, that it might be by grace. Therefore, in the language of St. Paul, we conclude, that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but aocording to His mercy he saved us.
To understand this subject aright, the object of faith, or things to be believed, must be particularly considered : these are not any human creed, any saint's ideas of Christianity, expressed in his own words, or words attributed to him; not any thing that people can justly call mysterious, unintelligible dogmas, for the believing of which men will be rewarded with salvation. Such a representation is a caricature, drawn by ignorance, and prejudice, or malice, of the doctrine of salvation by faith. The thing to be believed is, the testimony of God, contained in the book of divine revelation, and chiefly concerning the guilt and depravity of mankind; their just subjection to many natural evils now, and their just liability to punishment after death, of a nature and degree more awful than any language can describe. Human depravity and guilt form the ground-work of the whole structure of Christianity; and it being admitted, hence follows the importance of the