The Way to Be Saved
James Smith, 1856
My dear reader, it is from tender love to your immortal soul, and with an earnest desire for your everlasting welfare, that this portion is presented to you. Do you ever pray? if so, before you read it, lift up your heart to God, and ask him to make it a blessing to your soul. It treats of a subject which is infinitely important — a subject in which you are interested; and it is intended to render this subject so plain that you may clearly understand it. For unless you understand the truth, you cannot obey it; and unless you obey the truth you cannot be sanctified by it; and without holiness, no one can see the Lord, or be happy forever.
Our subject is the way of salvation, or how sinners can be saved; and made happy and holy, first in this world, and then in the world to come. For what we are in time — we shall be to all eternity. Death fixes our state, and renders a change for the better impossible, if we are found outside of Christ.
And, first, you must know that you are always spoken of in God's word, as a Sinner — that is, a Rebel against God. One who has . . .
broken his law;
trampled upon his authority;
defied his justice;
trifled with his patience;
and refused to submit to his will.
You righteously deserve his everlasting indignation, and fierce displeasure; you are in yourself hopelessly lost. You cannot deliver your soul, or give unto God a ransom. You are unable to do any one thing that is really good of yourself. Your heart is deceitfully and desperately wicked, that all that flows from it naturally, is an abomination in the sight of God. He would therefore be just in cutting you off, and sending you to eternal torments at any moment of time.
But he is patient to us, not desiring that any should perish — but that all should come to repentance. You are by nature wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Your nature cannot be worse, for every imagination of the thought of your heart is evil, and only evil, and that continually. This is God's own testimony concerning you, to which he adds, "They are become altogether filthy — there is none that does good, no not one!"
My dear friend, have you ever viewed yourself thus? Do you now believe the testimony of God concerning you? Do you admit with grief, shame, and confusion of face that it is the honest truth respecting you? Remember, the Lord cannot exaggerate, his word cannot be falsified; let me therefore exhort you to get your bible, and turn to the following passages, and read them slowly — thoughtfully — seriously — just as the words of God should be read — and see if you believe — if you feel — if you can honestly confess — that they describe the state of your heart by nature. Genesis 6:5,8,21. Job 15:14-16. Psalm 53:1-3, Ecclesiastes 9:3. Jeremiah 17:9, 10. Mark 7:20-23. Romans 3:9-20.
What an awful picture is here! And yet this is an accurate description of your heart — of every man's heart, without one solitary exception. How wonderful that God should bear with us, that he should contrive and set open a way of salvation for us! But this he has done, and now I proceed to set that way before you.
The Lord Jesus Christ of his infinite love, came into the world on purpose to save sinners. He came that he might . . .
obey the law which we had broken;
honor the majesty which we had insulted;
endure the punishment we had deserved;
and make a full and satisfactory atonement for our sins, by dying in our stead!
He gave himself for our sins. He died, the just for the unjust. He gave himself for us — that he might redeem us. He bore our sins in his own body on the tree. He brought in an everlasting righteousness — that by his obedience many may be made righteous.
All that justice demanded — he rendered;
all the law threatened — he endured; and
all poor miserable sinners needed — he procured.
And now he is exalted a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance and remission of sins.
Through what he did and suffered — sinners can be accepted, pardoned, and saved; and in his name our prayers are received, approved, and answered. He is able to save to the very uttermost, for the atonement he made is Infinite! In dying once, he obtained eternal redemption, and through his name, whoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins. There are no limits to his power, for he is God as well as man; nor are there any limits to his mercy, for it is as extensive as eternity. Psalm 103:16. It is infidelity to think that he cannot save — it is giving him the lie to say that he will not save any, and every coming sinner, for he has said, "I will never cast out." Let Jesus be true — and every man a liar.
He is just suited to you if you feel and confess that you are as vile, unworthy, and base as God's Word says you are!
For his blood will cleanse you from all sin;
his righteousness will justify you forever before God;
his Spirit will sanctify and make you fit for glory;
his Word will cheer, support, and direct you while in this miserable world;
and death as his servant will just introduce you into his presence with exceeding joy.
He is willing to receive you this moment, just as you are — filthy, polluted, and miserable! His heart is full of love — he is plenteous in mercy — he is ready to forgive — and whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. He cannot be more willing — there never will be a more convenient season, for he is waiting to be gracious — and behold — Now is the accepted time, and Now is the day of salvation.
But you must feel what a poor, wicked, and depraved creature you are; you must discover that you are in a most dangerous situation: and you must learn that there is neither help nor hope for you anywhere — but in Jesus Christ alone. You must be brought to fear the wrath of God — to confess that he is Just in every threatening pointed at you in his holy word — and would be just in banishing you forever from his presence. You must flee to Christ or perish. He only saves those, who feeling their lost and miserable state, come to him, confess before him, plead with him, and are willing to be saved by him on any terms.
My dear friend, have you thus come to Jesus? Do you remember the Place where, the Time when, you cast yourself at his feet and cried with the heart, "Lord, save me, or I perish!" O it is of infinite importance to feel our true state and condition; to flee to Jesus for refuge from the wrath to come; to, cast our souls into his arms exclaiming —
"A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On your kind arms I fall;
O be my strength and righteousness,
My Savior and my All."
You must place no dependence on your prayers, your feelings, or any duties you may perform: but all your dependence must be placed on the person, work, blood, name, and word of Jesus. He is to be The Savior. He is to do the work — and have the glory. In his name shall the Gentiles trust. He is to be the confidence of all the ends of the earth: to whom he says, "Look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else." You must feel as the Philippian jailor did when he cried out, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" and received for answer, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." You must do as Paul did, when he said, "Yes, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord: that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law — but that which is through the faith of Christ, (or believing in Christ,) the righteousness which is of God by faith."
You must renounce SELF, withdraw your affections from the world, and consider the salvation of the soul as the one thing needful. For this purpose, God sends you his holy word, in which your danger is pointed out, and the only way of escape made known; for there is but one way even Jesus Christ, and faith in him. "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." The word of God informs you in the plainest way, and exhorts you to "flee from the wrath to come."
It points you to Jesus and says, "Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord and he will have mercy upon him: and to our God for he will abundantly pardon!"
It sets the most high God before you, clothed in his most amiable perfections and attractive attributes, saying, "How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity; and fools hate knowledge? Turn at my reproof: behold I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you." Thus you see Jesus is set before you as an able, suitable, and willing Savior; pardon, full, free, and eternal is promised to all who seek the Lord; and the Holy Spirit to those who regard his word and turn at his reproof.
Let me therefore beseech you to think seriously upon this subject, there is now hope concerning you; but if once the master rises up and shuts the door — in vain will you begin to knock. O Sinner, Tremble! tremble at your deserved doom, at your dangerous state! Fly, O Fly To Jesus,
His arms are open to receive,
Whoever to him flies;
Pardon and present peace to give,
And bliss that never dies!
Retire, my dear fellow-sinner, retire into some secret place, and begin to seek the Lord: he is near to you, his eye is observing the movements of your mind while reading this little book; and he will mark the result. If you retire to pour out your heart before him — then he will listen, pity, and relieve you; he will fulfill his greatest promises to you, and bestow his richest blessings upon you. "He is rich unto all that call upon him." O seek him earnestly! Seek him importunately until you find him. Take up the Publican's prayer and cry, "God be merciful unto me a sinner." Imitate the example of David, and plead, "O Lord, I beseech you to deliver my soul. O save me for your mercies sake." Do as the poor widow did, (Luke 18:1-8.) go, and go, and go again — until you find pardon, peace, and everlasting salvation.
Every one who asks, receives. That is, every one who feels his need, ardently desires, pleads the name of Jesus, and expects on the ground of mercy. He has said, "Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be filled!" He has promised, "Whatever you shall ask the Father in my name He will give it to you." "If you shall ask anything in my name I will do it." He cannot deny himself. Has he said, "Call upon me, and I will answer you?" and will he not do it? Has he spoken, "As I live says the Lord, I desire not the death of a sinner!" and will he not make it good?
Go, sinner, go to the God whom you have insulted and often grieved; go and tell him what a wretch you have been, how vile you are, and what dreadful punishments you deserve: go plead with him for mercy in the name and for the sake of Jesus alone; go tell him that you condemn yourself, that you are ashamed of your baseness, that you deserve his wrath — but Jesus died, and that you beseech him to honor the Lord Jesus Christ, by saving you for his sake, that you may eternally bless his name, and sing his praise.
"Tell him all this, nor cease your cry
Until he mercy show;
Thousands have found it, so have I,
And you shall find it too!"
Are you then convinced you are the sinner the word of God describes? Is your mouth stopped, so that you can make no excuse for sin — but only cry, "Guilty, Guilty Before God!" Are you willing, heartily willing to submit to the righteousness of God, that is, to be saved as a poor, lost sinner only by the doing and dying of the Lord Jesus? Have you cast yourself at the Lord's feet as a poor condemned criminal, and cried for mercy with all your heart and soul? Are you as willing to walk by the precepts of the Lord's word, as to trust in his promises? Is Christ, your daily food, delightful subject and pleasant portion? Can you prefer suffering to sinning?
If so, I hail you as blessed of the Lord, you are in the way of salvation; peace and joy in believing are your present portion, and everlasting life are secured to you by every promise in the bible, and every perfection in the nature of God! O let it be your daily study and delight to walk so as to please God, whether you eat or drink, do all to his glory.
"Then the King will turn to those on the left and say: Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons!" "And they will go away into eternal punishment!" Matthew 25:41, 46. Lost sinner, your case is sad — very sad. You are an enemy to God, in open and avowed rebellion against him! You are the enemy of that precious Savior, who warns, invites, and beseeches you to be reconciled to God! You are forcing your passage to blackness, darkness, and eternal woe, through means of grace, and a thousand obstacles which are thrown in your way! And, O how fearful will your end be! You will be found guilty of sanctioning the Jews in putting Jesus to death, of uniting every rebellious spirit in the universe against God, of setting at nothing all his counsel, and treating his reproofs with contempt! What, O what a dreadful end, must yours be!
In Hell you will be forever deprived of the glorious presence of God! You will never see light — but be in perpetual darkness! Your abode will be a prison, where there is . . .
no comfort — but horror;
no voice — but of blasphemers cursing God;
no sounds — but the howling of the tortured;
no society — but devils and the damned — these being tormented themselves will eternally torment you.
You must experience . . .
punishment, without pity;
misery, without mercy;
sorrow, without support;
crying, without comfort;
mischief without measure;
torment, without ease;
where the worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched!
The wrath of God will seize upon your soul and body, like fire! And in the flame you will be . . .
forever burning — but never consumed;
ever dying — but never dead;
ever roaring with pain — but know no end of these pains.
Your torments will be always beginning.
Your reflections will be, "All this, I procured by my sin! This I chose — in preference to heaven! I myself am to blame for my destruction — and God is just!"
Great God, awaken, awaken the sinner's soul! Open, O open his eyes! Snatch, O snatch him as a brand from the burning — and save him through Jesus' blood!! If this is not the case, lost sinner, you may look forward, and exclaim —
Infinite years in torments shall I spend,
And never, never, never end!
Ah! must I live in torturing despair,
As many years — as atoms in the air?
When these are spent as many thousands more,
As grains of sand which crowd the ebbing shore;
When these are done, as many yet behind
As leaves of the forest, shaken with the wind!
When these run out, as many on the march
As starry lamps which gild the spangled arch;
When these expire, as many millions more
As moments, in the millions past before!
When all these doleful years are spent in pain,
And multiplied by myriads again,
Til numbers drown the thought; could I suppose
That then my wretched years were at a close.
This would afford some ease, but, ah, I shiver —
To think upon the dreadful sound, forever!
The burning gulf, where I blaspheming lie,
Is time no more — but vast eternity!