The Way of Salvation Set Forth
This little work has been written, in hope that it will be used by the Lord, seriously to impress the minds of the thoughtless, with a sense of the importance of salvation, and to lead them to seek and enjoy that invaluable blessing. It is intended also to point out to enquirers, the nature and design of salvation; and to direct the anxious mind unto the way of peace. Its style is simple. It aims rather at the heart than the head. It is intended to do good to the souls of men. It is suited to the masses of our fellow countrymen, who are living in ignorance, folly, and sin. It is an effort to honor God, and to bring sinners to him by repentance and faith. It may be appropriately presented to anyone as a gift or token of affection. It contains nothing of a sectarian character, but is designed for general usefulness.
The only end the Author had in view in writing, was to bring sinners to the Savior that being washed in his blood, clothed in his righteousness, and sanctified by his Spirit they may become happy and useful, holy and honorable below, and unspeakably glorious above.
Reader, are you an unforgiven sinner? Do you feel it? Are you concerned about it? Then read this book! Read it carefully. Read it slowly. Read it with prayerfully. Read it in the presence of God. Read as one who must give an account to God of the use you make of it. Are you careless and indifferent about these things? Let me entreat you to give this little book a reading. It may do you good. You may have cause to eternally bless God that you ever did so.
Are a sincere believer in Christ? Then read this book, and when you have done so, lend or give it to someone you may know, to whom it is suitable; and ask the Lord to send his Holy Spirit with it, that it may be useful. How often has such a little work proved a blessing, and the Lord can make this work as great a blessing as any of its predecessors. Is it too much to ask you to purchase, and circulate a few copies among your relatives, acquaintances, neighbors, and friends? It may be the means of their salvation, and if it should how great will be your reward, how sweet your joy! Pray for the book, that it may be a savor of life unto life to many. Pray for all who read it, that they may receive a blessing through it. And if you hear of its doing any good, be sure you ascribe that to God, and give him all the glory.
Part I. The IMPORTANCE of Salvation.
Nothing can possibly be of such importance as salvation the present and everlasting salvation of the soul. Its value is beyond conception and may therefore well be said to defy the powers, of expression and yet few comparatively appear to realize its importance at all. It is published from the pulpit, it is presented to the eye in the word of God, and yet unless the Holy Spirit works in the heart it is treated with lightness and indifference. It is presented in various forms in the writings of godly men, it is often spoken of in conversation, and many occasionally think of it yet few, very few indeed, realize its vast, its infinite importance.
But salvation ought to be the one grand end of life, our
daily, hourly business for in comparison with it . . .
wealth is vanity,
pleasure a foolish dream, and
business an insignificant trifle.
Salvation is . . .
the richest gift which an infinite God can bestow,
the choicest favor a God of love can confer,
the greatest work which God Incarnate wrought,
and the strongest proof of the Holy Spirit's grace.
Salvation is absolutely necessary for us, and brings
eternal glory to God's holy name. It is needful . . .
to sweeten our comforts,
soften our sorrows,
lighten our burdens,
cheer our drooping hearts,
and purify our polluted natures.
If we are strangers to salvation then we are . . .
enemies to God,
slaves to lust,
servants of Satan,
and children of wrath!
We are "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and
naked." In the present world we can have no true joy, solid peace, or
substantial pleasure and in the world to come, we are only warranted to
expect . . .
eternal banishment from God,
association with devils, and
a portion in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone!
Reader, how is your mind affected upon this subject?
You must be saved before you die or lost forever.
You must be saved by the Lord Jesus or perish in your sins.
You must be saved now or you are undone eternally!
Is your mind impressed with the importance of this subject?
Does it occupy your thoughts and influence your conduct?
Are you enjoying salvation through the blood of Christ? If so, you are happy, unspeakably happy; and though your happiness may be occasionally interrupted, it will never, never end. Your pleasures will be for evermore.
But if you are not enjoying salvation, are you seeking it? If so, you will certainly find it. None ever sought in vain, who sought it in God's way. "Every one who seeks, shall find." But you may be discouraged, and if so, this book, read with prayer, in dependence on the Holy Spirit for his blessing may prove the means of deepening the work, encouraging you in your pursuit, and filling you with holy joy.
But perhaps my reader is a careless, thoughtless, neglecter of salvation; one who feels indifferent on this subject, and, at present cares for none of these things. If so, I beseech you to read this little volume. Read it through to the end. Read it as if it was written on purpose for you, which indeed is the case. Read it as the production of one who earnestly longs for the salvation of your soul. Read it as a message from God unto you, You are deeply interested in the subject whether you feel it or no it concerns you, and concerns you most deeply. May the Holy Spirit direct your heart into the subject, and make this little work a great blessing, to your soul!
The design of this work is to . . .
and to speak a word in season to everyone who may need it, whether thoughtless, concerned, or happy in the Lord.
I take a rather comprehensive view of the important subject of which it treats, following the light of God's Word, and Christian experience alone. I wish to write what I know, what I have experienced, and what I enjoy in my own soul; so that I may say with one of Job's friends, "We have examined this, and it is true. So hear it and apply it to yourself." Job 5:27.
The style is simple, the language plain,
and the matter spiritual. He aims at the heart rather than the
head to impress rather than please. The salvation of
the soul, not the amusement of the mind is the object sought. O that God
would direct the word to every reader s heart! That the Holy Spirit would by
this book . . .
convince of sin,
lead to Jesus and
produce true holiness of heart!
Then the author would rejoice, and his readers would bless God forever, that this feeble work was presented to their notice. Holy Spirit, descend and apply what is now written, and make this little book the means of honoring the Lord Jesus, in the experience of many, many souls! Yours is the power, perform the work, and your shall be the glory!
1. The importance of salvation, arising from the nature and value of the SOUL.
Man is a compound being, composed of a material body, and an immaterial soul. The body may be decomposed and return to its native earth but the soul can undergo no such change it will be separated from the body for a time, and return unto God who gave it but it will be united to the body again and live in union with it forever, either in inconceivable happiness or unspeakably fearful sufferings. The soul is the principal part of the man, and claims our supreme attention; for if the soul is safe then all is safe; but if the soul is lost then all is lost. Therefore the Lord Jesus proposes the question, "What shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Mark 8:36,37. Let us therefore consider briefly,
1. The ORIGIN of the soul.The body of man at the first, was formed out of the dust of the earth; but his soul proceeded immediately from God. Hence it is written, "And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Genesis 2:7. All other creatures in the world were formed of the same material as the world; but the soul of man proceeded immediately from the nature of God. "God said, Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness so God created man in his own image." Genesis 1:26, 27, and so it would appear through all time, that though the body is generated by man, the soul proceeds from God; it is a direct emanation from himself. He "forms the spirit of man within him." Zech. 12:1. He is therefore called "the God of the spirits of all flesh." Num. 16:22. And hence speaking of our immortal spirits, he calls them "the souls that I have made." Isaiah 57:16. God also lays a special and peculiar claim to them, saying, "All souls are mine." Ezekiel 18:4. He is moreover designated "the Father of spirits." Hebrews 12:9.
How important then must be the salvation of the soul, which has such an origin; which is thus distinguished from all other creatures inhabiting our world. And what is salvation but the fitting it to return to its author, and hold endless fellowship with him in all his glorious attributes, perfections, and purposes! O man, remember you have a soul which came from God, which can only find satisfaction in God, which must return to God but can never be happy in his presence, unless it is cleansed from sin, and restored to his moral image! This change so great, so necessary, can only be wrought in this world; can only be wrought by God, and will only be wrought in those, who fly to him in the name of his beloved Son. But let us consider,
2. The POWERS of the soul.
There is the understanding, or eye of the soul, which is capable of penetrating into a vast variety of subjects; and by so doing to produce the sweetest pleasures or bitterest sorrows. It can perceive examine, arrange, and employ innumerable things for its use; its exercise may be most profitable or injurious; and to its capabilities, we can set no bounds. It can gaze upon, and and make the man familiar with things natural, or divine; with things purifying, or polluting; with things transient, or eternal. It is capable of taking in vast, delightful, and spiritual communications from God; and by constant exercise to produce likeness to his moral excellencies. Therefore the Apostle says, "But we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18.
There are also the affections, which are capable of producing the greatest pleasure, or the acutest pain as love, hatred, joy, fear, grief; which if fixed upon their proper objects, and kept within proper bounds, dignify, delight, and bless us. But if they are misplaced, or are not under proper control, they debase, distress, and render us truly wretched.
God alone is the proper object of our love, joy, and fear; and sin should be the object of our hatred, grief, and dread. If this were the case, we would be holy, happy, and fit for full fellowship with God.
Then there is the will which directs and controls
the whole man, and is a faint representative of divine, sovereignty. The
will is influenced by truth, justice, and holiness. If the will runs
parallel with the will of God it secures our happiness and honor; but if
it is under the influence of error, ignorance, and sin it runs counter to
the will of God, and leads to present misery and everlasting contempt. How
important therefore, to have this faculty . . .
influenced by right motives,
guided by right rules, and
directed to a right end salvation.
These are the principal powers of the immortal soul; there are also the conscience, the memory, the imagination, and the judgment. But the understanding, affections, and will generally rule man.
The understanding answers to the senses of the
body, it is . . .
the eye which sees,
the ear which hears,
the taste which distinguishes,
the nose which smells, and
the sense or feeling which admits pleasure or pain.
It is the window of the soul, by which light enter
enabling us to distinguish, approve or reject, enjoy or disrelish. If the
eye of the soul (understanding) is not healthy then . . .
the mind is dull,
all the powers are misdirected,
the light is excluded,
and the darkness is great.
The affections are very much influenced by the understanding, exercising themselves according to the images presented by the imagination.
The will is very much under the control of both the understanding and will. If therefore the understanding is misled, and the affections are misplaced then the man chooses an improper course.
The powers of the soul are vast we cannot estimate their capabilities; for at present they are limited and often exceedingly cramped by the defective organs of the body, and other causes. The soul is capable of being filled with life, light, holiness, knowledge happiness, and love so that the man may have a real Heaven in himself, and possess resources which can never be exhausted. There is a "fullness of God" which the soul can receive, and which Paul prayed that the Ephesians may enjoy; what is its exact nature we know not but doubtless it is great, grand, and glorious.
The soul is fitted to hold communion and intimate fellowship with God, it can dwell in God and God can dwell in it; he can communicate to it his own thoughts, stamp on it his own
image, and fill it with his own peace, happiness, and holiness. Indeed man is the only creature in our world with which God seeks to hold communion; but he calls upon man to reason with him, to ask of him, and be made unspeakably blessed by him. Much of the happiness of the true Christian, consists in communicating to God his thoughts, his sorrows, his cares, his fears, his joys, and his delights and receiving in return mercy, grace, and truth. This communion may be carried on to an indefinite extent, and will last throughout eternity. The powers of the soul must be limited but they are capable of improvement and expansion, perhaps far beyond our conception; they must exist, and act forever, for,
3. The soul is IMMORTAL.It can never cease to be. It cannot destroy its own existence, nor can any other destroy it it is destined by the immutable decree of God, to exist eternally. O eternity who can conceive your dimensions! Forever who can grasp the mighty idea! To exist forever solemn consideration! Millions of ages as numerous . . .
Our existence had a commencement but it will have no termination. Live we must, for necessity is laid upon us; cease to exist we cannot, for our souls are immortal. Amazing thought! But where shall we exist? How will eternity be spent by us? In happiness or in torment? That will entirely depend upon the character, the state, the condition, in which we live and die. If we live in sin, if we serve self and Satan, if we die accursed then we must suffer the due desert of our deeds. But if we believe in Jesus, if we live unto God, if we die under his blessing then we shall possess and enjoy glory, honor and eternal life and these forever!
Let the solemn fact that you are immortal, deeply impress your mind. Raise your eye from this page, close it to every earthly object, and try to realize the overwhelming thought, "I must live forever! I must live forever in unspeakable happiness or inconceivable misery! I may be introduced unto an eternal world, into an unchangeable state in an instant, before the clock next strikes; before I open my eyes again. My eternal state depends on my present state. If I live unconverted, then I must die accursed. I am lost, and once lost, lost forever!"
O eternity! Tremendous sound! Incomprehensible idea! This naturally leads us to,
4. Consider the VALUE of the soul.And by what can we estimate its value? Shall we turn to creation? The world we inhabit is not to be compared to it. There is nothing presented to the eye, nor can the mind conceive of anything of equal value to an immortal soul. Solemn thought, I possess a soul, which in God's estimate, is of more value than the whole world of matter, with all its mineral, vegetable, and animal productions!
The value of the soul! It is invaluable. Think of the price paid for its redemption, the blood of Incarnate Deity; and nothing less could pay the just demand. Think of the preparation made for its salvation; in the covenant of grace, in the work of the Son of God, in the inspired volume, in the gospel ministry, and in the office of the Holy Spirit. Nor is this too much God has done nothing in vain; if less had been provided, salvation would be uncertain or impossible but now it is both possible and certain.
Think of the contention there is for the soul, Satan striving by all means, unweariedly for its destruction and ministers of the gospel for its salvation; Heaven planning for its welfare and Hell for its ruin. Nothing attracts so much attention either in Heaven or Hell, as the soul of man; all intelligent creatures look upon it with interest, if not concern.
Is the soul lost? Hell is moved to meet it at its coming, it stirs up its depths at its approach. Is it saved? "There is joy in the presence of the angels of God, over one sinner that repents!" Therefore let us glance at,
5. The NATURAL CONDITION of the soul.It is under law. The law of God is its rule. That law is holy, just, and good. Adam was
placed under it at first, and the beauty of his soul consisted in perfect conformity to it. We are born under it, and the proof of our fallen state, is our lack of conformity to it. It requires perfection it can require no less. It demands that the soul be preserved as pure as it was at first created, and that it be constantly employed for the glory of its Creator. It says to all, to each one of us, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39.
To the obedient, it promises life; to the disobedient, it threatens eternal death. Its language is, "The soul that sins it shall die." We are all bound by this holy, just, and good law but we have broken it, we have despised it, and we have lived as if we were under no obligation to attend to it! "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." The whole soul is polluted, its every power is perverted, and it is now in a state of separation from God. This is called death; therefore we are said to be "dead in trespasses and sins."
We are separated from God who is the fountain of life, purity, intelligence, and happiness and are therefore weak, defiled, ignorant, and unhappy. "The heart," the seat of life and source of action, "is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked!" Jeremiah 7:9. It is opposed to God, it rejects the authority of God, and it despises his tenderest mercy. Its language is, "No God for me!" Man is God's determined enemy, and is therefore condemned by God. God must condemn the sinner, or be unjust to himself. The law condemns every sinner to live forever under the withering frown of God, separated from his love, and to be punished with everlasting destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power." 2 Thessalonians 1:9. This brings us to think,
6. Of the DESTINY of the soul.It must live either in Heaven or Hell; and its doom will he fixed according to the revelation made in the everlasting gospel. If it departs out of this world in an unholy state, it will carry with it all the elements of misery it will be forever in action, every power in full play, and yet every motions will increase its misery.
The understanding will clearly perceive the nature and excellency of the happiness which it has forever lost, the folly displayed in the loss of it, and the justice of God in the punishment inflicted.
The memory will present a faithful record of all the circumstances of time, and aggravate the woe by remembering the times, places, and occasions when it was not far from the kingdom of God when Satan, the world, or some foible was allowed to quench the gospel light, erase the impression, and thrust it further from God than ever. Then the lost soul will recollect every solemn sermon, every faithful warning, every kind invitation, every holy book, every deep conviction, every broken promise, every violated vow, and bitterly rue its folly in unavailing grief!
The memory now seems as if to write upon the sand, and most good things are forgotten; but then it will be seen that everything was written as with a pen of iron and a point of diamond, in stone, which will last forever.
The passions will be all alive, inflamed, and
unchanged; there will be
enmity but no love;
fear but no confidence;
grief but no solace;
anger but no repose;
pride but no humility;
pain but no pleasure;
self-condemnation but no excuse;
despair but no hope.
Like so many serpents the conflicting passions will sting!
Like so many vultures they will gnaw the vitals.
Like so many furies they will eternally lash and torment the soul.
Conscience also will be wide awake, it will be full of light, it will be thoroughly honest, it will accuse and condemn the sinner but it will justify God in every pain endured and so augment the misery beyond description or conception.
To live in misery,
to dwell in torment,
to exist in the fire of Jehovah's wrath
is the destiny of every soul that departs this life in its sins!
The will, always in rebellion against God, and yet impotent will only increase the sufferings, and thus the whole soul must suffer in every part, through every power, and suffer thus forever.!
O terrible doom! O dreadful destiny! And yet how few
trouble themselves about it, or think it worth their while to attempt to
escape it. What a proof . . .
of the power of sin,
of the influence of Satan, and
the deadening tendency of unbelief!
But if the soul is . . .
found in Christ,
renewed by the Holy Spirit,
pardoned and justified by grace,
made fit to partake of the inheritance of the saints in light
then how different the result. Then at death, it departs to be with Christ, it is admitted into the presence of God, it becomes the companion of Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, and the angelic host every faculty is perfectly purified, every power moves orderly and under a holy influence which so feasts, delights, and elevates the whole.
God is seen,
Christ is possessed,
Heaven is the place of abode,
holiness is the element,
joy and peace fill the bosom, and
every desire is gratified, to the full!
There is no lack, there are no wishes all is satisfaction, delight, and praise.
The glory is so great,
the happiness so pure,
the pleasures so refined,
the employment so elevating,
and the prospects so bright
that we can form no adequate conception of them at present, "We know not what we shall be but we know that when Jesus shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is!" 1 John, 3:2.
If these statements are correct,
if such be the origin of the soul,
if such its powers,
if it is immortal,
if its value is unparalleled,
if its condition is as set forth, and
if its destiny is so miserable or so glorious
then how important must salvation be!
What pen can describe,
what tongue can utter,
what heart can conceive
the importance of salvation!
Indeed nothing else is important, if compared with it. It is the one thing needful. It is the great desideratum. It should therefore be the grand business of life, to make our calling and election sure; to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; to give the more earnest heed to the things spoken in the gospel, lest at any time we should let them slip; "for how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation." Our life, our ALL is at stake a life which must be eternal, "an inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fades not away." 2 Peter I:10. Hebrews 2:3. Philippians 2:12. 1 Peter 1:4.
2. The CHARACTER of God, and our relation to him sets forth the importance of salvation.
That we stand in a solemn, important, and responsible relation to God must be acknowledged, and ought to be realized. But while we most readily admit the fact, very few seriously consider it, or turn it to any practical account. We are not our own, we never were, we never can be. We are under Divine authority, and so we must forever remain. We are bound to obedience or to suffer the penalty of disobedience. Let us therefore,
Chapter 1. Consider the CHARACTER OF GOD.The God we are bound to obey, in whom we live, move, and have our being, before whom we must soon stand in judgment has given a revelation of himself. His glorious perfections and exalted character are set before us in his word; and with that word before us, if we remain ignorant of what God is, or what God requires then we are inexcusable. To that word let us turn, and with reverence of spirit, and a childlike disposition of mind, endeavor to apprehend his true character.
He reveals himself as "The INFINITE." His greatness is unsearchable. We can have no just conception of his immensity. The inspired and holy Prophet, is filled with wonder and astonishment, as the idea of Jehovah's greatness passes before his mind, and he exclaims, "Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to?" Isaiah 40:15-18
What a sublime, what a glorious representation of Jehovah! What are the powers of the human intellect, when attempting to grasp an idea of "The Infinite?" We may stand and gaze, we may wonder and adore but we cannot grasp the thought it fills, it burdens, it overloads the soul! Infinity, what is it! Eternity, who can conceive its meaning! But God is "The Eternal" "The Infinite," "The I AM."
Reader, have you ever seriously considered the greatness of Gad, with whom you have to do? Have you ever dwelt in solemn musings upon the ancient inquiry, "Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea!" Job 11:7-9
It is indeed a solemn thought, that we are the creatures of such a God, and are bound to give an account of ourselves unto him surely it must be "a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!" Hebrews 10:31.
But his nature is asPURE as it is infinite. He is the "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God." Every attribute and perfection of his nature is HOLY. Spotless purity characterizes . . .
Holiness is the beauty of his nature it is also his delight. He loves it. He requires it. He naturally, infinitely, and eternally hates its opposite. Everything impure is offensive in his sight, and sin is "that abominable thing which he hates." Jeremiah 44:4. He is "glorious in holiness." Ex:15: 11. He requires his creatures to worship him "in the beauty of holiness." Psalm 29:2. He "sits upon the throne of his holiness." Psalm 47:5. He is emphatically "The Holy One." Isaiah:40:25.
Unholiness renders him incensed, unfits for his presence, and separates from his glory. How important then is the inquiry, "Who is able to stand before this Holy Lord God?" 1 Sam. 6:20. "Who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appears? For he is like a Refiner's fire!" Mal. 3:2.
Our natures must be sanctified, our hearts must be renewed, we must be born again or we can never see his face with joy, stand in his presence with acceptance, or be admitted to serve him in his glorious temple. We must be made "fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light," we must be "prepared for glory," or the holiness of God will fill us with terror, alarm, and dread.
As God is holy, so he isJUST. "Justice and judgment are the basis of his throne." Psalm 79:14. He is "The just God." Isaiah 45:21. "There is no unrighteousness in him." Psalm 92:15.
His nature is the perfection of righteousness,
his law is the standard of righteousness, and
in his government, righteousness is carried out to the full.
"The just Lord will not do iniquity." Zeph. 3:5. If justice requires him to punish the offender must be punished; and the punishment will be in exact proportion to the offence.
His attributes and perfections can never jar, nor can confusion appear in his nature. Whatever he does is in perfect harmony with all his perfections, each occupying its place, and all having due prominence.
He will appear just in the punishment inflicted on his foes and as just in the happiness conferred on his people. Nothing can possibly, for one moment, turn him from the straight path of righteousness, or the due administration of justice. Therefore we read in his word, "He is in one mind, and who can turn him?" Job 23:13. He will appear as the just God, and will only save in strict accordance with the principles of impartial and immutable justice.
But how can a sinner be justified by a just God? How can a transgressor be acquitted and accepted by the "Just One?" No inquiry can possibly be more important than this and this inquiry we desire to awaken in the bosom of the reader, or to deepen it, if it is already awakened. This question is fully answered in the Gospel, which informs us, that "God presented Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. He did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." Romans 3:25-26
To this subject we shall return in another part of this work, and endeavor to set it forth in the clearest possible manner.
As God is just, so also is heTRUE. What he has spoken must stand forever. His sacred word is the index of his heart, and reflects all the perfections of his nature. "It is impossible for God to lie." He is "The God of truth." If he promises then he will perform. If he threatens then he will certainly execute his threatening. He means just what he says, and he will perform all that he has predicted. Heaven and earth shall pass away but his word shall never pass away. "The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts of his heart unto all generations." Psalm 33:11.
With what solemnity, authority, and majesty he says, "I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. What I have said that will I bring about; what I have planned that will I do. Isaiah 46:9-11.
How striking also are the words of Balaam upon this point, "God is not a man that he should lie; nor a son of man that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" Numbers 23:19
He will ratify on the throne of judgment, all that he has spoken from the throne of grace. And it will be seen at last that "not one thing has failed of all the Lord has promised" to his people or threatened to inflict on his enemies.
How vain then must be the professed dependence of many on the mere mercy of God, seeing he is solemnly pledged to punish sin, and cannot but punish every soul that is found outside of Christ, because he is the God of truth. Reader, if you are not in Christ, hasten and escape; for the God of truth has said, "God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power!" 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9
If therefore you should be found ignorant of God as revealed in his word, and in the person of his beloved Son, if you do not obey the gospel of Christ in your life then God is pledged most solemnly to punish you, and to punish you with everlasting destruction!
As God is true, we rejoice to add that he is alsoMERCIFUL. Sin is the prolific parent of misery and misery is the object of Divine mercy. If man was not miserable, God could not be merciful unto him; and if we do not feel our misery, we are not prepared to embrace and enjoy the mercy of our God. The Most High God represents himself as affected by our misery and is willing to show us mercy, yes, mercy is said to be his delight "He delights in mercy." He is full of compassion, and plentiful in mercy. He keeps mercy for thousands. He magnifies it in the endless salvation of innumerable offenders. He is naturally merciful it rises in his nature as water in a spring, and seeks an outlet like the stream of the fountain, and flows through Jesus to the vilest of our race.
Jesus, by his perfect work, has removed every obstacle
out of the way of mercy and now Jehovah delights to show mercy to every
one who approaches him in the Savior's name. Delightful truth! We need no
recommendation to his mercy but our misery; no plea at his throne
but the name of Jesus! Nor should we doubt of acceptance, for he has said,
"I will be merciful." The mercy of God is . . .
as boundless as his nature,
as varied as the miseries of his creatures,
as tender as a mother's heart,
as melting as compassion's eye, and
flows from everlasting to everlasting!
His mercy is his wealth, therefore he is said to be "rich in mercy:" and in mercy he is rich to all that call upon him. Ephesians 2:4. Romans 10:12. "The Lord our God is a merciful God;" but he only shows mercy in accordance with holiness, justice, and truth. Mercy is the sinners friend, and should encourage us to "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16.
As God is merciful, so he is alsoGRACIOUS. As mercy sympathizes with the miserable so grace glorifies itself in the unworthy. It looks for nothing in its objects to recommend them but it acts from itself, and for itself. Our God is gracious, because he will be gracious, and to whom he will be gracious. His grace is the source of all good, and the first cause of every blessing. Because God is gracious, we should not despair. It is true that we are sinful but grace pardons crimson sins and cleanses polluted hearts. Our sinfulness may be very great, "but where sin abounded grace did much more abound!" Romans 5:20.
God's grace goes as far beyond our sinfulness, as infinite is beyond finite; or eternity is beyond time and it is as much above our thoughts and expectations, as the highest Heavens are above the earth. His grace is glorious, and it delights to glorify itself in the salvation of the most unworthy sinners. It asks for nothing at the sinners hand but presents the richest blessings which God can give without money and without price. God's grace is a sovereign on the throne, and it "reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 5:21.
While therefore justice may claim, holiness may dazzle, and truth appearing in the threatenings may fill the mild with fear grace allures, invites, and attracts us back to God. We can expect nothing on the ground of desert but we may expect everything at the hand of grace. We cannot merit but we may receive. Look therefore to God as gracious, whenever fears beset, or doubts distress, or Satan tempts you to despair. Call upon God as "The Gracious One," and he will be very gracious at the voice of your cry; when he shall hear he will answer you.
Remember that grace is a leading feature in his character, as he revealed it to Moses, hence we read, "The Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth." Ex. 34:6.
As the Most High is gracious he is alsoLONG-SUFFERING. No one has patience like Jehovah. He bears long with sinners. He is "slow to anger, and of great kindness." Neh. 9:17. How long did he bear with the nation of the Jews! How many prophets, messages, warnings, and expostulations did he send before he gave them up!
So with sinners in general he bears long with them; with some he bears eighty years, with others a shorter period. With every sinner that is lost, a sufficient time to render him inexcusable, and to show that God is "slow to anger and of great kindness." Nahum 9:17.
It is indeed astonishing how God bears with sinners, considering his hatred to sin, and their daring shameless impiety. Could we see the whole world as God sees it, could we be thoroughly acquainted with every thought, word, and action as God is we would exclaim with wonder and astonishment, "Who is a God like unto you!" He has borne with our evil world some six thousand years, he bears now with near nine hundred million sinners every day, most of whom are in open rebellion against him. And though he might justly and could easily sweep the whole of them into Hell in a moment he rather waits to be gracious, and beseeches them by his servants to be reconciled unto him.
He has borne with you, dear reader, in the folly
of childhood, in the vanity of youth, through all your changes until now. He
still bears with you, and yet perhaps you have never admired his
longsuffering, or thought of returning unto him from whom you have so deeply
revolted. He has allowed you to live, to retain your senses, to possess ten
thousand mercies though you have lived in direct opposition to his word,
and in enmity with him in your heart. And now he speaks to you again, and
says, "How long you simple ones will you love simplicity?" Or, "How long you
sinners will you love sin, how long will you continue to prefer . . .
folly to wisdom;
vice to virtue;
pain to pleasure;
rebellion to peace;
the world to God;
Hell to Heaven?"
It is of the Lord's mercies that you are not consumed! Because his compassions never fail they are new every morning. Great is his faithfulness! Lam. 3:22, 23.
Would you bear with an enemy thus? With an enemy who spurns your kindness, rejects every message you send, despises all your offers of reconciliation, rejects every promise of good, perverts every gift to your dishonor, and despises all your reproofs? An enemy who is absolutely in your power, who acts thus in your presence, immediately under your eye as if he tried to provoke you to anger! Could you, would you spare him?
Reader, if you are unconverted, this is but a picture of yourself. Such is your conduct when rightly viewed; and if the longsuffering of God were not almost boundless, at this very moment, you would be reaping the due desert of your sins in unutterable woe! Dwell, dwell upon this charming attribute of the divine character, let your thoughts revolve on this glorious proof of the benevolence of the divine nature. No longer say to such a gracious God, "depart from me, for I desire not the knowledge of your ways." Job:21:14.
"God isLOVE." So the gospel emphatically declares, and proves beyond the shadow of a doubt. The most lovely of the human passions is employed, to set forth a far more lovely perfection of the Divine nature. To love, among men, is generally to be loved; but not so in reference to God. He loves, loves infinitely, eternally; with all the-strength of his Divine nature; but not one of all his fallen creatures loves him, until he new creates them by his Spirit, and sheds abroad his love in their hearts. Creatures generally love what they esteem lovely but sin has so perverted our nature, that no one esteems Jehovah lovely, although he is the perfection of excellence and beauty.
Nor is it less strange, that God should love us, who are the most unlovely of his creatures. He has loved us "with an everlasting love" "loved us even when we were dead in our sins;" and "so loved us as, to give his only begotten Son to die for sinners, that whoever believes on him should not perish but have everlasting life."
His love is as vast and eternal as his nature. From his love proceeds all his gracious purposes, promises, invitations, and the entire provision of grace.
He loves freely. Love, like a summers sun, shines eternally in his bosom; and like a peaceful rainbow ever surrounds his glorious throne. Who would fear to approach one who is love one who invites in the most sincere and generous manner one who exhorts you to come, and to come with confidence one who beseeches you to lay aside your opposition, and be reconciled unto him one who solemnly swears that he has no pleasure in your death! This (Wonder, O Heavens, and be astonished, O earth!) this is the case with the great, the infinite, the eternal Jehovah!
Reader, dwell upon this thought God is love. Endeavor to realize the full import of this encouraging fact, God, the God against whom I have sinned before whom I must soon stand stripped of this earthly covering the God to whom I am about to confess my sins to whose mercy I am going to seek salvation this God is love! O cheering truth! Delightful thought! Animating idea!
And shall I neglect, shall I insult, shall I grieve him by delay? Shall I prefer anything earthly to his acceptance, to his salvation, to his love? Shall I be indifferent, cold, and careless? No, let me seek him instantly, fervently, importunately until I find, and enjoy, and rejoice in him, as Love.
Jehovah isIMMUTABLE. He can know no change. His dispensations may vary, all his creatures may change but "from everlasting to everlasting, he is God." He is great, holy, just, merciful, gracious, and true and he is immutably so. Every perfection of his nature will shine forth conspicuously in the salvation of his people forever and the punishment of every impenitent sinner for his sins, will be in strict accordance with those perfections also. He cannot be cruel, unholy, or unjust but must be like his own glorious law, which "is holy, just, and good." "He is without variableness or the shadow of a change." The union of all the perfections of his nature in the person and work of Jesus, encourage us as sinners to seek salvation with strong confidence; and experience will prove what scripture has so plainly and plentifully testified, that "every one who seeks shall find."
What encouragement is wrapped up in the immutability of
God, for the seeking soul. He is going to the God . . .
who had mercy on Manasseh,
who pardoned David,
who saved the dying thief, and
converted the persecuting Saul of Tarsus.
And he is now, just what he was then! He has undergone no change.
His grace is as free,
his mercy is as tender,
his compassion is as full,
his power is as vast, and
he is still "a God ready to pardon." Neh. 9:17.
Chapter 2. Let us reflect upon the RELATION in which we stand to this great, gracious, and glorious Jehovah.
He is ourCREATOR, the author of our being; to whom we owe our existence, and our dignity as rational beings for he might have given us a being and placed us among the brutes which perish. But he has made us human, endowed us with reason, placed us in civil society, and has therefore a right to claim our homage and obedience and if we reflect seriously and feel rightly, we shall cheerfully do his will.
Disobedience is most unreasonable, ungrateful, and ruinous. God must claim our obedience, and it should be cheerfully and constantly performed. He must require our service, for he formed us for his glory, and it should be promptly and heartily rendered. If we owe our all, our very being, to him. Surely we ought to seek to know him, to ascertain his will, and readily obey his commands. Do you then realize your obligation to him, as one of the creatures of his power? Do you acknowledge his claims upon you, and strive to do his will? Or, are you forgetful of your Creator, indifferent about his commands, and careless whether you please him or offend him?
He is not only our Creator but also ourPRESERVER. The existence he gave he sustains. We could not . . .
He upholds all things by his powerful word. In him we live, move, and have our being. You would have long since sunk into the grave, if God had not sustained you; and now you would be a living, moving mass of misery but "for his preserving power. He preserves your life, your reason, your limbs, your senses, your varied comforts or each and all of them, would have failed long ago. If he did not support us each day, each hour, each moment we would sink; therefore he has a just claim upon us as our Preserver.
May he not claim the life which he gave, which he sustains in being; the powers which are dependent on his will for their subsistence? Is it much for him to require that we consult his will, revere his authority, and do his pleasure? Especially when he seeks our welfare, uses his authority as a loving Father, and takes pleasure in the prosperity of his servants? Can this be thought unreasonable, or beneath the dignity of a dependent and accountable creature?
But as he is our Preserver he is also our constantBENEFACTOR. Our needs are daily supplied from his resources, and our desires are often gratified by his kindness. He always consults our well-being, and very often our desires. We are daily indebted to him for our health, our wealth, our domestic comforts, and our civil and religious privileges. He feeds our bodies, refreshes our minds, distinguishes our families, and showers innumerable blessings around us so that we may well say with the Psalmist, "You crown the year with your goodness, and your paths drop fatness!" Psalm 65:11
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits; even the God of our salvation." Psalm 68:19. Every favor which he confers upon us he may justly withhold from us. But if he were to do so how, wretched and miserable we would be! Seeing then, that all we enjoy is from his bounty, is conferred upon us as a favor to which we have no legal right surely we ought to listen to his voice, seek to walk in his ways, and aim in all things to please him. But, alas! how much this is overlooked. We take what he sends, as though we could claim it; and often abuse it to his dishonor, instead of using it to his glory.
As he is our Benefactor, he is also ourGOVERNOR. We are the subjects of his government as well as pensioners upon his bounty. He rules the world by his law, rules it to secure its welfare and his honor. He demands obedience of all his creatures, and has an undoubted right to the obedience which he demands. He has promised to reward the obedient, and threatened to punish every evil doer. He will not dispense with our obedience, he will not resign his authority, nor will he rescind his law. His law is like the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be altered; only with this difference, their laws may be evaded, or opposite laws may be passed but God's law can never be evaded, not can anything which is opposed to it receive his sanction.
His commandments are not grievous,
his requirements are strictly just,
his threatenings are dreadful, and
his premises are great and glorious.
He sits upon his throne judging right. His government is mild and beneficent but his subjects are depraved and wicked; therefore their language generally is, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey him?" "Our tongues are our own, who is Lord over us?" And men have universally preferred the tyranny of Satan to the mild and holy government of the Most High they have said, "Let us break his bands asunder, and let us cast away his cords from us!"
And you, unconverted reader, have done so; you have
lifted up the rebellious arm, your eye has dashed with enmity
against God, and your heart has burned with treason against the
Eternal! You have . . .
despised your Creator,
turned your back on your Preserver,
poured contempt on your Benefactor, and
openly joined the enemies of your lawful Sovereign!
You are convicted of treason, for sin is treason against God; and you are brought in guilty before the Lord. Perhaps this is your case at this very moment. You are either a rebel or you have been reconciled to God by the death of his Son. You are either a traitor or you have been pardoned and restored by free and sovereign grace. If you are a stranger to God, to vital religion remember that your obligation remains, you are still under law; his claims upon you are innumerable, and cannot be evaded; and therefore you deserve to be banished from his presence into eternal woe. If he were only just this would be your case at this very moment; but as he is also merciful therefore you are spared and may yet be restored to his favor, be filled with his Spirit, and shine before his glorious throne forever!
You have forgotten, neglected, and fought against him; but he sends to you in love, he assures you that he has no pleasure in your death, and invites you to return to him through Jesus his beloved Son.
Listen to your Creator,
bow to your Preserver,
humble yourself before your Benefactor, and
touch the Scepter of your Sovereign Lord
so shall you find peace, enjoy acceptance, and be forever blessed.
3. The PROVISION made for salvation, proves its importance.
The salvation of sinners is a subject which occupied the mind of God in eternity; before he created man upon the earth, he determined to save sinners by his grace. The thought of saving souls consistent with his divine perfections, and to the promotion of his glory had revolved in his mind from everlasting. To accomplish this, the covenant was made, and was ordered in all things, and established, or made sure. In this covenant, the whole matter of salvation was arranged and settled, with the greatest wisdom and consummate skill.
The honor of the law was to be maintained,
the claims of justice were to be met,
the beauty of holiness was to be exhibited, and
grace was to be enthroned in dignity and splendor.
The foundation of salvation was laid in covenant transactions, and means before devised, that the Lord's banished ones should not be expelled from him. From this covenant flows all our blessings, and the gospel is the good news of what a covenant God has provided, wrought, and promises to sinners. Surely that must be important, which thus occupied the mind of God, and for the securing of which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, entered into solemn covenant engagements. Reader, think of this.
As God purposed to save sinners from everlasting he promised to do so in time. No sooner had Adam sinned, than God made a revelation of his grace, this revelation was indistinct at first but it was like the shining light, which shines more and more unto the perfect day. In the patriarchal age this purpose of grace shone with faint beams; under the law it increased in brightness; but in the gospel it shines with noonday splendor!
Promise after promise was given with additional clearness, until at last it was plainly declared, "Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13. And the most notorious sinners were directed to "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be forever saved." Acts:16:31.
All the promises meet in this one point, "salvation;" they all agree assuring the believing sinner of this vast blessing and they represent the Most High God as pledged to bestow it upon all who repent of sin, and believe in his beloved Son. God could promise nothing greater and man needed nothing so much. The promise of salvation comprises all that is good on earth, and all that is glorious in Heaven; all that is valuable in time, and all that is desirable in eternity. If therefore the God of all the earth, promising the greatest blessing which his infinite mind could devise, or his boundless resources could supply, promised salvation then it must be important, infinitely important.
God having promised to save sinners with an everlasting salvation, sent his only begotten Son into the world to accomplish the stupendous work. It required an infinite Agent, and yet that Agent must be human; here a difficulty appears. But a spotless human nature was provided, which Jehovah Jesus assumed, and having assumed it, was called Immanuel, God with us; God manifested in the flesh; and as God in our nature he is proclaimed the Savior of sinners. What astounding language is employed, when this subject is introduced to our notice, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes on him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved." John 3:16,17.
No One did he love so much as his Son, his only begotten
Son; no one could yield him such infinite, such ineffable delight, he "is
the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person;" and yet
because salvation could not be effected but by his incarnation, labors,
sufferings and death "he spared not his own Son but delivered him up for
us all." Romans 8:32. Jesus came to save . . .
in obedience to his Fathers will,
as the proof of his Father's love,
as the effect of the covenant of peace.
He came to save sinners the vile, the polluted, the unworthy; and to save them honorably and for evermore. Had not the Father given Jesus there would have been no Savior; without a Savior there could have been no salvation; without salvation the whole human family must have suffered the desert of their sins forever in Hell.
O what mercy! O what grace is here! How important must that blessing be, which could only be procured by the death of the Son of God! And how great the love of God, who could give his only begotten Son for his enemies, that they may be honorably reconciled unto him, and be filled with unspeakable joy in his presence forever.
This unspeakable gift of God, is revealed to us in the
everlasting gospel; which gospel is the glad tidings of salvation, of
salvation for sinners through Jesus Christ, of salvation without money and
without price. Salvation for the vilest! Salvation by grace through faith.
This gospel is the means by which God . . .
enlightens the mind,
speaks peace, and
leads to the enjoyment of eternal salvation.
By the gospel, God invites us to come unto him, to come unto him just as we are. He promises salvation to every coming sinner, immediate and eternal salvation. He commands us to believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, promising the Holy Spirit to all those who obey him. He expostulates with the delaying sinner, because he manifests indifference, unbelief, or fears. He warns us of the wrath that will come upon all unbelievers, as the rejectors of his grace. He beseeches men by his servants, to be reconciled unto him; and he threatens with endless condemnation, and everlasting destruction every impenitent sinner, who puts away from him this good news, and judges himself unworthy of everlasting life.
This gospel is . . .
an effusion of divine love,
the offspring of infinite wisdom,
an expression of the kindest thoughts of God,
and the revelation of forgiving mercy to fallen man.
The theme of the gospel is salvation,
its design is to impart peace, and
its reception fills with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Reader, the gospel tells you of salvation, of immediate salvation, of salvation as free as the air, of salvation for every willing soul.
A time is appointed for this gospel to be dispensed, it is to be published among all nations for the obedience of faith; it is a witness for God that he is Love; it is a witness to man that if he perishes, his destruction is of himself. Its publication is to answer an important end; a limited time is given for its promulgation and when that time has expired, God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he has ordained; whereof "he has given assurance unto all men, in that he has raised him from the dead." Acts 17:31.
Judgment will end the present dispensation, it will begin when Jesus appears, it will be conducted according to the Scriptures, and every one will be judged by the word of the gospel which he has heard. What a fearful, inexcusable state, will every one who neglects or rejects the gospel be in! What will be your state? What would it be, if the Judgment were to commence before you close this book?
As therefore the salvation of sinners occupied the
thoughts of God before time began;
as it became the grand purpose in Jehovah's heart;
as it has been gradually revealed by every inspired servant of God;
as it cost the Son of God humiliation, sufferings, and death;
as it is the theme of the glorious gospel of the blessed God;
as it is now and ever has been the business of every minister of Christ to proclaim it;
and as the full value of it will only be seen in the day of judgment or in the pit of horrors
it must be important, infinitely important!
4. The AGENTS employed in salvation, proves its importance.
The whole Deity is represented in the inspired volume, as taking part in the momentous work of a sinners salvation each Divine person having undertaken a distinct part, so that the whole may be completed in a manner worthy of God.
The FATHER is set forth . . .
as choosing an innumerable company of fallen sinners to everlasting life, without respect to anything in them, or to be done by them;
as appointing them, by grace, to his kingdom and glory;
as blessing them with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, before the world began;
as "reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them";
as drawing sinners to Jesus by his loving-kindness;
as receiving all who come unto him by his Son;
as accepting them in Jesus;
as receiving them to sweet communion;
as surrounding them with his presence; and
as taking up his residence in their hearts.
The SON engages in covenant, to be the Substitute for
sinners, that he may . . .
give a ransom for them,
procure a pardon for them,
make peace for them,
redeem them from all evil, and
save them for evermore!
Jesus is represented as anticipating and longing
for the time, when he would . . .
appear in our world,
suffer in our stead,
die in our place, and
rise for our justification.
Jesus . . .
appeared in the fullness of time,
worked out an everlasting righteousness,
suffered the just for the unjust to bring us to God,
died for our sins,
rose again as our liberated Surety,
ascended to Heaven as our Representative,
intercedes with the Father on our behalf,
reigns as Lord of all at the right hand of God,
is waiting until his enemies are made his footstool,
and will come again to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all those who believe.
The HOLY SPIRIT prepared the body, which was to be assumed and worn by the Son; he led and wrought by the human nature of Jesus. He inspired men to write the Scriptures, he unfolds and applies what is written to the heart, and makes it "the power of God unto salvation." He descended on the Church, on the day of Pentecost, and still quickens, calls, converts, teaches, strengthens, comforts, seals, and guides every saint to glory. He ever presides in the Church of Jesus, attends the preaching of the Word, and makes the believers body his temple. From his presence and power, every holy desire, every good work, and every spiritual pleasure proceeds.
The Spirit . . .
applies what the Son procured,
regenerates whom the Son redeemed, and
leads safe to Heaven, those whom the Father chose.
His residence is in the Church,
his operations are in the heart, and
his work is generally comprised under the terns sanctification.
As God himself is the great Agent in the work of
salvation, his Church is his instrument by which he generally works.
To the Church he has entrusted his word, and to it he gave commission, "to
teach all nations," "to preach the gospel to every creature," "to warn every
man," and to testify "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus
Christ." The Church is . . .
the epistle of Christ, which the nations are to read;
the voice of Christ, which sinners are to hear; and
the representative of Christ, by which the world is to be instructed. The Lord uses his Church to increase, and sustain his kingdom; and to warn and bless the world.
Her ministers are gifted, sanctified, appointed,
and employed . . .
to call sinners to repentance,
to build up believers on their holy faith, and
to direct the energies of the saints of God.
The Word of God written, translated, and preached in the languages of the nations, is the instrument which the Church employs in her glorious undertaking.
The Word is in the hand of the Church; the Spirit of God is her heart, directing and giving power to her hand; and therefore she may rejoice and say, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5. Her ministers plant and water, but God gives the increase she uses the means but God alone effects the desired change.
A special providence is also engaged, by which
events are directed or overruled, for . . .
the conversion of sinners,
the edification of saints, and
the fulfillment of the purposes of God.
Judgments, afflictions, losses, crosses, disappointments, mercies, favors, deliverances, and sometimes dreams are employed in this great work. But whatever means may be employed, the one great Agent is Jehovah himself; we are "saved by the Lord," "that no flesh should glory in his presence," "but he who glories, let him glory in the Lord."
If therefore each divine person in Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit are engaged in the work of salvation; if the Lord thus prepares and uses his Church, his Word, and his special providence to save souls then salvation must be of infinite importance. Such a great provision would not have been made, such mighty agencies would not be employed, such varied means would not be consecrated if the work to be wrought had not been stupendous and glorious.
And yet, my reader may he treating this work with indifference and neglect; if so, allow me to address you in the words of God himself, "Awake you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light!"
If you were not asleep in sin you could not treat such a subject with indifference. If you continue to sleep on in this state your destruction is certain. Your present state is one of peril, you may silence conscience, refuse to listen to the voice of warning, and go on in presumption but presumption always ends in despair and destruction. Behold, I set before you life and death, therefore choose life that you may live. Arouse yourself from your slumbers, realize your danger, flee to the Refuge, even Jesus, and be forever safe.
The way of escape is open,
the voice of mercy calls,
the arms of love are extended,
and salvation may now be yours!
5. The OPPOSITION made to salvation proves its importance.
There is nothing which God has made, nothing which he has revealed, nothing which he has proposed to perform which has met with so much opposition, as the salvation of souls. From the first intimation of the design, down to the present day, determined, untiring, unceasing opposition has been shown to it. Every artifice has been employed, every influence has been tried, and every instrument has been engaged to obstruct, and if possible prevent this glorious work. And all that is in the world, with all the powers of Hell are now alive, engaged, and on the alert, to secure our everlasting destruction! What an awful fact! How deeply should it ho press our minds!
Satan and all his hosts are set in determined opposition to the salvation of souls. He assumes every possible form, and employs every means in his power, to keep us under his sway and prevent our seeking the "one-thing needful." Other things we may seek, in other pursuits we may engage, on other objects we may fix our minds without encountering much opposition from him. But no sooner does the sinner begin to feel concerned for his soul, or is found asking the all important question, "What must I do to be saved?" but he sets to work to drive him to despair, or persuade him to procrastinate. Like "a roaring lion," he seeks to devour; or "as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety," so he seeks to corrupt, deceive, and mislead the mind.
As "an Angel of light," or "a minister of righteousness," he endeavors to stupefy by false doctrines. Or as "the destroyer," he stirs up opposition and persecution, to deter and frighten back. When under the Word, "he catches away that which was sown in the heart, lest they should be saved." When in private, he works on the imagination, filling it with in numerable images of pleasure, folly, and sin or he fills the mind with disturbing, bewildering, and misleading thoughts. He urges every plausible plea for delay; or persuades that it is too late to seek for mercy and peace; or perverts the doctrines of the gospel, that they may
become stumbling blocks in the seekers way.
"In which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience." Ephesians 2:2
Reader, if you are not converted to God, Satan works in your heart, blinds your eyes, stupefies your conscience, and holds you fast in the fetters of unbelief.
No one ever escaped from Satan's grasp without a conflict, and we suppose no one ever will.
His power is mighty,
his experience is great,
his enmity is deadly,
his opposition is unwearied,
his kingdom is darkness,
his work is sin,
his chain is unbelief, and
his wages are eternal damnation!
He never wearies, he never sleeps, nor ceases his opposition to the salvation of souls for one moment. May you be "delivered from the power of darkness, and be translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son."
As Satan is opposed to our salvation, so are sinners, who are his willing servants and slaves. Whether learned or illiterate, polite or crude, civilized or barbarous all are naturally opposed to salvation; because all are opposed to God through the ignorance that is in them. This opposition shows itself in a variety of ways, sometimes by a determined effort to keep the gospel from a place, at others to keep people from the gospel. Sometimes they openly persecute, at others they endeavor to persuade; now they try to drive away serious thoughts by banter, by jokes, or by leading to the theater or other places of amusement; then by frowns, threats, or withholding favors. If unrighteous laws can be employed, then they must .,be crushed; but if no such laws exist; private influence must if possible supply their place. To forms of godliness, comparatively few object; but to the power of real religion, all unconverted people are opposed. Sinners are deceived by Satan:. they are in general deeply prejudiced against the truth; and being "led captive by the devil at his will," it is no wonder that they fight against God and godliness. Man as fallen is his own enemy, the enemy of his species, and the enemy of God. His language to his Maker is, "Depart from me, for I desire not a knowledge of your ways." And his conduct to his fellow men declares, that he desires to see all involved in the same condemnation. Man as unconverted is the opposer of salvation. Awful truth!
As sinners are opposed to each other's salvation, so the
human heart, which is Satan's stronghold, is closed, bolted, and barred
against it. Sin has hardened the heart against God, ignorance sways its
scepter over it, and enmity against God characterizes it. It is . . .
opposed to the claims of God,
deaf to the calls of God,
blind to the beauties of holiness, and
resolutely set against submission to the Lord Jesus.
No one can open it but God. No one can change it but the Holy Spirit. It despises alike the threatenings of the law, and the invitations of the gospel and nothing can melt it but the love of Christ shed abroad in it. The stony heart must be taken away, and the heart of flesh must be given, before salvation can be known, realized, and enjoyed.
Reader, such is the state of your heart; you may not know it, thousands do not; sin always endeavors to conceal itself, and to persuade us that all is well, when we are in the greatest possible danger. O that you were wise, that you understood this, and would consider your latter end!
If the view we have taken of man is correct,
if the soul possesses such amazing powers,
if it is immortal, invaluable, and yet dreadfully depraved,
if it is destined to live forever in happiness or woe,
then how important must salvation be!
If Jehovah is infinitely great, holy, just,
merciful, gracious, and long-suffering,
if he is love, and in all his perfections unchangeable,
if this glorious God is our Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, and Governor;
if he has made such ample provision for the salvation of immortal souls, and
is himself in all his glorious people and perfections engaged in accomplishing it;
then how important must salvation be!
If it is opposed . . .
by Satan and his hosts,
by sinners under his influence, and
by our own wicked and stony hearts
then how important must salvation be!
Surely it ought to occupy our most serious, our prayerful, our immediate attention and it must be folly, folly the most inexcusable, to neglect it for one moment, or to treat it with lightness or indifference.
Reader, now is the accepted time, now is the day of
salvation you may be saved now but if you neglect the present time, you
may be lost forever. Pause. Think. Fall on your knees and surrender to God
PART II. THE NATURE AND PROPERTIES OF SALVATION.
Chapter 1. Salvation is a DELIVERANCE.
Salvation is in brief, a deliverance from all evil, and a restoration to all good. As all that is valuable, was forfeited by sin so restoration is only and entirely by grace. In Adam we fell by Christ we must be restored. By sin we ran from God by salvation we return to God. As sinners we are exposed to every evil but salvation raises us above and secures us from all evil.
A. Salvation is a deliverance from SIN.
1. A deliverance from the GUILT of sin.There is the guilt of sin, or that which binds over to punishment. The inward consciousness that I have broken God's holy law, that I cannot be pronounced innocent in his sight, that I am liable to be punished, and if justice take its course, I must be. This makes the sinner dread death, fear judgment, and tremble at the thought of appearring before God. The understanding may not very clearly perceive what causes such alarm, and fills the soul with such dread when it begins to realize the nearness of death; but it is . . .
"The law is holy, the judge is just, and my whole case is known. I cannot justify myself, there is an awful eternity, I may be lost." These thoughts fill with alarm because there is guilt, and deliverance from guilt is what is needed. Such deliverance as will raise me above these fears, enable me to face God's law; to meet God without alarm, and warrant me to hope for an acquitted at the bar of justice, though I know I have been guilty, though I feel conscious that I deserve to be damned.
This is what an awakened sinner wants and this is what the gospel reveals. This is the good news which we bring; these are the glad tidings which God has sent. Hear sinner, hear and believe; guilt may be done away, your conscience may be purged, and peace in prospect of death and judgment may reign in your bosom. Deliverance from guilt may be obtained, may be obtained easily, may be obtained in one moment by one act of the mind, may be obtained by you, "though your sins are as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; and though they are red like crimson they shall be as wool." Isaiah. 1:15.
The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, this was his goal, this was the end of his mission. He took our nature, came into our place, was admitted as our Substitute, obeyed the law in our stead, died the just for the unjust, rose triumphant from the grave, ascended into Heaven, was invited to sit at the right hand of the Father, and is now "able to save to the uttermost, all those who come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them." Hebrews 7:25. He . . .
made a complete atonement for our sins,
gave to Divine justice all it could demand,
magnified the Divine law by meeting all its requirements,
harmonized all the perfections of the Divine nature, and
honored the claims of God's government by doing and suffering all that government required.
So that God can now be just, and yet the justifier of everyone who believes in Jesus. The person of Christ is accepted instead of the person of the sinner; the obedience of Christ is accepted instead of the obedience of the believer; and the sufferings and death of Christ are accepted instead of the eternal punishment of the sinner.
Faith is appointed as the medium by which all that Christ did, becomes ours; so that if I believe in Jesus, his righteousness is accepted instead of my personal obedience to the law; and his sufferings and death instead of my eternal banishment from God. Thus the law has all it asks, and justice all it requires; it has Christ's person instead of mine.
Faith is an inward persuasion of things not seen, which things are set before us in the gospel; and the confident expectation of things hoped for, because promised by God. So the apostle defines faith in Hebrews 11:1. If therefore I am inwardly persuaded in my mind, that Jesus Christ, God's dear Son, did obey the law, suffer and die instead of sinners that they may be pardoned, justified, and accepted of God for his sake; and if I confidently expect to be pardoned, justified, and accepted because he lived, suffered, and died for sinners; and if so believing, I draw near to God, yield myself to God, and devote my life to his service then I am saved. The guilt of sin is gone I am no longer liable to be punished for my sins, for Christ was punished for me.
Hear his own words, "Through this man (Jesus) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by him all that believe are justified from all things." Acts 13:38, 39. The soul that receives his atonement, rests alone on his finished work, and expects to be accepted of God in his name is justified. He is justified from every charge, and is even now "accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:6.
In himself he is a sinner, he remembers perhaps innumerable sins which he has committed in his past life but God has "blotted out his transgressions as a thick cloud; and, as a cloud his sins." Isaiah 44:22. "All his transgressions which he has committed, shall not be mentioned unto him." Ezekiel 18:22. His sins are not only forgiven but they are forgotten, as it is written, "I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more." Hebrews 8:12. Again, "Their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more; now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin." Hebrews 10:17, 18.
So that a believer is free from guilt, entirely free, and may ask with the Apostle, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who justifies who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." Romans 8:33:34.
Salvation then, is a complete deliverance from the guilt of sin. Every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is in a justified state for him the law has been obeyed, for him the penalty has been paid, and he is passed from death unto life and shall never come into condemnation.
Reader, can you conceive of anything more blessed? But is this blessedness yours? If not, it is unbelief which keeps you from it; and while you remain in unbelief you remain under condemnation, your best performances are but splendid sins, you are accountable for every transgression, and at this moment stand guilty before God! Nor is there any other way of escape for you, you must believe in the Lord Jesus and be saved or reject Christ and miserably perish. But Salvation is also,
2. A deliverance from the POWER of sin.Man by nature is "under sin." "The whole world lies in wickedness." Sin like a tyrant, has usurped authority and man yields to its imperious demands. Sin reigns in his heart, and over every faculty he possesses. He knows nothing of liberty but is the slave of corruption. He lives "in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and is by nature a child of wrath even as others." Ephesians 2:3. He is . . .
influenced by corrupt motives,
ruled by evil principles,
led captive by carnal passions,
and lives under the power of sin!
Salvation is a deliverance from the power of sin, and removes us from under its authority; so that it may be said of every saved character, "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace." Romans 6:14.
The Holy Spirit . . .
imparts a principle of spiritual life,
applies the word of God with power,
and takes up his residence in the soul.
The sinner feels his bondage as well as his guilt; and struggles for liberty as well as seeks for pardon. While he remains under the law, or looks to it for justification, or help, or hope sin retains its power, for "The strength of sin is the laws;" 1 Corinthians 15:56. He may strive against sin but it will overcome him; he may fight but sin will conquer.
Nor will anything destroy the power and dominion of sin but looking from the law to Jesus; from works to grace; from God in the law demanding to God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself but this will! And every believer has proved that in proportion as he rested on the finished work of Christ, looked to God as a reconciled Father, and cultivated fellowship with God as the God of all grace the power of sin has been weakened, and conformity to Jesus as his pattern, has been the object of daily desire.
When the gospel, as the good news of salvation, of salvation for sinners, of salvation all of grace is unfolded to the understanding and applied to the heart the entire man is changed.
His hard heart is softened,
his stubborn will yields,
his carnal affections rise above earthly things,
his conscience takes part with God, and
he is "changed into the image of Jesus, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18.
Sin will still struggle but it cannot reign; it may for a time prevail but it will be subdued. The conflict may be severe, and it will last through life but sin shall not regain the throne, or reduce the Christian to a state of slavery again. The gracious principles implanted within him are immortal, they are holy, they must overcome at length! His "old man was crucified with Christ, that the body of sin may be destroyed, that henceforth he should not serve sin." Romans 6:6. The death of Christ, by faith becomes the death of sin; and through the Spirit, the believer, mortifies the deeds of the body, that he may live. Romans 8:13. Being Christ's, he crucifies the flesh with its affections and lusts. Galatians 5:24. And while he walks in, or under the influence of the Spirit, he does not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Galatians 5:16. Sin has no authority over him, for he has renounced it, he daily mourns over it, and confesses it before God, he strives against it, and longs for Heaven, principally because there he shall be entirely free from sin!
He who does not renounce, resist, and seek for freedom from sin, is not at present a partaker of the salvation which is in Christ Jesus; but is in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity! Reader, are you? What is your present experience? Is the power of sin destroyed in your heart, or is it not? If we are not saved from the power of sin we are not saved from its guilt; and if not from its guilt certainly not from its consequences; and therefore cannot be said to be saved at all. He who is saved from the power of sin is also,
3. Delivered from the LOVE of sin.Sin is no longer his element, his business, his pleasure. He did love sin once so does everyone in a state of nature. The unbeliever does not love every species of sin but
some favorite sin,
his darling sin,
his idol, which he worships, which he wishes to have spared.
But salvation delivers from the love of every sin, and
sets the heart on universal holiness. True, it is possible for a regenerate
person for a time, to find the affections running out after a forbidden
object, after what is grossly evil; but it will be soon detected, confessed
before God, and mourned over in secret. The renewed heart cannot habitually
love sin but must hate it. Sin is hated . . .
because God hates it,
because it is opposed to our best interests,
because it crucified the Son of God,
because it grieves the Holy Spirit, and
because it is contrary to the new nature of the Christian.
As soon may the bird love to be confined under water, or the fish prefer the the barren wilderness to its native element as for a true believer habitually to love sin. No, he hates it he hates it naturally, constantly, and with an unconquerable hatred! His views are changed, and he thinks of sin in some degree as God thinks of it! His desires are changed, and he desires to cleanse himself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord, (2 Corinthians 7:1). His hopes are changed, so that though he once hoped for wealth, honor, or worldly pleasure he now hopes to be forever delivered from sin, and be exactly like, and eternally with his precious Savior!
He fears sin and nothing so much as sin!
He finds pleasure in holiness and no such pleasure in anything else!
He is pained at sin and nothing causes him so much grief and sorrow!
This is indeed salvation, to be delivered . . .
from guilt of sin, with its attendant horrors and punishments;
from the power of sin, with its consequent degradation; and
from the love of sin, which is the principal feature in the image of Satan!
But he who is thus saved is delivered also from all the
penal consequences of sin.
To him there is no curse for Christ was made a curse for him.
To him there is no wrath for God is at peace with him, and loves him with an everlasting love.
To him there is no future punishment for he is justified from every charge, and entitled to everlasting life!
He deserved Hell by his sins but he is saved from it by his Redeemer's sacrifice and death.
Even death is changed in its character to him, and is placed in the inventory of his blessings. He does not die because he is not separated from God; he only sleeps in Jesus, or departs to be with Christ, which is far better.
The Christian may be chastened for his faults, and scourged for his follies but he shall never be condemned along with the unregenerate world.
To the Christian, afflictions are but medicines prepared with a Physician's skill, and presented by the kind hand of a Father's love. Nothing shall by any means hurt him but all things shall work together for his good. He need fear no one but his God; nor anything but sin. Whatever God sends is in love whatever happens is under a divine arrangement and his light afflictions which are but for a moment, work out for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!
This is one part of salvation, and it includes pardon, sanctification, and safety. The sin we have committed is imputed to Jesus; and righteousness which we never wrought is imputed to us from Jesus. The condemnation which we deserved has been paid by Jesus; and justification which we never deserved is imputed to us from Jesus. The punishment which we merited is not inflicted; and the glory which we never could merit is freely bestowed. There is no condemnation for us but perfect justification. There is no execution of the divine threatenings on us but an introduction to eternal life. O the riches of grace! O the wonders of redeeming love! O the folly of sinners to neglect so great a salvation! As Salvation is a deliverance from sin so also it is,
B.A deliverance from SATAN. By nature we are all led captive by Satan at his will. He has taken us in his snare: 2 Timothy 2:26. Like a strong man armed, he dwells in us, as in his palace and endeavors to keep his goods in peace. He works in all the children of disobedience, that is in all unconverted people. Ephesians 2:2. He is god of this world, and is worshiped by every sinner under some form or other; all bow down to him, all anoint this bramble to reign over them. The worship which heathen pay him is gross; but the worship of what is called enlightened nations is more refined.
He is enthroned in every carnal heart, and rules with undisputed sway in every fallen creature. He deceives in order to destroy, and every sinner is by nature willing to be deceived. Only the power of God can rescue us from his iron grasp, and all who escape from his degrading vassalage are said to be "delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son." Colossians 1:13.
He must be cast out of the man, as he was once cast out of Heaven. The soul must be delivered from his tyranny, as the bodies of many were by Jesus when on earth. This is done in regeneration, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the gospel, which gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes." Romans 1:16. The person is brought to see and feel the slavery in which he has been held; to cry to the Strong One for strength and-deliverance, and in answer to prayer he is rescued from Satan's power. Still Satan will annoy in a thousand ways, presenting innumerable temptations to lead the soul astray, and will endeavor by all means to drive to presumption or despair.
He never gives up his attempts to destroy or distress, until death but he is no longer lord, master, or idol as before. He is now opposed, resisted, and overcome. Faith in God's promises and Jesus' finished work, will conquer him, therefore we read of our brethren, "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony." He may accuse them before God but Jesus is their Advocate in Heaven. He may accuse them in the court of conscience but the blood of atonement speaks for them. As a conquered foe he may harass, annoy, and sometimes mislead them but by the shield of faith, they quench all his fiery darts, and by cleaving to Jesus, they overcome all his attempts. They are the Lord's free-men, and not the servants of sin, or slaves of Satan. As salvation is an emancipation from sin and Satan so it is,
C. A deliverance from the present evil WORLD
By nature, all mankind are upon a level, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned, all are condemned, and all lie in the same wretched state. But grace makes a difference, faith in Jesus overcomes the world, and rises above the present system of things. Jesus "gave himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God, even our Father."
The spirit of the world is directly opposed to the Spirit of God. The maxims of the world are contrary to the law of God. The pleasures of the world are sinful and degrading. The saved have another spirit in them, and they follow the Lord fully. They perceive that "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not from the Father but is from the world." 1 John 2:16. And becoming like-minded with God they reject and loathe what the world admires and approves. They have the Spirit of Christ, who was not of the world, and can say with the Apostle, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world but the spirit which is of God." 1 Corinthians 2:12. The spirit of the world is selfish, carnal, cruel; the Spirit of Christ is self-denying, holy, and kind. The spirit of the world unfits us for fellowship with God, for the presence and enjoyment of God; therefore we must possess another spirit, before we can be holy in this life, or happy in the life which is to come.
Christians are unearthly people, they are made partakers of a heavenly calling, their citizenship is in Heaven, therefore the world knows them not. As they are delivered from the spirit of
the world, so also from making its maxims their rule. The Spirit of God is their guide, and the plain precepts of the Gospel are the rule by which they walk they do not inquire what would the world do in this case but what does the bible require. Nor can we be said to be delivered from the world, except we practically prefer the commands of God, to the customs of carnal men.
Every professor who consults the rules of the trade, or the practices of carnal men, before the precepts of the New Testament, to say the very least, renders his religion very doubtful. He is not delivered from the world but is still held fast in its trammels. But a truly godly man loses his relish for carnal pleasures also, he finds in fellowship with God, in the holy Scriptures, in the means of grace, and in meditation on the word and works of God pleasures which are pure, sublime, and solid. Pleasures which sanctify and satisfy, which elevate and animate, which profit while they please. The Spirit within him, the provisions of grace without him, and Jesus with his heavenly Father above him are sources of pleasure at once varied, suitable, and constant.
The snares of the world may at times entangle him,
the frowns of the world may occasionally depress him,
the smiles of the world may for a short season mislead him
but grace in his heart and the renewings of the Holy Spirit, will emancipate, cheer, and restore him. Like Gad, though a troop may overcome him he shall overcome at the last.
Salvation is not only deliverance from the world in its spirit, maxims, pleasures, and snares but it is also,
D. Deliverance from HELL."Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come!" 1 Thessalonians 1:10
Salvation includes deliverance from Hell. Of all dreadful places Hell is the most dreadful. No figure can give us an adequate idea of it. It is the prison, where God's enemies are confined. It is a lake of fire and brimstone, where the traitors against the Savior's throne and government are punished. There, all is dark, dreary, agonizing, and horrible! Despair reigns, desperation works, and horror preys upon its victims. The worm of a guilty conscience never dies. The fire of of God's just wrath is never quenched. Prepared for the devil and his angels Hell is now destined to be the eternal habitation of every impenitent sinner. In Hell, the sufferer is forever shut out from the glorious presence of God and is shut in with devils and damned souls.
Hell is a prison where there is . . .
no order but horror,
no voice but of blasphemers cursing God, themselves, and all around them,
no sounds but the howling of the tortured and the torturers,
no society but devils and the damned who being tormented themselves, forever torment others!
There sinners experience . . .
punishment without pity;
misery without mercy;
sorrow without support;
crying without comfort;
mischief without measure;
torment without ease;
and despair without hope!
The wrath of God will seize upon body and soul like fire!
In that flame, the sufferer is . . .
forever burning but is never consumed;
forever dying but never dead;
forever writhing in the pangs of the second death and never freed from those pangs; nor does he ever know an end of his pains.
Who can fairly represent the horrors of that horrible place, where Divine wrath which has been accumulating for ages bursts forth without control or cessation! Such is the desert of sin, and such the doom of every unconverted sinner.
But salvation is a deliverance from Hell complete and eternal deliverance! Oh what a mercy is this! One would think that every one who heard of it would rejoice, embrace the glad tidings, and escape from the wrath to come!
But this is not the case! There is a Deliverer but He is despised. There is free deliverance but it is slighted. Men choose death, rather than life!
What a mercy to be delivered from Hell! But so is every believer in Jesus, every penitent sinner; saved by his precious blood and perfect righteousness alone.
Reader, Hell is your desert; dying in sin, it is your doom; there is no escape from it after death, there may not be on your dying bed but there is now; to you is the word of God's salvation sent, to you is the invitation of mercy given do not trifle with it, do not reject it see the gates of the Refuge are open, the arms of Jesus are extended, to receive all who flee to him. "Hasten then, and escape there tarry not in all the plain!"
Chapter 2. Salvation a RESTORATION.
As salvation is a deliverance from all evil so it is a restoration to all good. Everything that was good and excellent, we had lost and forfeited by sin; but Jesus appeared to restore all. We have become unholy, unhappy, dishonored, and unsafe but salvation restores us,
1. To HOLINESS.God made man upright, the exact resemblance of his moral perfections; but by sin, the image of God has been defaced and the likeness of Satan substituted in its room. Man by nature is just the opposite of what he was by creation but salvation is a restoration to holiness. A new nature is produced by the power of the Holy Spirit, the image of Jesus is stamped upon the soul; the man is created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God had before ordained that he should walk in. The grace of God has taught him to deny "ungodliness, and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world."
Sin is now . . .
loathed as a disease,
avoided as a powerful enemy,
and felt to be a heavy burden.
Holiness is now loved, desired, and sought for it becomes the element and delight of the soul. The person who is really saved by grace, daily cries, "I would do good;" and has perhaps to mourn, and add, "but evil is present with me." But he cannot be reconciled to sin as the spirit of Christ within him opposes it, and, under His influence, he strives to conquer and overcome it. His whole person is sanctified, or set apart for God; and his nature is in part purified, and made fit for the Master's use.
The work which is begun, will be carried on, and it will be completed in the day of Christ. For salvation includes the perfect deliverance of the soul from all sin, and all the effects of sin and will not be complete, until every "spot and wrinkle" is removed. The whole person must be perfectly conformed to Jesus, it must be restored to a correct likeness of the moral image of God, every power and faculty must be perfectly balanced, and all must be regulated by the unerring will of God. The intellect will be as clear as the noon-day sun, the heart will be as pure as Gabriel's spirit, and the whole person will be just like Jesus! Life, light, love, purity, and truth will fill, pervade, and characterize all who are saved in Jesus, with an everlasting salvation.
God is holy and he intends that his people shall be like himself. Heaven is holy and without holiness no one can share its enjoyments, or relish its employments. Jesus, the Head of his Church, is holy so also must all his members be. The Holy Spirit is holy and all his temples shall be holy too.
There is no salvation without holiness, for it is one of its prime and essential parts of salvation. There may be much knowledge, much profession, and much boasting but the man is a stranger to salvation, who is a stranger to holiness.
Reader, beware of thinking you are saved, if you are not
sanctified; for you are not saved but are laboring under a fearful
delusion! Nor are you at all sanctified if you are satisfied with that
degree to which you have attained; for in proportion to the degree of our
sanctification, do we . . .
loath self, and
pant, pray, and strive for perfect holiness.
He whose sanctification is but slight, may indulge in many things, which to say the least, are questionable, and may have something like satisfaction at a distance from God; but the man who is deeply sanctified aims to avoid the appearance of evil, to "cleanse himself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord;" and to get near and keep near to God in his daily walk.
If our sanctification is deep, we shall desire holiness more than anything, more than everything beside. It is only as we grow in grace, and add to our "faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity" that we "work out our own salvation," or make our "calling and election sure."
Salvation is also a restoration,
2. To HAPPINESS.Sin is the seed, the source, the essence of unhappiness; "there is no peace to the wicked," nor is there any happiness for the sinner in his sins. The carnal mind may find something like pleasure in carnal things, and does find what it calls happiness but real, solid, lasting joy, cannot be found, never has been found by the sinner, until converted to God. Carnal pleasure is empty, fleeting, and unsatisfactory in its very nature; and all Christians who have enjoyed spiritual pleasures, and compared the two together, confess this.
I may appeal to my reader, if a carnal person, and ask the question: "Are you really happy? Have you ever been really happy? Have you ever imagined yourself happy for any length of time?" I doubt not that if you are a thoughtful person, you will at once say, No.
And if, my reader, is a Christian, I can appeal with confidence to him, and ask: "Were you happy while living in sin? While the enemy of God? While the slave and drudge of Satan? Have you not been happy since you have known the Lord? Notwithstanding all the trials, temptations and privations you have been called to endure have you not found true peace, holy pleasure, and solid joy, in the ways of God?"
I think I hear you say: "I have found more joy, in communion with God as my Father in Jesus, for five minutes, than I ever found while in an unconverted state!" To this statement thousands can set their seal.
Real religion is happiness, and it is because we have so little real religion, that we have so little real happiness. The true Christian has enough to make him genuinely happy! All his sins are forgiven and forgotten. His person is justified before God, and he is clothed in the magnificent righteousness of Jesus. He is a child of God, adopted into God's family and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, he has the Spirit of adoption in his heart. He is at peace with God, and God is at peace with him. He is united to Jesus as really and as closely as the members of the body are to the head, so that the Apostle declares us to be "members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones."
All the promises of God are his, which represent Jehovah as pledged to support, sustain, comfort, supply, and bless him in time and eternity. He is personally interested in the everlasting covenant, which is ordered in all things and sure, and is all his salvation and all his desire. His God is with him. His God is for him. His God will never fail him in any trial, nor leave him under any circumstances for one moment. Tell me then, reader, is there not enough in such privileges as these, to make a man happy? But such is the Christian's state, and such are his privileges though he may appear poor, afflicted, and despised among men.
If there is any man happy, it is the Christian man; and he would be much happier than be is, if he did but live up to his privileges. All that is needful to make us happy is provided, all that is provided is set before us in the fullness of Jesus, to that fullness we are all invited in the everlasting gospel, and whenever we come to it, we always find a hearty welcome.
In proportion . . .
as sin is subdued,
as sanctification is deepened,
as the Savior is prized,
as our talents are laid out for the Lord's glory
are we happy. But if sin is allowed to conquer, if personal sanctification is neglected, if the intimations of the Holy Spirit are slighted then the believer is not, cannot be happy. Let the Christian therefore cleave unto the Lord with full purpose of heart, let him cultivate close fellowship with God, let him walk softly, uprightly, and daily with God so will his peace be like a river, and his path be like the shining light which shines more and more unto the perfect day. "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You!" Isaiah 26:3. Salvation is also a restoration to,
3. SAFETY.The sinner is in danger in the greatest possible danger! He is always in danger, for . . .
He is like an unprotected traveler in a forest, where
robbers and wild beasts unite to terrify and destroy. He is . . .
exposed to every storm,
liable to every calamity, and
may be cut down at any moment! The law condemns him, Satan seeks by all means to destroy him, and his situation is truly dreadful!
But the believer is safe in Jesus:
his sins are pardoned,
his person is justified,
he is accepted in Jesus, and
to him there is no condemnation.
To him, Jesus is a strong tower, into which he runs and is safe.
To him, God is a shield, which defends him from every
hostile weapon. God . . .
surrounds him as a wall of fire,
bears him up on everlasting arms, and
guides him by his strength to his holy habitation.
Every perfection of God is on his side,
every purpose of God secures his salvation,
every promise of God is made for his comfort and safety.
He is in the hands of Christ,
his name is engraved on the breast-plate of the Great
and his cause lies near to the heart of the Omnipotent.
Nothing that concerns him is left to chance,
his times are in the Lord's hands, and
all things work together for his good.
He may hope for everything that is really good, truly great, or eternally glorious.
God is his Father and he will defend His child.
Jesus is his Bridegroom and he will protect His Bride.
"Keep me safe, O God, for in You I take refuge!" Psalm 16:1
"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer! My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!" Psalm 18:2
"For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in his dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock!" Psalm 27:5
The Holy Spirit inhabits him as his temple, and he will preserve his own dwelling place. He dwells in God, and God dwells in him. If the power of God can preserve him, he is safe; for he is kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. If the love of God can secure him, he is safe; for God loves him with an everlasting love. If the oath of God is sufficient to warrant us to consider him safe, we may do so; for he has sworn that he will not be wroth with him nor rebuke him. Will a kind, fond, and tender mother take care of her offspring? Then will God take care of the believer, for he asks, "Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb?" He admits, "Surely they may forget yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands!" Isaiah 49:15-16
Salvation is safety. Safety at all times. Safety from all
real evils. Safety for evermore. The believer is under . . .
the special care and charge of Christ,
the sunshine of his Father's love,
the watchful eye of the Great Shepherd,
the guidance and guardianship of the Holy Spirit.
What a precious, unutterably precious truth is this! May
we . . .
press it to our hearts,
enjoy it in our daily walk, and
relish it as we would our choicest treasure!
We were in danger as considered in Adam but we are safe as united to Christ. We were in imminent peril as sinners but we are safe as believers. "The righteous shall hold on his way, and he who has clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger."
Reader, are you safe? What is your state? Are you justified? What is your character? Are you sanctified? What is your dependence? Is it the perfect work of Jesus? Beware of deception, it may be fatal. Make sure work for eternity, for it is all important. Salvation is also a restoration to,
4. HONOR.Sin degrades as well as endangers. Sin is a crime, a fearful, abominable, inexcusable crime! The criminal is a child, the child of a wise, kind, attentive parent; and his crime is nothing less than an attempt to dishonor, disgrace, and destroy his Father.
God's heart is love but his is enmity.
God's conduct is kindness but his is ingratitude.
God's object was his happiness but his object is the gratification of vile, base, and degrading passions.
He is . . .
a prodigal feeding swine,
a slave working in chains,
a criminal awaiting execution.
He is sunk, beyond description!
He is debased, beyond expression; being . . .
more ignorant than the ox,
more stupid than the donkey, and
more contemptible than the worm!
He talks of honor but knows not in what it consists. He boasts of dignity but is a stranger to it's nature and enjoyment. As the fountain of all supposed honor among men is the reigning Sovereign so the fountain of all true honor is the Most High. Honor comes from God only. He confers it as a matter of grace on all who believe in Jesus.
Is it an honor to be a son of God? Believers are the sons of God.
Is it an honor to be a King? Believers are Kings and Priests unto God.
Is it an honor to be a companion of the Prince of life? Believers are the companions of Jesus.
Is it an honor to be the heir of God? Believers are the heirs of God.
Is it an honor to be the bride of the Son of God? Every believer is honored to stand in this relation.
But what shall I more say, for time would fail to speak of the honors, dignities, and blessings which are conferred upon the people of God. "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9
There are crowns, thrones, scepters, kingdoms, white robes, golden harps, and rivers of pleasure at God's right hand, which are provided, preserved, and will be conferred on every child of God. Yet we do not, we cannot, fully know here, what God will bestow upon his beloved people.
His love is so vast,
His purposes are so deep,
His provision is so extensive,
and His thoughts are so grand
that it were folly to attempt to dive into, much less to set forth the honors which He has in reserve for His redeemed children!
The favored Apostle John confesses his ignorance upon this point, he says, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is!" 1 John 3:1-2. We know that we are the sons of God, we know that we shall be like the Lord Jesus but the full extent of the glory which is to be conferred upon us we do not know. The Lord will delight to honor us but how he will fully express his delight is unknown to us. He is not ashamed to be called our God, and he has prepared for us a city!
Chapter 3. Salvation is a POSSESSION.
Not only is the believer delivered from all real evil, and restored to holiness, happiness, safety, and honor; but salvation is also represented in God's Word as including a present possession. The Christian is created anew in Christ Jesus, Christ is formed in his heart the hope of glory, he is made a partaker of the Holy Spirit, and God dwells in him and walks in him. The vacuum produced by sin, which occasions that longing for something not possessed, is satisfied; that thirst for unknown enjoyments and pleasures is filled up; and the man knows what our Lord meant when he said, "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life!" John. 4:14. Salvation therefore includes the possession of,
1. A new and spiritual LIFE.By nature we are dead in trespasses and sins. There is . . .
This life coming from God always leads us to God.
Being holy it produces earnest longings for holiness.
Being spiritual it can only be satisfied with spiritual blessings.
Once received, its possessor can never rest without union to Christ, fellowship with Christ, and the possession of Christ. Christ is formed in the heart, as the hope of glory. Jesus becomes the food, the repose, the delight of the soul. To Jesus the spiritual life always tends, on him it feeds, and of him alone it boasts.
This spiritual life is immortal, it cannot die death can never touch it. It may, like the fire smothered with ashes, appear to be extinguished but it is not; it will revive, gather strength, and act anew. It is our fitness for Heaven, our preparation for eternal bliss. It is identified with Christ, therefore the Apostle said, "I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me; and the life that I live in the flesh is by the faith of the Son of God, who has loved me, and given himself for me." It is safe, eternally safe, therefore he says again, "Your life is hid with Christ in God; and when Christ who is our life shall appear, you also shall appear with him in glory."
This new spiritual life is imparted in
regeneration, and reveals itself in conversion to God. Its actings
are . . .
repentance for sin,
faith in Jesus,
love to God, and
earnest longings for holiness of heart and life.
It is this that distinguishes the real believer, from the mere professor of religion. It makes him a new man, and leads him to prove the truth of the Apostles words, "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5: 17.
Salvation includes also the possession of,
2. The HOLY SPIRIT."That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 3:6
The Holy Spirit is the author of the great work of regeneration. He takes up his abode in the renewed heart as his temple he dwells in us, and shall be with us. Jesus does all for us, outside of us; and the Holy Spirit does all for us, within us. He is the source of all holy desires, consistent purposes, and good works. There is no good thing in us, but what he produces. He dwells within us as the Teacher, the Comforter, and the Advocate of the soul. He leads us into truth, against Satan, and to labor for God. He warns us of evil, directs us to Jesus, and applies the blessings of salvation to our souls. He is in us as a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Without the Holy Spirit there is not, there cannot be real religion; for he is its author, guardian, and guide. To him we are indebted for every good desire, for every holy thought, for every good word, and for every work he works in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure.
Every tear of penitence,
every contrite sigh,
every fervent prayer,
every ray of light,
every strong emotion toward God
is from the Holy Spirit.
If He left us our graces would soon wither, fade, and die.
When we grieve him . . .
our comforts decline,
our evidences are be-clouded,
and our hands wax feeble. But . . .
if we sow to the Spirit,
if we walk in the Spirit,
if we aim in all things to please him then . . .
our souls are vigorous,
our graces are lively, and
we are enabled to find our joy in God.
The Spirit is the pledge of our inheritance, the pledge of Jehovah's love to us, and he often gives a foretaste of coming glory to those who walk so as to please God. If we have not the Holy Spirit; whatever else we may have, our religion is but a form, our faith a mere imagination, our experience delusion, and we are yet in our sins! How important then is the inquiry, "Have you received the Holy Spirit?"
Reader, have you? This is the blessing to which Jesus referred when sitting on Jacob's well, he said to the woman of Samaria, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you give me to drink; you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water." John 4:10. He was willing to give it to that woman, and he is willing to give it to you; he has the fullness of the Spirit, and he says, "If any man thirsts, let him come unto me and drink." Is not this enough to render you inexcusable, if you carelessly pass on until you are punished! The heavenly Father gives the Holy Spirit unto those who ask him, if therefore we live and die without this blessing, it is clear that we despised it, neglected to apply for it, and determined to brave the consequences. Fearful infatuation this!
Triflers with mercy, THINK!
Neglecters of salvation, CONSIDER!
Despisers of Jesus, PAUSE!
Repent and turn to God, so that iniquity shall not be your ruin!
Chapter 4. The PROPERTIES of salvation.
Whatever God does, he does like himself; whatever he gives, is worthy of himself. Creatures may act beneath themselves, angels have, men have but God never did, he never can. All his works praise him but the work of salvation commends him most. Here all his perfections appear, here his glory shines; in this he has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence. It meets our case, it exhibits his grace, it glorifies his name, and will do so forever. Let us then briefly look at the properties of salvation.
1. Salvation is GREAT.Emphatically great. Therefore the Apostle asks, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation." If I look at its origin it flows from the great love of God. If I look at its character it exhibits the great perfections of God. If I look at the comparisons made use of to set it forth, they all represent it as great. Is it compared to a supper it is the great supper of the great King. Is it set forth by a pearl it is a pearl of great price. Is it a river it is bottomless, shoreless, boundless!
No one could devise it but God;
no one could provide for it but God;
no one could work it but God;
no one can apply it but God. It is . . .
great beyond description,
great beyond comparison,
great beyond conception.
It includes every blessing,
it provides for all circumstances
and it embraces vast eternity.
As it is great, so it is,
2. Salvation is FREE."Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life!" Revelation 22:17
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost!" Isaiah 55:1
Salvation is . . .
as free as the waters of the ocean,
as free as the air of Heaven,
as free as the light of the noonday sun
free for the poorest,
free for the vilest,
free for all!
Whoever will, may come and take. The terms are, "No
money! No price!" No fitness is to be looked for in the creature. No
qualifications are required by God. The gospel contains a, free invitation
to all who hear it, a broad welcome to all who listen to its proclamation.
It is . . .
for sinners, as sinners;
for the lost, as lost;
for the wretched, as wretched;
for the unworthy, as unworthy.
It is clogged with no conditions, it is darkened by no requirements; there it is, full of blessings, embodying the wealth of God. There it is, just what the sinner needs, and all that the sinner needs. There it is, the free gift of free grace, to him who works not, but only believes.
Reader, no one can have a clearer warrant to embrace this salvation, then you have you will never have a clearer. Could you live to the age of Methuselah, and live under the most favorable circumstances, and obtain or perform all your mind dwells upon you would have no greater right to this salvation than you have now, if you are willing to embrace it. Yes, though you have forfeited your claim you yourself may be the poor, lost, wretched sinner on whom Jesus confers this invaluable blessing.
Pardon is for the guilty, such are you.
Sanctification is for the polluted, such are you.
The righteousness of Jesus is for the condemned, such are you.
Deliverance is for those who are in danger, this is your case.
God's salvation of is for the lost, and such are you.
You cannot honor God more than by . . .
believing his proclamation,
accepting his invitation, and
embracing this salvation.
You dishonor him if looking at your sins, at the
depravity of your own heart, or listening to the false insinuations of
Satan, you doubt the truth of his word, question the sincerity of his
invitation, and yield to doubt and despair. Gospel salvation . . .
is not sold but given;
it is not bartered but freely conferred;
it is not a debt but a favor;
it is not procured by the creature's works but received by simple faith. Gospel salvation is all that you need, it contains all that you can want, and it is now, at this moment, presented to you as a free gift from the God of love. Nothing can be freer! "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Romans 6:23
And yet, Satan so far prevails over hundreds of souls as to lead them to question whether they may embrace it or not. Injurious temptation this! It dishonors God, grieves the Holy Spirit, reflects on the blessed Jesus, and sinks the soul that entertains it in gloom and sorrow. As this salvation is free,
3. Salvation is also COMPLETE.It needs no addition. It is perfect in itself. It contains pardon, righteousness, purity, peace, strength, wisdom, and every other blessing. Here is all that justice requires and all that the sinner needs. You can think of nothing really good, truly desirable, or worth the attention of an immortal being but it is included in salvation. Here is life, clothing, food, health, wealth, pleasure, repose, triumph, and everlasting mansions! Here is . . .
If we are savingly interested in this salvation, then . .
no foe can overcome us,
no disaster can overwhelm us,
no burden can prove to heavy for us,
no difficulty can master us;
but we shall be "more than conquerors through him who loved us."
We who are believers do not perceive half of what this
salvation embraces. We do not expect half of what this salvation contains.
We do not enjoy one thousandth part of what this salvation holds out to us!
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has
prepared for those who love Him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9. May we . . .
weigh the language used by the Holy Spirit in speaking of it,
grasp the ideas which that language conveys,
give God credit for being as good as it represents him,
expect all we are warranted to look for, and
live up to our privileges as the saved of the Lord. As this salvation is complete, so
4. Salvation is also JUST.There is no compromise with the sinner. The rights of justice are admitted and fully met. The law is fulfilled, its sentence is executed, and thus its honor is maintained. God is just in justifying the sinner freely, fully, and forever. The sinner, though ungodly in himself receives, and is clothed with the perfect work of Christ. All that Jesus did, and all that Jesus suffered was in the stead, and as the willing substitute of the believer. And Jesus did all that law and justice could require so that mercy and truth meet together; righteousness and peace embrace each other in this glorious salvation.
Justice agrees with mercy in pardoning the sinner, in justifying the believer, in preserving the Christian, and in glorifying the saint; and does so because it has had all its due. Here Jehovah appears as the JUST GOD and yet the SAVIOR; saving consistently with his justice poor, lost, and wretched sinners. It is a sweet thought to a true believer's mind, that he goes to Heaven on the ground of divine justice, as well as by an exercise of divine mercy; that every attribute of God is honored in his eternal blessedness.
The salvation of God is not only just but,
5. Salvation is also HOLY.It is the death of sin. Jesus died to destroy it; and the Holy Spirit comes to deliver us from its power, and to set our hearts against the commission of it. Salvation by the Savior's blood is God's testimony against sin, as well as a deliverance from the consequences of sin. No man who understands and enjoys salvation can think lightly of sin; he views it as . . .
The grace which pardons always sanctifies. It brings salvation and teaches all who receive it, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, they should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. The more we understand the nature and feel the power of this salvation the more holy we shall be. Men may have some notions of salvation in their heads, and yet live in sin but no one who feels the power of salvation in his heart can do so; for it is essentially sanctifying. It assures us that "without holiness, no one shall see the Lord." It commands, "be holy." It promises, "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean, from all your filthiness and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments and do them."
It exhorts," Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." It affirms of those who expect to be with and like Jesus at last, "Every man that has this hope in him, purifies himself, even as he is pure." It teaches us to pray, "The God of peace who brought again from the dead the Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen."
This holy salvation is also,
6. Salvation is also ETERNAL.Yes, the salvation is for ever, as it is written, "Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, you shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end." The virtue of the 'blood of atonement' is unchangeable; the righteousness which Immanuel brought in, is everlasting; and he ever lives to make intercession for us. If our sins are pardoned, if our persons are justified, if our natures are renewed, and if we have committed our eternal all into the hands of Jesus we are safe, and safe forever. "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined He also called; and these whom He called He also justified; and these whom He justified He also glorified." "Jesus our Savior is the same yesterday, today, and forever, without variableness or the shadow of a turning; and God our Father says, "I am Jehovah, I change not; therefore, you sons of Jacob are not consumed." Unspeakable blessing this! Unparalleled mercy! Our salvation is . . .
And this is the character of that salvation which is published in the everlasting gospel, and which is by that gospel, presented to every lost and ruined sinner. O that men were wise, that they understood this, and would embrace this inestimable blessing!
God's holy law transgressed,
Speaks nothing but despair;
Burdened with guilt, with grief oppressed,
We find no comfort there.
Not all our groans and tears,
Nor works which we have done,
Nor vows, nor promises, nor prayers,
Can e'er for sin atone!
Belief alone is found,
In Jesus' precious blood!
Tis this that heals the mortal wound
And reconciles to God.
High lifted on the cross,
The spotless Victim dies.
This is salvation's only source
Hence all our hopes arise!
Chapter 5. The DESIGN of salvation.
In whatever God does, he must have an end to accomplish worthy of himself; and especially so in the great work of salvation especially.
This end in reference to himself seems to be,to exhibit and display all the glorious perfections of his nature before the creatures he has made. Some of his perfections appear in the work of creation but in salvation they are all revealed and illustrated, so that God can only be known through the person and work of his beloved Son. "No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him." John 1:18. It was therefore for the manifestation of himself, for the display of all his attributes and perfections, that Jehovah formed the scheme of salvation, sent our Lord Jesus Christ into the world, sent his Spirit into our hearts, and commanded his gospel to be preached unto all nations.
In that gospel his name is written out, his nature is revealed, his purposes are unfolded, and his throne of grace is exhibited to his fallen and degraded creatures. His own glory is his highest end the happiness of his people is subordinate to that. The honor of his name is his grand aim the salvation of sinners is a secondary consideration.
Hence when he speaks of the mighty transformation effected by the gospel in figurative language, he says, speaking of the blessings which Jesus bestows as the anointed of the Lord, he points out the design thus, "That they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified." Isaiah 41:3. Jehovah will glorify himself, he will glorify himself to the uttermost; and as he can greatly glorify himself by saving vile, worthless, and rebellious sinners by his grace, therefore he will save them.
As in salvation he reveals his nature and glorifies his name, so alsohe gratifies his infinite love. Love delights to bless the beloved object.
Jehovah fixed his sovereign love upon sinners, and loving them with an infinite love, he determined to satisfy that love by saving them with an everlasting salvation; therefore, we trace up all the blessings of salvation to his love. Because he loved he gave his beloved Son to live, labor, suffer, die, rise, ascend, and intercede for us. Because he loves he works; hence those beautiful, impressive, and striking words of the Apostle, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-7.
Throughout eternity the love of God will be displayed, and the infinite benevolence of his nature will be gratified, by beholding the holiness, happiness, and service of his ransomed people!
But the design of God in the salvation of sinners, embraces aninfinite opposition to Satan, "That old serpent, called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world." Rev. 12:9. He deceived, captured, and reduced our first parents to slavery; and through them, all the human family. He turned human nature against God, and sought its utter and eternal destruction. He formed the plan of reducing all mankind into a state of abject subserviency to himself. But the Lord determined to frustrate his purpose, disappoint his expectation, and clothe him with eternal shame; therefore he promised that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. And "for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." 1 John 3:8.
He entered into conflict with this foe, he met him in the wilderness and on Calvary, and "he spoiled principalities and powers, be made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in his cross." Colossians 2:15. He cast out the Prince of this world, John 12:31. He stripped the strong man armed of all his armor, he made the god of this world quail in his presence, and will ultimately cover this foe with eternal shame.
Satan is daily disappointed of his prey, the purposes of Hell are frustrated, while the purposes of redeeming love are going on to their complete accomplishment. "The counsel of the Lord shall stand, He will do all his pleasure." The enemies of Jesus shall be clothed with shame, while upon himself shall his crown flourish.
The design of God in reference toHis people, is to prevent their ruin which He effectually does. They have destroyed themselves but he saves them by his grace. They are lost but he seeks and rescues them. They are in prison but he visits and delivers them. They are led captive by the devil at his will but he sets them at liberty from him who triumphed over them.
God intends tosecure their service, and this he does; for he delivers them out of the hand of their enemies, that they may serve him without fear. He sheds abroad his love in their heart, which love constrains them to live unto him who died for them and rose again. He gives his Holy Spirit to them, under whose sacred teaching and influence, they consecrate themselves, and all they have to his glory.
He intends alsoto fit them for, and introduce them to his kingdom and glory. The former he is effecting by his Spirit, Word, and providence; and the latter he will do when Jesus comes again, who will then collect them from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and will say, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, from the foundation of the world!" Matthew 25:34.
And in reference to the Savior himself, the design isto show the strength of his love. No figure in nature can fully represent it, no difficulty could conquer it, no sufferings could overcome it. It is as strong as death, which conquers all. He was willing to undertake, commence, and complete all that was necessary for his people's salvation. He considered . . .
Whoever would know the love of Jesus in its heights, lengths, breadths, and depths must study the story of redeeming mercy. For there it is written as with a sun beam, in letters of light; there it sparkles with glory, beauty, and every attractive charm. His kingdom is to be peopled by a multitude which no man can number, every one of which number owes his life, his deliverance, his all to the mercy, merit, and power of the glorious Immanuel.
Salvation is intended toexalt the Lord Jesus to the highest pinnacle of glory and honor; no one ever stooped so low no one shall ever rise so high. No one ever suffered so much no one shall ever realize such deep, durable, and thrilling pleasures. He "being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:6-11. As the Prophet says, "He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high." Isaiah 12:13. His glory shall be great in the salvation of his people!
Such appears from his word to be the design of God in salvation:
1. To reveal his nature,
to glorify his name,
to gratify his immortal love.
2. To completely frustrate the purpose of the devil,
to disappoint his expectation, and
to clothe him with eternal shame.
3. To prevent the believer's ruin,
to secure his cheerful service, and
to introduce him to his kingdom and glory.
4. To show the strength of the Savior's love,
to people his kingdom with myriads who are under the deepest obligation to him,
and to exalt him to the highest honor!
All these points are included in the one design of our
gracious God, and it is evidently worthy of him. Here wisdom,
justice, holiness, and grace meet and mingle like the
colors in the rainbow. Here . . .
the depth of the mind of God is revealed,
the grandeur of his thoughts is exhibited,
and the sovereignty of his love is displayed.
This scheme brings glory to God in the highest, peace to the earth, and breathes good will towards men. May we . . .
perceive its adaptation,
embrace its provision,
enjoy its privileges,
exhibit its excellencies,
and eternally celebrate its praises.
Chapter 6. EVIDENCES of salvation.
Many real believers are often distressed and troubled, on
account of . . .
the weakness of their faith,
the strength of their fears, and
their mistakes in reference to their interest in Christ.
They look for too much in self, and for too little in Christ.
To avoid soul deception they are apt to run into gloom
and despondency. They look for certain evidences in themselves, and
because they do not find those they look for they conclude they have none;
and giving way to the temptations of Satan, they . . .
distress their own souls,
dishonor the Lord Jesus, and
reflect badly on the grace of God.
They doubt not the ability of Christ but they
question his willingness to save. If the testimony of scripture
assures me he is able to save it is to encourage me to approach him
and cast my soul upon him and if he assures me he will never cast out it
is to disperse my fears, remove my doubts, and draw me to his mercy-seat
with confidence and courage. There is no saving religion in doubting
though many who are truly godly do doubt. Slavish fear never honors a God
of love yet many who desire to honor him give way to groundless fears.
1. One evidence of true salvation is CONVICTION OF SIN.Conviction of sin in the conduct and of sin in the heart. We are all sinners but only a few know what sin is, and what a fearful thing it is to be a sinner. Sin is . . .
Sin . . .
is rooted in our nature,
grows with our growth,
strengthens with our strength,
flows from our hearts as naturally as water from a fountain, or light from the body of the sun.
Every action we have performed,
every word we have spoken,
every thought we have conceived
has been defiled by sin, and deserves eternal death!
The nature of sin is most dreadful, and the effects of sin are most fearful. But man untaught of God has no such views of sin, or of himself as polluted by it; but when the Holy Spirit quickens and enlightens the immortal mind, when he brings home the law as the standard of holiness and the rule of conduct then the sinner discovers his state, and fears the consequences. He is alarmed, distressed, and inquires, "Who, what can save me?" He fears his sins are too numerous and aggravated to be pardoned, being ignorant of the extent of the grace of God, and the infinite merit of the blood of Christ. He fears presumption and he dreads despair. He cannot laugh at sin or longer trifle with eternity; he can no more dare the justice or slight the mercy of God. He is concerned for his safety, being conscious of his danger. He longs for a pardon, being convinced of his guilt. He trembles at the thought of justice but hopes when he hears of mercy. Sensible of his lost condition, he presents the heartfelt prayer, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
But we are not to judge our conviction of sin by its
depths but by its nature. If it drives us to despair, then it
is natural. But if it drives us to Jesus, then it is spiritual. If your
conviction . . .
leads you to see your need of a Savior,
prevents your resting on anything but Christ Jesus,
leads you frankly to confess your crimes before God,
and to seek for salvation solely by the grace of God
then they are spiritual convictions, and the evidence of spiritual life. None could produce them, but the Holy Spirit; and none ever experience them, but those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life!
2.In close connection with conviction of sin, is hatred to sin, loathing ourselves on account of sin. If we see sin in the light of the Lord then we must hate it. If we see ourselves as polluted and defiled by sin then we must loathe ourselves on account of it. Finding sin to be rooted in our nature, and seeing it occasionally break out notwithstanding our striving and watching against it will stop our mouths from boasting, and prevent our excusing ourselves. We shall see sin as our fault as well as our disease; as our crime as much as our misery. And feeling inclined at times to favor it, and secretly wishing we were at liberty to indulge in it will make us abhor ourselves and repent in dust and ashes! The former is from the corruption of nature and the latter from the principle of divine grace.
The Christian hates sin in all but mostly in
himself; and while he wishes the world to be freed from it he would
give a world if he could but get rid of it! It is sin in himself,
which grieves him:
sin in his prayers,
sin in his praises,
sin in his purposes,
sin in his duties,
sin in all he does!
And seeing no hope of complete sanctification on this
side the grave, he cries, "I loathe it, I loathe it, I would not live
always!" As sin is forbidden, he dares not indulge it. As the object
of his hatred, he naturally forsakes it. He cannot but lament that sin is in
his nature, and grieve before God when it appears in his conduct.
If sin is the object of your hatred, if self is loathed because it is sinful
then it is evident you are born of God; for except a man be born from
above he cannot loathe self, hate sin, and forsake it. In order to do
this, he must have a new nature, and that nature must be holy and divine.
3. An appetite for divine thingsis a scriptural evidence of grace. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled." If we can find satisfaction, pleasure, and delight only in the things of the world then we are dead in sin; dead while we live. But if instead thereof, we are thirsting for God, to . . .
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst
after righteousness for they shall be filled." This promise is plain,
positive, and certain; and every hungry soul may derive comfort therefrom.
When Jesus is the chief object of our desire, and the blessings he
communicates are the principle things in our estimation then there is
divine life in the soul. For dead men have no desire or appetite for natural
things; so people spiritually dead have no appetite for spiritual things. If
nothing but Christ can satisfy us then we "have been born again, not of
perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word
of God!" 1 Peter 1:23
4. An entire willingness to be saved in God's way; that is, by free grace through the blood of Jesus is an evidence of divine life in the soul. No man in a state of nature is willing to be saved as a poor debtor by a Surety; as a miserable sinner by a gracious Savior. Man would rather perish in sin, than be saved in this way! Hence our Redeemer testified, "You will not come unto me that you might have life." "The carnal mind is enmity against God, it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
Self, works, and merit must be
entirely renounced! We must heartily surrender ourselves into the hands of
Jesus to be . . .
washed in his blood,
clothed in his righteousness,
and sanctified by his Spirit
or we reject God's method of salvation.
But if we are willing to do this, there can be no doubt
but God has been working in us, to will and to do of his good pleasure. The
promise in our experience is then fulfilled, "Your people shall be willing
in the day of your power." Fallen human nature will not approve of God's
plan, which makes man nothing and Christ all in all. Nor will the
carnal mind accept salvation on any such terms. Consequently if we are
willing, heartily willing to be saved from wrath through him, and prove that
willingness by our conduct we doubtless have the Holy Spirit in us.
5.If in addition to this, we are made honest and SINCERE; and being sensible of the ignorance of our minds and deceitfulness of our hearts we come to the light of God's word, and to his glorious throne, praying, "Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way!" The sincere Christian dreads deception, and desires to make his "calling and election sure;" he shuns presumption, and would avoid the possibility of mistake. He therefore, bares his conscience to the word of God, and would not play the hypocrite upon any consideration.
Honesty and sincerity of heart in reference to our eternal concerns, is a most important blessing; none possess it but those who are "called, and chosen, and faithful;" and if we are made honest in this sense, it is the grace of God which brings salvation that has made us so, and it is clear we are called with a holy calling.
I feel that I am a sinner, and subscribe to all that God says in his holy word, respecting man as a sinner. I hear of Jesus as both able and willing to save, and I go to him in the exercises of my soul and cry, "Lord, save me!" I gather his answer from his word, and am enabled to lay hold on it by the Holy Spirit.
It requires no depth of wisdom, or mighty effort of mind
to believe in Jesus. We simply . . .
credit his word,
confide in his faithfulness,
trust his atonement, and
look for the mercy of God unto eternal life.
Believing in him we confess him as the Savior God has appointed, the Savior on whom we rely; and if we "confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in the heart that God has raised him from the dead we shall be saved."
Reader, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, for "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." John 3:36
Are you afraid? Do doubts arise in your mind? The
difficulty in your mind arises from misapprehension. You needed a Savior,
the gospel informs you of Jesus, who is just suited to your need, and
assures you that he will receive and save you. And what is faith?
Just receiving this statement and acting upon it. It is . . .
going to Jesus as directed,
receiving Christ as he is presented,
looking to him as invited, and
trusting in him as you are exhorted to do.
Every looking Israelite was healed, and every looking
sinner shall be saved the very looking to Jesus is faith, and
proves your saving interest in the promise, "whoever believes shall receive
remission of sins."
7. Loveis an evidence of salvation.
Love to JESUSis an evidence of interest in the covenant of mercy love flows from faith. If I believe what the Scriptures say of Jesus, as to the glory of his person, the tenderness of his heart, and the fullness of his grace then I shall go to him to prove the truth of these important statements, and proving the truth of these precious declarations how can I do otherwise than love him. If I question his loveliness or his love to me then I cannot love him; and this is the cause why many of the Lord's little ones droop, and doubt, and fear. They question the truth of his word, and consequently the love of Jesus to them; this contracts and hardens the heart, and if they would give a world to feel love to Jesus. They cannot feel it, until brought cordially to admit the truth of what the scriptures testify in reference to the love and loveliness of Jesus and then their frozen hearts will melt, and they will love him, because he first loved them.
But we must not always judge of love by warmth of feeling. There has been much warmth, where there has been but little sincere love. We must judge by the habitual state of our heart toward him.
Do you desire above all things to love him, and to be conformed to his will? Are you willing to part with all things for him, and unreservedly trust yourself with him? This is love; when I can trust my eternal interests in his hands, and endeavor constantly to keep his commandments.
Love to HIS PEOPLEbecause they are his, and are like him is an infallible evidence of the new birth. "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." If I love the picture it is because I know and love the original. I could not love saint as a saint if I did not know and love Jesus as the Savior of his people. If saints were more like Christ, then we would love them more. But as it is, though they are surrounded with infirmities, we love them; and are consequently entitled to be numbered with them, and to participate in all their joys and sorrows.
If we love Jesus supremely, and saints
affectionately then it is clear that we are created anew in Christ Jesus
unto good works.
8. Humilityproves we are the blessed of the Lord. If we are humbled under a sense of our sin, ignorance, and desert we shall . . .
Nothing but the power of the Spirit of God can
effectually . . .
humble the proud heart of man,
shut his mouth before God,
cause him with self-abhorrence to cry, "Guilty, guilty!"
and bring him to receive the kingdom of God as a little child.
Man will be something but grace makes him nothing. It is the greatest mortification to proud nature, to be indebted to another for salvation, or to go to Heaven as a poor pauper, entirely dependant on the work of Jesus.
To renounce our own judgment,
to submit to be taught of God,
to believe the Word because God speaks it, and
to cleave to Jesus with full purpose of heart
is genuine humility. The man has nothing to say against the demands or sentence of the holy law; and nothing to object to the provision or requirements of the glorious gospel. But he casts himself entirely on the . . .
rich grace, and
promised compassion of Jehovah.
To this man, will Jehovah look with pleasure and approbation, and with him will he take up his abode. He walks humbly with his God. "Though the Lord is high yet has he respect unto the lowly." "Blessed are the poor in in spirit for theirs is the kingdom or Heaven."
9.He who is truly humbled under a sense of sin pants, prays, and seeks for HOLINESS. He is as much concerned to be sanctified, as saved. He sees . . .
He mourns over the sins of others but more over
his own sin. Sin and Hell are always associated in his mind. He views
. . .
sin as the root and Hell as the tree;
sin as the fountain and Hell as the stream naturally flowing from it.
Every man creates his own Hell but no man can create
his own Heaven. The true Christian must long to be holy the precepts
require it, and the principle of life within him pants for it with
inextinguishable ardor. If he could but be holy, he would be happy,
therefore he cries, "I shall be satisfied when I awake up in your likeness!"
He avoids sin and desires to be arrayed in all the graces of the Spirit,
in all the beauties of holiness. He would be the personification of faith,
love, humility and godly zeal. This desire for holiness is a certain
evidence of godliness; for "without holiness no man shall see the Lord."
10. Godly FEARis a covenant blessing, and a proof that we are of God. If we fear God with a filial fear, we fear to offend him and desire above all things to please him. It is not what will men say but shall I hereby please God? We are taught in his word how to walk and to please him, and godly fear always prompts us to aim at this end. We shall fear to dishonor him in the world, the church, and our families. God is jealous of his glory and so is a godly man. He desires to glorify him in the body, soul, and spirit, which are God's. He does not run at random but prays, "What will You have me to do?" He does not make excuse for infirmities but sighs out, "O that my ways were directed to keep your statutes always!" His motto is, "No peace with sin no truce with Satan no friendship with the world!" because these would lead him to dishonor God. He would rather suffer pain, than . . .
And when he sees others careless, loose, and licentious;
indulging their lusts and giving way to temptations, he says, "I do not do
so, because of the fear of the Lord." He startles at sin with, "How shall I
do this great wickedness, and sin against God!"
11. Attachment to the WORD OF GODis a proof that we are of God. Real believers always prize the bible they love to read it, to think over its contents, and to enjoy its communications. It is as necessary for their souls as food is for their bodies; they often esteem it more than their necessary food. They would sooner part with all their dainties, than with their bibles. They read it as truth, they believe it as containing the mind of God; and when tempted to think differently, they are grieved and distressed. If the word of God is neglected, they condemn themselves, mourn over their folly before God, and crave his forgiveness. They stay themselves upon the word of God when assaulted by Satan. They look to it for direction when bewildered in their path. It is to them as Goliath's sword was to David, for they all say, "There is none like it."
They love the Word because it . . .
sets forth Jesus,
reveals the mind of God,
marks out the path of duty,
affords rich consolations,
and contains a mine of wealth.
They live . . .
believing its doctrines,
trusting its promises,
walking by its precepts, and
deriving encouragement and caution from its histories.
"O how I love your law, it is my meditation all the day. Except your law bad been my delight, my soul had almost dwelt in silence."
12. DISSATISFACTION with everything worldlyon account of the imperfections discovered, is another evidence of real spirituality. Nothing under Heaven can satisfy the Christian. Having gone the round, he turns away with disgust and exclaims, "Whom have I in Heaven but you, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside you!" He can find full satisfaction only . . .
Everything besides appears empty, polluted, and vain. He may be occasionally attracted, and for a season led away from his resting place; but feeling dissatisfied, uneasy, and grieved, he says, "Return unto your rest, O my soul. There's nothing here deserves my joys there's nothing like my God!"
If nothing can satisfy us but God, he will never put us off with less than himself. The wisdom, justice, the grace discovered in such a state of soul, is from himself; and he will never forsake the work of his own hands. We may learn from, and profit by, his works but we can only rest in, and be satisfied with
himself. "The Lord is our inheritance. He is our portion
13. A spirit of PRAYERis from the Lord, and is a proof of our saving interest in his love. "Behold he prays!" If desire for prayer is produced, and the throne of grace is frequented we are the blessed of the Lord. Prayer is the Christian's breath he prays as naturally and as habitually as he breathes. And we would as soon think of a man living without respiration as of a Christian living without prayer.
But do not mistake, prayer is not a form of words but a sense of need, and a petition for supply. The believer often prays without speaking while many speak in a form without praying. He goes to Jehovah as naturally as a child to his Father, and as frequently as he feels his wants. He lives in constant fellowship with Heaven. Sometimes he can only sigh or groan and at other times he can plead with liberty and power. Sometimes he can only look towards the throne of grace and at others he can wrestle with God and prevail.
His heart inspires his petitions,
the Word of God regulates his desires,
to Jesus he looks as his Intercessor before the throne, and
he continues in prayer notwithstanding discouragements.
He often feels . . .
his heart hard,
his thoughts perplexed,
his mind bewildered, and
his spirit lukewarm.
He is tempted to believe that it is no use for such a one, in such a frame to attempt to pray; but he must confess his faults, tell out his fears, and entreat for mercy in a Savior's name. And though often persuaded that he does not pray, that his attempts cannot be accepted, and that he has neither the gift nor the spirit of prayer yet he still attempts to find access, and to breathe his sorrows there.
Mere formalists are generally satisfied with their prayers, and too often rest in them. But the real Christian sees his to be so impure, imperfect, and worthless that he dares not trust in anything but Jesus, his righteousness, and blood.
Can you live without prayer? Can your discouragements
make you give over attempting? Are you satisfied with your prayers? Or do
you see that they, even the best of them, need to be washed in the precious
blood of Jesus? If so, you have light, life, and spirituality; and surely
you are one of those whom Jesus loves. Private prayer, from a sense of need,
continued under all discouragements, is an evidence that we are the children
14. The CONFLICT between the flesh and the Spirit, is an evidence of grace. If we have a daily exposition of the seventh chapter of the Romans within us then we are as Paul was. This most Christians have in a greater or less degree: they would do good but evil is present with them. They would serve the law of God but are led captive by the law of sin. They hate what they often do and love what they cannot attain to. They would be holy but they sin; yet they never excuse sin in themselves, or endeavor to quote scripture to cloak it.
The flesh and the spirit carry on a constant warfare, so that the believer often feels wretched and longs for deliverance. He cannot do the things that he would. Sin will fight when it cannot reign. The warfare will only cease with death.
We daily discover how the flesh misleads us, and we find
it spoils all we attempt for God's glory. It creeps into our motives, or
turns us aside from our rule, or puffs us up at the end. Thus we feel . . .
the daily need the open fountain,
the renewings of the Holy Spirit, and
a fresh pardon from the hands of Jesus.
The flesh would make us truly miserable but the riches, plenitude, and permanence of grace prevents it. The love of Jesus is the same he witnesses the conflict, sympathizes with the sufferer, and cheers him with the assurance, "My grace is sufficient for you!"
The spirit desires only to be devoted to, ruled by, and
employed for the Lord; and longs for the happy deliverance promised in God's
word. Therefore, the flesh and spirit will strive against each other until
the day of death!
15. Separation from the WORLD, from a discovery of its vanity and enmity to God is an evidence of grace. The world will love its own but saints are not of the world, even as Jesus was not of the world. They see that it is opposed to God in its spirit, maxims, and works; and that all the cry is "No God for me!" They cannot join with the ungodly world they become strangers and pilgrims, and desire to leave it. They . . .
They witness for God in it, and to it. They sigh and cry because of its abominations, and long for the period when the earth shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, and there shall be no more curse!
A worldly spirit indulged and enjoyed, is the evidence of a worldly man. But deadness to the world, sympathy with Jesus who was persecuted and crucified in the world, and living above the world in fellowship and communion with God is the evidence of a spiritual man. The world knows not, loves not the Christian; and the Christian loves not the world, knowing that if any man is in friendship with the world, that he is an enemy of God "if any man loves the world the love of the Father is not in him." The whole world lies in the wicked one, how important then to be delivered from the present evil world; and to have our affections set on things above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God.
"Those who are in the flesh, mind and enjoy the things of
the flesh; but those who are in the Spirit, mind the things of the spirit."
16. The Lord's people are CHASTENED FOR SIN, and cannot go on in transgression without correction. An enlightened conscience armed with God's word will smite them, the ministry of the word will pierce and penetrate their hearts, and they prove it to be an evil and bitter thing to wander from the Lord their God. Providence joins with Scripture in reproving them for their folly, and the Lord follows them with the rod until they fall at his feet, acknowledge their transgression, and crave his forgiveness.
Mere professors may be allowed to go on and escape the rod when they sin but "those whom the Lord loves he chastens; and scourges EVERY one whom he receives." And the Christian will justify his God in using discipline, though it may be sharp and will bow and listen to the rod, though it speaks against him.
To lay low at the Lord's feet while he smites,
to cleave to him when he frowns,
to plead with him when he speaks against us
proves that our principles are divine, that we have the Spirit of God, and are heirs of glory!
O for much of that meek humility which . . .
closes the mouth from speaking against any of God's ways,
opens the ear to listen to all his communications,
lays the heart at his feet, and
covers the face with holy shame before him, on account of conscious unworthiness!
The lofty mountain of a proud heart will be dry, withered, and barren; but the low valley of an humble soul will be watered with the dew of Heaven from above, and bear fruit to Jehovah's praise.
"By humility and the fear of the Lord, are riches, and honor, and life."
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God."
"Despise not the chastening of the Almighty."
17. Looking, waiting, and longing for the SECOND COMING of Jesus, is a scriptural evidence of saintship. Jesus has promised to come again and receive us to himself, he has commanded us to be ready for his glorious appearing, and he has assured us that "to those who look for him, he will come the second time without sin, unto salvation."
Love must desire the presence of the beloved object, and
must desire his glorification; and he is coming "to be glorified in his
saints, and admired in all those who believe." He is now in the Heavens,
waiting until his enemies to be made his footstool. The Heavens must retain
him, "until the times of the restitution of all things which God has spoken
by the mouth of his holy prophets." Faith believes the statements;
hope expects their accomplishment; and
love looks and longs for the time; crying "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!"
He will certainly come, to the joy of all such but all
his enemies shall be ashamed. There are some things connected with the
coming of Jesus, which may make our flesh tremble but . . .
to see him as he is;
to be like him; to be with him;
to swell his train and his triumphs;
to witness his glories; and
to participate in his blessedness
is certainly an object of desire to every believer. We wait for him at the Son of God from Heaven, who has preserved us from the wrath to come!
18. But after all is said, there is no evidence like HABITUAL FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD. To walk with God as our Father, communicating to him all that we fear, feel, and desire; and receiving from him vigor, comfort, and daily preservation is an evidence which can never be questioned. We walk by faith, that is,
And though darkness and gloom may occasionally surround and even distress us yet we know that we are of God. It is as natural to us to feed on his word, desire his presence, and seek his love; as it is to the natural child to believe the word, enjoy the presence, and be happy in the love of a kind and tender parent. Our God is love, and believing this, we rely on him, walk with him, and look for his mercy unto eternal life.
Beloved reader, endeavor to realize the truth and importance of scripture; to live and act as in the immediate presence of God; and to refresh the mind daily by a view of the perfect work of Jesus, on the ground of which God justifies the ungodly, and walks with poor sinners in peace and love. Stand out from the world be separate; live by faith, believing God's gracious testimony; lay humbly before the Lord, under a sense of unworthiness; and endeavor to realize daily, your union to Christ, and relation to God as a Father through him. So shall peace be with you, and love with faith from our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our only hope.
But a caution may be necessary; these pages may be read by a self-assured professor, one who has light in the head but no grace in the heart; who substitutes notions for divine operations; and a sound creed for a converted soul.
My fellow sinner, unless your heart is broken for sin, and broken from sin; unless your religion leads you to Jesus as a poor, wretched, hell-deserving sinner; and unless you are united to him, and his life is manifest in you your religion is but like the dream of a night vision! It may he pleasing but it will prove a fearful delusion. Nothing but heart work in religion will stand! Mere head knowledge will vanish away, every false covering will one day be stripped off, and unless you are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus, and internally sanctified by the Holy Spirit a dreadful sentence will be passed on you, never to be repealed. O fearful case, to be dreaming of happiness and to find misery misery as deep and lasting as the desert of sin, and the existence of God!
Is it a poor thoughtless sinner that is reading these pages? I have a message from God unto you. "Except you are born again, and converted to God you cannot see the kingdom of Heaven." If you have not the Spirit of Christ then you are none of his. If you love not the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth then you will be accursed when the Lord comes! Unless you are found in Christ your death will be melancholy, and your eternal destiny indescribably dreadful!
There is mercy to be obtained NOW this is emphatically "the day of salvation!" But the day will soon close and a tremendous night of darkness, anger, and woe will set in upon you. A neglected bible, a slighted gospel, a rejected Savior will all witness against you! And through eternity, you will condemn your present course and curse your folly.
Satan is seeking your destruction, your own hearts are deceiving you, and perhaps the conduct of some professors may cause you to stumble; but remember, "Every man must give an account of HIMSELF to God; and receive according to the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or evil."
Look well to the foundation on which you build your hope; dig deep and lay that foundation on a rock even on Christ Jesus. And then you may be happy in time for you are safe for eternity. "Whoever believes on him shall not be ashamed." He will appear to their joy, and their enemies shall be confounded. Hear then the warning voice, act upon the directions given you in the gospel, make sure work for eternity, and all shall be well.
PART 3. VARIOUS CHARACTERS ADDRESSED.
1. The CARELESS.
When we think of . . .
the value of the soul,
the vastness of eternity,
the glories of Heaven,
the horrors of Hell,
the invitations of the gospel,
and the brevity of time
we would think that all people must be deeply and solemnly affected but such is not the case. There are many, very many who care for none of these things. They live as if there was no hereafter; they act as if religion was a dream, and the bible a mere fable. They are careless and indifferent; nothing seems to affect them, or if ever they are impressed, the impression is soon erased by the follies and vanities of time.
They are perhaps careful enough about the things of time, and so far as the body is concerned; but they are careless about the solemn realities of eternity, and the eternal salvation of the soul. It is possible, that one of this class may read this little work, and therefore it is necessary that such a one be addressed.
Reader, are you careless about the salvation of your soul? Careless as to what becomes of you after death? Careless as to whether you go to Hell or Heaven? Hear the word of the Lord which is spoken expressly to you.
"Be troubled, you careless ones!" Isaiah 23:11. You are really careless and indifferent. Allow me seriously to ask you: Careless about what? Your soul! Your soul! Your salvation! The wrath of God! Eternity! Careless! What, surrounded by dangers, exposed every moment to death, within a few steps of everlasting woe!
Careless, and careless about your soul which must live forever, which may live in happiness and unspeakable glory; which if neglected will suffer beyond description and without cessation! Careless and careless while God is speaking to you in mercy, while death is threatening you, and the grave is opening to receive you!
But you are a careless sinner, for you live without prayer; you lie down at night without confessing sin, seeking pardon, and asking God for protection through the night you rise in the morning, and never offer praise for protection, or seek grace to keep you from temptation, and sanctify you to God. You are careless, for you neglect your bible there it lies neglected and practically despised; or you do not read it with seriousness, prayer, and gratification, as one of God's choicest gifts to you. You fear not its threatenings, you believe not its promises, you do not embrace its invitations. It has become to you, as a book that is sealed. You are careless, for you violate the ordinances of the gospel, and you forsake the preaching of the word.
You are careless, just because you love darkness rather
than light, because you prefer . . .
sin to holiness,
this world to Heaven,
and Satan to God. You perhaps put far away from you the evil day, and imagine that you shall have peace, though you walk in the imagination of your evil heart!
Remember, God has pronounced a solemn curse in his word against all careless sinners, and therefore against you; a curse that extends to every part of man and to all his possessions; a curse which runs parallel with eternity; a curse which unless you repent, God is solemnly bound to execute upon you!
Did you ever seriously consider the following portion of his word if you have not, I beseech you consider it now. "Since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes!" Proverbs 1:24-31
Can any language be more awful than this? What deep solemnity pervades it! What dreadful denunciations it contains, and, (awful thought!) in what numerous instances it has been already fulfilled! Reader, it refers to you, it is as if God looked you fully in the face while he pronounced it. And yet you are careless! Then it must be because you do not think of these things, or you do not believe that God is sincere in what he says, or you presume on his mercy; or the god of this world has blinded your mind, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ who is the image of God, should shine into you.
In either case your state is awful, because it is imminently dangerous. O hear the Word of God! Listen to the voice of mercy! Regard the day of your visitation! And "Be troubled you careless ones!" Indeed you have need. Only consider that you are sinners, sinners who have trifled with mercy, sinners who have slighted the free grace of God; that as such you lie under condemnation, the wrath of God abides on you, all his threatenings belong to you. Therefore unless you repent, you must certainly perish! Your punishment is certain, it may come suddenly, in an instant, when you are not aware of it; and your time is short, not only short but uncertain. Therefore be troubled, for with God is solemn majesty, his justice is truly inviolable, he is faithful to his word, and his threatenings are dreadful.
Let your mind dwell upon these solemn truths, let them sink down into your hearts, and be troubled for your sins; then confess your sins before God, appeal to his mercy in Jesus, seek instantly the pardon of all your sins, nor rest until you know that you are fully justified before God, and then walk in accordance with the precepts of the New Testament before God and man.
"God commands all men everywhere to repent." Acts 17:30. The authority of God is unquestionable, his commands are always righteous, and the consequences of disobedience are fearful.
"God commands," then we are sure that the command is holy, just, and good; he commands "all men everywhere," then he commands you; you must be included. He commands all men, everywhere "to repent," then they should seriously think of their sins, confess them before God, mourn over them in secret, and forsake them in their future life; for repentance includes all these things.
Reader, God commands you to repent, to repent immediately, and to bring forth fruits fit for repentance. Do you refuse? If so, you are bound over to appear and answer for your refusal in the final judgment. God is observing your thoughts on this subject at this moment, he records what he observes, and that record will appear in the book which will be opened when you are judged at the last day, except it should be blotted out by the blood of Jesus. This is a very serious thought. It throws an awful solemnity around the subject.
Think for one moment, "God commands me to repent; to repent immediately; I must either yield to, or resist the command of God. If I resist, I add sin to sin; I but increase the amount of my criminality, and expose myself to 'the greater damnation.' If I yield, mercy will receive me, and grace will glorify itself in me; all my sins will be pardoned, my person will be justified and accepted of God, and eternal life will be conferred on me at the last day. I must either live a rebel and die accursed or I must become a penitent and receive the blessing."
To this alternative you are shut up, there is no escape from this dilemma. To you therefore the words of the Apostle Peter are strikingly applicable, "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out!" Acts 3:19.
Do you plead for delay? Upon what principle? Will putting off, make repentance more easy? Will it add to your comfort, or can you consider it consistent? Delay! For you to delay, is as if one sick of a dangerous disease, were to refuse to take medicine until the disease had conquered, and he was sure of dying. It is as if one condemned for crime, should refuse to receive freedom until the morning of his execution when he stood under the gibbet. It is as if one whose house was on fire and all his property was burning, refused aid to extinguish the devouring flames until he saw the roof fall in.
Delay! It is dangerous. It is a fearful aggravation of all your former sins, and the strongest proof that can be given of the enmity of your heart against God. It proves not only that you are an enemy to God but an obstinate enemy; an enemy who refuses to be reconciled, an enemy who prefers the curse of God to his blessing, and who dares him to do his worst!
Perhaps you have never taken this view of the subject. Look at it again. Examine it carefully. Deal impartially with yourself. Here is God your Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor; God who could crush you by his power in one moment, and sink you to the lowest Hell! This God is commanding you to repent; he connects repentance and pardon, and pledges himself to pardon every repenting sinner. But you refuse, deliberately refuse to yield. You know his power but you refuse; you know his hatred to sin but you refuse; you hear his promise of pardon to the penitent but you refuse. And you have heard again and again, his threatening to punish with everlasting destruction all impenitent people and yet you refuse!
Hear then, another portion of his word, "Unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish!" Luke 13:3. Perish! What is that? It is for hope to forever depart, and despair take eternal possession of the soul. It is to be banished from God forever, and to be shut up with devils and damned spirits. It is to be excluded from Heaven and to be confined in Hell. It is to be driven from the rivers of pleasure which are at God's right hand and to be doomed to the lake of fire to dwell with everlasting burnings. It is to be thrust into blackness, darkness, and eternal woe!
If therefore you live impenitent, you are condemned
already; your destiny is fixed, and fixed by yourself. Hell is your eternal
abode! And in Hell, you will be forever deprived of the glorious presence of
God; there you will be shut up in prison with all the enemies of God; in a
prison where there is . . .
no order but horror;
no voice but of blasphemers cursing God, themselves, and each other;
no sounds but the dismal howlings of the tortured;
no society but devils and the damned! And 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!
There the worm never dies and the fire is never
quenched. The wrath of God like flames of liquid brimstone, will seize upon
your soul and body; and in that flame you will be . . .
forever burning but never consumed;
ever dying but never dead;
ever writhing in the pangs of the second death and never for one moment be free from those pangs, nor know an end of those pains.
Your torments will be always beginning, and your cutting reflections will be, "All this I procured of my sin! All this I chose in preference to Heaven! To this dreadful place, I forced my way though warned, invited, and entreated by the servants of God! I despised the solemn warning but now I feel the dread reality! I slighted the invitation to embrace the Savior and now I am banished for ever from his presence! My destruction is of myself! I chose the path, I pursued the road, and now I am lost! Lost! Lost forever!
Justice condemns me,
holiness punishes me,
mercy and grace pass me by without pity,
all around curse me,
all within condemns me, and
I am obliged to confess that in this tremendous punishment, Gos as fully just!"
I see the sinner who has neglected the Savior, despised
the gospel, and refused to repent, closing his life:
his conscience accuses him,
justice frowns upon him,
hope forsakes him,
despair seizes upon him,
a cold chill of horror passes over his spirit,
consternation and dread prey upon his vitals!
His soul then leaves the body:
it is apprehended by the ministers of justice;
it is hurried to the horrid pit;
it sees in the distance, the rolling waves of blue flame;
it hears the dreadful screams of tortured millions;
it shudders as it sinks into the gloom;
an indescribable trembling shakes every power as it feels the torment!
See the curling flames surround it, the boiling waves receive it, the ghastly spirits fall to work tormenting it, while the dreadful words "FOREVER!" rattle through all the chambers of the heart!
It looks back upon time, how different does the past appear! It looks forward, and O unutterable misery, there is spread out a vast eternity of varied, endless sufferings.
How appalling does GOD appear now!
His wrath how fearful;
His holiness how dreadful;
His unchangeableness what a source of agonizing woe!
The thought of His mercy, only aggravates present misery;
and a view of his slighted grace, adds a thousand pangs to the punishment
inflicted by a roused and honest conscience. All is . . .
and black despair!
The terrified spirit looks . . .
every way for sympathy but finds none;
for a way of escape but there is none;
for something to mitigate its dreadful sufferings but in vain!
Shivering, shuddering, terrified, and despairing it now
exclaims in words, it once disregarded:
"Oh! if this awesome God would let me die,
And not torment me to eternity!
Oh! would he free me from this dreadful woe,
But no! I'm lost, I'm damned, forever so!
Cursed be the day treated with neglect
The gospel call, and did free grace reject!
Oh! could I now one invitation hear,
To cool my burning breast and calm this fear!
But no, my doom is fixed, tis all in vain,
My portion now is everlasting pain!
Hopeless I sink into the dark abyss,
Banished for ever from eternal bliss!
In boiling waves of vengeance must I lie?
Oh! could I curse this dreadful God and die!
Infinite years in torment must I spend,
And never, never, never at an end!
And 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 that crowd the ebbing shore?
When these are done, as many yet behind,
As leaves of forest shaken with the wind;
When these are gone, as many to ensue
As blades of grass on hills and dales that grew!
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,
Till numbers drown the thought! could I suppose,
That then my wretched years were at a close!
This would afford some ease but oh! I shiver,
To think upon the dreadful sound, FOREVER!
The burning gulf where I blaspheming lie,
Is TIME no more but vast ETERNITY!"
Reader, what if this should be your doom? If you die unconverted it certainly will be. It may be before twenty-four hours have passed away! How dreadful is the bare supposition but infinitely more dreadful would the reality be!
What must have been the feeling of that rich man, referred to by our Lord, when "in Hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment!" What would your feelings be? "Unless you repent you must likewise perish!"
God is bound by his veracity and justice to execute his threatenings, if you live and die in an impenitent state. Will you then repent?
God commands you,
space is given you,
the joys of Heaven invite you,
the horrors of Hell urge you,
and this little book entreats you!
Do you say, "I cannot." Have you attempted? Have you seriously attempted? Are you willing to repent? If so, I direct you to another portion of the divine word, which will just meet your case:
"Him has God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." Acts 5:31. Whatever God requires, or the sinner needs Jesus bestows upon all those who seek him. He has given you space to repent, and he will give you grace to repent, if you seek it.
He has all authority and therefore he commands you to repent; he has all grace and therefore he will give you repentance if you ask it. If you really feel the hardness of your heart, the stubbornness of your will, and the carnality of your affections it is a mercy; because there is a remedy at hand, and Jesus is ready to apply it. He gives the spirit of grace and supplication, under whose teaching and operation the sinner looks upon him as "The Pierced One" and mourns; mourns deeply and tenderly, as one mourns for his only son, and is bitterness on account of sin, as one is in bitterness for his firstborn.
The Spirit given by Jesus will soften the heart, humble the soul, and fill the man with true contrition. Sin will become hateful, self loathsome, and repentance habitual. Not that the man will be unhappy, for there is a sacred sweetness, and a sweet softness of soul, where there is evangelical repentance, which cheers, comforts, and feasts the spirit.
Jesus is a Prince, and he gives in a princely way he gives freely, he gives plentifully, he gives cheerfully. There is grace in the manner of his giving, as well as in his gifts. He is a Savior, and he saves from despair as well as from guilt. He saves by giving grace to sinners as well as by dying in the stead of sinners. His office and work are for the purposes of salvation, and in saving sinners he rejoices with unspeakable joy. He has a fullness of grace which knows no limits, and his kind and gentle heart rejoices to give that grace to all who bow in supplication at his throne. He says, "Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find. Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name, ask and receive that your joy may be full."
He is exalted with God's right hand, to the highest place in Heaven, where he can see all, hear all, and supply all; and he is exalted for the express purpose of bestowing grace and gifts upon men. God exalted him for this end, and bestowed all blessings upon him for this very purpose. Therefore if you need grace, if you desire grace you are directed to "come boldly into the throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16.
Bear this in mind then, that Jesus is a "Prince" and
has all authority; he is a "Savior" and has all grace; and he uses both
his authority and grace in saving sinners. While he
commands you to repent and believe his gospel, he also counsels
you to buy from him gold tried in the fire that you may be rich; and white
clothing that you may be clothed fit to appear before God; and to anoint
your eyes with his eye salve that you may see . . .
the glories of his person,
the riches of his grace,
the perfection of his salvation,
and the tender love of his heart.
He is great and gracious as gracious as he is great. There is therefore no excuse for you, nor is there any real ground of discouragement. You are spared, you are preserved, you are favored in a thousand ways. The goodness of God to you is daily displayed. Do not forget that, "The goodness of God leads to repentance." Romans 2:4. Such is its design, and such is its tendency.
God showers down his blessings upon us, showing his good will to us. He sends his gospel to us, promises his Holy Spirit to those who ask him to lead to repentance. We are base, rebellious, and impenitent sinners but he is kind to the unfaithful and the unholy. His kindness he displays in a thousand forms, and in doing so he takes us by the hand to lead us to repentance. It is not terror driving but mercy leading; leading with the design to win, to convert, to conduct us back to God, the fountain from which all our good things proceed. It is goodness courting us to lay down the weapon of our rebellion, expostulating with us, and exhorting us to return unto the Lord.
Repentance is produced by mercy it is divine mercy which softens, humbles, and mollifies the heart. Mercy draws by words of love as with the bands of a man, it attracts by beauty, benevolence, and love.
Reader, do not overlook the design of God in his goodness to you; every favor he bestows, every blessing be sends, every deliverance he works for you is intended to lead you to repentance. The food you eat, the clothing your wear, the health you enjoy, the dwelling you inhabit, every friend or relative by whom you are surrounded witnesses to the goodness of God to you! Each one speaks, if you did but listen to the voice; and each one says, "Repent and return to God by whom we are sent, against whom you are in a state of enmity and rebellion!" Do not turn away from so many inviting voices; do not neglect the admonitions of so many preachers but yield to the influence of the goodness of God which leads you to repentance.
2. The DELAYING.
"I made haste and delayed not to keep your commandments." Psalm 119:60. So spoke the Psalmist but few imitate his example. God commands all men everywhere to repent but very few repent at all, and fewer still make haste to do so. "This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ." 1 John 3:23. But how few believe, how very few make haste to believe.
Many are impressed,
they purpose in their minds,
they postpone the matter until some future day,
their impressions fade away,
they are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin,
they go on intending at some future time to decide for God
until at length . . .
they are alarmed by some sudden illness,
death stares them in the face,
guilt lays like a mountain upon the soul,
eternity appears most dreadful, and
Satan whispers, "It is too late now!"
They would now repent but cannot;
they would embrace Christ but cannot;
they would receive the atonement, and he at peace with they cannot;
they feel the heart to be as hard as an adamant, harder than the flint;
the mind is filled with gloom, confusion, and fears;
the conscience only accuses and condemns;
memory presents the long list of sins committed duties neglected, mercies slighted, convictions trifled with, invitations rejected and this fills with despondency.
They cannot fix their attention, believe the promises, rest on the atoning blood, or find rest for their souls. And in this miserable state many pass out of time into eternity and all would, if God did not work a miracle of mercy on behalf of some.
Reader, are you delaying? What will you gain by delay? The Scriptures exhort you to "Remember your Creator now." God bids you hear his voice "Today." The gospel assures you that "now is the accepted time. Behold, now is the day of salvation."
Unconverted reader, did you ever consider that solemn
text, "He who being often reproved hardens his neck, shall suddenly be
destroyed, and that without remedy!" Proverbs 29:1. You have been often
reproved, yet you delay; you have refused . . .
to bow to God's authority,
to yield to His command,
to embrace His mercy,
to flee to the refuge He has provided,
to seek and obtain the pardon which He promises.
Instead, you have hardened your neck. What if He should destroy you! What if He should destroy you suddenly! He can, for He is almighty! He may, for He has threatened! If He should, what a dreadful condition would you be in forever! Shut up in hopeless despair, destroyed without remedy!
Being deeply concerned for your salvation, being intensely anxious to rouse you from your lethargy allow me to place before you a few solemn considerations:
1. While you delay, you are in the greatest danger!
A person slumbering in a burning house,
a man sleeping on the edge of a precipice,
a blind man walking round the crater of a volcano
is safe in comparison with you!
Around you are kindling the quenchless flames of Hell,
you sleep on the brink of the bottomless pit,
you are in danger of plunging in that lake of glowing brimstone, where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth!
"But those enemies of Mine who did not want Me to be king over them bring them here and kill them in front of Me!" Luke 19:27
"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God!" Hebrews 10:26-27
Consider, consider seriously, that while you delay, God is your enemy, and He is angry with you every day! Every sin provokes God to anger but no sin is so provoking as unbelief, because it calls God s liar. To have an absolute monarch for your enemy is bad enough but to have God for your enemy is infinitely worse! Speaking in figurative language of such as you are, He says, "God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he does not turn back, He will sharpen His sword; He bends His bow and makes it ready. He also prepares for Himself instruments of death; He makes His arrows into fiery shafts!" Psalm 7:11-13.
He waits to watch the conduct of delaying sinners, he gives them space for repentance, he is long-suffering toward them but they will not turn.
He will sharpen His sword,
His bow is in his hand ready bent,
He has taken out his arrow from his quiver, and
the impenitent sinner is the mark at which He aims!
Will not his arrows pierce the heart?
Will they not inflict dreadful pains, and produce incurable wounds?
Will they not rankle, fester to all eternity.
If God wounds then who can heal?
Think, dear reader, if you were shackled and placed before an assembled crowd, to be shot at with poisoned arrows, for injuring and insulting the king, and refusing his pardon would not your case be dreadful?
But this would be nothing, compared with your present condition! You have insulted the God of mercy numberless times, in ten thousand ways; you have injured His creatures, you have joined yourself to His inveterate and determined foes! And He has offered you a pardon, not once or twice but has waited years to see if you would accept it but you have obstinately refused! And now justice, holy justice, demands that you be punished according to your deserts. Before assembled worlds, your folly will be published, and your sins will be proclaimed! And while God lives to punish, and justice remains unchanged your sad, your just, your indescribable sufferings will continue!
To have God for ones enemy, is of all terrible things, the most terrible! Just look for one moment at His perfections, and see them all opposed to you.
If God is your enemy then He is an Omnipotent enemy and can you effectually oppose almighty power? He can sustain while He punishes and punish while He sustains. He can turn all creation against you, and cause every creature to fight his battles. He could crush you to atoms but He will only punish you as justice demands. There is no cruelty in His nature but there is dreadful inflexible justice.
If God is your enemy then He is an Omniscient
enemy! He . . .
sees your heart,
reads your thoughts,
knows your motives,
understands your designs, and
penetrates the deepest recesses of your soul.
Can you deceive him? Never! There is not a thought in your heart but He knows it altogether! Your whole history is before Him the secret as well as the public. His eye will pursue you, and rest upon you throughout eternity! Should you sink to the deepest depths of Hell His eye will rest upon you, and pierce your inmost soul. There is something very fearful in the thought of God's eye resting upon the lost soul forever, flashing conviction into the spirit like the flashes of the fearful lightning.
If God is your enemy then He is an Omnipresent enemy. As every sin was committed in His presence so every pain must be endured in His presence. The sense of His presence in Hell, will be very different to our sense of His presence on earth. It will be fearful! It will be very dreadful! He is ever present how then can you flee from Him? Where can you go? Where can you hide? What will conceal you from an ever present God?
O hasten to his throne of grace,
flee into the open arms of His mercy,
submit at once at His footstool
and His omnipresence shall be your joy, your safeguard, and your refuge!
If God is your enemy then He will be found to be strictly Righteous. He will take no bribe. He will violate no one principle of his government. He will never forget or rescind one threatening recorded in his word. Your just wages shall be paid no more, no less. He now mingles mercy with His judgments but there will be no mercy then. He is now emphatically "The merciful God," but He will not be so then.
Mercy will give place to justice,
grace will give place to equity,
and love will give place to wrath
in the experience of the lost soul.
Unjust judges may be bribed but the righteous Lord loves righteousness, and he will render to every one according to his deeds.
If God is your enemy then you will have an Eternal enemy. He can never die. From everlasting to everlasting, He is God. If only man were your enemy he might die; and his death may work a deliverance for you. But if God is your enemy, there is no hope. He ever lives, and while He lives He must hate sin. And while He hates sin He must punish the sinner! O fearful case! The eternal God is your enemy! He will be your enemy forever; and as your enemy, He will forever punish you except you repent.
If God is your enemy then you have an unchangeable enemy. He will never become your Friend in eternity, if you are not reconciled unto him in time. No groans no tears, no cries, no prayers will then move Him; but if you dare to persevere in rebellion against him, and die under the threatenings of his law, you will find throughout eternity, tint he is in one mind and none can turn him.
Now, reader, dwell for one moment upon the solemn
God is my enemy!
I have an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Righteous, Eternal, Unchangeable enemy.
One from whom I cannot escape.
One whom it will be Hell to face.
One whom my conscience will forever justify, while suffering the most dreadful torments. One whom I would not believe, to whom I would not be reconciled but to whom I did by my conduct daily say, "I defy you to do your worst!" God is my enemy now but he is willing to become my friend. He invites me to his throne. He offers me pardon. He promises to receive me. He, by his servants, beseeches me to be reconciled. He solemnly swears that he has no pleasure in my death. He waits to be gracious and is exalted to show mercy. Shall I still despise his mercy? Shall I still reject his word, and judge myself unworthy of everlasting life? Shall I again say, "I will not have him to reign over me!" Or, shall I submit to his method of salvation, accept the invitations of his grace, and bow in prayer at his feet? Shall I rush upon the sword of his justice or run into the arms of his mercy?
Stop reader! Go over this last passage again. Ask, "Dare I persevere in sin? Shall I not at once fall on my knees and seek and find pardon, peace, and everlasting life?"
While you delay, you continue under the curse and wrath of God. Every threatening of the holy law hangs over your head, and every threatening of the everlasting gospel too. The law says "Cursed is everyone who continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." That is you, for you have not kept the law. The gospel says, "He who believes not shall be damned." And that points to you, for you "have not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God." You have despised the divine law and God, conscience, the holy angels, and devils witness to the fact. Now it is written, "He who despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses." What could be worse than to die without mercy? Is there not something very fearful in the thought? Without mercy! No one to pity. Nothing to mitigate the pains, or relieve the distress. No mercy from God. No mercy from man. What an object of misery!
But there is something worse, for you have not only despised the law but you have "trodden under foot the Son of God" that is, you have treated him contemptuously. You have despised and rejected him. Now hear what is said of such, "Of how much more severe punishment shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that has said, Vengeance belongs unto me, I will recompense, says the Lord."
Here your sense of right is appealed to, "How much more severe punishment do you suppose one who despises the gospel deserves, than one who only despised the law of Moses did?" Moses was but a servant, the Lord Jesus is the only begotten Son. The law had no glory in it, compared with the glorious gospel of the ever blessed God. Moses pleaded for the people but did not offer up himself a sacrifice for them but Jesus did. The blood of the old covenant was the blood of beasts but the blood of the new covenant was the blood of God Incarnate.
Under the law grace shone forth dimly like the moon, under the gospel it shines forth in all its glory, as the sun in his meridian splendor. It is a terrible thing to be under the curse of the law but there is something far more terrible in being under the condemnation of the everlasting gospel. But while you delay and neglect to embrace the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, you lie under both.
Your sins are all recorded in the book of God;
you are unpardoned and unblest;
Satan is your father and your god;
and Hell is your everlasting home!
Think, delaying sinner. Pause, and say to yourself,
"I am under the curse of God,
his law threatens me,
and his gospel condemns me.
If I die in this state I shall die . . .
without pity, and
All creation will despise me.
All in Heaven will frown upon me.
All in Hell will eternally upbraid me.
No one will respect or sympathize with me.
I shall forever lie under the burning wrath of God a curse and eternal execration!"
But you need not. There is a way of escape. It is open and free. Jesus is the door, by him you may enter in and be saved. Through him you may now be saved from the wrath of God, and instead of being a curse you shall be a blessing. A blessing to all about you, and be blessed by all holy, wise, and intelligent beings. "Choose this day whom you will serve!"
2. Consider the folly you have displayed while you have lived at a distance from God.You have hastened to sin. O what haste you have manifested in the way to Hell! Look back, consider the past. You began to sin as soon as you could. You did not creep in the ways of sin, drag on with reluctance; but your ran! You made haste . . .
God threatened you, friends warned you, preachers invited you to Jesus, and every good book you read threw some stumbling block in your way; but you pressed on in your course, just as the horse rushes into the battle. You turned your back upon God and ran from him now turn to him the face and run into the arms of his mercy! Your feet have run to evil now run in the ways of God's commandments. See how many are hastening after the riches or pleasures of this world and perhaps you are among them. But what folly to hasten after wealth, which if you attain you may not enjoy; and if you detain it for a time it will soon take to itself wings and flee away, as an eagle towards Heaven. And as to the pleasures of time, they are empty, light, and vain, they may attract and amuse but they cannot satisfy. What folly to pursue such things in preference to "the true riches," the "durable riches and righteousness" which the gospel presents; or the deep, pure, and everlasting pleasures which are in God's ways and at his right hand. You are like children running about gathering wild flowers, or trying to catch butterflies while night is coming on, a dreadful storm is approaching, and who will soon be left without shelter, friends, or food.
What will riches do for you on the bed of death? What will a remembrance of your present pursuit of carnal amusements produce within you, when you stand before the judgment seat of Christ? Sin will then appear to be folly and nothing will appear foolish, but sin. Remember, the time is coming, it is very near at hand, when you cannot hasten to Jesus, the last opportunity will be past, and all the future will be dreary hopeless despair. How will delay appear then? How will your present conduct fill you with confusion, self-condemnation, and endless gloom.
Sickness is coming!
Death is coming!
Judgment is coming!
Eternity is just at hand!
The time allotted to you is short but it is sufficient. It is passing away swiftly, and will never return. Its end is fixed but it is very uncertain to you. Time if once gone, is gone forever. Opportunities lost, are lost forever. "O that you were wise, that you understood this, that you would consider your latter end!"
3. The SECURE.
Carnal security is highly dangerous, and yet it is very common. Many are at ease, who have every reason to be filled with alarm and concern. They take it for granted that they are right or if they are not, as a matter of course, they will become so. Such are under a delusion, a dangerous delusion. Their hearts are not right in the sight of God. The god of this world has blinded their eyes. They are in darkness, and consequently they are in danger. They neglect self-examination, and all their religion is but an outward form. "Having a form of godliness," they imagine they are out of the reach of the threatenings of Scripture, and are included in all the promises.
But in religion everything is as the heart is God says, "Give me your heart" and nothing less than the heart will satisfy. The heart of man by nature is not right with God. The work of grace is the setting of the heart right, and true holiness is the heart being right. Allow me then to come to your conscience with this inquiry, "Is your heart right?"
If it is set upon the present world, if you are minding the things of the flesh to the neglect of your immortal interests then the heart is not right with God. When men love the pleasures of time, and squander their property to procure them; when they eagerly follow the fashions and vanities of the world; when they breathe the selfish, carnal, sin-loving spirit of the world; when they walk by its, maxims, and in friendship with its citizens then the heart is not right with God. "All that is in the world, is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, these things are not of the Father but of the world." "The friendship of the world is enmity with God. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
O see the awful character and fearful state of the present world; it is hastening on to ruin, desolation, and woe? The transgression thereof is heavy upon it, the sentence is pronounced against it, and its doom is certain. Come out from it and be separate, lest partaking of it sins, you become a partaker of its plagues.
If sin appears trifling or of small consequence then the heart is not right with God. And this is the case when you can commit sin without concern or sorrow. He who can carelessly commit one sin today, may commit another of a more atrocious character tomorrow. Sin goes to the heart of God and unless it goes to your heart, there is something wrong. Sin is horrible in his estimation, and if you are God-like, it will be so in yours. A falsehood should go as near to our heart a a theft; a hard thought of God, as murder. They are of the same nature, they flow from the same fountain, they deserve the same Hell. They differ in the estimation of man but God cannot look upon either but with abhorrence and detestation.
O my friend, if we can trifle with any sin, or
with sin in any shape then our hearts are not right with God. The true
Christian . . .
loathes himself on account of sin,
grieves over it,
prays against it, and
longs for deliverance from the corrupt principles which lead him to commit it.
He cannot be reconciled to sin, he cannot comfortably commit it. He dare not trifle with sin it is in his estimation as uncomfortable as filth to the cleanly, as alarming as a serpent to the timid, as hateful as treason to the loyal. He watches, strives, and prays, "Hold me up and I shall be safe; and I will have respect unto your statutes continually." Unless a hatred to sin is deeply planted in the soul, and penitence for sin is frequently realized the heart is not right with God.
If the worship of God, public or private, is neglected,
the heart is not right. If there is no spirit of prayer in private, no
wrestling with God, no pleading at his throne, no fellowship at his
mercy-seat then we cannot be right. We are either carnal people or
miserable backsliders. The best part of religion is carried on between God
and the soul. The lively Christian goes to his God . . .
as to a Fountain for supply,
as to a Friend for advice,
as to an Ally for assistance,
as to a Father for comfort and consolation.
He feels most at home with his God, when no one is present, and finds it good to worship and adore. It is not merely his duty but he finds it essential to his comfort, and peace, and satisfaction. He must have fellowship with his God or he is unsettled, dissatisfied, and gloomy.
In communion with God he is happy, he is blessed. If therefore private prayer is given up, or if it dwindles into a lifeless form then the heart is not right with God.
When public worship is neglected we cannot be right. Here God promises to meet his people, and here believers prove that God is true it has often proved to them a banqueting house, and the very gate of Heaven.
But when trifles keep people from the sanctuary, when the worship of God is lightly esteemed, or when they can lightly trifle away the time they spend there then the state of the heart is
wrong. It is to be feared that many put away the word from themselves and apply it to others, are noticing how others are clothed, or occupied instead of devoutly worshiping God in the Spirit, or attending to his word then the heart is not right.
When the commands of God appear unimportant, or
are considered grievous then the heart is not right. How few seriously
read the bible, inquiring, "Lord, what will you have me to do?" But
saving grace always . . .
makes the soul willing to take the yoke of Jesus,
gives a love to the commands of God,
and enables us to delight in his way.
He never commands what is not necessary, or requires what is not for our good or his glory. His wisdom, his love, and his holiness may be seen in every precept he has given, in every ordinance he has instituted, and in every duty he requires. And if the heart is right can we lightly esteem, carelessly neglect, or fearlessly despise his positive commands? Surely not! We are his friends if we do whatever he commands us; but he who knows to do good and does it not, is guilty of sin.
But when may the heart be said to be right With God? Not until it has been regenerated and renewed by the Holy Spirit. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. The carnal mind is enmity against God, it is not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. Except a man be born again he cannot see, or enter into the kingdom of God. These are the true sayings of God. No outward reformation can set the heart right but only internal regeneration.
Reader, have you been born again? Are you saved by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit? If not, you are a stranger to saving religion; an enemy to God; your heart is not right; you are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity. O fearful case! O alarming condition!
If your heart is right then the salvation of the soul is felt to be of the utmost importance; the whole world is not of that value in your estimation; and salvation is therefore sought earnestly and perseveringly.
The pleasures of time,
the vanities of the world,
the opposition of friends,
the loss of temporal comforts
none of these things can keep you back. But you press through all opposition to realize a saving interest in Jesus, and salvation by his righteousness and death.
If your heart is right then your dependence for life and glory is fixed alone upon the person, work, and promise of the Lord Jesus. You renounce yourself and all your performances entirely, and trust for salvation to Jesus Christ alone. To his blood, you look for pardon; to his righteousness, you look for justification; and to his life of intercession, you look as the cause of your perseverance.
His name is your plea at the throne of grace,
his promise is your confidence in darkness and danger,
and his precepts are your guide in difficulties and perplexity.
He is all your salvation and all your desire.
Your person is consecrated to his service,
your talents are devoted to his cause,
and your delight is to glorify his name.
To you . . .
his name is precious,
his doctrine is sweet,
and his ways are pleasant.
In a word, to you "Jesus is all in all!" He is . .
the object of your faith,
the subject of your meditation,
the topic of your conversation, and
the pattern after which you copy.
If your heart is right then you see that your
salvation, your present comforts, and your future prospects all . . .
originate in the free grace of God the Father;
flow to you through the meritorious work and vicarious sacrifice of God the Son;
are revealed in the word and to your heart by the inspiration and operation of God the Holy Spirit.
You take no glory to yourself, you place no confidence in anything you do but enjoy a life of dependence upon God, and activity in the ways of God.
His glory is the object you aim at,
the prosperity of his cause lies near your heart, and
the bible is your companion, directory and solace.
You are dissatisfied . . .
with yourself because you sin;
with the world because it is in rebellion against God;
with your best performances because they are defective and defiled.
Holiness has ten thousand attractions in your eye and sin has ten thousand frightful features! You fly from self, sin, and the world to Jesus daily.
If your heart is right then . . .
you have your citizenship in Heaven,
your affections are placed an things above, and
you are looking and longing, (at least occasionally,) for the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of the Son of God in glory is a delightful event to the real Christian, for he comes to be glorified in his saints and admired in all those who believe! He comes . . .
to deliver us from sin, corruption and woe;
to introduce us to holiness, happiness, and honor;
to silence the groans of creation;
to put an end to the reign of discord, and
set all the sons of God a perfect liberty.
Then we shall be all one in Christ, one with Christ, and be perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgment. Then there will be no difference of opinion; no disaffection, no divisions but the mystical body of Jesus will be complete, united, and glorious!
"Then we shall see his face,
And never, never sin.
But from the rivers of his grace,
Drink endless pleasures in!"
Myyouthful reader, is your heart right with God? You want to be happy, you are seeking for pleasure then allow one who has trodden the same path, in pursuit of the same things, to tell
you there is no happiness, no real pleasure but in the ways of God. Until you are reconciled to God, until you receive the Lord Jesus, you will never know peace. "There is no peace says my God, to the wicked." All are reckoned wicked in God's word who reject the, gospel, or slight the Savior; and all such are
in a fearful case. To be happy you must be holy. You cannot be holy until you are united to Christ; for separate from him, you can do nothing. He calls you, he says, "Come unto me; and I will give you rest. My ways are ways of pleasantness, and all my paths are peace. I love those who love me, and those who seek me early shall find me." O seek the Lord and his strength seek his face evermore!
Is my readeradvanced is years, let me ask: My friend, is your heart right. Have you seen that it was by nature entirely wrong, that nothing could set it right but the power and grace of God? Have you taken your heart to the throne of grace, and cried to Jesus about your heart, as the poor man in the gospel did about his child, saying:
"I have brought unto you my sinful heart!
Lord, have mercy upon my heart!
Cleanse it with your blood,
sanctify it by your Spirit,
take possession of it as your home,
use it for your glory, and
claim it as your own forever!"
Unless your heart is made right on earth you never can be happy in Heaven. Unless you have a clean heart you are unfit for holy company. Heaven is holiness, shining, pervading, and ruling.
Dear friend, be not deceived, and do not trifle! God is a jealous God, he will not be mocked; but he is also a gracious God, and may be sought unto. If you seek him he will be found by you; but if you forsake him he will cast you off forever.
Professor of religion is your heart right? Are you . . .
Or are you . . .
lingering on the plains of Sodom,
loving the present world,
cleaving to the clods of earth?
There are many now professing Christ over whom the Apostle would weep and say, "I tell you they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things!"
Reader, do you rank among them? O search, examine, decide! Behold the Judge stands before the door. The coming of the Lord draws near. Behold the Lord comes with myriads of his holy ones, to pass sentence on all, and to convict all the ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have impiously committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
Dear Reader, beware of carnal security! It has ruined thousands and thousands it is to be feared, are now under its destroying influence. You perhaps are unsound in heart search and look, investigate and see. You may have many things, but perhaps you have not the one thing needful. Remember what Jesus said to one of old, "One thing you lack!" Thus spoke Jesus to one who came to him inquiring, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" He imagined that he had kept all God's commandments from his youth, and desired to know what more was necessary to entitle him to life eternal. And Jesus told him that one thing, and that the principal thing was lacking.
How is it with you? Examine yourself seriously before the Lord, lest you be weighed in the balance, and be found lacking! Upon what are you building, to what are you trusting for eternal life? You may be upright in your dealings, attentive to your duties, and and strictly moral in your conduct; you may have kindness of disposition, a benevolent mind, and be loved and esteemed by others; you may have a knowledge of gospel doctrines, a love to the ordinances of religion, and a good name among God's people; you may have zeal for the truth of God, a natural faith in Christ, and a comfortable hope of Heaven and yet lack one thing! "He who has the Son has life; and he who has not the Son of God, has not life." 1 John 5:12.
The one grand thing in religion is a knowledge of Jehovah in Jesus, as a Father, a friend, and a reconciled God; and the possession of Christ as our own our Savior, our life, and our portion. "This is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." John 17:3. "We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, that we may know him who is true, and we are in him who is true even in his on Jesus Christ. This is the true, God, and eternal life." 1 John 5:20.
Thus, Jehovah is revealed in the glorious Gospel, and he is thus known by all who are spiritually taught of God the Holy Spirit. And this spiritual knowledge of God springing from the infallible teaching of the Eternal Spirit, weans the affections from this perishing world, and enables its possessor to sacrifice its honor, riches, pleasures, fashions, and good word at the foot of the cross, exclaiming, "Whatever things were gain to me those I count loss for Christ. Yes, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but rubbish, that I may win Christ and be found in him!"
It is this which fixes the heart on Heavenly treasures, unseen by the world, held forth in the free promise of the Gospel, and realized by faith. The happy possessor, influenced by Heaven-born principles, denies himself, takes up his cross and follows the Lamb wherever he goes. Matthew 16:24. He denies his sinful self, and refuses to gratify its propensities, satisfy its desires, or indulge its lusts. He denies righteous self which aims to exalt the sinner at the expense of the Savior, to do something toward its own salvation instead of looking for all to Jesus, and endeavors to live independent of Immanuel and his grace.
It is this spiritual knowledge which leads believers to see all things treasured up in Christ all they need, desire, or can enjoy: wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption; treasures of grace and treasures of glory; and all in Christ for them, to use to his glory and their comfort now, and to possess to his praise forever! They see that all things are theirs and they are Christ's! And they are led to trust Christ in all their trials, temptations, privations, losses, crosses, and sufferings for the truth sake and thus they conquer.
Salvation raises those who possess it to sit together in heavenly places in Christ; to set their affections on things above not on things on the earth. They have their conversation in Heaven, from whence also they look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20. They confess that they are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth; they say plainly that they seek a heavenly country, and they press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
My dear reader, have you this knowledge of God, this
possession of Christ? All religion without it, is a mere phantom, a dream, a
fearful delusion. It is necessary, absolutely necessary, to make you . . .
happy in life,
triumphant in death, and
joyful throughout eternity.
All true happiness is in the enjoyment of Jesus but no
man can enjoy Jesus unless he has a saving knowledge of him, and grace from
him. Nature's powers and endeavors are insufficient to lead us to the
enjoyment of a Savior and his love. It is union to Jesus, leading us to
communion with Jesus, which is. . .
the source of true peace;
the antidote of all our miseries; and
the foundation of internal and eternal joy.
It is spirituality, received through the knowledge of
Christ, which produces . . .
submission to the divine will;
humility and meekness of spirit; and
contentment in every state while following Jesus.
All beside the experimental knowledge of God, and spiritual possession of Christ is insufficient to make you fit for, and triumph over death. The spirit of Christ must be possessed, the power of Christ experienced, and the salvation of Christ enjoyed. A sweet persuasion of interest in his promises, the whispers of his love, and the sweet enjoyment of his comforting presence, must be realized. A firm reliance on his perfect righteousness and infinitely meritorious blood, with faith, in his prevalent intercession is necessary to produce it.
These are the things which raise us above nature's level; fill us with peace and joy unspeakable and full of glory; and enable us to brave the dangers of the way, and meet death without alarm, fear, or dread. These form solid basis for the Christian to rest upon a pillow of peace on which to repose his weary head, and a certain support to the mind in the most trying circumstances.
To know God as a parent a kind, tender, deeply interested parent; to know Christ as a Savior an almighty, ever-present, always loving Savior; to know the Holy Spirit as a Comforter an indwelling, witnessing, compassionate Comforter; makes us happy in life and joyful in death. Nothing beside this, is sufficient to ensure a blissful eternity. This always follows and is the effect of regeneration. This is the springing up and blossoming of the incorruptible seed sown in the heart, which lives and abides forever. This is having the promises, the witness in ourselves, and Christ as our portion. And only those who possess Christ as their portion now, will enjoy him as their Heaven and happiness forever.
O happy souls, who have this one thing! They have an
everlasting, never dying portion! They are . . .
chosen of God,
redeemed by the blood of the Lamb,
and called by the Spirit to his kingdom and glory!
All their sufferings and sorrows are bounded by time! All beyond is peace, joy, glory, triumph, and unspeakable felicity!
But, reader, suppose Jesus should say to you at last, "One thing you lack!" then all will be in vain all your duties, expectations, gifts, good name, and false confidence, all will be in vain. O search and look; examine closely; search seriously it is for your life! Be not satisfied on slight grounds but make sure work of it. Satan will try to deceive you and persuade you that all is well; your own heart will join to deceive you and lead you blindfolded to Hell. O it must be truly awful, to read your mistake in the light of the flames of Hell! To say "peace and safety" until sudden destruction comes upon you, as pain upon a woman in travail! Do not treat the subject with lightness your everlasting all is at stake! You are traveling to your long home an eternity of joy, or an eternity of indescribable woe is before you!
What then are your evidences? What your hopes? What the ground of your expectation and confidence? Are you born again? Have you received Christ? Are you a spiritual believer in the Lord Jesus Christ? If not, you are condemned already, the wrath of God abides on you, only tribulation and anguish awaits you. Is Christ yours? Is he your life, your peace, your joy, your glory!
Better be without friends, without wealth, without a home, without anything than without Christ. It is the height of poverty, the depth of misery, the greatest extent of wretchedness to be without Christ to lack this one thing. Alas! your present comforts, pleasures, and gratifications, will but augment your misery by and by, when you hear it said: Remember, that in your lifetime you received your good things, while the Lord's people received their evil things; now they are comforted, and you are tormented!
But are you desiring and seeking this one thing? Then cry mightily to God, be diligent in the use of all his appointed means, and give him no rest until you are made free by the truth, sealed unto the day of redemption, and possess the Holy Spirit of promise as the pledge of your future, glorious inheritance; until you know that there is no condemnation to you, being in Christ Jesus, and walking not after the flesh but after the Spirit. "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 let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God for he will abundantly pardon!"
Jesus says, "If any man thirsts, let him come unto me and drink; him that comes I will in never cast out. Whoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation!"
4. The DECEIVED.
Deception is always mischievous but in reference to eternal things, it is dreadful. "Be not deceived." Do not let anyone deceive you neither deceive yourself. You must know the truth, and the truth must make you free. You must also love the truth and be sanctified by it or you cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Let us attend to this point a little.
Every person who believes in the immortality of the soul, the certainty of a judgment to come, and endless joy or misery beyond the grave must acknowledge that it is a matter of vast consequence to know, believe, and love the truth of God. When the Apostle is speaking of strong delusions being sent to some, that they may believe a lie and be damned; he assigns this as a reason, "because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." 2 Thessalonians 2:10, 11. It is not only necessary that we receive the truth but the love of it; and the truth in love. Many have received the truth, such as Judas, Demas, Ananias, Sapphira, and thousands besides who never received the love of the truth; therefore they were not saved.
The fountain of divine truth is the Lord Jesus
the repository of truth is the Holy Scriptures,
the proper abode of truth is the sinner's heart,
and the sacred revealer of truth is the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit stands engaged to lead the Lord's people into the truth, and he is willing to become the teacher of every sinner, who avowing his ignorance, desires to be taught. He ever listens to the petition of the humbled soul who seeks his aid, and cries at his mercy-seat "Teach me!" But the Spirit will be inquired of.
The bible contains all necessary truth and nothing but
truth; it was written expressly for sinners, it is freely given to them by
God, that they may learn the things which make for their everlasting peace.
It was never designed to gratify the critic's pride, or please the carnal
imagination; but it was intended . . .
to inform the mind,
to sanctify the heart
and to direct the feet.
When we take it up, we should remember that it is a precious gift of God to poor sinners, designed to benefit them, and glorify his holy name.
This book sets before us our true state before God, as sinners cursed, loathsome, vile, unworthy, base, Heaven-daring, wrath-provoking, mercy-despising; hell-deserving sinners. It shows us that we have come short of the glory of God; that our hearts are depraved beyond description, and vile beyond expression; that the nature of Satan is not actually worse than ours; that instead of having anything to boast of, or pride ourselves in all that we have and are, is calculated to fill us with shame, confusion, and self-abhorrence.
This book shows us plainly that salvation must be of
grace, or not at all. It informs us that by faith in Jesus, we can rise
from our dreadful state, and escape our fearful doom. It sets before us . .
the provision of divine mercy,
the contrivance of infinite wisdom,
and the promises of eternal love.
It exhibits a Savior suited to our miseries and woes.
It presents to us a salvation all of grace, to be
enjoyed by faith, and manifested by good works. A salvation that . . .
reaches to our present state,
delivers us from all that we have reason to fear,
introduces us to all that we can consistently desire,
and gives us a right to all that God has promised, and that Jesus has procured.
In a word, this blessed bible tells the poor sinner . . .
what he is by nature,
what he must be by grace, and
then what he will be in glory.
It shows him . . .
mercy's way of escape, and
how God is glorified in his present peace and future glory.
It exhibits . . .
God's purposes of grace,
his promises of mercy, and
his precepts of wisdom.
It sets forth . . .
the thoughts of God,
the secrets of eternity,
the designs of everlasting love,
the methods of grace,
the saint's privileges, and
the impenitent sinner's state, condition and awful doom!
But before these things can benefit us, they must be
received, and received in love; and in order to our receiving them in love
we must have a discovery of their excellency, majesty, and glory. There is a
majesty in the Word of God which the believer sees, and an excellency, and
glory which the Heaven-taught sinner discovers. He can no longer trifle with
it, despise it, or pour contempt upon it. He views it as of . . .
inconceivable value, and
exact adaptation to himself.
He feels a deep interest in its contents, and is
concerned . . .
to become acquainted with the blessings it reveals,
to enjoy the privileges it sets forth, and
escape the threatenings it holds out.
Having a sight and sense of his sin and sinfulness, he reads as a sinner desiring to know his maker's will, and enjoy a Savior's favor. No person reads the bible rightly, or to profit unless he reads it thus. It was not written for a righteous man but for sinners; not for Adam in paradise but for us as children of wrath. He feels his misery arising from a sense of condemnation; a fear of ruin and everlasting banishment from God has taken possession of his mind; he longs for a remedy, and is willing to embrace one on any terms; he deeply feels his unworthiness and awful demerit; and is ready to receive whatever a God of mercy may think proper to reveal.
In such a state of mind he receives, reads, and ponders
over the word of God; and when Holy Spirit removes the scales from
his eyes, and the veil from his heart, and allows him to see God's
glory in the face of Jesus Christ. And leads him to see the plenitude and
freeness of salvation in the promises of the Gospel he embraces with
gratitude inexpressible, and unspeakable joy the truth of God. He feels
love to its divine author, love to Jesus its center, love to the Holy Spirit
its revealer, love to its divine contents, and to those who are employed to
make it known. He receives with meekness the whole truth, he loves the
doctrines, the promises, the exhortations, the cautions, and the holy
precepts. He receives them on the authority of God, he becomes united to
them they find a place in his memory, in his understanding, in his
conscience, in his affections, in every power of his soul. He has the
witness of the truth, holiness and majesty of the scriptures in himself
and exclaims, "how precious are your words unto my soul, sweeter than honey
to my mouth!" He . . .
learns the doctrines with satisfaction,
believes the promises with joy,
accepts the invitations with gratitude,
receives the cautions with fear,
listens to the exhortations with pleasure,
and walks by the precepts with delight.
It is a light to his feet, and a lantern to his paths; a voice behind him, saying, "this is the way, walk in it." He reads it with reverence, searches it with diligence, and implores the promised teaching, guidance, and direction of the Holy Spirit, lest he should mistake its meaning.
The effects of a reception of the love of the truth soon become visible. Its possessor stands forth and makes an open, decided, loving acknowledgment of the same to the Lord's honor, and his people's comfort. He is neither ashamed nor afraid to confess what he has felt, received, and now enjoys. A desire to propagate the truth springs up in his soul, and he endeavors to spread it abroad in every lawful and possible way. He is not willing that the celestial light should be hid under a bushel but wishes to hold forth the word of life, that all around may see.
He feels a holy jealousy respecting it, he is jealous lest be should dishonor it, or be a disgrace to it, the very thought of which cuts him to the heart. He delights to hear it set forth, and proclaimed by the heralds of salvation; and feels determined to maintain it at any expense or trouble. He renders a loving, cheerful obedience to it, when it appears in a practical form, obeying from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered to him. Romans 6:17. He wishes to walk in all the ordinances and commandments of the Lord blameless; and speaking the truth in love, to grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. Ephesians 4:15.
He finds that the truth makes him free from his slavish fears, narrow prejudices, and sin's dominion; and having purified his soul by obeying the truth through the Spirit unto sincere love of the brethren, he loves all who love and live to the honor of Jesus Christ, with a pure heart fervently. John 8:32, 1 Peter 1:22. He is manifestly declared to be an epistle of Christ, written not with pen and ink but with the Spirit of the living God, and exemplifies the sacred, sanctifying tendency of the truth of God to all around. He wishes and prays that grace, mercy, peace, and prosperity may be with all who in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ his Lord.
Now reader, let me seriously ask you: have you received the truth? Have you received the love of the truth? Has it produced such effects in your heart and conduct? Are you delivered from the power and love of sin or are you still a slave to lust, passion, pride, prejudice, and covetousness? Who has your heart, Christ or the world? To whom do you most cheerfully give up your time and property? Are you concerned about, and actively engaged in spreading abroad the truth of God, according to the sphere in which you move? Do you realize the value of immortal souls? Seeing that there is no salvation without the love of the truth, do you put the truth into the hands or sound it in the ears of those to whom you are related, or connected?
What effect had the love of the truth upon Andrew and Philip, John 1:35-47; upon the woman of Samaria, John 4:28, 29; upon Saul of Tarsus, Acts 9:19, 20; upon the primitive Christians generally? Acts 8:4, etc. Did it not lead them ALL to speak of Jesus, and to endeavor to lead sinners to Jesus? And is its nature changed? No, all who receive the love of the truth experience in a greater or lesser degree these things, and make them manifest in a similar way. If you are careless and indifferent about the spread of the truth, and are now saying to your soul, "Soul take your ease God will save his people." Depend upon it this does not spring from grace, nor flow from the Spirit of God, nor does it meet with any sanction from the word of God. Let us pray for grace, seize every opportunity and make use of every means to make manifest the savor of his knowledge in every place.
But let us look at this subject in another light, for we cannot give it too much attention.
It is solemn, deeply solemn. We will not think on our death beds, that we have paid to much attention to this point. Hear, therefore, the solemn caution of God's word. "Take heed that you be not deceived," Luke 21:8, this was the language of our Lord Jesus Christ to his disciples, and is intended for our benefit and use.
Reader, it is a great thing to be a real, spiritual, Scriptural Christian; thousands are resting short of a real knowledge of Christ, union to his person, and scriptural evidences of a saving interest in his salvation. Let us, therefore, look to ourselves, 2 John 8, and take heed that we be not deceived, "Not every one who says, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven."
We had need take heed, for Satan that arch deceiver, is ever on the alert, and is especially busy at his work of deceiving souls, or leading people to believe that they are saints without one real evidence of the same.
"Then Agrippa said to Paul: You almost persuade me to become a Christian!" Acts 26:28
There are many who conclude that they are Christians, because they have been enlightened to see something of their state, danger, and deserved doom; but many are only lighted to Hell, for light is not life. Hebrews 6:4, 10:20.
A person may be awakened to feel, to tremble, to desire so did Felix and Balaam, Acts 24:25, Numbers 23:10.
He may be reformed, and turn from open profanity to strict morality so did some in Peter's day, 2 Peter 2:20.
He may be assisted to do many things which are in themselves good, such as reading the Scripture, attending divine ordinances, engaging in prayer, and working miracles, Matthew 7:21-23, Mark 6:20, 1 Corinthians 13:3.
He may experience God's power put forth restraining him, and keeping him back from sin, Genesis 20:6.
He may humble himself before God, as did Ahab, 1 Kings 21:27-30.
He may possess joy and be exceeding glad under the Word, Matthew 13:20.
He may believe the Word, receive the testimony, and admire the preacher, Luke 4:22-29, 8:13, Ezekiel 33:31-32.
He may be filled with zeal for Christ and his cause, like the multitude, John 6:15, 16; Matthew 21:8-11; Luke 23:18-23.
He may be baptized upon a profession of faith, join a Christian church, and imitate the saints in his conduct so did Simon Magus, Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:7.
He may fill an office in the church, preach the gospel, and act consistent for a time so did Judas; and yet Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place, Acts 1:25.
He may be highly esteemed by others, be sound in doctrine, and suffer for the cause of Christ, and yet be destitute of the vital principle like Demas, Alexander, Hymeneus, and Philetus, 2 Timothy 2:16-18, 4:10-14, 1 John 2:15.
He may have many excellent qualities, so that he may be admired and loved by others, like the young man in the Gospel.
He may have all that has been named above but ONE THING may be lacking, and he be found at last merely an almost Christian.
Perhaps my reader is now ready to cry out, "Who, then, can be saved?" The answer is ready, he who is born of God, who is quickened by the Holy Spirit, and has Christ formed in his heart, the hope of glory. He who is led by the Spirit of God, to loathe sin, come out of the world, and receive Christ. He who minds the things of the Spirit, lives by faith, and walks with God. He who loves the brethren, cleaves to Jesus, and overcomes the world. He who renounces self, has become dead to the law, and is married to Christ. He who finds the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh who finds a law in the members, warring against the law of the mind, and causing him to cry out, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" He who believes with the heart unto righteousness, and with the mouth makes confession unto salvation whose faith works by love, and purifies the heart. He who dwells in God, and has God dwelling in him. He who knows God, loves God, and keeps his commandments. He who has the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him, and who walks not after the flesh but after the Spirit. He who sees the Son, and believes on him, who eats his flesh, and drinks his precious blood. He who comes to Jesus, cries for salvation, and abides in Christ. He who cannot live without Christ, any more than the body can live without food; who realizes the importance of salvation, and prays without ceasing. He who bears the image of Christ, is vitally united to Christ, and lives in fellowship with Christ. He who denies himself, prefers Christ, and takes up his cross and follows him. He who is jealous of self, who prays to be searched, and gives diligence to make his calling and election sure. He who
is not conformed to the world but transformed by the renewing of his mind; and who chooses to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. He who fears God, follows on to know the Lord, and works out his own salvation with fear and trembling.
In a word, he who finds Christ precious, has a love to him, and is visited by him shall be saved, John 15:21, 23. These are Scripture evidences of spiritual Christianity; for these we should pray; and lest we be deceived should examine ourselves by the word of God, whether we are in the faith.
Reader, have you any of these evidences? I do not ask if you have them ALL but have you ANY? Are you seeking for more? The concerns of the soul are of infinite consequence, and should not be lightly passed over. To live and die under the power
of deception, is unspeakably dreadful! Eternity stamps these things with indescribable importance. The world passes away but the soul abides forever, either in happiness or woe.
These things are not set before you in unkindness, to drive you to despondency, or despair; but in love to stir you up to self-examination, close searching the Scriptures, and earnest prayer, that you may not be deceived at last. Let no curious questions divert your mind from the subject, this is Satan's design remember when one came to Jesus and asked, "Lord are there few that will be saved?" Jesus replied, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." And the reason is obvious, "because they seek not by faith but as it were by the works of the law."
The day is coming, yes, it is at hand, when every false covering will be stripped off; when every unscriptural plea will be rejected, and all must appear as they really are before God. And many will say in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name done many wonderful works?" And then Jesus will say unto them, "I never knew, or approved you depart from me, you who work iniquity," Matthew 7:22, 23. "And these shall go away onto everlasting punishment but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:46.
My fellow-sinner, ponder these things, and may the Lord give you an understanding in them all.
Have you been deceived until now? Do you now discover
your mistake? If so, flee at once to Jesus, you are invited, you are
welcome, you will be received, and there will be joy in Heaven over your
conversion. Listen not to Satan. Yield not to fear. Receive the Lord's own
word, take it to his throne of grace, confess your folly, embrace his
atonement, and be at peace. Cry to him and say
Jesus, to your wounds I fly,
Purge my sins of deepest dye,
Lamb of God, for sinners slain,
Wash away my crimson stain!
Plunge me in the sacred flood,
In that fountain of your blood!
Then your Father's eye shall see,
Not one spot of guilt in me!
5. The IMPRESSED.
Many people are awakened to feel some concern for their souls, who are never truly converted to God. They are impressed, they think, they intend to begin in earnest to seek the Lord but they allow themselves to be hindered. I knew one such character. She always attended the preaching of the gospel, often felt, sometimes wept, often determined, once in particular she did so. She went to her room to throw herself on the mercy of God, she feared lest she should be overheard, she went upon her knees, rose to ascertain if the door was really closed, went upon her knees again, and was drawn from her position by some other object. Just as she kneeled down the third time, a musician came under her window and began to play a favorite tune, her mind was diverted, the impression was erased, and she went on as aforetime. "The difficulty," she said, "is to begin." Yes, reader, the difficulty is to begin.
Satan will be sure to watch you, he will try by all means to dissipate the impression felt, he will hinder you from casting yourself upon the mercy of God in Jesus, if he can. Have you been impressed? Have you felt some concern? Then cherish the impression. Nurse the concern. Read over very carefully the few next pages, they are designed especially for you; they are intended to do you good.
Man is an immortal being, destined to live forever but in consequence of sin, he is unfit to live in the presence of God. His days on earth are few, death is certain and cannot be far off after death there is a judgment to come. None will be able to stand in that judgment, unless they are washed in the blood and clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Without a new birth, none can be saved and yet how very few are really born again. How infinitely important is the consideration of this subject! I beseech you put it not from you, and so judge yourself unworthy of everlasting life!
My dear reader, have you ever passed from death unto life? Are you a new creature? You must die, and that very soon you are not sure of a day, an hour, a minute! Are you prepared for death? Are you a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you received the Holy Spirit? These are important and Scriptural questions and deserve to be seriously considered, and honestly answered. Eternity is just before us, the grave is ready for us, and Heaven or Hell awaits us! Ought we not then seriously to inquire: What is necessary to fit us for the eternal world of blessedness and peace? And in answer to such an inquiry I would observe our sins must be pardoned through the blood of Jesus, in answer to prayer, by Jehovah himself. We must be justified by faith in the person and work of Christ. Our consciences must be purged from dead works, and be made honest, tender and good. We must be brought into a state of reconciliation, friendship and acceptance with God. Sin must be hated, forsaken, and its reigning power destroyed. Christ must be known, loved and obeyed as our prophet, priest and king. We must be united to Christ, be found in Christ, and have him formed in our hearts as the hope of glory. We must be washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
These are things that are necessary to fit us for Heaven. Are you thus made meet? Let not Satan deceive you, put not the truth away from you, reject not the counsel of God against yourself; the day of the Lord is at land, every false disguise will be stripped off, and nothing but sincere heart-work will stand. Examine yourself, whether you be in the faith; know you not, how that Christ is in you, except you be a reprobate. If any man has not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his. Thousands are destitute of these things.
Reader, perhaps you have never been created anew in Christ Jesus; have never felt yourself a sinner; have never earnestly, secretly, and with all your heart prayed to God for a saving interest in Jesus Christ. Can you remember the time, the place, and the feelings of your mind when you heartily, upon your knees, sought salvation by Christ? Perhaps you never enjoyed the love of God shed abroad in your heart; have never felt the sweet sense of pardon, brought home by the Holy Spirit to your soul; but are vainly thinking that you are as good as others, have done no one any harm, have paid your way, and are sure of Heaven. If these are your thoughts, you are still wrong you are ignorant of Christ; you are in the gall of bitterness; and if you die in such a state, you cannot be saved.
Turn to your bible, and there you will read . . .
of being quickened, Ephesians 2:1;
of being born again, John 3:3;
of being a new creature, 2 Corinthians 5:17;
of Christ being formed in the heart, Galatians 4:19;
of receiving the Spirit of God, 1 Corinthians 2:12;
of being led by the Spirit, Romans 8:14;
of receiving Christ, John 1:12;
of partaking of Christ, Hebrews 3:14;
of putting on Christ, Romans 13:14;
of walking in Christ, Colossians 2:6;
of living by the faith of Christ, and of Christ living in us, Galatians 2:20;
of having fellowship with Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:9;
of counting all things but dung and dross for Christ, Philippians 3:8;
of being forgiven for Christ's sake, Ephesians 4:32;
of the love of Christ constraining, 2 Corinthians 5:14;
of obtaining salvation, 2 Timothy 1:10;
of the power of God working in Christians, Ephesians 3:20;
of Christ dwelling in the heart by faith, Ephesians 3:17;
of receiving out of the fullness of Christ, grace for grace, John 1:19;
and of being risen with Christ, Colossians 3:1.
Now do you know what these things mean? Have you a heart-felt, experimental, practical knowledge of them? All real Christians do. None can give us the possession of these things, but the Holy Spirit none can be saved without them therefore if you find that you have not the experience of them; if you feel a desire to possess them; then pray to the Holy Spirit, to work, them in your heart by his grace and almighty power. He will listen to your cry, attend to your request, and grant your petition. Jesus has said, "Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full." "Call upon me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you know not." Jeremiah 33:3. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear him; he will also hear their cry, and will save them.
God looks upon men, and if any say: "I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not," then he will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. "For this shall every one who is godly pray unto you in a time when you may be found." Psalm 32:6. Every one who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds. Ask then, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find. Luke 11:9, 10.
My fellow-sinner, let no man deceive you, the salvation
of the soul is of infinite importance, when it is once lost it is lost
forever! Believe nothing but what the Bible teaches you; rest on nothing but
what that sets before you and then you will build upon a rock. The Bible
is God's book, by that you should examine yourself, by that you will
one day be judged. The Bible . . .
contains the mind of God;
reveals the way of salvation by Jesus Christ;
sets before you the genuine evidences of real Christianity;
is a complete rule of life;
is the charter of the Christian's privileges;
is the casket that contains the jewels of God's promises;
is the light that illumines our path in this dark world; and
marks out as with a sunbeam, the blessed end of the righteous, and the miserable doom of the impenitent sinner.
To that book Christ sends you, to that book this little work refers you, and in a dying hour you will need the consolations of that book to support you. Beware of slighting, despising, or neglecting the Bible. Read it daily, pray over it incessantly, and meditate on what it reveals continually; for all who live and die unacquainted with the grace it makes known, the Savior it exhibits, and the experience it points out, will be cast into outer darkness, where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
Reader, your danger has been pointed out, the only remedy is set before you, you now know your alarming situation. Jesus is both able and willing to save you; he will pardon you freely and save you eternally if you seek him while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near. The Father of mercies says to you: Come! The dear Redeemer says to you: Come! The Holy Spirit says to you: Come! Come to Jesus, and be saved forever. May God give you grace to seek and find refuge, in Jesus. Amen.
But I must address myself to you again, for the Lord gives line upon line, and precept upon precept; and as I seek your salvation, as I can be satisfied with nothing less, I must risk the charge of repetition. You are my brother or my sister, by nature; our condition was alike as sinners and our happiness may be the same as believers. We can have no cause to despair, there is not the least ground for doubt.
For God having foreseen that sin, wretchedness, and
misery would be introduced into the world, devised a plan for our redemption
and complete salvation. He sent Jesus Christ his beloved Son into our world,
to accomplish salvation in his life, sufferings, and death. The Lord Jesus
came on purpose to save sinners, and for us, if we believe on his
name. He . . .
was born of a virgin,
was made under the law,
was made a curse,
was made sin,
was punished for our sakes,
was put to death in our stead,
magnified the law we had broken,
satisfied the justice we had provoked,
put away sin by the sacrifice of himself,
reconciled us to God,
endured our condemnation,
justified us from all things,
opened a channel for the communication of mercy,
erected a throne of grace for the dispensing of pardon,
procured for us a right to Heaven,
abolished death, and
has gone into Heaven to intercede for us at God's right hand.
His work was a perfect work, and salvation is finished
and complete, for all who believe. This salvation is made known to all
nations for the obedience of faith, and God the Holy Spirit attends the
revelation of it with light, power, and conviction. The ransomed sinner is
allowed to . . .
see his sin,
feel his misery,
acknowledge his desert,
confess to God,
flee from wrath, and
seek a refuge, crying, "What shall I do to be saved?"
The gospel reveals Jesus in his righteousness, blood, and
death; and says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved!"
The Holy Spirit works faith in the heart, and the soul . . .
receives the testimony,
believes the truth,
embraces the Savior, and finds pardon, peace, and rest.
Jesus is now all in all his blood cleanses from
all sin, his righteousness justifies before God. Salvation in him realized
and enjoyed, leads the soul to run in the way of God's commandments with
pleasure and delight. He is led to know . . .
God as his Father,
believers as his brethren, and
Heaven as his happy home.
He looks upon . . .
the world as a wilderness,
himself as a pilgrim, and
to spread the knowledge of salvation as his best employment.
He is concerned for others he knows their state, prays for them before God, and seeks by all means to lead them to Jesus for life. Such a person is wise unto salvation, happy in his state, and safe for eternity.
My reader, is this your happiness? Have you received
Christ? Do you know the efficacy of his blood, the sweetness of his
love, and the blessedness of being saved? Do you believe on his dear
name, and depend on his finished work? These, these are matters of
importance, they demand your consideration, and have a just claim upon your
attention. Beware, beware of resting short of salvation! Let nothing
satisfy you but . . .
the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul,
the blood of Christ in the conscience, and
the love of God the Father in the heart.
Remember God's word declares, "He who believes has the witness in himself." Have you? If all who believe have this witness, and you have not, assuredly you are not a believer, and he who believes not shall be damned. How alarming, how awful, how dreadful is such a state!!! Who can dwell with devouring fire"? Who can dwell with everlasting burnings? This, this is the doom, the portion, the inheritance of all who die out of Christ, let their names, good deeds, profession, or expectations be what they may.
My fellow-sinner, there is a salvation in Jesus; yes,
there is a fullness of salvation in him, and he says, "I will give unto him
that is thirsty, of the water of the fountain of life freely. If any man
thirsts, let him come unto me and drink." You have heard of him, you have
heard the awful consequences of dying outside of him are you making
application to him? The day of his appearing is at hand, "Behold he comes
with clouds, and every eye shall see him." Are you prepared to meet
him? It will be a joyful day to all who are united to him living on him,
and living to him now. But it will be a day of desperate sorrow, of anguish,
of weeping, wailing, and woe to many. Then shall he pour out his wrath and
fierce indignation upon all those who have . . .
despised his salvation,
trampled upon his blood
and opposed his reign,
"Because there is wrath, beware, lest he take you away with his stroke then a great ransom cannot deliver you." Job 36:18. He has threatened, and pronounced a curse upon all who are breakers of his law and despisers of his Gospel. His word declares, that if "Those who hear the warnings of this curse should not congratulate themselves, thinking, 'I am safe, even though I am following the desires of my own stubborn heart.' This would lead to utter ruin! The LORD will never pardon such people. Instead his anger and jealousy will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will come down on them!" Deuteronomy 29:19-20
"God is not a man that he should lie neither the son of man, that he should repent!" "Be not deceived, God is not mocked! Whatever a man sows that shall he also reap!" "Heaven and earth shall pass away but his words shall not pass away."
Still I fear lest you should rest short of Christ, or build upon a false foundation. The matter is of infinite importance you will therefore allow me to present you with another view of the subject.
When the Lord Jesus Christ went to Capernaum preaching the kingdom of God, a great multitude followed him, because they were fed by his bounty, and delighted with his preaching. They appeared to be attached to his person and zealous in his cause- but he knowing the emptiness of their profession, said unto them, "Truly, truly, I say unto you: You seek me not because you saw the miracles but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled. Labor not for the food which perishes but for that food which endures unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you."
Dear Reader, is it not to be feared that many now profess Christ from no better motives, and that too many of those, who are called Christians, have never labored' to possess and eat that bread of which our Redeemer speaks? But to all such he afterwards says, "Truly, truly, I say unto you: unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you." He does not refer to the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, for it was not at this time instituted; nor does he refer merely to the reception of his doctrine; but he refers to himself. The figures are strong and striking; the meaning is solemn and important; let us attend to the same a little.
Jesus took our nature, that be might become a sacrifice
for our sins he was really man, flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone.
As the sacrificial victim he offered himself without spot to God, that be
might . . .
satisfy divine justice,
magnify the holy law, and
honor the moral government of God.
His life and death . . .
made our peace,
wrought for us a perfect righteousness, and
laid the foundation of our present and eternal happiness.
And he is now proclaimed as a Savior, and set forth for salvation unto the ends of the earth. But simply hearing of Christ, or talking of him, will not bring salvation to the soul. In vain do we look at food, and speak of food, to satisfy the cravings of nature. Just so, in vain do we hear, think, or talk of Jesus we must eat his flesh, and drink his blood, or there is no life in us. As we live naturally by the partaking food, so we must live spiritually upon Christ, as having died for our sins, and as raised again for our justification.
There must be appetite for the provision, if we eat it with pleasure. If our souls have been quickened by the power of the Holy Spirit, if we are born again, if we are created anew in Christ Jesus then we are no strangers to the cravings of the soul after the Lord Jesus, and life and salvation by him. Wherever there is spiritual life, there is spiritual appetite; and wherever there is spiritual appetite, Jesus is the great object of desire. The soul would give a world for Christ. It is not satisfied with hearing or reading of him, it must receive him and enjoy him as its delightful feast. Blessed are those who hunger now, for they be filled; there is bread enough in our Father's house and to spare, and he gives an invitation and a hearty welcome to every hungry soul. Appetite is the evidence of life, if we are hungering and thirsting for Jesus, is is clear that we are born from above.
But there must not only be appetite, but provision suited to the appetite, and this provision must be attainable. Jesus is the bread of life; he came down from Heaven to give life unto the world. He is set before us in the everlasting gospel as God's free gift; and we are invited to receive, possess, and enjoy, without money and without price. Whoever will, may come and take; there is no backwardness on the part of God, it is wholly on the part of man. Hence he promises to give unto the multitude, who only followed him for the loaves and fishes, if they sought; though they soon after went back and walked no more with him. John 6:27, 28. He promised treasure in Heaven unto the young ruler, if he sold all and followed him, though he went away very sorrowful Luke 17:18-23.
The bread of life is freely given unto every hungry soul, it is constantly set on the gospel table, and the servants of the Most High invite the poor, the halt, the maimed, and the blind; though multitudes act as did those in the days of old Matthew 22:1-14. If nothing can satisfy us but Christ then we shall not be put off with anything less; for the God of love, who gave his Son to die for us, will give his Son to us to be our food and Savior.
But the food must also be received, the great thing in religion is receiving Christ, John 1:12. As food does no man any good, except it be received, no more does Christ we must feed upon him, for his flesh is food indeed, and his blood is drink indeed. Faith receives Christ into the heart, and he is formed there as the hope of glory. He is as really received by the Christian spiritually, as food is received by the natural man literally. And unless he is received, no matter what profession we make, or what expectations we cherish our religion is but a delusion, and our disappointment at last will be great.
It is to be feared that many profess Christ, who
have never received him. If Christ is received into the heart then
he . . .
reigns and rules there,
is obeyed as a Sovereign,
and adored as God.
Examine yourselves, don't you know that Christ is in you, except you be reprobates. Jesus is suited to all cases, and just adapted to meet the needs of every quickened soul; he is all-sufficient but with Christ before us we perish, unless we are made partakers of him.
When Christ is received satisfaction is felt. We . . .
derive strength to run the race set before us;
are delivered from the fears that oppress us;
and find pleasure, comfort, and repose.
To feed on Christ is a real gratification it . . .
enlightens the eyes,
warms the heart,
nerves the soul, and
unlooses the tongue
so that we can . . .
behold his glories,
enjoy his love,
perform his will,
and speak his praise.
When Christ is received salvation is realized, anxiety
departs, and we rejoice in God. To all who receive him he is precious.
The choicest food bears no comparison to him. He is . . .
sweeter than honey,
more satisfying than bread, and
more exhilarating than the richest wines.
His gospel is not viewed as a medicine chest but as a feast of fat things; and himself is the charm of every discourse, and the object of attraction in every place. The soul feels such solid satisfaction and sweet delight, that it heartily cries out, "Lord, evermore give me this bread."
The soul having found satisfaction in receiving Jesus, comes to him daily. As soon would a laboring man think of living without food, as a true Christian of living without Christ. The more he feeds upon Christ, the stronger his appetite becomes, and the more frequently it returns. He may need medicine occasionally but he must have food regularly. The life he lives in the flesh is by the faith of the Son of God, who loved him, and gave himself for him. He lives not unto himself but unto him who died for him and rose again. The strength derived from him is spent in his service; and the nourishment he receives, binds him more firmly to his cause. Every day Christ is needed by him, and every day he is set before him. He is dependant upon Christ, united to him, strengthened by him, and employed to show forth his praise.
To such, Christ is all in all. They cannot forget him, they cannot part with him, they cannot do without him; they eat his flesh and drink his blood, and have eternal life; and they shall be raised up in honor, power, and incorruption at the last day.
My dear reader, let me now affectionately ask you, do you eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus? If not, you are informed by himself that there is no life in you. Your profession is vain, you are yet in your sins. Sound doctrines have done you no good, if they have not led you to receive and live upon Christ. If you have ever hungered for him, as the starving traveler for food; if you have ever panted after him, as the hunted deer after the water brooks; you can remember something of how that hunger was satisfied, and how that panting was removed. If you have once received Christ, you are receiving him daily. You cannot live without him he is absolutely necessary to your existence, as well as to your comfort and pleasure. You daily derive nourishment and strength from him, and he is the object of your desire, confidence and joy. In his absence, nothing can yield you satisfaction or pleasure, nor can anything be admitted as a substitute for him. He can fill the place of all things but nothing can fill his place.
Dear friends, there is no living, like living upon Christ, like deriving all our strength, nourishment and comfort from Christ. To this end, he is set before us. And if we are living upon him in close and holy fellowship, we shall not hunger or thirst after the vanities of the world, or the follies of time. Nothing need discourage us, or cause us much distress we have everlasting life, and shall never die. He who feeds on Jesus shall never taste of death; it has lost its sting, it is changed into a sleep. It should not alarm us, for it cannot harm us. Our names are written in Heaven, and we will be there soon for they who live upon Christ on earth, shall certainly live with Christ in Heaven.
But how do we prove that we live upon Christ?
Are we dead to the world?
Are we fighting against sin?
Are we perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord?
Have we crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts?
If we live upon Christ for justification we are panting and striving to be like Christ in sanctification. His loving spirit and his holy image attracts us, as well as his perfect work, and expiating death. We do not live upon Christ, except we are daily longing to be like Christ, and constantly aim to glorify him. The nourishment he communicates is holy nourishment; and as wholesome food is conducive to health; so holy food is conducive to holiness.
All religion short of this is delusion it is adding sin to sin. If the life is unholy then the heart is unsanctified; and if the heart is unsanctified then the religion is vain. Let us not deceive ourselves; except our life is derived from Christ, it will not be devoted to Christ; and if we are not devoted to Christ, we are yet in our sins, and if yet in our sins, the wrath of God abides on us! The sword of justice is suspended over us, and only hangs by a thread of time!
The voice of God is calling to us, "Today if you will
hear his voice, harden not your hearts." The Savior complains, "You will not
come unto me, that you might have life." And Stephen's testimony, against
the Jews is applicable to many Gentiles, "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised
in heart and ears you always resist the Holy Spirit." Say not that these
are hard sayings who can bear them? So said the Jews, and from that day
went back and walked no more with Jesus. They closed their ears, shut their
eyes, despised the day of their visitation, and sealed their own
condemnation! They . . .
rejected the invitations,
despised the warnings,
slighted the exhortations and
poured contempt upon the threatenings of the Savior
though he spoke as never man spoke; and at last filled up the measure of their iniquities by crucifying the Lord of Glory. They first took offence at his doctrine, then left his ministry, and at last slew his person. Take heed lest there be in any of you, an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God rejecting the words of eternal life, and bringing down upon yourselves swift destruction.
The bread of life is still upon the gospel table; the invitation is still given, "Whoever will, let him come;" and the promise still stands, "He who eats any flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." All such have peace, comfort, and joy in believing now; and will possess glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life by and by. But all others are grasping shadows, pursuing vanities, and will lie under a curse for evermore!
Chapter 6. The DISCOURAGED.
Is it possible for anyone to be discourage in seeking salvation, with the glorious gospel before him? It is, and many are for a long time, and from various causes discouraged. We cannot now enter into the various causes of discouragement, or point out all the sources of encouragement with which the word of God abounds. But as mistakes respecting the character of God, as it appears in the provision made for our salvation, and his infinite willingness to forgive sins, generally lie at the bottom of all our doubts, fears, and misgivings; we will again briefly notice that subject, though we have already dwelt upon it in the former part of this little work. May the Holy Spirit now bless what we present to the eye of the mind, and fill the reader with all joy and peace in believing.
In considering the character of Jehovah, it is important that we have right ideas, and form just notions of the same; misconception on this particular has filled many a convinced soul with darkness, distress, and despondency. We are too apt to lay down premises and draw conclusions, not warranted by the word of God; in so doing we dishonor the Divine Majesty, and needlessly afflict or confuse our own souls.
A sinner, deeply sensible of his state, naturally and readily concludes that it is a difficult thing to obtain pardon; and that God is unwilling to forgive; that unless much is suffered and something done that remission cannot be obtained. So, also, the poor heart-broken backslider conceives that having sinned against light and knowledge, love and mercy that God will scarcely be inclined to grant a pardon and restore peace.
But these are erroneous conclusions, for although our God
will have us feelingly to know that it is an evil and a bitter thing to sin
against him, yet one of the permanent features of his character, as revealed
in his holy word, is "READY TO FORGIVE." It is with the greatest ease, and
with unspeakable pleasure, that he bestows pardons on sinners for Jesus'
sake. When the sinner is led . . .
to feel sin's burden,
to loathe himself on account of it,
to groan under its weight,
to confess and cry at his throne of grace,
to look to and plead the blood of Jesus
he pardons like a God. Never did he, never will he refuse a pardon to one such soul but will make it manifest that his mercy is great unto the Heavens, and his faithfulness unto the clouds.
He never did refuse to pardon a praying soul, either on account of the greatness of his sins, or the misery of his circumstances; but always proclaims himself as pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin, as blotting out the iniquity of the remnant of his heritage, because he delights in mercy. This revelation should encourage us to apply to him with confidence, and expect from him with certainty. He cannot deny himself, he has said, "I am ready to forgive only acknowledge your iniquities, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He who confesses and forsakes his sin, shall find mercy."
Where can we find statements plainer, assurances stronger, or promises more satisfactory than these! Here Jehovah reveals himself, as ready to forgive his traitorous and rebellious subjects, when the weapons of rebellion are laid aside, and pardon is humbly sought! Here Jehovah pledges himself to pardon freely and fully every confessing soul. God's revelation holds out an equal right to every confessing soul; the youthful sinner, and the hoary headed transgressor, is alike, addressed, and alike assured, that God is ready to forgive, and exalted to show mercy. No case, however singular it may appear to the sinner, is excluded, nor should any sensible sinner ever be discouraged. Our God is a God ready to pardon. Thousands have proved this revelation true, no one ever found it incorrect.
Are you, reader, a sensible sinner? Do you loathe
yourself in your own sight for all your abominations? Are you confessing the
same before God, and praying for pardon through Jesus Christ? God is ready
to forgive, and ready to forgive YOU. He may delay to give you a sensible
answer for a time, and that very delay may be a mercy; it may be intended to
make you prize the mercy the more, or that you may have a greater taste of
the bitterness of sin; but he will not deny you, for he delights in mercy.
He dispenses his pardons freely, nothing is required of you to procure such
a favor; he has mercy because he will have mercy, and pardons according to
the greatness of the same. He will never so pardon as to appear to sanction
sin, or to make light of iniquity; but in the act of pardoning, will show
his detestation of sin, as he has in the medium through which he pardons.
The pardon of every sin, is the effect of the Savior's sorrows, sufferings,
and death. For
"Sin to pardon without blood,
Never in his nature stood."
Jesus must be bruised if his people are forgiven, he must endure if they are to go free; but now Christ has suffered, the just for the unjust, it is with perfect freedom, ease, and pleasure, that he blots out sin, and forgets the iniquities of the sin-forsaking soul. Doubt not his readiness to pardon, if you are really sick of sin, and panting for holiness and peace. No portion of his word, no part of his conduct, will sanction such doubts and fears. Look at the poor adulterous wretch in the temple, and the conduct of Jesus towards her; so will he deal with you for he came not to condemn but to save; not to destroy men's lives but to save them. John 8:1-11.
Look at the repentant robber on the cross, and remember, "Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever." His conduct then is a faithful picture of his conduct now; he saves to the uttermost, and saves for evermore all who come unto the Father by him. Look at the three thousand on the day of Pentecost some of them the actual murderers of the Son of God; for whom when languishing in the grasp of death, he prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" Did he refuse to pardon one of them? O, no! He pardoned them, all of them, freely, readily, and forever. And shall he begin to act differently now? Is his pity less? Are his promises made void! Can his nature be changed? Impossible! Then you shall find him ready to forgive.
It is exceeding difficult when laboring under darkness of mind, or feeling deep convictions of sin, to believe this cheering truth, that God is willing to forgive. Indeed, such is the depravity and unbelief of our nature, that though it is so plainly revealed, none but the Holy Spirit can persuade the mind to believe the fact, "That God is now, at this moment, while I feel myself a mass of sin; while I discover the aggravation and enormity of my transgression; that God, through the blood-shedding of the Lord Jesus, is ready to forgive!"
But nothing is necessary to secure a pardon, but a believing application to the throne of grace. Jesus, in our nature, is exalted to be a Prince and a Savior, to give free and full remission of sin, in the most encouraging way, to every mourning applicant. He is still moved with compassion, when sinners weep and pray before him; as the representative of the adorable Jehovah, he dispenses pardons freely, according to the riches of his grace.
Poor convinced sinner, Jehovah assures you in the most solemn, encouraging, and satisfactory manner, that he is ready to forgive you, even you! You can have no real cause to despond arise, seek him, and prove him true!
Beware of harboring hard thoughts of God or entertaining unscriptural notions respecting him, Satan will attempt to deceive you on this point, and your own base heart will be ready to join with Satan, in receiving every God dishonoring injection; but you can know nothing justly of God but from his word every part of it is true its promises and representations of the Divine character remain unchanged, and unchangeable for he is without variableness, or the shadow of a change. Confess, plead, pray, and forsake sin, and pardon is certain to you.
He delights to give pardon, as he delights to glorify himself. Grace is enthroned, and reigns through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord. When coming to God for pardon, no recommendation is necessary; every fear is groundless, and all your doubts are sinful. He must run counter to his word, act contrary to his nature, and dishonor his name if he refuses. "I will abundantly pardon."
He bids you come to him for grace, pardoning grace; and he will be very gracious to every praying soul. But he will not sell grace you must not bring your duties, your endeavors, or your feelings to procure it, or you will surely be disappointed. He gives freely to every empty, hungry, willing soul. If you are made willing to receive that is one evidence that God is willing to give. You may ask immediately, and expect confidently, nor shall you be disappointed. The God of all grace has not only grace to pardon you but grace suited to all your needs, and adapted to all your circumstances.
Are you weak? Here is grace to strengthen you.
Are you sinful? Here is grace to sanctify you.
Are you oppressed? Here is grace to deliver you.
Grace for all comers, at all times, for all circumstances. Come boldly to the throne of grace, plead with the God of all grace and you shall obtain grace to help you in every time of need. He waits to be gracious.
But may I come just as I am, and at this moment?
Yes, just as you are, without money, at this moment for there is no cause
for delay. His ear is open, he is at liberty to attend to you, and will
surely do you good. Grace is for the unworthy. Grace must be freely
given or it ceases to be grace. Grace is . . .
God's antidote for your miseries,
his answer to your objections,
his reply to your fears, and
his encouragement for your comfort, joy and peace.
Free grace will be . . .
your support in trials,
your comfort in afflictions,
and your antidote in death!
To the God of all grace, you will remain an eternal debtor, happy under a sense of your obligations.
How different the Lord's revelation compared to the
convinced sinner's expectation! He apprehends wrath but he hears of love;
he fears punishment but he is informed of pardon. He asks, "Can the Lord
be gracious to such a sinner?" And lo! Jehovah proclaims himself as
full of compassion, and plenteous in mercy. What delightful tidings are
these, that Jehovah has . . .
a fullness of compassion,
the affections of a tender parent,
and the sympathy of the kindest friend.
He pities our weakness, and listens to our feeble cries. He needs nothing in the creature to move him, for he has a fullness of compassion in himself. To this compassion, the sinner may appeal, and will find it stand his friend. Can a God full of compassion turn away from the needy soul; or refuse to receive the wretched and undone? Impossible! He says, "I will receive you graciously. I will love you freely. I will be glorified in pardoning, accepting, and saving you forever!"
My poor brother, fear not to approach the throne of your dishonored God; he is full of compassion, and he has pledged himself in his word to receive you and deal well with you. Read the parable of the prodigal there the heart of God is opened, there his conduct is portrayed; there, as in a looking-glass, you may see how it will be with you when you take with you words of repentance and return unto the Lord. Believe not Satan's libels upon the character of your God but receive his own testimony, confirmed as it is by the witness of thousands of backsliders who are now safely housed in Heaven.
This view of Jehovah is full of comfort. To know that he is compassionate, that he will have mercy, that he is full of compassion and full of mercy ought to silence our fears and disperse our misgivings. Can a fullness of compassion be unkind? Can a merciful God be anything but our friend? True, we may find it difficult to reconcile this revelation of his character with some of his dealings; but this is on account of our ignorance and blindness. The day is coming when we shall see that there was mercy in every trial, and compassion in every cross. This declaration of Jehovah's tenderness and graciousness, will shine forth with the luster of a thousand suns; and we shall wonder at our ignorance, ingratitude, and folly.
Jehovah is always full of compassion and mercy; let this truth sink down into your heart. He is Jehovah, and changes not, therefore we are not consumed. Compassion ever reigns in his heart, and rules his conduct towards his poor, dependant, tried, and afflicted people. As his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel in the days of old, so is he touched with the feelings of our infirmities now. His affections are troubled for every mourning Ephraim, and he will have mercy upon all who seek his grace. His mercy is a full, a boundless, an overflowing fountain. His mercy is as free as the air, as tender as a mother's heart, and worthy of Jehovah's name. It may be trusted without fear, adored without idolatry, and enjoyed without regret. To its fullness, the guilty are invited, of its stream the fearful may take. By its efficacy, the vilest are saved. It has tenderness to encourage the sickly, plenty to suit the needy, and power to invigorate the strengthless and faint. It is the mercy and compassion of a God, a God who is infinite, incomprehensible, and eternal! It is in exercise toward all who heartily desire to enjoy its benefits, and are made willing to depend upon its promised provision. "The Lord is good, full of compassion, and gracious."
Convinced soul, you feel sin, you fear wrath, you doubt of mercy but cheer up! Through Jesus Christ is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by him all who believe are justified from all things. The righteousness of Christ is all that is needful for your justification; it is set before you in the gospel, and you have only to receive it as God's free gift and be thankful. Do you feel unholy? He justifies the ungodly. Are you unable to do any good thing? He imputes righteousness without works. This is his name whereby he is known, "The Lord Our Righteousness."
All that the law requires he presents. All that the sinner needs he bestows; only receive him, and trust in him and everlasting life is yours.
The righteous judge will be your justifying friend; the offended God will be your gracious Savior He says, "I have blotted out your sins as a thick cloud; look unto me and be saved." Enter into Christ as Noah into his ark; flee to this Savior as the manslayer to the city of refuge, to embrace this glorious provision of your gracious God, and you may sing, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness!" Your title to Heaven is clear, your acceptance with God is certain.
Righteousness is by believing not by working. Our own doings must be renounced, our faith must receive Jesus as our Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption; and we must venture entirely on him for life and salvation. One act of precious faith brings justification, because it receives Christ, and we are complete in him. O look not at self, at your doings, or your sins, if these keep you from Jesus. But look unto him, trust also in him and peace, contentment, and glory are yours.
Let nothing keep you from Jesus, if you cannot go as you wish then go as you can; if you cannot pray then groan; if you cannot groan then sigh; if you cannot sigh then look. He will be very gracious, he will arise and have mercy upon you. Trust not in your own works; but trust in the Savior and live forever!