THE SALT OF THE EARTH
"You are the salt of the earth." Matt 5:13
The people of God are in the world, not only for its instruction, but for its preservation also. This is the great purpose of salt in the natural world, to withstand corruption in the earth. This is also the aspect of Christian usefulness, which it is employed to describe. The people of God are here to resist and counteract the power of human sin; to preserve men from ruin under the burden of their iniquities. To rescue the wretched, and save the lost, and restore the decaying, is their great responsibility and office in the world. Thus they are divinely employed, and for this they are divinely blessed. They are thus the salt of the earth. It is a most important title. I would faithfully realize its meaning and its purpose in myself, and in my own relationships to the world around me. If I am to be the salt of the earth,
1. Then I ought to exercise a positive influence in the world. This is the purpose and property of salt. It is intended in all things to exercise its own power to influence and change; and such is the grace of God in the heart and life of man; and such must be the actions of the man thus changed, in his communion with others. My influence must all be active. To restrain evil; to overcome hostility; to increase happiness; to diminish sorrow among men--to the utmost extent of my power. My personal influence may be more or less in amount. This is not under my own control. God assigns me my place and my station. But whatever its amount, its character must always be the same. It must be manifest and active. I cannot yield to the sinful influence of others. I am to counteract and overcome it. For this I am in the world. Not to seek my own pleasure, but to promote and testify the truth. For this I must exert myself continually. It will not do for me to go through the world in a mere negative character. I must ask, Whom have I blessed? To whom have I been a savor of life? Salt that has lost its savor is profitable for nothing. A Christian without active religious usefulness is no better. Let me solemnly look to this.
2. Then I ought to cultivate the active power of grace in my own heart. Grace is to influence my own character, before I can be the instrument of grace to others. The attributes of my nature are all to be subdued and sanctified by a Divine power. My mind, my judgment, my heart, my will, must all receive and manifest the influence of this heavenly salt. It will sanctify my conversation. It will govern and direct my actions. It will adorn the whole current and course of my life. Thus it will become active in blessing and saving others; but it will not without my constant cultivation of its growth and power within myself. It must, therefore, be a constant subject of effort and watchfulness with me. To be useful to others, I must be alive in myself. If religion is really living in my heart, it will become natural and easy for me to do good. This ought to be my state. I will endeavor that it may be. I am not straitened in God. I will strive to improve the abundant privileges he bestows. I can do no good unless I have a clear consciousness of my own sincerity in the service of Christ, and of my real fellowship with him.
3. Then I ought to be constantly watchful over my daily walk among men. Influence is always active. I cannot refuse to exercise it. It is not under my control in its existence and operation. In its character it may be. Oh that my influence might be always for good! Wherever I am, something may be done or left undone, something may be said or withheld, which must exercise an influence, and may be made to produce a good influence upon others. How many secret thoughts come from what we see and hear, even when they are not addressed to us; no, even when we hear by mere accident! I cannot tell what thoughts I may be the means of exciting; or what direction, even permanent direction, I may thus give to the character and mind of some other person. Oh let them not testify against me! Let me labor ever for good! I ought never to be unguarded. How much evil to myself, and to others, may come from one unguarded or hasty act or moment! Let me ever walk circumspectly, and be salt indeed, in the associations in which the will of God has placed me.
4. Then I must be careful not to lose the gifts of grace myself. Salt that has lost its savor is good for nothing. It cannot be used, like many other substances, in its decomposition and decay. It is cast out; trodden under foot. Oh could there be another such illustration of a useless and unprofitable professing Christian? Of what worth can he be? Fit for nothing. If a minister of the gospel becomes corrupt, he is odious. Desirable for no position. Trusted in none. If a Christian be light, or vain, or worldly, he is a great evil. Far greater than if he had never professed to be the servant of Christ. How great is the danger of this to me! How terrific will be the responsibility for it! Shall I ever become an apostate? Shall I ever be a mere monument of human deceitfulness and crime in the church of Christ? Oh let me watch and pray, and strive against this tremendous evil! God only can keep me from it. But if I seek him and trust him, he will keep me.
5. Such are the properties of salt--as illustrating Christian character. Active influence upon others; dependent upon the living power within; to be maintained in unceasing operation; worthless if this be lost. Oh let me be the salt of the earth, and learn and try to do the will of God from my heart. Let my influence, conversation; example, and habits of life all be made subservient to my Master's will, and promotive of my Master's glory.
Oh may I never silence break,
Unless I with your guidance speak;
Then sanctify my every word,
That I may honor you, my Lord.