James Smith, 1855
"To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." 1 Corinthians 9:22
Thus wrote the Apostle Paul, when accounting for his conduct to the Church at Corinth, and such should be the object constantly kept in view by us.
It is a motto for the Preacher. In preparing his sermons, in preaching the gospel, in visiting his flock, in all that he does — this should be his object — to "save some."
It is a motto for the Sunday-school teacher. In preparing for his class, in teaching his pupils, in seeking for the absentees — this should be his object — to "save some."
It is a motto for the city or town missionary. In his daily visits to the sick, in his calls upon the poor, in his witnessing to opposers, in every part of his employment — this is his business, if possible — to "save some."
It is a motto for every Christian. In writing to relatives, in distributing tracts, in inviting to the house of prayer, in speaking to the sick, in conversing with neighbors, in noticing and speaking kindly to strangers in the congregation — here is his object — to "save some." Let us notice,
First — The OBJECT to be kept constantly in view— to "save some." Sinners are lost. All men are sinners. My children, my dear relations, my neighbors, my acquaintances — are all by nature, lost. Almost every house I enter has in it "the lost." Every person I meet, except the person is in Christ, is "lost." What a solemn, what an affecting thought! But, then, Jesus died. He died, the just for the unjust. He died, that sinners might live. His death made an infinite atonement, on the ground of which any sinner may be saved. There are no bounds to his merit — there is no limit to his mercy.
The gospel is sent. It is sent to every creature. It is a message of mercy. It is the tale of a Savior's love. It is the story of peace, how it was made, and may now be enjoyed.
The Church is entrusted with the gospel. She is to preserve it pure. To spread it in every direction. Every one of her members is under solemn obligation to share the good news, to spread the glorious tidings.
The Holy Spirit is promised. He is promised to all who desire him, seek him, and plead for him in Jesus' name. He is an almighty agent. Through him we can do all things. He can make the simplest gospel message — the means of the conversion of the soul. He can make the plainest Scripture — the germ of everlasting life.
Every minister and every Christian should habitually aim at the salvation of sinners. This is our business. This should constantly be kept in view. For this we should live, and labor, and pray, and die. Let us now consider,
Secondly — The SPIRIT displayed in our motto.It is the spirit of deep devotion, of entire devotedness to God. Here is earnestness — deep, heartfelt, abiding earnestness. Everyone can see that the man is in earnest — who breathes this spirit. His whole soul is set upon his work. He would do anything, no matter what, if by all means he might "save some." He would write, print, circulate, preach, teach, visit, converse — if he may but "save some."
He would SUFFER anything. Paul suffered the loss of all things, he endured stripes, imprisonment, stoning, shipwreck, all kinds of perils — and yet he passed through, forgot, and despised the whole — that he "might by all means save some."
He would BE anything. "To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." Noble man! Admirable example! May I catch your spirit, copy your example, and be crowned with success as you were!
He would GO anywhere. It matters not what the climate, or what the character of the people — he is willing to go and preach the gospel unto all, that he "might by all means save some."
Beloved, we should imitate this example.
We should begin to do so at once.
The state of the world demands it.
The condition of our Churches requires it.
The love of Jesus calls for it at our hands.
But there are some special considerations which urge us immediately to adopt and act upon this motto:
1. So many are perishing! Hundreds in our neighborhoods. Thousands in our country. Millions in our world. Our streets are thronged with perishing souls, who are going down to the pit, as fast as time can carry them!
2. To perish is so dreadful!
Think of an immortal spirit eternally withering under the curse of a just and holy God!
Think of an intelligent being, becoming fuel for the curling flames of the bottomless pit!
Think of myriads, suffering eternally in body and in soul — that which produces weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
Think of the never-dying worm!
Think of ceaseless lashes of a guilty conscience!
Think of dark prison of hopeless despair!
Think of what is contained in the wrath and curse of God!
Oh, it is unspeakably dreadful to perish — and yet sinners are perishing before your eyes, perhaps in your very house, and you feel but little concern about it! What have you done for them? What are you doing? What are you willing to do, that you might "save some?"
3. It is not absolutely necessary that sinners should perish. There is a way of escape. There is a Savior, who is both able and willing to save — a Savior who casts out none. The invitations of the gospel are free. The provision of the gospel is accessible. The path of life is a broad highway. If any perish around you, it is because you and others neglect to set the gospel before them — or because they reject the provisions of that gospel. The Savior complains of some, and says, "You will not come unto me, that you might have life." And Jehovah swears, "As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked: but that the wicked turn from his evil ways. Turn! Turn from your evil ways; for why will you die?"
4. Salvation can only be by hearing and receiving the gospel. "Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How, then, shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" It is our duty to take the gospel home to their houses. To set it before them. To endeavor to impress it upon their minds, and to introduce it to their hearts.
5. The honor is so great, and the pleasure so sweet, which flows from "saving some." Oh, that our people did but realize the former — then they would enjoy the latter! What honor can be compared with that of saving a soul from death, and hiding a multitude of sins? (James 5:20.) What pleasure as sweet as that of leading sinners to the cross, to the throne of grace, and to the realms of glory!
6. It is one grand end of our conversion — and should be the principal business of our life. For this we were created anew in Christ Jesus. For this we were blessed with the enjoyment of experimental religion. For this we should live.
Beloved, let us from henceforth try all means in our power; and while we do so, let us honor the Holy Spirit, as the Lord and Giver of life, by depending upon him, pleading for his gracious influences and operations, and by ascribing all the good that is done to him. Let us keep this one object constantly in view:
In writing to friends.
In conversing with neighbors.
In walking with acquaintances.
In distributing tracts.
In circulating the Bible.
In pleading with God in prayer.
In preaching the gospel.
In visiting the sick.
Let all be done with this before the eye, "That I might by all means save some!"
For this, let us live.
For this, let us labor.
For this, let us practice self-denial.
And let us endeavor to keep this in view on the bed of death.
In a word, whether we are poor or rich — sick or healthy — youthful or aged — at home or abroad — happy or cast down — illiterate or learned — public or private characters — let us endeavor by all means to "save some!"
And let us expect to do so: for God will bless the honest, hearty, scriptural, prayerful efforts of his children! "Your labor shall not be in vain in the Lord."
We shall soon come to our last day on earth,
many opportunities are now lost forever,
we may not have many more afforded us;
let us therefore work while it is called today, and try "by all means to save some!"