« السابقةمتابعة »
ham after the flesh, and not after his faith, (Gal. iii. 7,) shall never see that day; as he told some of them, “ And I say unto you, that many shall come from the East and West, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven, but the children of the Kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. viii. 11, 12.) No distance of time, or place; nor any other predicament-has any thing to do with the bounds of salvation. “Peace, peace to him that is afar off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him," (Isai. lvii. 19,) says the prophet. “For his salvation is nigh them that fear him: that glory may dwell in our land,” (Ps. lxxxv. 9,) says the Psalmist: and “Of a truth I perceive, that God is no respecter of persons : but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted with him," (Acts x. 34, 35,) said an apostle. Well therefore said David also, “Thy mercy, O Lord, reacheth unto the heavens; and thy faithfulness unto the clouds :" (Ps. xxxvi. 5:) it being always understood in Israel from the days of Noah, (Gen. ix. 16,) that the name of the Lord, whether rightly pronounced, or “ with stammering lips and another tongue,” (Isai. xxviii. 11,) or not any how-FOR SALVATION DOES NOT DEPEND ON GOOD SPELLING, so it be carefully sought, and duly revered—is the mean, and only mean of the kind, “whereby men must be saved," as aforesaid. “For bebold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.”. (Mal. iv. 1, 2.)
• It should be observed, that the complete obscuration here mentioned refers to the intellectual captivity which bad men are doomed to experience with the fallen angels (Jude 6,) in a future state, and not to the darkness of the present, For, according to prophecy, the punishment of darkness is not so severely inflicted on “ the children of the Kingdom," that is, the people of Israel, this time as it was before : as for example, 'according to Isaiah, who, prophesying of the blindness that should happen in part to Israel', (Rom. xi. 25,) declares, “ Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her (Israel's) vexation,” &c. (Isai. ix. 1.) For then the people were not only carried away captive, but really so debased in their captivity, as to “ go a whoring” after the gods of the people of the land whither they were carried : (Kings II. xvii. 23, &c. :) whereas, now they are only cast into an unsettled state-without home, and without religion, except what consists in looking still for that which is come long since: they are not totally blind, like many professing Christians, and “other gentiles, who 'walk in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened ; being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”: (Eph. iv, 18.)
* For they still expect a Messiah ; which many have no idea of; and of those who have some also expect him again. So the blindness of Israel is only in part: and that not destined to continue 'either any longer than “ until the fulness of the gentiles shall be come in." (suprâ.)
The whole scheme of redemption and salvation, which I have siguified to be the same deliverance variously considered, will extend to two great objects in the restoration of both soul and body, to the state in which they existed before the existence of evil,-of the soul to its original freedom and integrity, with consequent peace; of the body to its original strength and purity, with consequent health and comfort, and the crown of immortality. But few Christians go to this extent perhaps: within the scheme of salvation now defined, every one almost, or every Christian professor at least, appears to draw a little scheme for himself. And thus, while men are more anxious than enough for the present salvation of their bodies, and indifferently so for the future salvation of their souls, they hardly think of the future salvation of the one, or of the present salvation of the other : but if their souls can be saved hereafter, they may be lost for the present; or if their bodies can be preserved for the present, they may be scattered to the winds hereafter for aught they care. Hence the greater part of professing Christians are like the Prodigal son, (Luke xv.,) in one respect, not minding the regular state of salvation which their father commended in the elder brother, saying unto him, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine;" and being more deficient not only than their brethren, but even than some of the brute creation in the other. “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, (says the Apostle.) And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves, groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (Rom. viii. 22, 23.)
Certainly, a late, or it may be, a death-bed, salvation, must be a late beginning compared with the change to be so effected, a change in all our sentiments and affections, preparatory to that inconceivable change which is to happen through death in our material structure, and nature craves according to the forecited passage ; being also proved by other passages of Scripture, and likewise by reason or inference to be as necessary a change as any for a joyful resurrection. For this mighty work, whatever chance there might be in the course of a man's life, if he should live to the age of three score years and ten, it cannot be, one should think, in the end particularly ; when he lies bound hand and foot in his bed-clothes. A poor opportunity that,- for a man to work out his own salvation in the line of duty! When a sinner is to be saved, one should suppose it to be meant for the good of the community, for the sake of which he might otherwise have been cut off: but one cannot see any general good in his salvation or conversion (supposing such an occurrence likely) after his power to do evil had ceased, and the man was no longer capable of doing either evil or good.
That is a part, however, doing good, I mean, that some
are not fond of, it being, that they covet what may be called a cheap salvation * :-the way-to perform just so much of your duty as you may find agreeable or convenient, and excuse yourself the rest. Thus, for example, if you are an old man, you may read good books, say your prayers, and have what you consider a great deal of grace in your heart :- let him keep off from plays and promenades, and other juvenile amusements; and having done this, he may excuse himself from ever relieving a fellow creature in distress, or ever feeling for any one but himself. Or if it be a young man that wants to be saved cheap; let him on the contrary only keep clear of avarice and superstition,-as he accounts every thing like piety and prudence; and then, he will be able to allow himself in any vicious or irregular propensity that his corrupt nature may suggest; and if he never call upon God, nor so much as remember him in all his thoughts, he will think it no matter, so as he be a hearty good fellow, and can believe that he shall never die,-or, however, that he shall not rise again,-or if he must rise again, that he shall not be tried for his life,-or if he must be tried: that-it would be hard to say what he may think next-but, perhaps, he may think whether salvation be so cheap a purchase as he once conceived it to be.
§ 2. But the view of salvation as an acquisition or purchase made by those who are blessed with its enjoyment belongs to the second head which I proposed to consider, being the whither and the Way of salvation; as our Saviour told St. Thomas, “ Whither I go, ye know, and the way ye know.” (John. xiv. 4.) He himself is the highway of salvation, as before signified; and as he also said on the same occasion, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (Ib. 6.) The Son came forth from the bosom of the Fa. ther, and dwells with him in the hearts of his true disciples; (Ib. 23 ;) of which he makes a continual offering to the Father with his more precious self.“ Be ye, therefore, (says the apostle again,) followers of God, as dear children: and walk in love; as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour." (Eph. v. 1, 2.) He told his disciples on one occasion, and we may think it a very plain saying to the purpose, as they did, “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world ; again, I leave the world, and go to the Father:" (John xyi. 28 :) and following him thus, from the world to the Father, is the way to be followers of God, and heirs of everlasting salvation.
* The author has had the mortification to attend, as curate or sub-curate of a parish, in their last moments, those who would not give a pinch of snuff for it.
For notwithstanding that we "ascribe the power to God over Israel-who will give strength and power unto his people” (Ps. Ixviii. 34, 35) by his Eternal Word, by his Holy Spirit, by his kind Providence,—from the share that every object of the same Providence must needs contribute to the perfection of its kind purpose, and receive in its enjoyment, this act or accident of salvation may appear to be also more or less of the object himself in different stages or positions: of which there are several, and two especially; 1, Salvation beginning with God; 2, Salvation continued in man.
1. The first stage or position, Salvation beginning with God, the Word of salvation, is very simple, “ The same was in the beginning with God;" (John i. 2 ;) and consists only in principles, like the perfect foreknowledge and predestination of events, or a continual creation ; which, with St. Paul, we attribute to God, and in our respect particularly : “For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called : and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Rom. viii. 28, &c.) . We