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ON SALVATION BY CHRIST JESUS, AND A PERSONAL
APPLICATION TO HIM FOR THAT PURPOSE. John vi. 35. 'Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life :-he
that cometh to me shall never hunger ; and he that believeth
on me shall never thirst. SALVATION is a theme which affords matter of delightful contemplation to angels*, who wish to explore its astonishing depths, in order that they may know more of the “ manifold wisdom of God," as it is graciously displayed in our redemption by his Son". Now, if those holy and dignified Beings, who have no need of a Saviour, feel such a lively interest in the subject of man's redemption, and delight to “minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation", how justly “chargeable with folly” will those persons be, who, although personally concerned in the benefits of Redeeming Love, without which they must perish for ever, still refuse to seek them in the appointed way!
But, though the great bulk of mankind thus despise or neglect the salvation which is in Christ, there are some of a more serious and reflective turn, who think it worth their while to submit to any privations, or to make the most costly sacrifices, to obtain its blessings. To understand, then, in what Salvation consists, and how it is to be secured and enjoyed, is what all who perceive its value and excellence will strive after.
1. Salvation, in an ordinary sense, implies a state of extreme peril, and exposure to death and destruction, from which it rescues the sufferer bb. Now, that all men in a state of unconversion, and before
1 Pet.i. 12. * Eph. i.9, 10. • Heb. i. 14. bb Exod. xiv. 10-31.
they participate in the redemption of Christ, are wretched and miserable sinners, liable to eternal death, may be proved from the words of our Saviour, in which he declares the object of his mission into the world :-" The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost," that is, the whole “world, which God so loved, as to give for it his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."--Behold here the lost condition of man, the unbounded benignity of God, the matchless compassion and dying love of the Lord Jesus !
2. Salvation, in a Scriptural sense, as applying to a ruined world, expresses a deliverance from all the penal consequences to which sin renders men liable; a deliverance from the curse of the broken Law, from the wrath of God, and from all the terrors of the world to come; and, at the same time, it imports the bestowment of “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus In fine, salvation by the Gospel is a translation from the death of sin to a life of righteousness, from guilt to pardon and acceptance with God, from the greatest misery to the most satisfying bliss in Paradise: it is an antidote for the fear of death ; a sovereign remedy for every moral disease and evil which the apostacy of Adam has brought upon the world ; so that the saved regain every thing which has been lost, and are confirmed in the unalienable possession of the joys of heaven".
How big with meaning is the word Salvation! Eternity will hardly be sufficient to appreciate the blessedness which it affords. It is, then, most obLuke xix. 10.
& John ïïi. 16. * Eph. i. 3.
< 1 Pet. i. 26.
viously a good which every one should strive to obtain; because it is so well adapted to our ruined condition, and to answer the highest expectations we can entertain of complete happiness. Make trial of the blessings of Christ's salvation; and all the wretchedness and sorrow which sin has occasioned will, in your case, be converted into the liveliest an:
3. The effects which the grace accompanying salvation produces, prove its real importance. A principle of spiritual life is imparted to the soul, by which it is sanctified and governed. The heart, divorced from the love of the world, and from the gratifications of sense, becomes devoted to the pleasure of God. Every thing is made new by the moral revolution which is wrought on the mind'. Objects whieh, in our unregenerate state, were deemed essential to our happiness, cease to attract us when we are made partakers of Christ's salvation ; and fresh sources of delight are opened, from which our souls derive the most exquisite satisfaction.
The change which Divine grace effects, even on those who have not been remarkable for a vicious life, is conspicuous. It destroys that good opinion which they before entertained of their own righteousness, which is now found to be defective ; and it produces a conviction of their own demerits, which compels them to build on the “ foundation which is laid in Zion," for justification before God. And, further, a view of the riches of His grace towards them in Christ Jesus, leads them to extol the forbearance of God in sparing them so long, whilst they lived in disobedience to him ; and excites in them a holy resolution, founded on Divine assistance, to consecrate the remnant of their days to the honour of the Lord.
12 Cor. v. 17. " Isa, xxviii. 16. 1 Cor. iii. 11.
The alteration which the saving grace of God effects in the whole deportment of persons who have been abandoned to a wicked and careless life is still more surprising. It is in the conversion of the vilest sinners that the triumphs of the cross shine forth so gloriously in our eyes. By the salvation of Jesus, the slaves of the basest lusts and passions are freed from their ignoble fetters, and are enabled to "run the way of God's commandments" with delight. The intemperate and the sensual and the lewd see the criminality of those guilty pleasures which have polluted their souls and bodies; and, forsaking them, are taught " to set their affections on things above,” and to pursue those sublimer
joys which are at God's right-hand.” The drunkard becomes sober, rejecting the intoxicating draught with abhorrence, as so much poison that would destroy him. The niggardly man is made liberal, communicating freely of his substance to the necessitous. And, finally, every class of ungodly persons, when made partakers of the grace of Christ, are prevailed on to abandon the sins to which they have been most addicted, and to walk in the celestial path which invites them to real happiness. So that, in the transformation of their souls, the pleasing scene is fully realized, as described by St. Paul:
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new !" How marvellous and delightful the change! The rebel is turned into a loyal subject. The alien, the exile, and the outcast, become the sons of God, and, as dutiful children, enjoy the kind regards of their heavenly Father. They, who were once full of enmity to God, now love him feryently, and delight in his service. They, who before
2 Cor. v. 17.
were the bond-slaves of Satan, are converted into the willing servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. They, whose minds were full of darkness, corruption, and prejudice, are now filled with light, purity, truth, and with holy and generous affections. The things which they formerly loved they now hate; and their pursuits have taken a new direction. Well may
it be affirmed of the subjects of such a change, “ That they are born again, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God";" and that they are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that they should walk in them.”
4. It is, however, from a view of the advantages which flow from the salvation of Christ, that we see its suitability to our wants, no less than its real excellency. Its privileges partly respect this life, but principally that which is to come. Its present benefits deserve to be noticed. Every one of those happy persons who are interested in the work of redemption, is blessed with the forgiveness of his sins. Christ has not only delivered his people from the guilt and dominion, but also from the ill consequences, of transgression. As their substitute, he paid the dreadful penalty of their offences by his voluntary submission to death, whereby he hath honoured the demands of Divine justice, and fully discharged their debts. Hence the Scripture affirms, that “through Jesus, is preached unto us the forgiveness of sins; and, by Him, all that believe are freely justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the Law of Moses "." “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for usk.” “There is, therefore, now no con* John i. 12, 13. Eph. ii. 10. "Acts'xiii. 38, 39. "Gal. ii. 13.