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made their feet fast in the stocks. This jailer was the man (whether a Roman or a Greek does not appear) who, that very night, came trembling, and falling prostrate before Paul and Silas, said, "Sirs, What must I do to be saved?" An earthquake, which shook the prison, opened the gates, and loosened every prisoner's bonds, alarmed him, and at the same time convinced him, that these men were indeed the servants of the most high God, who shewed the true way of salvation. The jailer received no upbraidings for his gratuitous severity to the Apostle; but was readily and kindly answered, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." The apostolic party further spake to the jailer the word of the Lord; he believed, was baptized, and rejoiced. His heart was changed he was another man-a new creature. The jailer washed the prisoners' wounds, brought them into his house, and set meat before them, rejoicing and believing in God, with all his house.
From this interesting portion of sacred Scripture we infer,
I. The necessity of salvation.
II. The way of obtaining it; and,
II. The effects of being saved.-As this is a subject which, in the New Testament, is addressed to, and concerns all mankind, we shall gather our illustrations from all the nations, and not from our own country alone.
I. To save, and salvation, in sacred Scripture, imply deliverance from evil, whether natural or moral.
The salvation of which we would this day speak is salvation from sin, and from everlasting punishment. And is there a necessity for this? Is man a sinner, one who has violated the divine law; and is the just retribution of sin eternal death? Is this the state of some men only? or is it the fallen condition of all men, those in power, and those out of power; high and low; rich and poor; learned and ignorant. If this be the truth, the necessity of salvation is self-evident. And to prove that this is the truth,
we argue thus: The prevalence of much vice and misery in the world is universally allowed; and that man is prone to evil, and has often sinned, is admitted by every breast; the confessions of the penitent, and the admonitions of the moralist, and the complaints of most men, in every land, prove that man is depraved and sinful. But man's sense of moral evil is confined, chiefly, to offences against the social duties-against himself, in fact; of the offences against high heaven, and the great God who there reigns, the perception of sinful man is blunted, or perverted, or lost. The revolt of our nature, and man's rebellion against God, the supreme Sovereign, has induced in every mind, even in the midst of abounding impiety, and practical atheism, a self-justifying spirit. Therefore man's opinion of sin is very far from being equal to the truth; it by no means comes up to the strong delineation derived from heaven, and contained in the Holy Bible. For example, take the sin of idolatry; that of changing the glory of the incorruptible God, into an image made like to corruptible man, or to birds, or four-footed beasts, or creeping reptiles, or stocks, or stones. Intellectual spiritual man abandons the worship of Jehovah, and falls prostrate to these. Yet in India, and China, do we Christians, who should feel the deepest regret that God is so dishonoured, and our fellow creatures in such an apostate, low, degraded state, generally look upon idolatry with the utmost indifference; and still more, in the face of the strongest abhorrence against this abominable sin, expressed in the sacred page by the mouth of God's holy prophets, there are those who palliate, or excuse, or even justify it.
And, which strengthens our argument, the idolater him. self, always, instead of considering his idolatry a sin, the more enthusiastic and mad he is after his idols, he deems himself by so much the more meritorious. "A deceived heart hath turned him aside," and he has not spiritual perception of the truth sufficient to detect the lie that is in his right hand. Man always finds an excuse for his besetting, prevailing sin; and so far is this carried, that some immoralities, which, by persons not concerned, are univer
sally condemned, are often thought excusable by the parties implicated. The pirate and the assassin, still suppose they may attain to heaven, and will keep up some forms of religion, or superstition. But is it reasonable that the opinions of sinful depraved mortals, concerning the demerits of sin, shall be more just and true than the revealed decision of the righteous and holy God? Ought we not, in the exercise of common sense, to relinquish all apologies and excuses for sin, and receive with reverence the divine sentence concerning it. What saith the Scripture?"Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them," (Galatians iii. 10.) "There is no man that sinneth not," (1 Kings viii. 46.) "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves," (1 John i. 8-10.) "If we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar;" we give the lie to heaven, from whence it is declared, "There is none righteous, no not one," (Rom. iii. 10.) "Men together have become unprofitable, destruction and misery are in their ways.' The holy law considers every mouth stopped, every cavilling tongue silenced, and the whole world become guilty before God, and inexcusably so. "For the invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen," God having shewn them to men; but "when they knew God, they glorified him not as God; neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened:" man is self-ruined, and, if heaven may be believed, he is without excuse. Now, it is further declared that "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men. The wages of sin is death: the wicked shall be cast into hell, and all the nations that forget God;" they shall be cast into outer darkness; shall be immersed in a lake of fire, fire that shall never be quenched, the gnawing worm that torments shall never die; in that place "shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth;" in that place there shall be punishment everlasting.
Whatever interpretation is put on these awful declarations of the sacred Scriptures, they fully confirm our argu
ment, that salvation is necessary to all men for all men have sinned; all are liable to the eternal punishment of sin; and hence it becomes an infinitely important question, to be put by every human being, "What shall I do to be saved?" Suppose that no answer could be given to this question; that there was no salvation-no hope; nothing but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation to consume the wicked. What would be the feelings of a convinced sinner? Oh, how indescribable the anguish! And the day is coming, when to many this will really be the case; when it must be said, Now there is no salvation-now all hope is for ever fled. Oh, then, that none of us may defer a satisfactory answer to this question till it be too late; for happily it can still be said, "Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." To every convinced and anxious penitent it is, by the divine word, said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."-This brings us to the second division of our discourse, viz.
II. The way of salvation.
Salvation, in common use, is very generally restricted. to deliverance from future misery, anticipated as the: punishment of sin but salvation, in the sense of sacred. Scripture, is not confined to that, but includes also a deliverance from the tyranny of Satan, and from the dominion of sinful propensities in this life.
Although there be many in every country who seem to give themselves no concern about future happiness or misery, there is a large proportion of our species, whose minds are ill at ease on this subject; and there are a few, who are very anxious about it. But there are various mistaken or false ways suggested; some more, and others less distantly removed from the true one. We sometimes suppose that, in religious matters, the false must be diametrically opposite to the true. But Satan, who goes about seeking whom he may deceive, as well as whom he may devour, like all tempters, cheats, and counterfeits, often endeavours to make the false resemble the true. On this principle it is,
that false religion and superstition prevail so much in the world. Man's conscience is not easy without some religion, some object of worship; and the arch-apostate gains his malicious purpose by inducing men to be satisfied with the mere form of religion for the reality; and sometimes, to worship devils or demons, instead of God.
In order to be saved, to be forgiven, and made happy hereafter, the human mind has suggested sometimes things cruel, sometimes frivolous, and sometimes, seeming to us, not altogether irrational; but yet all different from the heaven-revealed way of salvation. It is to save himself, or to have merit to transfer for the salvation of others, that the devotee subjects himself to almost incredible austerities; it is to save herself infallibly, and her deceased kindred, (as well as from grief and affection,) that the Hindoo widow submits to be burned to death in the fire which consumes the corpse of her deceased husband. Man's anxious mind has led him to say, "Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression; the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul !"
The philosophists, both Christian and Pagan, for the most part make a mock at the idea of sin, and it would be in vain for a serious awakened sinner, to ask them what he must do to be saved. The religionists of all kinds have more humanity in this respect. Many of these, however, suggest things which cannot profit-such as the reciting of certain formularies of words, which cannot often, with any propriety, be called prayers; because, as in China for example, they consist of words which are unintelligible to the person pronouncing them. The incessant repetition of the name Amidah Budh! Amidah Budh! is a certain means of the remission of sin; but there is no reason, no plausible theory adduced, why it should be so. Four prostrations towards the south on the day of every new moon will procure the forgiveness of millions of sins. Others prescribe the lighting of candles, the burning of incense, the saying of masses for the salvation of the soul. These are examples of the false ways which may be denominated superstitious or frivolous.