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II. By what means does our heavenly Father effect our christian salvation? By certain instruments, prinples and motives. The most important of these I will now describe.
1. Our heavenly Father saves us through the instrumentality of Christ Jesus. He brought him into being, commissioned him to be a Savior of all who would come unto him, and qualified him for the successful execution of his divine office. But how is Christ Jesus an instrument for our salvation? Let Peter answer this question. “God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” So far then as he turns any one from his wickedness, so far he saves him from its punishment, and no farther; and he effects the salvation of sinners in no
But in what manner does he turn us from our sins? Let this question be answered by the experience of those already saved; by the best christians of all denominations. Inquire what first induced them to become sincere disciples of Jesus and you will receive a variety of replies. You will find that some have been early and successfully trained up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and gradually drawn into the paths of holiness by the pure morality of the gospel; while others have been converted more suddenly in maturer years by the great discoveries of christianity. You will find that some have been excited to consideration and amendment by the example of Jesus; while others have been influenced to obedience by his benevolent labors and stupendous miracles. You will find that some have been stimulated to exertion in the christian life by his glorious promises of a heavenly reward; while others have been savingly alarmed by the awful threatenings of future punishment. You will find that some have been melted to contrition by his agonizing sufferings;
while others have bowed their stubborn wills before the majesty of his cross. From these and similar confegsions, you must conclude that Jesus saves us from our iniquities, by his life and labors; by his example and instructions; by his consolations and discoveries; by his promises and threatenings, and by his sufferings and death. And what is proved true by actual experience, you find confirmed by the clearest declarations of scripture. For spiritual salvation is there ascribed to these various causes; sometimes to one, sometimes to another, and sometimes to all combined.
The whole process is therefore perfectly plain and intelligible. Jesus exerts no mysterious or miraculous influence over our souls. So far as he induces us to become good, so far he is instrumental in our salvation, and no farther; for we are not now saved, and we shall never be saved, any
ved, any farther than we become holy. This is expressly declared by our Savior himself. “ Not every one that saith unto meLord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” The writer to the Hebrews is equally decided. " Christ Jesus became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Consequently those who continue disobedient are not partakers of his salvation.
2. Our heavenly Father saves us through the instrumentality of his holy word. This truth is likewise plainly taught in scripture. But how does the bible effect our salvation? By warning us of our moral dangers, furnishing remedies for our spiritual diseases, and providing instruction in relation to our immortal interests. For we are assured that “all scripture, given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Let me then illustrate this position by a familiar example. Give a navigator an accurate chart of some dangerous coast; let it exhibit a perfect delineation of all rocks, shoals and quicksands; let the course of safety be described with equal fidelity and plainness. Now if he follow the right directions, his chart will be instrumental in the salvation of himself, his crew and his vessel; but if he proceed in a contrary path, his neglect will expose him to all the calamities of shipwreck. So with the bible. Put it into the hands of an intelligent child of God, and he will readily perceive that it discloses the moral dangers to which he is exposed, and that it discovers a sure and safe way to holiness and heaven. He will feel conscious of freedom and ability, either to disregard its admonitions, or to comply with its requisitions. Now if he follows its instructions, he will assuredly be saved from ignorance, vice and misery; and rendered enlightened, virtuous and happy. But if he slight its warnings, despise its counsels and disobey its injunctions, he will as certainly experience the consequences of ignorance, error and sin. The bible is instrumental in effecting his salvation in the same way that a chart saves the mariner from shipwreck. The divine word contains the same efficacy now as at the period of its first promulgation. Whoever sincerely endeavors to make it the standard of his faith and practice, will inevitably secure salvation, although he should be deprived of the privilege of hearing the preached gospel. But no one should be so foolish as to suppose this holy book possesses any mysterious or miraculous charm. No. You may cover every shelf in your house with bibles; you may place them under every pillow; you may even bind them to every heart; and if you use them in no other way, you may as well expect salvation from your almanac. No. The bible will do you no good, unless you study its pages, and understand its contents, and obey its instructions; and then it will prove instrumental in your salvation just so far as it makes wiser, better and holier, and no farther.
3. Our heavenly Father saves us through the influence of his holy spirit. This fact is plainly taught in the gospel. But how does the spirit of God effect our salvation? Let an inspired apostle answer this question. “The spirit also helpeth our infirmities." But how is this help communicated? In a supernatural manner? Does it give us the power of working miracles, and of speaking unknown languages? No. It was so imparted to the apostles and some of their first jewish and gentile converts; so as to convince them more deeply of the truth of christianity, and aid them more effectually in its propagation. But we have no good evidence that any believers have received this special influence of the spirit since the apostolic age. Is it communicated in an irresistible manner? Does it compel us to become christians? No. For this would destroy our accountableness, and directly contradict the scriptures. These commands are plainly given.
Quench not the spirit.” “ Grieve not the holy spirit of God.” And this charge was boldly made to the Jews. Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the holy ghost.” If the
If they had power to withstand its influence, we must surely possess the same power, for human nature in this respect remains unchanged. Is it communicated in an arbitrary manner? Is it bestowed without any conditions? No. It is promised to those, and those only, who ask, seek and knock for its assistance. “ If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy spirit to them that ask him.” “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." "Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure.” Our Father
is ever ready to help all who help themselves; and as he has promised aid to none others, those who neglect the means of grace, must not expect any peculiar assist
Is it communicated in a discernible manner? Can we distinguish its operations from the results of our own thoughts, feelings, affections and imaginations? No. For if we could, we should realize as much of a miracle as any wrought by our Savior; and we all believe the day of miracles to be past. And to prevent this pernicious error, our divine master has given us a very explicit caution. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the spirit.” Is it communicated in a uniform manner? Does it assist all persons in the same way, and at any one particular period? No. For then we could determine the mode and time of operation. But experience furnishes no such result. And an inspired apostle assures us, that there “are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” If the help of the spirit is communicated in none of these ways, how is it imparted? Neither reve"lation nor experience furnishes an answer to this question. We must therefore rest satisfied with knowing that we are assisted by the holy spirit in our exertions for salvation; and assisted in such a way as not to affect our free agency.
We have a parallel case in the productions of nature. “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep and rise, night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up,
he knoweth not how. For the ear bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. If
you see the ripened grain, you know that God has blessed the labors of the husbandman, although you cannot tell the time when,