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Author of " The Hall of Vision,” &c. Essay III.-ON SALVATION THROUGH Jesus Christ. The train of argument pursued in the last essay was intended to exhibit the facta fact for which the undivided praises of a countless multitude of redeemed men through eternity will be but a feeble expression of gratitude—that the Holy Scriptures teach, among other things of the greatest moment to fallen beings, the grand doctrine of an atonement for sin, effected by the death of " Jesus Christ the righteous.” To have collected all the passages of Scripture which, directly or inferentially, attest this doctrine, would have been tantamount to a transcription of the greater part of the New Testament, exclusive entirely of what “Moses in the law and the prophets did write." A small selection, therefore, was all that was intended; but it was sufficient to establish the soul-cheering fact, to every penitent, that “God is in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.”
It now, therefore becomes a question of serious import to every searcher after true happiness—every being who would not trifle with his immortal interests, and sport with his eternal destiny-whether salvation from guilt and its fearful consequences can be obtained in any other way? or does the atonement preclude the possibility of“ entering into rest” except by its own merits ? Is this an exclusive way to the land of peace? or is it one of two, or one of several modes of deliverance from the power of depravity and the curse of the law ? Does “Messiah the Prince' stand alone as a Saviour ? has He the exclusive honour of being the spiritual Cyrus, who emancipates souls from a worse than Babylonish captivity? is He the only " Mediator between God and men? Or are there many “ doors of hope,” ready to open at a touch, offering escape to the law-bound prisoner ? many outlets from the spiritual dungeon ? many ways of deliverance from the slavery of sin, and the sentence of condemnation ?
The importance of these questions it is impossible to overrate. Let it not be said, that they are unnecessary, because the whole “ Christian world” is agreed that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour ; for, however men may agree in theory on this subject, alas ! there are but too many whose practices prove, that, though they speak of Jesus as our Saviour, they are far from being convinced of the fact; and the greatest obstacle with which the advocate of evangelic doctrine has to contend, is the difficulty of persuading men that there is no salvation out of Christ. But this is like other assertions (if that can be said to make assertions which has no existence) of this imaginary society, "the Christian world.” The fact is, it is a nonentity: Christ and the world agreed not on any subject when He dwelt among men; and either He must change His opinions, or the world must change its, before they come to an agreement : therefore, if men be worthy of the sacred name of Christ, “ they are not of the world, even as He is not of the world.” It indicates a sad perversion of the thinking powers-neglect of the Redeemer's injunction, “Search the Scriptures”—and utter carelessness about the realities of Christianity, when the loose, ill-digested, unmeaning, and often absurd and pernicious maxims of an ungodly world are adopted as the indisputable truths on which the soul is to venture its vast interests. We repeat, therefore, that these questions are momentously important; for a mistake on this point cannot be otherwise than fearful in its results.
Error in morals, is dangerous to the peace of society. Error in religion, if not removed in time, is destructive to the spiritual prosperity of the soul; and if that error be fundamental, it must prove fatal. Teniporal interests are necessarily injured by rebellion against the laws of society; and advancement in that holiness, which is the declared preparative for the everlasting enjoyment of heaven, is in
fallibly prevented so long as the pre-requisite of sanctification-union to Jesus
“ Where, on a green and flow'ry mount,
The labours of our feet.' But to struggle for salvation without having Him who is the appointed " Leader and Commander to the people" for our Captain, is to afford our triumpbant foe every facility for an easy victory. To expect to be "more than conquerors" over depravity, while we are not looking unto Jesus,” were greater folly than to stretch out the hand over the tumultuous ocean, expecting that its shadow would produce a calm ; for “neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved ;" and “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
But to the pooof. And as the idea of a foundation and a building, in the passage last quoted, is both beautiful and expressive, as well as apposite to our purpose, suffer us to examine the figure for a little.
“ A foundation,” says Cruden, “is the groundwork, or lowest part, of a building, which supports the other parts ; as the foundation of a house, of a castle, of a fort, tower, &c. Christ Jesus, both in the Old and New Testament, is called a Foundation. “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure Foundation. Christ is the foundation on which the Church is built ; the foundation of all the hopes, and comfort, and happiness of the people of God; the foundation of the covenant of grace made with the Church, and of all the promises contained therein ; He is a sure foundation, on whom His people may securely rest; One who will not fail them nor deceive them. And He is the Corner-stone that unites the several parts of the building together; He makes Jews and Gentiles, that once were implacable enemies, one Church.” A Foundation ! What an expressive description of the Redeemer, as the iminutable ground of confidence to a sinner! The idea of solidity, firmness, strength, is iminediately realised. And then, what is the object of such a foundation ? The rearing of a secure and solid building. How apt would the figure seem to the migratory tribes of the east, accustomed as they were to the insecure, baseless, and feeble tent, wbich was frequently exposed to the simoon of the desert, the whirlwind, the earthquake, and the hurricane! How necessary is it, also, to have a foundation form and broad in proportion to the importance and intended durability of the structure about to be raised ! Contrast, for instance, the mean and feeble hut, where
"The short and simple annals of the poor” may be contemplated by the eye of benevolence, while the tear of Christian sym. path drops o'er their silent woes, with the massive and towering castle, whose impregnable ramparts scowl defiance to the artillery of hostile armies. The former, whose walls seem but as a shell in mockery of architecture, rises no higher than is absolutely necessary to form “a lodge in the wilderness” for its humble tenants. It attracts not the eye of the traveller, nor does it invite the gaze of the antiquary ; and its foundation is simple as itself. The mole may burrow beneath its fragile
OTHER WAY THAN
walls ; and the flood and the storm find it no barrier to their march of destruction But the turreted castle, whose battlements serve as waymarks to marching armies, and themes of admiration to the curious, resists the tornados of centuries, because it is built on the wide-spreading rock, which travels in its strength to the bowels of the earth. So it is in the economy of grace. He who builds on Christ, builds securely. He that builds any where else, will find that he has not "counted the cost.” For
JEHOVAH'S PLAN OF SALVATION IS EXCLUSIVE IN CHARACTER.
By this I mean, that man cannot be saved in any other way than that revealed in Scripture; and, that God has but one way of saving man. To most laws there are exceptions ; to this there is none. “Other foundation can no man lay,” is a truth to which a prominent place has been assigned among the doctrines of Christianity; and it is as dangerous to trifle with it, as it is impossible to erase it without an order from heaven.
1. MAN CANNOT SCRIPTURE. Here we may call in reason to witness the truth of this position. Is man the offending party? Then he has no right to dictate terms of reconciliation to his justly offended Sovereign. Is man the rebel? Then he is at the disposal of the Monarch, whose laws he has daringly transgressed. Is earth a revolted province in Jehovah's dominions ? Then it has forfeited all claim on the kindness of its king. And though its revolt were at an end, justice may award to its inhabitants the doom of rebels. Unbending rectitude requires a propitiation for past crimes. But we are not only rebels, as were “all our fathers,” but we manifest no disposition to come “ with weeping and supplication," acknowledging our treason, and entreating pardon. Yet reason suggests, and Scripture corroborates the suggestion, that before the criminal can implore the clemency of his Sovereign he ought to be willing to disjoin himself from the armies of the aliens,” throw down the "weapons of his warfare,” and bow to the authority of his Monarch. This state of mind is implied in Evangelical repentance. “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed ?" "He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was rig and it profited me not ; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.” “ Repent, and turn from all your transgressions. But, sad as the truth is, it is a sad truth, that poor self-deluded, ignorant, man has not even this modesty of character. No; he loves bis impurities, and yet expects that a sin-hating God will pardon him; he continues in rebellion, and yet hopes to receive the blessing promised to a loyal subject; he wallows in pollution, and yet dreams of admission into that palace where nothing that defileth can enter; he rejects the revealed and only
peace, and yet anticipates acquittal when he is tried. Whence spring these inconsistencies? How can these inental phenomena be accounted for, in harmony with a denial of human depravity? The experience of every human being, who has examined his own heart by the light of revelation, gives the lie to the absurd dogma alluded to; but if we admit the doctrine of a pre disposition to error in the human soul, we shall be able, to some extent, to account for the tendency to self-deception which characterises it. To think the “Holy One of Israel” " such an one as ourselves,” vague and undefined notions about His great mercy, and an overweening self-esteem, are at once proofs of human depravily, and rank among the causes which oppose the unqualified admission of this truth, namely, “ Neither is there salvation in any other. Indeed the nature of the system of redemption presupposes the utter prostration of man, as a spiritual being; and the doctrines of grace proceed on the principle, that universal depravity is the condition of the species. That man is naturally ignorant of the true character of God, and consequently, unable to appreciate either the nature or extent of His claims, is taken for granted
“ line upon line, and precept upon precept” given in Scripture. Hence, what care, so to speak, the Holy Spirit has taken to inform us regarding “ Him with whom we have to do”—“God is just”-“God is light”-“God is love !". This threefold aspect of the Divine nature is overwhelmingly grand; let it be studied, pondered, felt; for it is given us for the purpose of hedging us up, as it were, to the truth that we cannot be saved in any way but that revealed in the Word of God. God is just ; therefore He cannot save without a propitiation for sin. God is light; therefore He cannot admit an unsanctified being into His glorious presence. God is love, therefore He has devised and carried out a stupendous
system of recovery, including justification and cleansing--a system of recovery based on atonement, which at once satisfies His claims, renders attractive His character, and suits our condition.
A proper view of the UNITY OF THE DIVINE NATURE leads to the conclusion for which we plead. “A mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one." “ There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. Hence the folly, the stupidity, of imagining that human obedience, even though it approximated much nearer to perfection than it does, can merit the unspeakable blessing of eternal life. For so long as the proud spirit of man refuses to recognise Jesus as the only " Deliverer"." Leader”. " Author and Finisher of faith-it is evident it is not " imitating them who through faith and patience inherit the promises,” for they all “ looked unto Jesus.” “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me." These remarks are intended to apply to those who have in their hands “the lively oracles,” and who, consequently, can ascertain “the mind of the Spirit," on the all-important subject under consideration. As to those “ dark places of the earth,” on which the light of the glorious Gospel" has not yet poured its life-giving beams, the Judge of the earth will do right. It is presumptuous in us to speculate—it is impossible for us to decide. Be it our concern, first, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as “our hope," and then to convey the waters of the sanctuary to distant lands, that they may irrigate, purify, and bless the family of man. All who have received the truth in the love of it,” feel it to be their duty, privilege, and honour, instead of theorizing on the probable dealings of Jehovah with the idolaters of the nations, to help many to "run to and fro,'' till that knowledge which makes “wise unto salvation," shall cover the earth. But to all those, who, as in this favoured land, enjoy the means of scripturally answering the momentous question—"What shall i do to be saved ?" and who, nevertheless, imagine a vain thing," by weaving a robe of fancied righteousness for themselves, while the great propitiation is neglected or despised, God will say,
Who hath required this at your hands ?" All such will find their pride-born exertions at composition with the God of heaven, "a garment too narrow to wrap themselves in." " Do this," was indeed the condition of the covenant made with man in his unfallen state ; but God is holy; therefore, absolute perfection, unbroken conformity in mind and practice to the laws He bas promulged, must be exhibited by man before he can claim the fulfilment of Jehovah's part of the engagement, implied in the promise, “And thou shalt live.' What! shall man break the covenant to which he subscribed, and yet dare to claim the reward of obedience? And now that his merciful Creator has been pleased to point out a way of escape from that punishment to which his voluntary rebellion justly renders him obnoxious; shall he reject that too, and yet persist in the delusive expectation of final acceptance ? Daring infatuation! This is double impiety. Do not a broken law, and a rejected Saviour call for double punishment on the head of the criminal thus doubly offending? The compassionate Redeemer himself tells us, that " it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment” than for the rejecters of His pel. Reason subscribes to this; for responsibility is proportionate to privilege, and justice requires that punishment correspond with guilt.
But there is still another view of this subject. We have already glanced at human depravity. As it has been philosophically remarked by a living writer“ Wretchedness, infamy, and guilt, stand forth with an appalling prominence on the surface of general society; and so closely are they interwoven with human nature, that a superficial acquaintance with the ordinary circumstances of mankind, is amply sufficient to convince a mind rightly disposed, that some radical disease has sapped the foundation of our morals; that some deadly poison, concealed in the fountain of our earthly bliss, is perpetually mingling its unexhausted pollutions with all the streams of terrestrial pleasure which accompany us through time; and that, from the dignified elevation connected with moral rectitude and primeval bliss, the whole race of Adam has lamentably descended. Such being the state of man, in the estimation of all, whose testimony on the subject is worth a moment's deference--in which category I include the inspired penmen -the inference is obviously, this : that so long as this depravity is unsubdued by supernatural power, there is a great moral gulph between God and man, which human efforts cannot pass. If no effect can rise above its cause, the self-exaltation of the human species from spiritual debasement to that " holiness without which no man shall see the Lord,” is an impossibility. But if self-recovery saints,"
be an impossibility, what alternative is there, but salvation through Jesus CHRIST ALONE? Is human help available in any way? Can any man help his brother man? or does angelic assistance come within the range of possibility? The devotee of the antichristian heresy, may trust to the superabundant virtues and imaginary intercessions of departed
or prostrate himself before the supposed likeness of some benignant angel; but the extent of his credulity is only equalled by the depth of his ignorance. Angelic aid is unnecessary, if Jesus be “able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by Him ;” and impossible, if not,-inasmuch as God “ will not give His glory to another.” And departed saints have no surperfluous merits, inasmuch as they were all “ saved by gruce." Alas! that it should be necessary to argue thus ! Why are not all, to whom the glad tidings of great joy are proclaimed, found heartily accepting the overtures of mercy? Why is there a single instance of delay ? why the existence of doubt? and why especially does any fallen being harbour the idea, that he can be eternally happy without a share in the redemption effected by the Son of God? Ignorance, pride and a perverse will, are among the leading characteristics of an unsanctified mind: ignorance of the soul's true condition, and of Jehovah's claims hence insensibility; pride, the offspring of selfishness, -hence scepticism on the subject of spiritual impotence; perversity of will-bence reluctance to approach God in the appointed way. “Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” He wills not recovery. He sports with his chains! He delights in his dungeon! He trifles with his destiny! He embraces the monster, that feeds on his vitals ! He shuts his ear against the charmer, his eye against the light, his heart against impression, his conscience against reproof, and raises the incredulous laugh at the solemn sentence of his Judge. Now, what would be the nature of the spiritual foundation, which, on the supposition of a partial conviction that some effort was required, a being such as this could lay ? and what the constituent parts of the tower he would raise on it, with the hope, that once raised to the requisite altitude, he should step from its summit on the threshold of “the everlasting doors?" How daringly impious, yet how lamentably common, to “neglect the great salvation,” and attempt to build a spiritual Babel, whose foundation is on the sand, whose core is rottenness, and whose consummation therefore must be sorrow! Equally foolish is it, in a being situated as man is in relation to his Maker, to expect heaven as the reward of personal merit, as it would be to dare the Almighty to arms, anticipating as the result of victory, to force an entrance into “the house not made with hands;" for, as in the latter case, he who is “crushed before the moth” would challenge Omnipotence, so in the former case, he who is " an unclean thing” would attempt to rob the Holy One of Israel of that unstained purity, which eternally remains the ornament of His throne; to depreciate the value of the atonement, and to introduce confusion into the moral administration of the King of righteousness. The idea of meriting any thing at the hand of God, either from an excess of services, or any other cause, never enters the mind of a holy being. This idea, entertained by an archangel, would hurl him from his splendid throne to the woes of perdition. Pride~(and the supposition of merit is one of its manifestations)-pride ruined “ the angels, who kept not their first estate :" pride ruined the first human pair, who aspired to be as the angels of God; pride ruins its millions, even under a mediatorial economy; and as similar effects flow from similar causes, pride will continue its dread devastation, till men acknowledge in its full import the truth of this Divine maxim,“When ye shall have done all those things, which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants ; we have done that which was our duty to do.” For while the myriads of our race have fallen infinitely short of prescribed duty, no man ever yet exceeded it.
II. GOD HAS REVEALED BUT ONE WAY OF SAVING MAN. God is not the Author of confusion, but of order, harmony, rectitude; and were proofs of this remark not so numerous in the sacred Scriptures as they are, its truth might be inferred, from what we know of His character. He is too good to tantalize His creatures with conflicting saviours; too benevolent to leave them in doubt as to the supreme and exclusive claims of Him, whom He has anointed and set upon His “hill of Zion,” without an equal, without a rival; too holy to save a polluted rebel without a complete satisfaction to the unyielding demands of His law; too much in earnest not to draw our undivided attention, amidst the moral darkness which surrounds us, to one Sun," whose unrivalled splendours defy competition, and render an eclipse impossible; too wise not to have appointed a Saviour " able to save to the