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To understand the doctrines of the Bible aright, it is of the greatest importance to form just ideas of what is meant by the word " salvation," as many of the practical errors into which men have fallen on the subject of Christianity, have arisen from a misconception of this term: some supposing it to refer merely to the pardon of sin, and others to an undefined happiness in a future state.
To assist our inquiries into this most interesting subject, it is of importance to examine the different passages of Scripture in which this term is used, and to compare it with other terms which are frequently employed as synonymous with it.
In Scripture, the term salvation, with its grammatical branches, is applied to the bodies as well as to the souls of men. When applied to the body, it varies in its meaning according to the state or condition of those who are the subjects of it. These conditions are chiefly two, namely, first, a state of danger arising from causes external to the body, such as shipwreck, war, or famine; and, secondly, a state of danger arising from disease within the body.
First, When the term salvation is applied to persons in a state of danger from external causes, it means an external act, corresponding to the nature of the danger by which the cause of the danger is removed, and security restored. Thus, in the description of the shipwreck, given in the 27th chapter of the Acts, the word owŚw, is used to signify deliverance from the danger of the sea: “ And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.”—“Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.” And in the following chapter, verse Ist, the word translated escaped is derived from the same root. In the Septuagint the same word is applied to those who have escaped from, battle. When our Lord, in the agony of his soul, prays that the bitter cup of suffering might pass from him, he uses the same word: “ Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour." Jude applies it to the deliverance from the land of Egypt: “ I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.”
In these cases salvation means simply such a change upon the external circuinstances, in which the body is placed, that danger is removed, and safety recovered. No change is produced on the body itself, but only on its situation, with regard to other things.
Secondly, When this term is applied to the case
of persons labouring under disease, it signifies an internal operation, suited also to the evil which it remedies, by which the inward principle of the malady is counteracted, and the bodily organs restored to healthful exercise. This is the most common use of the word in the New Testament, when it refers to the body. In this sense it occurs in most of the narratives of our.Lord's miraculous cures, and is rendered in our translation by various English phrases, such as “ made whole"-" For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about; and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.”.
“ Healed"-" They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed.”—“He shall do well”-" Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.” In these cases salvation does not mean a change upon circumstances external to the body, but upon the internal condition of the body itself.
The distinction between these two classes of cases is obvious. In both an external agent is supposed to apply the remedy, but the operation of this agent differs according to the nature of the evil. In the first class it is directed to the external circumstances in which the body is placed—in the second, it is directed to the body itself.
We frequently see these two kinds of salvation conjoined—thus a man is imprisoned on suspicion of a crime, and in consequence of the unhealthiness of the place is seized with the jail fever—at last he is acquitted, and his liberation is followed by restored health. Here the one salvation is the effect of the other, and is indeed the only thing which could make the other valuable. Take another instance: A man loses his health from the use of improper food-a benevolent person, by supplying himn with proper food, restores his health. Here the external evil is unwholesome food, and the internal is disease. There are also two kinds of salvation, corresponding to these two evils, the one of which, however, is entirely subservient to the other. The change of food is made simply for the purpose of restoring health, and if this effect does not follow, nothing has been accomplished which can properly be called salvation, the whole plan has failed. Salvation then properly refers to the ultimate object in the series. If a man is simply in danger of being lost by shipwreck, his ultimate object is to be safe on dry land: but if the fear of this danger has deprived him of his reason, then the recovery of his mental health becomes the ultimate object, and the salvation from shipwreck becomes merely a step to the salvation of his reason. So if a man has the disease of cancer, he may
be delivered from the cancer by the knife: but then the salvation from the cancer is subservient to the salvation of his health, and unless this consequence follows, the object has failed.