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good subject, is a never failing foundation of contentment and rejoicing.
If we reject the counsel of God therefore we reject it against ourselves altogether, gaining nothing, even now, but losing every thing; for though we read of the pleasures of sin which are for a season, these are rather nominal than real, as all could testify for whom this question was intended, What profit had ye then, in those things whereof ye are now ashamed; for the end of those things is death.
If it is
This salvation is great because it is free, and offered to all who think it of consequence enough to receive it. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. worthy of all acceptation, all might accept of it. things of a common kind, might be proposed to the needy, and yet not in sufficient quantity to supply the necessities of all. No store house which can be exhausted, however ample, and well filled, not even Joseph's granaries which supported the people through a long and extensive famine, can represent the abundance of salvation. God by his prophet Isaiah proclaims, Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money; come ye; yea come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price! Again, as the same prophet records his words, he says, Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else! The beloved disciple John, in the last chapter of his book of Revelations presents the same subject to us in the same encouraging manner. And the Spirit, and the bride say, come; and let him that heareth say, come; and let him that is athirst, come; and whosoever will, let him take the waters of life freely.
To show the greatness of this salvation, let it suffice for the present, to add this consideration, that the benefits of it will be realized by a multitude too great to be numbered. Notwithstanding the prevalence of sin through all the ages of time hitherto, and notwithstanding its dreadful and wide spread existence even now, God has never been without a seed to serve him, and in future, nations shall be born in a day and holiness to the Lord shall be inscribed upon the bells of the horses, throughout the whole earth. It is said
in the account which we have of God's promise to Abraham. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them; and he said unto him, so shall thy seed be. The spiritual seed of Abraham will probably, far out number his natural posterity; and to his spiritual seed we may look for the accomplishment of this promise. The influence which the salvation of sinners, in this world, will have upon the inhabitants of other worlds, to unfold to them the manifold wisdom of God, is spoken of in the scriptures, and ought to be noticed by us.
We have now taken an imperfect view of this great salvation; and it comes next in order to consider what it is to neglect it.
All the knowledge which we can have respecting salvation we must derive from the sacred scriptures. These are a fund of information which God has graciously granted us, and a fund abundantly sufficient to answer every valuable purpose. If we neglect the scriptures, we certainly neglect the salvation which they contain. Other things are interesting, only in a subordinate degree; and yet we are naturally disposed to give to other things the largest share of attention. Those who have the Bible in their houses, in many instances have so little of it in their minds, that when they undertake to make quotations from it, they expose their ignorance, and quote what is no where to be found.
No less do they neglect this great salvation who spend much time in turning over the pages of the bible, having nothing better in view than to supply themselves with objections against it, by making one part contradict another. Instead of comparing spiritual things with spiritual, to get the meaning of the whole, by making out a real agreement where there is some apparent discordance, such persons take a course directly the reverse, for The, way of the wicked is as darkness, they know not at what they stumble. If we read the bible with a disposition hostile to its truth, it will be easy for us to conclude, that we discover very different things in relation to the same subject, and of course that the whole must be inconsistency and falsehood.
Two apostles, St. Paul, and St. James, have brought into view the case of Abraham; and with respect to his justification, have maintained, one, that it was by faith, and the other, that it was' by works. Here is an opportunity favorable to a caviller, to find fault, though nothing can be clearer than, that the faith of Abraham, would have been a vain thing without his works; and his works equally vain without his faith. Another case which presents a seeming disagreement, but which is really and beautifully, harmonious in its parts, is furnished by the words of our Savior himself. Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him. For our ability to come to Christ, we are undoubtedly indebted to God, whose work it is to renew the heart; but we are still altogether without excuse since the only reason that we do not come is, that we will not. It is easy to be seen, that salvation is not the thing sought after by those, who instead of endeavoring to reconcile one passage of scripture with another, lay hold of every circumstance to establish a disagreement.
There are others who make the Bible their study, and are much conversant with the letter of it, prompted by the ambition of a proud heart, to possess, that they may display an uncommon stock of knowledge. Among the Jews in ancient times, this was generally, the manner in which the Bible was studied. Upon their broad phylacteries they made copious inscriptions, and were as industrious in committing scripture passages to memory, as the most forward children are now, in a Sabbath school. But what did they know of salvation, or what did they appear to care about it? Those who sat in Moses' seat, to expound the law, expounded away the meaning of it, and made the traditions of men of higher authority than the commandments of God. All their sacrifices were typical of a Savior; and their prophecies pointed directly to Christ, and in him had an exact fulfilment. But how blinded were the people at large, especially those who called themselves the wisest among them, and how far were they from recognising the Messiah when he appeared, because their expectations were directed to a mere temporal deliverer, and the
honors and emoluments of an earthly kingdom. Ignorant of God's righteousness, they went about to establish their own; and the character of their own righteousness appears in this, that they devoured widows houses, and for a pretence made long prayers.
To us as well as to the Jews, these words of our Savior are applicable, and infinitely important. Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me. If we do not search the scriptures; and if Christ be not our great object in searching them, we are chargeable with neglecting this great salvation.
As we cannot read to any purpose, if we omit the duty of prayer, so we evidently neglect salvation, if we neglect to pray to God to teach us what it is. The following words of Christ are words of weight, and let them be so weighty upon us, as to divest us of all our self-sufficiency. At that time Jesus answered, and said, I thank thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes! Those who are wise, and prudent, in their own estimation, could they even repeat the whole of the Bible, from the first chapter to the last, would only repeat a lesson of prodigious length, in an unknown tongue, having no understanding of its real meaning. Those who are not taught of God, are not taught effectually; and can any be effectually taught, and yet live a prayerless life? The injunction to pray, in secret, is so plain, and positive, and the advantage is so great, and obvious, that it cannot be a matter of uncertainty whether we neglect salvation, if we do not keep up a secret intercourse with God. What shall we say respecting family worship? Do we call for a positive precept, when we feel the urgency of our case, and have that anxiety which the jailor had; or that devotion which Cornelius had? In seasons when religion excites the attention of a people, do we not find attentive heads of families, laying aside their excuses, and availing themselves of the privileges of their own family altars? Whether every christian, at the head of his family does lead his family in the acts of devotion or not, there can be no doubt, that sal
vation is, at least in a great degree, neglected where this is not the case.
When God rested from his work of creation, the sabbath was appointed, and it will not be dispensed with, until day and night, shall be no more. As long as there shall be such a day, there will be an obligation upon those who are acquainted with its appointment, not only to spend it in religious duties, but to form themselves into public and solemn assemblies for this purpose. All who stay away from public worship, pleading, that with their means, they can be better edified at home, would do well to take into consideration what God said to Israel upon this subject. Take heed to thyself, that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest. But in the place which the Lord shall choose, in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.
Though we should be together upon the sabbath, in some place where God has recorded his name, we may be together, and yet be very far from the duty which we are required to perform. Many, as if they considered the rest of the sabbath to be the rest of the body, habitually indulge themselves in sleep; and what they hear, is like the confusion of a dream, of which they can give no regular account, and of which they themselves can have no clear and profitable conception. Many have as many objects of attention as there are persons within their sight; or as there are articles of dress to be seen upon those persons. That in such cases the eye is more occupied than the ear, no one can doubt, who credits the report which such persons make of what they have witnessed upon the sabbath. Some attend upon public worship as they attend upon the theatre, to look at the actor, and to criticise his performance; and that to them, is a good sermon which they judge to be a good composition; and that, to them, is a good preacher, who in their estimation, is a good speaker. Jacob has expressed the feelings which every one ought to have upon the sabbath, and in the place of God's worship. How dreadful is this place; this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven! In proportion as we fail to have sim