DIVI E A D HUMA AGE CY I OUR SALVATIO . STEPHE OLI , D.D., LL.D.

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Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. — Phil., ii., 12, 13. This passage of holy writ has been attended by fortunes somewhat remarkable. In the palmy days of the great controversy about liberty and power, which has enjoyed a vigorous Hfe through almost the entire period of the Church's history, this has been a favorite proof-text with each of the opposing parties. Work out your oivn salvation, has been from age to age reiterated with a determined emphasis tantamount to a frank denial of all dependence on the power and grace of the Almighty. On the other hand, the complement of the text, " It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure," has long been held to be a very manifest and triumphant vindication of Antinomian repose, and fairly to set the sinner free from all obligation either to resolve or to endeavor, seeing that God does of himself both the willing and the doing. In these days of comparative exemption from polemical excitement, and of profounder submission to the divine oracles, intelhgent Christians are not likely to find in this portion of holy Scripture such conflicting elements. All parties not blindly devoted to theory are able to recognize the presence of a fundamental Christian truth. It is a very precise announcement of the Christian doctrine, that the salvation of a soul and the whole business of religion require the concurrence of both human and divine forces ; that man can not work out his own eternal well-being without heavenly aids, and that God will not de it for him without his own

16 THE CO-OPERATIO OF DIVI E A D strenuous and willing co-operation. Man is utterly depend-

ent upon God for the efficiency and success of his religious efforts. God has been pleased to set forth all the methods and agencies of his recovering grace under such conditions as leave them ineffectual and unproductive without the sinner's consent and co-operation. It is a joint operation, involving grace and a concurring hearty obedience. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. I. This co-operation of divine and human energies has place in all the important facts and pursuits that make up the history of man, 1. It is true of the commencement of our being. God is our creator, and the giver of life to all ; and yet our immediate progenitors, and the ancestors through whose veins our blood has flowed for so many generations, are, in a very important sense, the authors of our existence. 2. Our growth and education are the result of the same joint agency. God provides the germs of all that is possible to man — of bodily and mental growth — the organs of nutrition, strength, activity — the faculties of the mind which develop thought, invention, fancy, which are concerned in mental productions and achievements of all sorts. Of themselves, however, these only make wild savages and stupid boors. They require diligent culture by parent and teacher ; they want reiterated lessons and exemplifications in knowdedge, virtue, art, activity, suffering, in order to produce a man. 3. This fundamental law reigns over all the works of man. In tillage, where the earth's material substances, its sources of fertility and production, the germinating principle of all seeds, the successions of the seasons, and of day and night, of sunshine and clouds, of the former and latter rains are of God ; while the plowing and the sowing, the culture and the harvesting, are human efforts without which all divine gifts are

nOMA AGE CY I OUR SALVATIO . 17 ill vain, and the earth will only cover itself with dark forests and unfruitful brambles. 4. In the elaborate productions of human skill and ingenuity we find a like illustration. In tliis church the material of every thing is God's work — the solidity, the ponderosity and strength of the earthy and mineral substances, the beautiful colors, the susceptibility of being wrought into tasteful, useful forms — the adaptation of the glass to exclude the wind and the storm, while it gives ingress to the light, are all properties with which God has endowed matter. But it is no less indubitably the energy of man that has lifted up these manifold deposits from the quarries and the mines, and gathered from the forest and from over the sea, and skillfully fashioned, and analyzed, and compounded, and reared up as we now see them, the various materials which constitute a temple for God's worship. 5. We see the same truth in what is perhaps the most wonderful product of human skill, the noble ship that traverses the sublime ocean, and defies its storms. What toil, what art were concerned in felling the unyielding oak and the stately pine, and bringing them from the forest, in imparting to them the proper shape, and securing the fit junctures, in rearing the masts, and binding the ribs, and molding the form, and stretching the cordage, and twisting the cable, and weighing the anchor I And yet how utterly worthless are these, and how unfit to secure their ends without the co-operation of higher agencies I ot only the properties of this vast assemblage of various materials, in virtue of which they are one and all adapted to their appointments ; but the wind that fills the outspread sail, the powerful vapor that drives the leviathan machinery, the pliancy of the waves in yielding free passage to the floating ark, and the Vulcan strength with which it bears up the vast burden above the fathomless abyss below — all of these are gifts and cooperating forces which the great Architect of nature con-

18 THE CO-OPERATIO OF DIVI E A D tributes to this wonderful product of human ingenuity and labor. II, It accords well, then, with the analyses and illustrations with which the history of the life of man is filled, that the working out of our salvation should involve a co-operation of divine and human energies. The necessity of such a concurrence is plainly involved in the idea of a gracious dispensation to moral agents, and it is very plainly set forth in our text. What, then, let us reverently inquire, does God accomplish, and what does He demand of us in this joint performance ? 1, God "works in us". by the light of His truth. The Scriptures refer to the works of God as they are manifested in the array of the universe as so many teachers, whose voices have gone forth throughout the whole earth, proclaiming the high attributes of Jehovah, and inculcating the great truths of natural religion ; thus, even in the absence of more direct revelation, bringing all nations, the heathen themselves, under obligation to adore and obey the Author of so much magnificence and so much beneficence. But we are chiefly concerned w4th revealed truth and its operations upon the mind. It is of the very nature and essence of such truth that it shall gain our credence. The mind is so constituted as to be under the necessity of receiving the truth when it is fairly presented and understood. It can not but believe it. It can not, at its option, believe the opposing falsehood. It can not take darkness for light. It can not believe that the whole is less than a part. It can not believe that wrong is as good as right — that we do not owe obedience and love to our Creator and Benefactor. However the verities of religion are presented, if accom-

panied by fit proof, they are, and must needs be, believed spontaneously. It happens, therefore, unavoidably, that when the truths of religion are presented to men, in the

HUMA AGE CY I OUR SALVATIO . 10

Bible, by parental teaching, by the pulpit, by the Christian life around us, or by the contagion of sympathy, they are received and embraced, and, whether acted upon or not, they are thenceforth part and parcel of the mind's stable convictions, destined to modify its opinions, and to produce at least some indirect and involuntary influence upon the life. We are wont to speak of unconverted men as living with no reference to religion ; but I think it is true of all, with perhaps the exception of the most besotted and profligate, that Grod's truth has an important relation to their daily life, as well as deeply interesting relations to their moral condition and prospects. 2. God works in us by the power of motives. He has endo w^ed us richly by the knowledge and belief of the truth, and He has made it our highest interest to obey it. Men are so constituted as to be influenced, and, when moral depravity does not interfere with reasonable action, to be controlled by motives. The hopes and fears connected with the soul's destinies through an eternal future are to be recognized as motives directed by divine wisdom to this beneficial end. So are the pleasures and enjoyments of life, which awaken in wellordered minds a grateful sense of obligation to the great Benefactor. So are afflictions and disappointments, which dim the delusive brightness of earthly prospects, and compel us to look beyond the grave for the satisfaction of our highest wants. So is the dread of death, which is terrible as the dissolution of the body, but which derives its terrors

chiefly from the gloomy anticipations with which it forces us into reluctant communion. So is the desire of everlasting happiness implanted in us as a moral instinct, ever active and powerful. So is the voice of Conscience, ever ready with its lessons of warning and approbation. These are all so many methods by which God operates upon the will of man and urges him to piety, by which He worketh in us to

20 THIi CO-OPERATIO OF DIVI E A D will and to do of His good pleasure. These are motive forces, of which He has made a permanent lodgment within us, which ply the will with sleepless sohcitations, of which the soul is perpetually conscious, and in communion with which man must, from the imperative conditions of his being, pass his probation. Every day, hour, moment comes freighted with a terrible significance, in the fact that we are constantly fitting ourselves for weal or woe that is endless, as well as infinitely intense. This is not a fitful, transient impression, but one of the inevitable, undying facts, under the consciousness and pressure of which men go on and work out their destiny, with a divinely implanted assurance that the question of life and death, of heaven or hell, is thus working out its own solution. We ought to remember, in order to reach a proper estimate of the amazing energy which God expends upon man in this reclaiming agency, that no motives stronger or more powerful can even be imagined. It is inconceivable that God should be able to ply us with stronger motives. The evils with which our impenitence and inaction are threatened are very great and intense. They are, when once incurred, wholly without a remedy or mitigation, and endless in duration. The rewards, also, by which we are incited to a prompt and right choice are such as the soul of man most needs and most yearns after — exemption from pain, together with the highest enjoyment of which the soul

is, or can be capable — growth in knowledge and in moral excellency, angelic and even divine society, all things progressive, and growing more and^more excellent and exalted through eternity. Even the terrible punishments of the wicked in this view, and considered as motives and as constituting one of God's methods of working in us to will and to do, are to be regarded as mercies. If such motives often fail of producing the desired efiect, we could not afford to have them made weaker.

HUMA AGE CY I OUR SALVATIO . 21 3. God works in us by the energy of his Spirit. The Holy Ghost, in the exercise of his chosen functions, shines upon the conscience, rouses its energies, and makes it a witness and even an advocate for God. The sinner is, therefore, ever self-condemned. He feels guilty before God. ow there can not be a more deplorable and deeply affecting condition than this, in which the working of God has inextricably fixed the impenitent. The heart of man never quite faints within him till this terrible consciousness of being gtiilty-_ — of desei'viiig punishment, settles within it. This consciousness is to a generous nature worse than the fear or pain of death — that of feeling that a merciful and holy God Qiiust and ought to be dissatisfied with him. This, too, is one of God's permanent ways of working in us. Here, too, is a worm that dieth not. The Holy Spirit works in us, by bringing to mind vividly and often the religious truths and motives so much relied on in God's saving operations. We naturally seek to forget the truths and the motives which we refuse to obey, and they would soon become a dead letter but for the vivifying agency of the Spirit. He taketh the things of God, and presents them anew to the mind. He makes the neglected word quick and powerful. He comes ever and anon to dispel our delusions and cast away our dreams. We persuade ourselves that the world is a good portion, and that it is well and wise to seek

riches, and honor, and luxury. This revelation of the corrupt heart triumphs over Heaven's truth sometimes, and we suit the action to the theory. Blinded by the god of this world, we should henceforth read no other oracles but his, but for the reviving visitations of the Spirit, which comes to expose the cheat and reopen our eyes. Then the stones cry out against us, and we see a handwriting upon the wall : Curses stand inscribed upon our pleasant palaces, and " lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God'' over the portals ^ of our gay saloons and luxurious chambers. We are led to

22 THE CO-OPERATIO OF DIVI E A D feel again that all is verily vexation of spirit, that the true interests of our being have been sacrificed, that the old, inappeasable, restless demand for a new heart and a new life is yet good against us. In these visitations of the Spirit there is, I think, a divine demonstration to all considerate persons. Reason can not account for these alternations of feelings and thoughts. With no change of knowledge or arguments, men experience the greatest fluctuations of sentiment. To-day the world is every thing — to-morrow, or the next moment, we see its emptiness, and feel that eternity is the only important thing. We have no such sudden mutations of sentiment in regard to other things — to business, politics, economy. It is the Spirit showing to the soul glimpses of the things of God. At times these spiritual impressions become more stable, and extend to many individuals, sometimes to a congregation or a community. They rest as " cloven tongues of fire" upon the Church, and all its true members receive an unction from on high. A divine presence is almost felt to hover upon the people, and the sympathies and sentiments of the multitude become instinct with earnestness, and power; and pathos. The pastor's appeal, the father's counsels, arid the mother's entreaty, find listening ears and susceptible hearts.

Men find themselves rescued from their habitual insensibility, and raised into a new region, where motion and moral efforts and changes become easy. This is the Spirit's highest manifestation to the unconverted, and thus he puts forth his highest energies in "working in us." III. What is now the intent and object of all these divine operations, whether of the light of truth, or the power of motive, or the Spirit's energy " working in us?" 1. They are not designed to transform the character, as when after conversion they are media of sanctification. Indeed, men often grow worse, and never really better, under these influences. These agencies are not efficient as ends,

HUMA AGE CY I OUR SALVATIO . 23 but only as means. Their work is done in order to induce men to enter upon the incipient religious movement which begins the Christian life — to lead men "to will and to do," to resolve and to act. To this one end all these divine efforts are directed. They have no commission to perform for us either the willing or the doing. These are our own proper work, in which, so soon as "we are willing to enter upon it, God's grace stands ready to be our auxiliary, but can not be our substitute. Hence it follows that no degrees of light, conviction, and grace can convert the soul, only as they may rouse us to co-operation. We have seen that men may be, and usually are, 'perfectlii convhiced, and that the motives which urge them to religion are injinitehj strong, and that the Spirit puts forth energies so divine as to break the spell of the world, and overawe the multitude, without efiecting any favorable change in the sinner. If it were possible to increase the power and intensity of these influences a hundredfold, the result would be no better. The intellect might reel, and the heart break under the intolerable pressure, but the strong-hold against which all this urgent aggression is directed would remain impregnable. A thousand times more of

conviction than ever a mortal felt, would be insufficient to convert a soul. A thousand times less than multitudes feel from day to day, might be adequate to all the ends of saving piety. 2. A point is now reached in which human co-operation is the indispensable condition of progress. " Work out your own salvation," is the practical lesson inculcated by all G od's working within. The hardest of the soul's struggles belongs to the hour of its great resolve — when it renounces the world, tramples upon the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life, and consciously chooses Christ for its portion. Such a purpose, deliberately conceived in the depths of a thoughtful, anxious mind, implies the commencement of a great moral revolution, and may

24 THE CO-OrE RATIO OF DIVI E A D

well be regarded, in reliance upon the gracious influencbs which will ever gather about an act of religious consecration, as a fair initiation into the Christian life. It is the precise step urged upon us by Him who " worketh in us to will and to do," and its real value and importance can only be determined by its permanent influence upon the character and the life. Do what is so inculcated. Follow the leading of the Spirit. Obey the impulse given by high heaven. God, in all his operations, seeks this one thing — to induce you "to will and to do." Your whole duty in the premises consists simply in obedience in willing and doing. In obtaining your consent to become a Christian, all this apparatus of means — these convictions, visitations of the Spirit which have covered your moral history hitherto, find their satisfaction. It is the full import of their preparatory dispensation. This full surrender, this high resolve removes the one obstacle to piety — sweeps away the massive barrier that alone has

so long bid defiance to the approaches of Heaven's saving grace. 3. Will and do. These are the significant words which describe the duty of the unconverted man. Seem they mysterious, cabalistic terms, hard to be understood and obeyed ? one in the Bible are really plainer or more simply practical. "What is implied in this luiUing — this pregnant resolve, on which so vast results are suspended ? It may be you have been an undutiful son, and are about to reform. You begin, of course, by a volition, and resolve hereafter to be dutiful. What is contained in such a purpose ? That you will perform all your neglected duties, will honor and cherish your parents, cDiisult their will and their taste, and do all you can to promote their welfare and honor. And all this you set about doing cordially and frankly, and continue to do so. Your resolve has not bound you to do or omit any particular thing so much as with true, upright intention to carry out in action, and on all occasions, the new principle which you have ad-

HUMA AGE CY I OUR SALVATIO . 25 mitted to control you. The religious process is as simple and as practicable. The hearty adoption of the new principle of action toward God, and the honest, earnest application of it to the life — this is precisely the willing and the doing which, with such infinite, sedulous painstaking, God " worketh in us" to accomplish. In conclusion, I remark, 1. It is of the utmost importance practically to observe the order of the proposed method. The tvill must precede the icork. othing is more common, especially in a time of general seriousness, than to transpose these terms. Awakened persons, without having made the full, irrevocable resolve to live for God, often enter, with apparent earnestness, upon the work of what they deem seeking religion. And so

they pass on through anxious days and months, as sad, as earnest, as prayerful as any, all the while having their hearts closed against the divine renovation they so urgently invoke. They have omitted and refused to do the first work. They pray, and weep, and strive, as a tentative process — a sort of experiment in religion — hopeful, it would seem, that somehov/, amid these efibrts and this bodily and mental exercise, some good may befall, and some by-door into the kingdom spring open before them. Such a career of blind, vain, objectless seeking, as it is called, ends in a return to levity and the world, or in a stubborn melancholy — the heart hardened, seared, poisoned with a self-righteous consciousness of having tried the experiment and failed — throwing the blame boldly upon God. These builders forgot to lay the foundation. They omitted the first and the main step in the process. It may be they were glad to evade the main issue, which involves the main sacrifice. They were willing to do, but not to ivill, to resolve, to submit absolutely and irrevocably. Their working and seeking have, so far, been but an expedient to pacify the startled conscience, which must fulfill one of the conditions proposed, and finds it easier to work than to B

26 THE CO-OPEIIATIO OF DIVI E A D submit and resolve. Such persons, if they ever discover their mistake, will have to retrace their steps back to their point of departure, and begin with the heart rather than the hands. They must recognize the great obstacle to piety where God has pointed it out. So, beginning at the source and fountain of all right moral movements, by the homage of the free will, they will find that, instead of having to go far to seek religion, rehgion will eagerly seek them, and bear them away to the great feast. 2. Let us remark, again, that a successful commencement in religion does not depend wholly, or in part, upon deep,

pungent convictions, nor profound sorrow, nor plenteous tears. All the agitations that precede conversion are without effect upon the result sought, except in so far as they may incline the inquirer to accept the proffered method of relief, or rouse him to the importance of religion and the vastness of the interests at stake. If Ave could induce him, in his calmer m.oods, to contemplate the subject, and deliberately choose the better, resolve determinately and at once to give his life to God's service, I doubt not the work of conversion would be quite as effectually done. In either case, and in all cases, the one issue pressed upon the sinner is absolute submission both in purpose and life. 3. These conditions complied Avith, the ma.n is, for the first time, in a position to exercise the faith about which he has been so long puzzled. It is not the business of this crisis to study and embrace great doctrines and compare creeds. The mind has long since probably been well furnished in this respect, or it may well postpone such studies to fitter opportunities. The faith it needs and seeks is a full trust in Christ as its Savior. And noAV, having voluntarily accepted Christ to be lawgiver and ruler, and so being placed in a position to be saved, not only is it easy to believe in him, but it is hardly possible to withhold unreserved confidence in him as our Savior. We did not, and we could not, trust him before, just be-

HUMA AGE CY I OUPo SALVATIO . 27 cause we were conscious of holding a rebel's position. ow we have submitted, and can claim the promises ; or, rather, grace flows in spontaneously now the obstacle is out of the way. 4. We may now hopefully point the willing soul to the love of God. He now desires Christ upon his own terms. He called on him perhaps before, but not like an honest penitent. It was, in reality, an indignity to call upon the Crucified, spurning meantime the terms on which he offers himself to the world. ow we may pre^s up to the mercy-

seat, and claim all things in the name of our Savior and our Priest. I have little to say of the fear and the trembling of our text. I suppose this language refers to the very serious conditions and liabilities under which we work out our salvation. We may die at any time, and so go into eternity without religion. We are guilty of fearful sin eveiy hour that we resist God's method of recovering grace, and thus heap up wrath against the day of wTath. We grieve the Spirit by delay, and so may finally expel him. We grow older, and with increasing years come diminished religious susceptibilities. There is every day less probability that a man will become a Christian. Every day increases the fearful probability that he will not be converted — that he will lose his soul. The impenitent, under all the urgencies of strong conviction, under the intolerable pressure and burden of overwhelming motive, obstinately maintains his position, and will not resolve. He does not become a Christian, and can not, just because he will not take the first step, and so he stands a monument of folly and guilt, a spectacle to men and angels.

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