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ASHTO OXE DE
This is a subject of the deepest importance to every anxious soul. I trust that it is to yours. Once, the chief questions you seemed inclined to ask were, "What shall I eat?" or, "How shall I dress ?" or, "Where can I find pleasure?" or, "How can I get rich?" But all these questions have now given place to one far more pressing: — "I am concerned about my soul : how can I find salvation for it, — what must I do to be saved ?" I have often thought that the most pitiable state for a man to be in must be this, — when he feels his sinfulness and his danger, and is conscious of having ofi^nded God ; but yet has no means of knowing where he may find mercy, no friend to point out to him any one bright spot, whither he may turn his anxious eyes in 24
SALVATIO , HOW IT IS OBTAI ED. 25 tlie hope of obtaining peace. I believe tbat among the heathen such cases often occur. There is many a man, who has for years felt sin to be a heavy burden, and has longed for relief. He has earnestly sought for peace, but in vain: he has never found it. He has tried this and that remedy, but all to no purpose; for, alas, he is ignorant of the only true remedy, and he has no one to bring it to him. He is like a weary wayworn traveller, passing
through some desert land, who longs to quench his burning thirst; but there is no one to point out to him the refreshing stream, which he so eagerly desires. It may be all the while within his reach, but he knows it not; and thus his thirst remains unsatisfied. And may there not be many in heathen lands who are thus weary and thirsty, and have no one to point them to Him who says, " Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest"? But, thank God, it cannot be so with you. You have God's Word, and God's Ministers; and from them you may get the direction which you so greatly need. And what do they tell you? They tell you, first of all, that you cannot 3
26 SALVATIO , save yourself. o ; this is utterly out of your power. For what is your condition? You have sinned, and forfeited heaven ; you are in debt with God; you have lost His favour; and if you had your strict desert, it would be eternal death: for is it not written, "The wages of sin is death;" and again, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die"? Ezek. xviii. 4 ; Kom. vi. 23. o; you cannot recover yourself. You are utterly unable to atone for your sins. You cannot win back the heaven which you have lost. You cannot undo the evil which you have done. If from this moment you could
live a perfectly holy and spotless life, you could not put away even one of the least of your past sins. It would be as if a man were to run in debt, and then were to go to his creditors and say, "I am grieved that I should have treated you so wrongly. I implore you not to press me for the sum that is due. I am resolved from this time to incur no fresh debt." ow, would this satisfy the creditors, and clear oiT what is already owing ? Certainly not ; for the debt would still remain unsettled, unless some one kindly came forward to pay it. Just BO is it with your sins. You are a debtor to
HOW IT IS OBTAI ED. 27 God; and not one item of the heavy debt are you able to pay off yourself. How then, you will ask, can this be done? How can we obtain salvation for our souls which so much need it? How can we escape the hell we so richly deserve? How can we obtain favour with the God whom we have offended? How can we ever reach heaven? These are stirring questions for an awakened sinner to ask; and they shall not go unanswered. From no quarter but one can salvation be obtained: no power but one can reach the hidden seat of our disease: no hand but one can touch the sufferer, and set him free from the cruel bondage under which he groans. Blessed be God, although ive have no remedy in our own hands, He has provided one for us. He has looked upon us in our lost state, and has sent his Son to redeem us. That dear Saviour has shed his blood upon the cross, and has thereby made a full, perfect, and sufficient
sacrifice for sin. He died, "the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." (1 Pet. iii. 18.) He "bare our sins in his own body on the tree." (1 Pet. ii. 24.) Here is salvation for the guiltiest. We tell you to pray ; we bid you go and weep for your
28 SALVATIO , sins ; we exhort you to lead a new life. But we tell you also that neither your prayers, be they ever so earnest ; nor your contrition, be it ever so deep ; nor your new life, however complete the change, can purchase your acceptance, or even put away one single sin. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can do this. He has power to save, and he alone. He has paid the debt, which you yourself could never pay. Still you will ask, "How can I be saved? There is salvation, I know, but how can I make this salvation mine T* Suppose you lost your way on some dark night, and fell into a deep pit, so deep that you had not power to escape from it; and whilst you lay there, in a state of utter helplessness, some kind person were to come and have pity on you, and let down a rope to rescue you, — what would you do? Would you not stretch out your hand, and seize the rope? Would you not lay hold of it with thankfulness ? So is it with Christ and the sinner. He must stretch out the hand of faith; and so lay hold of the salvation oflfered, and make it Ms. " By grace," says the Apostle, "are ye saved through faith." (Eph. ii. 8.) Grace is, as it were, the rope held out to the drowning man; and Faith is the hand
HOW IT IS OBTAI ED. 29 that seizes it, and lays hold of it. Happy those who have experienced this deliverance ! They can say with the Psalmist, ^' He brought me up out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." Psalm xl. 2. A direct application, then, must be made to Christ to save you. Look steadily to Him for pardon, peace, life, and salvation. As the poor perishing Israelite looked eagerly towards the brazen serpent, and was healed, ( um. xxi. 9 ; John iii. 14, 15,) so do you look with the eye of faith to Jesus, and in Him you shall surely find fulness of pardon and peace here, and a life that will last forever. But many an awakened person is sometimes kept back by this thought: — "Will Christ save such an one as I am? He will receive those who come to Him with true repentance, and living faith; but I fear that I have neither. My heart is too hard to repent, and my faith is full of unbelief. Surely I must wait till I am holier and better, before He will deign to look upon me." o, no; Jesus came to save the lost; and are not you lost? He came like a Physician, to heal the sicJc, and not the whole. If you were famish3*
80 SALVATIO , HOW IT IS OBTAI ED. ing, would you refuse a rich repast provided
for you, because you were so hungry ? If you were perishing of cold, would you shrink from the fire, because you were shivering and comfortless ? Wait not a single moment ; but come just as you are to the loving Saviour. Lay all your sins at the foot of the cross, with this only plea upon your lips — that you are a poor needy sinner, and that He is an Almighty Saviour. Remember, then, this great truth — this foandation-truth of Scripture — this truth which is written, as it were, with a sunbeam on the pages of God's word — that salvation is in Christ, and in Christ alone. He is your Remedy, your Ransom, your Sacrifice, your Hope, your All. "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." John i. 29; Acts xvi. 31. "He nothing knows, -who knows not this, That earth can yield no settled bliss, o lasting portion give. He all things knows, who knows to place His hopes on Christ's redeeming grace, Who died that we might live."
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