" How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation ? " — Hebrews
ii. 3.
In nothing does the greatness of the Apostle Paul's mind more
impress us than in the fact, that the epistle to the Hebrews, the
actual authorship of which has been and is still matter of doubt,
should be so generally ascribed to him. Whether written by Luke
or Apollos, it is so decidedly Pauline in its doctrine, argument and
spirit, that the writer, if not Paul himself, was thoroughly im-
pregnated with the great Apostle's thoughts. I have often com-
pared this epistle, in the grandeur of its subjects, with the majes-
tic flow and fullness of its style, to a magnificent river, rolling
through a country of wondrous scenic beauty, now gliding
gently by a scene of charming quiet, the river's breast
of blue, necked with water lilies, looking like an embroidery
of gold and green upon an azure ground ; then sweeping swiftly
between towering mountains, which throw their heavy shadows
upon the water, while here and there some rifts in the mountain
side afford glimpses into far-stretching vales, suggestive
of still greater charms. Suddenly a bend in the river brings
us into an open space, and into the presence of a scene of
such surpassing sublimity, that we involuntarily feel all that
preceded was but a fit prelude to the glory upon which the
eye now rests.
So we pass down this broad stream of Pauline eloquence,
which sets forth the great salvation God has wrought for our
race. A salvation in its inception reaching far back into the dim
past ; its grandeur flashing through ancient prophets and seers,
as we have seen the sunlight flash upon some mountain peak ;
flowing on until it is seen in the incarnation and life of our Lord
Jesus Christ.
Then as we see it completed in His death, sealed by His res-
urrection ; and as we follow Him in His ascension, while
Heaven's gates roll open wide to let the mighty Saviour in, and
the voice of Deity is heard saying : " Sit thou on my right hand,
until I make thine enemies thy footstool ; " — before the grandeur
of such salvation we stand entranced, and break the silence only
to exclaim with Paul : "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great
salvation f which, at the first, began to be spoken by the Lord,
and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him."
Firstly, I will speak upon the great salvation.
I. Great in its origination. The geologist who desires to
impress his readers with the almost fabulous age of our world, and
the marvelous changes through which it has passed in reaching its
present condition, takes us by the hand, and leads us back through
vast cycles of time ; the primeval forests teeming with strange
life, until he brings us to the furthermost shore of time ; and we
hear the booming of the billows of the chaotic deep, ere the word
was spoken which scattered the night that brooded over it, and
out of confusion evolved order. Our views of the greatness of
divine power and wisdom are enlarged at every step taken. So
in contemplating this great salvation, we must study its origina-
tion. In order to do this, we must go back to the birthday of
our race. We behold the earth clothed in verdure, and radiant
with the smile of its Creator. o discord mars the music ; no
tears have as yet fallen upon its bosom ; man, the last of God's
works, the strange connecting link between matter and spirit,
walks amid the works of the Creator— crowned monarch of them
all. But soon a shadow steals over the scene ; you know the
story ; man not content to be man only — aims to he as God. It
is but a single act, but as vast forests lie enfolded in the single
acorn, so all the evil and sorrow of human life were enwrapped in
that one deed. It wonderfully enlarged man ; but it at the same
time ruined him. It placed him in a new relation at once to both
God and the devil. While it flung off the beneficent restraints of
God's law, it at the same moment clasped on his limbs the fetters of
slavery to evil. As the earthly Eden, the home of man innocent,
faded away and left not a vestige behind to mark the spot where it
stood, so the light of innocence faded away from the souls of
the sinning pair, and the night of conscious guilt gathered over
them. Out in the wilderness they sat, moaning and shivering in
despair. Then arose the question, must the race perish.
[t were easy for the Almighty, with one swift, sharp stroke of
vengeance, to hurl the rebels out of existence, but the history of
man would have been that of an abortive experiment on the part
of God, and the night of annihilation would have covered the
wreck. But there would have remained two unsolved prob-
lems before the universe, viz : Whether a being of the
composite nature of man could live holily, and then whether,
having fallen, God could rescue and restore him. Incon-
ceivable must have been the suspense of the Heavenly
ranks, as the news of man's revolt was proclaimed. The Apoca-
lyptic seer speaks of there being silence in heaven once for the
space of half an hour. When Daniel was in the lion's den, the
King of Babylon would have no sound of music or mirth in the
palace. But it seems to me that silence most profound must have
reigned in heaven at this time. The notes of praise floated away
and the harpers stood with their fingers upon the last string touch-
ed. " Who will go for us?" Silence still ; man stands bending in
shame and anguish, and thickly the shadows gather of the coming
night. In that hour did the Son of God elect to be the Redeemer,
and the silence was broken by the words, " Lo ! I come. In the
volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do Thy will,
O God." Then was the great salvation proclaimed. Man was
standing upon the crumbling edge of perdition, when the voice of
the eternal Father cried, " Save him from going down to the pit,
for I have found a ransom." O ! this is a great salvation, so great
that the mind of God alone could compass it. Had the thought of
the possibility of God incarnating Himself to die for man entered
the mind of the tallest archangel, it would have been frowned
back as a blasphemy. Great, for the power of Omnipotence alone
could accomplish it. Had all heaven's host avowed their willing-
ness to die for rebel man, the mighty sacrifice would have been
inadequate. So great salvation.
II. Great in its development.
The law of all the divine operations seems to be that of
gradual development. It is so in nature. The day does not
burst upon our world in a moment, the gloom of night giving
place to the glare of noon. The light comes gently, first tipping
the hill-tops with glory, then stealing into the valleys ; the sun
climbing up the ethereal steep, until it reaches the meridian glory.
Winter does not vanish in a moment, but the transition is gentle
and gradual. One by one the rivulets are unchained and the rivers
loosed ; the buds peep out from the trees ; here and there a
venturous flower looks out, trembling in the breeze as though
fearful of its reception, and an occasional bright winged bird flits
by, and a songster trills from the tree top. Then comes the full
foliage and the outburst of nature's grand Summer concert.
So with man. Childhood, boyhood, manhood is the law. As
in the natural so in the spiritual kingdom. The first promise,
" The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head," was the
dawn of a heavenly day upon the night of human guilt and woe.
It was the prophecy of the rising of a sun brighter than had
flooded Eden with splendor. Man was spared, the race was per-
mitted. to multiply, bearing some of the shame and consequence
of the sin, but with the pledge of ultimate deliverance. Spared —
perpetuated for the very purpose of salvation. How grand is
the development of this salvation, as we trace it through all his-
tory. I have seen some fabrics, in the weaving of which a golden
thread has been passed over the loom, and so wondrously had it
been inwoven, that amid all the colors and changes of light, the
golden thread appeared. So through all history — through the
struggles and the triumphs of men ; in all the sacrifices which lay
bleeding upon the world's altars ; in all thought, whether flashing
in sparks from the minds of heathen sages, or beaming with a
steadier luster from inspired prophets ; through all the warp and
woof of human history, the scarlet thread of redemption runs.
Look at history in any light you may, you find it leading to the
Lamb of God, who out of the sins and sorrows of humanity has
woven for Himself the royal fabric which decks Him as King of
Kings. In the development of this great salvation, came the in-
carnation, life and death of the Son of God. Why this was neces-
sary I know not. The Bible says it was, and I am glad to accept
the fact. O, it is a great salvation indeed ! God incarnate to re-
deem rebels against Himself. All of redemption was wrapped
up in the first promise. ot a pain, a groan, or a tear, but was
comprehended and endured for this.
The stupendous stoop from the throne of Diety to the manger
of Bethlehem ; the servant's form worn for three and thirty
years ; the fierce conflict of forty days in the wilderness with the
great foe of God and our race ; the pain of contact with all that
was unholy and saddening in man's body and soul ; the hatred
of enemies and the falsity of friends ; the shuddering awe of
Gethsemane ; the cup pressed to His lips, filled with" the bitterness
of human woe ; the traitor's kiss ; the ruffian band ; the mock
trial ; the scourge and thorn crown ; the swooning agony of the
march along the via dolorosa to Golgotha; the nails; the jeers
of men ; the awful sense of desolation extorting the cry, " My
God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me ; " the death sweat and
the grave, — all this was foreseen, accepted and endured that this
great salvation might be accomplished for us. O, sinner, see what
thy redemption cost ! Answer me as the Saviour's tears and
blood emphasize the question : "How shall we escape if we ne-
glect so great salvation ?
III. Great in its consummation. This consummation includes
two things :
First. — The deliverance of man from the greatest of all perils.
eed I again remind you of the danger in which sin places your
soul ? I know some of you treat this as a bug-bear. Talk to you
of a hell ! Bah ! You are not to be scared by nursery tales like
that. Hear ! ye despisers, and tremble. Who is the preacher
of perdition ? It is He who travelled from Heaven's throne to
Calvary's cross to save you from it. Whose voice is that,
which, in the tones of a judge, speaks of the worm that dieth not,
and the fire that is never quenched ? Whose voice is it that will
pronounce upon the impenitent the sentence, " Depart, ye cursed,
into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels ?" It
is the voice of Him who cried to all wandering, sin-sick souls,
" Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and
I will give you rest."
O ! sinner, if you partake not of this great salvation, you will
find yourself at last, a lost soul. * O ! the awful, shuddering gloom
into which the soul is plunged when the thread of a wasted life
is severed, and it drops out of the homes of the living into the
pit. To deliver you from this is the purpose of this great
Second. — The elevation of man to highest happiness and
There can be no happiness without holiness. Pardon only
could not make a soul happy. The old life must pass away, and
new life stream into the soul. This great salvation consummated
in the soul does this : — It thrills the soul with a life which is
one with Christ, which is in harmony with all that is living,
beautiful, blessed in the universe. From the crumbling edge of
hell, it leaps up as it were to heaven's gate, singing with the
glorified the words :
Thou hast loved me and washed me from my sins in Thine own Blood ;
ot uh to me, not unto me, but to Thy ame, O Lord, be all the glory.
To the soul who partakes of this great salvation, life becomes
henceforth one grand battle-march with an unceasing hymn of
victory. The world of light is its home, and neither death nor hell
can rob it of its title to enter there. But there is more than this.
By this salvation, man is raised from deepest degradation to high-
est honor. The prodigal flings aside his rags and his husks, and
sits down at the feast radiant in the best robe. The slave of sin
drops his fetters and lifts his hands in the gladness of conscious
liberty, a son of God, child of the King, heir of immortality.
O ! this is a great salvation. It stretches out into the eterni-
ties. We see but little of it, comparatively, here, yet that
little is beyond compare. We have felt something of it in our
own souls ; we have seen its grandeur in the chamber of the
dying saint ; splendor spreading over the dying face touching it
into majestic beauty, as though a reflection of light that never
dims was fallen there, and the words of the poet have fitly ex-
pressed the dying glance of farewell and of triumph.
The world recedes ; it disappears I
Heaven opens on u.y eyes ! my ears
With sounds seraphic ring.
Lend, lend your wings ! I mount, I fly!
Oh, grave ! where is thy victory ?
Oh, death ! where is thy sting ?
But there is a grander consummation yet to be, when from
north and south, east and west, the redeemed shall come and sit
down at the marriage supper of the Lamb. They shall come,
filling the ew Jerusalem with songs, and the new earth and
Heaven with sons. They shall come, prodigals, from distant
deserts, where He found them ready to perish, to love Him with
passionate devotedness, and drink eternal joy from His ever living
fountains. They shall come, countless millions, swelling the
song : " Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power,
and riches and glory and honor."
O, this is the vision Jesus saw when from Calvary's cross He
looked away beyond the waste of time. He looks on the vision
still. Each day it brightens. Each soul saved brings it nearer.
Angels gaze upon the vision and in it find the theme for their
highest joy and loudest anthems. A sinner saved ! Ring all the
bells, strike all your harps of gold. O, this is a great salvation !
Lastly. — I will briefly urge the question of my text.
How shall ye escape ? Escape what ? Why, the loss of all that
this salvation means, and the unutterable sorrow sin entails. I
paint no horrified pictures of despair. I say if there be no dan-
ger, if there be no hell, then this great salvation is a great mock-
ery. I say if you neglect Christ, you lose all that can make
your existence aught but an eternal curse. I once saw a man
of brilliant promise, but who had perversely wrecked his life,
blighted all the hopes of friends, suddenly confronted with the
dreadful loss, by hearing read a picture of his early possibilities
drawn by a master hand, and that man's throat swelled, and
great tears trickled rapidly down his cheek. Weeping over the
lost and irretreivable. So will it be in an infinitely sadder sense
with you if you neglect this great salvation. O, there is an infi-
nite pathos in the words of Jesus: "There shall be weeping
and wailing, and gnashing of teeth."
How shall you escape 1 By your own power or skill ? Oh,
no ! These will be of no avail when death comes.
eglect will be as fatal as rejection.
A vessel, richly laden and with many passengers, was nearing
at nightfall the coast of Ireland. It had safety weathered the
perils" of a long voyage, and was now nearly home. The clouds
hung low and heavy in the west, and the moan of the wind on the
waves indicated a storm. The captain was a young man, self-
confident and proud. Some of the passengers went to him and
said, "Captain, will you not signal for a pilot ?" " I am my own
pilot" was the curt reply. Darker grew the night, and the storm
rose to a furious height. Panic-stricken, the passengers again
said, " Captain, will you not signal for a pilot V "I am my own
pilot," was the reply again. But when morning broke that good
ship was a wreck, and almost all on board had perished. All lost
from neglect to get a pilot.
O ! I entreat you, do not risk death and all the retributions of
eternity without Christ. eglect this salvation and you will be
cast up upon the strands of perdition a shattered wreck.
How shall ye escape, if ye neglect so great salvation?

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