Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

proving: for wherever we have occasion to observe the crowd of men, they may be seen ranging through the world, as bees from flower to flower, examining busily into the state and nature of things, in quest of gain and science, while this question alone is forgotten: and the reason is, that they are not aware of their ignorance in this matter. They suppose, almost universally, that it is only to turn away from evil courses to a life of somewhat greater strictness, and salvation is secured; and with these vague, confused, indistinct notions they remain satisfied. If they be reminded of the justice of God requiring an atonement for past sin, as well as abstaining from sin in futureof the necessity of regeneration, and other things of this nature-if the difficulties lying in the way of a sinner's justification be stated to them, and the apparent obstacles pointed out, whether arising from God or ourselves, they have no curiosity to know more of the truth; but if pressed to a conviction, decline all further prosecution of the subject. Now we beseech you to have done with this

perverse continuing in ignorance; that even if

you are deterinined to remain in sin for some time longer, (for that, in fact, is the case) you may at least have an understanding of the way of salvation; that at some future time, when God's terrors are more powerfully in your mind, you may be at no loss to know what steps are to be taken, or what course followed in order to be saved.

lies upon

Prudence, then, dictates the necessity which

men, of at least making the simple inquiry in the text: yet prudence seems to be entirely disregarded. The philosopher who professes to be engaged in the investigation of truth, or the scholar who can discover new beauties in the pages of heathen classical literature by his

powers of criticism, are disposed to leave this question to the consideration of vulgar minds. The tradesman has no time for acquainting himself accurately with the way of salvation, but leaves it to the clergy whose busiöess it is to consider it. The poor man excuses himself from learning the way to be saved, because he has never been taught to read, or has no faculties or opportunity of learning. But to these and all other persons, we offer the forementioned arguments of prudence: for the time will come to the scholar, when his reading must be at an end and his books put up, and then his taste, and his learning, and refinement, will but poorly supply the want of the knowledge of the way of salvation

-the time is coming to the tradesman, when his accounts must close and his speculations be over, and then it will be of little consequence for him to know how a fortune is to be raised, if he does not know how the soul

may be saved--and to the poor man the hour is hastening, when he will find it very hard to uliderstand the nature of that Gospel, of which he learnt nothing in the course of his former life.

This, then, is plainly a duty incumbent upon us as rational creatures, to make ourselves acquainted with the way in which men are to be saved. Having now considered the jailer's question in one point of view, namely, as containing an inquiry into the way of salvation in general, we proceed to shew from it, in the second place, that there must be a determination to comply with the conditions of salvation.

2. It is possible, nay, it is very common for men to dispute, and with no small earnestness on certain questions which are called religious, but which have no sort of reference to themselves: for instance, they inquire, whether any of the heathen can be saved, and in what manDer; but not whether themselves are in a state of salvation. Such was the question asked by the disciples of Christ, Lord, are there many that be saved? But how much more wisely did the jailer ask, What must I do to be saved? Selfishness in all other cases is one of the most remarkable traits in the character of fallen man; it is obtruded upon our notice in all the dealings we have with one another. Every question is interesting exactly in that degree in which it affects ourselves; this question alone we prefer to hear discussed in a general and abstracted manner: and the reason is this, that if this question comes near to ourselves, we are afraid of certain painful conditions. But this was not the mind of the jailer. When he asked, What must I do? he foresaw that the answer, with all its consequences, belonged to bimself as much as the question did; nevertheless he did not hesitate to put the question in this form to one who he knew would keep back none of the truth. Now brethren, why should you speak or think of these things only in a general way? Why not apply your knowledge to a practical purpose? Why not turn the edge of your arguments upon yourselves? Do you suppose that God loves you in the crowd of mankind, because you love yourself in it? and when you die will you not die alone? Then do you inquire in simplicity and integrity of heart, as one who is alone with God, What must I do? and thus shew your readiness to comply with the conditions.

Another proof of his sincerity and willingness to submit to any duty that might be imposed upon him was this, that he asked, What must I do? He therefore supposed there was something for him to do; and at the same time his question proves that he resolved to do it. In the same manner do you ask the question; desire not to be told that you need only to believe this or that particular doctrine, and that then your may go away privileged by your orthodox creed and enjoy the world—seek not for allowances to be made to you on the score of your habits of self-indulgence, but stand ready, with the arm of resolution uplitted, to cut off the right hand instantly as God demands it. Do not desire that the narrow way

should be filed up, or the straight gate shut; and another path

more smooth and flowery should be found for you, other than the saints have trodden: but rather consider with yourselves, that Christ has said, Whosoever he be that forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple. Reason the case thus with yourselves, What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Having thus confirmed your resolutions by sound argument, and reasoning founded on Scripture truth, then say with calm deliberation and firmness, only let it be made known to me what is to be done for salvation, and that, if helped from above, will I do.

3. Observe the earnestness of the jailer. See how it is marked in every gesture. He sprang in; and came trembling; and fell down. See also how it is heard in every word of his quick, short, rapid question, Sirs, What must I do to be saved? He flew as if the earthquake had caused the ground to cleave asunder behind him: so clearly did he perceive his danger. Must I tell you that you ought to be earnest? you, men of reason, men of sense! Carelessness - in the business of salvation! what is it? it is

not folly, but madness! it is not sleep, it is death! To describe the earnestness with which this question should be asked is beyond the power of words: but to compare great things with small, look at the trembling wretch, who having lost his footing on firm ground, is falling lower and lower, the sandy earth giving way under his feet, and he catching at every

« ПредишнаНапред »