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Salvation, so far as it is imparted in this world, includes remission of sins, gratuitous justification, the gift of sanctifying grace, acceptance with God, and the hope of heaven. Thus our Lord to the penitent Zaccheus, This day is salvation come to this house. And to the attendant multitudes, He'that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life. And, in like manner the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians, when converted to the Christian faith, quickened from the death of sin, and created in Christ Jesus unto good works, By grace are ye saved. . And commemorating to Timothy the blessings bestowed on true Christians, who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. And to Titus, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.
Such is Salvation here on earth; for the entire fruition of which the Christian waits till the second coming of his Lord. This his final and complete salvation he works out with fear and trembling; this approaches nearer from the period of his first believing; and he at last receives it as the end of his faith3.
What the value of this great blessing is, no tongue of men or angels can utter. The description of it surpasses all that eye hath seen or ear heard or the heart of man hath conceived. For who can fitly speak of a redemption from the curse of the law, from the wrath and anger of God, from the terror of death and judgment — who describe the exuberant gifts of remission, of justification, of the influence of the Holy Spirit, of approach to God, peace of conscience, deliverance from unsubdued passions, the tranquillity and joy of obedience, and the hope of the future bliss of heaven-all purchased by the death, and bestowed by the grace, of the Son of God? Let him estimate the value of salvation who knows the evil of sin, who can measure and gage the amount of human misery, who can appreciate the value of an immortal soul, who can tell the frailty of the moment of life which interposes between that soul and the eternal punishment it deserves, who has felt the intolerable burden of a guilty conscience, and has rejoiced in the hope of the gift of righteousness- who can look down, as it were, into the gulf of eternal woe into which his sins would have sunk him, and can look up to those bright mansions of unutterable joy to which salvation will at length elevate him--But, my brethren, I must stop myself. Were I to extend my discourse till midnight, I could not do justice to a theme which is the characteristic blessing of Christianity, the great scope of all the counsels of God, and the consummation of the mysteries of the Cross.
3 Heb. ix. 28. Phil. ii. 12. Rom. xiii. 11.
1 Pet. i. 9.
To be Wise, then, UNTO SALVATION must be indispensably necessary. It imports, not merely a speculative knowledge of what salvation is, or some faint intentions of seeking for it, or a presumptuous confidence that it is ours, but the actually embracing of it as proposed in the Gospel. Wisdom is more than knowledge-it is practical. It brings man to this school of grace, and makes him learn the heavenly lesson. It gives him a penetrating sense of his need of this blessing as a lost sinner, it discovers to him his misery, and teaches him with a new and contrite heart, to lament his sins and acknowledge his wretchedness;' and then bids him receive with simple faith the blessings of Salvation as they are offered in the Scriptures. This is heavenly wisdom. This is to employ to its true end the acquaintance with the facts and doctrines and precepts of Scripture, and the Salvation there revealed, which a religious edu
cation communicates from the earliest childhood.
And who can speak aright of its importance
What is wisdom in an accountable, dying creature, who must live for ever in Heaven or Hell, if this be not? What can be compared with this sacred learning, which proposes the highest of all ends, and pursues it by the best possible, and the only true, means; which teaches us to escape the most imminent of all evils, and to secure the most stupendous of all benefits ?
There is indeed a wisdom of this world which meets with its due, and more than its due, praise. There is a skill and prudence in the management of intricate affairs, in the compassing by combined measures a remote and difficult end, in the controlling and directing the various tempers and dispositions of mankind. But what is this in comparison with the being wise unto salvation ? have all this, and yet perish in our sins. Human wisdom, valuable as it is so far as it extends, is not enough-it may leave a man where it found him, unholy and condemned. Whereas the high wisdom of my text is not only essential to the rendering every other branch of prudence really beneficial, but suffices of itself for our present and eternal happiness. The humble Christian who knows little beyond his Bible
and his Saviour, who is ignorant of the refinements of criticism and the altercations of polemical theology; yet if he know the Holy Scripture and be thereby made a partaker of Salvation, is truly wise. He has a wisdom not only of a purer origin and a higher order, but which will endure when all other knowledge fails; and appear most resplendent when the wisdom of the mere philosopher or the scholar will be involved in obscurity and darkness.
What a theme, my Brethren, is this! If we can communicate to the children of the Poor a blessing of this character-a blessing which embraces both worlds, having the promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come; who would not start forward to do sot
But permit me here to pause for an instant in the course of my argument, and looking round on this vast assembly, to propose to each one of you this one question. Are you yourselves wise unto salvation? Amidst all
your pursuits, are you pursuing the prize of your high calling? With all your acquisitions, are you rich towards God? You are surrounded with the means of knowledge; are you wise: You are blessed with the doctrine of Salvation; are you saved? You are called to the privileges of Christianity; are you Christians ?
In one word, are you living in that habitual repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, which