« 이전계속 »
do the reverse of what he wished; even to bless those, whom he came to curse. (See Numb. xxii. and xxii. and xxiv. compared with Rev. ii. 14. and his awful end, Jos. xiii. 22.) When Caiaphas the high priest intended to consign our Lord to death, the Holy Ghost made him utter a prophecy of our most glorious Christ, of which he had no consciousness what he said; but which hath refreshed, and will refresh the church of God for ever. And when this damsel cried out; “ These are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation ; " she knew neither the Lord, nor what salvation meant; but the Lord overruled the whole for good. Paul was permitted to put an end to her soothsaying; and by exciting the indignation of her masters, for the loss of their craft, opened thereby a door, for the furtherance of the gospel.
I must not pass away from the opportunity here afforded me, in the historical part of this subject, for making a short observation, on the sad consequences which have followed, in all ages, the impudent and lying practise of soothsaying; or as it is now called fortung telling. It is really astonishing, that in the darkest times of our fallen nature, any person should be so credulous to believe in what those conjurors pretend to possess, of foreknowledge: and by which they pick the pockets of the unwary. The whole of the brood are of the spawn of the devil. And nothing can more decidedly shew, that both the persons who do it, and those who believe in it, are under the delusion of Satan. The very first view, which the Scriptures set forth, of the glorious gospel of the ever blessed God, is expressly summed up in these words: "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John iii. 8.)
It will be time for me now, to call your more
immediate attention, to the words of the text. Spoken as they were by this damsel, and in a very different sense from what she intended; yet do they contain a most certain truth. All that are the true and faithful servants of the most high God “shew unto the people the way of salvation." I
purpose therefore, as the Lord shall enable me, in the first place, to define, and upon Scripture ground, what is the way of salvation. And when I have accomplished this purpose, I shall go on secondly, to shew you, and upon the same divine authority, how those that minister to the Lord's people, in the preaching of salvation, prove their being servants of the most high God, by the Lord's speaking in the word, to the minds, and understandings of his people, by his inward grace confirming their outward labours; and thus as the apostle elsewhere states it; “not handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Cor. iv. 2.)
And before I enter upon the subject, I beg, by way of caution, to admonish all that hear me, from taking up with a mere hearsay account of salvation, or fancying that the clearest head-knowledge of all the great and leading truths of the gospel, can be in the least profitable, without an heart enjoyment. The new birth must go before any one act of spiritual life. Hence our blessed Lord's own testimony: “ Ye must be born again.” (John iii. 7.) And hence in the instance of Lydia, we are told, that “the Lord opened her heart.” And then followed: “she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul.” But without this opening of the heart, or in other words, spiritually communicating life to her spirit: though she might have heard, yea, and given credit as far as her natural understanding could have led her, to the truths Paul uttered; she would have known nothing of that
blessed assurance of Christ, when he said, "the words that I speak unto you they are spirit and they are life.” (John vi. 63.) There can be nothing more important, for those that sit under the ministry of the servants of the most high God, in shewing the way of salvation, than to guard against a mere natural or rational belief, in the great truths of God. All the saving principles of the gospel may be preached, may be consented to, and yet, without the supernatural manifestation of them in the heart by the Lord himself, leave the hearers where they found them. Hence, under the preaching of the Lord Jesus himself, “who spake as never man spake,” the Pharisee unregenerate and unrenewed regarded him not. “Why do ye not understand my speech, said Jesus ? Even because ye cannot hear my word. He that is of God heareth God's words. Ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God." (John viii. 43. 48.)
And let me add this one word more before we begin, for the encouragement of the little ones, who are anxious" to know the truth, that the truth may make them free.” (John viii. 32.) I would have you consider, that the spiritual apprehension of divine things doth not consist in great attainments, but in spiritual life ; not in what you feel, but in what Christ is. The babe in grace, by the new birth, is as truly brought into union with Christ, and an interest in all that belongs to Christ, as the oldest, or strongest believer. Hence we hear our most glorious Christ thanking the Father, for having“ hid these things from the wise and prudent : [wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight. Isaiah v. 21.] and revealed them unto babes.” (Matt. xi. 25.) If the Lord hath quickened you into a new and spiritual life, so that Christ is precious, and yourself in your own view loathsome; you will esteem all those “servants of the most high God, which shew unto you salvation ! ”
I begin now, as I proposed, under my first branch of discourse, to define on Scripture ground, what is meant by the way of salvation.”
And here let us, by the standard of the holy word of God, previously consider what it is not ; before that we consider what it is. The very word salvation implies the recovery from somewhat that is lost. And this is an exact correspondence to the utterly lost, ruined, and undone estate of man by the fall. We are all lost, debased and sunken, in one universal depravity. To shew the way of salvation, therefore, must be to shew a remedy equal to our disease. Any thing short of this, however specious in appearance, can be no'way of salvation. For preachers to hold forth flimsy discourses on morality is to deceive, instead of affording means of relief. Of all such, it may be said, as Job did of his false teachers; “miserable, comforters are ye all: physicians of no value !” (Job xvi. 2. xiii. 4.) The servants of the most high God do not thus shew the way of salvation.
Moreover: salvation is not only the sole act of grace, for the recovery of our fallen nature by the free sovereignty of God; but the proclamation of mercy which holds it forth
persons who are the happy partakers of it are simply receivers of it, not only as undeserving, but as ill, and hell-deserving sinners, “who have sold themselves for nought; and are redeemed without money.” (Isaiah lii. 3.) Our Lord's statement on this ground is striking and conclusive ; “They that be whole need not a physician : but they that are sick : for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matt. ix. 12, 13.) Do men in health take medicine? Do they in part heal themselves; and then call in the medical aid to their recovery? When the church fell in Adam she fell to rise no more by any exertions of her own. And she must have
remained for ever, and to all eternity, condemned under the just law of God, without the possibility of salvation but in the Lord Jesus Christ. The servants of the most high God do not shew the way of salvation in creature help. The sinner being become the servant of sin, and the subject of sin, can do nothing to help himself. The Lord hath stated this, in his own full colours:
when saying ; “Can the Æthiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots ? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” (Jer. xiii. 23.)
But if neither of these be in the plan of salvation ; the question then follows : What is ? And here opens to us a subject which surpasseth the province of men, or angels, to unfold; but which the Lord himself, (as far as the vast interest the church hath in it, becomes us to know,) has rendered plain and clear to the spiritual apprehension of every redeemed and regenerated child of God. All the persons in the GODHEAD have alike engaged in it; and salvation itself, in the efficient accomplishment of it, is the sole work of the Lord Jesus Christ. By the marvellous grace of the Son of God, in taking into union with his divine nature that holy portion of our human nature, he, and he alone, became competent to the infinite undertaking as our Surety to work out our salvation. And from the dignity of his Godhead he gave value to all that he wrought in the manhood: and by both obtained eternal redemption for us. Every word he spake, every thought he had, every deed he accomplished; both in doing and dying; all derived efficacy from the essential and inherent GODHEAD which he had in common with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, underived in his own eternal nature. Hence as the Head and Husband of his church and people, he acted as their public Sponsor and Surety; and the salvation he wrought became a full, a com