WHAT a great word that word” salvation” is! It includes the cleansing of our conscience from all past guilt, the delivery of our soul from all those propensities to evil which now so strongly predominate in us; it takes in, in fact, the undoing of all that Adam did. Salvation is the total restoration of man from his fallen estate; and yet it is something more than that, for God’s salvation fixes our standing more secure than it was before we fell.
It finds us broken in pieces by the sin of our first parent, defiled, stained, accursed: it first heals our wounds, it removes our diseases, it takes away our curse, it puts our feet upon the rock Christ Jesus, and having thus done, at last it lifts our heads far above all principalities and powers, to be crowned forever with Jesus Christ, the king of heaven. Some people, when they use the word “salvation,” understand nothing more by it than deliverance from hell and admittance into heaven. Now, that is not salvation: those two things are the effects of salvation. We are redeemed from hell because we are saved, and we enter heaven because we have been saved beforehand. Our everlasting state is the effect of salvation in this life. Salvation, it is true, includes all that, because salvation is the mother of it; but still it were wrong for us to imagine that that is all the meaning of the word. Salvation begins with us as wandering sheep; it follows us through all our mazy wanderings; it puts us on the shoulders of the shepherd; it carries us into the fold; it calls together the friends and the neighbors; it rejoices over us; it preserves us in that fold through life; and then at last it brings us to the green pastures of heaven, beside the still waters of bliss, where we lie down forever, in the presence of the Chief Shepherd, never more to be disturbed. “Neither is there salvation in any other.” Did you ever notice the intolerance of God’s religion? In olden times the heathen, who had different gods, all of them respected the gods of their neighbors. For instance, the king of Egypt would confess that the gods of Nineveh were true and real gods, and the prince of Babylon would acknowledge that the gods of the Philistines were true and real gods: but Jehovah, the God of Israel, put this as one of his first commandments, “Thou shalt have none other gods besides Me;” and He would not allow them to pay the slightest possible respect to the gods of any other nation: “Thou shalt hew them in pieces, thou shalt break down their temples, and cut down their groves.”
All other nations were tolerant the one to the other, but the Jew could not be so. One part of his religion was, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one God;” and as the consequence of his belief that there was but one God, and that that one God was Jehovah, he felt it his bounden duty to call all pretended gods by nicknames, to spit upon them, to treat them with contumely and contempt. Now the Christian religion, you observe, is just as intolerant as this. If you .apply to a Brahmin to know the way of salvation, he will very likely tell you at once, that all persons who follow out their sincere religious convictions will undoubtedly be saved. “Here,” says he, “are the Mohammedans; if they obey Mohammed, and sincerely believe what he has taught, without doubt, Alla will glorify them at last.”
And the Brahmin turns round upon the Christian missionary, and says, “What is the use of your bringing your Christianity here to disturb us? I tell you our religion is quite capable of carrying us to heaven, if we are faithful to it.” Now just hear how intolerant is the Christian religion: — “Neither is there salvation in any other.” The Brahmin may admit that there is salvation in fifty religions besides his own; but we admit no such thing.
There is no true salvation out of Jesus Christ. The gods of the heathens may approach us with their mock charity, and tell us that every man may follow out his own conscientious conviction and be saved. We reply: — No such thing: there is no salvation in any other; “for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Now, what do you suppose is the reason of this intolerance? I believe it is just because there is the truth both with the Jew and with the Christian. A thousand errors may live in peace with one another, but truth is the hammer that breaks them all in pieces. A hundred lying religions may sleep peaceably in one bed, but wherever the Christian religion goes as the truth, it is like a fire brand, and it abideth nothing that is not more substantial than the wood, the hay, and the stubble of carnal error. All the gods of the heathen, and all other religions, are born of hell, and therefore, being children of the same father, it would seem amiss that they should fall out, and chide, and fight; but the religion of Christ is a thing of God’s — its pedigree is from on high, and, therefore, when once it is thrust into the midst of an ungodly and gainsaying generation, it hath neither peace, nor parley, nor treaty with them, for it is truth, and cannot afford to be yoked with error: it stands upon its own rights, and gives to error its due, declaring that it hath no salvation, but that in the truth, and in the truth alone, is salvation to be found.
Once I thought there was salvation in good works, and I labored hard, and strove diligently to preserve a character for integrity and uprightness; but when the Spirit of God came into my heart, “sin revived and I died,” that which I thought had been good proved to be evil; wherein I thought I had been holy I found myself to be unholy. I discovered that my very best actions were sinful, that my tears needed to be wept over, and that my very prayers needed God’s forgiveness. I discovered that I was seeking after salvation by the works of the law, that I was doing all my good works from a selfish motive, namely, to save myself, and therefore they could not be acceptable to God. I found out that I could not be saved by good works for two very good reasons: first, I had not got any; and secondly, if I had any, they could not save me. After that I thought, surely salvation might be obtained, partly by reformation, and partly by trusting in Christ; so I labored hard again, and thought if I added a few prayers here and there, a few tears of penitence, and a few vows of improvement, all would be well.
But after fagging on for many a weary day, like a poor blind horse toiling round the mill, I found I had got no farther, for there was still the curse of God hanging over me: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them;” and there was still an aching void in my heart the world could never fill — a void of distress and care, for I was sorely troubled because I could not attain unto the rest which my soul desired. Have you tried those two ways of getting to heaven? If you have, I trust the Lord, the Holy Spirit, has made you heartily sick of them, for you shall never enter the kingdom of heaven by the right door, until you have first of all been led to confess that all the other doors are barred in your teeth. No man ever did come to God through the strait and narrow way until he had tried all the other ways; and when we find ourselves beaten, and foiled, and defeated, then it is that, pressed by sore necessity, we betake ourselves to the one open fountain, and there wash ourselves, and are made clean.
I could turn to you myself, and tell you that surely there must be salvation in Christ for you, since I have found salvation in Christ for myself. I will never doubt the salvation of anyone, so long as I can but know that Christ has accepted me. Oh! how dark was my despair when I first sought His mercy seat. I thought then that if He had mercy on all the world, yet He would never have mercy on me; the sins of my childhood and my youth haunted me; I sought to get rid of them one by one, but I was caught as in an iron net of evil habits, and I could not overthrow them; and even when I could renounce my sin, yet the guilt still did cling to my garments — I could not wash myself clean; I prayed for three long years, I bent my knees in vain, and sought, but found no mercy. But, at last, blessed be His name, when I had given up all hope, and thought that His swift anger would destroy me, and that the pit would open its mouth and swallow me up, then in the hour of my extremity did He manifest Himself to me, and teach me to cast myself simply and solely upon Him. So shall it be with thee, only trust Him, for there is salvation in Him — rest assured of that.
If you do not find salvation in Christ, you will never find it elsewhere.
What a dreadful thing it will be for you if you should lose the salvation provided by Christ! For “how shall you escape if you neglect so great salvation?” Whether we are gross sinners or not, how fearful a thing it will be for us to die without first having found an interest in the Savior! O sinner! this should quicken thee in going to the mercy seat; this thought, that if thou findest no mercy at the feet of Jesus, thou canst never find it anywhere else. If the gates of heaven shall never open to thee, remember there is no other gate that can ever be opened for thy salvation. If Christ refuse thee thou art refused; if His blood be not sprinkled on thee thou art lost indeed. Oh! if He keeps thee waiting a little while, still continue in prayer; it is worth waiting for, especially when thou hast this thought to keep thee waiting, namely, that there is none other, no other way, no other hope, no other ground of trust, no other refuge. There I see the gate of heaven, and if I must enter it, I must creep on my hands and knees, for it is a low gate; there I see it, it is a strait and narrow one, I must leave my sins behind me, and my proud righteousness, and I must creep in through that wicket. Come sinner, what sayest thou? Wilt thou go beyond this strait and narrow gate, or wilt thou despise eternal life and risk eternal bliss? Or wilt thou go through it humbly hoping that He who gave Himself for thee will accept thee in Himself, and save thee now, and save thee everlastingly?