« PrécédentContinuer »
for salvation, because we see the part which the sinner has to do, and the part which the Holy Spirit has to do. Right discrimination between man's work in performing conditions and using means, and God's work in applying his grace and exerting his power, will help us much in working out our salvation. As we see men acting in the pursuits of agriculture, so we should act in the pursuit of salvation. The planter confines himself to his appropriate work in the use of natural means, and acts according to rule; and nature furnishes the seed, the soil, the rain, the sun's light and heat, and the atmosphere; and there results a valuable product. In seeking salvation, we must restrain our efforts within prescribed limits, and do our work according to rule, and then wait for and expect the Holy Spirit to do his work in “ renewing us in the spirit of our minds.” Our work is to perform conditions and use means, and to do so with faith and hope. This work has no merit, yet it is necessary, for we must “work out our own salvation."
In this exposition we propose to show,
I. What men have to do in order that they may be saved. This is expressed in the text thus : " But we all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord.”
First, as a man who looks at an image in a glass can study its form, color, symmetry, and so forth; and as a man who reads a book can study its contents ; so the inquirer or seeker must study the record made in the gospel respecting Jesus Christ and the doctrines taught by his ministry. This must precede all true repentance and saving faith. In this study we learn our condition, our responsibility, our remedy, and the way in which we may use this remedy.
On this subject we bave instruction in the parable of the sower. Of this parable we have three versions,* and we have also an interpretation of its doctrines by the great Teacher. It is designed to shuw us the right way of hearing the gospel, and it does this by classifying the hearers. There is a class of hearers who are represented by the way-side, which receives seed, but because it is trodden by men and has no fence around it, the seed do not take root, and are devoured by birds of the air. These are they who hear the word of the Kingdom and understand it not; then the devil cometh, immediately after they have heard, and taketh the seed out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. Another class are represen
* Matt. xiii, Mark iv, Luke viji.
ted by the stony ground which was planted and showed signs of fruitfulness, but the sun arose in his strength and sent down his hot rays on the growing corn and burned it, because there was but little soil and no moisture. These are they who hear the word with joy and hold it for a season, but when temptation assails them and tribulation befalls them because of the word, they having no root in themselves become faithless and hopeless, and fall away and bring no fruit to perfection. A third class are represented by the ground which had in it the roots of thorns, and the seed tell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. These are they who hear the word, and when they have heard go forth and “suffer the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things, to enter in and choke the word,” and make them unfruitful. A fourth class are represented by the good ground in which the seed sprang up and increased and brought forth fruit, some thirty fold, some sixty, and some an hundred fold. This class hear, understand, and receive the word in honest and good hearts, keep it with patience, and bear fruit. Let us mark the characteristics or the practice of these hearers. They hear the word, they understand it, they keep it in honest and good hearts, and they are fruitful. These are the hearers who will be saved ; all others will be lost. These open their ears that they may hear, exercise their minds that they may understand, use their memories that they may hold fast, and arouse their hearts that they may believe what God hath revealed concerning his Son. The result is fruitfulness, in some thirty fold, and in others sixty, and in others an hundred fold. We have reason to expect this fruitfulness from all who hear the word in the way taught in this parable. “Take heed how you hear,” “take heed what you hear," are the admonitions of him who “ taught as one having authority.”
We may form our opinion of the importance of this study of the facts and doctrines taught in the Bible, by the institutions which are operating around us. The command of Christ to his ministers to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature;" the organization of the Church by the Apostles, in which we see all the appliances for instruction in those things which make men wise anto salvation ; the statement of Paul in these words, “Whom we preach warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; the record of his own valuation of this instruction in these words, “Yea, doubtless, and
I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord;" the assurance he gives us of his faith, his safety, his humility, in these words, “ Nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day;" and the view of the greatness of the work he had to do in this: « None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God;" all these indicate the work of instructing men in the things which contribute to their assimilation to the image of Jesus Christ.
As in the study of science and literature we are dependent on, and are accustomed to use, competent teachers; so in this study we should employ ministers of the gospel. In the Levitical dispensation of religion, God set apart the tribe of Levi for the work of teaching and ministering in holy things. In the dispensation which we now enjoy, men of religious experience and capacity to teach are called by the Holy Spirit and employed in the labor of preaching. The necessity and the value of their work, and the way of sending them, are taught in Matthew ix, 36, 38: “ When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd : then He said unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth more laborers into His harvest.” Consider the figure used by Christ. Here is a field of wheat that has ripened and is ready for the reaper. Its green color has changed into a rich brown. The planter looks over his productive field, and his experienced eye marks the ripeness of the crop, and his judgment tells him that the harvest must be gathered promptly, or all the labor and money already spent on that field will be wasted. All other work must be stopped, sooner than the saving what has matured. Every laborer that is needed must be put in that field. The other products of the plantation which are growing, must be left to the contingencies of nature. The work of harvesting is done with more life and industry than the work of planting, and it is valued so highly that greater wages, if they be necessary, will be paid for it. This work of saving the matured grain is the simile used by Christ to