Acts 16:30
Then he brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
Sermons
The Jailor's QuestionR. Tuck Acts 16:30
The Day that Looked Like the Day of Small ThingsP.C. Barker Acts 16:14, 15, 40
An Illustrious Triple Triumph of ChristianityP.C. Barker Acts 16:16-39
Joy in TribulationE. Johnson Acts 16:19-34
The First European PersecutionR.A. Redford Acts 16:19-40
God in the EarthquakeW. Clarkson Acts 16:26-34
A Remarkable ConversionR.A. Redford Acts 16:29, 30
A Man in Two ConditionsC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 16:29-34
The Conversion of the JailerD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 16:29-34
The Philippian JailerJ. Buchanan, D. D.Acts 16:29-34
The Philippian JailerT. Snow, A. M.Acts 16:29-34
Anxiety for SalvationJ. Angell James.Acts 16:30-31
Believe and be SavedS. Martin.Acts 16:30-31
Believing on JesusActs 16:30-31
Conditions of Being SavedC. G. Finney, D. D.Acts 16:30-31
God's Method of Saving MenJohn Burton.Acts 16:30-31
How to be SavedW. W. Wythe.Acts 16:30-31
Method of Dealing with InquirersC. Hodge, D. D.Acts 16:30-31
Salvation Through Faith in ChristActs 16:30-31
Saving FaithJ. S. Swan.Acts 16:30-31
Saving FaithB. Beddome, M. A.Acts 16:30-31
Sin and SalvationJohn Hunter.Acts 16:30-31
The All-Decisive StepT. De Witt Talmage, D. D.Acts 16:30-31
The Great QuestionW. Hay Aitken, M. A.Acts 16:30-31
The Great Question and the Plain AnswerA. Maclaren, D. D.Acts 16:30-31
The Great Question AnsweredW. W. Woodworth.Acts 16:30-31
The Jailer's QuestionStudy and PulpitActs 16:30-31
The King's Highway Opened and ClearedC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 16:30-31
The Way of SalvationW. Jones, M. A.Acts 16:30-31
It puts into a single sentence the great cry of the human soul. And yet see how difficult it is to get the soul to realize this its greatest need, and to utter this its greatest cry.

I. MANY OF YOU ARE NOT QUITE SURE YET THAT YOU NEED TO BE SAVED. That is the gravest hindrance to the preaching of Christ to you. You attach very little meaning to the expression. You say, "Saved! Saved from what?" You need to be saved from two things:

(1) the penal consequences of your sin; and

(2) the moral power of your sinfulness.

That is, you need to be saved from all that is gathered up in the word hell, and from all that is gathered up in the word self. You are not your own; you are a creature of God's. Your first duty is to love, trust, and obey God. To help you God has made his will known with sanctions. Do you think he will fail to keep his sanctions? His "Law is holy, his commandment is holy, and just, and good; and The soul that sinneth, it shall die. Moreover, you are as one stricken with a foul disease, the leprosy of sinfulness, You need to be saved from a foulness that pollutes you, from delusions which vainly seek to shatter you, and from bondages which you are powerless to break. How can a. man be just before God, a sinful man be clean in the presence of his Maker? Verily you need to be saved.

II. EVEN WHEN AROUSED TO ANXIETY, MANY TURN ANYWHERE FOR REFUGE RATHER THAN TO CHRIST. Many are like Lot - they will not do just what the angel-messenger commands, they will seek for some little city near to which they may flee; but there are no Zones now for seeking sinners, they must flee to the mountain. Show some of the subtle refuges in which awakened souls try to find shelter and rest; e.g. waiting for deeper conviction; intenser effort to make themselves good; devotion to the externalities of religion; expecting to get more feeling, etc.

III. EVEN WHEN DRIVEN FROM OTHER CONFIDENCES, AND LED TO CHRIST, MANY OF US CAN SCARCELY BE SATISFIED WITH "ONLY BELIEVE." The very simplicity of the gospel terms of salvation we turn into a hindrance. Yet this is the gospel - God, of his free mercy, is willing to pardon, deliver, and receive all who seek him, solely on the ground of what his Son has done for them, and is in relation to them. And God is pleased to make their justification depend on their believing in his Son. "God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life," etc. "By this Man is preached unto us the forgiveness of sins." Does any man now ask, "What must I do to be saved?" The old answer is ever new, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." - R.T.







What must I do to be saved?...Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.
The keeper of a Macedonian gaol was not likely to be a very nervous or susceptible person. And so the extraordinary state of agitation and panic into which this rough jailer was east needs some kind of explanation. Now do you think that the jailer's question was a piece of foolish superstition? I daresay some of you do, or some of you may suppose, too, that it was one very unnecessary for him or anybody to ask. So I want, in a very few words, to deal with these three things — the question that we should all ask, the answer that we may all take, the blessing that we may all have.

I. THE QUESTION THAT WE SHOULD ALL ASK. I know that it is very unfashionable nowadays to talk about "salvation" as man's need. What is it to be saved? Two things; to be healed and to be safe. With both aspects the expression is employed over and over again in Scripture. It means either restoration from sickness or deliverance from peril. I venture to press upon everyone here these two considerations — we all need healing from sickness; we all need safety from peril. Mind, I am not talking about vices. I have no doubt you are a perfectly respectable man, in all the ordinary relations of life. Be honest with yourselves in asking and answering the question whether or not you have this sickness of sin, its paralysis towards good or its fevered inclination to evil. If salvation means being healed of a disease we have all got the disease; and whether we wish it or no, we want the healing. And what of the other meaning of the word? Salvation means being safe? Are you safe? Is anybody safe standing in front of that awful law that rules the whole universe, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap"? Somewhere and somehow, men will have to lie on the beds that they have made; to drink as they have brewed. If sin means separation from God, and separation from God means, as it assuredly does, death, then I ask you, and there is no need for any exaggerated words about it, Are we not in danger? and if salvation be a state of deliverance from sickness, and a state of deliverance from peril, do we not need it? Ah, I venture to say we need it more than anything else. You will not misunderstand me as expressing the slightest depreciation of other remedies that are being offered extensively now for the various evils under which society and individuals groan. We are wrong in our relation to God, and that has to be set right before we are fundamentally and thoroughly right. That is to say, salvation is our deepest need. Then how does it come that men go on, as so many of my friends here this evening have gone on, all their days paying no attention to that need? Is their any folly, amidst all the irrationalities of that irrational creature man, to be matched with the folly of steadily refusing to look forward and settle for ourselves the prime element in our condition — viz., our relation to God? A man is never so wise as when he says to himself, "Let me fairly know the whole facts of my relation to the unseen world in so far as they can be known here, and if they are wrong, let me set about rectifying them, if it be possible."

II. That brings me to the next point here — viz., THE BLESSED, CLEAR ANSWER THAT WE MAY ALL TAKE. Paul and Silas were not nonplussed by this question, nor did they reply to it in the fashion in which many men would have answered it. Take a specimen. If anybody were to go with this question to some of our modern wise men and teachers, they would say, "Saved? My good fellow, there is nothing to be saved from. Get rid of delusions, and clear your mind of cant and superstition." Or they would say, "Saved? Well, if you have gone wrong, do the best you can in the time to come." Or if you went to some of our friends they would say, "Come and be baptized, and receive the grace of regeneration in holy baptism; and then come to the sacraments, and be faithful and loyal members of the Church which has apostolic succession in it." And some would say, "Set yourselves to work and toil and labour." And some would say, "Don't trouble yourselves about such whims. A short life and a merry one; make the best of it, and jump the life to come." Neither cold morality nor godless philosophy nor wild dissipation nor narrow ecclesiasticism prompted Paul's answer. He said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." What did that poor heathen man know about the Lord Jesus Christ? Next to nothing. How could he believe upon Him if he knew so little about Him? Well, you hear in the context that this summary answer to the question was the beginning and not the end of a conversation, which conversation, no doubt, consisted largely in extending and explaining the brief formulary with which it had commenced. But it is a grand thing that we can put the all essential truth into half a dozen simple words, and then expound and explain them as may be necessary. Mark, first, whom it is that we are to believe on. "The Lord," that is the Divine Name; "Jesus," that is the name of a man; "Christ," that is the name of an office. And if you put them all together, it is this, He on whom we sinful men may put our sole trust, and hope for our healing and our safety, is the Son of God, who came down upon earth to live our life and to die our death that He might bear on Himself our sins, and fulfil all that ancient prophecy and symbol had proclaimed as needful, and therefore certain to be done, for men. It is not a starved half Saviour whose name is only Jesus, and neither Lord nor Christ, faith in whom will save you. You must grasp the whole revelation of His nature and His power if from Him there is to flow the life that you need. And note what it is that we are to do with Jesus Christ. To "believe on Him" is a very different thing from believing Him.

III. Lastly, consider THE BLESSING WE MAY ALL RECEIVE. This jailer about whom we have been speaking was a heathen when the sun set and a Christian when it rose. A sudden conversion, you say, and sudden conversions are always suspicious. I am not so sure about that: they may be or they may not be, according to circumstances. There are a great many things in this world that have to be done suddenly if they are ever to be done at all. And I, for my part, would have far more faith in a man who, in one leap, sprung from the depth of the degradation of that coarse jailer into the light and joy of the Christian life, than in a man who tried to get to it by slow steps. You have to do everything in this world worth doing by a sudden resolution, however long the preparation may have been which led up to the resolution. The act of resolving is always the act of an instant. And there is an immense danger that with some of you, if that change does not begin in a moment's resolve tonight, you will be further away from it than ever you were. The outcast jailer changed nationalities in a moment. You who have dwelt in the suburbs of Christ's kingdom all your lives — why cannot you go inside the gate as quickly? For many of us the gradual "growing up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" has been the appointed way. For some of us I verily believe this sudden change is the best. Some of us have a sunrise like the tropics, where the One moment is grey and cold, and next moment the seas are lit with the glory. Others of us have a sunrise like the poles, where a long, slow-growing light precedes the rising, and the rising itself is scarce observable. But it matters little as to how we get to Christ, if we are there.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Study and Pulpit.
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THE QUESTION WAS ASKED.

1. Not in response to any direct teaching. Paul and Silas had not been preaching to him, so far as we know. The pulpit is a great but not the only instrument for good. Where the prophet has preached in vain, God may reserve many to Himself. There is a still small voice that does a work which the pulpit may fail to do.

2. But after a time of trouble. It is quite common to see religious interest awakened in a time of trouble. But it is not, alas! so common, that the interest continues after the trouble is past. The jailer had been assured of the safety of his prisoners before he asked this question.

3. After observation of the power of Christianity on others' lives. He had seen Paul and Silas scourged, and had, notwithstanding, heard them singing praises. He had seen that, when they had opportunity, they made no attempt to escape. Their preaching he might have scoffed at, but their lives carried with them a power beyond that of words.

II. THE QUESTION ITSELF. What is it to be saved?

1. To be delivered from sin's punishment.

2. To be delivered from sin's power. It was "from their sins" that Christ came to save His people.

III. THE ANSWER. The question is: "What shall I do?" as though anticipating some great requirement. The answer, perplexing many by its simplicity, is, "Believe." And what is it to believe? Well, that depends on what is to be believed. "Jesus Christ died to save you." Do I believe that? Then emotion and action are both called forth, I sorrow for sin, and flee from sin; His love calls forth my love, and my faith works by love. Let the object of faith be a person, and trust is its essential element. To the banker whom I trust I give up my gold. To the physician whom I trust I commit the care of my diseased body, and I take his medicines, though they be poisonous. To the Saviour whom I trust I commit my all. I lay my sins upon Him, and He bears them; I forsake sin, for He commands it; I lay cheerfully hold on His promises and He fulfils them.

1. Gospel faith is trustful, because its object is a Person.

2. It is fruitful in good works, because that Person calls to action.

(Study and Pulpit.)

There are many questions of great importance, but there is one question that comes before all others, and that is — "What must I do to be saved?" When Esther stood before Ahasuerus, her request was, "Let my life be given to me at my petition, and my people at my request." Had she asked anything else than this she might as well not have asked at all. It is even so with the human soul. There are many blessings to be enjoyed, and acquisitions to be made, but these are only possible when this great question has been set at rest.

I. THE QUESTION. It suggests the thought of present danger. If I were to exclaim with apparent solicitude, "My friend, allow me to save you!" would you not look astonished, and reply, "My dear sir, what do you mean? I am in no danger." But suppose I were to offer the same proposal when you were in peril of drowning, you would understand the proposal. The danger from which Christ proposes to save the soul is threefold.

1. There is a moral danger. Sin is to the soul what disease is to the body. We value our natural life sufficiently to take measures to counteract disease when we recognise its presence. Oh, that men were equally wise about the soul! But it is not always the most startling form of disease that is the most fatal. There is a disease that sweeps off its victims by hundreds, where smallpox slays its tens — consumption. Some forms of sin are loathsome. It is not to be wondered at that the drunkard should be described as in danger, but all seems a contrast between his life and the very respectable life you live. Yet though your sins excite no fears, remember they are sins, and a disease of the soul all the more perilous because they excite so little apprehension.

2. There is a spiritual danger. There are certain mysterious intelligences of evil who waylay us, with the object of compassing our ruin. We pity the man whose footsteps are dogged by the assassin. Have we no commiseration for those who are exposed to a more murderous foe? You would tremble if you woke up to find your greatest enemy standing over your bed, dagger in hand; but a more terrible than any human enemy has you at present in his power.

3. Judicial danger. Here is a man in the condemned cell: no man will say that he is not in terrible danger. Why? Because he is condemned already. Even so judgment has been already pronounced upon every sinner. It used to be fabled of the ostrich that when pressed hard by the pursuer, it buried its head in the sand, and endeavoured to persuade itself that it was safe because it ceased to see the danger. But the bird of the desert is too wise to do anything of the kind; yet sinners are not. Whether, however, they forget it or not, it is there. "He that believeth not is condemned already." Now with these thoughts before us we shall be better able to understand the story from which our text is taken. Why did the jailer tremble? He was no coward, nor were earthquakes unusual in that part of the world. He had shown a moment before how little he feared death. Paul and Silas had created no small stir in that town, and the damsel had borne witness to them as "servants of the most high God," etc. The jailer must have known all about this, and now when he awakes in the darkness of night and hears their singing amid the terrible rumble of the earthquake shock, and sees them full of solicitude for the man that had so cruelly wronged them, the thought rushes into his mind, "They are what they profess to be; and have come to show us the way of salvation." Another moment and this mighty God, whose majesty I have defied in the persons of His servants, may hurl me to the flames of Tartarus. "Sirs, what shall I do to be saved?" Now we understand what the inquiry meant. The man felt what it was to be in the hands of a justly indignant God. It is this that brings a similar inquiry to our lips, and until you reach this point nothing is gained.

II. THE ANSWER — "Believe," etc. It does not sound so very much, does it? It sets forth salvation as centred in a Person. That Person then is represented as in a position to deliver us from the forms of danger to which we are exposed.

1. The last danger is the greatest of all; for what can be more terrible than to have God against us? Here most of all, I find myself in need of a Saviour; for in this respect more than any ether my case is hopeless. When I contemplate sin as a moral disease, I may flatter myself with the hope that I may get the better of it; or I may flatter myself that I may escape the malignant influence of the intelligences of darkness by care, and watchfulness, and determined resistance. But how shall I escape from the sentence of the righteous Judge? I am directed to raise my eyes to the Cross, and there I see One who has vindicated His Father's law in His own person by suffering such a penalty as sin has merited, and by doing so has rendered it no longer necessary that God's judgment should be vindicated by my doom.

2. Being thus saved from the judgment of God, I am also saved from the power of Satan. St. Paul was sent to the Gentiles "to turn them from the power of Satan unto God." In forsaking God man turned his back on the only power sufficiently strong to enable him to rise above the tyranny of the destroyer; and thus we came under the yoke of Apollyon. But "the Son of God has been manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil." He rescues us from Satan by bringing us back to God. The Son has made us free, and now are we free indeed.

3. From sin, as a fatal moral disease, Jesus proves Himself our Saviour. In curing bodily diseases He illustrated to us His willingness and His ability to cure our spiritual diseases. There is a balm in Gilead, there is a Physician there, and your "hurt" may yet be recovered. "Wilt thou be made whole?" Surely Jesus is passing through this our Bethsaida tonight with this question on His lips. Which of us shall be the first to claim His healing touch?

III. THE SUBJECTIVE CONDITION UPON WHICH THE ENJOYMENT OF THESE BENEFITS DEPENDS. What is it to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? In endeavouring to understand these words, we have to guard against the danger of making them mean too little, or too much. Those who fall into the first error would represent faith as the mere mental acceptance of a certain number of facts or doctrines, and those who fall into the latter would represent it as something so mysterious and unintelligible that none can be assured that they really possess it. This faith is —

1. An intellectual conviction or apprehension by which I take in the object proposed to me, assuring myself of its character and trustworthiness. Many fail here, because they do not even intellectually apprehend the true character of the provision made in Christ to meet their case.

2. Next comes the decision of the will — the moral act by which I repose my simple confidence upon the object so apprehended. Now it is here that most people are found wanting. The child that you set on a table and bid spring into your arms is as apt an illustration as you could wish. There it stands hesitating, not because it has any real doubt in its mind of its parent's ability to catch it, but rather because it allows its will to be influenced by its feelings instead of being affected by its reasonable conviction. Now you believe with your mind that Jesus is the sinner's Saviour, and therefore yours. Why allow any feeling of misgiving to prevent you from committing yourself with a distinct and decisive act of will into His arms, trusting Him to save you now?

3. But next, when the mind has apprehended the object, and the will decides to trust itself to it, there will naturally follow a rest of the soul, in the assurance that all is well, and this may be described as the emotional element in a true faith, the presence of which crowns and completes the whole, and brings the inward uneasiness and disquiet to an end. One of you is drowning. I swim out to save you. As I approach you know and believe that I have the power and the will to save you. Then comes the act of will as you trust yourself to me. But still, there is only one arm between you and destruction. Yet you reflect, "What have I to fear? he is able and willing to save me, and I am trusted into his hands." At once the inward tumult begins to subside, and a wonderful reaction of relief and oven of calm happiness sets in, although you have not yet reached the shore.

(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)

Every Christian, especially every minister, will have this responsible and difficult work to do.

I. GENERAL PRINCIPLE SUITED TO ALL CASES. The directions given will be determined by the views we entertain of the nature of religion.

1. Rationalists endeavour to suppress all concern.

2. Romanists teach men to submit to the Church, and practise religious duties and penance.

3. Protestants direct inquirers to come directly to God in the way appointed in the gospel. But this general direction is modified by the peculiar views of those who give it.(1) Some place the essence of religion in submission to God, and hence the general directions to submit.(2) Others in the choice of God as a source of happiness, hence the direction "Choose God as your portion."(3) Others in a volition to make the happiness of the universe the aim of our being.(4) Others in the return of the soul to God through Christ, and by faith in Him. Hence the general direction to "believe." This is the proper direction, because —

(a)Faith is declared to be the condition of salvation. Believers are saved: unbelievers are lost.

(b)This is the apostolic direction.

(c)Neither pardon nor sanctification is otherwise to be obtained.

(d)Christ is the Alpha and Omega of the gospel. But what is faith? What is the precise thing to be done? The exercise of this involves immediate conviction of sin.

II. SPECIAL DIRECTIONS.

1. As to sceptical doubts.(1) Do not rely on speculative arguments mainly. Their true place is to remove difficulties, to show that the truth is not inconsistent with reason or fact. But they are not to be used to prove the truth — i.e., to afford its positive evidence.(2) Rely upon the exhibition of the truth, and upon pressing it on the conscience, because —

(a)The ground of faith is the witness of the Spirit with the truth.

(b)The truth is self-evidencing.

(c)Arguments are human, while truth is Divine.

2. As to fatalists, who say nothing can be done. They plead the doctrine of election.(1) Here again moral considerations should direct our effort. The intellectual difficulty is not first to be removed.(2) The sinner should be urged to act as he does in other cases.

3. As to have those who rely on the excuse of inability, or feel they can do nothing. The true method is to admit the fact and fall as the leper at the feet of Jesus.

4. As to those who plead hardness of heart, want of conviction of sin. Show the true place of conviction.

(C. Hodge, D. D.)

I. TO EVERY MAN IN HIS SERIOUS MOODS THE SENSE OF SIN IS A GENUINE HUMAN EXPERIENCE which no reasoning can reason away.

1. It is not a remnant of savagery, but the sign of a spiritual nature; growing with our growing power of moral sympathy and insight.

2. The Christian revelation quickens and deepens the consciousness of sin. In the presence of Jesus Christ all our self-complacencies vanish.

3. The reality of sin is increasingly felt as we realise its consequences; how it darkens and disorders human life and human society. The sense of sin is a pain, but in such pain there is hope; it is the beginning of all redemption and all progress.

II. THE CHRISTIAN IDEA OF SALVATION IS A VERY COMPREHENSIVE ONE.

1. It is a certain severance from the shame and guilt of transgression. The sense of dissatisfaction with sin is not healthy in its influence unless it receives a hopeful interpretation and leads to hopeful endeavour. It may also, according to our training, assume the form of a fear of God and the hereafter. But the removal of our distress concerning ourselves, and our ignorant and guilty dread of God and fate, is only clearing the ground for Christ's great salvation.

2. There is evil working within, and from its presence and dominion in the heart and life we need to be delivered. "What must I do to be saved?" is but a poor and petty cry when it only means "What must I do to escape from the discomfort, the fear, the natural penalty of sin?" That is the cry of a man who cares more for his ease and happiness than for eternal truth and good. We are not to speak of being saved if we are not being saved from the sins we are tempted to commit daily.

3. Salvation is character and the perfection of character, the realisation of the ideal life for which we were created. The obligation is laid upon everyone to come to his best, and we are called not to repress but to cultivate all our human faculties. The saved man is the whole man, the full-grown, healthily and harmoniously developed man.

4. Salvation means a life lived not for self but for God. Religious selfishness is just as bad as any other kind of selfishness. Man's chief end is to save himself that he might glorify God, live for Divine ends, and give himself as the Lord did fur the redemption of mankind.

III. HOW BELIEVING IN JESUS CHRIST ENABLES A MAN TO REALISE THIS IDEAL OF SALVATION. Christ saves not by any single method, but by whatever He was and is, did and does, by all the influences of His life and Cross, truth, and spirit; saves not by any arbitrary and magical efficacy, but precisely to the extent in which He is known and understood, loved and obeyed; saves by inspiring right thoughts, right feelings, right motives; saves by giving new trusts, new hopes, new sympathies, new affections; saves by His revelation of the Divine mercy and by bringing men into direct communion with the eternal grace and power.

1. To believe in Christ as the revelation of God to man is to believe in redeeming mercy and grace, and to be delivered thereby from the fear which weakens and the despair which kills.

2. To believe in Christ is to have evil affections conquered and displaced by the growth of a new and holier and more masterful love.

3. In our Christian believing and loyalty are all the elements required for the development of the most complete and finished type of human excellence. To believe in Christ is to believe in ourselves, and to see in Him the man we are each called to be, ought to be, and can be; His righteousness is, indeed, our righteousness — ours to love and live. Faith in Christ is not a substitute for personal obedience, but it is vital with quickening power to make us obey as He obeyed. He changes character by imparting His own character sympathetically to all who enter into real sympathy with Him.

4. To believe in Christ is to be brought out of the circle of our selfish affections, aims, and interests into communion with mankind. His spirit is a social spirit, drawing and binding men together in mutual love and helpfulness, and, through individual influence, producing its effect on the families and generations of men, making possible and actual, as the text suggested, a Christian heredity. It is in the way of the spread and triumph of the Christian spirit we are to look for the coming of the Christian order of society, which is the second coming of Jesus Christ.

(John Hunter.)

The reasons that justify this anxiety are —

I. THE VALUE OF THAT OBJECT ON WHICH IT IS BESTOWED. We look around upon the solicitude which men feel in reference to earthly objects; and we justify that solicitude up to a certain point. What then should be the solicitude which should be cherished with reference to the immortal soul? Oh, that I had ability to describe the madness a thousand times multiplied of that man who professes to believe that he is immortal, and who can find anything on earth more important to him as a subject of attention than the salvation of his soul!

II. THE CONCERN WHICH OTHERS HAVE MANIFESTED ABOUT OUR SOULS. The whole moral universe has been drawn into concern for the immortal soul of man. What was it brought the Son of God from the throne of heaven to the Cross? Per what are all the miraculous agencies of the Holy Spirit granted? For what purpose did the finger of inspiration write the Bible, and the arm of Providence defend it? Why did patriarchs live, and priests minister, and prophets predict, and apostles preach? For the salvation of man.

III. CONSIDER WHAT THE SALVATION OR THE DAMNATION OF THE SOUL INCLUDES. I dwell for a moment on that vast word — "salvation." The pardon of all your sins; the justification of your person; your adoption into the family of Jehovah, and a spirit of sonship connected with it; the renovation of your fallen nature; consolation in affliction; assurance that all things work together for good; hope in death; the resurrection of the just; life everlasting; a blissful heaven made up of the presence of God in Christ. Turn to the opposite of this. What is hell? The loss of all happiness; but it is a state of conscious existence; it is a state of prolonged death. Hell means banishment from the presence of God, consignment to the dark world where hope never enters and mercy is never seen. This is the question, What shall we do to be saved, so as to gain heaven and to escape hell?

IV. THE SOUL OF EVERY MAN, UNTIL HE REPENTS AND BELIEVES IN CHRIST, IS ACTUALLY IN A LOST STATE, ALTHOUGH NOT IRRECOVERABLY LOST. You have no need to ask what will bring the soul into a state of death and condemnation: it is done already. "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." You are under the terrors of the law and exposed to the wrath of God. How shall I be delivered from the guilt which sin has brought on my conscience so as to avoid the dominion of sin here and the punishment of sin in the world that is to come?

V. THE MULTITUDE OF SOULS THAT ARE IRRECOVERABLY LOST. Such is the loss of the soul, that if it occurred but once in a century it is so tremendous a catastrophe, that it should awaken the solicitude of the whole world. And that man must be guilty of the greatest folly who can go on in reckless security even under the very possibility that he may be that one in a century who might thus perish eternally.

VI. THE LOSS OF THE SOUL MAY YET BE AVERTED AND THIS SALVATION SECURED. It were perfectly useless to talk to men of miseries which cannot be remedied, or excite them to the pursuit of benefits which never can be obtained. But this is not your case; you are in that world where mercy reigns; where all the opportunities of salvation and the means of grace are continued. You ask the question, "What shall I do to be saved?" And I am commissioned to reply, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."

(J. Angell James.)

I. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE QUESTION. And yet it is lamentable how few ask it! Many who have been driven up to it like this jailer would never have thought it unless God had sent some distress to rouse them. This man was asleep till the earthquake happened, and then his mind was suddenly filled with a subject which he had never thought of before. If men were quite left to themselves the generality would never concern themselves with this subject. What is the reason men do not ask the question? Because they do not like the answer. And yet the same persons who are so slack about their great concern are found to be very careful in lesser things. What must I do to be rich? What must I do to be in the fashion? Here daily labours and nightly watchings are sustained without reluctance. And is it consistent with common sense to toil for the sake of things which are perishing, and neglect the only object that is of any real value? People take much more pains to go on in the broad way of destruction than would be requisite to carry them to heaven. Our danger will be more manifest if it be considered that under these circumstances there is one who is as careful as we are careless about ourselves. While we sleep Satan is awake.

II. THE ANSWER. This is short and to the purpose. Salvation is what all men are equally interested in; and thence it stands to reason that the way of salvation should be so plain that all may understand it. But lest they should think that they believe when they do not, it will be necessary to show —

1. That belief necessarily implies a knowledge of the object in which we believe. This object is our Lord Jesus Christ, whose person, character, and offices must be made known to us before we can believe Him to be what He is.(1) He is the Lord; and this word is expressed by two words, one of which is Jehovah, and denotes His eternal existence; the other is a term of authority and dominion, which bespeaks Him the Ruler of all things in heaven and earth. As such He is to be worshipped by us; and we find, in fact, that He was frequently worshipped upon earth.(2) He is Jesus. This name expresses that office which He took upon Him for our salvation, and proposes His as the only name given under heaven whereby we may be saved. And if it is His office to deliver us from sin, then we are all under the dominion of sin till He redeems us from the power of Satan unto God.(3) He is Christ, the anointed of God; that Person who, by the power of the Divine Spirit, is ordained to be our Prophet, Priest, and King.

2. Our belief implies an obedience to the commandments of this Divine Person; and this obedience is the evidence He expects of our faith. If we call Him Lord, Lord, we are to do the things which He saith. And therefore —

3. The belief of a Christian implies a conformity of character between the believer and the person in whom he believes. The likeness between the Master and the disciple is universal in all professions. If Jesus had been a great warrior then certainly His followers would have excelled in the military art. If He had been a master of worldly forms, then we should have been all for elegance and niceness of outward appearance. But as He was none of these, but a preacher of righteousness, a physician of souls, a guide of the blind, and a comforter of the afflicted, and a sufferer upon earth for the glory of God and the salvation of men; the qualifications which show us to be believers must be of the same sort.

(W. Jones, M. A.)

I. WHAT SINNERS MUST DO TO BE SAVED.

1. They must not imagine that they have nothing to do.

2. Not mistake what they have to do.

3. Not say or imagine that they cannot do what God requires.

4. Not procrastinate.

5. Not wait for God to do what He commands them to do.

6. Not wait for God to do anything whatever. God has either done all on His part already, or if anything more remains, He is ready and waiting this moment for you to do your duty that He may impart all needful grace.

7. Not flee to any refuge of lies.

8. Not seek for any self-indulgent method of salvation.

9. Not imagine you will ever have a more favourable time.

10. Not suppose that you will find another time as good, and one in which you can just as well repent as now.

11. Not wait to see what others will do or say.

12. Not indulge prejudices against God, His ministers, Christians, or anything religious.

II. WHAT SINNERS MUST DO TO BE SAVED. You must —

1. Understand what you have to do.

2. Return and confess your sins to God.

3. Renounce yourself. In this is implied that you renounce —

(1)Your own righteousness, forever discarding the very idea of having any righteousness in yourself.

(2)The idea of having done any good which ought to commend you to God, or be ever thought of as a ground of your justification.

(3)Your own will, and be ever ready to say not in word only, but in heart — "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

(4)Your own way and let God have His own way in everything.

4. Come to Christ. You must accept of Christ really and fully as your Saviour.

5. Seek supremely to please Christ, and not yourself.

6. Forsake all that you have, or you cannot be Christ's disciple. There must be absolute and total self-denial.

7. Believe the record God hath given of His Son. "This is the record that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son."

(C. G. Finney, D. D.)

Consider the question in relation —

I. TO HUMAN THOUGHT.

1. The history of human thought is to a great extent a history of the manifold forms in which this question has betrayed itself, and of the costly expedients to which man has had recourse in his attempts to answer it.(1) Four thousand years ago confused and anxious whispers of this question meet us in the inquiry of the patriarch — "How shall a man be just with God?" They come up in the later question of the prophet, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord?" etc. If we consult the dusky records of paganism we encounter everywhere, in its temples and altars, the dark eclipse of sin and the uneasy suspicions it has cast over the race. If we listen to the creeds and litanies of the best of its teachers we hear everywhere the cry of fugitives from a justice they have provoked, but which they know not how to appease.(2) In our own age the question thrusts itself up in quarters where we least expect to find it. Thinkers, statesmen, scientists, cannot avoid drifting into the mystery that belongs to the religious question. The mind grown weary of abstract speculations hungers for rest. The conscience, chafed and outraged by unclean proclivities, asks for peace. The heart of the man most engrossed in worldly pursuits will have its hours of awakening, of aching dread in which the questions — What am I, and whither am I going? will make themselves heard.

2. As Christian students we have but one answer to give, and that is the one of the text. When from surging to and fro in all kinds of dreary speculation a man drifts, and turns away to the gospel, the gospel meets him with an answer direct and full in the Person of Christ. It says for a man to be saved is for him to be reconditioned in his moral relations with the Infinite Father, to "be reconciled," to "be at peace." Sin is disharmony. It puts man out of his normal orbit. To be saved is just to enter that orbit. The antecedents to this state are, first, the intelligent conviction that we need it, which is a wise self knowledge, begotten of the truth; and secondly, an ingenuous sorrow for sin, expressed in an amended life. The conditions on which its attainment hinges are belief in the promise, and trust in the Person of Christ. The consequence instantly following is a new life state — salvation is its initial act.

II. To MAN'S DESTINY.

1. Man is "a yonder-minded being, an embodied hereafter." Every man in the present life is building out of himself and for himself a character which belongs to the future. This little everyday life is but the prologue of a mighty drama, the sad plot out of which the harvest of the future is to be reaped. The great assize simply catalogues results. Men are, now and here, what the Judgment Day will show them to be. The supposition of a change induced by death in the character and condition of man must be dismissed. Death does not change, it only fixes. It puts a finality on the book of life, and hands it on to be opened at "the judgment of the Great Day." It sums up two columns — for and against the man — of right and wrong, good and evil, and registers the result.

2. What then? What in view of his eternal existence must a man do to he saved? If there were no dangers to be encountered this question would be useless and impertinent. Or if all souls are sure to enter heaven, the question, how, is a matter of comparative indifference. On the other hand, if there is a risk, and if to make the chance of escape sure to all who are earnest about it, a revelation has been vouchsafed, then we are infinitely concerned to know how that revelation speaks; and we hazard eternal consequences if we fall to listen to, and instantly obey it. First, then, let us say that there is a beginning of the religious life in man which puts the soul and God into a fellowship of peace. When such a man, delivered from his old bondage to evil, yields himself to God, and when amidst the perils of the world he maintains the sanctities of conscience, he has reached a second stage. When at the end of life, the man conquers gloriously in death and then stands faultless in the presence of His glory — this is the end of his salvation: that man is saved — saved because he is safe. The everlasting gates close him in.

III. TO CHRISTIAN TEACHING. Two things are noteworthy in Paul's answer — first its simplicity, and secondly its immediateness. And were we now dealing with this question within the same limits we should need only to reproduce the same answer. But we are dealing with the question in its broader and more exhaustive signification; and the answer must take in forgiveness, sanctification, and heaven. What then must be done?

1. The wrong doing, on which the necessity of salvation is founded, must be got rid of. We must "cease to do evil" before we can become good. "Let the wicked forsake his way," etc. There can be no compromise between the two terms which enter into this agreement. We must give up sinning. if God is to forgive us for having sinned.

2. The remedy which God has provided must not only be accepted as theoretically true, but must be personally applied. And this shuts out all the pretentious rights of human reason to determine in what method God should deal with the sinner. It brings us squarely up with the one method in which God will deal with us. God's plan does not alternate between open courses — two or more.

3. The one thing that a man must do is distinctly put. He must "believe on," etc. The apostles had nothing more simple to set before this rude pagan. And they had no figurative, fabulous, or doctrinal Christ, but the Christ of Bethlehem and Calvary. And the act on which salvation hinges is as straightforward as its object is definite. You are not to think about Christ, or say grand nothings about Him: you are to believe on Him, to submit to, to trust in Him that He may forgive and heal you. And this act of the soul putting itself out in an intelligent surrender of the whole personality of its being — mind, heart, will — to Christ is the man's trust for salvation.

IV. TO THE INDIVIDUAL MAN.

1. The importance of this question is obvious, It is the one question that silences every other. It is the most stupendous question that man in his agony can ask, or that God in His mercy can answer. And it is none the less impressive in that nowhere outside this Book is an answer to be found. The universe has not a whisper of it. Those calm, grand laws, know nothing of mercy. Our schools of philosophy know nothing of salvation. Science has not a word of pity for guilty man.

2. We are not saying that this is the only important question, but that all others are insignificant in comparison. One hundred years hence and what shall I know or care about my banking account, or who is the premier of the country? But one hundred years hence what and where shall I myself be?

3. This question must be answered by each one for himself, and at once. It admits of no postponement. "Today if ye will hear His voice," etc. Time is on the rush, and we are rushing with it into a timeless future.

(John Burton.)

I. WHAT IS IT TO BELIEVE? Believing in this case involved —

1. The assent of the mind to the testimony that Paul gave to our Lord. Now all that is necessary in the case of the testimony that the worlds were framed by the word of God is that we should mentally assent to it. When we have intellectually apprehended it, we have perhaps done all that we can do with it.

2. But there is other testimony which requires the consent of the heart: "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." Our conviction is that in this case God testified that He would provide an atonement, and that blood should be shed as a symbol of that atonement, and in acknowledgment of the fact that a personal application of that atonement was required. Now Cain, although he evidently understood this testimony mentally, rejected it in his heart. He thought it sufficient to acknowledge God as a Creator: and therefore simply brought to God of the fruit of the ground, in acknowledgment of God's relation to him as a Creator, and in recognition of the bountifulness of Divine Providence. But Abel received the testimony, adopted the symbol, offered the sacrifice, and therefore by faith offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.

3. There is testimony which requires not merely the assent of the mind, and the consent of the heart, but the response of the will — testimony which, if a man receive, puts him immediately upon a certain course of conduct: and we have two illustrations in the cases of Noah and Abraham. You will see by these illustrations what the apostle means by "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." The first thing is, of course, to understand the meaning of the words, the next to receive them to the heart (Romans 10:9), and the next to take personal advantage of them. For this message is sent by God to us personally.

II. THE OBJECT OF THIS BELIEF.

1. Not God, as God, for the devils believe in God. They go further — as the effect of their faith they tremble. They do more than some of you have done.

2. Neither did Paul exhibit the providence of God: far less the law of God. Of what advantage would it be to preach the law of God to a transgressor except with the object of convincing him of sin? If I were to see a fellow man drowning, should I help him by pointing him to the stream? If he was not conscious of his danger, I should, but it would be useless otherwise. Just so with the law of God. If I find that you do not feel that you are sinners, I teach you the law of God. But if I find you asking, "What must I do to be saved?" if I were to preach God's law to you I should be cruelly mocking you. I then say, not "The law is holy, and just, and good"; but "Jesus came into the world to save sinners."

3. Paul presented not a mere doctrine: there is no mere doctrine that will save any man. If I were to give you a letter of introduction to some physician notable for the cure of particular bodily ailments, could you be cured by that letter? Unless you took the letter to the physician, and saw him, and received his remedies, and applied them, would the letter benefit you? Just so doctrines are intended to introduce you to Christ.

4. And Paul was justified in doing this, for the following reasons. In the first place, the object is adapted, and able to save. Salvation is now Christ's one work. And the act of believing is appointed to save. There is nothing in it of efficacy, as there is in the object. It is efficacious simply because of God's arrangement: and therefore no merit can be attached to faith. Faith is a simple receptive faculty. Nothing more now is required. By and by you will have to let that faith work; but just now, for your introduction into salvation, nothing more is required. But then, mark, nothing else will suffice. You must believe. Shall I remind you why this is so difficult? Because it is so simple. You are just like that proud Syrian Naaman. If I were to say to you that in order to be saved, you must visit the Holy Sepulchre, there are some of you who would sell everything to get to the Holy Sepulchre; and you would start immediately. But instead of that we say, Trust. This is God's first and last provision; so that if you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ you never can be saved.

III. THE RESULT. "Saved!"

1. The body saved — from fresh inroads by sin; from its members being instruments of unrighteousness; from the sting of death; from the victory of the grave.

2. The soul saved — from unholy affection; from raging fear; from guilt; from despondency and despair; from the discord of the passions; from ungodly impulses; from evil influence.

3. The spirit saved — from fatal ignorance; from damnable folly; from vain and evil imaginations; from ruinous error. Body, soul, and spirit, all saved! Saved! Saved from all evil now in part, and hereafter saved in absolute and everlasting perfection.

(S. Martin.)

I. WHAT IT PRESUPPOSES. As distinguished from faith in Christ historically, and from what Scripture affirms of Him doctrinally (James 2:17-20), it presupposes a certain belief with respect to ourselves — viz., that we are sinners, and with a sincere sorrow because of it, and a sincere desire to forsake sin.

II. IN WHAT IT CONSISTS.

1. Intellectual assent to the fact that Christ is the Saviour of men. Thus far saving faith is the same as that by which we buy, sell, eat, drink, and travel. Faith is not a new element in the soul life of man, superadded by God, upon an after thought to the moral constitution at the time of conversion. What is then given is grace to see —

(1)Self undone.

(2)Christ sufficient.

2. Trustfulness superadded to intellectual assent. Heart belief must accompany head belief. A drowning man cannot be saved by a lifeboat simply by believing in its life-saving capabilities; he must trust himself to it. So self is given to Christ in every case of saving faith.

3. Faith in a person. Some people trust in a creed or a ritual; because trust in them flatters rather than interferes with self-love. My creed is orthodox, my service ornate is the expression of some men's faith. Further, it is faith in a Divine person. It is not necessary that we should be able to theorise about the Incarnation or philosophise about the Atonement; but our trust must be in the Son of God, in opposition to being in human priests, whatever their claims. But remember that we are not saved by our faith as something meritorious, but by Christ; yet we cannot be saved without faith, because remaining in unbelief —(1) We make God a liar, and fail to comply with His law of love.(2) We cannot secure and develop the character necessary to fit us for heaven, nor the capacity for its enjoyments.

III. THE EXTENT OF THE SALVATION WHICH FAITH SECURES.

1. Salvation from the punishment due to past transgressions.

2. Deliverance from the power and principle of sin.

(J. S. Swan.)

I. WHO IS THIS CHRIST?

1. God;

2. Man;

3. God and Man in one Person.

II. WHAT IS IT TO BELIEVE IN THIS CHRIST?

1. To know Him (1 Corinthians if. 2; John 17:3).

2. Assent to Him (John 11:27).

3. Rely upon Him (Ephesians 1:12).

(1)For the pardon of your sins.

(2)The acceptance of your persons.

(3)The salvation of your souls.

III. HOW SHALL THEY THAT BELIEVE IN CHRIST BE SAVED?

1. From what?

(1)The guilt of sin (Galatians 3:13).

(2)The strength of sin (Acts 3:26; Matthew 1:21).

(3)The prevalency of Satan (Hebrews 2:14).

(4)The wrath of God (Ephesians 2:3; Romans 5:9).

2. To what?

(1)Justification (Romans 5:1).

(2)Regeneration (2 Corinthians 5:17).

(3)Spiritual consolation (2 Corinthians 1:5).

(4)Everlasting salvation (John 3:16). Consisting in —

(a)Our freedom from all evil.

(b)Our enjoyment of all good — as appears from the promises (John 1:12; John 3:15; Acts 13:39); from the end of Christ's coming (John 3:16); from the nature of faith (Hebrews 11:1).

IV. USES FOR —

1. Instruction. Unbelievers will be damned.

2. Conviction.(1) You do not know Him; for then you could not choose but —

(a)Admire Him (1 Timothy 3:16).

(b)Love Him (Ephesians 6:24).

(c)Think frequently of Him.

(d)Make it your business to interest yourselves in Him.(2) If you do know, you do not assent to Him; for did you believe that He died for sin —

(a)Would you live in it?

(b)Would you not repent of it?(3) You do not rely on Christ; for —

(a)What was it thou tookest most comfort from upon thy last sick bed?

(b)What is it that thou now delightest thyself with in trouble? How seldom dost thou think of Christ.

(c)How comest thou to live in sin without mourning for and turning from it (2 Corinthians 5:17)?

3. Examination. Test thy faith in Christ by —

(1)Thy knowledge of Him.

(2)Thy love to Him.

(3)Thy longing after Him.

(4)Thy obedience to His command.

(5)Thy acting for Him (James 2:18).

4. Exhortation. Believe in Christ; for consider —(1) How miserable thou wilt be without Him. Satan always domineering over, sin always raging in, and God always frowning upon thee to all eternity (Psalm 7:11).(2) How happy thou wilt be with Him.

(a)Thy sins pardoned.

(b)Satan subdued.

(c)Corruptions mortified.

(d)The heart sanctified (1 Corinthians 1:2).

(e)God pleased (Hebrews 11:5).

(f)The soul saved (Romans 8:1).

V. MEANS —

1. Prayer;

2. Reading;

3. Hearing (Romans 10:17).

4. Meditation.

(1)The insufficiency of all things else.

(2)The sufficiency of Christ.

(3)Its end in coming into the world.

(Bp. Beveridge.)

I. What are the ANTECEDENTS of saving faith, that is, what precedes the act of faith in the experience of the sinner? I do not doubt that there was, previous to this jailer's faith and essential to it, a conviction first of his guilt, secondly of his danger, and therefore, thirdly, of his need of salvation, and of a Saviour. It is on the ground of these facts that the gospel comes to men with offers of pardon and grace; and he who does not realise them as facts in his personal history cannot receive the gospel, for he does not feel his need of the gospel.

II. Let us look at the OBJECT of faith. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ." This which you are ready to rely on is nothing within you — no change wrought there, either by your own efforts or by any other agency, human or Divine. Cease, then, to explore the recesses of your spirits in search of something there which will constitute a ground of hope. You may search there forever and find no Saviour there, and nothing that will make you more worthy to come to Christ.

III. Let us consider the ACT of faith. What does the sinner do when he believes in Christ? It is worthy of notice that the Bible, while saying much of the necessity, the object, and the effects of faith, says very little of its nature. The reason may be because the act itself is so simple, so easily understood.

IV. Let us look at the RESULTS of faith. In the text these results are all summed up in the one word saved. We find, by searching the Scriptures, that these results, thus summed up, are resolved into two classes, one of which takes place in the mind and purposes of God, and the other in the mind and destiny of the sinner. On the side of God is His justification of the sinner. It is a judicial act, the act of God as a judge, freeing the sinner from the penalty of the law which he has incurred, and placing him in the position, in regard to the condemning sentence, of one who has never incurred the penalty. On the side of God also is His acceptance of believing sinners, and His adoption of them into His family. "He hath made us accepted in the Beloved." On the side of God is also His bestowment of His Spirit on the believing sinner. "Because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts." But let us look at the results of this faith in the mind and destiny of the believer. In his heart, one of the first results of believing is peace or joy. Another result of faith is obedience. All acts of holy obedience spring from true faith. It brings the believer within the sphere of new motives. It fills his heart with ardent love. It secures for him the influences of the Divine Spirit. So in proportion to his faith will be his faithfulness. The final result of faith is eternal life. Who can tell its value? Who can show us the everlasting difference between a soul lost and a soul saved? In conclusion, I remark —

1. The terms of salvation are easy and simple. They could not be more so. They are also exactly adapted to our necessities.

2. The time for the exercise of this faith is now. Is not Christ now able and willing to save you? Is He not as worthy of trust now as He ever wilt be?

3. Finally, the results of faith are most urgent motives to its immediate exercise. Do you wish to be free from condemnation, and stand justified before God? Then believe. Do you wish to be adopted into the family of God, and so become an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ? Then believe. Do you wish for peace with God? Then believe. Do you wish for God's Spirit as a comforter, a guide, a strengthener, a sanctifier? Then believe.

(W. W. Woodworth.)

I know of a man who, being obliged to sleep in the upper story of a lofty building, keeps a fire escape in his room in the shape of a stout rope ladder. He believes in that ladder. That is, he has perfect confidence in the stoutness of the hemp, the strength of the wooden "rounds," and the ability of that ladder to bear his weight. But on some dark night let the cry of "fire" ring through that edifice, and let him put the grappling irons fast to the window casement, and swing himself out into the air, and he will believe on that rope ladder. He will trust himself to it. When he has done that, he will have exercised saving faith in his fire escape, Not before. Thousands keep gospel truth coiled up in their memories as my friend kept that rope ladder coiled up in one corner of his room. They have heard and read of Jesus, the Atoner for sin; they admire Him, they believe in His Divine qualities, love, etc., and vaguely expect, at some future day, to get to heaven by Him. But they have never for one moment trusted their souls to Jesus. They never have even attempted to escape out of their guilt and danger, by resting their whole weight on what Jesus has done for the sinner, or on His omnipotent grace. Perish they must, if they remain where they are. The act of resting on the crucified Jesus saves.

This answer has three or four properties.

1. It was immediate, and without delay. There was no time required, as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar's wise men, when they had to interpret the king's dream. The apostles were well versed in such matters.

2. It was full and comprehensive. It meets the point at once, and contains an epitome of the whole gospel.

3. It is highly satisfactory, affording direct relief in the moment of distress, and giving peace.

4. It is the same answer as all God's ministers return to inquiring souls, whatever be their previous state or character.

I. THE EXHORTATION. The Scriptures speak of various kinds and degrees of faith, but of one only that accompanies salvation.

1. The original source of all true believing is the free grace of God in Christ Jesus. It is His gift, and the effect of His good pleasure.

2. The means of producing faith is the Divine testimony. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

3. The immediate object of faith is Christ, as revealed in the gospel.

4. The ultimate end of faith is our happiness, and the glory of God. "Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." It disclaims all merit and sufficiency of its own, and excludes all boasting, only in the Lord.

II. THE PROMISE. Salvation comprehends a final and complete deliverance from all evil, natural and moral, and the enjoyment of perfect bliss. It includes, especially, the pardon of sin, the sanctification of our nature, a victory over all our enemies, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. The connection which this has with believing, will be seen in the following particulars.

1. Though salvation is promised to them that believe, it is neither provided nor bestowed in the foresight of their believing nor had faith any influence on the Divine determination. The ground of all spiritual blessings is the free and unmerited favour of God (2 Timothy 1:9).

2. Though salvation is promised to them that believe, it is not promised as a reward for their believing, but for His sake in whom they believe. It receives a title to eternal life, but does not give one. Faith is like the eye beholding, and the hand receiving a gift; but however necessary to its enjoyment, the gift itself is free and undeserved.

3. As faith receives a title to eternal life, founded upon the promises of the gospel, so it is that which gives us the actual enjoyment of it. By faith we receive the atonement, and are led to acquiesce in the way of acceptance with God, as full of wisdom, and suited to our sinful and helpless condition. It is not a medicine prepared, but applied, that effects a cure.

4. Faith produces those holy dispositions which form our meetness for heaven, though not our title to it. There can be no enjoyment where there is no congeniality. But true faith purifies the heart, and imbues it with every principle of piety and goodness.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

The sinner's prescription. It points out —

I.A FACT — "salvation."

II.A CERTAIN FACT — "shalt."

III.A PERSONAL FACT — "Thou."

IV.THE CAUSE OF SALVATION — "Christ," "Jesus," "Lord."

V.THE INSTRUMENT OF SALVATION — "Believe."

(W. W. Wythe.)

There are some documents of so little importance that you do not care to put any more than your last name under them, or even your initials; but there are some documents of so great importance that you write out your full name. So the Saviour in some parts of the Bible is called "Lord," and in others "Jesus," and in others "Christ"; but that there might be no mistake about this passage, all three names come in together.

I. WHO IS THIS BEING THAT YOU WANT ME TO BELIEVE IN? Men sometimes come to me with certificates of good character, but I cannot trust them. There is some dishonesty in their looks. You cannot put your heart's confidence in a man until you know what stuff he is made of. No man would think of venturing his life on a vessel going out to sea that had never been inspected. And you cannot expect me to risk the cargo of my immortal interests on board any craft. Well —

1. Christ was a very attractive person. Christ did not tell the children to come to Him. "Suffer little children to come unto Me" was not spoken to the children, but to the disciples. The children came without any invitation. Christ did not ask John to put his head down on His bosom; John could not help but put his head there. When people saw Christ coming they ran into their houses and brought their invalids out that He might look at them. They could not keep away from Him.

2. In addition to this softness of character, there was a fiery momentum. How the old hypocrites trembled before Him! How the kings of the earth turned pale! He was a loving Christ, but it was not effeminacy. Lest the world should not realise His earnestness, this Christ mounts the Cross. Oh, such a Christ as that — so loving, so self-sacrificing — can you not trust Him?

II. MANY SAY, "I WILL TRUST HIM IF YOU WILL ONLY TELL ME NOW." Just as you trust anyone. You trust your partner in business. H a commercial house give you a note payable three months hence, you expect the payment of that note. You go home and expect there will be food on the table. Have the same confidence in Christ. He is only waiting to get from you what you give to scores of people every day. Confidence. If these people are more worthy, more faithful, if they have done more than Christ, then give them the preference; but if Christ is as trustworthy as they are, then deal with Him as fairly. "Oh," says someone, "I believe that Christ was born in Bethlehem, and that He died on the Cross." Do you believe it with your head or your heart? I will illustrate the difference. You read in a newspaper how Captain Braveheart on the sea risked his life for the salvation of his passengers. You say, "What a grand fellow he must have been!" You fold the paper and, perhaps, do not think of that incident again. That is historical faith. But now you are on the sea, and asleep, and are awakened by the shriek of "Fire!" You rush out on the deck. "Down with the lifeboats!" cries the captain. People rush into them. Room only for one more man. Who shall it be? You or the captain? The captain says, "You." You jump and are saved. He stands there and dies. Now, you believe that Captain Braveheart sacrificed himself for his passengers, but you believe it with grief at his loss, and with joy at your deliverance. That is saving faith. You often go across a bridge you know nothing about. You do not know who built the bridge, nor of what material it is made; but you walk over it, and ask no questions. And here is an arched bridge blasted from the "Rock of Ages," and built by the Architect of the universe, spanning the dark gulf between sin and righteousness, and all God asks you is to walk across it; and you start, and you come to it, and you stop, and you go a little way on and you stop, and you fall back and you experiment. You say, "How do I know that bridge will hold me:" instead of marching on with firm step, feeling that the strength of the eternal God is under you.

III. WHAT IS IT TO BE SAVED? It means —

1. A happy life. It is a grand thing to go to sleep at night, and to get up in the morning, and to do business all day feeling that all is right between my heart and God.

2. A peaceful death. Almost all the poets have said handsome things about death. There is nothing beautiful about it. Death is loathesomeness, and midnight, and the wringing of the heart until the tendrils snap and curl in the torture unless Christ be with us. Unless there be some supernatural illumination, I shudder back from it. But now this glorious lamp is lifted above the grave, and all the darkness is gone, and the way is clear. What power is there in anything to chill me in the last hour if Christ wraps around me the skirt of His own garment: What darkness can fall upon my eyelids then, amid the heavenly daybreak:

3. A blissful eternity. To be saved is to wake up in the presence of Christ. You know when Jesus was upon earth, how happy He made every house He went into.

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

When the children of Israel were settled in Canaan, God ordained that they should set apart certain Cities of Refuge, that to these the man-slayer might flee for security. We are told by the rabbis that once in the year, or oftener, the magistrates of the district surveyed the roads which led to these cities: they carefully gathered up all the stones, and took the greatest possible precautions that there should be no stumbling blocks in the way. We hear, moreover, that all along the road there were hand posts with the word "Refuge" written legibly upon them. Now God has prepared a City of Refuge, and the way to it is by faith in Christ. I propose to go along it, and to remove any impediment which Satan may have laid. There is —

I. THE RECOLLECTION OF THE PAST LIFE. But all thy sins, be they never so many, cannot destroy thee if thou dost believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. "The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin." It is not the greatness of the sinner that is the difficulty; it is the hardness of the sinner's heart. Remember, too, that all the while thou dost not believe in Christ, thou art adding to thy sin.

II. CONSCIOUSNESS OF HARDNESS OF HEART AND THE LACK OF WHAT IS THOUGHT TO BE TRUE PENITENCE. But dost thou read that those who have hard hearts are not commanded to believe? The Scripture says, "Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish," etc. Now, if thou believest, though thy heart be never so hard, thy believing saves thee; and what is more, thy believing shall yet soften thy heart. If thou canst not feel thy need of a Saviour as thou wouldst, remember that when thou hast a Saviour thou wilt soon find out how great was thy need of Him, Many persons find out their needs by receiving the supply. Have you never looked in at a shop window and seen an article, and said, "Why, that is just what I want"?

III. CONSCIOUSNESS OF WEAK OR LITTLE FAITH. Ah, there you are again looking to yourself. It is not the strength of thy faith that saves thee, but its reality. What is more, it is not even the reality of thy faith that saves thee, it is the object of thy faith. A grain of mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds, and yet if thou hast but that quantity of faith, thou art a saved man. Remember the poor woman who touched but the fringe of Christ's garment, and she was made whole. Remember a little child belongs to the human race as much as the greatest giant; and so a babe in grace is as truly a child of God as is Mr. Greatheart, who can fight all the giants on the road.

IV. THE EXISTENCE OF MANY DOUBTS AND FEARS. My answer is, "He that believeth shall be saved," be that faith intermingled with multitudes of doubts and fears. You remember that story of our Saviour in the storm, and the poor disciples were full of fear — "Lord, save us or we perish." Here were doubts. Did Jesus say, O ye of no faith? No; "O ye of little faith." So there may be little faith where there are great doubts. At eventide, even though there is a great deal of darkness, yet there is light. And if thy faith should never come to noonday, if it do but come to twilight, nay, if thy faith is but starlight, nay, candlelight, nay, a spark — if it be but a glow worm spark, thou art saved. Think of John Knox, on his dying bed, troubled about his interest in Christ. If such a man have doubts, dost thou expect to live without them? If Paul himself keeps under his body lest he should be a castaway, how canst thou expect to live without clouds?

V. FEAR OF DEATH. There are many of God's blessed ones who, through fear of death, have been much of their lifetime subject to bondage. And this is accounted for, because God has stamped on nature that law, the love of life and self-preservation. And again, it is natural that you should scarce like to leave behind those that are so dear. But you are testing yourself by a condition in which you are not placed. You don't want dying grace in life, but you will have it when you want it.

VI. THE ABSENCE OF JOY. But remember it is not "he that is joyful shall be saved," but "he that believeth shall be saved." Thy faith will make thee joyful by and by, but it is as powerful to save thee even when it does not make thee rejoice. VII. A GRIEVOUS SENSE OF IMPERFECTION. What, will you not believe in Christ until you are perfect? Then you will never believe in Him. You will not trust the precious Jesus till you have no sins to trust Him with? Then you will never trust Him at all.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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