How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord…
I. SALVATION. Now, suppose that I were on the bank of a river, and were to see some child or some fellow-man struggling in the stream; if I were to use my best endeavour to help that fellow-creature out of the water, and if I were successful in that attempt, it would be a salvation. Or, if I were to find some fellow-man suffering from a dreadful disease for which I had a specific, and I were to come and administer this specific to that man, and he were to recover from that disease, that would be a salvation. I am about to speak to you of a salvation of a different kind — not .f a salvation from mere bodily death not of a salvation from bodily disease — but of a salvation from all the ills which soul, and spirit, and body are heirs to — a salvation from everything that blights and blasts our fallen human nature. 1. The salvation upon which I speak is the deliverance from ignorance of the true God. That ignorance, you know, is just like a dense darkness at a time when a man wants light, and in the place where a man wants light, and under circumstances where the shining of light is essential to a man. The man who is saved knows something of God, of our Father in heaven: t e knows enough of God for his present well-being, and for his present well-doing. That is one part of salvation. Now there is another.
2. I do not know how it is, but so it is, as we believe, that every one born into, this world is inclined to do wrong. God made such an arrangement when He created our first parents, that if they had done right, right dispositions would have been communicated. You sometimes see a very amiable mother and a very amiable daughter ; there is a disposition communicated the one from the other. Now, on account of that arrangement, when our first parents went wrong and they had children, the children received from them a wrong disposition — a disposition to do that which is had-that which is evil. and it is within us all. Is there anything more common than to hear people say, "I shall do as I like; don't meddle with me, I shall do as I please"? Now that is the very essence of sin. Any creature who begins to say, "I will do as I like," falls immediately. If the brightest and best of the angels from around God's throne were at this moment to say, "I will do as I like," and were to begin to turn to his own way and to carry out the desired devices of his own heart, he would be immediately a fallen angel, and heaven would be no paradise to that being. What is this salvation? It is a salvation from the "I'll do as I like" principle, — from the " I'll do what I please" principle. It is deliverance from that. It is the creation within us of another spirit, and of a new heart in that matter, and the question then is, "Saviour, what shall I do? Saviour, how shall I speak? Saviour, how shall I live? Saviour, what shall I work at? Saviour, where shall I abide? Where shall I travel? What will be my occupation? Saviour, in all things what shall I do?" That also is part of salvation. Some people, you know, especially some people with a profession of religion, think that their consciences always are right. You see such an one doing something that you think is very bad, something that the Bible condemns. You open the Bible and point to a text, and say to him, "There, that passage says you are wrong." But he will probably really, "I cannot be very wrong, for I did such and such a thing conscientiously." Now, suppose I were in the position of some of you who have places of business, and that I employed errand-boys to assist me in that business, and I required of a lad that he should always be at the shop at six o'clock in the morning; and suppose he had a miserable sort of time-piece that was always two hours behind the time of day. I chide the lad for being two hours behind time, and he brings forth to me his old wretched thing of a watch, and shows me that its hands point to the hour of six, but I tell him that, according to the position of the sun in the skies, it is eight o'clock. He argues with me, "But my watch says it is six!" Then, what I should say to him would he, "Unless you are mocking me I require that you get your watch regulated, and take care that on the face of that watch there is always a correct index of the true time." Just so I say to people who do wrong, and justify their wrong-doing by reference to their conscience. Conscience is a thing amongst mankind which is as often wrong as a bad clock or as a bad watch, and consciences need mending — need rectifying. Now, salvation is to put a man's conscience right, so That it answers to the will of God, and to the pleasure of God, and is an index of what is right and of what is wrong. That is another part of salvation. I need not say to you that we are all hurrying onward to the grave, and that after death comes the judgment. Now, we carry with us, unless we are saved the guilt of the first sin we committed when we begin to say "I will" and "I won't," and the guilt of all the sins committed throughout life. If we pass unsaved into the future state, we carry the guilt of all the transgressions with us to the bar of God. Now, you know that God must do one of two things: He must either forgive sin or punish it. He cannot pass it by. Oh, what must be the weight of His arm when it strikes the transgressor to punish! We cannot wonder that in the place of punishment there is "weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth."
3. Now, this salvation is deliverance from such punishment. A man who is saved not only knows God, not only obeys God, but is free from all danger of future misery. God has cast his transgressions into the depths of the sea. They are beyond the arm and beyond the sight of any creature. That is salvation. There are fifty other things that might be said about the salvation if we were professing to speak of it fully, but we only intend to give you two or three illustrations of what it is.Now observe it is great. "Why?"
1. First, because it comes from a great God; because it comes from that great God's great heart; because it comes from the great grace of the great heart of that great God. That is why it is great.
2. It is brought down to us from that great God's great heart and from His great grace by a great and personal Saviour.
3. It is a great salvation because it compasses all our wants, all our woes, all our trials, all our temptations, all the ills to which we are heir.
II. NEGLECT. Suppose we were to-night in an excursion train instead of being here, and suppose a train were just behind us — an express train. And suppose that the man at the last station had forgotten to stop that train, to signal it, or to tell the driver that the excursion train was before him and that he must go gently. Suppose he forgot it — that he was occupied with other matters so entirely as to forget it. What would be the effect of that neglect? Into our train would come dashing the express train. And what would be the consequence? Terrific loss of life. Or say that I am suffering from high fever. My medical attendant sends me medicine which he requires to be taken to me immediately. Say that some person in my house neglects to give me that medicine and I remain being consumed by the fever through the night. That person might nut intend to injure me; it might be very far from his wish; but the neglect does the injury. My fever rages, burns, and consumes, and before morning light, I am upon the very brink of the grave. We see what mischievous consequences may flow from neglect. If a person acre to put a bar of iron across the metals of the line upon which we were travelling, and do it with the purpose of upsetting the train, that would involve the most serious consequences. But we have seen that neglect does it without any bad intention. If a person were to administer poison intentionally, that would destroy life; but we have seen that the neglect in not giving the medicine might be the means of terminating life quite as really and effectually as the administering poison itself. Now I want your attention to this, for the text says, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?"
III. Any day may bring forth such a change in your circumstances, as that you shall see no way of escape. To-day shows you AWAY OF ESCAPE, a place of repentance. To-day exhibits to you the great salvation: To-morrow may see you in such a position as that no way of escape can ever exist for you, and you may say in the agony of despair, "How can I escape, for I have neglected God's great salvation?"
(S. Martin, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;