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THE OBJECTS OF SALVATION ; AND ITS NATURE.
1. TIMOTHY, i. 15.
" This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, That Christ Jesus
came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am Chief.”
The subject on which the Apostle was speaking, and which led him to make the important declaration contained in our text, is worthy of special notice. Under a deep sense of the goodness of God, the grace which he had received in the Lord Jesus, the distinguished and important station in which he was placed by the great Captain of our salvation, it was impossible for him not to take a most humiliating retrospective view of his past life in the Jews' religion, while an enemy to Jesus, a blasphemer, and a persecuter of the church. All these weighty considerations having their natural operations on his mind, seemed to present, in full view, before his mental vision, the great and glorious errand on which the Lord Jesus was sent into our world. If it could have been so, that the Apostle, while engaged in the ministry of Jesus, could have retained his former confidence in his own righteousness, and had been of opinion, that he was a favorite of heaven, that he was enlightened into the knowledge of the gospel, and even put into the ministry because his former conduct had merited these favors, it is evident that such views could never have led him to make the statement found in our text. Confirmed in such a persuasion, he would have preached a Saviour for the righteous, yea, for the righteous only. He
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dort. terections of timi: I know for certainty, that I was a most deals encar of this lovely Jesus stran I da det erte: I koow, that in my opposition to this region. I was exceedingly mad, and I cause many of the varmless, inofensive disciples of Christ. both men and womea, to feel the weight of my displeasure. Such was my blind zeal, such the en.nity that rankled in my heart against him and his doctrine, who was a friend to sinners, that "I thought I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus ;" and I persecuted the saints unto the death." But, О wonderful to behold! I am now a most joyful subject of that grace to which I was such an enemy. From such reflections might very justly be drawn this conclusion; “ This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
This testimony, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners is sufficiently corroborated by other scriptures. When those, in the days of Jesus, who thought they were righteous and despised others, found fault with the Saviour, because he was a friend to sinners, he plainly told them, that he “came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance;" he furthermore represented the same divine truth in that remarkably instructive saying; “ The whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” Moreover, he enlarged on this subject in several beautiful parables, the design of which was to represent the repentance of sinners. The blessed Redeemer testified that “God sent not his son into the world, to condemn the world,
but that the world through him might be saved.". The declaration of the Angel to Joseph, “ Thou shalt call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins," is in direct proof of what is testified in our text. There are two good reasons why
Jesus was not sent to call the righteous.
First. There were “ When God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, theare altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” After the Apostle had described, in his epistle to the Romans, the abominable character of the wicked, he adds; “What then, are we better than they ? no, in no wise : for we have before proved both ? Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” Again to the same point; all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Secondly. If there had been any righteous, they would not have needed Jesus to call them to repentance. It is as improper for a righteous man to repent, as it is for a well man to take medicine. If the man in health should take medicine, it would be likely to render him indisposed ; and if a righteous man should repent, he would render himself wicked.
If it be allowed, as has been proved, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and that the gospel seeks, as subjects of its grace, sinners only, then it should never be argued, that there are some who cannot be saved because they are sinners. This contains the absurdity, that, that which renders salvation necessary is an objection to it. may further notice the observation of the Saviour it is pertinent to remark on the impropriety of saying, that because the patient is sick, therefore the physcian will administer or prescribe nothing. Nor would the extremity of a case render the objection in the least plausible, unless the malady was of such a nature as to bid defiance to the power of medicine ; but on the contrary, the more indisposed the patient
might be, the greater would be the urgency for relief. It is granted, that this calculation is not a little wide from that which is more common, in which it is supposed, that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ may extend to the condition of those who are sinners in a certain degree, beyond which point our spiritual physicians justify themselves in saying the grace of God can never extend. However, no small encouragement is derived from the divine testimony, that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound : that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord." These blessed words are “like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Never was cold water to the thirsty soul so grateful as these words of eternal life.
The attention of the hearer is now most earnestly invited to the consideration of the following question. What did Christ Jesus come into the world to save sinners from ? Your public servant has heretofore labored this question in this place; but being persuaded that the general sentiment entertained among professed christians on this question is not according to scripture, it is felt to be a duty to endeavor to throw as much light on the subject as the present opportunity will permit.
No doubt many of the audience have already made up their minds, that the question proposed with so much solicitude is very easily answered, and is too free from difficulty to render much attention to the subject necessary.
Though it is greatly to be wished that this were the case, it is presumed that a concise view of the generally received opinion, on this subject, will at once discover, that erroneous notions have been and still are entertained of it.
The general opinion, which we shall endeavor to disprove, supposes that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” from the demands of vindictive justice, which recognized the whole sinful family of man under the penalty of endless punishment, fre