Delivered on Sabbath Morning, July 12, 1857, by
"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."Romans 10:13.
T has been said by an eminent divine that many of us in preaching the word suppose too great knowledge in our hearers. "Very often," says this divine, "there are in the congregation persons who are totally unacquainted with the great science of divinity. They are entire strangers to the whole system of grace and salvation." It is proper, then, that the preacher should address himself to his hearers sometimes as if they were totally ignorant of his message, and tell it to them as a new thing, going over the whole of it as if he believed them to be ignorant of it; "For," says this good man, "it is better to suppose too little knowledge, and so to explain the thing clearly, to the meanest comprehension, than to suppose too much, and thus to let the ignorant escape without a word of instruction."
Returning whence it came"
And thou canst not perish with God's breath in thee. "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved!"
But the word "call" signifies a little more, it signifies trust. A man cannot call upon the name of the Lord, unless he trusts in that name. We must have reliance upon the name of Christ, or else we have not called aright. Hear me, then, poor tried sinner; thou hast come here this morning sensible of thy guilt, awakened to thy danger; here is thy remedy. Christ Jesus the Son of God, became a man; he was "born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried." He did this to save sinners such as thou art. Wilt thou believe this? Wilt thou trust thy soul to it? Wilt thou say "Sink or swim, Christ Jesus is my hope; and if I perish I will perish with my arms around his cross, crying
Simply to the cross I cling?'"
Poor soul, if thou canst do that, thou wilt be saved. Come, now, no good works of thine own are neededno sacraments, all that is asked of thee is this, and that he gives thee. Thou art nothing; wilt thou take Christ to be everything? Come, thou art black, wilt thou be washed? Wilt thou down on thy knees, and cry, "Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner, not for anything I have done, or can do, but for his dear sake, whose blood streamed from his hands and feet, in whom alone I trust?" Why sinner the solid pillars of the universe shall totter rather than thou shouldst perish; ay heaven should weep a vacant throne, and an extinguished Godhead, rather than the promise should be violated in any case in the world. He that trusteth in Christ, calling on his name, shall be saved.
But once more, and then I think I shall have given you the whole scripture meaning of this. Calling on the name of the Lord signifies professing his name. You remember what Ananias said to Saul, afterwards called Paul, "arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord." Now, sinner if thou wouldst be obedient to Christ's word, Christ's word says, "He that believeth, and is immersed, shall be saved." Mark, I have translated the word. King James would not have it translated. I dare not be unfaithful to my knowledge of God's word. If it means sprinkle, let our brethren translate it "sprinkle." But they dare not do that; they know they have nothing in all classical language that would ever justify them in doing that, and they have not the impudence to attempt it. But I dare translate it"He that believeth, and is immersed, shall be saved." And though immersion is nothing, yet God requires of men who believe that they should be immersed, in order to make a profession of their belief. Immersion is nothing, I repeat, in salvation, it is the profession of salvation; but God requires that every man that puts his trust in the Saviour should be immersed, as the Saviour was, in order to the fulfillment of righteousness. Jesus went meekly down from Jordan's shore, to be immersed beneath the wares; and so let every believer be baptized in his name. Now some of you draw back from the thought of making a profession. "No," you say, "we will believe and be secret Christians." Hear you this then"If any man be ashamed of me, and of my words in this generation; of him will I be ashamed, when I shall come in the glory of my Father, with all his holy angels." I will repeat a truism; not one of you in your lives ever knew a secret Christian, and I will prove it to demonstration. For if you knew a man to be a Christian, it could not be a secret; for if it had been a secret how came you to know it? Then, as you never knew a secret Christian, you are not justified in believing there ever is such a one. You must come out and make a profession. What would Her Majesty think of her soldiers, if they should swear they were loyal and true, and were to say"Your Majesty, we prefer not to wear these regimentals; let us wear the dress of civilians! We are right honest men and upright; but we do not care to stand in your ranks, acknowledged as your soldiers, we had rather slink into the enemy's camp, and into your camps too, and not wear anything that would mark us as being your soldiers!" Ah! some of you do the same with Christ. You are going to be secret Christians, are you, and slink into the devil's camp, and into Christ's camp, but acknowledged by none? Well, ye must take the chance of it, if ye will be so; but I should not like to risk it. It is a solemn threatening, "of him will I be ashamed when I come in the glory of my Father, and all his holy angels with me!" It is a solemn thing, I say, when Christ says, "Except a man take up his cross and follow me, he cannot be my disciple." Now, then, I claim of every sinner here whom God has awakened to feel his need of a Saviour, obedience to the command of Christ, in this point, as well as in every other. Hear the way of salvation: worship, prayer, faith, profession. And the profession, if men would be obedient, if they would follow the Bible, must be done in Christ's way, by a baptism in water, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. God requireth this; and though men are saved without any baptism, and multitudes fly to heaven who are never washed in the stream, though baptism is not saving, yet if men would be saved, they must not be disobedient. And inasmuch as God gives a command, it is mine to enforce it. Jesus said, "Go and preach the gospel to every creature: he that believeth, and is immersed, shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned."
Here, then, is the explanation of my text. No churchman here can object to my interpretation. The Church of England holdeth dipping. It only saith, if children be weak they are to be sprinkled; and it is marvellous what a many weakly children there have been born lately. I am astonished to find any of you alive, after finding that so much weakness has everywhere existed! The dear little ones are so tender, that a few drops suffice instead of the dipping which their own church enforces. I would that all churchmen were better churchmen; if they would be more consistent with their own articles of faith, they would be more consistent with Scripture, and if they were a little more consistent with some of the rubrics of their own church, they would be a little more consistent with themselves. If your children are weak, you can let them be sprinkled; but if you are good churchmen you will immerse them, if they can bear it.
II. But now, the second point is REFUTATION. There are some popular errors with regard to salvation, which need to be cured by refutation. My text says, "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Now, one idea which conflicts with my text is this, that a priest or a minister is absolutely necessary to assist men in salvation. That idea is current in other places besides the Romish Church; there are many, alas! too many who make a dissenting minister as much their priest as the Catholic makes his priest his helper. There are many who imagine that salvation cannot be accomplished except in some undefinable and mysterious wayand the minister and the priest are mixed up with it. Hear ye then, if you had never seen a minister in your lives, if you had never heard the voice of the bishop of the church, or an elder thereof, yet if ye did call on the name of the Lord your salvation would be quite as sure without one as with one. Men cannot call upon a God they do not know. The necessity of a preacher lies in telling what the way of salvation is, for how can they hear without a preacher, and how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? But the preacher's office goes no further than just the telling of the message, and after we have told it, God, the Holy Spirit, must apply it; for further we cannot go. Oh, take care of priestcraft, take care of mancraft, of ministercraft, of clergycraft. All God's people are clergy, we are all God's cleros, all his clergy, if we have been anointed with the Holy Spirit, and are saved. There never ought to have been a distinction between clergy and laity. We are all clergy who love the Lord Jesus Christ, and you are as much fit to preach the gospel, if God has given you the ability, and called you to the work by his Spirit as any man alive. No priestly hand, no hand of presbyterianwhich means priest written largeno ordination of men is necessary; we stand upon the rights of manhood to speak what we believe, and next to that we stand upon the call of God's Spirit in the heart bidding us testify his truth. But, brethren, neither Paul, nor an angel from heaven, nor Apollos, nor Cephas can help you in salvation. It is not of man, neither by men, and neither Pope, nor Archbishop, nor bishop, nor priest, nor minister, nor any one hath any grace to give to others. We must each of us go ourselves to the fountain-head, pleading this promise"Whosoever calleth on the name of the Lord Jesus, shall be saved." If I were shut up in the mines of Siberia, where I could never hear the gospel, if I did call upon the name of Christ the road is just as straight without the minister as with him, and the path to heaven is just as clear from the wilds of Africa, and from the dens of the prisonhouse and the dungeon, as it is from the sanctuary of God. Nevertheless for edification, all Christians love the ministry, though not for salvation; though neither in priest nor preacher do they trust, yet the word of God is sweet to them, and beautiful on the mountains are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of peace."
Another very common error is, that a good dream is a most splendid thing in order to save people. Some of you do not know the extent to which this error prevails. I happen to know it. It is received among many persons, that if you dream that you see the Lord in the night you will be saved, and if you can see him on the cross, or if you think you see some angels, or if you dream that God says to you, "You are forgiven, all is well;" but if you do not have a very nice dream you cannot be saved. So some people think. Now, if it be so, the sooner we all begin to eat opium the better; because there is nothing that makes people dream so much as that, and the best advice I could give would belet every minister distribute opium very largely, and then his people would all dream themselves into heaven. But, out upon that rubbish; there is nothing in it. Dreams, the disordered fabrics of a wild imagination; the totterings often of the fair pillars of a grand conception; how can they be the means of salvation? You know Rowland Hill's good answer; I must quote it, in default of a better. When a woman pleaded that she was saved because she dreamed, he said, "Well, my good woman, it is very nice to have good dreams when you are asleep; but I want to see how you act when you are awake; for if your conduct is not consistent in religion when you are awake I will not give a snap of the finger for your dreams." Ah, I do marvel that ever any person should go to such a depth of ignorance as to tell me the stories that I have heard myself about dreams. Poor dear creatures, when they were sound asleep they saw the gates of heaven opened, and a white angel came and washed their sins away, and then they saw that they were pardoned; and since then they have never had a doubt or a fear. It is time that you should begin to doubt, then very good time that you should; for if that is all the hope you have, it is a poor one. Remember it is, "whosoever calls upon the name of God," not whosoever dreams about him. Dreams may do good. Sometimes people have been frightened out of their senses in them; and they were better out of their senses than they were in, for they did more mischief when they were in their senses than they did when they were out; and the dreams did good in that sense. Some people, too, have become alarmed by dreams; but to trust to them is to trust to a shadow, to build your hopes on bubbles, scarcely needing a puff of wind to burst them into nothingness. Oh! remember, you want no vision, no marvellous appearance. If you have had a vision or a dream, you need not despise it; it may have benefitted you: but do not trust to it. But if you have had none, remember that is the mere calling upon God's name to which the promise is appended.
And now, once again, there are others, very good sort of people too, that have been laughing while I was talking about dreams, and now it is our turn to laugh at them. There are some people who think they must have some very wonderful kind of feelings, or else they cannot be saved; some most extraordinary thoughts such as they never had before, or else certainly they cannot be saved. A woman once applied to me for admission to church-membership. So I asked her whether she had ever had a change of heart. She said, "Oh yes sir, such a change as you know," she said, "I felt it across the chest so singular, sir; and when I was a praying one day I felt as if I did not know what was the matter with me, I felt so different. And when I went to the chapel, sir, one night, I came away and felt so different from what I felt before, so light." "Yes," I said "light-headed, my dear soul, that is what you felt, but nothing more, I am afraid." The good woman was sincere enough; she thought it was all right with her, because something had affected her lungs, or in some way stirred her physical frame. "No," I hear some of you say, "people cannot be so stupid as this." I assure you that if you could read the hearts of this present congregation, you would find there are hundreds here that have no better hope of heaven than that, for I am dealing with a very popular objection just now. "I thought," said one addressing me one day, "I thought when I was in the garden, sure Christ could take my sins away, just as easily as he could move the clouds. Do you know, sir, in a moment or two the cloud was all gone, and the sun was shining. Thought I to myself, the Lord is blotting out my sin." Such a ridiculous thought as that, you say, cannot occur often. I tell you, it does, very frequently indeed. People get supposing that the veriest nonsense in all the earth is a manifestation of divine grace in their hearts, Now, the only feeling I ever want to have is just this,I want to feel that I am a sinner and that Christ is my Saviour. You may keep your visions, and ecstasies and raptures, and dancings to yourselves; the only feeling that I desire to have is deep repentance and humble faith; and if, poor sinner, you have got that, you are saved. Why, some of you believe that before you can be saved there must be a kind of electric-shock, some very wonderful thing that is to go all through you from head to foot. Now hear this, "The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart. If thou dost with thy heart believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and with thy mouth dost confess, thou shalt be saved." What do ye want with all this nonsense of dreams and supernatural thoughts? All that is wanted is, that as a guilty sinner I should come and cast myself on Christ. That done, the soul is safe, and all the visions in the universe could not make it safer.
And now, I have one more error to try to rectify. Among very poor peopleand I have visited some of them, and know what I say to be true, and there are some here, and I will speak to them,among the very poor and uneducated, there is a very current idea that somehow or other salvation is connected with learning to read and write. You smile, perhaps, but I know it. Often has a poor woman said, "Oh! sir, this is no good to poor ignorant creatures like us; there is no hope for me, sir; I cannot read. Do you know, sir, I don't know a letter? I think if I could read a bit I might be saved; but, ignorant as I am, I do not know how I call: for I have got no understanding, sir." I have found this in the country districts too, among people who might learn to read if they liked. And there are none but can, unless they are lazy. And yet they sit down in cold indifference about salvation, under the notion that the parson could be saved, for he reads a chapter so nicely; that the clerk could be saved, for he said "Amen" so well; that the squire could be saved, for he knew a great deal, and had a vast many books in his library, but that they could not be saved, for they did not know anything, and that therefore it was impossible. Now, have I one such poor creature here? I will speak plainly to you. My poor friend, you do not want to know much to go to heaven. I would advise you to know as much as ever you can; do not be backward in trying to learn. But in regard to going to heaven, the way is so plaint that "the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein." Do you feel that you have been guilty, that you have broken God's commandments that you have not kept his Sabbath, that you have taken his name in vain that you have not loved your neighbor as yourself, nor your God with all your heart. Well, if you feel it, Christ died for such as you; he died upon the cross, and was punished in your stead, and he tells you to believe it. If you want to hear more about it, come to the house of God and listen, and we will try to lead you to something else. But remember, all you want to know to get to heaven is the two things that begin with S.Sin and Saviour. Do you feel your sin? Christ is your Saviour trust to him pray to him; and as sure as you are here now, and I am talking to you, you will one day be in heaven. I will tell you two prayers to pray. First, pray this prayer,"Lord, show me myself." That is an easy one for you. Lord, show me myself, show me my heart, show me my guilt; show me my danger, Lord, show me myself. And, when you have prayed that prayer, and God has answered it, (and remember, he hears prayer) when he has answered it, and shown you yourself, here is another prayer for you,"Lord, show me thyself: Show me thy work, thy love, thy mercy, thy cross, thy grace." Pray that, and those are about the only prayers you want to pray, to get to heaven with,"Lord, show me myself;" "Lord, show me thyself." You do not want to know much, then. You need not spell, to get to heaven; you need not be able to speak English, to get to heaven; the ignorant and rude are welcome to the cross of Christ and salvation.
Excuse my thus answering these popular errors; I answer them because they are popular, and popular among some who are present. O men and women, hear the word of God once more. "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Man of eighty, child of eight, young man and maiden, rich, poor, literate, illiterate, to you is this preached in all its fullness and freeness, yea, to every creature under heaven "whosoever "( and that shuts out none,) "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
III. And now I have nothing to do except to finish with EXHORTATION. My exhortation is, I intreat you by the name of God believe the message which this day I declare from God's word. Do not turn away from me because the message is simply delivered, do not reject it because I have chosen to preach it simply and plainly to the poor, but hearken again, "Whosoever calleth on the name of the Lord shall be saved." I beseech you believe this. Does it seem hard to believe? Nothing is too hard for the Most High. Do you say, "I have been so guilty, I cannot think God will save me?" Hear Jehovah speak: "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my thoughts above your thoughts, my ways above your ways." Do you say, "I am excluded. Surely, you cannot mean that he would cave me?" Hark you; it says, "Whosoever""whosoever" is a great wide door, and lets in big sinners. Oh, surely, if it says, "whosoever," you are not excluded if you callthere is the point.
And now come, I must plead with you, and I will use a few reasons to induce you to believe this truth. They shall be Scripture reasons May God bless them to you, sinner. If thou callest on Christ's name thou wilt be saved. I will tell thee first, thou wilt be saved because thou art elect. No man ever called on Christ's name yet who was not elected. That doctrine of election which puzzles many and frightens more, never need do so. If you believe, you are elect, if you call on the name of Christ you are elect, if you feel yourself to be a sinner, and put your trust in Christ you are elect. Now, the elect must be saved, for them there is no perdition. God has predestinated them unto eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of Christ's hands. God does not choose men, and then cast them away; he does not elect them, and then cast them into the pit. Now, you are elect, you could not have called if you had not been elected your election is the cause of your calling, and inasmuch as you have called, an do call upon the name of God, you are God's elect. And from his book not death nor hell can ever erase your name. 'Tis an omnipotent decree. Jehovah's will be done! His chosen must be saved, though earth and hell oppose, his strong hand shall break their ranks, and lead his people through. You are one of these people. You shall at last stand before his throne, and see his smiling face in glory ever lasting, because you are elect.
Now, another reason. If thou callest upon the name of the Lord thou shalt be saved, because thou art redeemed. Christ has bought thee, and paid for thee, poured out the hottest of his heart's blood to buy thy ransom, split his heart, and riven it to splinters to buy thy soul from wrath. Thou art a bought one, thou knowest it not, but I see the blood-mark on thy brow. If thou callest on his name though thou hast as yet no comfort, yet Christ has called thee his own. E'er since that day when he said "It is finished,"Christ has said, "My delight is in him, for I have bought him with my blood," and because thou art bought thou shalt never perish. Not one of Jesus' blood-bought ones was ever lost yet. Howl, howl, O hell, but howl thou canst not over the damnation of a redeemed soul. Out upon the horrid doctrine that men are bought with blood, and yet are damned, it is too diabolical for me to believe. I know that what the Saviour did he did, and if he did redeem he did redeem, and those redeemed by him are positively redeemed from death and hell and wrath. I can never bring my mind to the unrighteous idea that Christ was punished for a man, and that such a man will be punished again. I never could see how Christ could stand in a man's stead and be punished for him, and yet that man be punished again. No, inasmuch as thou callest on God's name there is proof that Christ is thy ransom. Come, rejoice! If he was punished, God's justice cannot demand a double vengeance, first, at the bleeding Surety's hands and then again at thine. Come, soul put thine hand upon the Saviour's head, and say "Blest Jesus, thou wast punished for me." Oh, God, I am not afraid of thy vengeance. When my hand is on the atonement, smite, but thou must smite me through thy Son. Smite, if thou wilt, but thou canst not for thou hast smitten him, and sure thou wilt not smite again for the same offense. What! Did Christ at one tremendous draught of love, drink my damnation dry? and shall I be damned after that? God forbid! What! shall God be unrighteous forget the Redeemer's work for us and let the Saviour's blood be shed in vain? Not hell itself has ever indulged the thought which has only been worthy of the men who are traitors to God's truth. Ay, brethren, if ye call on Christ, if ye pray, if ye believe, ye may be quite sure of salvation, for ye are redeemed, and the redeemed must not perish.
Shall I tell you one more reason? Believe this truth: it must be true. For it ye call upon the name of God, "In my Father's house," says Christ, "there are many mansions," and there is one there for you. Christ has prepared a house and a crown, from before the foundation of the world, for all them that believe. Come! dost thou think Christ will prepare a house, and not carry the inhabitant there? Will he make crowns, and then lose the heads that are to wear them! God forbid! Turn thine eye towards heaven. There is a seat there that must be filled, and must be filled by thee; there is a crown there that must be worn, and must be worn by thee. Oh! be of good cheer: heavens preparation shall not be too abundant, he shall make room for those that believe, and because he hath made that room those that believe shall come there. Oh! I would to God I might know that some soul could lay hold on this promise! Where are you? Are you standing away among the crowd there, or sitting here in the body of the hall or in the topmost gallery? Are you feeling your sins? Do you shed tears in secret on account of them? Do you lament your iniquities? Oh! take his promise"Whosoever (sweet whosoever!)whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Say thus. The devil says it is of no use for you to call; you have been a drunkard. Tell him it says, "Whosoever," "Nay," says the evil spirit, "it is of no use for you, you have never been to hear a sermon, or been in the house of God these last ten years." Tell him it says, "Whosoever." "No," says Satan, "remember the sins of last night, and how you have come up to the MUSIC HALL stained with lust." Tell the devil it says. "Whosoever," and that it is a foul falsehood of his, that you can call on God and yet be lost. No; tell him that
In thought, or word, or deed,
Since worlds were made or time begun,
Could meet on one poor head,
The blood of Jesus Christ alone
For all this guilt could well atone."
Oh lay this to thine heart. May God's Spirit do it! "Whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."