A Testimony to Free and Sovereign Grace
“But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.”— Psalm xxxvii. 39.
SALVATION is a blessing peculiar to the righteous. The ungodly do not, as a rule, believe that they have any need of salvation: therefore they do not desire it, or seek after it. The righteous know that they are born in a fallen state; they acknowledge that they have destroyed themselves by personal sin; and they are conscious of a thousand dangers which surround them. Hence they need salvation, and seek it, and find it. It is to them that salvation has come to make them righteous, for until they are saved they are unrighteous, even as others; but now that salvation has come to their house, they bring forth the fruits of righteousness to the glory of God their Saviour.
This may be used as a description of the believer’s life: he lives a life of salvation. He is saved in Christ, who is his life, in whom he has forgiveness of sins, and every other covenant blessing. He is always being delivered, or saved; and from the moment in which he begins as a believer till that last moment on earth when he shall be about to depart out of the world unto the Father, his whole life is encompassed within the divine circle of salvation. God is working salvation for him, and salvation in him, and salvation by him, and is giving him to receive the fulness of salvation which he shall for ever enjoy in the world to come.
“Salvation is for ever nigh
The souls that fear and trust the Lord;
And grace, descending from on high,
Fresh hopes of glory shall afford.”
Beloved friends, we rejoice in that right royal word “salvation.” We would let its echo fly over the whole world. To us it is a word of great meaning. It does not signify alone salvation from the punishment of sin, though it comprehends that blessing, and we are glad that it does so; but it means complete and immediate salvation from the love of sin, conscious salvation from the power of sin, growing salvation
from the propensity to sin, and ultimate salvation from all tendency to sin. When we have gained full salvation, we shall never, never sin again, but shall find ourselves before the throne of God as pure as that throne, made perfect by the work of the Holy Spirit, who will have sanctified us wholly, spirit, soul, and body. Men of the world think, when we talk of salvation, that we mean escaping from hell: this is all they would fear, and so it strikes them as the great matter: but we are not of their mind. Being delivered from the pains and penalties of evil is certainly a great boon, but it is by no means the greatest: it follows in the train of a grander blessing, even as the blaze of the comet follows the central light. The righteous dread sin more than hell, and wrong is more terrible to them than any punishment which awaits it. The joy of salvation to us is that we are delivered from this present evil world, delivered from the lusts of the flesh, delivered from the old death of natural corruption, delivered from the power of Satan, and from the dominion of evil. Our salvation will not be full till we are totally and finally delivered from every trace of sin, and are “without fault before the throne of God.” Sanctification completed is our salvation perfected: purity without spot will be our Paradise Regained.
“The salvation of the righteous” in the broadest sense of the word “is of the Lord”; and the more breadth of meaning we give to it, the more completely we shall see that it must be divine. At the same time, our life is made up of a series of salvations, and each of these is of the Lord. We are constantly being saved, saved from this and that form of danger and evil. As each daily trouble threatens to engulf us, we are saved from it. As each temptation, like a dragon, threatens to swallow us up, we are saved from it. Our God is the God of salvations, and unto him belong the issues from death. We escape from deaths oft; yea, and from the very belly of hell; and still we live to sing, as Jonah sang when he was in the depths of the sea, “Salvation is of the Lord.”
I have said that this glorious salvation, which is of the Lord, is the peculiar heritage of believers. They alone know their need of it, and they alone participate in it. Look at the ungodly man who is pictured in this psalm. He does not want salvation. He flourishes like the green bay-tree: he spreads his branches to overshadow everybody else. Such men need no salvation. “Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.” They want no salvation: their lands are abundant, their house is full of treasure, and they leave the rest of their substance to their babes. They put no trust in the name of the Lord: “They call their lands after their own names.” They want no God: they have no sighs after him, they never cry, “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God!” They have no trials in their lives, and “there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.” The rod of God’s children does not fall upon them, “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth;” but often those whom he loves not he leaves to indulge in such pleasure as they can find. He gives his swine good measure of husks, for he would not be unkind even to them; and there they lie and feed without fear, knowing nothing of another world, neither caring for it.
“Fools never raise their thoughts so high;
Like brutes they live, like brutes they die;
Like grass they flourish, till thy breath
Blasts them in everlasting death.”
See the distinction between the righteous man who fears God, and him that fears him not: were it not for this word “salvation,” their ease and prosperity might make us envy the ungodly; but this turns the scale. Because “the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord,” we would take the worst portion that ever was meted out to them in preference to the best that was ever given to the ungodly. Taking all for all, God's worst is better than the devil’s best, and the portion of God’s saints at the lowest ebb is better than the portion of the wicked, even when their joys are at the flood.
I am going to speak at this time upon our text as a statement by itself. It is complete and self-contained. It is a diamond of the first water. Its words are few, but its sense is precious. “The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.”
I. Our first head is this: THIS IS THE ESSENCE OF SOUND DOCTRINE. “The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.” There are several young men here who go forth to preach the gospel. I hope that they will speak with clear knowledge and attractive speech; but this is far from being the main object of my desire: I want them really to preach the gospel, the whole gospel, and nothing but the gospel. I reckon preaching to be gospel preaching, and sound preaching, in proportion as it is consistent with this statement: “The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.” It is not every preacher who proclaims this truth in bold terms, and in plain English. More or less I hope that all who preach Christ crucified would subscribe to this; but some are a little afraid of it in all its breadth and length. They must bring in man a little. They must have him do something, or be something. They are always afraid lest grace should be misunderstood, and should be turned into licentiousness; and, truly, I share in their fear, though I would not use their way of preventing the evil which I dread. I have known some of these timorous ones try to say “Free grace”; but they have had a little impediment in their speech, and the word has come out “free-will.” They have meant that it should be all of grace, but by some means or other there has been so much hesitancy, and such a deal of fencing, that one could hardly tell grace from works. There will be no hesitancy on my part when I say that “the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord”; neither will you find me guarding the statement as if I thought it a lump of spiritual dynamite which might do infinite damage.
“The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord” in the planning. Long before we were in existence, God had planned the way of salvation. Before the fall, he had ordained the covenant by which the fallen should be restored; and that plan shows, in every line of it, that consummate wisdom and infinite love which can be found nowhere but in the Lord. He took counsel with none, and none instructed him: he alone fixed the eternal settlements of unchanging love.
“The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord” as to the persons who are included in it, for God hath chosen from the beginning his people, and “whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed unto the image of his Son.” There is a choice somewhere, and I am persuaded we have not chosen him, but he hath chosen us. Did not the Lord Jesus say as much? He is first and foremost in salvation, and though we gladly run when he calls, yet his call comes first, and his choice comes before the call. The salvation of the righteous was determined on in the council chambers of eternity or ever the stars began to shine. It is of God, and of God only.
And as it is of the Lord in the planning, so it is of the Lord in the providing. It was he who gave his Son from his bosom, and truly our Lord Jesus Christ is the full purchase-price of our salvation. We do not add a penny to it. The mortgage upon lost humanity was paid off by Christ to the last farthing, without any contribution on our part to eke out the matchless price.
The Spirit of God, who is another great item in the provision of salvation, is of the Lord. God has given us the Spirit. The Holy Ghost comes, not according to our mind or will, but according to the gift and purpose of the Lord. Nothing is lacking for the salvation of men. God has provided all. He has not left the garment almost long enough, but needing that we should add a fringe; nor has he provided a feast almost sufficient for us if we bring at least another loaf; nor has he built a house of mercy, almost completed, but leaving us to add a few more tiles to the roof. No, no. The work is finished, and from top to bottom salvation is of the Lord. All covenant provisions are already in the Lord Jesus in full, and the salvation of the righteous is entirely of the Lord in the providing.
So, dear friends, it is of the Lord in the applying. The first application of the blessings of the covenant to us is of God. Of course, that first application is in regeneration, when the soul first begins to live. The first sense of need of mercy springs, not from nature, but is a work of grace. The first desire we have to be right, the first prayer we breathe towards God— all this is the movement of eternal grace upon our souls, which else would have lain as dead as the corpses in their graves. The Lord first deals with us before we have any inclination whatsoever to deal with him. We do not see this truth at first. Possibly we discover it months after our conversion, when we come to sit down, and look over our experience. Then we cry, “Yes! Hadst thou not sought me, I had never sought thee. Hadst thou not drawn me, I had never run to thee. Hadst thou never looked on me in love, I had never looked to thee in faith. It is thy free grace which began with me. I own that the Alpha of my salvation is of the Lord.” The knowledge of this truth usually comes to us as we advance in knowledge: the full understanding of it is a fruit of the Spirit, and belongs to our riper years rather than to our spiritual infancy.
As salvation is of the Lord at the commencement, so it is as to the carrying of it on. Rest assured, beloved, there is no true growth in grace except that which is of the Lord. Nay, there is no sustaining the position to which you have reached except by the Lord.
“And every virtue we possess,
And every victory won,
And every thought of holiness,
Are his, and his alone.”
He has wrought all our works in us, and if we have produced any fruit to the honour of his name, from him has our fruit come, for our Lord truly said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” We must give him all the glory, for certainly he has given us all the grace; and as it has been, so will it be. Between here and heaven there will be nothing of our own in the matter. We shall work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, because he first works it in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure. There is no working out our salvation unless the Lord works it in. We bring to the surface of our life what he works in the deep foundation of our inward nature; but both within and without the spiritual life is all of grace. When we put our foot upon the threshold of glory, and pass through the gate of pearl to the golden pavement of the heavenly city, the last step will be as much taken through the grace of God as was the first step when we turned unto our great Father in our rags and misery. Left by the grace of God for a single moment, we should perish. We are dependent as much upon grace for spiritual life as we are upon the air we breathe for this natural life. Take the atmosphere from us; put us under an exhausted receiver, and we die: take thy grace from us, O our God, and we perish at once! What else could happen to us?
Brethren, we must always believe this and preach it, for it is the sum of all true doctrine. If you do not make salvation to be wholly of the Lord, depend upon it you will have to clip salvation down, and make it a small matter. I have always desired to preach a great salvation, and I do not think that any other is worth preaching. If salvation is of man, then you do not wonder that man falls from grace. Of course he does. What man begins, man also soon ends in his own way with a failure. When God saves he saves eternally. Some one said to me the other day, “I do not quite know about that doctrine of final perseverance whether it is true or not.” So I said to him, “What kind of life does Jesus Christ give his sheep?” He answered very correctly— “He has said, ‘I give unto my sheep eternal life.’” Very well, does not that settle it? If he has given them eternal life, they have eternal life. “But,” he said, “might they not die?” I answered, “Is it not clear that those who die have not eternal life? If they had eternal life, how could they die? Does eternal life mean six months’ life?” “No.” “Does it only mean six hundred years’ life?” “No. It must mean nothing less than life which has no end.” Death is out of the question. I must live if I am one of those of whom the Great Shepherd says, “I give unto my sheep eternal life.” But what is next? If you cannot quite see the truth from that one expression, what follows? Will the sheep of Christ ever perish? Here is his answer. “They shall never perish.” Does not that secure them? What language could better describe their security? But another question is raised:— May it not mean that, if they get away from the Lord Jesus, they shall perish? Then comes the next sentence— “Neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.” Does not that answer it? Oh, but perhaps the Saviour might fail! We think not so: but listen again: “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”
There are four great reasons why believers are and must be saved; neither can anything shake the force of any one of them. If words mean anything, those who are in Christ are safe. The Lord God Almighty has given unto them eternal life, they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of Christ’s hand, and over that first hand of Jesus is the Father’s hand to make assurance doubly sure.
Salvation, then, is of the Lord. This is a doctrine to be believed. If you do not believe it, you are sure to minimize and make small the salvation, and specially are you likely to deprive it of its certainty, and immutability. It is a pity that you should attempt this, for thus you rob Christ of his power, God of his glory, and the saints of their comfort. That is the awkward point about a salvation which is of man: it is worth nothing when you get it. We want an eternal salvation. We want a salvation which does really save. We want something which is not made up of “ifs and ans,” and “buts,” and “peradventures,” and “may be,” and “if you do this,” and “if you do that.” We need sure, immutable, abiding, unchanging salvation; and this is what we get, and what we are not ashamed to preach, while we thunder out this truth, “The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.”
“‘All of grace’— from base to summit,
Grace on every course and stone;
Grace in planning, rearing, crowning,
Sovereign grace, and grace alone!”
II. Secondly, this is not only the essence of sound doctrine, but THIS IS A NECESSARY FACT. “The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.” Assuredly it must be so, or else they will never be saved. Look for a moment, you that love the Lord, to your own inward conflicts. Beloved, we are not all alike, tossed to and fro with the uprising of inbred sin; but there are times with most of God’s saints when they are hard put to it to withstand a certain raging temptation: they have to struggle hard to keep it down. And when they have mastered that evil, another form of sin Gomes on the sly, and attempts to stab them in the back. You were giving all your attention to one insidious foe, and at that terrible moment you were set upon by another; and you had to turn round, and bend all your strength in the name of God to resist this second adversary. Nor was this all, a third evil bent its bow against you, and a fourth prepared a net for your feet. Thus you were beset behind and before; and had it not been the Lord that was on your side, you would have been quickly swallowed up. Some of us know the truth of this in our experience if the rest of you do not.
Salvation must be of the Lord with me, I know, or else my inward lusts, my proud spirit, my rebellious will, and my natural despondency will surely ruin me. Do you not feel it to be so with you? If God does not save you, you are a lost man. You must feel that. I know that those who have no conflicts sing another song, and praise themselves. Your carpet-knights, who wear the regimentals of Christianity, but know nothing of battle with inbred sin, may talk about salvation by self, but he that is hard put to it to wrestle against all wrong-doing will tell another tale. He who grieves if he even utters a rash word, or allows an impure thought to cross his mind, feels that if God does not save him, saved he never can be; and he sees it to be a necessary fact that the salvation of the righteous must be of the Lord.
When you have looked within a sufficient time to convince you, just look at your outward temptations. Ah! we little know what many of our brethren and sisters have to endure in the form of temptation in their own houses from their own friends. Many have a very hard fight of it. I know some now present who will I believe persevere and hold on to the end, but almost every day they endure a martyrdom. Cruel words are spoken, and unkind actions are done, and a bitter spirit is shown towards them because they are the people of God. Salvation must be of the Lord to these poor persecuted ones, or they will faint under their oppressions. Outside in the world, what temptations abound! You cannot engage in any business without finding that it has its peculiar sins. Many things are done in the trade— many matters established by custom— which the scrupulously upright child of God cannot tolerate. He has to set his face against the general habit, and hence he has a battle. Need I go into particulars? Why, brethren, we are surrounded with snares! They are on the table: you may readily sin there. They are in your secret chamber: you are tempted there. They are in the counting-house, and on the study-table. You cannot sit down to read a book without being in danger; you cannot go among the crowd without risk. Depend upon it, if any man is saved in the midst of this wicked and ungodly generation, in which the very air smells of corruption, and the common talk is polluting— his salvation will be evidently of the Lord. If any believer remains steadfast in this day of philosophic doubt, verily, I say unto you, his salvation must be of the Lord. He cannot go through this Vanity Fair, he cannot pass through this horrible slough, this Stygian bog of modern society, and be pure in heart, and lip, and life, unless God shall grant him his salvation.
Besides that, our salvation will certainly be of the Lord, because the world hates us. It cannot help it. If you are a genuine Christian, the world will not love you. There may be natural traits of kindness and goodness about you, which even the outside world may respect; but in proportion as you are definitely and thoroughly a Christian you will have the dogs at you. Worldlings will not see a little flaw in your character but what they will report it, and magnify it. Some of us cannot do anything but what we are misrepresented, so that we have become careless of what people say about us, so long as we know in our own conscience that we are clear. The act which we have done with the most transparent sincerity has been the very one which they have set upon as though it were a piece of trickery. Blessed be God, the world is crucified to us, and we are crucified unto the world! But if we are to escape its venom— especially those who stand in the front of the battle— if we are to hold on to the end with a stainless character, then we shall have to say and sing, “The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.”
We know, dear friends, that it must be so. It is a necessary fact, even if we only look at the contrary view. What professions some make, and how long they keep them up! We have said of such and such a man, “If he is not a child of God, who is?” We have even wished that our soul were in his soul’s stead when we have heard him pray, and marked the impressive devotion of his demeanour; and yet we have lived to see the very person we admired rolling in filth, character gone, and hope gone. This happens in the church sadly often. Whenever we see it, we may truly feel that “the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.” If ever you see a Christian man, professedly so, suddenly disappear and melt away, you will say to yourself, “Ah! had it not been for grace divine it would have happened just the same to me, and my fellow-professors also.” We should have gone out, like the snuff of a candle, if God had not preserved us, and kept us alight. The older we grow in the divine life, and the more earnestly we seek to exhibit the character of a Christian, the more we shall feel that, if we had to go to this warfare at our own charges, it would be better for us that we had never been born. The life of many modern professors might be lived without supernatural help, but the life of a genuine Christian is a perpetual miracle, which could be wrought by none but the Lord God. True Christian life is produced by God himself working mightily, even as when he made the world, or raised his Only-begotten Son from the dead. I say that this is a necessary fact, for there can be no salvation but that which is of the Lord.
III. In the third place, our text being true, that “the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord,” THIS IS a SWEET CONSOLATION; for if my salvation is of the Lord, then I shall be saved. If it had been of anybody else, I should be lost. Ah, Gabriel! if my salvation had to be accomplished by you, and all your fellow-angels, I should despair. Ah, my brethren! if all of you put together were sent into this world to try and help poor me to heaven, you would never get me there. I should wear you all out. When it is written, “Salvation is of the Lord,” I am comforted, for I am sure that the Lord will do it. He can, for he is omnipotent. He will, for he has promised to do it, and he is true and unchangeable. He will go through with what he has begun. If man began, he might leave off before he had finished, for want of stores to go on with it, or because he had made a mistake, and changed his fickle mind; but when God begins, as surely as ever he opens the war, he will push on till he has won the victory. As surely as he lays the first stone, he will not withdraw his right hand till he has brought forth the topstone, with shoutings of “Grace, grace unto it!” “The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord:” therefore it will be accomplished. Not all the temptations of life, nor all the terrors of death, nor all the furies of hell, shall prevent any soul upon whom God has begun his work of grace from reaching eternal salvation. What a blessing is this, and what a comfort it is!
“Things future, nor things that are now,
Not all things below nor above,
Can make him his purpose forego,
Or sever my soul from his love.”
This grand fact comforts us partly by leading us to believe in prayer. If the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord, then, whenever we get into any great trouble, we go to him, and cry, “O Lord, my salvation is of thee! I have come to thee for it.” When strong temptation seems to catch us, like birds in a net, and we cannot break loose, then we cry, “O God, salvation is of thee alone! Help me. Thou canst. I look to thee for it!” When our soul lies dead, as it sometimes does, like this heavy weather— when there is little sun to brighten us, or air to enliven us, we feel inactive, and cannot stir. Oh, then it is most blessed in prayer to feel “all my fresh springs are in thee, my Lord! Thou canst quicken me. Thou canst give me vigour, and force of character, and energy to do thy work, or suffer thy will”! In drawing nigh unto God we are coming to the right place: we are only asking God to do what he undertakes to do, since “the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.”
This, in addition to increasing our hope in prayer, urges us at all times to look out of ourselves to God. “The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord;” then I must not be always searching within my own heart to find some good thing within me; I must not be turning over evidences, and living upon past experiences; but I must remember that the salvation even of the righteous is of the Lord. I have often thrown all my evidences overboard— every one of them. I have felt that I would not give a farthing for the whole lot put together; and I have gone to Christ Jesus just as I went at first, singing my old ditty—
“I’m a poor sinner, and nothing at all,
But Jesus Christ is my all in all.”
We are encouraged to do this by the fact that salvation is of the Lord. Go again to the cross, and read your pardon there. Suppose the devil tells you, or suppose it even to be true, that all your experience is a fiction, all your past profession a lie, all your faith presumption, all your enjoyments delirium, all that you have known and felt a day-dream; well, then, Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and he can save you. O my Lord, I can boast nothing whatever of myself, but I come and cast myself on thee, and thou hast said, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”! Frequent beginnings again are the very safest things; in fact, we should, in a sense, be always beginning, for the spiritual life begins with coming unto Jesus, and the continuance of that spiritual life is described thus: “To whom coming as unto a living stone.” To whom coming, always coming: always trusting, always looking out of self, always looking to Christ. When evidences are bright, you know where you are; but at such a time you could tell that without them. It is easy to tell the time of day by a sun-dial, but then the sun must be shining; and when I am at home, and can see the sun, I know whereabouts the sun is at twelve o’clock, and therefore I do not want the sun-dial to tell me the time. Evidences are exceedingly good things when you do not want them, and they are of very little use when you do. Evidences are clear when Christ is present; but when Christ is present you do not want their help; and when Christ is not present, evidences fail to comfort you. It is better to live by a daily faith upon Christ than to live upon evidences. They most readily tarn mouldy, and then they are most unwholesome food. Live upon Christ, who is the daily manna, and you will live well. You will be driven to such a life by the force of this blessed truth, that the salvation of the righteous, just as much as the salvation of the wicked, is of the Lord. A sinner cannot be saved by himself; neither can a righteous man. A sinner must look to the Lord for salvation; so must a righteous man. We are on one footing here— the rich saint as well as the poor sinner. Christ must be everything to one as well as to the other; and what a blessed thing it is that he is everything to us! Let us hourly make him so.
IV. Fourthly, and very briefly, THIS DOCTRINE IS A REASON FOR HUMILITY. “The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.” Are you saved, my dear brother? And do you know it? Then all idea of pride must vanish, for it is clear that you did not save yourself. That regeneration, of which you are a partaker, is the free gift of God to an undeserving one— a work of grace upon one who could not have wrought it upon himself. Pride is excluded. Has the Lord granted you such a salvation that you have remained fast in your integrity all these years? Do not get proud of it, for your salvation from any gross outward sin has been of the Lord. It is none of your doing. Above all, do not begin to censure others; and when you see a poor brother down— ay, when you see a child of God who has erred, and grossly sinned, do not begin censuring him in bitterness, and giving him over to despair. If you had been in his case, you might have done worse. Do I speak harshly? Any man who says, “If I had been in that brother’s place I should have done better,” is a fool. He does not know himself. The probabilities are that he would have done worse. Ah, Sir Pharisee! you— yes, oh yes, you are a wonder! Marvellous is your purity! Splendidly you act! What a paragon you are! If you were to see yourself in God’s light, you would see that you are a mass of corruption, smelling of pride. That is what you are. The man who begins to exult over his fallen brother is the likeliest man to fall himself. He who points at a rent in his brother’s garment is in rags himself. If we have stood fast amid temptation, we may bless God that we have done so; but we must not find fault with others as though there was some good thing in ourselves. The salvation of the most righteous man that ever lived is of the Lord. If his sun has not been eclipsed— if his moon has not been turned into darkness— if his stars have not fallen like withered leaves from the tree, it is all owing to the grace of God, and the grace of God alone. It is needful to say this to keep us from being lifted up with foolish boasting.
So, dear friends, we shall have to sing to a grave, sweet melody as long as we are here, whenever we touch a matter that concerns ourselves. When we get to heaven, we shall see then much more than we do to-night that salvation is of the Lord. Mr. Bunyan represents his pilgrim as going through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and even while he was in the darkness and horror of that defile he knew that he needed the Lord to help him. He felt that he had a terrible walk of it that night, when there was a bog on this side, and a quagmire on that, and hobgoblins and all sorts of horrid creatures all around: he knew that he needed divine aid. He held on his way, with his sword in his hand, and grasping the weapon of All-prayer, till at last he quitted that horrible place; and then he knew better than before how great was his necessity. He looked back when the morning rose, and till then he had not fully known what a place he had been traversing, and how great was the power which upheld him in his night-march. When we get to heaven, and look back upon our life below, we shall then see the wonders of delivering grace which at this time we do not fully appreciate.
“When I stand before the throne
Dress’d in beauty not my own,
When I see thee as thou art,
Love thee with unsinning heart,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then— how much I owe.”
I believe that in the day of our full deliverance we shall lift up, every one of us, such a song of praise as we are not capable of here. We shall sing with all our powers of heart and tongue at the sight of what we have been delivered from. Even then this will be the sum and substance of the song— “Salvation is of the Lord.” He has wrought it all, and brought us safely through. The hymn of Miriam, and of all the children of Israel at the Red Sea, when they had passed through it, and all the Egyptians were drowned, was a very exultant song, but what will ours be when the gates of hell shall have been overthrown, and all our enemies destroyed, and we shall find ourselves before the eternal throne saved for ever! Shall we not exclaim, “Sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously”? Shall we not, each one, tell out his own experience, and bid our fellow-believers sing yet more and more rapturously unto the God of salvation? Will not some of you take up that note which Miriam dwelt upon when she could not see a single Egyptian? Pharaoh’s chariots and horses were all sunk in the sea, his chosen captains also were drowned in the Red Sea; and so she struck her timbrel, and with all the maidens she danced right joyously as she sang, “The depths have covered them. There is not one, not one, not one of them left.” Thus will we sing in heaven. “There is not one, not one of them left. Not one of all the sins, and all the trials, and all the temptations, and all the vexations of life: the Lord has removed them all. There is not one of them left. Salvation is of the Lord.”
V. I close with one more remark, and it is this: this text gives us A COMFORTABLE GROUND OF HOPE. “The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.” Then I believe he will save me. I trust myself with him, and thus I become righteous by faith; and therefore he will save me from my trouble and care. Brother, draw the same conclusion. Sister, draw the same conclusion. You are in a terrible condition just now. Everything has been going wrong. You do not know what to do. But “the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.” He will bring you through. You are in good hands. The Great Pilot knows the navigation of the river of life better than you do. You cannot see a channel for your boat: there are snags everywhere, or quicksands, or rocks, or shallows. He knows all about it. Rest. Trust. Wait. Commit your way unto the Lord. There is personal comfort in the fact that our salvation is of the Lord.
And there is comfort, next, with regard to all our tried brethren. It is my lot— my happy or unhappy lot— to be continually consulted by brothers and sisters in great trouble. They think I can help them, though I cannot. I hardly know what to say to them. I can only take their burden with my own unto the Lord. I often feel great pain in sympathizing with trials which I cannot remove; but then it is cheering to know that the Lord can help where we cannot, for “the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.” He can help the helpless, the forlorn, the impoverished, the dying. He will bring his people safely through floods and fires. Their straits are very great, and their burdens very heavy, but the Lord will put underneath them the everlasting arms. Pray for them; sympathize with them; help them as far as you can; and then, when you cast yourself on your Lord, cast them there also.
Next, this ought to give us hope about seekers. I see some brethren and sisters before me whose lives are spent in trying to encourage poor erring souls to return unto the Lord. Sometimes you are balked and defeated. Well, “the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.” Surely, if the salvation of the righteous is to come from the Lord, much more must the salvation of poor seekers. Have hope about the vilest and worst of men. If there are any such here to-night, let them have hope, for if the Lord bids the righteous, in whom there is a measure of his grace, to look to him for salvation, assuredly he bids you to do the same, for you have nothing of your own. If those who are righteous before God yet find their salvation in him alone, where are you to look? You must look to the Lord also. Look to Jesus on the cross, and find salvation in him; for the Lord Jesus redeemed with his precious blood all who trust in him. O my dear hearer, come and cast yourself upon him! “In due time Christ died for the ungodly:” so runs the word. Look to that wondrous death of the Son of God which redeems such as you are, and in your case too it shall be found that your salvation is of the Lord. May God bless you, and cause you to rejoice in his salvation!