“WITHOUT MONEY AND WITHOUT PRICE.”
“Without money and without price.” — Isaiah lv. 1.
THE spiritual blessings promised and provided in the gospel comprise all that man can need. They are described in the chapter before us as “water” refreshing and cleansing— the “water of life,” whereof if a man drink he shall never thirst again. They are next described as “wine” the wine of joy, exhilarating, comforting, “making glad the heart of man a wine in which is no woe, but fulness of holy delight. These blessings are thirdly represented as “milk” for milk is almost the only article of diet which contains everything that is necessary for the support of man, and therefore it is a type of the satisfying qualities of the gospel. He who receives the gospel of Jesus Christ has all that his soul can possibly need for time and for eternity, so that water, and wine, and milk set forth a full supply of life, and joy, and satisfaction for our spirits.
According to the text, this provision for our souls is presented to us gratis. We are to buy it, that is to say, we are to have it with as good a right, and as full an assurance, as if we had purchased it; but the purchase is to be made “without money,” and lest we should make mistakes and suppose that although money literally might not be brought, some other recompense must be offered to God, it is added, “without price.” The double expression is most sweeping, clearing away once for all from the mercies of God all idea of their being purchasable by any method whatsoever. The gospel is not to be bought with gold. Vain are your treasures if you should lavish them at the feet of Christ. What cares he for gold and silver? Neither are they to be procured by knowledge and wisdom, which are the mind’s wealth, the money of the soul. A man may know much, but his knowledge may only puff him up, or increase his condemnation. Neither are the gifts of God’s grace to be obtained by human merit. Merit, indeed, connected with man is out of the question; call it demerit and you are right. If we had done all that we ought to have done, still we ought to have done it, and even in that case we should still be unprofitable servants. Away with the notion of merit as possible to fallen man. The day which saw Adam driven out of Paradise blotted the word “human merit” out of the dictionary of truth. Every sort of gift to God with the view of procuring his favour is excluded by the term, “without price.” Some have dreamed that they might make a barter if they could not purchase; they, therefore, bring to God instead of inward holiness the beauty of outward ceremonies; and instead of a perfect righteousness they offer a baptismal regeneration and a sacramental sanctity. If they have not kept the law, yet at any rate they have observed the rubric; if they have not loved their God with all their heart, they have at least bowed the knee during the performance of a priest. Thus would they barter with the Lord, and give him rites and ceremonies in payment for his grace. They conceive that a kind of witchcraft rests in the use of certain words and postures, and that God is thereby moved to blot out their sins. Others, who are not quite so insane, have fallen into the same error under another form; they fancy that a certain amount of feeling will procure for them the gifts of grace; they must be distressed up to a certain point, and made to tremble in a certain measure, and become despairing, or ever they can hope for mercy: thus they make unbelief, which is a sin, into a preparation for grace, and despair, which is an insult to a merciful God, they magnify into a fitness for the reception of his bounty. Others, again, have dreamed that partial reformation, the saying of prayers, the leaving of legacies, attendance upon orthodox teaching, or the performance of benevolent actions, will surely procure for them the gifts of grace. To one and all of them comes this gospel declaration, the gifts of God’s love are “without money and without price.” I wish I knew how to put this truth into such words that everybody could understand me, and that nobody could misunderstand me. Whenever a man is saved he is saved because God freely saves him, not because there was anything in him to deserve salvation, or any particular fitness in him why God should deliver him and not another. The gifts of God’s grace are absolutely free in the most unrestricted sense of that term. Nothing good whatsoever is brought by man, or is expected from man, by way of recommendation to mercy; but everything is given gratis, and is received by us “without money and without price.” Upon that one thought I shall dwell, hoping that the Spirit of God will make it plain to your minds.
I. And, first, I shall notice THE SURPRISING NATURE OF THIS FACT, for it is very surprising to mankind to hear that salvation is “without money and without price.” It is so surprising to them that the plainest terms cannot make them understand it; and, though you tell them a thousand times a day, yet they persist in thinking that you mean something else. They cannot be brought to accept it as literally true that they are to have everything for nothing, salvation gratis, and eternal life as the pure gift of heaven’s charity. Why, there are those sitting in this house this morning who know the way of salvation, and are saved, and they will tell you that for many years they heard the gospel very plainly put, but that until God the Holy Ghost enlightened them they did not really understand what was meant by simple faith in Jesus, and could not bring themselves to the idea that then and there, just as they were, they had but to accept the salvation of God and it would be their own. They were unable to believe that so simple a matter could be the gospel; they looked for mystery, difficulty, and a complex preparation; they understood the words, but missed the central sense; the grace and the freeness of the gospel surpassed their thoughts. It is not an unusual thing to find children of godly parents who have heard the gospel from their earliest youth still ignorant of the way of salvation, having failed to learn this simple truth, that salvation is the free gift of God, and can only be received as such. Now, why is it that man does not see this? Why is it that when he does see it he is surprised at it? I think it is, first, because of man’s relation to God, and his wrong judgment of him. Man thinks that God is a hard master. That expression of the man who hid his talent in a napkin, “I knew that thou wast an austere man, gathering where thou hast not strawed,” is precisely the idea which the mass of mankind have of the Lord; they judge him to be exacting, hard, severe, and that his law claims more of man than it should; they judge that he might have dealt more leniently with a poor, erring, fallible mortal like man. When the Holy Spirit convinces men of sin they still retain hard thoughts of God, and fear that he cannot be so gracious as to blot out their sins. Judging the Lord by their own standard, they cannot think that he will freely forgive, and though they are reminded of the great atonement which enables God to be just and yet the justifier of the ungodly, they still think that because they could not readily forgive offences against themselves, God must be as slow to pardon as they are, and that he must be urgently pleaded with, recompensed with penances, conciliated with promises, or moved by tears, before he will be brought into a loving state of mind so as to be willing to bestow his grace. Little do they know that mighty heart of love which throbs in Jehovah’s bosom: little do they understand that his bowels yearn to clasp his Ephraims to his breast, and that he has declared, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Learn ye, then, ye sons of men, that “as high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are his ways above your ways, and his thoughts above your thoughts.” He waits to be gracious, and is willing abundantly to pardon the ungodly if they do but turn unto him.
No doubt, also, the condition of man under the fall makes it more difficult for him to comprehend that the gifts of God are “without money and without price,” for he finds that he is doomed to toil for almost everything he needs. “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” is the sentence upon our race. If man wants bread the earth demands that he dig for it, or use some other form of labour. Under the artificial conditions of civilisation scarcely anything comes to us of itself, but must be bought with money. Man finds that he is in a place where, if he buys, it certainly is not “without money and without price money and price must be in his hands in every market and store, or else he must go away empty-handed, and therefore he is apt to reckon that as it is so in this sin-blighted world it must be the same in the kingdom of Christ; and when he finds that he is not by works to purchase divine favour, he counts it strange, and is long in believing that it can be true. He reads the words “without money and without price,” and thinks that there must be something written between the lines to modify the sense, for surely there must be something to do or to feel before a sinner can receive the gifts of grace.
Again, man recollects the general rule of men towards each other, for in this world what is to be had for nothing except that which is worth nothing? Nothing for nothing is the general system. Nobody in trade thinks of trading except for profit, and if a man were urged to sell without a price he would open wide his eyes, and declare that he would soon find himself a bankrupt. Dealing with our fellowmen we must naturally expect, even according to the golden rule, that we should give them an equivalent for what we receive. Of course the Christian religion lifts true believers into a condition in which they are willing to give, hoping for nothing again, but the general rule all round is you must pay for what you have. Can you clothe yourself? can you warm your hands in the winter? can you find a shelter for your children? can you obtain a bed upon which to lay your weary bones without money? And so “without money and without price” is quite a novelty, and man is astonished at it, and cannot believe it to be true.
Another matter helps man into this difficulty, namely, his natural pride. He does not like to be a pauper before God. The mass of mankind have generally some excellency or other which, in their own esteem, exalts them above others. You shall find a large proportion of the upper classes perfectly convinced that they are far superior to the poor, that the working classes are indeed an inferior order of beings compared with themselves. You shall find an equal pride amongst the working classes, which leads them to think themselves the real backbone of the country, a sturdy independence it is sometimes called, but when it intrudes into religion it is nothing better than evil boasting. Pride is woven into man’s nature. The prodigal became a prodigal through his love of independence, he desired his own portion of goods to do as he liked with. After he became a prodigal his time was occupied with spending— he spent his money riotously; he loved to play the fine gentleman and spend. Even when the prodigal came to himself the old idea of paying was still in him, and he desired to be a hired servant, so that if he could not pay in money he would pay in labour. We do not like to be saved by charity, and so to have no comer in which to sit and boast. We long to make provision for a little self-congratulation. You insult a moral man if you tell him that he must be saved in the same way as a thief or a murderer, yet this is no more than the truth. For a woman of purity to be told that the same grace which saved a Magdalene is necessary for her salvation is so humbling, that her indignation is roused; and yet it is the fact, for in every case salvation is “without money and without price.”
Once more, all religions that ever have been in the world of man’s making teach that the gifts of God are to be purchased or merited. Draw a line, and you shall find the gospel on the one side teaches free grace, but the whole ruck of false religions, from Heathenism down through Mahomedanism to Popery, all demand a price for the promise of salvation. The Pharisee reckons that none can have it unless he shall wear a broad phylactery, and fast twice in the week. The heathen will swing with a hook in his back, or roll over and over for hundreds of miles, or torture his body, or make great sacrifices at the altar of his idol. The Mahomedan has his pilgrimages and a host of meritorious prayers. As for the Papist, his religion is merit and payment from beginning to end, not only for the soul while it is yet in the body, but when it is departed; for by means of masses for the dead a tax is still exacted. Man would fain bargain with God, and make God’s temple of mercy into an auction-mart, where each man bids as high as he can, and procures salvation if he can reach a certain figure: but here stands the open-handed gospel with all the treasures of infinite grace unlocked, and all the granaries of heaven with the doors taken off their hinges, and it cries, “Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely”; it asks neither money nor price, nor anything of man, but magnifies the infinite grace of the all-bounteous Father, in that he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and reveals his grace to the undeserving.
Thus I have spoken upon the surprising nature of this fact, but I want to add that, though I have thus shown grounds for our surprise, yet if men would think a little they might not be quite so unbelievingly amazed as they are; for, after all, the best blessings we have come to us freely. What price have you paid for your lives? and yet they are very precious. Skin for skin, yea, all that you have would you give for them. What price do you pay for the air you breathe? What price does a man pay for the blessed sunlight? I wonder they have not a game law to preserve the sunbeams, so that the lords of the land alone might enjoy the genial rays, while the poor should be liable to punishment for poaching in pursuit of sunshine. No, they cannot pen in the sun’s light, God has given it freely, and to the pauper it is as free as to the prince. Life and air and light come to us “without money and without price.” And our faculties, too— who pays for eyesight? The eye which glances across the landscape and drinks in beauty, what toll does it pay? The ear which hears the song of the birds at dawn, what price is given for it? The senses are freely bestowed on us by God, and so is the sleep which rests them. To-night when we lay down our heads upon our pillows the poor man’s sleep shall be as sweet as the sleep of him who reclines on down. Sleep is the unbought boon of heaven, you could not purchase it, all the mines of Potosi could not buy a wink thereof, yet God gives it to the sea-boy on the giddy mast. It is clear then that some of the best blessings we possess come to us by the way of free gift, ay, and come to the undeserving, too, for the dew shall sparkle to-morrow upon the grass in the miser’s field, and the rain shall fall in due season upon the rising corn of the wretch who blasphemes his God. The influences which nurture wheat and barley, and other fruits of the earth, are given to the farm of the atheist as well as to the fields of the godly: they fall alike for the evil and for the good, for “the Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.” We ought not, therefore, to be so surprised, after all, that the gifts of his grace are free.
II. In the second place, dear friends, I want to show you THE NECESSITY OF THE FACT mentioned in our text. There was a necessity that the gifts of the gospel should be “without money and without price.” A threefold necessity.
First, from the character of the donor. It is God that gives. Oh, sirs, would you have him sell his pardons? The King of Kings, would you have him vend forgiveness to the sons of men at so much per head? Would you have him sell his Holy Spirit, and would you come like Simon Magus and offer money unto him for it? Would you have him give to you as the reward of merit adoption into his family, that you might become his sons, and brag even in the halls of heaven that you climbed to this dignity by your own good works? Talk not so exceeding proudly. The great King has made a great supper— would you have him demand a price for entrance, and sit as a receiver at the gates of mercy, and stop each one who comes to see if he has brought a price to pay for entrance there? Nay, nay, it is not like our God. He dealeth not thus. When the prodigal came back, imagine the father keeping his son in quarantine to see if he had a clean bill of health! Imagine him saying, “My son, have you brought a gift wherewith to reconcile me?” The parable would be spoiled by the hint of such a thing. Its glory lies in the freeness of the father’s love, which asked no questions, but pressed the repenting child to his bosom just as he was. God, the great Father, must not be so dishonoured in your thoughts as to be conceived of as requiring a price of you. You displease him when you think that you are to do something and feel something and bring something in your hand as a recommendation to him. Could you picture Jesus going about Palestine selling his cures; saying to the blind beggar, “How much have you left of the alms of the charitable to give to me for your eyesight?” or saying to Martha and Mary, “Bring me hither all you have, and I will raise your brother Lazarus.” Oh, I loathe to speak of it, it makes me sick to imagine such a thing. How weary must the Lord be with your self-righteousness, with your attempts to traffic and to bargain with him! Oh, sirs, you are not dealing with your fellow men, you are dealing with the King of Kings, whose large heart scorns your bribes. Salvation must be given without price, since it is God that gives.
Again, it must be for nothing, because of the value of the boon. As one has well said, “it is without price because it is priceless.” You could not conceive of a fit price for the blessing, therefore it must be left without price. I will suppose this morning that I am sent here by high authority to sell the Koh-i-noor, or a diamond worth ten thousand times as much, a jewel worth a thousand millions of pounds. I am bound to sell it to you now, but I am sure you cannot purchase it at any price worthy of it: all you could offer would be so small a portion of its value that I would sooner give it away than lower the repute of the jewel by taking such a trifle for it. The gospel is so precious a thing that if it is to be bought the whole world could not pay for it, and therefore if bought at all it must needs be without money and without price. It cost the Lord Jesus his blood, what have you to offer? What? Do you imagine that you can buy it with a few paltry works? God himself must become a man, and bleed, and die, to bring pardon and eternal life to sinners; and do you think that your tears, and bendings of your knee, and gifts of your money, and emotions of your heart, are to purchase this unpurchasable boon? Oh, believe, because it is so rich, it must be given away if it is to belong to us.
And there is another reason arising from the extremity of human destitution. The blessings of grace must be given “without money and without price,” for we have no money or price to bring. I was the other night speaking to inquirers, and I put this matter in a very homely way, as I will again. I said, I will suppose there is a terrible famine among you, as there is in India, and that all your money is gone, and that all of you together have not so much as a farthing between you. Now, I am sent with bread, and I want to sell it to you, and I begin by saying, “Well, of course, now that there is a famine we must make a little profit out of you, you must expect the price to be raised; but we will be very moderate, we will let you have it for a shilling a quartern loaf.” You say, “We do not find fault with the price, but we have not a farthing to pay you with. Oh, sir, we cannot buy of you.” Well, well, we will reduce the price; you shall have it at the ordinary price of household bread! Come, you cannot ask for anything more reasonable than this; will you have it? “It is not unreasonable,” you say, “the price is a very proper one, but still it is useless to us. We would gladly purchase, but we have not a penny between us; what can we do?” Come, then, we will reduce the price a great deal; we will let you have the best bread at twopence a quartern. Did you ever hear of bread at that rate? Surely you may fill your children’s mouths every day at this price. “Alas,” you cry, “it is of no use; we cannot find even twopence.” Well, now, we will bring the price down to one farthing a loaf, and who has ever heard of bread at that rate before? Still, with tears in your eyes, you cry to me, “Oh, we can no more get it at a farthing than we could buy it at a shilling, for we have not a single farthing left.” Come, then, I must come down to you altogether, you shall have it for nothing. Take it, I say, for nothing, and I will give you a piece into the bargain; I will give you something over and above weight. I see you wonder what I mean by that. Listen to these words: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house;” there is the piece over and above what you asked or even thought. Is not that good reasoning that God must give eternal life for nothing, because you have nothing which you could offer as a price? If you are to have eternal life, no terms but those of grace will meet your case. Think, dear friends, when the dying thief was hanging at the side of Christ— suppose the Lord Jesus Christ had made a rule that a man should live a holy life for a week, and then should have the blessing. Why, the thief must have died unblest! Suppose that he had said to all men, it is absolutely essential that you join a church and be baptised, for else I cannot save you, then poor bedridden sinners must perish hopelessly. A gospel all for nothing suited the dying thief. “I admit it,” says somebody. Ah, my friend, then surely you cannot be in a worse condition. Some years ago I had a very high compliment paid me by a gentleman who intended an insult. He ridiculed my preaching, and remarked that it would be eminently suited to the lowest class of negroes. This I accepted as an honourable admission, for he who could reach and bless the black man will not preach in vain to white people. I have heard of a preacher of whom his detractors said that he might do very well to preach to old women. Ah, then, he will do for anybody. I suppose he would suit old women because they are on the borders of the grave, and that it is where we all are, for we are all much nearer to the grave than we imagine. Free salvation suits the vilest of the vile, and it is equally suitable for the most moral. If it is all for nothing none can be so poor as to be excluded from hope; if it is to be had “without money and without price” no soul need be without it. Surely the price is brought low enough. The difficulty is that the price is too low for human pride, sinners will not come down to it. Whereas every other salesman finds that he cannot get his customers up to his price, my difficulty is that I cannot get my customers down to mine; they will still higgle and haggle to do something, be something, or promise something, whereas here are the terms, and the only terms upon which gospel grace is to be had, “without money and without price.” Ye shall have it freely, but God will have none of your bargaining. Take mercy, take it just as you are, you are welcome to it; but if you tarry till you are better your very betterness will make you worse; if you wait until you are fit your fancied fitness will be your unfitness. Your hunger is your fitness for food, your nakedness is your fitness for clothing, your poverty is your fitness for the riches of mercy, your sin, your loathsomeness, your hardness of heart and obduracy do but make you fit objects for the wondrous grace, and for the amazing transformation which divine power can work in men.
It is absolutely needful that the blessings of grace should be “without money and without price,” and, glory be to God, so they are.
III. My third point is this, THE SALUTARY INFLUENCE OF THIS FACT. If it be “without money and without price,” what then? Well, first, that enables us to preach the gospel to every creature. Jesus Christ said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.” If we had to look for some price in the hand of the creature, or some fitness in the mind of the creature, or some excellence in the life of the creature, we could not preach mercy to every creature, we should have to preach it to prepared creatures, and then that preparation would be the money and the price. I am sorry that some of my brethren entertain the idea that the gospel is to be preached only to certain characters. They dare not preach the gospel to everybody, they try to preach it to the elect; surely, if the Lord meant them to make the selection he would have set a mark upon his chosen. As I do not know the elect, and have no command to confine my preaching to them, but am bidden to preach the gospel to every creature, I am thankful that the gospel is put in such a way that no creature can be too poor, too wicked, or too vile to receive it, for it is “without money and without price.” That is going to the very bottom. Surely, that takes in the most degraded, debased, and despised of our race, whoever they may be. If before I preach the gospel I have to look for a measure of fitness in a man, then I cannot preach the gospel to any but those whom I believe to have the fitness; but if the gospel is to be preached freely, with no conditions or demands for preparations or prerequisites, if this be the gospel that “whosoever believeth in Jesus is not condemned,” then may I go to the most degraded Bushmen, or savage Ashantees, or untamable Modocs, and tell them the good news; we may speak of mercy to harlots and thieves, and we may carry the gladsome message into the Guilt Garden, and Hangman’s Alley. We may penetrate the jungles of crime, and still with the same entreaty from heaven— “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him turn unto the Lord, for he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” The fact that the mercy of God is “without money and without price” enables us to preach it to every man, woman, and child of woman born.
Now, note secondly, that this fact has the salutary effect of excluding all pride. If it be “without money and without price,” you rich people have not a halfpennyworth of advantage above the poorest of the poor in this matter. Your station may be very respectable, but God is no respecter of persons. You may be numbered amongst the rank and fashion of society, but in God’s esteem one rank is as evil as another, and the fashion of all men passes away. Divine grace comes to the Queen upon her throne and to the beggar in the street with this same message, “without money and without price.” So that the pride of wealth is utterly abolished by the gospel; and so is the pride of merit. You have been so good and so charitable, and you are so excellent, and so religious, and so everything that you ought to be, and you fancy that there must be some private entrance, some reserved door, for persons of your quality: but, sirs, the gate is so strait that you must rub shoulders with thieves, and drunkards, and murderers, if you are to enter eternal life; there is but one way and that is the way of grace. “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By the law of works? Nay, but by the law of grace.” Those who are saved never sing well done to themselves, but when they get to heaven they glorify grace alone.
“Grace all the work shall crown
Through everlasting days,
It lays in heaven the topmost stone;
And well deserves the praise.”
What a slap in the face this is for human glorying, and how much it needs it, for it is impudent to the last degree. “Surely, surely you make some distinction, sir, between the excellent and the moral, and those who are openly criminal.” Yes, I do make a great distinction when treating of our relations to one another, but we are now speaking of grace, and from the nature of things these distinctions are not available where mercy and not merit is the rule. To all men there is but one rule—“He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the Son of God.”
Again, another influence of the fact mentioned in our text is that it forbids despair. Despair, where art thou? I have a ten-thonged whip with which to flog thee away! “Without money and without price;” then who can despair? You are feeling in your pocket, and you find nothing there: you do not need anything, salvation is “without money.” You have been feeling in your heart, and you find nothing there! You do not need anything before coming to Jesus, for his grace is “without price.” You have been looking back on your past history, it is all blank and black. That is true, but Jesus Christ is come into the world to seek and to save that which was lost. But you cannot find a redeeming trait in your character. Ah, but God has found a Redeemer, mighty to save, and if you rest in him he will save you from your sins. Whoever you may be, if eternal life is to be had for nothing, you are not too poor to have it. It is impossible that you can have fallen too low for the gospel, for Jesus Christ is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him.”
I was for a long while pestered with this idea that I must have some extraordinary vision, or remarkable revelation, or singular experience, and have somewhat to tell, such as I had heard good people tell of; but when the glad tidings were made plain to me by the Holy Spirit, I was as if I had received a new revelation. “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth,” sounded like a new song in my ears. My heart leaped for joy at the news. Christ was nailed to the cross, and I was to look at him and be saved. Just as the serpent of brass was lifted on the pole and whosoever looked was healed of the serpent bites, so was there for me eternal life and blessedness in looking to Jesus on the tree. Why did I not understand that before? Ah, why! Why do not some of you understand it? I pray God the Holy Spirit make you see it this morning, for that is the great truth which will save your soul. Everything for nothing, and Christ himself to be had for the asking. Surely this truth should comfort the most desponding.
Next it inspires with gratitude, and that gratitude becomes the basis of holiness. Look ye here. This man is saved for nothing, his sin pardoned according to the free mercies of God! What do you think he says? “Oh, my God, my God, how have I belied thee! How have I slandered thee! As for thee, thou hast been ever merciful to me. Thou hast blotted out my sins, thou hast made me thy child, thou hast given thy Son to be my Redeemer. My God, I love thee! What can I do to show that my heart is wholly thine?”
“Make me to run in thy commands,
’Tis a delightful road;
Nor let my head, nor heart, nor hands
Offend against my God.”
They say that a free gospel will make men think lightly of sin. It is the death of sin, it is the life of virtue, it is the motive power of holiness, and whenever it comes into the soul it begets zeal for the Lord.
“Speak of morality! thou bleeding Lamb,
The best morality is love to thee.”
The best morality springs out of gratitude for pardon, and grace, and lively hope, received as the gifts of heaven.
Then note again that the receipt of salvation without money and without price engenders in the soul the generous virtues. What do I mean by that? Why the man who is saved for nothing feels first with regard to his fellow-men that he must deal lovingly with them. Has God forgiven me? then I can freely forgive those who have trespassed against me. It is the first impulse of a soul which receives pardon from God to put away all enmity against his fellow-men. I freely forgive the few pence that my fellow sinner owes me when I remember the thousand talents which were forgiven me by the infinite mercy of my God. The man who does not forgive has never been forgiven, but the man who has been freely forgiven at once forgives others. Nay, he goes beyond it: he says, “Now, my God has been so good to me, I will be good to others, and as God is good to the unthankful and the evil, even so will I be.” When he finds that he has given his alms to an undeserving person, he does not therefore shrivel up within himself and say, “I will give no more.” “Why!” saith he, “does not God give life and light to men who are always cursing him? then I will bless the sons of men even if they curse me in return.” This breeds in him a spirit of benevolence. He longs to see others saved, and therefore he lays himself out to bring them to Jesus Christ. If he had bought his salvation I dare say he might be proud of it, and wish to keep it to himself; like a little aristocrat, he would not want every one of the democracy to intrude into his privileges, but since the gospel came to him freely he hears the Master say: “Freely ye have received, freely give,” and he goes forth to distribute the bread of life which Jesus Christ has so liberally put into his hand.
Then as to our God, the free gifts of grace, working by the power and energy of the Holy Spirit, create in us the generous virtues towards God. Now we can say,
“Loved of my God, for him again
With love intense I burn.”
When we know that Jesus has saved us we feel we could lay down our lives for him. Self-denial springs of this; yea, the death of self comes out of a rich experience of free and sovereign grace. Did the Lord love me when there was nothing to love in me? Did he love me with spontaneous love before the world began? Did he give his son to die for me a guilty sinner, lost and ruined in the fall? Then I will give all that I have to God, and feel that if—
“If I might make some reserve,
And duty did not call,
I love my God with zeal so great
That I would give him all.”
This is the natural outgrowth of the grand doctrine of “without money and without price.”
And, lastly, beloved, I cannot think of anything that will make more devout worshippers in heaven than this. The method of God in seeking his glory by the way of redemption was evidently this. There were spirits in heaven who could worship him, angels who could adore him and remain faithful to him; but he wished to create beings who should be nearer to him than angels, though also in a certain sense still further off. An angel is pure spirit, man is partly materialism. God resolved that a creature that should be both spirit and matter should be lifted up above angels, should come nearer to himself than pure spirits have ever come, should in fact be related to himself through his Son. Thus his Son became a man, that God being all in all, next to God should stand man, made to have dominion over all the works of his hands, with all things put under his feet. Now, observe, that unless there had been some exercise of omnipotence which
would have taken away the high attribute of free agency from man, we do not know of any other way in which God could secure the eternal obedience, the reverent love, and the perpetual humility of such creatures as we have spoken of, except by a remarkable experience of redemption, so that they should for ever know that everything they had was the undeserved gift of sovereign grace. When they look upon the crown and wave the palm, they remember that they were once snatched from the horrible pit and the miry clay. When they gaze upon their robes of splendour, and stand before the throne of God peers of the universe, princes of the blood royal of heaven, no pride will ever flit across their perfect souls, because the memory of redeeming grace, and dying love, and blessings given without money and without price, will keep them humble before the Lord. Oh, if they had given something, if they had done something, if they had merited something, this would have marred the whole, and left a gap whereby might enter the temptation to self-glory. Every child of God will know eternally that he is saved by grace, grace, grace, from first to last, from beginning to end; and so without constraint, except that which is found within their own bosoms, all the redeemed will for ever magnify the Lord in such notes as these, “Worthy art thou, O Lamb of God! For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood, and hast made us kings and priests unto God.”
May the Lord lead you all to receive his divine salvation “without money and without price”