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Things which accompany Salvation.
DESIRE for God's salvation, and willingness to be saved by God, are satisfactory signs that God has been working in a man's soul. The natural spirit of man is insubmissive, unsolemnized, and self-righteous. Your taking hold of Christ's merits is a practical proof that your self-righteousness has received a deathblow. Your trusting in Christ is an act of solemn submission and obedience to God.
You can therefore perceive how instructive are the clauses of my text which accompany the announcement of God's part, and the appointment of man's part, in the momentous work of the salvation of our souls.
I devote a third discourse on this text to an exposition of the things thus authoritatively declared to accompany salvation.
Let us consider,
I. OBEDIENCE, as the regulating habit of the soul.
II. “ Fear and trembling," as a necessary frame of spirit.
III. Confidence towards God as the foundation of our motives and our strength.
I. Obedience must be the regulating habit of the soul.
You observe that Paul addresses the Philippian Christians as beloved” and obedient. “Ye have always obeyed;" their obedience was habitual. It was also sincere, the obedience of the heart, rendered not only to attract attention and draw forth praise from an apostle ; for he adds, “not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence." Their obedience was given to one who spoke not his own words but God's message in the Gospel of Christ--obedience to God present at all times, and in the apostle's absence present, perhaps, more evidently. By this obedience they were marked out by God as prepared to be edified by His truth; "As they had always obeyed," their desires and resolutions had already asserted themselves and stood the test.
Like all the people of God, they were to be blessed in their deeds, although not on account of their deeds. He who is not a forgetful hearer of the word, but a doer of the
work, “this man shall be blessed IN DEEDS."*
And that is the same thing as to say, that the blessedness of salvation consists in the doing of God's good pleasure. If we are " to do,” it is necessary “ to will,” and it is the will of God which must be done. the will of God upon which the Philippians were simply to depend and to act; as they had always obeyed, they must continue to obey.
If you, my brethren, wish to have a settled satisfying understanding of God's part and your part in the working out of your own salvation, seek it in the way of obedience. The desire to do the will of God is the sure and the only way to arrive at the understanding of the doctrine of Christ. Without this desire, all questionings, and reasonings, and calculations as to the plan of salvation, are only
vanity and vexation of spirit.” If you desire the comforting assurance that God is your Saviour, oh! do not expect otherwise but that you must daily wander farther from it, if you are resolved to be your own teachers and your own masters. If, casting away from you the sovereignty of God and the Holy Spirit's work,
* James, i. 25. † John, vii. 17: 'Eár tis bian. ... Toisiv.
you dash forward to get comfort and nothing more, the word of God will be the enemy of your comfort; my text containing the word “work” (a word fatal to your scheme) will be a stumbling-block to you, and you will be denied clear views of the Christian hope and the Christian life--views which God alone can give, but God speaks in His whole word to be unreservedly believed and obeyed.
The warrant for the soul's trusting in that Saviour, whose full and free salvation he finds revealed and offered in the Scriptures,—the warrant of an assured faith, is God's simple command, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." And the habit of soul, which alone can make you profit by a simple command, is simple obedience. The grand distinction between those who are and those who are not in a state of salvation is, that the latter are children of disobedience,* and the former have been taught the obedience of faitht—the spiritual obedience of heart living by the word of God, resolving simply to believe whatever God requires to be believed, and promptly to act under His word of command. Eph. ii. 2.
+ Rom. xvi. 26.
The Holy Ghost in recording this feature of Philippian Christianity, thus addresses the servants of God. If you were in the habit of cavilling and murmuring at God's commandments, and of not obeying them, whenever obedience was inconvenient to you as a mem. ber of society, or disagreeable to you as an individual, or according to your opinion unreasonable, it would be waste of time to tell you the lessons which God would teach, and the services which God would have. But since you look to the word of God as the authority by which truth is to be decided-since you always submit to be told by the word of His mouth what is your duty-since you have this settled in your mind that it is your part to obey whatever God commands, and not only when or because you see why He commands, you are prepared by the grace of God to be told your duty and your privilege for advancing in the heavenly life, for walking nearer to God your Father, subjection to whom is your life.*
II. “ Fear and trembling" is a necessary frame of spirit. As to this frame, the Philippians are reminded that they should live and work in it.
* Heb, xii. 9.