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offer of salvation to the father, the mother, or to one of the children of a family; there is no limitation of the efficacy of the atonement which makes it impossible that the blood which saves one should save all; there is no such circumscribing of the power of the Holy Spirit that he can renew and sanctify only a portion of the family group. The blood which has been sprinkled on one heart may cleanse all; the same Spirit that has renewed and sanctified the father or mother is able to renew and sanctify each child; and the same grace of the gospel which prepared that loved and lovely sister who has been taken from you to walk by the side of the river of life in white raiment, can prepare you also to join with her and walk arm in arm on those shady banks. Look upward to yonder heavens. See there your smiling babe! It stretches out its hands and invites
“Come, father, mother," is its sweet sound, come and take the water of life.” May not that same grace of the gospel which has raised that child to heaven, save
you also ?
Why should it not be? A whole family united in religion-what a spectacle of beauty on earth! A family lying side by side in their graves, to be united again in the same blessed resurrection, what a spectacle for angels to look down upon with interest ! A whole family united in heaven—who can describe their everlasting joys? Not one is absent. Nor father, nor mother, nor son, nor daughter, are away, In the world below they were united in faith, and love, and peace, and joy. In the morning of the resurrection they ascended together. Before the throne they bow together in united adoration. On the banks of the river of life they walk hand in hand, and as a family they have commenced a career of glory that shall be everlasting. There is to be hereafter no separation in that family. No one is to lie down on a bed of pain. No one is to wander away into temptation. No one is to sink into the arms of death. Never in heaven is that family to move along in the slow procession, clad in the habiliments of woe, to consign one of its members to the tomb. For no member of the family is the soil of heaven ever to open its bosom to furnish a grave. God grant of his infinite mercy that every family in this assembly may thus be united in religion in all the joys and sorrows of this life; united when they lie down in the grave in the hope of the same resurrection; and united on the banks of the river of life, to drink of the streams of salvation for ever! AMEN.
BY REV. ALBERT BARNES,
THE SOVEREIGN PURPOSE OF GOD TO SAVE HIS PEOPLE AN ENCOURAGE.
MENT TO EFFORT.
PREACHED BEFORE THE SYNOD OF PENNSYLVANIA OCTOBER 25, 1842, AND
PUBLISHED AT THEIR REQUEST.
“Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace; for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee, to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city."---Acts xviii : 9, 10.
The Gospel, when first preached, every where encountered difficulties. The obstacles to its diffusion were said primarily in the depravity of the human heart, but those obstacles were modified by the customs, the opinions, the prejudices, the philosophy which prevailed in particular places. In Jerusalem, the main difficulty arose from the disappointed hopes and the prejudices of the Jews; in Ephesus, from the dread of losing the gains accruing to a portion of the citizens from the connexion of the mechanic arts with idolatry; in Athens, from the reigning philosophy of the Epicureans and the Stoics. In Jerusalem, in Ephesus, and in many other places, the apostles had seen these difficulties give way, and the gospel assert its ascendency there in the conversion of multitudes. On the philosophy of Athens almost no impression was made, and having preached there with less success than attended his ministry elsewhere, Paul turned his steps to the neighboring city of Corinth. Here a new difficulty met him. It was not Jewish prejudice; it was not the self-interest of men whose “ gains” were likely to be taken from them by the prevalence of the new religion ; it was not philosophy rendering the heart inaccessible to all the appeals of truth, it was that which has been always, wherever it has existed, a greater obstacle to the gospel than all these combined the prevalence of moral corruption. In Corinth this corruption pervaded all classes of citizens. It made the name of the city proverbial throughout Greece, and the world. It had caused splendid temples to be reared devoted to impurity. It attracted strangers there from all
lands, and that splendid city had become the centre of pollution for the whole world. Amidst this universal dissoluteness of manners, Paul needed some special encouragement in his work there. That encouragement was granted him, and the record of it constitutes
“Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace; for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee; for I have much people in this city.” That is, he had “much people there whom he designed to convert and save. It cannot mean that there were many there who were then his people, or who in fact loved and served him, for that was not true, and that was not the encouragement which Paul needed. It must mean that there were those there in large numbers whom he intended to save, and to whom he now sent the gospel as the means of their conversion, and whom, therefore, He, who calls “things that are not as though they were, might call “his people.” In the corrupt, debased, and sunken mass then bowing down in polluted temples, and giving unrestrained indulgence to the form of sin which offers the most direct resistance to "the gospel of the blessed God," there were those whom he meant to “wash, to sanctify, and to justify, in the name of the Lord Jesus,” and to save. The doctrine of the text, then, it is not difficult to perceive. It is, that the purposes of divine sovereignty are an encouragement to efforts in doing good; or the fact that it is the intention of God to bring his chosen people to heaven, should stimulate us, and cheer us on in our efforts to save souls. This doctrine I propose now to illustrate and defend.
I am aware that it is often supposed that this doctrine has just the opposite tendency. I am not ignorant of the form in which it is often professedly held by the impenitent and the wicked, that “ if they are to be saved they will be, and that effort will be useless ;” nor am I ignorant of the effect which it may be made to have on many of the professed friends of truth. There is no doctrine of the scriptures which may not be abused; and there is no occasion for denying that this has been so held by many ministers of the gospel, and many churches, as to produce any other effect than to stimulate them to effort for the salvation of souls. And I am not ignorant that there is often real difficulty in pure and honest minds on the subject. If God is a sovereign; if he has a purpose which embraces all things; if he has a plan of electing love by which he designs to save all those who will actually be saved, it seems to be a doctrine that will paralize effort; that will render fruitless all exertion ; that repels all human interferance, and that must throw the cold chill of death over all the gushing sensibilities that would weep over the lost. But it is not desirable or necessary that it should have this effect on any minds. It had not on the mind of Paul; and I shall render a good service if I can show you that it does not necessarily or properly have
this effect. The design of this
discourse therefore, is to show that so far from having of necessity this effect, the purpose of God to save his elect, is the best ground of calculation, the best basis for effort, and the best encouragement for doing good in this world. I shall do this by a series of propositions closely connected but plain, and so clear to all, that I trust they will leave no doubt of their truth.
I The first is, that in the work of salvation there are many things to be done which are wholly beyond human power, or where the agency of man will be wholly insuficient. In other words, there is a sphere of operations which belongs only to God, and where he only can efficiently act. It is, indeed, no less true, that the same principle exists in regard to all that is to be done with which the agency of a created being has any connexion, but my object requires me to illustrate it particularly only with reference to religion. A man plants a field, or sets out a vine. There is a sphere of agency in the result contemplated that appertains only to God, and where he only can operate, and any calcusation which shall anticipate the result without that agency would certainly fail. All that pertains to the sun-beam; to the rain; to the dew; to the revolution of the earth and the return of the seasons ; to the atmosphere, to the mysterious laws by which the juices are conveyed through the fibres of the root, and carried up the stem, and diffused to each leaf, and branch, and tendril; to the delicate and beautiful agency by which the leaf is opened, and the fruit formed and matured, all this belongs to God, and there is no human agency that can be substituted in its place. A man fits out a vessel for a distant port. In the success of this mercantile adventure there is a sphere of operations wholly beyond the reach of man. All that relates to the freedom of the ocean from dangerous storms, to prosperous gales, to the purity of the air which the mariner is to breathe on a foreign strand, and to the preservation of life and health, appertain to the exclusive agency of God; and he who leaves out this as a part of his calculation, leaves out that which is an essential element in the question of success. A physician approaches a sick man and prescribes for him. In his recovery there is a work which appertains wholly to God. In the laws which govern health, in the recuperative powers of the human frame, in the guarding of the system from some other insidious and dangerous attack, and in the prolongation of the vital functions, there is a sphere where God only can act. There is no skill, or wisdom, or power, which can do what God has reserved for himself to do ;-and though man has done much and boasted more; though he claims to have disarmed the lightning, and can almost people the canvass with living forms, and make the marble breathe ; and though he has set up an empire over seas and floods, yet he has made no invasion on the prerogatives of the Almighty, or passed the bounds which were fixed when it was said to him, as to the ocean, “Thus far, but no farther.” He paints no flower ; he gilds no insect's wing; he colors no rainbow on the sky; he lights up no dead matter with the brilliancy of the living eye; he teaches no vital current to meander through an organized frame diffusing beauty, and health, and life. And to the end of time there will be a sphere in which God alone will act, and which will never be invaded by the wit, the skill, or the power of man.
The same thing is just as true in the salvation of the soul. There is a sphere where God only acts; where he only will act ; where he only can act. It may not always be easy to mark the limits where human power terminates and where God only can act, but no man can doubt that there are such boundaries on all subjects, and the number is not small where it is known that the power of man does not extend. It is settled that he cannot take the lightning in his hands and “direct it under the whole heaven,” (Job 37: 3.) he cannot wield the thunderbolt; he cannot hold the fixed-star in its place; he cannot“ guide Arcturus and his sons;" he cannot breathe life into the stiffened corse. So in religion. There are points where all human agency terminates and is powerless. We may not now be able to mark them all, but there are some that are known. Man cannot pardon sin committed against God, any more than he can bid flowers to spring up to beautify the landscape, or move the stars. He cannot arouse a sinner from his death in sin and breathe into him spiritual life any more than he can raise the dead. He cannot defend the church against her foes, or carry forward her great operations unaided, any more than he can keep up the operations of animated nature. He cannot fix the wandering affections, or control the will, or change the heart of neighbor, brother, or child, any more than he can wield the rapid lightning and fetter it to obey his mandate. He cannot place nations in a posture to receive the gospel, or dispose them to a readiness to throw away their idols, and welcome the herald of salvation. To accomplish these, and kindred things, there is but one power in the universe that is sufficient, and man can substitute nothing in the place of that power. He can do much in his proper sphere; but when he has done all, it will be still true with reference to these things that “it is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord.” Man can do much by improving his mental philosophy; he can make large advances in theological knowledge; he can urge far towards perfection his schemes of philanthropy, but he makes no advances in the work of accomplishing in religion what God has reserved for himself to do, any more than in his laboratory he makes advances towards the proper skill and power for creating life in the vegetable world. The work of pardoning sin, of converting and sanctifying the soul, of preserving the church, and of preparing the way for the universal reign of righteousness, is reserved in his own hands, and pertains to a sphere of agency of his own. In regard to such things, a calculation of success on the basis of man's power, MUST CERTAINLY FAIL.
II. In the second place, there are many things in regard to salvation, which, although man might do them, it is certain he never will do them, and the just ground of dependence is to be on the Sovereignty of God. This, also, often occurs in other matters than religion. There are numerous cases in which men might save themselves from poverty, and wretchedness, and dissipation, and an early grave, where there is a moral certainty that they never will do it, and we can make no calculation on the presumption that they will do it. A man may be so deaf