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and the beauty of it; God's service, and the need of it. Grant, we pray thee, that we may accept those things which the world despises; and though to them who understand them not they are foolishness and a stumbling, may they be to us the wisdom of God and the power of God unto salvation. We ask it in the adorable name of Jesus, to whom, with the Father and the Spirit, shall be praises everlasting. Amen.
RESOLVING AND DOING.
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."-PHIL. ii., 12, 13.
It would seem from this declaration, abundantly corroborated elsewhere, that salvation is not a decree or simple act. We are not brought by any overwhelming shock or impulse into an absolute salvable state. It is a condition which is to be wrought out as education is, by adopting right lines, by pursuing rational methods, and by continuing therein until we have gained foothold and strength. There is a nature in man that is right. That which is called our corrupt human nature designates simply the wrong uses to which men have put right faculties. There is a right nature. The reason, in and of itself, is right. Its uses may be perverted, but the faculty is right. The affections are right; and if they are rightly used they are virtues, they are graces, they are undoubted excellences; but they all need development. They need to be applied more and more to every part of life. There is a work of education for the body, with which we are familiar; there is a work of education for the mind, in the adapting it to the various objects and ends of life, with which we are familiar; and in the household there is more or less training of the disposition. Those who have the good fortune to be brought up under wise parents know what it is to be under discipline and education-under restraint against
SUNDAY MORNING, March 8, 1874. LESSON: Psalm xc. HYMNS (Plymouth Collection): Nos. 578, 513. 657.
that which is evil, and under stimulus to that which is good.
Now, this analogy goes on, and all the mind's moral sentiments are the subjects of development and of education. And the importance of education increases as you rise toward the realm of the higher feelings, or those which work toward the invisible-those that are under spiritual instincts or sentiments. And it is in this direction that man's salvation lies, in so far as the human side is concerned. To be saved is to be salvable-to be in a condition which implies and permits salvation; and this is man's work. We are to work out our own salvation. More than that, much is implied in the qualification, "with fear and trembling."
Now, there are a great many kinds of fear, some of which are very coarse, appropriate to low and almost brutal natures, and unworthy of a man more highly and truly developed. The fear that you would apply to a savage is inappropriate to a civilized man; and the fear which you would search for among civilized men that roam the plain is quite out of place among those that live in retirement, and are conscientiously attempting to act according to justice. The fear and the trembling with which we are to work out our salvation indicate intensity-that kind of apprehension with which men tremble under excitement when they are pursuing an object that is exceedingly dear to them: not fear in the sense of pungent dread or terror; but that fear which produces apprehensiveness, keenness of desire and unwillingness to lose. There is a sort of half feeling of uncertainty in connection with it, in all the great pursuits of life-in the things which absorb us, and in which we have planted ourselves. We are familiar with this kind of anxiety. We work for wealth; and we work in competitions for a place or for a name; we work in society for the favor of those whom we would win; we work for ambition; we work for all the great ends of life that stimulate men; and we work for them with this very trembling apprehensiveness. We put our heart into them so that it quivers with anxiety. So the command is, Work out your religious character; work out purity, and humility, and gentleness, and mercy, and truth. All divine
fruits are of the divine Spirit; work them out, with such earnestness that you shall be full of fear and of trembling— that kind of fear and trembling which men have in other pursuits, where their hearts are wholly engrossed.
The conception of highest manhood- the Christian. manhood, that manhood which is the fruit of the divine Spirit working on the soul-is to be pursued, then, not listlessly nor indifferently. The path to it was never yet so plain or so easy to a man in every part of his nature that you are likely to stumble on it, and, without knowing it, find that you are a thoroughly Christianized man. There never was a man so favorably made or placed that it required no will or effort on his part to rise into the fullness of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. All the original tendencies. of the mind involve in them more or less of self-seekingmore or less of the carnal elements; and no man rises into a truly Christian or Christlike spirit,-by which, instead of evil, he loves good, and instead of self-seeking seeks the welfare of another, and the glory of God, the invisible Being of creation, without strenuous efforts; and this not once for all, but continuously, as against the world, as against his own passions and appetites, as against social wrongs, and as against the temptations that spring from business. By all those influences men are held back from the attempt to live upon a high plane a truly spiritual and Christian life.
Now comes the declaration, "It is God that worketh in you." A great many, when it is taught that men are to work out their own salvation, are afraid that it will inspire men with a vain confidence. They feel it to be important to teach men that they are absolutely dependent upon God, and that without him they can do nothing. That is all very true; yet I have never seen any particular reason why men should be taught that. Suppose I were to say to a man who had my microscope, and who was about to examine objects, "Now, my friend, I want you to understand that your eyesight, your vision, is absolutely dependent upon the light. Bear that in mind every time you undertake to look through the microscope. There is no such thing as vision without light, and you are dependent upon the light." Suppose I should say
to the farmer, "Work your farm; but remember that you are dependent on the seasons. Suppose I were to say to the hungry man, "Now, my friend, here is food; but I want you to understand that you are entirely dependent upon this food for life and strength." Of course he is. Everybody knows that already.
Some theologians are very much afraid that we will teach men that they can help themselves. They stop us, they put us back, and say, "You must honor God in everything." I, too, think we ought to honor God in everything. "You must not take away from God the glory of working out the salvation of men. Men cannot save themselves. They depend upon God. A man cannot see without eyes; a man cannot eat without a mouth; a man cannot live without the conditions of life; a man cannot do anything unless he has been born." All these things are very true. But, really, is it the way to inspire men, to say to them, "You have no natural power; you lost it by the fall-whatever that was; you are all dependent upon God; and it is presumption for you to undertake to endue yourself with those attributes or states of mind that are wrought out in men by God's Spirit"? Men seem to feel, as to this matter, that it is almost a forgery for a man to attempt to endue himself with humility, with meekness, with faith, with aspiration, with love, with hope, and with power in it. They think it to be somewhat as if a man should write his father's name on a check, when only his father has any business to write his name there. seems to be thought that God has a right to instill in men right purposes and resolutions, but men have no right to assume them. And when we quote the passage, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling," they say, “Ah, yes! but don't you see that it also says, "God worketh in you"? Yes, that is the ground on which I exhort men to work, that God works in them-that he works incessantly in them, by ten thousand more modes than we know of or suspect not alone in the ways which we point out in our sermons, but in a multitude of ways besides; not alone in the ways in which men's thoughts and feelings rise from low to high, and in which their feelings grow and swell like tides,