meet all the goods and the ills of this life with that moderation and contentment, and calm submission, which betoken a heart weaned from the world, elevated in affection and desire to the things that are above, and having its everlasting home in the heavens.




MAT. V. 13-16.

WHILE the Redeemer would inculcate upon His people, in this Introductory Part of His Discourse, the indispensable necessity of being clothed with the essential graces of the Christian character, He reminds them also of the high, the honourable, the responsible situation which they hold in the world. Of them it is emphatically true, that "no man liveth to himself; no man dieth to himself; but whether they live, they live unto the Lord, and whether they die, they die unto the Lord, so that living or dying they are the Lord's." And if a regard to His honour is to be the mainspring of all their movements, they must never forget that they are His special messengers to warn, reprove, and instruct a world lying in the wicked One-a doctrine which is plainly taught in that impressive passage of our Lord's intercessory prayer: "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world." Think of this solemn announcement, believer! ponder deeply

the responsibilities of thy position. Listen then to the words of thy Lord:

V. 13. "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." Salt is often spoken of in sacred Scripture. Thus, in the law of the meat-offering, these words occur, Lev. ii. 13, “And every oblation of thy meat-offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meatoffering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt." From the peculiar strength of these words, it is plain that the utmost importance was attached by God to the use of salt in the meat-offering; and, indeed, the expression, "the salt of the covenant of thy God," shows that it was absolutely indispensable to the establishment of the covenant. Hence, every covenant which was ratified in this way received the name of a covenant of salt. Thus, in 2 Chron. xiii. 5, we find it thus written, "Ought ye not to know, that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?" It is plain, therefore, that it was salt which was regarded as seasoning the sacrifice, and giving it a relish before God.

And in this view of the expression, the meaning of

the passage before us is plain. The world is viewed as, in the estimation of God, a tasteless, insipid mass, having no relish with Him, except from the presence of His own children. It is for the elect's sake that all the common benefits and blessings of Providence are received by the world. The offering is presented before Him, but it is only the salt which gives it a relish. What restrains these fiery clouds from discharging fire and brimstone upon the abandoned cities of the plain? It is because the righteous Lot is there. The wicked owe their worldly comforts to these very men whom they hate and persecute. The Lord dealt kindly with the house of Pharaoh for Joseph's sake. But there is still another kindred aspect in which the figure of salt may be viewed as appli

cable to the true believer. When salt is used, in Old Testament times, in the formation of a covenant, its presence seems to have imparted perpetuity to the covenant, which is accordingly termed, "a covenant of salt for ever." This notion is in harmony with the well-known use of salt in preserving substances from passing into corruption. And are not believers, in this sense, also well entitled to be called "the salt of the earth?" The whole world is lying under the sentence of a righteous God; and what restrains Him from hurling forth the thunderbolts of His holy indignation, and executing the fierceness of His anger in a moment? It is because men of whom the world is

not worthy are treading its polluted soil. Let the elect be once gathered in from the four winds of heaven, and judgment will come forth to do its work.

If ye then, believers, be the salt of the earth; if it be your presence, as a holy nation, a peculiar people, -that gives Jehovah any pleasure in looking down upon the world He has formed, and restrains Him from pouring forth His merited indignation, O, how solemn, how responsible your position! Be not highminded, but fear; for "if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." Such was the case with the Jewish people they were the chosen, favoured people of God. "Israel is my son, even my first-born." But in process of time "the salt lost his savour:" the Israelitish nation had "been planted a noble vine; wholly a right seed; but they became the degenerate plant of a strange vine."-" He had nourished and brought them up as children, but they rebelled against Him." And in such melancholy circumstances as these, can we wonder that at last the long-suffering patience of Jehovah came to an end; Jerusalem was trodden down of the Gentiles, and Israel cast out from the favour of his God.

Such, indeed, is the mode in which God deals with His people in all generations. He regards them as the salt of the earth: for their sakes He blesses and

« VorigeDoorgaan »