Great Texts of the Bible
Salvation to the Uttermost
Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.—Hebrews 7:25.
The Epistle to the Hebrews is largely occupied in declaring that the office and work of Jesus Christ, as the great High Priest, is the reality of which the ritual of the Jewish altar, with its priests and sacrifices, its solemn and splendid worship, its comforting message to the sin-stained conscience, was but a dim shadow and type. This text is one of the many passages in the Epistle where the contrast is drawn between the eternal and unchangeable Priesthood and the ministries of all earthly priests, whose office, though of Divine appointment, derives all its value from the work of the great High Priest on high. The earthly priests were mortal men, and as one died after another the office was transmitted to their successors. It was not so with Christ. His Priesthood will endure as long as this world shall last. “They indeed have been made priests many in number, because that by death they are hindered from continuing: but he, because he abideth for ever, hath his priesthood unchangeable. Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
The time was now very short, and for the sake of the elect his days had been abbreviated. One of his comments upon the Scripture statement that the Lord Jesus Christ is able to save to the uttermost those that come unto God by Him expresses the truth in the striking form that “He is able to save up to the goal,” and now the goal was almost in sight. “What is the goal? The goal is Love on the Happy Hill,” and the Happy Hill was beginning to rise above the Waste.1 [Note: J. Rendel Harris, Life of F. W. Crossley, 206.]
In Irvine, and wherever he went, his voice was recognized as that of a prophet of the Lord, whose lips had been touched with a coal from off the holy altar; and whose mission was to present men with a lofty ideal, and through the medium of a beautified imagination to let them see the infinite love of God in a crucified, risen, and exalted Christ. And, as in the days of his strength he was pre-eminently a preacher of the gospel, even so, in the days of his weakness, this continued to be his heart’s desire to the end, for it is told of him that, just before the final struggle, he said to his sister, “I think I could preach a sermon yet, and this would be the text,”—and in his old musical tones, sounding loudly through the room, he cried,—“ ‘He is able to save to the uttermost.’ ”1 [Note: A. Guthrie, Robertson of Irvine, 352.]
The words have special point, if Sir W. M. Ramsay is right in his modified acceptance of Mr. Lewis’s theory as to the origin of the Epistle to the Hebrews. He thinks that the Epistle was written by a member of the Pauline circle at Cæsarea, during the two years of the Apostle’s imprisonment, as a final appeal to the Jews of Jerusalem to accept the rejected Messiah, and to the Hebrew Christians to hold forth a full and untrammelled gospel. The sentence of death upon the nation abides as yet, but concurrently with it there runs the possibility of individual life. “He is always alive to keep saving those who keep coming unto God by him.”2 [Note: H. C. Lees, The Sunshine of the Good News, 39.]
The text declares—
I. That Christ can save to the uttermost.
II. That we have the guarantee of His continual intercession.
III. That the only condition of this salvation is coming to God through Him.
“Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost.”
1. What is salvation? In classical literature and in the public inscriptions of Greece the words “save” and “saviour” nearly always refer to material preservation and safety. In the earlier stages of Israel’s history it has a predominantly worldly and temporal meaning: at a later time the salvation longed for by the inspired writers is not merely worldly but spiritual, involving a right relation to God, and a consequent state in one’s self. Among Christians we find all three renderings of the word “save” in use—the lower, the middle, and the higher meaning. Some most earnestly desire safety from foes and the mischances of life. Some most frequently and most ardently desire the salvation of their souls after death from the flames of hell and the power of Satan. The more spiritual schools of Christianity rather lay stress on the need of salvation from one’s own worse self and from the terrible power of evil habit.
2. Is Christ able to save? This writer was sure that Christ could save, for his mind was fixed on the sacrifice and the intercession of Jesus. He looked on the cross and he saw there the Saviour dying for sin. He looked to the throne, and he saw there the Saviour pleading for sinners. And so the question, “Is Christ willing to save?” was inept for him. To ask it would be as foolish as it would be for a drowning man to ask when he sees his rescuer swimming hard towards him, “Is he willing to save me?” When Gordon looked for the deliverers who came too late, he did not ask, “Are they willing to save?” He only asked, “Are they able to save? Can they come in time?”
And, indeed, it is only the shallow-minded who too readily answer in the affirmative the question, “Is Christ able to save?” There are those who say, “Of course, God can save; He can forgive, and He can win, and the forgiving and the winning of souls present no difficulty to Him.” They refuse to believe in any God who does not forgive and win every created soul. But on deeper thought the question becomes much less easy, and we say with Browning:—
It is by no breath,
Turn of eye, wave of hand, that salvation joins issue with death.
This is the thought of the New Testament, and it is a true reading of life.
Hawthorne tells us, in Mosses from an old Manse, of a man who came into that strange intelligence office with a downcast look. It was such an aspect as he might have had had he lost the very soul out of his body and travelled all the world over, searching in the dust of the highways and along the shady footpaths and beneath the leaves of the forest and among the sands of the seashore, in the hope of recovering it again. With a sad face he came up to the man of intelligence. “I have lost—” he began, and then he paused.
“Yes,” said the clerk, “I see that you have lost, but what?”
“I have lost a precious jewel,” replied the unfortunate man, “the like of which is not to be found among prince’s treasures. While I possessed it the contemplation of it was my sole and sufficient happiness. No price should have purchased it of me, but it has fallen from my bosom, where I wore it in my careless wanderings about the city.”
After causing the stranger to describe the marks of his lost jewel, the intelligencer opened a drawer where were deposited whatever articles had been picked up in the streets, until the rightful owners should claim them. It was a strange collection: there were wedding rings, and white roses, and blush roses, and locks of hair, and many of these things were fragrant with perfume. Perhaps a sweet scent had departed from the lives of their former possessors ever since they had so wilfully or negligently lost them. And in the corner of the drawer was found a great pearl, looking like the soul of celestial purity, congealed and polished.
“There is my jewel—my very pearl!” cried the stranger, almost beside himself with rapture. “It is mine! Give it me this moment or I shall perish!”
“I perceive,” said the man of intelligence, examining it more closely, “that this is the Pearl of Great Price.”
“The very same,” answered the stranger. “Judge then of my misery at losing it out of my bosom! Restore it to me! I must not live without it an instant longer!”
“Pardon me,” rejoined the intelligencer calmly. “You ask what is beyond my duty. This pearl, as you well know, is held upon a peculiar tenure, and, having once let it escape from your keeping, you have no greater claim to it than any other person, nay, not so great. I cannot give it back.”
Nor could the entreaties of the miserable man, who saw before his eyes the jewel of his life without the power to reclaim it, soften the heart of this stern being, impassive to human sympathy, though exercising such an apparent influence over human forces. Finally the loser of the Pearl of Great Price clutched his hands in his hair and rushed madly forth with despair in his face.
Hawthorne is true to life in that picture. The lost pearl of goodness cannot be restored again by any earthly power. But, thank God, Jesus Christ is the great restorer of the soul. He is able, in virtue of the Cross He bore, to give back to us the lost pearl of goodness. He has power on earth to forgive sins.1 [Note: L. A. Banks, The King’s Stewards, 211.]
(1) It is said of Christ in the text, “He is able to save to the uttermost.” Our High Priest is able to save to the uttermost degree that man can need. The greatest sinners in their own eye are welcome to partake of His great salvation. The character which He gave of Himself on earth was, that He “came to call sinners to repentance.” No sinner whatever who hears His call, and turns to Him to seek in earnest for the blessings of His great salvation, shall be sent empty away.
With bound hands and bleeding back, and heart filled with hate, a young African was huddled in the hold of a Portuguese slave ship. He was dragged to the coast by the Foulahs, after seeing the murder of his father and brothers, and the enslaving and degradation of his mother. Having failed in his efforts to strangle himself, he had been cruelly beaten with long whips of many thongs, then thrown below the hatches and left to live or die, as nature should decree. His owner set such little value on him that he offered to barter him for a horse, a cask of rum, or a bundle of tobacco. No one wanted him even at that price. Such was man’s valuation. There were nearly two hundred other slaves on board the ship. Many were sick, some dying, but all in the horrors of despair. Densely ignorant, woefully degraded, mind and soul in even worse plight than his body, he was an object at once so helpless and so hopeless that for time and for eternity he seemed beyond the power of man or God, a wrecked and wasted life. That was early in the year 1821.
One day in 1864, Canterbury Cathedral was crowded to its utmost capacity. The Archbishop and other dignitaries of the historic church were there to consecrate a bishop for the Niger. Who was he? Some learned divine, of course, who had sat at the feet of the Oxford or Cambridge doctors, the heir of a thousand years of Christian training, with the blood of the old sea kings in his veins? Not so. But none other than the erstwhile slave boy, would-be suicide, whom we last saw in the Portuguese ship. Freed from his captors by a British man-of-war and taken to Sierra Leone, he met Christ, and was by Him transformed.
In 1821, a slave in darkness and misery; in 1864, with mind and soul illumined with the love of Christ, Bishop of the Church of England on the Niger. This is what the gospel did for Samuel Adjai Crowther, the despised slave.2 [Note: C. B. Keenleyside, God’s Fellow-Workers, 60.]
(2) But the expression “to the uttermost” may denote duration. It is rendered in the margin “evermore.” He is able to save evermore. This indeed seems to be the true meaning of the word, from the connexion in which it stands with regard to the unchangeable priesthood of Christ. “He is able to save evermore,” in all ages of the Church, and under all the circumstances in which His believing people may be placed. It was the conviction of this ability of Christ to save even in the most unfavourable and untoward circumstances, that led the Apostle to say, “When I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). A sense of his weakness led him to seek strength from Christ; and His grace was then found to be sufficient to support His feeble servant. His strength was made perfect, was manifested to be everything that was needed by the weakness of him who sought Divine help in the time of need. At all times, and under all circumstances, the Lord Jesus is able to save.
A brilliant essayist has said that the dangerous years are the forties—the years when men begin to be rich, when they have opportunities of gratifying their passions, when they perhaps imagine that they have led a starved and meagre existence. There are many, no doubt, who are protected, but even they must not presume; and perhaps there are many more who have the worst and most dangerous experiences of their life after conversion, who come to waters that almost swallow them up, and to fires that sweep and roar on every side. They pass the time of their sojourning here in fear. The old temptations shake the sinking frame at even. What is perhaps the greatest danger is that declension which is unrecognized by ourselves. Men may continue to be respectable. They may win the prizes of life; they may be more and more prosperous, and they may take no open leave of their Saviour and their faith. They may be saved from the sins which force themselves upon the eyes of others, but all the while love may be growing cold, enthusiasm may be chilled, devotion may dwindle, goodness may die. It is only in Him who is able to save to the uttermost that we can rest our hope.1 [Note: W. Robertson Nicoll, Sunday Evening, 362.]
The Continual Intercession
“Seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
The two principal passages of Scripture where intercession is directly spoken of are this text and Romans 8:34, in which the same word is used as in this text. The word which in these two passages is translated “to make intercession,” just means to plead with—to use entreaties and importunities (in order to obtain something we desire) with reference to another person. The word is of general signification, and applies either to pleading for or to pleading against another. In the only other cases in the New Testament where the word occurs, i.e., except in the text, and in the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, it is employed in the sense of using entreaties or importunities against others. These are Acts 25:24 (“dealt with” is the same word) and Romans 11:2—passages which, taken in connexion with those formerly referred to that speak directly of the intercession of Christ for His people, show clearly the general idea involved in it, namely, pleading with regard to others. Christ’s intercession for His people therefore implies that He pleads with God for them, that He is using prayers and entreaties with His Father on their behalf.
Now the great general idea that is involved in all the different statements of Scripture on this subject, the great truth implied in the doctrine of Christ’s intercession, is that nothing takes place with regard to any of those whom God has given to Christ except in consequence of a request or prayer to that effect, and with that view, presented by Christ at the throne of His Father, and heard and answered, on account of the merit He wrought out, and the glory to which He has been exalted. Christ is continually presenting before His Father His wishes with regard to what His people should enjoy and suffer; and their enjoyments and their sufferings, their trials and their supplies of grace, are just what He sees to be best for them, what He in consequence wishes and pleads for on their behalf, and what they therefore certainly receive. This is what is implied in Christ’s intercession. He is continually offering up prayers and desires on behalf of His people, according as He sees what is most suited to their wants, and most conducive to their welfare. And those wishes and desires are always heard and answered; they are always followed by the events which He pleads for.
1. Christ ever lives to make intercession. The ascending argument of the writer proves that He ever lives, and has, therefore, an immutable priesthood. For, first, He is of the royal tribe, and the oath of God to David guarantees that of his kingdom there shall be no end. Again, in the greatness of His personality, He is endowed with the power of an endless life. Moreover, as Priest He has been established in His office by oath. He is therefore Priest for ever.
Why is the endless life of one high priest more effective than a succession, conceivably an endless succession, of high priests? The eternal priesthood involves two distinct, but mutually dependent, conceptions—power to save and intercession. In the case of any man, to live for ever means power. Even the body of our humiliation will be raised in power. Can the spirit, therefore, in the risen life, its own native home, be subject to weakness? What, then, shall we say of the risen and glorified Christ? The difference between Him and the high priests of earth is like the difference between the body that is raised and the body that dies. In Aaron priesthood is sown in corruption, dishonour, weakness; in Christ priesthood is raised in incorruption, in glory, in power. In Aaron it is sown a natural priesthood; in Christ it is raised a spiritual priesthood. It must be that the High Priest in heaven has power to save continually and completely. Whenever help is needed, He is living, and is mighty to save from sin, to rescue from death, to deliver from its fear.
Day and night, the Accuser makes no pause,
Day and night protest the righteous laws,
Good and evil witness to man’s flaws;
Man the culprit, man’s the ruined cause,
Man midway to death’s devouring jaws,
And the worm that gnaws.
Day and night our Jesus makes no pause,
Pleads His own fulfilment of all laws,
Veils with His perfections mortal flaws,
Clears the culprit, pleads the desperate cause,
Plucks the dead from death’s devouring jaws,
And the worm that gnaws.
2. He intercedes by the exhibition of Himself in His Divine manhood, pierced for us, raised, and glorified. His five blessed and holy wounds are each one a mighty intercession on our behalf. The glorious tokens of His cross and passion, exhibited before the throne of God, plead for us perpetually. The one great atonement, the one great sacrifice, offered with shedding of blood once upon the cross, and now offered perpetually, is a continuing sacrifice. His very presence in heaven is in itself an intercession for us. His sacrifice on the cross, though perfected by suffering of death only once in time, is in its power eternal. Therefore it stands a Divine fact—ever present and prevailing, the foundation and life of the redeemed world—before the throne of God.
Æschylus was strongly accused, and likely to be condemned. His brother Amyntas engaged to be his advocate. Amyntas had done much for the commonwealth; and, in a certain action, in their service, had lost a hand. He came into the court. The court was uncommonly crowded; and all were eager to hear him plead on so interesting an occasion. But he said nothing—he only held up his dismembered arm! The audience and the judges were so moved as immediately to order his brother’s release. It does not appear that the high priest said any thing when he entered the holy place: but what he did spake loud enough. He wore the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on his breastplate; he took the blood of the slaughtered victim in a basin, and sprinkled the mercy-seat, and burned incense before the golden altar, and then came forth and blessed the people. Abel’s blood spake to God from the ground; that is, it demanded vengeance; the blood of Jesus is equally vocal; but it speaketh better things than that of Abel—it calls for mercy.1 [Note: W. Jay, Short Discourses, ii. 642.]
3. His intercession extends to all important interests. We may look upon His prayer for His disciples, on the night in which He was betrayed, as a specimen of His continued intercession before the throne. And for what does He not there plead? Is it their preservation? “Keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me.” “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” Is it their renovation? “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Is it their union? “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” Is it their glorification? “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”
The Bishop of Ely thus writes his recollections of the sadness at Cuddesdon caused by the death of the Prince Consort: I remember, as though it were yesterday, the Ordination of Advent, 1861–how the whole Ember week at Cuddesdon, usually so bright notwithstanding the work, was darkened by the shadow of the Prince Consort’s death. The Bishop seemed unable to tear himself away from the thought of Windsor and the scenes which were passing there, and I was particularly struck with the personal affection which he manifested for the Queen and the consequently “home” character of his sympathy with her, less as a sovereign than as a wife. We drove into Oxford late on Saturday night, reaching Christ Church about midnight, and I can still hear, as it were, the Bishop’s sad voice in the dark carriage recalling his early remembrance of the Prince in the first days of the Royal marriage. It was then, too (I think), that he mentioned the last conversation which the Prince had held with him. The Bishop had been preaching in the private chapel at Windsor upon the subject of our Lord’s intercession in heaven, His presenting the prayers of His people to the Father, and enforcing them by the presence of His human body still bearing the mark of the wounds of His Passion. The Prince had sent a message inviting the Bishop to walk with him in the afternoon, and turned the conversation to the sermon of the morning, saying that it had suggested to him an entirely new view of the subject, that he must not be supposed to mean that he accepted it, but that he should give it his most serious reflection, adding, “Now, at any rate, I understand why the Church of England is so careful to conclude every prayer with such words as ‘through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ ”1 [Note: Life of Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, iii. 44.]
4. Christ’s intercession links itself to our prayers and makes them effectual. He enters and finds us bowed down before God, trying to pray, but not able; He approaches, kneels with us, and whispers with great gentleness, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” And not like an ordinary friend, this Comforter and Intercessor is as exactly conscious of our state of mind as we are; and not with wise counsels and soothing words only, but with spiritual influences and revelations, does He assist the painful efforts of prayer; and more than all, He who kneels with us as a fellow-suppliant not only touches us with His human nature, but touches God with His Divine; and that which one nature urges Him to ask, another nature enables Him to bestow: He has all the sympathy which man can have for man, and all the power which man can need from God. Are you perplexed with suspicions and dark controversies in prayer? He answers, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. Commit your reasonings to me: be of good cheer, only believe.” Are you distressed with a fear that one so guilty, so depraved, so penetrated with spiritual leprosy as you are, can never be made clean? He replies, “My blood cleanseth from all sin. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean. If you can believe that I am what I declare Myself to be—the propitiation which God has accepted for you, and your all-prevailing Advocate and Helper in the Divine presence—though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
After the battle of Crécy, our English King, Edward III., having there defeated the French army, laid siege to Calais. The town was very strong; and its governor, Sir Jean de Vienne, was a brave man, who determined to defend it to the last for his master, the King of France. It was too well fortified to be taken by assault; and so King Edward soon saw that he could only starve the garrison into surrendering. He began the siege in August 1346, and it lasted much longer than he had expected. A whole year passed, and still the English army was kept outside the walls. They had lost many men in the time; and the king was very much enraged at the loss of so many of his best soldiers.
At last the garrison was reduced to the utmost distress. So the governor then tried to make the best terms of surrender he could. But the English king was very angry at all his losses, so he required the whole city and, all its inhabitants to be given up to him to do as he willed with them. These conditions seemed so stern that the governor entreated the king to have pity upon his enemies, who had showed themselves very brave, and to alter his mind. But Edward was very hard to move on account of his losses; and he still required that at any rate six of the chief citizens should come to him barefooted, and with ropes round their necks, and the keys of the city in their hands, and submit to be punished according to his will. Then six brave men did come forward, and offered themselves as Edward demanded. They expected that the English king would strike off their heads; but they were willing to find grace with God in dying to save their fellow-townspeople from starvation. They were brave, good men, those six burghers of Calais. When they were brought before Edward, he ordered them to be put to death. His nobles at once interceded for them, but without effect. Then his wife, Queen Philippa, threw herself on her knees among the captives and asked him for mercy on those brave, unselfish men. She asked it as a boon for herself and for the love of Christ. And the king listened to her prayer. He could not resist her asking. She implored him for the love he bore her, his true wife. And so for his love for her, who had not flinched in her love for him to speak of the Lord Christ’s love when she bade Edward remember mercy, the king gave her her request.1 [Note: F. F. Kelly.]
In course of a letter to a friend who had difficulties in relation to prayer and its answer, he wrote: “You say you can imagine a state of incarnate intercessory expression of God’s love—so can I; and more than imagine it, I have seen it. That is Christ; and we, in Him, do likewise.” In this way he would enforce the privilege and consequent duty of an intercessory life, and no doubt his communion with the Lord was systematically maintained, and powerfully reinforced thereby. For, as he said once, “Jesus, who has entire command of His time, chooses the intercession as that on which He can best spend it, and ever liveth to make intercession for us.”2 [Note: J. Rendel Harris, Life of F. W. Crossley, 174.]
The Condition of Salvation
“He is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him.”
1. To come unto God, or Christ, sometimes means to believe on Him, sometimes to be a worshipper of Him. Not but that a real belief and a true worship are always combined in the same person; and therefore perhaps it is that both are described by the same word, viz., “coming” unto God or Christ, or to God by Christ. Both these senses may be included in the term as it is used in the text; but it is probable that the chief reference here is to the worship of God through Christ. For throughout the Epistle, the writer is evidently contrasting the Jewish high priests and their work, and its effect on the worshippers under the law, with our High Priest and His work, and its result on behalf of worshippers under the gospel. They that come unto God, then, are those who truly and faithfully worship Him; who love, in the language of Isaiah, to call upon His name, and to draw nigh to Him; those who sincerely seek Him, who desire and delight to have communion with Him; who love to wait on Him, and walk with Him, and to enjoy His presence in all His ordinances, in prayer and praise, at His holy table, and in the path of His commandments. Such persons, and they alone, truly come to God.
“Those who are in the habit of coming unto God.” The present tense of the Greek is full of significance here. It refers to those who seek that the presence of God shall be a daily delight rather than an occasional privilege. Those who are not content with living in the outer court, but who crave the intimacy and richer fellowship of the inner circle. Those who are daily realizing that they are not only servants, but sons. “His servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face.”
(1) Such an attitude implies reverence. The shoes are always off the feet, for the place of standing is holy ground. The familiarity of the Divine friendship is inspired with reverence for the Divine holiness. The life is characterized by rest and quietness. The outlook is serene and peaceful, for God is an unspeakable reality to the soul.
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed,
Finding as He promised perfect peace and rest.
This reverent posture of the mind is continually drawing the heart near to God through the intercessory sympathy of the Lord Jesus.
(2) This attitude also implies confidence. The soul has not been disappointed on previous occasions. All that the Lord promised He has performed. The fact is that when the soul realizes the value of Christ’s intercessory ministry everything is subordinated to that rule. It becomes a fine spiritual lens through which the soul looks on life and on the world. There is no such thing as despair, for He ever liveth to intercede. There is no such thing as spiritual treason because He is daily pleading on our behalf. Because we have confidence in His unchanging Priesthood, “Heaven above is softer blue, earth around is sweeter green.”
(3) This attitude of habitual coming implies obedience. The soul is “not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.” The Divine whisper is obeyed with alacrity. The suggestion of compromise is promptly put aside. Indeed, unless perpetual obedience to the revealed will of God is the continuous frame of mind of the believer, habitual coming loses its sacred power. “To obey is better than sacrifice.” “I come to do thy will, O God.” Thus it is that those who would know the wide and inclusive range of our Lord’s heavenly ministry must be prepared to follow Him daily. The disciple is to take up his cross daily. Unless we could rely on the daily help of the Saviour, such a task would be impossible. “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” The day’s demand never exceeds the day’s supply.
True worth is in doing, not seeming,
In doing each day that goes by
Some little good, not in dreaming
Of great thing to do by and by.
It is this implicit obedience to the Saviour that promotes the soul’s rest. Prayer is a daily delight; God is so near that nearer He could not be; in fact, He is never so far away as to be called near.
2. We must come to God through Christ. No sinner needs an introduction to Jesus. He is always approachable. We come to Him just as we are, and He presents us as we ought to be before the Father. It is said that the Prince of Wales met a little girl in front of the palace, crying, and on his asking what was the matter, she said she wanted to see the Queen. The Prince kindly took her by the hand, and led her past the guards into the presence of the Queen. Through him she was introduced to royalty. So, if any one really desires to see God, Jesus will lead him into His presence. It is a comfort to remember that we can approach the humanity of Christ, and through that humanity reach Divinity. God did not need to become a man in order that He might sympathize with us, but He did need to become a man in order that we might know that He sympathizes with us. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, He was tempted as we are tempted, He suffered as we suffer, and that in our consciousness brings Him closer to us.
There is a story told of the great Dr. Doddridge. During his Northampton ministry an Irishman was convicted of sheep-stealing and, according to the cruel custom of the time, condemned to death. Doddridge did everything he could to save him, but in vain. When the man was being driven in the deathcart to the place of execution, he asked that they should stop at Dr. Doddridge’s house, and they did. Then he said: “Dr. Doddridge, every drop of my blood loves you, every vein of my heart loves you because you tried to save me.” And how shall we carry ourselves to Christ, who died and lives to save us? Say to Him, “Shall I not love Thee back again for all the miracle of Divine love Thou hast brought to me?” For He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for us.1 [Note: W. Robertson Nicoll, Sunday Evening, 364.]
Salvation to the Uttermost
Cunningham (W.), Sermons from 1828–1860, 224.
Dixon (A. C.), Through Night to Morning, 65.
Hamilton (J.), Works, i. 142; ii. 242.
Jay (W.), Short Discourses, ii. 639.
Jenkins (E. E.), Sermons, 118.
Keble (J.), Sermons for the Christian Year: Ascension Day to Trinity Sunday, 42; Lent to Passiontide, 386.
Lees (H. C.), The Sunshine of the Good News, 32.
Manning (H. E.), Sermons, iii. 255.
Murray (A.), With Christ, 204.
Nicoll (W. R.), Sunday Evening, 355.
Parr (R. H.), The Path of the Just, 265.
Riddle (T. W.), The Pathway of Victory, 13.
Spurgeon (C. H.), New Park Street Pulpit, ii. (1856), No. 84.
Spurgeon (C. H.), Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, xii. (1886), No. 1915.
Wilmot-Buxton (H. J.), The Children’s Bread, 79.
Christian World Pulpit, xxiv. 210 (H. W. Beecher); xxix. 161 (J. Aldis); lxxxiv. 117 (J. Macmillan).
Churchman’s Pulpit: Sermons to the Young, xvi. 268 (H. M. Hart).
Homiletic Review, xxxi. 452 (W. Hoyt).