For everyone will be salted with fire.
I. HOW SPIRITUAL PURITY IS PRODUCED AND SUSTAINED, 1, "With fire:" a figurative term, relating itself to the fire that is not quenched of the preceding passage, and the description of the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 3:11, 12). "Even when manifested in its most awful forms, it is still true that they who 'walk righteously and speak uprightly' may dwell with 'everlasting burnings" (Plumptre). "Thy God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24); and that to the evil in his people, as well as that out of which they are taken. This may refer
(1) to the general spiritual experience of the child of God as subject to the influences of the Holy Spirit;
(2) to Divine chastisement;
(3) to "the spirit to which our Savior refers in vers. 43-48, the spirit that parts, for righteousness sake, with a hand, a foot, an eye (Morison). It is an alternative fire," "which indeed scorches the sensibility to agony, but which in the end consumes only what is bad, and leaves the soul freed from those moral combustibles on which the penal fire of Gehenna could feed." "He is preserved from corruption, and consequent everlasting destruction, by the fire of unsparing self-sacrifice (ibid.).
2. This is the universal experience of true. Christians. Because it is essential to the Divine life in the soul, if indeed it be not rather identical with it. Have we endured this scourging," without which no son is received by our Father? Is this our spirit? Herein we can examine ourselves.
II. ITS INFLUENCE. It affects:
(2) collectively. Have suit in yourselves, and be at peace one with another. Purity of aim and spirit will obviate misunderstandings, and allay bitternesses between true believers.
2. Their sacrifices. It is in a sense the spirit of Christ's sacrifice communicated to theirs. As it was a law of the Levitical code that "every sacrifice should be salted with salt," so it is a law of the spiritual life, fulfilled through the spirit of self-sacrifice communicated to the particular act and object of sacrifice. This applies to the whole outcome and expression of the spiritual life of the children of God, their thought, word, action, as well as to their gifts to the cause of Christ.
3. The general life of the world. "Ye are the salt of the earth." An indirect and incomplete, but still a positive blessing to the world of the unconverted. For this constant renewals of grace are required, from a source independent of ourselves. Watchfulness, prayer, ceaseless self-sacrifice in the spirit of Christ. - M.
For everyone shall he salted with fire.Leviticus 2:13) that "Every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt." Collecting, then, the points to which we have adverted, we have seen that believers are represented as the Lord's sacrifices: that His sacrifices were anciently purified by the typical salt; that the object of the salt, or grace, is to preserve them from the corruption of the worm of indwelling sin and the fire of ultimate judgment; and that in the whole chamber of imagery is inculcated the duty of sacrificing the lusts of the flesh in order to our being edified in the spirit, and promoting the edification of others. We recognize in the text a force and a beauty not discernible to the superficial student, in the declaration of the gracious effect of those sanctifying trials and mortifications in which all believers have their share; "for everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt." Let us, therefore, consider the teaching of the Spirit in this text to imply, first, an awful denunciation on the man of unmortified lusts — "Every" such "one shall be salted with fire;" secondly, the gracious result of fleshly mortification — "every sacrifice shall be salted with salt;" that is, every believer who "presents his body a living sacrifice," "shall be salted with salt" — that is, not with fire to consume, but with salt to preserve. This is the contrast: on the one hand penal destruction; on the other, gracious preservation.
I. THE CAREER OF UNFORTIFIED LUST ENTAILS A FEARFUL PENALTY. This declaration of Scripture is continually receiving fearful illustrations in the premonitory dealings of Providence. Days of indulgence are succeeded by nights of pain; a youth of profligacy, if not prematurely cut short, entails a feeble, diseased, and miserable old age. Sin receives judgment by installments; the salting fire of the Divine displeasure falls upon the wretched sinner, in many a striking instance, even in this life, presenting, like the shock before the earthquake, prelusive warning of the catastrophe about to follow. It is admitted that the expression in the text is figurative. But the figures of Scripture never exaggerate the facts of reality. The lost, unransomed soul, exposed to the searching and protracted agonies of a fire that salts, that is, perpetuates the anguish of its miserable victims, exhibits the torments of the unbelieving in a broad glare of horror, as if the letters were illuminated by the reflection of "the lake that burneth."
II. THE GRACIOUS EFFECTS OF FLESHLY MORTIFICATION. The believer is to be also salted, but with constraining love, with preserving grace, with sanctifying trial. The grace of mortification is that to the soul which salt is to the body; it preserves it from putrefaction, and renders it savoury. Inferences:
1. That there is in every believer some lust to be subdued — for "every sacrifice shall be salted with salt." We do not apply salt except to those things which have a natural tendency to corruption. If believers must have "salt in themselves," it follows that there is in them the principle of corruption. One man is attacked through the medium of his ambition; the lust of secular distinction desolates his heart of all piety. Another man is drawn aside by his avarice. Another man is seduced by his animal lusts, and the unchecked vagrancy of the eye. Another man is tempted through the medium of temper, and his ebullitions of frightful rage shock the ears of his household. Another man is led astray by his pride. Lastly, the figure suggests the doctrine, that the spiritual health of the believer is to be promoted and attained by fleshly mortification. It is by this means that the soul is to be clarified from sin and preserved in grace.
(J. B. Owen, M. A.)
I. THAT THE TRUE NOTION OF A CHRISTIAN IS THAT HE IS A SACRIFICE, OR A THANK OFFERING TO GOD (Romans 12:1). Under the law, beasts were offered to God, but in the gospel men are offered to Him; not as beasts were, to be destroyed, slain, and burnt in the fire, but to be preserved for God's use and service. In offering anything to God, two things were of consideration.
1. There is a separation of ourselves from a common use. The beast was separated from the flock or herd for this special purpose (2 Corinthians 5:15).
2. There is a dedicating ourselves to God, to serve, please, honour, and glorify Him.We must be sincere in this —
1. Because the truth of our dedication will be known by our use; many give up themselves to God, but in the use of themselves there is no such matter; they carry it as though their tongues were their own (Psalm 12:4).
2. Because God will one day call us to account.
3. Because we are under the eye and inspection of God.
II. THAT THE GRACE OF MORTIFICATION IS THE TRUE SALT WHEREWITH THIS OFFERING AND SACRIFICE SHOULD BE SEASONED.
1. Salt preserves flesh from putrefaction by consuming that superfluous and excrementitious moisture, which otherwise would soon corrupt: and so the salt of the covenant doth prevent and subdue those lusts which would cause us to deal unfaithfully with God. Alas! meat is not so apt to be tainted as we are to be corrupted and weakened in our resolutions to God, without the mortifying grace of the Spirit.
2. Salt hath an acrimony, and doth macerate things and pierce into them; and so the grace of mortification is painful and troublesome to the carnal nature. We either must suffer the pains of hell or the pains of mortification; we must be salted with fire or salted with salt. It is better to pass to heaven with difficulty and austerity, than to avoid these difficulties and run into sin, and so be in danger of eternal fire. The strictness of Christianity is nothing so grievous as the punishment of sin.
3. Salt makes things savoury, so grace makes us savoury, which may be interpreted with respect either to God or man. We must be seasoned by the grace of Christ, and so become acceptable in the sight of God; the more we are salted and mortified, the more we shall do good to others.
III. THERE IS A NECESSITY OF THIS SALT IN ALL THOSE THAT HAVE ENTERED INTO COVENANT WITH GOD AND HAVE DEDICATED AND DEVOTED THEMSELVES TO HIM.
1. By our covenant vow we are bound to the strictest duties, and that upon the highest penalties. The duty to which we are bound is very strict.
2. The abundance of sin that yet remains in us, and the marvellous activity of it in our souls. We cannot get rid of this cursed inmate till our tabernacle be dissolved, and this house of clay tumbled into the dust, Well, then, since sin is not nullified, it must be mortified.
3. Consider the sad consequences of letting sin alone, both either as to further sin or punishment. If lust be not mortified, it grows outrageous. Sins prove mortal if they be not mortified. The unmortified person spares the sin and destroys his own soul; the sin lives, but he dies. Now to make application.
I. For the reproof of those that cannot abide to hear of mortification. The unwillingness and impatience of this doctrine may arise from several causes.
1. From sottish atheism and unbelief.
2. It may come from libertinism. And these harden their hearts in sinning by a mistaking the gospel.(1) Some vainly imagine as if God by Jesus Christ were made more reconcilable to sin, that it needs not so much to be stood upon, nor need we to be so exact, to keep such ado to mortify, and subdue the inclinations that lead to it. They altogether run to the comforts of the gospel and neglect the duties thereof. Christ died for sinners, therefore we need not to be troubled about it.(2) Another sort think such discourses may be well spared among a company of believers, and they need not this watchfulness and holy care, especially against grievous sins; that they have such good command of themselves that they can keep within compass well enough.(3) A third sort are such as think believers are not to be scared with threatenings, but only oiled with grace.
3. It may arise from another cause, the passionateness of carnal affections. There is no hope; it is an evil and I must bear it. Consider the doleful condition of those that indulge their carnal affections; and that either threatened by God, or executed upon the wicked.(1) Consider it as it is threatened by God. If God threaten so great a misery, it is for our profit, that we may take heed and escape it. There is mercy in the severest threatenings, that we may avoid the bait when we see the hook, that we may digest the strictness of a holy life, rather than venture upon such dreadful evils.(2) Consider which trouble is most intolerable — to be salted with salt, or to be salted with fire; with unpleasing mortification, or the pains of hell; the trouble of physic, or the danger of a mortal disease. Surely to preserve the life of the body, men will endure the bitterest pill, take the most loathsome potion. Better be macerated by repentance, than broken in hell by torments. Which is worse, discipline or execution? Here the question is put: you must be troubled first or last. Would you have a sorrow mixed with love and hope, or else mixed with desperation? Would you have a drop or an ocean? Would you have your souls cured or tormented? Would you have trouble in the short moment of this life, or have it eternal in the world to come?
(J. Manton, D. D.)
(H. McNeile, M. A.)
(J. Morison, D. D.)
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