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to the everlasting disappointment and shame of all the host of hell, that it was not a vain boast, but the words of eternal wisdom, as well as invariable faithfulness, when he said, I will give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand*. Which leads me to
That Christ is able to save to the uttermost, as, "be can enable his people to persevere to the end of their course, even in the midst of the most formidable opposition."The state of a christian is indeed a warfare, and he had need to be completely armed for the combat; but he may depend on being victorious in it, under the conduct of the great Captain of his Salvation, who can Teach his hands to war, and his fingers to fight, so that even a bow of steel should be broken by his naturally feeble arms+. Jesus, his great covenant-head, to whom the Spirit is given without measure, can pour it out in so plentiful a manner, that were a career of labour, or of suffering, arduous and hazardous as that of the blessed apostle Paul, to be opened before the weakest saint, he might say with such composure and intrepidity, as Paul did, I can do all things, or am sufficient for all, through Christ that strengthened me§; and might repeat the triumph which he has taught us, What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us.
Our blessed Redeemer is able to save to the uttermost, as " he can support his people in death, and receive their spirits to a world of glory."-In that awful hour, when the dearest of their human friends stand around them with tears of unavailing pity, he can command deliverance for them; he can support them, Though flesh and heart fail, by the lively views of approaching glory, while he strengthens the eye of faith, to See, as it were, heaven opened, and himself standing at the right hand of God**, to receive the departing spirit. So that the christian may justly make his exit from off the stage of life, with those graceful words of the apostle, I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep what I have committed to him until that day++. And when he hath shot the awful gulph, and is cut off from any farther commerce with earth and its
John x. 28.
+ Psal. xviii. 34.
John iii. 34. ** Acts vii. 56. Ee
§ Phil. iv. 13. tt 2 Tim. i. 12.
inhabitants, he still finds himself in a province of the Redeemer's empire, and feels the important support of that hand, which bears The keys of death and the unseen world*. And to add no more on this head,
The Lord Jesus Christ is able to save his people to the uttermost, as he can raise their bodies from the dissolution of the grave, and conduct their complete persons to the regions of eternal felicity." He is The resurrection and the lifet; and though death be the king of terrorst, he knows and owns the conquest of the king of glory, who will at length Swallow him up in victory§; so that there shall be no more remainder of his power, than if he had never invaded any of the subjects of Christ. Their triumphant prince will verify the heroic words of Moses to the Egyptian tyrant, in a far more exalted sense; There shall not a hoof be left behind. The sleeping dust of his people, whereever it be dispersed, is still within the ken of his discerning eye, and the reach of his almighty hand; and when the appointed hour is come, All that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth ¶; and so illustrious a change shall pass on their vile bodies, that they shall be fashioned like unto his own glorious body, according to that mighty power whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself**. When this noble work of his power shall be accomplished, and in it the schemes of his love completed, with regard to all his elect, then shall he be Glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believett. Experience shall then most amply attest, what such a variety of other evidences is now assuring us of; and the whole redeemed world shall ring with the joyful acknowledgment, that He is able to save to the uttermost, in the most complete manner, in the most perfect degree.
I know all these thoughts are common and plain; yet I have insisted thus largely upon them, because they are the great foundations of our faith and hope: And had I been capable of furnishing out any curious and abstruse speculations on the subject, I am sure, that when laid in the balance with these sacred and important truths, they would have been lighter than a feather, weighed against talents of gold. But I would proceed to observe,
3. That when it is said, Christ is able to save to the uttermost, it may farther imply, "That the efficacy of his saving grace continues the same, throughout all succeeding ages."
* Rev. i. 18.
+ John xi. 25.
Job xviii. 14.
§1 Cor. xv. 54.
Some very celebrated commentators have taken the phrase in this sense, and rendered it, He is able always to save*; and it must be confessed, at the least, that the following connexion evidently proves this to be implied. For the apostle had before observed, that Christ had an unchangeable priesthood, that admitted of no successor; and, in the close of the verse, he argues his ability to save, from his ever living to make intercession; and therefore it cannot be improper here to touch on this thought, in which ever part of the text we suppose it chiefly to be suggested+.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was able to save, from the beginning. His energy wrought from the date of the first promise to our fallen parents, as his saving power and grace were indeed the foundation of it. And still, from that day to the present, has The seed of the woman been bruising the serpent's head‡, in many instances, which have been as preludes to the complete expected triumph.
By faith in him, under the more obscure discoveries before his incarnation, The elders obtained a good reports, and died in expectation of a better resurrection. Their faith embraced him, according to the degree in which he was revealed; they Saw his day, in a distant prospect, and rejoiced; and were received to the divine favour here, and to eternal happiness above in regard to a sacrifice which was yet to be offered, and a righteousness which was yet to be wrought out.
He appeared to be able to save, when he dwelt on earth in a tabernacle of clay. Still he mingled the dignity, and power of a God, with the abasements, and infirmities of a mortal man; asserting to himself the divine prerogative of forgiving sins¶;
✦ Christus non tantum potuit, quando mortalis erat, sed & nunc continuo potest salvare. Estius in loc.
+ I cannot think it easy, or necessary, to determine which of these two senses of saving to the uttermost is to be preferred; it is certain, both the thoughts are comprehended in the verse. If by saving to the uttermost, we understand saving perpetually, the completeness of the deliverance is comprehended in the word save; if we prefer the other sense of saving completely, that comprehends the perpetuity of it, which is most expressly asserted in the following words. I think Brennius justly unites both, when he explains it, ; To walλs, perfectè, & in perpetuum; and I have the pleasure to find, since I wrote this, that the great and excellent Dr. Owen explains the text in this extent, almost in the very words I had used above, which therefore I shall not transcribe. See Owen on the Heb. Vol. 3. p. 235, and 238.
Gen. iii. 15. § Heb. xi. 2. || John viii, 56. ¶ Mat, ix. 2, 6. 10. Luke vii. 47, 48,
Mat. ix 5,
speaking of a glorious resurrection, and eternal life, as his gift*; representing himself, as the Head-stone of the corner†, on whom was fixed all the stress of men's eternal interests; and as that awful judge, before whose tribunal the greatest of the children of men should stand, and from whom all should receive the decisive sentence, which should fix them in final happiness, or despair. Nay, even his deepest humiliation, on the cursed tree, a ray of divine glory broke through that dark cloud of infamy, with which he was then surrounded; and amidst all the scorn and rage of insulting enemies, who were reproaching him as a wretch abandoned by God and man, he speaks from the cross as from the throne; and, as the King of heaven, takes upon him to dispose of seats in paradise, and to promise life and glory to one who was then sharing with him in the agonies of death, and the ignominy of crucifixion; Verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in paradises.
Now if he were thus mighty to save, when he dwelt in so humble a form, when he passed through so calamitous a scene; how much more evidently is he so, amidst all the magnificence of his exaltation in the highest heaven; whither he has Ascended, as a glorious conqueror, having led captivity captive, and received gifts for men? Can we imagine, that an abode of seventeen hundred years at the right-hand of the Majesty on high, has enervated his arm, that he cannot save, or rendered his ear heavy that he cannot hear? It were a thought most evidently absurd! We may therefore confidently assure ourselves, that he is, at this moment, as able to exert an almighty power for the salvation of his people, as he was on that illustrious day, when he poured out the Spirit on his disciples, at the feast of Pentecost; or that in which he appeared to Paul, on the way to Damascus, with the glories of heaven new upon him, even with a lustre exceeding that of the meridian sun, and in a moment subdued his stubborn heart, and transformed him from a persecutor to an apostle.
Still is our Redeemer able to save, and shall continue to be When we, and our children, are laid in the dust of death, he shall be the joy and confidence of a new race of believers; and to the very end of time, One generation shall arise, and declare his righteousness to another, and that righteousness shall still retain its original value. This foundation of God,
John vi. 39, 44. x. 28. xi. 25, 26.
+ Mat. xxi. 42. Mark xii. 10. Luke xxv. 31-46. xxvi. 64. John v. 22-29.
shall stand sure, though rocks moulder into dust, and the mountains are removed out of their place; yea, when the sun shall fade away in its orb, and all the golden lamps of these lower heavens are extinguished, the sun of glory shall shine forth with undiminished radiancy: And if the work of rescue and deliverance cease, it will be only because danger, and misery shall no longer be known, and the very last of his enemies is completely subdued. Yet still his victorious energy shall continue the same, and it shall be as true of his power, as of his fidelity and grace, that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever*.
I have thus endeavoured to shew you, what we are to understand by this phrase of Christ's being able to save to the uttermost. It implies the danger and misery of those to whom he is proposed as a Saviour;-and evidently expresses a power of working out a complete deliverance, and the continuance of that power throughout all generations.
I shall conclude this head, and the present discourse, with two very obvious reflections on what I have already deliveredHow great is that salvation which the Lord Jesus Christ hath wrought out for us !-and how much are we all concerned very seriously to enquire after it!
1. How great is that salvation, which the Lord Jesus Christ hath wrought out.
We have been taking a survey of many important branches of it; and is it not most evidently worthy of the title that the apostle gives it, when he stiles it, So great salvation+ ? So great indeed it is, that if we compare with it the most illustrious salvations which God wrought out for Israel of old, far from being eclipsed, it will rather be brightened by the comparison; and it will appear how justly he might say, I, even I, am the Lord, and besides me there is no Saviour; none, that compared with me, deserves that important name.—It was a great salvation, which God wrought out for Israel by Moses, when he broke the power of Egypt by repeated blows; when he led the chosen tribes through the red sea, and through the desart, guided by the pillar of cloud and fire, and supplied by heavenly bread, and water streaming from the flinty rock. But the salvation of Christ is ten thousand times more important. A pious Israelite under the rod of an Egyptian oppressor might have risen in holy contemplation and devotion, from the brick-kiln or the
*Heb. xiii, S.
+ Heb, ii. 3.
Isai. xliii. 11.