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that which gives to every request its prevalence and its power. As an example of what now I can but briefly touch upon, it is written “that if we ask anything according to his will he heareth us.” This does not confer a sanction upon every suit or solicitation that we may press at the court of heaven, but certainly upon a vast number of them. Thus surely, every petition in that prayer which He himself hath dictated, even the Lord's prayer, may, as according most thoroughly with His own will, be preferred with utmost confidence on our part; and so it is that while we have no warrant to pray
for this world's riches, we have a perfect warrant to pray for daily bread. The same principle of agreableness to the will of God sustains our faith, when praying in behalf either of ourselves or others, for the riches of a glorious immortality, being expressly told that God willeth such intercessions to be made for all men, and on this ground too that He willeth all men to be saved. Such is the large and liberal warrant that we have from God Himself for turning our desire into a request, when the object of that desire is salvation. No imagined desire on the part of God, or imagined destiny on the part of man, should lay an arrest on this plain exercise. Let there be but a desire in our heart after salvation, even as there was a desire in the heart of Paul for the salvation of his countrymen the Jews; and the patent way of arriving at our object is just to vent this desire in confident utterance before the mercy-seat of Heaven. So
near does God bring salvation to us-So fully does He place it within the reach of all, and at the rereceiving of all. It is just as if we had it for the taking; or as if no obstacle whatever intervened between our sincere wish for it, and our secure possession of it. At least there seems, in that gracious economy under which we live, to be but one stepping-stone between them; and that is prayer. So very near and accessible to us has God made the blessedness of our eternity. He has positively committed His attribute of truth to the declaration that if men will but ask He will bestow. He has invested, as it were, every honest petitioner with a power over his own future and everlasting destiny; and made the avenue so open between the earth we tread upon and His own upper sanctuary, that if the bent or aspiration of our soul be towards heaven, heaven with all its glory and its happiness is our own. This at least is the object of a most legitimate desire, and that prayer is a most legitimate one which proceedeth therefrom. Ask and ye shall receive, is a promise which embraces within the rightful scope of it, all that is good for the soul and for the soul's eternity. And so let us ask till we receive-let us seek till we find let us knock till the door of salvation is opened to us.
But thus to say that we may have salvation for the asking, certainly points out what may be called a very cheap way of obtaining it—cheaper far than we naturally or usually have any imagination of. For what may be easier it is thought than the utterance of a prayer—and even although desire should be indispensable to the success of it, we will not on that account lose our object in the present instance-for who is there that desireth not the salvation of his soul? Is there a human creature that breathes, who would not like to be assured of his exemption from the agonies of a hideous and intolerable hell, and who would not prefer to spend his eternity in the palaces of heaven? Put the question even to the most reckless and abandoned in all sorts of profligacy, would it not be his dread and his aversion to lie down amongst the everlasting burnings of the place of condemnation; and would it not be his choice rather, to be regaled throughout the unceasing ages of a glorious immortality, by those rivers of pleasure, and amid those sounds of jubilee, which cease not day nor night in the paradise of God? There is an instinctive horror of pain which belongs to all, and there is an instinctive love of enjoyment which equally belongs to all; and these, it may be thought, will guarantee
, a desire and an honest desire with every possessor of a sentient nature for his salvation from the one, and for his secure inheritance of the other. So that if it be enough for the salvation of any that it should be his heart's desire and prayer to be saved -who after all wants the desire, and who is there that might not pray?
This of all subjects, it may well be reckoned, should be one where the instigation of the heart is in unison with the utterance of the mouth; and thus while God wills the salva
tion of all, and man both wills and asks it, what obstacle can exist in the way of Heaven-or why should there be the distance of a single hairbreadth between any soul and the certainty of its salvation? ?
That you may apprehend aright how this matter stands, let me state to you the whole extent and import of the term salvation. We are aware of its common acceptation in the world—as if it signified but a deliverance from the penalty of sin. Whereas, additionally to this, it signifies deliverance from sin itself. He shall be called Jesus said the angel, for He shall save his people from their sins-save them from a great deal more let me assure you than the torment of sin's penalty, even from the tyranny of sin's power. The one salvation is spoken of when it is said of Jesus that He hath delivered us from the wrath which is to come. The other salvation is spoken of when it is said of Him, that He hath delivered us from the present evil world. The first secures for the sinner a change of place. The second secures for him a change of principle. By the one there is effected a translation of his
person, from what is locally hell to what is locally heaven. By the other there is effected a translation of his heart and spirit, from that which is the reigning character of hell to that which is the reigning character of heaven. The one is but a personal emancipation from the agonies of a tremendous suffering which is physical, to the joys of an exquisite gratification which is also physical. The other is a higher for it is a moral emancipation from the
thraldom of sensuality and sin to the light and the love and the liberty of a new heaven-born sacred
This last is an inseparable constituent of the gospel salvation-or rather I would say that it is the constituting essence of it. The other is more the accompaniment than the essence. The essential salvation surely is that which stands related to the moral economy of man, even his deliverance from sin unto holiness. The subordinate or the accessory salvation is that which stands related to his animal or sentient economy, even his deliverance from the fire and brimstone of hell to the music and the splendour and the sensible enjoyments and the everlasting security of heaven. The one takes place after death. The other takes place now. At least it has its commencement in time, though its perfect consummation is in eternity.
You will now understand what the legitimate desire is which should animate the heart when the mouth utters a prayer for salvation. There is the desire it is true for a future and everlasting happiness—but there is also desire for a present holiness. There is no other salvation held out to us in promise or in prospect throughout the New Testament. It is the only salvation which man has a warrant to ask; and it is the only salvation which God is willing to bestow. Nothing more true than that if man really wills the thing which he prays for, and if the thing be agreeable to the will of God, he will certainly obtain it. Now God, on the