there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under
heaven given among men, whereby
we must be saved.”—ACTS.
words are striking in themselves.
But they are much more striking if you consider when and by whom
they were spoken.
They were spoken by a poor and friendless Christian, in the midst of
a persecuting Jewish Council. It was a grand confession of Christ.
They were spoken by the lips of the Apostle Peter. This is the man
who, a few weeks before, forsook Jesus and fled: this is the very
man who three times over denied his Lord. There is another spirit in
him now. He stands up boldly before priests and Sadducees, and tells
them the truth to their face: “This is the stone that was set at
naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other
name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Now I need hardly tell you this text is one of the principal
foundations on which the eighteenth Article of the Church of England
That Article runs as follows: “They also are to be had accursed that
presume to say that every man shall be saved by the law or sect he
professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to
that law and the light of nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out
unto us only the name of Jesus Christ whereby men must be saved.”
There are few stronger assertions than this throughout whole
Thirty-nine Articles. It is the only anathema pronounced by our
Church from one end of her confession of faith to the other. The
Council of Trent in her decrees anathematizes continually: the
Church of England does it once, and once only. And that she does it
good grounds, I propose to show you,
by an examination of the Apostle
In considering this solemn subject there are three things I wish to
I. First, to show you the doctrine here laid down by the Apostle.
II. Secondly, to show you some reasons why this doctrine must be
III. Thirdly, to show you some consequences which naturally flow
from the doctrine.
I. First, let me show you the
doctrine of the text.
Let us make sure that we rightly understand what the Apostle Peter
means. He says of Christ, “Neither is there salvation in any other:
for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we
must be saved.” Now what is this? On
our clearly seeing this very much
He means that no one can be saved from sin, its guilt, power, and
consequences,—excepting by Jesus Christ.
He means that no one can have peace with God the Father,—obtain
this world, and escape wrath to come
in the next,—excepting through the
atonement and mediation of Jesus Christ.
In Christ alone God’s rich provision of salvation for sinners is
by Christ alone God’s abundant mercies
come down from Heaven to earth.
Christ’s blood alone, can cleanse us; Christ’s righteousness alone
can clothe us; Christ’s merit alone can give us
a title to heaven. Jews and
Gentiles, learned and unlearned, kings and poor men,—all alike must
either be saved by Jesus or lost for ever.
And the Apostle adds emphatically, “There is
none other name under heaven given
among men, whereby we must be saved.” There is no other person
commissioned, sealed, and appointed by God the Father to be the
Saviour of sinners, excepting Christ. The keys of life and death are
committed to His hand, and all who would be saved must go to Him.
There was but one place of safety in the day when the flood came
upon the earth, and that was Noah’s ark. All other places and
devices,—mountains, towers, trees, rafts, boats,—all were alike
useless. So also there is but one hiding-place for the sinner who
would escape the storm of God’s anger,—he must venture his soul on
There was but one man to whom the Egyptians could go in the time of
famine, when they wanted food,—they must go to Joseph: it was a
waste of time to go to anyone else. So also there is but One to whom
hungering souls must go, if they would not perish for ever,—they
must go to Christ.
There was but one word that could save the lives of the Ephraimites
in the day when the Gileadites contended with them, and took the
fords of Jordan (Judges xi.),—they must say “Shibboleth,” or die,
just so there is but one name that will avail us when we stand at
the gate of heaven,—we must name the name of Jesus as our only hope,
or be cast away everlastingly.
Such is the doctrine of the text. “No salvation but by Jesus Christ:
in Him plenty of salvation,—salvation to the uttermost, salvation
for the very chief of sinners;—out of Him no salvation at all.” It
is in perfect harmony with our Lord's own words in St. John: “I am
the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but
by Me.” (John xiv. 6.) It is the same
thing that Paul tells the
Corinthians: "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid,
which is Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. iii. 1) And the same that John tells
his first Epistle: “God hath given to us
eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath
life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John v.
12.) All these texts come to one and the same point,—No salvation
but by Jesus Christ.
Reader, make sure that you understand this before you pass on.
Perhaps you think this is all old news. Perhaps you feel, “These are
ancient things: who knoweth not such truth as these? Of course we
believe there is no salvation but by Christ.” But mark well what I
say: make sure that you understand this doctrine, or else by and by
you will stumble, and be offended at what I have yet to say.
Remember that you are to venture the whole salvation of your soul on
Christ, and on Christ only.
You are to cast loose completely and
entirely from all
other hopes and trusts. You are not to
rest partly on
doing all you can,—partly on
keeping your church,—partly on
receiving the sacrament. In
the matter of' your justification Christ
is to be all. This is the doctrine of the text.
Remember that heaven is before you, and Christ the only door into
it; hell beneath you, and Christ alone able to deliver you from it;
the devil behind you, and Christ the only refuge from
his wrath and accusations; the law
against you, and Christ alone able to redeem you; sin weighing you
down, and Christ alone able to put it away. This is the doctrine of
Now do you see it? I hope you do. But I fear many think so who may
find, before laying down this paper, they do not.
Let me show you, in the second place, some reasons why the doctrine
of the text must be true.
short this part of the subject by one
simple argument: “God says so.” “One
text,” said an old divine, “is as
a thousand reasons.”
But I will not do this. I wish to meet the objections that are ready
to rise in many hearts against this doctrine, by pointing out the
strong foundations on which it stands.
(1) Let me then say, for one thing, the doctrine of the text must be
true, because man is what man is.
Now, what is man? There is one broad, sweeping answer, which takes
in the whole human race: man is a sinful being. All children of Adam
born into the world, whatever be their name or nation, are corrupt,
wicked, and defiled in the sight of God. Their thoughts, words,
ways, and actions are all, more or less, defective and imperfect.
Is there no
country on the face of the globe where
sin does not reign? Is there no happy valley, no secluded island,
where innocence is to be found? Is there no tribe on earth where,
far away from civilization, and commerce, and money, and gunpowder,
and luxury, and books, morality and purity flourish? No, reader:
there is none. Look over all the voyages and travels you can lay
your hand on, from Columbus down to Cook, and you will see the truth
of what I am asserting. The most solitary islands of the Pacific
Ocean,—islands cut off from all the rest of' the world, islands
where people were alike ignorant of Rome and Paris, London and
Jerusalem,—these islands have been found full of impurity, cruelty,
and idolatry. The footprints of the devil have been traced on every
shore. The veracity of the third of Genesis has everywhere been
established. Whatever else savages have been found ignorant of, they
have never been found ignorant of sin.
But are there no men and women in the world who are free from this
corruption of nature? Have there not been high and exalted souls who
have every now and then lived faultless lives? Have there not been
some, if it be only a few, who have done all that God required, and
thus proved that sinless perfection is a possibility? No, reader:
there have been none. Look over all the biographies and lives of the
holiest Christians; mark how the brightest and best of Christ’s
people have always had the deepest sense of their own defectiveness
and corruption. They groan, they mourn, they sigh, they weep over
their own shortcomings: it is one of the common grounds on which
they meet. Patriarchs and Apostles, Fathers and Reformers,
Episcopalians and Presbyterians,
Luther and Calvin, Knox and
Bradford, Rutherford and Bishop Hall, Wesley and Whitefield, Martyn
and M’Cheyne,—all are alike agreed in feeling their own sinfulness.
The more light they have, the more humble and self-abased they seem
to be; the more holy they are, the more they seem to feel their own
unworthiness, and to glory,
themselves, but in Christ.
Now what does all this seem to prove? To my eyes it seems to prove
that human nature is so tainted and corrupt that, left to himself,
no man could be saved. Man’s case appears to be a hopeless one
without a Saviour,—and that a mighty Saviour too. There must be a
Mediator, an Atonement, an Advocate, to make such poor sinful beings
acceptable with God: and I find this nowhere, excepting in Jesus
Christ. Heaven for man without a mighty Redeemer, peace with God for
man without a mighty Intercessor, eternal life for man without an
Saviour,—in one word, salvation without
Christ,—all alike appear to me utter impossibilities.
lay these things before you, and ask you to consider them. I know it
is one of the hardest things in the world to realize the sinfulness
of sin. To say
we are all sinners is one thing; to have
an idea what sin must be in the sight of God is quite another. Sin
is too much part of ourselves to allow us to see it as it is: we do
not feel our own moral deformity. We are like those animals in
creation which are vile and loathsome to our senses,
but are not so to themselves, nor
yet to one another: their loathsomeness is their nature, and they do
not perceive it. Our corruption is part and parcel of ourselves, and
at our best we have but a feeble comprehension of its intensity.
But this you may be sure of,—if you could see your own lives with
the eyes of the angels who never fell, you would never doubt this
point for a moment. Depend on it, no one can really know what man
is, and not see that the doctrine of our text must be true. There
can be no salvation except by Christ.
(2) Let me say another thing. The doctrine of our text must be true,
because God is what God is.
Now what is God? That is a deep question indeed. We know something
of His attributes: He has not left Himself without witness in
creation; He has mercifully revealed to us many things about Himself
in His Word. We know that God is a Spirit,—eternal, invisible,
almighty,—the Maker of all things, the Preserver of all
things,—holy, just, all-seeing, all-knowing, all-remembering,—
infinite in mercy, in wisdom, in purity.
But, alas, after all, how low and grovelling are our highest ideas,
when we come to put down on paper what we believe God to be! How
many words and expressions we use whose full meaning we cannot
fathom! How many things our tongues say of Him which our minds are
utterly unable to conceive!
How small a part of Him do we
see! How little of Him can we
possibly know! How mean
and paltry are any words of ours to
convey any idea of Him who made this mighty world out of nothing,
and with whom one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years
as one day! How weak and inadequate are our poor feeble intellects
to conceive of Him who is perfect in
all His works,—perfect in
the greatest as well as perfect in
the smallest, perfect in appointing the days and hours in which
Jupiter, with all his satellites, shall travel round the
sun,—perfect in forming the smallest insect that creeps over a few
feet of our little globe! How little can our busy helplessness
comprehend a Being who is ever ordering all things, in heaven and
earth, by universal providence: ordering the rise and fall of
nations and dynasties, like Nineveh and Carthage; ordering the exact
length to which men like Alexander and
Tamerlane and Napoleon shall
extend their conquests; ordering the least step in the life of the
humblest believer among His people: all at the same time, all
unceasingly, all perfectly,—all for His own glory.
The blind man is no judge of the paintings of Rubens or Titian; the
deaf man is insensible to the beauty of Handel’s music; the
Greenlander can have but a faint notion of the climate of the
tropics; the Australian savage can
form but a remote conception of a
locomotive engine, however well you may describe it: there is no
their minds to take in these
no set of thoughts which can
comprehend them; they have no mental fingers to grasp them. And,
the same way, the best and brightest
ideas that man can
form of God, compared to the reality
which we shall one day see, are weak and faint indeed.
But, reader, one thing, I think, is very clear; and that is this.
The more any man considers calmly what God really is, the more he
must feel the immeasurable distance between God and himself: the
more he meditates, the more he must see that there is a great gulf
between him and God. His conscience, I think, will tell him, if he
will let it speak, that God is
perfect, and he
imperfect; that God is very high, and he
very low; that God is glorious
majesty and he a
poor worm: and that if ever he is to
stand before Him in judgment with comfort, he must have some mighty
he will not be saved.
And what is all this but the very doctrine of our text? What is all
this but coming round to the conclusion I
am urging upon you? With such a
one as God to give account to, we must have a mighty Saviour. To
give us with such a glorious Being as God, we must have an Almighty
Friend and Advocate on our side—who can answer
every charge that can be laid
and plead our cause with God on equal
terms. We want
this, and nothing less than
this. Vague notions of mercy will
never give true peace. And such a Saviour, such a Friend, such an
Advocate is nowhere
to be found except in the person of Jesus
I lay this reason also before you. I know well that people may have
false notions of God as well as everything else, and shut their eyes
against truth; but I say boldly and confidently, No man can have
really high and honourable views of what God is, and escape the
conclusion that the doctrine of our text must be true. There can be
no possible salvation but by Jesus Christ.
(3.) Let me say, in the third place, this
because the Bible is what the Bible is.
All through the Bible, from Genesis down to Revelation, there
is only one simple account of the
way in which man must be saved. It is always the same: only
for the sake of our Lord Jesus
Christ,—through faith; not for our own works and deservings.
You see it dimly revealed at first: it looms through the mist of a
few promises, but there it is.
You have it more plainly afterwards: it is taught by the pictures
and emblems of the law of Moses,
the schoolmaster dispensation.
You have it still more clearly by and by: the Prophets saw
in vision many particulars about
Redeemer yet to come.
have it fully
at last, in
the sunshine of New Testament
history: Christ incarnate,—Christ crucified, —Christ rising again,
Christ preached to the world.
But one golden chain runs through the
whole volume; no salvation
excepting by Jesus Christ. The bruising of the serpent’s head
foretold in the day of the fall; the clothing of our first parents
sacrifices of Noah, Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob; the passover, and all the particulars of the
high priest, altar, the daily offering of the lamb, the holy of
holies entered only by blood, the scapegoat, the cities of
refuge,—all are so many witnesses to the truth set forth in the
text: all preach with one voice, salvation only by Jesus Christ.
In fact, this truth appears to me the grand object of the Bible, and
all the different parts and portions of the book are meant to pour
light upon it. I can gather from it no ideas of pardon and peace
with God excepting in connection with this truth. If I could read of
one soul in it who was saved without faith in a Saviour, I might
perhaps not speak so confidently. But when I see that faith in
Christ,—whether a coming Christ or a crucified Christ,—was the
prominent feature in the religion of all who went to heaven; when I
see Abel owning Christ in his better sacrifice, at one end of the
Bible, and the saints in glory in John’s vision rejoicing in Christ,
at the other end of the Bible; when I see a man like Cornelius, who
was devout, and feared God, and gave alms and prayed, not told that
he had done all, and would of course be saved, but ordered to send
for Peter, and hear of Christ; when I see all these things I say, I
feel bound to believe that the doctrine of the text is the doctrine
of the whole Bible. No salvation, no way to heaven, excepting by
Reader, I do not know what use you make of your Bible,—whether you
read it or whether you do not,—whether you read it all, or whether
you only read such parts as you like; but this I tell you plainly,
if you read and believe the whole Bible, you will find it hard to
escape the doctrine of the eighteenth Article of the Church of
England, already quoted. I do not see how you can consistently
reject what I have been endeavouring to prove. Christ is the way,
and the only way; Christ the truth, and the only truth; Christ the
life, and only life.
Such are the reasons which seem to me to confirm the truth laid down
in our text. What man is,—what God is,—what the Bible is,—all appear
to me to lead us on to the same great conclusion: no possible
salvation without Christ. I leave them with you, and pass on.
And now, in the third and last place, let
me show you some consequences which flow
naturally out of our text.
There are few
parts of this subject which seem to be
more important than this. The truth I have been trying to set before
you bears so strongly on the condition of a great proportion of
mankind that I consider
it would be mere affectation on my part
not to say something about it. If Christ is the only way of
salvation, what are we to feel
about many people in the world?
This is the point I am now going to take up.
believe that many persons would go with me so far as I have gone,
and would go no further. They will allow my premises: they will have
nothing to say to my conclusions. They think it uncharitable to say
anything which appears to condemn others. For my part I cannot
understand such charity: it seems to me the kind of charity which
would see a neighbour drinking slow poison, but never interfere to
which would allow emigrants to embark in
a leaky, ill-found vessel, and not interfere to prevent them; which
would see a blind man walking near a precipice, and think it wrong
to cry out, and tell him there was danger.
I believe the greatest charity is to tell the greatest quantity of
truth. I believe it is no charity to hide the legitimate
consequences of such a text as we are now considering, or to shut
our eyes against them. And I solemnly call on every one who really
believes there is no salvation in any but Christ and none other
name, given under heaven whereby we be saved,—I solemnly call on
that person to listen to me, while I set before him some of the
tremendous consequences which the text involves.
am not going to speak of the heathen who have never heard the
Gospel. Their final state is a great depth, which the mightiest
minds have been unable
to fathom: I am not ashamed of leaving it
alone. One thing only I will say. If any of the heathen, who die
heathen, are saved, I believe they will owe their salvation, however
little they may know it on this side of the grave, to the work and
atonement of' Christ. Just as infants and idiots among ourselves
will find at the last day they owed all to Christ, though they never
Him, so I believe it will be with the
heathen, if any of them are saved, whether many or few; for this I
am sure of there is no such thing as creature merit. My own private
opinion is that the highest Archangel (though, of course, in a very
different way and degree from us) will be found in some way to owe
his standing to Christ; and that things in heaven, as well as things
on earth, will ultimately be found all indebted to the name of
Jesus. But I leave the case of the heathen to others, and will speak
of matters nearer home.
One mighty consequence then, which seems to be learned from this
text, is the utter uselessness of
any religion without Christ.
There are many to be found in Christendom at this day who have a
religion of this kind. They would not like to be called Deists, but
Deists they are. That there is a God, that there is what they are
pleased to call Providence, that God is merciful, that there will
state after death,—this is about
the sum and substance of their creed; and as to the distinguishing
tenets of Christianity, they do not seem to recognise them at all.
Now I denounce such a system as a baseless fabric,—its seeming
foundation man’s fancy,—its hopes an utter delusion. The god of such
people is an idol of their own invention, and not the glorious God
of the Scriptures,—a miserably imperfect being, even on their own
showing: without holiness, without justice, without any
attribute but that of vague
indiscriminate mercy. Such a religion may possibly do as a toy to
live with: it is far too unreal to die with. It utterly fails to
meet the wants of man’s conscience: it offers no remedy; it affords
no rest for the soles of our feet; it cannot comfort, for it cannot
save. Reader beware of it if you love life.
Beware of a religion
Another consequence to be learned from the text is,
the folly of any religion in which Christ has not
the first place.
need not remind you how many hold a system of this kind. The
Socinian tells us that Christ was a mere man; that His blood had no
more efficacy than that of another; that His death on the cross was
not a real atonement and propitiation of man’s sins; and that, after
all, doing is the way to heaven, and not believing. I solemnly
declare that I believe such a system is ruinous to men’s souls. It
seems to me to strike at the root of the whole plan of salvation
which God has revealed in the Bible, and practically to nullify the
greater part of the Scriptures. It overthrows the priesthood of the
Lord Jesus, and strips Him of His office; it converts the whole
system of the law of Moses touching sacrifices and ordinances, into
a meaningless form; it seems to say that the sacrifice of Cain was
just as good as the sacrifice of Abel; it turns a man adrift on the
sea of uncertainty, by plucking from under him the finished work of'
a divine Mediator. Beware of it, reader, no less than
of Deism. If you love life, beware
of the least attempt to depreciate and
undervalue Christ’s person,
offices or work. The name whereby alone you can be saved is a name
above every name, and the slightest contempt poured upon it is an
insult to the King of Kings. The salvation of your soul has been
laid by God the Father on Christ, and no other; and if He were not
very God, He never could accomplish it: there could be no salvation
Another consequence to be learned from our text is the
great error, committed by those who add
anything to Christ, as necessary to salvation.
It is an easy thing to profess belief in the Trinity, and reverence
for our Lord Jesus Christ, and yet to make some addition to Christ
as the ground of hope, and so to overthrow the doctrine of the text
as really and completely as by denying it altogether.
The Church of Rome does this systematically. She adds things over
and above the requirements of the Gospel, of her own invention. She
speaks as if Christ’s finished work was not a sufficient foundation
for a sinner's soul, and as if it were not enough to say, “Believe
on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shaft be saved.” She sends men to
penances and absolution, to masses and extreme unction, to fasting
arid bodily mortification, to the Virgin and the saints,—as if these
things could add to the safety there is in
Christ Jesus. And in doing this
she sins against our text with a high hand. Let us beware of any
Romish hankering after additions
to the simple way of the Gospel, from whatever quarter it may come.
But I fear the Church of Rome does not stand alone
in this matter: I fear there are
thousands of professing Protestants who are
often erring in the same
direction, although, of course, in a very different degree; they get
into a way of adding, perhaps insensibly, other names to the name of
Christ, or attaching any importance to them which they never ought
to receive. The ultra Churchman in England who thinks God’s
covenanted mercies are tied to episcopacy,—the ultra Presbyterian in
Scotland, who cannot reconcile prelacy with an intelligent knowledge
of the Gospel,—the ultra Free-kirk man
side, who seems to think lay
patronage and vital Christianity almost incompatible,—the ultra
Dissenter, who traces every evil in the Church to its connection
with the State, and can talk of nothing but the voluntary
system,—the ultra Baptist, who shuts out from the Lord’s table every
one who has not received his views of' adult baptism,—the ultra
Plymouth Brother, who believes all knowledge to reside with his own
body, and condemns every one outside as a poor weak babe;—all these,
I say, however unwittingly, appear to me to have a most
uncomfortable tendency to add to the doctrine of our text. All seem
to me to be practically declaring that salvation is not to be
bound simply and solely in Christ;
all seem to me to be practically adding another name to the name of
Jesus whereby men must be saved,—even the name of their own party
and sect; all seem to me to be practically replying to the question,
“What shall I do to be saved?” not
merely, “Believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ,” but also “Come and join us.”
Now I call upon every true Christian to beware of such ultraism, in
whatever form he may be inclined to it. In
saying this I would not be
misunderstood. I like everyone to be decided in his views of
ecclesiastical matter, and to be fully persuaded of their
I ask is that you will not put these
things in the place of Christ, or place them anywhere near Him,
speak of them as if you thought
them needful to salvation. However dear to us our
own peculiar views may be, let us
beware of' thrusting them in between the sinner and the
Saviour, let us beware, in
short, of adding to the doctrine
of the text. In the things of God’s Word, be it remembered,
addition, as well as subtraction, is a great sin.
The last consequence which seems to me to be learned from our text
is, the utter absurdity of
supposing that we ought to be satisfied with a man’s state of soul
if he is only sincere.
This is a very common heresy indeed, and one against which we all
need to be on our guard.
There are thousands who say in the
present day, “We have nothing to do with the opinions of others.
They may perhaps be mistaken, though it is possible they are right
and we wrong: but if they are sincere, we hope they will be saved,
even as we.” And all this sounds liberal and charitable, and people
like to fancy their
own views are so.
I believe such notions are entirely
contradictory to the Bible, whatever else they may be. I cannot find
in Scripture that anyone ever got to heaven merely by sincerity, or
was accepted with God if he was only earnest in maintaining his own
views. The priests of Baal were sincere when they cut themselves
with knives and lancets till the blood gushed out; but still that
did not prevent Elijah from commanding them to be treated as wicked
idolaters. Manasseh, King of Judah, was doubtless sincere when he
burned his children in the fire to
Molock; but who does not know that he brought on himself great guilt
by so doing. The apostle Paul when a Pharisee was sincere while he
made havoc of the Church, but when his eyes were opened he
mourned over this as a special
wickedness. Let us beware of allowing for a moment that sincerity is
everything, and that we have no right to speak ill of a man’s
spiritual state because of the opinions he holds, if he is only
earnest in holding them. On such principles, the Druidical
sacrifices, the car of Juggernaut, the Indian suttees, the
systematic murders of the Thugs, the fires of Smithfield, might each
and all be defended. It will not stand: it will not bear the test of
Scripture. Once allow such notions to be true, and you may as well
throw your Bible aside altogether. Sincerity is not Christ, and
therefore sincerity cannot put away sin.
dare be sure these consequences sound very unpleasant to the minds
of some who may read them. But I tell you of them advisedly and
deliberately. I say calmly that a religion without Christ, a
religion that takes away from Christ, a religion that adds anything
to Christ, a religion
that puts sincerity in the place of
Christ,—all are dangerous: all are to be avoided, and all are alike
contrary to the doctrine of our text.
You may not like this: I am sorry for it. You think me uncharitable,
illiberal, narrow-minded, bigoted, and so forth: be it so. But you
will not tell me my doctrine is not that of the Word of God, and of
the Church of England whose minister I am. That doctrine is,
salvation in Christ to the very
uttermost,—but out of Christ no salvation at all.
feel it a duty to bear my solemn testimony against the spirit of the
day you live in; to warn you against its infection. It is not
Atheism I fear so much, in the present times, as Pantheism. It is
not the system which says nothing is true, so much as the system
which says everything is true; it is not the system which says there
is no Saviour, so much as the system which says there are many
saviours and many ways to peace. It is the system which is so
liberal that it dares not say anything is false; it is the system
which is so charitable that it will allow everything to be true; it
is the system which seems ready to honour others as well as our Lord
Jesus Christ, class them all together, and hope well of all.
Confucius and Zoroaster, Socrates and Mahomet, the Indian Brahmins
and the African devil-worshippers, Arius and Pelagius, Ignatius
Loyola and Socinus,—all are to
be treated respectfully: none are
to be condemned. It is the system which bids us smile complacently
on all creeds and systems of religion: the Bible and the Koran, the
Hindu Vedus and the Persian Zendavesta, the old wives’ fables of
Rabbinical writers and the rubbish of Patristic traditions, the
Racovian catechism and the thirty-nine Articles, the revelations of
Emanuel Swedenborg and the book of Mormon of Joseph Smith,—all are
to be listened to: none are to be denounced as lies. It is the
system which is so scrupulous about the feelings of others, that we
are never to say they wrong; it is the system which
is so liberal that it calls a man
a bigot if he dares to say, “I
know my views are right.” This is the system, this is the
tone of feeling which I fear in
this day. This is the system which I desire emphatically to testify
against and denounce.
What is it but a bowing down before a
great idol specially called
liberality? What is it all but a
sacrificing of truth upon the
a caricature of charity? Beware of
it, reader, beware that the rushing stream of public opinion does
not carry you away. Beware of it, if you believe the Bible: beware
of it, if you are a consistent member of the Church of England. Has
the Lord God spoken to us
in the Bible, or has He not? Has He shown
us the way of salvation plainly in that Bible, or has He not? Has He
declared to us the dangerous state of all out of that way, or has He
not? Gird up the loins of your mind, and look these questions fairly
in the face, and give them an honest answer. Tell us that there is
some other inspired book beside the Bible, and then we shall know
what you mean; tell us that the whole Bible is not inspired, and
then we shall know where to meet you: but grant for a moment that
the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is God’s
then I know not in
what way you can escape the
doctrine of the text. From the liberality which says everybody is
right, from the charity which forbids you to say anybody is wrong,
from the peace which is bought at the expense of truth,—may the good
Lord deliver you!
speak for myself: I find no resting-place between downright
Evangelical Christianity and downright infidelity, whatever others
may find. I see no half-way house between them, or houses that are
roofless and cannot shelter my weary soul. I can see consistency in
an infidel, however much I may pity him; I can see consistency in
the full maintenance of Evangelical truth: but as to a middle course
between the two,—I cannot see it; and I say so plainly. Let it be
called illiberal and uncharitable. I can hear God's voice nowhere
except in the Bible, and I can see no salvation for sinners in the
Bible excepting through Jesus Christ. In Him I see abundance: out of
Him I see none. And as for those who hold religions in
which Christ is not all, whoever
they may be, I have a most uncomfortable feeling about their safety.
I do not for a moment say that none of them are saved, but I say
that those who are saved are saved by their disagreement with their
own principles, and in spite of their own system. The man who wrote
the famous line,
can’t be wrong whose life is in the right,”
was a great poet undoubtedly, but he
was a wretched divine.
Let me conclude with a few words by way of application.
First of all,
if there is no salvation excepting in
Christ, make sure that you have an interest in that salvation
yourself. Do not be content with hearing, and approving, and
assenting to the truth, and going no further. Seek to have a
personal interest in this salvation: lay hold by faith for your own
soul; rest not till you know and feel that you have got actual
possession of that peace with God which Jesus offers, and that
Christ is yours, and you are Christ’s. If there were two, or three,
or more ways of getting to heaven, there would be no necessity for
pressing this matter upon you. But if there is
one way, you will hardly wonder
that I say, "Make sure that you are in it."
if there is no salvation excepting in
Christ, try to do good to the souls of all who do not know Him as a
Saviour. There are millions in
this miserable condition,—millions
in foreign lands, millions in your own
country, millions who
are not trusting in Christ. You
ought to feel for them if you are a true Christian; you ought to
pray for them; you ought to work for them, while there is yet time.
Do you really believe that Christ is the only way to heaven? Then
live as if you believed it.
Look round the circle of your own relatives and friends: count them
up one by one, and think how many of them are not yet in Christ. Try
to do good to them in some way or
other: act as a man should act who believes his friends to be in
danger. Do not be content with their being kind and amiable, gentle
and good-tempered, moral, and courteous; be miserable about them
till they come to Christ, and trust in Him: for miserable you ought
to be. Let nobody alone who is out of Christ, if only you have
opportunities of reaching him. I know all this may sound like
enthusiasm and fanaticism. I wish there was more of it in the world:
anything, I am sure, is better than a quiet indifference about the
souls of others, as if everybody was in the way to heaven. Nothing,
to my mind, so proves our little faith, as our little feeling about
the spiritual condition of those around us.
if there is no salvation excepting in Christ, let us love all who
love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, and exalt Him as their Saviour,
whoever they may be. Let us not draw back and look shy on others,
because they do not see eye to eye with ourselves in everything.
Whether a man be a Free-kirk man or an Independent, a Wesleyan or a
Baptist, let us love him if he loves Christ, and gives Christ His
rightful place. We are all fast travelling towards a place where
names and forms and Church government will be nothing, and Christ
will be all: let us get ready for that place betimes, by loving all
who are in the way that leads to it.
This is the true charity: to believe all things and hope all things,
so long as we see Bible doctrines maintained and Christ exalted.
Christ must be the single standard by which all opinions must be
measured. Let us honour all who honour Him: but let us never forget
that the same apostle Paul who wrote about charity, says also, “If
any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema.” If our
charity and liberality are wider than that of the Bible, they are
worth nothing at all: indiscriminate love is no love at all, and
indiscriminate approbation of all religious opinions, is only a new
name for infidelity. Let us hold out the right hand to all who love
the Lord Jesus, but let us beware how we go beyond this.
there is no salvation excepting by
Christ, you must not be surprised if ministers of the Gospel preach
much about Him. We cannot tell you too much about the name which is
above every name: you cannot hear of Him too often. You may hear too
much about controversy in our sermons,—you may hear too much of men
and books, of works and duties, of forms and ceremonies, of
sacraments and ordinances,—but there is one subject which you never
hear too much of: you can never hear too much of Christ.
When we are wearied of preaching Him, we are false ministers: when
you are wearied of hearing of Him, your souls are
in an unhealthy state. When we
have preached Him all our lives, the half of His excellence will
remain untold. When you see Him face to face in the day of His
appearing, you will find there was more in Him than your heart ever
Let me leave you with the words of an old writer, to which I desire
humbly to subscribe. “I know no true religion but Christianity; no
true Christianity but the doctrine of Christ: the doctrine of His
divine person, of His divine office, of His divine righteousness,
and of His divine Spirit, which all that are His receive. I know no
true ministers of Christ but such as make it their business, in
their calling, to commend Jesus Christ, in His saving fulness of
grace and glory, to the faith and love of men;
no true Christian but one united
to Christ by faith and love, unto the glorifying of the name of
Jesus Christ, in the beauty of Gospel holiness. Ministers and
Christians of this spirit have been for many years my brethren and
companions, and I hope shall ever be, whithersoever the hand of God
shall lead me.”