Salt is good, but if the salt loses its savor, with what will it be seasoned?
be the salt of the earth, doing in the human the same purifying work which salt does in the animal world.
I. THE PRESERVING POWER OF THE GOOD IN THE SOCIETY IN WHICH THEY ARE FOUND.
1. As those who act directly on God, and so on behalf of men. Had there been ten righteous men in Sodom, they would have preserved it from destruction. Similarly, the presence of a few righteous men would have saved the cities of Canaan. Is it not the presence of the righteous men and women in our modern cities which averts the retribution of God?
2. As those that act directly on man, and thus on God. As there is a tendency in animal nature, when life is extinct, towards putrefaction, so is there a tendency in human nature, when spiritual life is extinct, towards degeneracy and corruption. It is the function of salt in the economy of nature to prevent this result, to preserve sweetness and wholesomeness; it is the part of moral goodness to prevent corruption in society and to preserve purity and excellency there. And this it does. Purity, sobriety, uprightness, reverence, self-control, - these are powers for subduing, for restraining; they are powers that permeate, that sweeten, that preserve. This is eminently true of Christian discipleship: for it has
(1) truth to propound which is most cleansing in its character; and it has
(2) a life to live which is eminently purifying in its influence - the distinctive truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the life of the great Exemplar, which every follower of his is charged and is empowered to live again.
II. THE DANGER THAT THIS POWER WILL BE LOST. "Salt is good: but if the salt have lost its savour!" It may do so. The salt, by exposure to sun and rain, may lose its pungency and its virtue while retaining its appearance.
1. And so Christian truth may lose its distinguishing force. Men may use Christian forms of speech in their teaching, and yet the doctrine they declare may be an enfeebled and emasculated Christianity, from which all that is distinctive and all that is redeeming is extracted: it is salt without its savour.
2. And so Christian life may lose its excellency and its virtue. These may be blurred and blemished lives, or they may be spotted and stained lives, or they may be lives with nothing in them beyond mere conventional propriety - lives not animated by the love of Christ, not filled with the Spirit of Christ, not governed by the principles of Christ; not blamable, but not beautiful; not wicked, but worldly; not criminal, but not Christian: the salt has lost its savour.
III. THE EXTREME UNLIKELIHOOD OF RESTORATION. "If the salt have lost... wherewith shall it be seasoned?" That is an impossibility. Salt that has lost its virtue is useless for all ordinary purposes, and is "cast out." It is not absolutely impossible for the soul that has lost its Christian spirit and character to regain its worth, but it is very difficult and it is very rare. The recovery of lost feeling is a spiritual marvel.
1. It is so improbable that no man who loves his soul will expose himself to the peril; if he does, he most seriously endangers his spiritual life, he most gravely imperils his eternal future.
2. It is not so impossible that any unfaithful soul need despair. True penitence and genuine faith will bring back the wanderer from the fold to the shelter of the good Shepherd's love. - C.
Salt is good.
I. THE EXCELLENCE AND USEFULNESS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER The disciples of Christ are destined to the same office in the moral world that salt supplies in the natural — namely, to check the progress of corruption, and diffuse salubrity and health; and while they preserve their appropriate character, they fulfil this high destination. Sound in principle and exemplary in conduct themselves, they serve to arrest corruption in others; savouring the things of God, they communicate the same unction to others; active and beneficent, they extend a beneficial influence around them. The faithful followers of Christ are like "good salt," in respect of those principles of truth which they embrace and maintain. For error corrupts the mind, and, insinuating itself through its faculties, "will eat as doth a canker," and blend in all its communications; truth is the healing salt that arrests its progress and defeats the operation of the poison. Again, the true disciples are like good salt in respect of that temper of mind, and those good and gracious affections, which they cherish and manifest. For the truths of the gospel, when received in faith, fail not to renovate the heart and inspire it with corresponding dispositions: they necessarily awaken an unfeigned piety and holy reverence toward God, a simple, child-like dependence on Christ, a genuine benevolence toward men, a true humility, a spirit of sympathy with the afflicted, a desire to do good to all, a disposition to forgive injuries and to overcome evil with good. Now this temper of mind has a healing efficacy: like salt, it is diffusive, and tends to preserve the atmosphere of life from the putrid exhalations of selfishness, envy, and malevolence; it gives also a grateful relish and gracious aspect to society, fostering and maintaining in healthful exercise the substantial blessings of mutual esteem, friendship, and harmony. In a word, the true disciples are like good salt in respect of their whole conduct in life; which, while they act in character, cannot fail to have a beneficial influence, since it both presents a model to be copied, and suggests the motives and arguments that commend it. For their whole manner of life, if candidly interpreted, shows that they are governed by high and heavenly principles — that they are "not of the world, but of the Father."
II. THE RUINED AND UNHAPPY CONDITION OF THOSE WHO ABANDON THAT CHARACTER. If he who bears the Christian name lose the distinctive qualities of his Christianity — if he relinquish those principles of truth which he has professed — if he forsake the Christian temper — if, forgetful of heavenly things, he immerse himself in the world and live for himself, for gain, for pleasure, and not for Christ — alas! "the glory is departed," the usefulness of his character as a guide or example is at an end; he becomes, if not a betrayer, yet a deserter, worthless and contemptible, fit only to be "cast out, and trodden under foot."
1. The salt loses its savour when professing Christians lose their relish for those Divine truths that peculiarly distinguish the gospel and make it what it is.
2. The salt loses its savour when professing Christians lose their relish for the duties of religion.
3. The salt loses its savour when professing Christians imbibe the love and become conformed to the spirit of the world.
4. The salt loses its savour when the professor of religion falls into open immorality. Finally, the salt has lost its savour when the soul learns to vindicate its errors and without shame to persist in them — when reproof is unwelcome, when expostulation is offensive, and the man is anxious rather to defend his character than amend his ways — when, deaf to admonition and rebuke, he wilfully yields himself to the snare of the devil, to be "led captive at his will." How calamitous such termination of what was hopeful in its beginning!
(H. Gray, D. D.)
(De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
The Preacher's Monthly.I. LOOK AT WHAT IS HERE SO EXPRESSIVELY SYMBOLIZED. "Salt is good." Salt is a necessary of life, and it is an essential element of true altar service. There was no real sacrifice without salt.
1. It is the symbol of the covenant of everlasting mercy, but of ever. lasting mercy as the basis of a sinner's new life. There is a purpose of grace. God wills not the death of sinners, but their re-union with Him as the God of life. That purpose does not change. God pursues it in spite of the infatuation, the wilfulness, the ingratitude of men; and "He will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." "Salt is good." It is the salt of the great sacrifice for sin. "It is the salt of the covenant of thy God." He receives, and pardons, and renews, and cleanses all who believe on His Son Jesus Christ. No man can be saved but through the Divine mercy, and by an action of the Divine Spirit on mind and heart.
2. Salt symbolizes not only God's covenant of mercy with man, but man's covenant with God. Salt was a human offering on the altar, according to a Divine appointment. It meant, on the part of the offerer, the laying aside of enmity; it meant the submission of the offerer to the terms of the Merciful Sovereign; it meant the surrender of the will — of the life — to the Divine service. Salt symbolizes human consecration.
3. Salt is also the principle of counteractive grace. Antiseptic. The new principles of Divine life in the spirit arrest moral decay; work against the downward, earthly, immoral tendencies and temptations of the heart.
4. Salt symbolizes the preventive, corrective, life-nourishing power of the Christian society in the world.
5. Salt is also the principle of peace. "Peace with God" comes of salt within. With surrender to Him reconciliation is "effected; and there is now no condemnation, and no dread, and no discord — man and God live in harmony the perfectest.
II. THE SAVIOUR'S LESSON CONCERNING THE DETERIORATION OF THE SALT. Salt symbolizes God's covenant of mercy in its unchangeableness; and there can be no deterioration of that; but there may be a careless feeling concerning its excellence, its necessity, and its grace. Salt symbolizes man's covenant with God — the principle of entire self-surrender; it symbolizes the principle of counteractive grace both in the individual and the Church; and it is the principle of individual and social peace. Of these our Lord declares —
1. The possibility of deterioration. "If the salt have lost its savour." Rock salt exposed to the atmosphere becomes utterly tasteless and insipid; it comes to lack all the essential characteristics of its own nature. Whatever the truth may be on the Divine side of the great fact of human redemption, on the human side we are obliged to admit the possibility of a fall from grace. It is involved in the very fact that it is a free human spirit which is being dealt with.
2. Christ marks here three things as characteristic of men in this state.(1) They are useless for any good purpose whatever — useless in the Church, useless in the world. What shall be seasoned with such salt? It is useless to make anything grow. It is a heap and nothing more — neither man nor beast can ever be the better for its existence.(2) Such characters are utterly contemptible. They are neither fit for the land nor yet for the dunghill, which, if it does not grow itself, helps other things to grow.(3) And last of all they are rejected with utter disdain. "It is henceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men." It must not be allowed even to occupy the place of the real thing. There can be no fellowship between life and death.
(The Preacher's Monthly.).
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