Luke 14:34
Salt is good, but if the salt loses its savor, with what will it be seasoned?
Sermons
The Cost of DiscipleshipR.M. Edgar Luke 14:25-35
Christianity the Salt of the EarthLuke 14:34-35
Grace in CrystalsDe Witt Talmage, D. D.Luke 14:34-35
Ourselves as SaltW. Clarkson Luke 14:34, 35
Religion Should be Practical If it is to be InfluentialLuke 14:34-35
SaltThe Preacher's MonthlyLuke 14:34-35
Salt that is Genuine, and Salt that is SaltlessH. Gray, D. D.Luke 14:34-35
The Salt that has Lost its SavourDean Alford.Luke 14:34-35


It is hardly possible to mistake the meaning of Christ here. We know that salt is the great preservative of animal nature, the antidote of putrefaction and decay. We know also that the great Teacher intended that his disciples should 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.
Among the substances that enter into the composition of this globe of earth, salt is a very important one, being of essential use in the economy of the world, and eminently conducive to the preservation of human life. It may be regarded as the grand conservative principle of nature, whose office is to keep this earth, the habitation of man, in a wholesome state, to check the progress of decay and corruption, and promote the health and wellbeing of the animal world. To fit it for these important purposes, the All-wise Creator, who communicates to every element its peculiar character, has given it the quality of being soluble in water, and has thus made it capable of diffusing itself over the whole globe, impregnating the various departments of nature, and penetrating the finest fibres of vegetable and animal substances — a hidden agent that, by means of the element that holds it in solution, conveys its salutary influence to every region of creation. Suspended in strong infusion in the ocean, it preserves its immense reservoirs from putrefaction, and makes them the means of conveying health to the shores they wash, and salubrity to the atmosphere that rises above them; while it further serves, by increasing the gravity of the waters, to aid in buoying up the tribes that inhabit and the ships that navigate them. It is largely deposited in the heart of the earth, in rocks and strata. It is also found to enter into the composition of plants, some of which yield it in large quantities, and even to form an ingredient in the bodies of animals. If this element were withdrawn, the great deep, we have reason to think, would become a putrid pool, the air would consequently be a pestilential vapour, and vegetable and animal life would quickly be extinct. Now our Lord here speaks of salt in a figurative sense, using it as an illustration to declare the excellence and usefulness of the Christian character, as exemplified in those who maintain it faithfully and consistently; and the loss of all excellence, the shipwreck of all valuable attainments and of all good hope, in those who forsake and abandon the principles and spirit with which they once started on the Christian race.

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.)

It would take all time with an infringement upon eternity, for an angel of God to tell one-half the glories in salt-crystal. So with the grace of God; it is perfectly beautiful. Solomon discovered its anatomical qualities when he said, "It is marrow to the bones." I am speaking now of a healthy religion — not of that morbid religion that sits for three hours on a gravestone reading Hervey's "Meditations Among the Tombs." I speak of the religion that Christ preached. I suppose when that religion has conquered the world that disclose will be banished. But the chief beauty of grace is in the soul. It takes that which was hard, and cold, and repulsive, and makes it all over again. It pours upon one's nature what David calls "the beauty of holiness." It extirpates everything that is hateful and unclean. It took John Bunyan the foul-mouthed, and made him John Bunyan the immortal dreamer. It took John Newton, the infidel sailor, and in the midst of the hurricane made him cry out: "My mother's God, have mercy upon me!" It took John Summerfield from a life of sin, and by the hand of a Christian edged-tool maker, led him into the pulpit that burns still with the light of that Christian eloquence which charmed thousands to Jesus whom he once despised. Ah! you may search all the earth over for anything so beautiful or beautifying as the grace of God. Go all through the deep mine-passages of Wielitzka, and amid the underground kingdoms of salt in Hallstadt, and show me anything so exquisite, so transcendentally beautiful as this grace of God fashioned and hung in eternal crystals. Again, grace is like salt, in the fact that it is a necessity of life. Man and beast perish without salt. What are those paths across the Western prairies? Why, they were made there by deer and buffalo going to and coming away from the salt "licks." Chemists and physicians, all the world over, tell us that salt is a necessity of life. And so with the grace of God: you must have it or die. I know, a great many people speak of it as a mere adornment, a sort of shoulder-strap adorning a soldier, or a light, frothing dessert brought in after the greatest part of the banquet of life is over. So far from that, I declare the grace of God to be the first and the last necessity. It is a positive necessity for the soul. You can tell very easily what the effect would be if a person refused to take salt into the body. The energies would fail, the lungs would struggle with the air, slow fevers would crawl through the brain, the heart would flutter, and the life would be gone. That process of death is going on in many a one because they take not the salt of Divine grace. Again, I remark, that grace is like salt in abundance. God has strewn salt in vast profusion all over the continents. Russia seems built on a salt. cellar. There is one region of that country that turns out ninety thousand tons in a year. England and Russia and Italy have inexhaustible resources in this respect. Norway and Sweden, white with snow above, white with salt beneath. Austria yielding nine hundred thousand tons annually. Nearly all the nations rich in it — rock-salt, spring-salt, sea-salt. Christ, the Creator of the world, when He uttered our text, knew it would become more and more significant as the shafts were sunk, and the springs were bored, and the pumps were worked, and the crystals were gathered. So the grace of God is abundant. It is for all lands, for all ages, for all conditions. It seems to undergird everything. Pardon for the worst sin, comfort for the sharpest suffering, brightest light for the thickest darkness. Again, the grace of God is like salt in the way we come at it. The salt on the surface is almost always impure — that which incrusts the Rocky Mountains and the South American pampas and in India; but the miners go down through the shafts and through the dark labyrinths, and along by galleries of rock, and with torches and pickaxes find their way under the very foundations of the earth, to where the salt lies that makes up the nation's wealth. To get to the best saline springs of the earth huge machinery goes down, boring depth below depth, depth below depth, until from under the very roots of the mountains the saline water supplies the aqueduct. This water is brought to the surface, and is exposed in tanks to the sun for evaporation, or it is put in boilers mightily heated, and the water evaporates, and the salt gathers at the bottom of the tank — the work is completed, and the fortune is made. So with the grace of God. It is to be profoundly sought after. With all the concentrated energies of the body, mind, and soul, we must dig for it. Superficial exploration will not turn it up. Then the work of evaporation begins; and as when the saline waters are exposed to the sun the vapours float away, leaving nothing but the pure white salt at the bottom of the tank, so, when the Christian's soul is exposed to the Sun of Righteousness, the vapours of pride and selfishness and worldliness float off, and there is chiefly left beneath, pure, white holiness of heart. Then, as in the case of the salt, the furnace is added. Blazing troubles, stirred by smutted stokers of darkness, quicken the evaporation of worldliness and the crystallization of grace. Have you not been in enough trouble to have that work go on? But, I remark again, that the grace of God is like the salt in its preservative quality. You know that salt absorbs the moisture of articles of food, and infuses them with brine which preserves them for a long while. Salt is the great anti-putrefactive of the world. Experimenters, in preserving food, have tried sugar, and smoke, and air-tight jars, and everything else; but as long as the world stands, Christ's words will be suggestive, and men will admit that, as a great preservative, "salt is good." But for the grace of God the earth would have become a stale carcass long before this. That grace is the only preservative of laws, and constitution, and literatures. Just as soon as a government loses this salt of Divine grace it perishes. We want more of the salt of God's grace in our homes, in our schools, in our colleges, in our social life, in our Christianity. And that which has it will live — that which has it not will die. I proclaim the tendency of everything earthly to putrefaction and death — the religion of Christ the only preservative. My subject is one of great congratulation to those who have within their souls this gospel antiseptic. This salt will preserve, them through the temptations and sorrows of life, and through the ages of eternity.

(De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

He that is ungodly would be ungodly still. And why? Because the salt has lost its savour. The mischief is not without — it is within. The wretched houses, the rent-books, the pawn-shops, are but symptoms — are but the efflorescence of a deep-seated disease — and if we are wise, we shall aim not at putting them to rights, except where grievous distress and impending ruin call for ready rescue; but we shall aim far deeper — we shall be ever musing on and seeking an answer to the question, "Wherewith shall it be seasoned?" And this is just the question which has been occupying so many Christian hearts, and employing so many Christian hands, now for some years in this our land. I called it the most fearful and difficult problem of our times; and every one who has fairly grappled with it will bear me in saying so. No special philanthropic agency will so much as touch the whole matter, however widely and efficiently supported. Each one of these, alone, is but opposing a feeble resistance for a time to the vast and gathering mass as it rolls and plunges downward. "Improve the dwellings of these poor people." Yes; of all mere remedial measures, doubtless this is the most obvious and lies nearest the surface. But how slow the progress; how distant and almost hopeless the result. Then again: "Improve their Sundays." By all means. The general observance of the Lord's day in our land is perhaps the most powerful instrument and the surest pledge for future good, which we possess. But again, How? For here once more we are beset with difficulties. You will be easily able to apply remarks of the same character to those various other agencies which are at work for this most salutary and beneficent purpose.

(Dean Alford.)

A wealthy, irreligious, shrewd business man in Illinois was approached by a member of the Church of Christ for a subscription towards building a meetinghouse. He cheerfully put down his name for two hundred dollars, and then remarked, "I give that as a good business investment. I would rather give two hundred dollars every year than not to have the gospel preached in this community." "How is that?" he was asked. "You do not pay any heed to the gospel. Why are you interested in having it preached?" "Oh," he replied, "I live here with my family, and my property is around here; without the influence of Christianity the condition of society would soon become such that neither property nor life would be safe. I would not be willing to live in any community where the gospel was not preached!" These views of a hard-headed man of the world are confirmed by all experience. Christianity is the salt of the earth. Only the utterly abandoned would be content to live where its influence had ceased to be felt.

William Smith, a Primitive Methodist local preacher, had a business letter shown to him from a manufacturer of cloth. The concluding paragraph was a rather high-flown rhapsody about revivals, and some sermon that had been to him (as he said) "wines on the lees." His pair of eyes keenly watched the reader of the letter, to whom he said, when the reading was concluded, "What do you think of that?" Answer: "I don't think I should have written the last paragraph." Response: "I should think not; I only wish the fellow would put his religion into his cloth instead of his invoices."

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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