The Message and the Messenger

Rom. 10:13,14.---' For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?'

The World's Need of Salvation.---This world is a lost world---lost to the service, enjoyment, and glory of Him who is at once its Creator, its Governor, and its End. Whenever you find a man, no matter what his environment or previous training, race, or creed, there you find a soul that needs God and His Christ. Man needs to be saved---saved in a large, broad sense. Salvation from sin? Yes, primarily, but men are to be saved from ignorance, from error, from false worship, from self-sufficiency, from despair, saved from everything that debases life. The world needs to be saved to holiness, happiness, the Kingdom, to a knowledge of God, fellowship with God, likeness to God. The world needs salvation! And this salvation is in Christ alone.

"It is impossible," says Seneca, "for a man of himself to escape: it must be that some one stretch forth a hand and draw him out."

'Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' That is the Biblical term for personal experimental religion, described under its most characteristic act and attitude. To rise above the illusion of sightlessness, to ignore the disconcerting report of the senses and the ominous silence of Nature; to assume God, to call on God as known, and of necessity near, known for grace and famed for love---that is religion. To act as overseen, to speak as overheard, to know that Spirit is for spirit, to pray, not as a beggar, but as mind to mind, kin to kin; and for the rest, for all the wrong that will never be right on earth, for the griefs that sear the heart, for the arrogance of death and the irony of the grave's response to human life and love, for all these things, trusting God's wisdom, justice, and goodness---as a bird that casts itself off from the solid perch into the safer infinite home of air. Calling on the name of the Lord, that indeed is personal religion.

But what does a man want with God? What does he hope for from God? "A healthy mind in a healthy body," said the satirist, not venturing on a larger petition. But he that calls on the name of the Lord is bolder. The true subject-matter of prayer must be something great. 'Whosoever shall call . . . shall be saved.' That is an old-fashioned word, but it carries further than any new one we know. It is towards that great ultimate Good Thing which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor heart of man conceived, but towards which the affections and desires of the soul point. All the great words of the Bible look out towards this ultimate Good. Peace, Life, Light, the Kingdom, Salvation, are words culled from man's experience at its best, and his desire of the Good that transcends experience and the joy that outgoes desire. 'Whosoever shall call . . . shall be saved.'

The Church is the Divinely Appointed Agency for Conveying this Salvation to the World.---It is time we were waking up to a realization of what the Church of Christ really is. Until we know clearly what its function is we will be without power and prestige. The Church is God's agent in this world. Through it God does His work, and that work is to concern itself with everything that affects the life of humanity. There is no organization or institution, no avenue or agency half so broad visioned in its outlook on the needs and possibilities of men as the Church. It affords a common meeting-ground for saints and sinners. Here all differences disappear, and man meets man on the broad basis that we are all alike in our need, and that all are equally free to God's full salvation. The ultimate aim and end of the Church is the salvation of men. The man in need at the gate of the temple lies before the door of every church, and we fail of our Divine mission unless we persuade the hungry, weary, doubting souls around us that we have a joy and a blessing and a power which they do not possess, and that we are here to share it with them.

The Bride works at the foundations of life. In strengthening the moral groundwork of society, in stimulating men to live up to the best that is in them, in sweetening and sanctifying all human relations, in ministering to the soul's salvation and spiritual refinement of the race, what can compare with a living Church?

To the Church Jesus committed His grace and truth, with the command: 'Go, preach to every creature, go, teach all nations.' Carlyle spoke a great truth when he said that men will go to the Church that shows most concern for their salvation.

The calling of the Church is to maintain a way of looking at this life of ours which a headlong world in one careless generation might trample in the dust. We are charged to keep up the glow and power of certain great and moving words, which, not without difficulty, hold a man to his destiny as moral and the child of God. It is with regard to such an institution---the society of those who believe in Jesus Christ and who live as seeing Him---that our blessed Lord has said so many great and amazing things. 'Ye are the salt of the earth,' He says. Ye are in yourselves the spiritual element, that moral rebuke, without which Human life and human society would rot and go in pieces. 'Ye are the light of the world,' He says. Ye are that guidance, that lamp in the darkness, without which the world is not living at all, for it is living to no purpose. 'Whatsoever ye bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven,' He says. That is to say, it is given under God by our ideals, by our protests, to recall the world from every way of wrong doing and wrong thinking, to keep alive and wakeful the moral sense of the world lest it die of neglect or of abuse.

The gospel is adequate to the need of the whole world, but the one imperative, the one prerequisite, is the human instrument. The message is silent till the messenger arrives. The whole passion and purpose of God await the advent of the volunteer. It is a man that is wanted. It is men that are in demand.

"I dressed his wounds, God healed him" is the inscription over the gateway of the French College of Surgeons. It suggests the inevitable and indispensable union of two forces---God and man working together for the ends of redemption.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha