This is a sorrowful portion of my subject. But it is one which I dare not, can- not pass by. I have no sympathy with those who prophesy nothing but peace, and keep back from men the awful fact, that they may lose their souls. I am one of those old-fashioned ministers who believe the whole Bible,—and everything that it contains. I can find no Scriptural foundation for that smooth-spoken the- ology, which pleases so many in these days, and according to which everybody will get to heaven at last.

I believe that there is a real devil. I believe that there is a real hell. I believe that it is not charity to keep back from men that they may be lost. Charity! shall I call it? If you saw a brother drinking poison, would you hold your peace?—Charity! shall I call it? If you saw a blind man tottering to- wards a precipice, would you not cry out “Stop”? Away with such false notions of charity! Let us not slander that blessed grace, by using its name in a false sense. It is the highest charity to bring the whole truth before men. It is real charity to warn them plainly when they are in danger. It is charity to impress upon them, that they may lose their own souls for ever in hell.

Man has about him a wonderful power for evil. Weak as we are in all that is good, we have a mighty power to do ourselves harm. You cannot save that soul of your’s, my brother: remember that! You cannot make your own peace with God. You cannot wipe away a single sin. You cannot blot out one of the black records which stand in the book of God against you. You cannot change your own heart. But there is one thing you can do,—you can lose your own soul…

Tell me not what a man thinks about the soul when he is in the fulness of health; tell me rather what he thinks when the world is sinking beneath him, and death, judgment, and eternity loom in sight. The great realities of our being will then demand attention, and must be considered. The value of the soul in the light of time is one thing, but seen in the light of eternity it is quite another. Never does living man know the value of the soul so well as when he is dying, and can keep the world no longer.

Does any one wish to have a still clearer idea of the soul’s value? Then go and measure it by the opinions of the dead. Read in the sixteenth chapter of St. Luke the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. When the rich man awoke in hell and in torments, what did he say to Abraham? “Send Lazarus to my father’shouse:—For I have five brethren,—that he may testify to them,—lest they also come to this place of torment.” That rich man probably thought little or nothing of the souls of others while he lived upon the earth.

Once dead and in the place of torment, he sees things in their true colours. Then he thinks of his brethren, and begins to care for their salvation. Then he cries, “Send Lazarus to my fa- ther’s house. I have five brethren Let him testify unto them.” If that wonderful parable did nothing else, it would teach us what men think when they awake in the next world. It lifts a corner of the veil which hangs over the world to come, and gives us a glimpse of what dead men think of the value of the soul.

Does any one wish to have the clearest idea that can be given of the soul’s value? Then go and measure it by the price which was paid for it 1800 years ago. What an enormous and countless price it was which was paid! No gold, no silver, no diamonds were found sufficient to provide redemption: no angel in heaven was able to bring a ransom. Nothing but the blood of Christ,—nothing but the death of the eternal Son of God upon the cross, was found sufficient to buy for the soul deliverance from hell.

Go to Calvary in spirit, and consider what took place there, when the Lord Jesus died. See the blessed Saviour suf- fering on the cross. Mark what happens there when He dies. See how there was darkness for three hours over the face of the earth. The earth quakes. The rocks are rent. The graves are opened. Listen to His dying words: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” Then see in all that marvellous transaction some- thing which may give you an idea of the value of the soul. In that awful scene we witness payment of the only price which was found sufficient to redeem men’s souls…

I proclaim then, with all confidence, that any one’s soul may be saved, (1) because Christ has once died. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has died upon the cross to make atonement for men’s sins. “Christ has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” (1 Pet. iii. 18.) Christ has borne our sins in His own body on the tree, and allowed the curse we all de- served to fall on His head. Christ by His death has made satisfaction to the holy law of God which we have broken. That death was no common death: it was no mere example of self-denial; it was no mere death of a martyr, such as were the deaths of a Ridley, a Latimer, or a Cranmer.

The death of Christ was a sacrifice and propitiation for the sin of the whole world. It was the vicarious death of an Almighty Substitute, Surety, and Representative of the sons of men. It paid our enormous debt to God. It opened up the way to heaven to all believers. It pro- vided a fountain for all sin and uncleanness. It enabled God to be just, and yet to be the justifier of the ungodly. It purchased reconciliation with Him. It pro- cured perfect peace with God for all who come to Him by Jesus. The prison- doors were set open when Jesus died. Liberty was proclaimed to all who feel the bondage of sin, and desire to be free.

For whom, do you suppose, was all that suffering undergone, which Jesus endured at Calvary? Why was the holy Son of God dealt with as a malefactor, reckoned a transgressor, and condemned to so cruel a death? For whom were those hands and feet nailed to the cross? For whom was that side pierced with the spear? For whom did that precious blood flow so freely down? Wherefore was all this done? It was done for you! It was done for the sinful,—for the un- godly! It was done freely, voluntarily,—not by compulsion,—out of love to sinners, and to make atonement for sin. Surely, then, as Christ died for the un- godly, I have a right to proclaim that any one may be saved.

Furthermore, I proclaim with all confidence, that any one may be saved, (2) because Christ still lives. That same Jesus who once died for sinners, still lives at the right hand of God, to carry on the work of salvation which He came down from heaven to perform. He lives to receive all who come unto God by Him, and to give them power to become the sons of God. He lives to hear the confes- sion of every heavy-laden conscience, and to grant, as an almighty High Priest, perfect absolution.

He lives to pour down the Spirit of adoption on all who be- lieve in Him, and to enable them to cry, Abba, Father He lives to be the one Mediator between God and man, the unwearied Intercessor, the kind Shepherd, the elder Brother, the prevailing Advocate, the never-failing Priest and Friend of all who come to God by Him. He lives to be wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption to all His people,—to keep them in life, to support them in death, and to bring them finally to eternal glory. (source)

J.C. Ryle

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