2. He saves kingdoms and societies of men from those desolating judgments which would otherwise fall upon them; and often distinguishes one nation from another by acts of goodness, and the exertions of his Almighty power. ... Next to the children of Israel, perhaps there is no nation that has realised greater or more repeated instances of God's providential goodness and care than our own. Witness the early introduction of the gospel, the happy reformation from Popery, the settlement of the present Royal Family on the throne and the many remarkable interpositions in our favour, when we were apparently on the brink of ruin. Happy art thou, O Britain! "Who is like unto thee, O people, saved by the Lord, who is the shield of thy help, and the sword of thine excellency!" 3. He saves particular persons from threatening dangers and extricates them from those afflictions which would be too heavy for them to bear. His providence extends not only to the great and momentous concerns of states and kingdoms, but to the less imposing affairs of private life.
1. To the conduct of his providence. Many good things do others receive from the hand of God; but with these good things the saints have also his good will, which good will sweetens all their comforts, and sanctifies all their afflictions; turns their afflictions into blessings, and makes their blessings, blessings indeed! ... There is a general providence which attends all mankind, denoted in those words, " The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (Prov 15:3): but there is a particular providence that watches over God's people; and therefore it is said, "He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous." (Job 36:7)
2. To the display of his grace. Others may meet with temporal deliverances, but believers shall be saved with an everlasting salvation, not only from the common calamities of life, but from the curse of the law, the reigning and condemning power of sin, the wrath of God, the tyranny of Satan, and the torments of hell. Christ is to his people a powerful and complete Saviour: He is able to save to the utmost, and he will save to the utmost, - to the utmost of their wants and desires, to the utmost extent of time, nay, through an endless eternity, - all those who put their trust in him.
3. I am to take notice of the superior excellency of this manifestation of the divine character to the former; and the three following things appear to be intimated by the manner in which the Apostle here expresses himself.
- That the salvation of believers is more extensive. Other deliverances extend only to the body or outward estate, but this extends to the whole man, and involves both body and soul, but especially the latter.
- As it is more extensive, so it is more important. What are all temporal deliverances compared with the salvation of an immortal soul? Hence it is called, "so great salvation" (Heb 2:3).3. It is not only more extensive and important, but also more durable. "My salvation," says God, "shall be for ever," (Isa 51:6) It shall outlast heaven and earth; it is the fruit of an everlasting decree, founded upon an everlasting righteousness, and wrought out by one who is "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." Again, "Israel shall be saved with an everlasting salvation." "Ye shall not be ashamed or confounded, world without end," (Isa 45:7).
As this salvation will infinitely exceed all our hopes, so it will be as permanent as our beings. There will be no end of the misery of the wicked, no end of the happiness of the saints. Their present possessions may be ravished from them by fraud or violence, but their future inheritance is secured from all hostile attempts; it is a city with foundations, a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Now, as Dr Young observes, - "A perpetuity of bliss is bliss;" eternity crowns and consummates felicity. Earthly pleasures are short, but the pleasures of God's right hand are for evermore; the joys of heaven, and torments of hell, are both everlasting. This should lead us to inquire, Are we believers? That question which Christ put to the man who had been born blind, I would put to each of you: "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" Your eternal salvation is involved in the decision of this question; for, " He that believeth, hath everlasting life;" hath the first-fruits and earnest of it: "he that believeth not, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." This is the great thing that will be inquired about at the last day; and, therefore, it is the great thing we should inquire about now. Finally, what reason have believers to admire and adore the discriminating grace of God! for He who is the Saviour of all men, is specially so of them that believe.