How striking the contrast!—how awfully destitute the condition! They have no one to consider their affliction—no one to deliver them—no one to plead their cause. Indeed, all the misery that an immortal soul is capable of enduring throughout eternity is included in this sentence—Salvation is far from the wicked. The full picture of it is drawn by our Lord Himself, "The rich man died, and was buried; and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and sees Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom." The present enjoyment of salvation is far from the wicked. "There is no peace, says my God, to the wicked." Their common employments are "sin." Their "sacrifice is an abomination." Their life is "without Christ, having no hope, and without God in the world." But who can tell the curse of eternity, with this salvation far from them? To be eternally shut out from God—from heaven! To be eternally shut in with the enemies of God, and the heirs of hell! Fellow-Christians—look from what you have escaped—what you were, when "you were sometimes afar off,"—what you would have been now and forever, had you not "in Christ Jesus been made near by the blood of Christ:" and then "if you hold your peace, the stones will immediately cry out" against you.
But whence this inexpressibly awful condition of the wicked? Is not salvation offered to them? Are they shut out from hope, and sternly refused an interest in the covenant? Oh! no! it is their own doing, or rather their own undoing. Would they but seek the ways of God, they might plead for deliverance; yes, they might have a prevailing Advocate to plead their cause, and deliver them. But now salvation is far from them, because "they are far from God's law." It does not fly from them; but they fly from it. Every act is a stride of mind, more or less vigorous in departure from God. No—such is their pride, that "they will not even seek His statutes." They "desire not the knowledge of His ways." They say to God, "Depart from us;" God, therefore, will say to them, "Depart from me." They say to Christ, "We will not have this man to reign over us;" He will say of them, "Those My enemies, that would not I should reign over them, bring here, and slay them before me." It is not then so much God that punishes them, as those who punish themselves. Their own sin—the necessity of the case—punishes them. They "will not come to Christ, that they might have life:" "so that they are without excuse"—die they must.
But who are the wicked? Alas! this is a melancholy question, as involving within its sphere so much that passes for amiable, virtuous, and lovely, in the estimation of the world. Not to speak of those, whose name is broadly written upon their foreheads; it includes "all that forget God," however blameless their moral character, or their external Christian profession. It is determined upon immutable authority—it is the decree of our eternal Judge, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His;" and if none of His, then it follows in unavoidable consequence, that salvation is far from him.
Oh! could we but persuade such of their awful state. Oh! could we awake them from their death-like, deadly sleep—slumbering on the brink of ruin! on the borders of hell! But they are closed up in their own self-esteem, or in the favorable comparison drawn between themselves and many around them; forgetting that the rule, by which they will be judged, is not the world's standard of moral rectitude, but the statutes of a holy, heart-searching God; forgetting too, that all may be decency without, while all is corruption within. Let them test their hearts by an honest and prayerful scrutiny of the statutes; and while they must confess themselves guilty before God, a sense of danger would awaken the hearty cry for salvation which would not then be far from them. For "the Lord is near unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him; He also will hear their cry, and—will save them."
O You Almighty Spirit, whose power is alone able to "turn the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just," "raise up Your power, and come among us;" "rend the heavens, and come down;" rend the hearts of sinners, of the ungodly, the moral, the naturally amiable, the self-righteous. "Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O Lord."
"Salvation is far from the wicked." By their perseverance in evil they have almost put themselves out of the pale of hope. They talk about being saved, but they cannot know anything of it or they would not remain wicked. Every step they have taken in the path of evil has removed them further from the kingdom of grace: they go from one degree of hardness to another until their hearts become as stone. When they fall into trouble it will be irremediable. Yet they talk big, as if they either needed no salvation, or could save themselves whenever their fancy turned that way. They are so far off from salvation that they do not even know what it means.
"For they seek not your statutes." They do not endeavor to be obedient, but quite the reverse; they seek themselves, they seek evil, and therefore they never find the way of peace and righteousness. When men have broken the statutes of the Lord, their wisest course is by repentance to seek forgiveness, and by faith to seek salvation: then salvation is near them, so near them that they shall not miss it; but when the wicked continue to seek after mischief, salvation is set further and further from them. Salvation and God's statutes go together: those who are saved by the King of grace love the statutes of the King of glory. The main reason why men are not saved is that they get away from the Word of God.