"I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land." (Jonah 2:9,10)
I hope I can say in sincerity that I am willing to spend my little remaining strength for the glory of God. I only say I hope so, because my heart is so deceitful that I cannot trust it. The devil has great power against me, but none against Jesus Christ. He could not go into the herd of swine without the Lord's permission. I was much comforted on Thursday last, and brought very low yesterday, and so I have learnt this text, "Thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down." I was brought yesterday to the bottoms of the mountains where Jonah was. "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing." He conceals from me the knowledge of whether he is about to send another fit, and take me home, or to leave me a little longer in my afflicted state, or perfectly restore me to health. I have already shown how Jonah disobeyed God's command, and what that disobedience brought him into. Why did not God stop him from going into the ship? Because he loved him, that is, his person first. "And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering; but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect." "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord; but the prayer of the upright is his delight." (Prov. 15:8) How far should you have gone had not God sent a storm to stop you? I know not where I should have gone to. Were you not going further and further from God's presence until he stopped you?
The mariners had all their different gods, and so we have many sects now. There is but one God--three Divine persons in one undivided essence. If you make more gods than one, you are an idolater. "It pleased the Father that in him (Christ) should all fulness dwell." (Col. 1:19) There is no other way to God but by him. In all other ways you will find God to be a consuming fire. Then Jonah prayed, and afterwards, it says, he cried by reason of his affliction. I am obliged to do the same. Do you not get closeted in your affliction? This is what we need.
"Let us trust thee evermore,
Ev'ry moment on thee call,
For new life, new will, new pow'r;
Let us trust thee, Lord, for all."
I would venture a thousand lives on the person and righteousness of the dear Emanuel; but you must not rest on your prayers. Jonah did not pray at the bottom of the ship. He was asleep there; but the Lord put him into a closet, and then put a prayer into his heart. I have been as Jonah was, sullen under a sense of sin. If you are in debt and cannot pay, are you not ashamed of meeting your creditors? I am glad to see so many here this morning. My bowels yearn over God's dear children, but not over reprobates. The proud Pharisees all made prayers, and so do the Papists--they don't object to that--but Jonah was brought to a cry, and this is what God hears. He heard the cry of Moses at the Red Sea. "Wherefore criest thou unto me?" It is the cry of the Holy Spirit--perhaps it is a breathing, or desire after him, or a groan. This goes up to heaven. "Salvation is of the Lord." "The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord." (Ps. 37:39) "Salvation belongeth unto the Lord." (Ps. 3:8) I think Dr. Gill was a very sound man in doctrine, and he says that salvation in my text, comprises temporal, spiritual, and eternal salvation.
I spoke a little of vows last Sunday. Jonah made a vow. So did Jacob, and so did Hannah. But I did not speak of Jepthah's vow. He was a remarkable man, and stands among the worthies, though his brethren turned him out, because he was the son of an harlot. Afterwards Israel got into captivity under the children of Ammon. Then they sought out Jepthah, because he was a valiant man. Those that had set him at naught, came to him in their distress. And Jepthah required that he should be made their head, and to this they gladly agreed. There is but one head. Then Jepthah made a solemn vow to God that if he would deliver the children of Ammon into his hands, whatsoever came out of his house to meet him on his return, should be offered up for a burnt offering. When have you made a vow in spirit that if the Lord delivered you he should be your God? The Lord hears a whisper in the heart. I have not made such a vow outwardly, but many times have I said in spirit, if the Lord shall appear for me at this time, it will be such a sure token that I will set up my Ebenezer, and not doubt again. Now the Lord answered Jepthah's desire, and gave him the victory. Then his daughter and only child came out to welcome him home. I was under a peculiar trial once when one of my children was under severe bodily affliction, and I was told he would die before morning; but I would send for no assistance. I said I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot go back. I was told it was like Jepthah's hasty vow. I replied, you may call it what you please, but he had a place among the worthies. My child was quite well in the morning. Jepthah said, "Alas, my daughter, thou art one of them that trouble me; for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back." Then she gave herself up accordingly, and he paid his vow.
We will consider salvation in a threefold sense. I have two sorts for certain, and the other will come in God's time. Temporal salvation is God's deliverance out of outward trouble. The Israelites were pursued by Pharaoh and his host. Then Moses, the head, steps forward and says, "Fear ye not; stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew you today." (Exod. 14:13) Afterwards he sweetly sang of the Lord's saving them from their enemies. This was temporal salvation. "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles." "Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses." When the Israelites got through the Red Sea, the carnal gospellers and all sang together, because they all shared in the temporal salvation. Moses had faith that God would deliver them. That was the true living faith. How are we to know when we have spiritual salvation?
"'Tis to feel the fight against us,
Yet the vict'ry hope to gain;
To believe that Christ has cleans'd us,
Though the leprosy remain."
A person may have the temporal salvation without the spiritual. Have you ever found the presence of Christ in your temporal salvation? Then you have both sorts, temporal and spiritual salvation, for Christ is God's salvation to the end of the earth. When Christ delivers you from the curse of the law and the wrath of God, then you have spiritual salvation completely. Zaccheus was the object of God's love. He had a desire to see Jesus, and he went and climbed up a tree. Don't suppose that you can see Jesus by getting up the legal tree of your own works. Do you find a springing up of desire and a hankering after Christ? It says Christ came that way, so he always comes where there is a spiritual desire after him. He has kindled that desire himself. Jesus said, "Zaccheus, make haste, and come down, for today I must abide at thy house." Did you ever come down to a humble broken heart, and did you not receive him joyfully? Could you not say, O precious Jesus, do not leave me. Where there is a soft sweet constraining power on the spirit, that is receiving him. And Zaccheus said, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor." The Lord came into his heart, and the world went out. Did you not find the pursuits, pleasures, vanities, and comforts of the world go out when Christ came in? These are secret things which belong to God's children only. Zaccheus restored fourfold. The love of sin went out. And Jesus said, "This day is salvation come to this house." (Luke 19:1-9) Salvation is surely come to that heart where Christ has entered in. If any one here can come up to the evidences of grace thus manifested in Zaccheus, I could say, This day is salvation come to you. Did you not ascribe this salvation unto the Lord. It is of the Lord. I am a little revived in my old age, after being a standing miracle before you for more than twenty-one years. Eternal salvation is this--"Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." (1 Pet. 1:9) This is what I am looking for. Jacob was looking for the same, "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord." Will you not join with me and with Jonah now, "I will pay that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord." May you know temporal, spiritual, and eternal salvation, and ascribe it all to the Lord.