Great, Glorious, and Free!
James Smith, 1859
to the Salvation that is in Christ Jesus. That is great, glorious, and free.
These words, some few years ago, were constantly being used to characterize a certain country, when some political changes were effected; and they have been used since by a party, for political purposes. But no land can be great, glorious, and free — while superstition reigns in it, and while sin is indulged by its inhabitants. Nor can any party be made great, glorious, and free — by obtaining any civil privileges, or political rights. No, no, elevate a party as high as you will; confer on a country all that you can — yet they will never be great, glorious, and free, unless made so by the everlasting gospel, and by the Spirit of our God! Pure truth, and powerful grace alone, are sufficient either for individuals or communities, to make them great, glorious, and free. But these three beautiful words may with justice, and in their fullest sense, be applied to two subjects.
It is great, for it is a deliverance from the greatest evils — and the putting into possession of the greatest good. What evil is so great as sin? Next to that, what evil is so great as Hell? But the salvation which is of grace, and which is in Christ Jesus — is a perfect deliverance from sin, and an eternal deliverance from Hell. A deliverance which cost God, his own Son; and which cost the Son of God his life. A deliverance which requires the exertion of the power of the Holy Spirit, and which will bring glory to God for ever. Such a deliverance was never exercised, or purposed, or planned, or provided for, or effected — as this! For salvation is a subject, which, as it filled the mind of God from eternity — will fill the mind of all the elect of God, and all the angels of God, to all eternity. It is so great, that no created intellect can fully grasp it, nor can any tongue or pen fully represent it.
It is indeed glorious. All the glorious perfections of God are engaged, and shine forth in it. The glory of heaven and earth will be heightened by it. The glory of each person in the Godhead is involved in it. It is the Father's most glorious thought. The Son's most glorious work. The possession of it, makes man more glorious than the angels — and the loss of it, sinks man lower than the devils! As the sun is the glory of creation — so salvation is the glory of grace.
It is also free. So free, that nothing is freer. It is free in every sense.
Freely planned by the Father,
freely accomplished by the Son, and
freely applied by the Holy Spirit.
It was . . .
and is freely given.
It is free, for whoever will. As it is priceless in its value, and therefore no creature could purchase it! So it is freely presented, without money and without price, and therefore any creature may receive, and possess it. It is set forth in the gospel, and over it is written, "Whoever will, may come and take freely." Yes, as the most necessary blessings in nature are the most plentiful, and therefore the cheapest, so the greatest — the most glorious provision of grace, is the freest. No conditions are appended, it is only, "Ask — and receive!" "Seek — and find! "Believe — and be saved!" This salvation when received into the heart, and enjoyed in the life — makes its possessor GREAT, GLORIOUS, and FREE. It may be applied,
Secondly,to the Church of the living God. Even now, in the purpose of the Father, by virtue of the death of the Son, and in consequence of the certain fulfillment of the promises written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit — the church may be said to be great, glorious, and free.
But the time is coming, and it may soon arrive, when the
church will be great. O what myriads will enjoy in perfect holiness
and happiness, the salvation that is in Christ Jesus! But the Church will
not only be great in numbers, it will be . . .
great in dignity — as the Bride, the Lamb's wife;
great in power — reigning as kings and priests;
great in splendor — being glorified with Christ, and as Christ.
It will therefore be glorious. Glorious, as robed in the righteousness of the Son of God. Glorious, as decked with all the graces of the Holy Spirit. Glorious, because free from every spot and stain of sin — being without blemish. Glorious, as wearing the likeness of the Son of God, and being the image of the moral perfections of the Infinite God.
It will also be free.
Free from all sin.
Free from all ignorance.
Free from all disease.
Free from all defect.
Free from every bond, from every fetter.
Free to do the will of God.
Free to enjoy uninterruptedly the presence of God.
Free to range the celestial country, bathe in the river of God's pleasure, and glorify God in every thought, word, and deed forever!
Great, glorious, and free — will the Church of Jesus be; first and fairest of all God's creation, and standing highest in Jehovah's infinite and unchangeable love!
Reader, is this salvation yours? Have you felt your need of it? Have you sighed for it? Have you sought it? Have you received it? Do you possess it? Are you saved, and do you know and enjoy it?
O what a mercy to be saved, and to be saved with such a salvation! So great, so glorious, so free!
Great — and therefore comprehending all blessings!
Glorious — being radiant with all the perfections of God!
Free — being unfettered by conditions, and presented to the least, the vilest, the most unworthy of mankind!
Are you a member of Christ's Church? The Church which he purchased with his own blood? The Church which he has invested with his own righteousness, with the glory which his Father gave him? The Church which is destined to be great, glorious, and free!
Great, in numbers, in wealth, in dignity!
Glorious, in holiness, in happiness, in honors!
Free, from all that is painful, degrading, or unpleasant; and free to all that is pure, peaceful, and elevating!
Church of Jesus! Bride of the Lamb of God! Daughter
of the Infinite God! May my soul . . .
be numbered with your sons,
share in your honors,
taste your joys, and
participate in your perfect freedom!
O how one longs for the glorious liberty of the Sons of God! How one anticipates appearing with Christ in his glory! How holy, how happy, how perfectly satisfied we shall be — when we are great, glorious, and free; and when the body to which we belong, the Church of which we are members, the kingdom in which we are subjects — shall fully enjoy, its greatness, its glory, and its perfect freedom!
O happy saints, who dwell in light,
And walk with Jesus, clothed in white!
Safe landed on that peaceful shore,
Where pilgrims meet to part no more.
Released from sin, and toil, and grief,
Death was their gate to endless life;
An opened cage to let them fly,
And build their happy nest on high.
And now they range the Heavenly plains,
And sing their hymns in melting strains;
And now their souls begin to prove
The heights and depths of Jesus' love.
He cheers them with eternal smile,
They sing Hosannas all the while;
Or, overwhelmed with rapture sweet,
Sink down, adoring, at his feet!