CHAPTER I. ALL ARE SINNERS.
Some time ago we overheard from a person who should have known better, remarks something like these: "I wonder how sinners are saved in the Lutheran Church?" "I do not hear of any being converted in the Lutheran Church," and such like. These words called to mind similar sentiments that we heard expressed long ago. More than once was the remark made in our hearing that in certain churches sinners were saved, because converted and sanctified, while it was at least doubtful whether any one could find such blessings in the Lutheran Church. The writer also freely confesses, that in those days, surrounded by such influences, "his feet had well-nigh slipped—his steps were almost gone." Therefore, he can sympathize with those honest questioners, who have not had the privileges of instruction in the doctrines of sin and Grace, and who are consequently in the dark. He has, therefore, concluded to write a series of plain, practical papers on the "Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church." It will be his endeavor to set forth the manner or method through which the Church of the Reformation proposes to reach the sinner, and apply to him the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
The first question that presents itself is: Who are the subjects of salvation? The answer clearly is: All sinners. But, again: Whom does this embrace? The answer to this is not so unanimous. The views already begin to diverge. True, there is quite a substantial harmony on this point, among all the older Protestant Confessions of faith, but the harmony is not so manifest among the professed adherents of these Confessions.
In many of the denominations there is a widespread skepticism as to the reality of original sin, or native depravity. Doubtless on this point the wish is father to the thought. The doctrine that, "after Adam's fall, all men begotten after the common course of nature, are born with sin," is not palatable. It grates harshly on the human ear. It is so humbling to the pride of man's heart, and therefore he tries to persuade himself that it is not true. It has become fashionable to deny it. From the pulpit, from the press, from the pages of our most popular writers, we hear the old-fashioned doctrine denounced as unworthy of this enlightened age. Thus the heresy has spread, and is spreading. On every hand we meet men who stand high in their churches, spurning the idea that their children are sinners, and need to be saved. Their creed is: "I believe in the purity and innocence of childhood, and in its fitness for the kingdom of heaven, without any change or application of divine Grace." Ah! yes, we would all like to have this creed true. But is it true? If not, our believing it will not make it true.
Then let us go "to the law and the testimony;" to the source and fountain of all truth, the inspired Word of God. Listen to its sad but plain statements. Job xv. 14: "What is man that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman that he should be righteous?" Ps....