The Salt Of The Earth Matthew 5:13

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. - Matthew 5:13.

The exact position of these words in the Sermon on the Mount must be carefully remembered. They follow immediately after the Beatitudes - those sayings in which Christ had described the various qualities of character essential to the citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, that is, for one who would obey the rule which He had come on earth to establish and extend. A citizen of that Kingdom, Christ had just taught His hearers, must be humble-minded: he must grieve over the sin and the various evils which exist in the world; he must be gentle; he must desire righteousness above all things; he must be merciful; he must be pure-minded in the fullest sense of the words; he must do all in his power to promote peace; and he must be prepared to suffer in order that righteousness may be promoted and extended. A character which fulfils these conditions, that is, a character of which these virtues are the factors, is the character desired by Christ, and such a character is His own.

Immediately after this description has been given, as soon as ever this ideal has been set us as the standard, Christ addresses the words of the text to those who were following Him and learning from Him. To them He looked to cultivate this character. And for a moment He thinks of them, not as they actually were, but as He would have them be. For a moment He treats them as if His ideal for them were already realized in them; He does not say ye shall be, but ye are the salt of the earth. The spirit of all the united qualities commended in the Beatitudes is the salt of the life of the world. All of them - meekness and humility and purity and the rest - run up into two: the spirit of love and the spirit of righteousness. These, then, embodied in human life, are the salt of the earth, the salt of Churches and nations, of all forms of human activity, of thought, of imagination, of business, of the daily life of men. These keep humanity fresh and living, preserve it from corruption, and add to it the savour which secures to men their true and enduring enjoyment of life. But chiefly, in Christ's present idea, they were the freshening, purifying, preserving element in His Kingdom.


to be continued