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Salt is of great importance to man. It makes savory what without it would be insipid. It checks the growth of nature in the vegetable kingdom; it preserves, too, from corruption and decay, what belongs to the animal kingdom.
Now as salt acts in the realm of nature, so does grace in spiritual matters. It savors; it checks the outflow of nature from man. It is preservative, too, in its action from corruption.
Under the law the meat-offering was to be salted, typical of the Lord Jesus in His life on earth, in whom grace acted constantly (Lev. 2:1313And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt. (Leviticus 2:13)). With all their offerings they were to offer salt. Hence a " covenant of salt" was a term Israel well understood (Num. 18:1919All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer unto the Lord, have I given thee, and thy sons and thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: it is a covenant of salt for ever before the Lord unto thee and to thy seed with thee. (Numbers 18:19); 2 Chron. 13:55Ought ye not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt? (2 Chronicles 13:5)), meaning that such a covenant should never be broken, no element of corruption should enter into it, for it would last forever. Of that character was the provision God made for the support of Aaron and his house. Of that same character was the Lord's engagement to David and his sons.
In the New Testament the figurative meaning of salt, as illustrative of grace in its savoring and preservative action, is met with more than once. The disciples were the " salt of the earth" (Matt. 5:1313Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. (Matthew 5:13)). But, as the Lord reminded them, salt is useless, if once it has lost its savor. So they would be of no use as salt, unless grace was really in them. What then man in nature has not, what the earth viewed morally does not possess, that the disciples were, and should be careful to continue to be. They were not merely salt for the earth, but the salt of the earth. And having salt in themselves, the working of nature would be checked, and they would have peace one with another (Mark 9:5050Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another. (Mark 9:50)). Moreover, that preservative and savoring character of grace would be felt, if their speech was always with grace, seasoned with salt (Col. 4:66Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Colossians 4:6)). They would know how to answer every man, and no corrupt communication would proceed out of their mouth, but only that which was good to the use of edifying, that it might minister grace to the hearer (Eph. 4:2929Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)). Moreover, the preservative character of grace would characterize all God's people, " for every sacrifice shall be salted with salt."
But there is another statement of the Lord preserved only in one Gospel, that of Mark and that statement, to which we now draw attention, is most solemn in its character, and universal in its application. " Every one shall be salted with fire:" for as salt preserves things in the animal kingdom, so the fire of judgment will act on men. It will not consume them so as to terminate their existence, but burning up all that is perishable of men and their works (1 Cor. 3:13-1513Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Corinthians 3:13‑15)), will leave that which never can decay. To have one's works tried by fire is a solemn consideration for God's saints. To be salted with fire is a dreadful prospect for the wicked. And in connection with these latter, it should be remarked, the Lord brings in, Their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched; for every one shall be salted with fire " (Mark 9:48,4948Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 49For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. (Mark 9:48‑49)). Even in things of nature in the animal frame, there is a residuum, which the fire does not consume. But after burning up all that is consumable, the fire dies out. Now it will not be so in the other world; all that can perish will assuredly perish, but the wicked will never cease to exist, and the fire will never be extinguished.