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These are the best evidences of your conversion. If
you possess them in some degree already, and desire to have them confirmed within you, then you have reason to conclude that your state is truly hopeful; and that if you “ endure unto the end, you shall be everlastingly saved 8.”
But if, on the contrary, you rest in the form of religion, without feeling its inward power to enlighten and sanctify the heart, if
remain destitute of the fruits of faith and love, you have reason to tremble, lest, dying in such a state, you should at last“ have your portion with hypocrites and unbelievers.”
& Mark xin. 13.
ON THE WISDOM OF MAKING THE SALVATION OF OUR
SOULS THE SUPREME OBJECT OF OUR PURSUIT. 1 Timothy 4–8. Godliness is profitable unto all things; hav
ing promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to
The mind, properly speaking, constitutes the man. It is the rational soul which gives us such a decided superiority over the rest of the animal creation. Our bodies are but external coverings, to defend the immortal tenant which resides within them.
Now, as it is the precious jewel which the casket contains that is the object of so much solicitude, so it is the soul of man that claims his first care and attention. To watch against any injury to which it may be exposed, and to provide for its interests, should be our daily concern. Every thing should be made subservient to its welfare. Our business, studies, and recreations, should all be conducted with reference to the spiritual advantage of our souls.
A concise view of its nature and capacities will shew that such anxiety to promote its happiness is highly judicious.
The soul is not earthly, but heavenly in its extraction: its Maker is God: “ He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living
This language leads us to regard it as a work of a supernatural kind; and that it really is such, its faculties clearly determine. The conception and imagination, the understanding, the will, the memory, the conscience, and the different volitions of the human mind, shew that, in his soul, man bears a faint resemblance to, and is an emanation of, the Deity.
2. It is immortal: and this stamps upon it a value inestimably great; because it is thereby rendered capable of endless misery or perpetual joy. God has endowed it with a principle of immortality; so that it cannot be destroyed, either by time or accident.
These considerations justify the conduct of those persons, who, aware of the dignity and worth of the soul, are willing to make any sacrifice which is requisite to secure its salvation. And indeed, when we weigh things in the scales of reason and Scripture, what are even thrones, or kingdoms, or riches, or glory, or any of those gilded baubles which men so eagerly grasp at, in comparison with “ the unsearchable riches of Christ," and that felicity which he will hereafter give to every one who has faithfully served him in his Church below. “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his
• Gen. ii. 7.
soul?" From these premises, we infer that the salvation of our souls should be a concern of primary importance to us all, the attainment of which we ought to labour after incessantly.
Reason and Religion allow us to employ a considerable share of our time in procuring food for the body. We are permitted, nay, commanded by God, to be “ diligent in business.
We are, moreover, told, in order to guard us against the pernicious consequences of sloth,“ if any man provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidela."
3. Whilst, however, in obedience to the word of God, we honestly pursue our respective callings, that we may acquire “ the bread which perisheth,” it is important to remember that we have other and higher wants to supply. Provision must also be made for the soul, or else " it will be destroyed for lack of knowledge.”. Our spiritual necessities are far greater than most of us imagine. The generality of mankind think that a formal prayer offered up once now and then, and an occasional attendance at Church, are quite sufficient for the nourishment of the soul. But if the inward man is to be renewed day by day, if it is to be kept vigorous and healthy, if the graces of the Spirit are to flourish within us, then let us bear in mind that these great objects cannot be secured, unless constant aid is sought and obtained from God. To render our souls prosperous in the Divine life, daily prayer, and the devotion of the heart to God, are necessary; for neither the soul nor the body can continue in good health, without frequent support. Every method, therefore, should be used, which b Rom. xii. 11.
1 Tim. v. 8.
the kindness of the Almighty has contrived, to advance our spiritual prosperity.
4. Reader, art thou without an interest in the benefits flowing from the death of Christ? The first thing to be done is, to see your need of His atoning blood, to pardon, to justify, to sanctify, and save your soul from the bitter pains of eternal death; and to supplicate this mercy, with earnestness, from God, until it be obtained". When the heart is thus converted to the proper knowledge of God and of itself, when it is acquainted with its own inability to do good, it will be made willing to accept the grace of the Holy Ghost, that it may improve in righteousness to the glory of the Lord.
Have we, then, been really quickened by the Spirit of Christ to a new life? Are we truly sensible of our spiritual wants? If we have attained this knowledge of our state, we shall see the expediency of using every means to make our calling and election sure. We are aware, under such convictions, that we have a battle to fight, a crown to obtain, which can only be gained by the most determined valour and perseverance, displayed unto the close of our lives.
On these grounds, the care of the soul, which is " the one thing supremely needful” recommended by our Lord, should certainly occupy a portion of our time and attention each successive day. Indeed, that knowledge of Christ, which avails to salvation, will not be given unto us, except we seek it constantly, diligently, and with the utmost sincerity.
5. Learn, from the avidity with which men pursue their temporal callings, with what ardour of mind you should follow after the things which belong unto
fc Matt. vii. 7,8.
your peace, before they are for ever hid froin your eyes.
See the tradesman, how intent is he upon the gains arising from business! He rises early, and late takes rest, and loads himself with anxious cares, to acquire riches, and the comforts which they pro
Observe the merchant! He sends his ships across the sea, to distant countries, from whence they may return freighted with the most valuable productions. The sailor will undertake the most dangerous voyage, and brave all the fury of the storm, stimulated by the hope of making some discovery, or of acquiring some advantage that will repay
him for the hazard which he consents to run. Now the objects which they pursue with such unwearied diligence, are transient as the shadow, yea, their whole worth and usefulness are strictly confined to the present life. If, then, such short-lived things are thought to possess sufficient importance to induce men to expose their life, to forego pleasure, and to submit to pain and trouble in acquiring them, how entirely inexcusable must those persons be, who are reluctant to use the means for attaining the salvation of their souls, which will render them infinitely happier than they could be made by an abundance of wealth, fame, or any other temporal enjoyment whatever. The prize which the Gospel sets before us is of such magnitude, that it might well inflame our desires to gain it. Surely a kingdom of eternal duration, where all sorrow and sighing will flee away-all misery be for ever banished, and lasting happiness abound, should have attractions enough to call forth our warmest endeavours to obtain it! But, alas! the world, with its ensnaring pleahas such a fatal hold of most men's affections,
Luke xix. 41, 42.