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had supplied, to a sense of his duty to his master, and to induce him to perform the service due to him, to whom he is engaged, and by whom he has been supported ; it is, surely, an instance of abundantly greater wisdom, to engage the rational creatures of God to become faithful servants of their divine Master.
5. The wisdom of winning souls will appear in a yet more striking light, if we consider that the souls that are won, are not only creatures of God, made, and preserved, and provided for by him, but also his purchase, bought with a price of immense value ; deemed, not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of the Son of God.” To estimate, therefore, the wisdom of winning them, is to estimate the value of the blood shed for their redemption. Now this, it is well known, is of infinite worth, as being the blood of a person of infinite dignity. Unspeakable, therefore, is the wisdom of winning souls, whereby the Redeemer is put in possession of the purchase of his blood, and sees the fruit of the travail of his soul, and of his extreme sufferings.
6. Again : As the souls and bodies of men are the purchase of the blood of Christ, so are they designed to be the temples of the Holy Ghost, being made for this end.
“ Know ye not,” says St. Paul to the believers at Corinth, “ that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you ?”' And again, - Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which
ye have of God, and ye are not your own ?”? And yet again, “Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will live in them, and walk in them.” But let it be observed, this is spoken only of real Christians, of souls truly won, They, and only they are, strictly speaking, the temple of God, and have the Spirit of God dwelling in them. As to all others, although made, preserved, and redeemed, to be God's temples, and a habitation of the Holy One, by his Spirit, yet they are not so in reality : they are rather temples left desolate, and buildings in ruins, But as soon as they are won, they are rebuilt, adorned, and inhabited by the God of glory. He, therefore, that wins souls is wise ; for he is an instrument in the hands of God, of rebuilding and beautifying these spiritual temples, and of preparing the way of the King of Glory to the throne on which he most desires to sit and reign, the broken and contrite heart of the humble penitent.
7. As a still further proof of the wisdom of winning souls, let it be observed, that when souls are won, rational and immortal creatures, perishing in ignorance and sin, in depravity, weakness, and
misery, are saved. They escape their present impurity and guilt, and attain holiness and happiness ; and persevering in the ways of God, they obtain everlasting felicity of soul and body. How great then is the wisdom of winning souls! Were it only the curious machine of man's body, so fearfully and wonderfully made, that was rescued from death and corruption, it would be a great acquisition. How much greater and more important a salvation is that of a rational and immortal soul, capable of such high degrees of wisdom, holiness, and happiness, through the countless ages of eternity! To save a perishable jewel, of comparatively small value, from the filth of a dunghill, and place it in the crown of a monarch; and much more, to restore a darling child from a noisome and dangerous disorder, to ease and health, would be deemed a wise and worthy action, although that ease and health, like all things here
elow, were but to last for a short season. But to snatch such a child from the jaws of a kion, the paws of a bear, or from a raging fire, although with great danger to one's self, would be judged an act of still greater wisdom and importance; and yet that lion, that bear, or that fire, would but have devoured, in momentary pain, the infant's body. Its soul would have escaped, through the rage of the flames, or the teeth of the ravenous beast, to rest and happiness. What then shall we think of the salvation of the whole man, body and soul, from “the vengeance of eternal fire ;"—from “the worm that dieth not, and the flames that shall not be quenched;" from the indignation and wrath of the incensed Deity, and the tribulation and anguish consequent thereupon ? Who can describe, or even conceive the wisdom of this ? Who can form any adequate idea of the importance of such an action ?
8. Indeed, when souls are won; nay, when one lost sinner is brought to God, the gain is so great, that joy is given even to the angels of God.
“ There is joy,” said Jesus, “ in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” How much more over many, over hundreds, thousands, and myriads ! How important then, must those divinely illuminated and inconceivably wise intelligences know the salvation of souls to be! And how wise must they judge him, who chooses, in preference to every other calling, to be employed in saving souls, and feels no care equal to that of being found faithful and successful in his high and holy calling! Surely those morning stars, the first-born sons of JEHOVAH, who sang his praises together at the birth of nature, and shouted for joy at the first appearance of a world which was to be the dwelling. place of immortal minds, while clothed with clay :-Surely, those
wise and intelligent inhabitants of the heavenly regions, who have viewed with continued attention, the various and stupendous works of their mighty Maker, works of providence and grace, as well as of creation, for six thousand years, would not be moved with a light matter, nor find their large and enlightened spirits suddenly swell and overflow with joy at the sight of a trivial event! Surely, no facts, but such as are of the greatest magnitude, can have any influence on their comprehensive and exalted minds ! And yet, behold, these eldest and most experienced sons of the everlasting Je. hovah, bursting forth in ecstatic joy and praise, at the conversion of one single sinner! Of what great worth, then, are immortal souls, in the judgment of those best capable of judging ; and how wise is the man who considers the saving of them as the most important business he can be employed in on earth?
9. Permit me to mention two or three considerations more on this head. Souls are rarely, if ever won, but much ignorance, sin, and misery, is prevented, even in others, especially among the relations, friends, and neighbours, or acquaintances of the persons thus brought to God; and if they be not converted, they are at least civilized. And this is an acquisition of no small moment, But the matter rarely stops here. The souls won will be instrumental in winning others; and these again will gain others; and who can say where the progress of this good work will end ? Nay, it will never end, at least while the world subsists ! It will continue and increase till time shall be no more : and the effects of it will remain to all eternity! For, “the kingdom of God is like unto leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened.” And again ; « The kingdom of God is like to a grain of mustard-seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which, indeed, is a small seed, but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree ; so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."
10. Now all this will redound to our benefit. Hereby, first, our joy and happiness must be increased in the great day of the Lord, To meet so many souls in glory would afford unspeakable pleasure, even if others had been the instruments of bringing them to God; how much more to know and be assured that God had blessed our endeavours for the affecting that great and glorious work, and that we were the spiritual fathers of that numerous progeny begotten by the gospel. Secondly, we shall certainly meet with returns of gratitude, love, and kindness, from the souls thus won, in a way we
at present know nothing of; and perhaps, too, shall receive benefits from them, of a nature of which we can now form no conception. Undoubtedly they will consider themselves as laid under infinite and everlasting obligations to us for having, under God, rescued them from boundless and eternal torments. They will therefore be our everlasting friends, and in every way in their power, will show us everlasting kindness. Add to this, thirdly, that we shall receive, from the Lord, positive rewards of glory and happiness, according to the number of souls we have won, or rather according to the zeal we have manifested, and the pains we have taken, in endeavouring to win them. For “ the Lord is not unfaithful to forget our work and labour of love which we show. towards his name,
every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour.” And then, fourthly, the gratitude and love which we shall find overflowing our souls towards God, for using us as instruments in his hands, of such great good to our fellow-creatures, will be an everlasting spring of holiness and happiness to us. So that, in every point of view, whether we consider ourselves or others, the glory of God, the good of mankind, or our own advantage, it appears evident to a demonstration, that “ he that winneth souls is wise.”
11. And, if so, then what shall we say of him that destroyeth souls ! that so far from gaining them to God, by his conversation or behaviour, drives them from him? May we not say that he is foolish? Certainly we may; and his folly is such as no words can possibly describe. He co-operates with Satan, the most subtle, indeed, but at the same time the most foolish being in the universe of creatures. Instead of glorifying God, as was his duty and interest, and therefore his wisdom, he dishonours him in a very high degree. In proportion to the number of souls he destroys, he robs the Creator of his rational creatures, and the Parent of the universe of his immortal offspring : yea, and the Son of God of the purchase of his most precious blood. He deprives the Lord and Master of men and angels, who is also the continual Preserver, and bountiful Benefactor of the human race, of the gratitude and love, of the obedience and service, so justly due to him from those he daily preserves, and whose wants he amply supplies. And he prevents the Holy Spirit of God from entering into, or banishes him out of his own temples : Nay, he destroys the temples themselves, and lays the sanctuaries of Jehovah, the habitations of his holiness, level with the ground, making the sacred houses of God heaps of ruins.
12. Further. He destroys the immortal souls of men, and throws the rational offspring of the Deity into the jaws of the infernal lion, and into the raging flames of everlasting fire. He, therefore, causes grief to angels of light, and all the benevolent inhabitants of heaven, while he gratifies and gives hellish pleasure to Satan, and his cursed associates in rebellion. For, besides that he prevents the salvation of such as would have been saved, had not he thrown obstructions in their way, he increases the sin and wickedness of such as were, and would still have remained the servants of the devil. And all this will redound to his own loss, his dishonour and misery, in the great day of God. When he shall be compelled to entertain a just and comprehensive view of the greatness of his guilt, in being the cause of the everlasting destruction of so many souls, the blood of which, (as the Scripture speaks) will be required at his hands; he will be filled with inexpressible confusion, amazement, and terror. And then the souls he has undone, and rendered eternally miserable, will bear towards him everlasting hatred, will pour eternal curses upon his head, and exert all their powers to add to his misery. Like infernal fiends, they will employ an endless eternity in tormenting one to whom, under Satan, they owe their own torments. And, through the wise permission of divine justice, they will, no doubt, have it in their power to take an ample vengeance for the everlasting loss which they have sustained, and the endless torments into which they are plunged. Add to this, that God himself will not fail to render positive punishment unto such, according to their deeds ; even indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish," as a recompense for the evil they have done, in drawing so many of his rational and immortal creatures into final ruin and destruction. But I forbear to proceed. I hope it is not necessary I should add any more. If we have but a proper
idea of the wisdom of winning souls, we cannot be insensible of the folly of destroying them. May the wisdom of the former, and the folly of the latter, appear to our minds in a more striking and affecting light daily; and may our whole conduct be duly and continually influenced thereby !
IV. But whom does this subject concern? WHOSE office and duty is it to win souls ?
1. In answer to this inquiry, let it be observed, this subject concerns some persons in an especial manner : as, first, ministers of the gospel. It is their peculiar duty to win souls. To this work