Page images
PDF
EPUB

be far from consistent in one in earnest for his soul's salvation? Do you fear that you might lose business, and so exchange plenty for poverty ? You do well to count the cost; but let it be done fairly and thoroughly. Count the cost of holding fast all these enjoyments to the neglect of your soul; remember that the “ pleasures of sin," however sweet you may find them now, “ are but for a season," and if you cannot give them up, you cannot have the “fulness of joy" and the “ pleasures for evermore” which are “at God's right hand, or the “ crown of glory which fadeth not away." Your “ riches may take to themselves wings and flee away,” but you have the offer of " durable riches." It is true that they who will « live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution ;' it is probable that if you become a Christian you will pass through much affliction ; but “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed.”

You will not make the objection that after all you may not be benefited if you attend to your soul's safety. It is indeed by no means certain, on the contrary it may not be very probable, that your earthly dwelling will take fire, and any of your possessions here be consumed, but it is certain that death will come sooner or later, and “ after death the judgment;" " we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ;" the wicked “shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.”

But perhaps you may urge that the foundation of hope may fail. Doubtless it may if you are resting on a wrong one, and it becomes you to inquire on what you do rely for salvation. Is it on the propriety of your moral conduct? on religious ceremonies ? on the piety or prayers of your ancestors or friends ? or your connexion with any particular community? If you are relying on such things as these, you will indeed be grievously disappointed; you will find all these to be refuges of lies. You cannot be safe except in Jesus Christ; there is salvation in none other; but “ him hath God the Father sealed.” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."

But perhaps you can truly say already, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him," 2 Tim. i. 12. If it be so, happy are you. Then the fire that destroys the world cannot touch you, for your treasure is in heaven. You may indeed rejoice in your safety. Yes, for “when the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up,” the Christian, “standing on the ashes of the universe," may exclaim-“I have lost nothing. My treasure is untouched ; my home is secure—and secure for ever !".

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

It may be, reader, that while you are ready to talk with every one else about you, there is one person with whom you seldom converse. Though he is more nearly related to you than all others—though he is always with you—though his interests and yours are one and the same, yet, perhaps you hardly ever speak a word with him, and live as though he were an entire stranger to you. This is a miserable kind of life. How wretched it must be in all cases, for two different persons closely connected, and dependent upon each other, to have no direct intercourse one with the other! How delightful it is, when with mutual good understanding, they live upon terms of familiar converse with each other!

But who is the person whom you, perhaps, thus treat with silent contempt? Reader, it is yourself! You talk freely with others, but you may rarely or never talk with yourself. Talk with myself! you say; how can I do this? What can I tell

myself that is not known to myself? I am not two persons, but one. Madmen only talk to themselves. Yes, madmen talk to themselves; but their madness consists not in this, but in what they say to themselves. Wise and good men converse with themselves, and find it to be a very wholesome and instructive exercise.

Now there is something important in this talking to one's self. It appears at first to be very contradictory and absurd ; but the more we examine it, the more rational and profitable it seems. Man can think about himself. He can think upon his bodily senses, upon his mental faculties, upon his own motives and affections, upon his own acts, his own interests, and his own character, and can even speak to himself. He can and does continually talk to others about himself, then why not talk to himself? He is often conscious of opposing principles within himself. One thought is opposed to another thought, one inclination to another inclination; the judgment is often opposed to the will, and the conscience to the affections. And as one faculty of man may be opposed to another, so may one as it were converse with another. The judgment may speak to the inclinations, the conscience to the passions, and the thoughts of the mind to the feelings. Let any one make the experiment, and he will find it to be not only practicable, but profitable. Many have adopted the practice. Heathen moralists recommend it as a principal means of obtaining self-knowledge. It has been found to be of good service in religion. It is often employed by the royal psalmist. If he has wandered from God, he says, “ Return unto thy rest, O my soul!" If he is dejected in spirit, he says, “ Why art thou cast down, O my soul ?" If favoured with new mercies, he exclaims, “ Bless the Lord, O my soul !” “ I commune," he says, “ with mine own heart;" and he thus recommends it to others—" Commune with your own heart upon your bed.” It receives the sanction of the apostle, when he says, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts unto the Lord.” This speaking to ourselves is one of the secrets of true wisdom. Reader, make the experiment. Break this long silence, and begin to converse with yourself. Talk to your own soul. To assist you in this, suffer a few words of advice upon the manner in which men should address their own souls, and what they should say to them.

How should we address our own souls? We should speak to them in secret. Madmen talk to themselves in the presence of others—wise men speak to themselves in retirement. If no other opportunity occur, it may be done upon the bed. “Commune with your own heart upon your bed," says the psalmist. Our

SELF-CONVERSE.

nature; they are the intelligent, rational, and immortal part of our being. However degraded they may now be, they are of noble origin, endowed with great powers, and capable of being restored to the image of God, for which they were created. Our language to them should be that of kindness. Have we no sympathy and concern for our own souls? Is not their welfare our welfare ?—their joy our joy ?-their sorrow our sorrow? —their heaven our heaven ?-their hell our hell? What more unnatural than to speak harshly or with indifference to ourselves? and yet many do so with oaths and curses.

And what shall we say to ourselves ? What shall we talk about? Shall we talk wholly or principally about the things of this life? We read of one who did this. He said to his soul, “ Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years: take thine ease ; eat, drink, and be merry.” Was this proper language for a man to address to his soul ? Observe what was thought of it by God: “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided ?" These were not the things in which the soul was principally interested. It is folly to talk with the soul about the affairs of the body only; man should speak to his soul about its own concerns. The soul will be required of him. It is committed to his care. He is entrusted with the formation of its character, and is accountable for its use. Each one is the guardian of his own soul. Its everlasting interests are committed to his trust. Here, then, is the subject upon which man should converse with his own soul. He should advise with it upon its own affairs. Has it left its Father and its God? Has it, so to speak, wasted its substance in riotous living? Hear the language which the prodigal, in similar circumstances, addressed to himself. Hear how he talked to himself: “When he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants." This was self-talk. It was a most wise and suitable address from such a man to himself. His recovery from his wretched condition, and restoration to his father's house, began with this speech to himself. It was the first thing he did when he came to himself. When he came to himself, he said!

Now these are the circumstances of all, and in this way should all talk to themselves. To a man who has hitherto neglected this practice, it will be the beginning of wisdom. Let such an one talk thus with himself in some season of quiet, or upon his bed in the stillness of the night watches : O my soul! thou hast gone astray from God. Thou hast forsaken the fountain

of living waters, and hewed out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. Thou hast long tried to find happiness in the things of this world, and only multiplied thy sorrows and cares. What fruit hadst thou in those things whereof thou art now ashamed ? for the end of those things is death. Hast thou ever known what real happiness is ? Has there not always been a secret consciousness that all was not right between thee and God? Come now, O my soul! return to that God from whom thou hast gone astray. He has not lost the heart of a father, though thou hast lost the heart of a son. He has dealt mercifully with thee, though thou hast dealt unjustly and ungratefully with him. He has sent his well-beloved and only-begotten Son to obey the law in thy stead—to shed his blood for the remission of thy sins, and to invite thee to return unto the Father by him. Now, O my soul! cast thyself at his feet; confess thy folly, and the justice of thy condemnation; commit thyself into the hands of this gracious Shepherd, as a wanderer, to lead thee back to God. Then shalt thou find true happiness and peace. “Return unto thy rest, O my soul! for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.”

Reader, could you be persuaded to talk thus with yourself, it would be a new and happy period of your existence. If you resolve to maintain silence with yourself, and not speak to yourself now about the soul's everlasting interests, but to live, in fact, without serious reflection, you will speak hereafter in the language of bitterness, and to eternity you will lie under the lash of self-condemnation and self-inflicted wrath. Go, speak to yourself. Seek for inward peace now, that you may not have remorse through eternity. Sin has produced misery and fear; faith in the Saviour from sin will bring that peace to the heart and mind that passeth all understanding.

A guilty soul, by sin opprest,
Weary of wandering after rest,
Wretched, and bare, and poor, and blind,
I now my want of all things find.
All things I want, but One is nigh,
My want of all things to supply;
Pardon, and peace, and liberty,
Jesus, I all things have in thee.

« PreviousContinue »