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bad heart. A Christian, in the lively exercise of grace, cannot live without prayer. Daniel could not be denied the privilege even for thirty days. Let such then as cast off fear and restrain prayer before God, consider their awful situation. However secure they may now feel, let them remember, that the time may come, yea, may not be far distant, when they may attempt to pray, but all in vain. They will be constrained to use the emphatic language of Job, “ O that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him; on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him." To increase their perplexity, they may have to complain with the prophet, “ Also when I cry and shout, he shuteth out my prayer.
Let such be exhorted to seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near ; lest his fury break forth upon them like fire, and burn, that none can quench it.
The Lord grant that we may all be prepared for the great final day, by being adorned in the perfect righteousness of the Saviour, that s@ an abundant entrance may be ministered unto us into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
PROVERBS, xi. 30. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and be that winneth
souls is wise.
By “ the righteous” is meant the real believer, who is made “righteous by the obedience of One;" and who, having been renewed in the spirit of his mind, acts agreeably to the strictest rules of uprightness, under the influence of evangelic principles.
By his fruit we understand his Christian tempers, his holy life, and his godly conversation. On these accounts he is a tree of life, deep rooted, and laden with those fruits which are to the praise and glory of God. He hath his fruit unto holi. ness, and the end will be everlasting life : whom David beautifully describes, Psalm i. 3. “ And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season : his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he do. eth shall prosper.”
The text is descriptive of all good men, but especially of the faithful ministers of the gospel ; who are said to watch for souls as they who must give an account.
* Delivered in Salem, at the ordination of the Rev. Lucius Bolles, January 9, 1805..
I. Let us consider the nature and great importance of the object of their ministry, with the means best calculated to accomplish it.
II. Shew in what respects he who winneth souls is wise,
1. The nature and great importance of the object of the gospel ministry, to win souls, with the means best calculated to accomplish it.
Solomon uses the term souls to signify the whole person. In this sense it is used in the sacred scriptures, and in common conversation. In Acts xxvii. 37. Paul says, “ We were all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls." We say in common, when we describe a shipwreck, in which all the people were lost, “every soul perished.'
He might also intend to convey to us the idea, that the soul is the man, or his most important part. The body is mere matter, mysteriously united to the mind, and under its direction and influence. Hence it is, that by an act of the will, we can extend an arm, and bring it again to the body; we can walk, run, and perform the various functions of animal nature, unless prevented by some natural cause ; and, as it has no consciousness, it cannot be accountable. It follows, that the soul is the man, or his most important part ; and being a conscious, intelligent agent, will ultimately be called to give an account of every thing done in the body.
“ How complicate, how wonderful is man!
There are two sources, whence we may derive the most correct ideas of the human soul; the sacred scriptures, and our own consciousness of what passes within us. Moses informs us, that " the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life ; and man became a living soul.” Here we are taught that the soul was immediately inspired by God, and is quite different in its nature or substance from the body: the one is matter, the other is spirit.
Solomon uses an expression of like import with that of Moses. « Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
Our blessed Lord maintains the same distinction between the soul and body.
“ And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.” Remark, the body may be killed, but the soul cannot; the reason is obvious, because it is spirit. If we admit that the soul is material, it will follow, that it may be killed; it may be pierced with a sword; but the Son of God, who created all things, and is most intimately acquainted with the nature of the human soul, assures us that it is entirely different from the body, and will survive its dissolution,
The sacred volume abounds with information concerning this interesting subject ; to which we shall frequently appeal, while we attend to the second source of knowledge of the soul of man; I mean our own consciousness of what passes within us.
I ask, in the words of another, “Why may we not frame the complex idea of a soul, or spirit,
from the operations of thinking, understanding, willing, &c. which are experiments in ourselves? This idea of an immaterial substance is as clear as that we have of a material one: for though this notion of immaterial substances may be attended with difficulties, we have no more reason to deny or doubt of its truth, than we have to deny or doubt of the existence of the body."
To you, my brethren, I now make the appeal, whether you are not conscious of the following things :
1. That you think. Of this you can no more doubt than that you see. You know you think with greatest ease. Thought is a spontaneous operation of the soul; yet you cannot see the thinking principle within you. And should con. sciousness be suspended by sleep, the moment the person awakes, he finds all the powers of his mind ready for their wonted exercise.
It is also a matter of consciousness, that God hath given to you the important powers of reason, understanding, will, and affections.
2. The nature and excellence of the soul may be ascertained by this circumstance, that it is capable of constant progression in knowledge. This we see continually exemplified in our children and youth. They begin their pursuit of knowledge with few ideas; but in many instances surprize as well as delight us with their progress; and promise fair to be extensive blessings to society. To which I add, that the greatest men who have ever appeared in the world, began their career to literary eminence by learning the first rudiments of science. Even sir Isaac Newton was once seen with his spelling book in his hand.