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THUS I have very briefly given the outlines of my mind (written in an illiterate and broken manner) as touching the great system of SALVATION. And now, kind reader, if your would wish to gain any light or knowledge, or reap any advantage from these or the subsequent pages of this book, let me entreat you to read them with candor, and without being prepossessed of any prejudice or partiality; and before you form any final decision upon any subjects, compare them with the word of God, and whatever you find agreeable to the truth of the gospel, according to the best of your understanding, let there be room in your breast to receive it, however contrary it may be to any notion or idea that you have heretofore entertained about religion; and on the contrary, if after careful examination, there should be any ideas that appear to you to be erroneous, when compared with the scriptures, then you will have a right to reject them on this' account. But permit me to adjure you by all that is sacred, as you would wish well to your never-dying souls, not to reject one truth contained in this book, merely because you cannot see clearly through, and comprehend the whole system.
MAY GOD add his blessing to this work, and after wishing your health and prosperity in this life, and eternal felicity in the world to come, I subscribe myself, kind reader, your and the LORD JESUS CHRIST's very humble, and most obedient, and faithful servant,
State of New-Hampshire, June 1, 1803,
A SERIOUS ADDRESS to the YOUTH of both SEXES in Philadelphia, upon the WORTH of the Soun Delivered in the University-Hall, to a crowded Audience of young People, May, 20, 1785. By ELHANAN WINCHESTER.
MY DEAR FRIENDS,
IF I knew how to address you in such a manner as to affect your hearts, and bring you to a serious consideration, it would give me great pleasure. This I have often attempted in public, but, I fear, without the desired effect. And as I feel myself constrained, by the love I bear to you, to try this method, by leaving you these few lines in print, I beg that you would read and consider them with that serious attention which subjects of such importance deserve.
My earnest prayer to God is, that he would bless this short address to the good of your precious souls; and that you may have the same feelings in reading, that I had in writing.
It has been a great grief to me to see the vice, levity, folly, and madness, that so universally
seem to reign in this place; and in order to re cover and secure you therefrom, I beg leave to impress upon your minds the consideration of the amazing worth of your precious and immor tal souls; I mention this in particular, because nothing can do you any good until you sensibly feel the force and importance of this consideration.
Christ, who well knew the worth of souls, says, "For 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 soul?" The worth of souls appears from many considerations. I shall just mention these thirteen.
1. The soul proceeded from God in a different sense and manner from any part of the creation besides.
2. The soul hath in itself an intrinsic excellency, worthy of that divine original from whence it sprang.
3. It is a subject capable of grace and glory. 4. The great preparations God makes for souls in his kingdom, speak their infinite worth.
5. The price with which they are redeemed, proclaims their value in the most expressive manner. Christ shed his own most precious blood to redeem and save the souls of men from sin. O dear souls, if you think little of yourselves, God did not think lightly of you, or he never would have sent the darling of his heart to suffer such shame and pain on your account. The blood of God, as it is called, Acts xx. 28, is of infinite value; and yet no less a price than
this would answer the purpose; no, "not thousands of rams, and ten thousands of rivers of oil," nor could our first born, and the choicest fruit of our bodies, take away the sin of our souls. O ponder seriously upon this! I have been exceedingly astonished when I have heard men make a jest of the concerns of their souls, trifling with them in the most careless manner, and selling them for vanity and songs, when I considered the price that has been paid for them. God was not in jest when he gave his only begotten Son out of his bosom; Christ was not in jest when he lived and died for the good of mankind; and, oh! what madness is it for men to neglect and trifle with their own souls!
6. Eternity itself seems stamped upon the very actions of men, and even upon their words and thoughts; they pass not away unnoticed, but follow them into the other world. In this world we sow, in the next we reap; "He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting; he that soweth iniquity, shall reap vanity; they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same; they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind; they that sow in tears, shall reap in joy; sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." This evidences the dignity and transcendant worth of the soul, that all its actions here are like seeds sown for a future state.