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We must be more ready for every good work. We must have more spiritual success in a lively exercise to resist sin, and all temptations that would insnare us. (3.) We must be more and more watchful, and upon our guard. Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. Therefore be not high minded, but fear, Rom. xi. 20. We must never think ourselves good enough, and safe enough, but must be still growing wiser and better. (4.) We must be actuated and animated therein by the fear of God. That is, [1.] We must keep up a constant worship of God in our families, and in our closets; we must be frequent in holy adorings and admirings of God. This will be a good means of perfecting holiness, to be in the fear of the Lord every day, and all the day long. [2.] We must maintain a reverent regard to his majesty and authority, and this will keep us from sin; when others make bold with sin, we must stand in awe of God, as Nehemiah did, chap. v. 15. But so did not I, because of the fear of God. 3. We must have a continual dread of his wrath and vindictive justice. A fear of God's wrath and displeasure will be a means of keeping ourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
To conclude. The apostle directs his exhortation to his dearly beloved, so do I to you, my dearly beloved.
1. Apply the promises to yourselves, live upon them, take them to be your heritage for ever. Both you that are young, and you that are old, treasure up the promises. 2. Apply the precepts to yourselves, and live up to them, and be holy in all manner of conversation. Keep a conscience always void of offence both towards God and towards man.
And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified, Acts xx. 32. And may you be always looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith, till you come to be for ever with him. Amen.
THE WORTH OF THE SOUL.
“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own
soul?"-MATT. xvi. 26.
The soul of man is a jewel of inestimable value. This is plainly intimated here, where the loss of the soul is represented as such a loss that the gain of all the world will not be a compensation for it. Observe here,
1. What those things are that are here compared—“the whole world,” and “thy own soul;” these are here put into the scales against one another. The world here means not the universe, or the whole creation, that is more excellent than any one part, but the things that are seen, that are temporal, 2 Cor. iv. 18; the riches, honours, and pleasures, of this present time. See a map of this world, 1 John ü. 16. Now the “ whole world” is here set in the balance against one soul, if that one be thy one. It is not a small estate, or a lordship, that is here supposed to be of less value than the soul, but the world, the whole world. Our temporal concernments are compared with our spiritual, the “life that now is, and that which is to come,” i Tim. iv. 8.
2. What judgment is here passed upon them—That our own souls are of infinitely more value than the whole world. The value of a thing is reckoned partly by its nature and intrinsic dignity, and partly by its use. That is most valuable, that is most delightful, most profitable and most necessary. We reckon that is most worth that is most worth to us. Now our own souls are more to us than all the world is or can be. The design of this is to show of what little worth the world is, and the things of the world they are weighed in the balance and found wanting ; not worthy to be compared, or to be named, with the soul ; Rom. viii, 18.
3. Who it is that passeth this judgment. It is our Lord Jesus himself, one who had reason to know the worth of souls, for he made them, and bought them; and who, we may be sure, would not under-rate the world, for by him “the worlds were made,” Col. i. 16; Heb. i. 2. This doctrine I shall endeavour,
I. To prove—The true worth of the soul, and that it is more to us than all the world. Consider,
1. The production of the soul. Trace it up to its original; and it is breathed into us by the breath of God: it is a spark of heaven; it is that part of man by which he is allied to the world of spirits; it is the master-piece of God's workmanship in this lower world, Gen. ii. 7. The image of God is stamped upon it, Gen. i. 26, 27. When it returns to God, it doth but as all the waters do, return to the place from whence it came. It is of a noble extraction. , That which makes up the world, that men covet so much, is but of the earth, earthy :-honour is a shadow; the pleasures of the world, and the wealth of the world, are of the earth ; gold and silver are but refined earth-Man found thee poor and dirty in a mine, Herbert. But man was made last of all the creatures, as the chief of the works of God. It is good for us often to ask whence we came ; and being so nobly descended, disdain to serve the base and sordid lusts of the flesh, and to prostitute an immortal soul to the drudgery of this world.
2. The powers of the soul. These are very great; its apprehensions are not confined by the horizon of sense, but rove far beyond it. The faculties of the human soul are such as above any other creature prove the eternal power
and wisdom of the Creator. It is the soul that knows right well how marvellous God's works are, Ps. cxxxix. 14, by reflection upon itself. Think what the soul of man is capable of, and you will say that it is of inestimable value.
(1.) It is capable of glorifying God in this world. It has a power of knowing God, as he has been pleased to reveal himself. It is that which is within us, that renders us capable of blessing and praising God, Ps. ciii. 1, 2. It is capable of “knowledge,” in which, especially, the image of God consists, Col. iii. 10. It is capable of reasoning and “bringing to mind,” Isa. xlvi. 8. It is capable of receiving a divine revelation to this purpose, and in the use of instituted ordinances is capable of “having fellowship” with God-of being wrought upon, and witnessed with, by the Holy Spirit of God, Rom. viii. 16. It is capable of being 6 sanctified.”
(2.) It is capable of being glorified with God in the other world; of seeing and enjoying him within the veil ; of conversing with angels and glorified spirits, and drinking in the sweet and glorious rays of divine grace and love ; things which are above, out of the sight of sense. of doing that, which the body, till it is refined and become a spiritual body, is not able to attain. It is capable of seeing God face to face, which an embodied soul, till stripped of this veil, cannot possibly do, Exod. xxxiii. 20.
(3.) The perpetuity of the soul. This is one great thing which speaks the worth of the soul—that it is to last for ever, it is an immortal spirit. It is a flame that can never be extinguished. It will survive the body, and will live and act in a state of separation from it. It is one of those things which are not seen, but are eternal, 2 Cor. iv. 18. It is an awful consideration, when a child is born, to think, here is the beginning of a being that will outlive all the
The world is but for a moment, Prov. xxiii. 5, the fashion of it, the scheme, the outside of it, (for it is but a superficies,) "passeth away,” i Cor. vii, 31; 1 John ii 17. But the soul is perpetual; the things themselves
It has a power
ages of time.