G. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) Hallock.

The English pulpit : collection of sermons online

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awful stillness awoke me, and tears of joy fell from my eyes to think
it was only a dream, nothing more than a dream. 0, man, to you,
dying without coming to Christ for salvation, it will be a reality, not of
stillness, not of unbroken quietude — no ! hell from beneath will
move to meet you at your coming. The lost soul will sink for ever
and forever among lost spirits and devils. To you it will be a reality,
and this issue as it will be a reality, so it will not be forgiven. " Think
not," says Jesus Christ at the close of this chapter, " that I will ac-
cuse you." No, it will not be necessary for Jesus Christ to accuse



COMING TO CHRIST. 315

you on your passing into the eternal world. If you die under the
sentence of condemnation, and are lost, you will accuse yourself.

I was engaged the other evening in conducting a reUgious service
at West Bromwich ; it was on Tuesday evening. The minister of the
place, just before the service commenced, said, " Last Sabbath morn-
ing, sir, in that pew sat one of my hearers, looking unusually well ;
but he is dead, sir ; he died this morning, suddenly." Ah, my friends,
as you have never died, you think that you never shall. If you had
experienced this great event, and were permitted to step back into
life to correct the errors of which you have been guilty, you would
learn wisdom from experience. But no, death has never come, and
therefore you think it is yet at a remote distance. This may be the
last Sabbath you will ever live, the last service you may ever attend,
the last appeal you may ever hear. You may go home, and ere to-
morrow you may be in eternity. And if it should be the case, will
you forget this scene ? If it should be the case, will you ever forgive
yourself ? Will you not have to reproach yourself forever and ever ?
Suppose, my friends, excuse the extravagance of the conception, sup-
pose you had existed before fyou came into being, and suppose that you
then had permission to elect the condition in which you should exist,
and suppose that, owing either to a want of reflection or to your not
taking the advice of wisdom, you had elected a condition of degrada-
tion and of wretchedness, so that you had lived all through life a poor
instead of a rich man, a man in sickness, instead of a man in health,
would you ever have forgiven yourself? Would you not from the
dawn of reason to the close of life, have reproached yourself with hav-
ing made such a choice, instead of taking the advice of wisdom ? Yes,
you Avould have said, " It is my own fault, I elected the condition of
existence ; I have what I chose." It is an awful choice indeed, your
own life or death for ever is now placed before you — decide, decide,
my friend — decision is your own act. Make a wrong choice, you
will not only never forget it, you will never forgive it. And for a man
to sin against himself, to place himself in a condition where the exer-
cise of mercy on himself is absolutely impossible, will be to give an
additional pang to every sensation of remorse, and a keener despair in
a condition from which nothing will ever be able to release him.
that the God of all grace may breathe upon your spirits to-night, for
the Redeemer's sake, Amen.



316

SERMON XXVI.

THE WISDOM OF WINNING SOULS.

BY KEV. JAMES SHERMAN.
"He that ■winneth souls is wise." — Proverbs xi. 30.

Behold, teachers, your work ! It is to " win souls." Behold the
encomium put upon that work ! " He that winneth souls is wise."
And this is an encomium, pronounced by lips which cannot err, and by
one who never flatters.

You are some of the representatives of the schools of Britain, which
contain within their number more than two millions of these souls. To
you is entrusted their religious training, the formation of their charac-
ters, their habits, and their hopes. Oh ! how responsible — how tre-
mendously responsible is the position, which some persons occupy !
The eyes of the church are directed to you, as instruments of pour-
ing new blood into it, when it is exhausted — of planting young trees,
from your nurseries, in the vineyard of the Church. The eyes of the
Church are upon you, to bring about such a state of things, in the
coming generation, as shall introduce the millennium, and make the
earth once more God's paradise. And if you are faithful to your
trust, God shall honor you with this exalted result — "He that win-
neth souls is wise."

The timid and the fearful may, therefore, be greatly encouraged in
their work, by this statement ; and I hope I may hereafter be able, in
the course of this sermon, to show, that although they may not now see
the wisdom or fruit of their exertions, God shall show both, by-and-by.

Brethren, the times indicate a remarkable fulfilment of that proph-
ecy — " Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be in-
creased." Science and literature never had so many patrons, as they
have now ; real religion never had so many friends, as she has now,
notwithstanding the declensions visible in some churches, and in some
individuals. Everything seems progressing, with remarkable rapidity,
to a crisis or conclusion, of a remarkable character. And those are
wise, in Scripture estimation, who aid this great progression, as it is
going forward.

He who helps others, by schemes and inventions, to grow wealthy,
is reckoned wise in his generation ; he who first made a locomotive



WISDOM OF WINNING SOULS. 317

engine, and brought railways to perfection, to accelerate our speed,
from one place or country to another, was thought wise in his genera-
tion ; he who imparts learning to youth, to fit them for usefulness to
man, and for holding important situations in the government, is justly
honored as wise ; he who heals disease, restores health, and prolongs
life to individuals, is sought after, as one who is wise ; and the indi-
vidual, who lives for the purpose of restoring that to a sorrowing suitor,
which fraud has taken away from him, is estimated by the man, when
he puts his foot on, as he thought, his once forfeited estate, as one of
the wisest men in the world for him.

Now all these things are united in your own characteristic. Your
object and your labor, if you understand it aright, is to win the soul.
You are to teach that soul how to grow rich ; your invention is to be
taxed, to accelerate it in its speed from earth to heaven ; you are to
instruct it, in the great, wondrous, and almighty science of salvation ;
you are to administer gospel remedies, to heal its moral maladies, and
to prolong its joyful days ; and you are to restore it to " an inherit-
ance," that is " incorruptible, and undefiled, and fadeth not away,
which it hath lost, and to carry the case from court to court, till you
see that soul settled in Canaan for ever. God, what wisdom, what
grace, what zeal, and what help from thee, does such a work as this
require ! He, my brethren, is no teacher, who does not aim at this ;
he does not deserve the name of a teacher.

Teachers, I want you not to aim at anything new ; neither shall I,
in the address, which I am about to deliver to you, — but shall simply
endeavor to put you in remembrance of the great things, which you
have in hand, and the great duties, which you have to perform. Pray
for me, and pray for yourselves, that your reward and your work may
both vividly appear before you.

I shall therefore ask your attention, first, to the subjects, about
whom you are to be unspeakably interested ; " souls," human souls,
young souls. Secondly, I am to point out to you the manner in
which that interest is to be expressed ; you are to endeavor to
" win souls." And then, thirdly, I will endeavor to place before
you the estimate which God puts upon all efforts, thus exercised,
for the accomplishment of this purpose : " He that winneth souls
is wise."

I. First, let us look at the subjects, about whom you are to be un-
speakably interested. They are " souls."

Let us now look at what a soul is, in three aspects.



318 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

1. Let us now look at it, first, in its structure. It is a living thing,
distinct and separate from the bodj. Matter is wholly passive ; it can-
not act, or move, or think, without this vital spirit. " The body, with-
out the spirit, is dead." Take mere matter, compound it, alter it,
and divide it, as you will, yet you cannot make it see, or hear, or feel,
or think rationally. But though the soul acts with the body, it is dis-
tinct from the body ; for Dives was in hell, while his body was carried,
in state and pomp, in the funeral ; Lazarus was resting in Abraham's
bosom, while the poor, wretched carcase was cast out to the dogs, who
had formerly " licked his sores ; " the penitent thief was with Christ in
paradise, while his body was suspended on the cross ; and this has
been, and will be, the comfort of the saints, as long as the earth lasts,
that when they are " absent from the body," they are " present with
the Lord."

The human soul is spiritual and immaterial ; it is not compounded,
or made up of the most subtle matter ; it cannot be touched, or han-
dled, or divided, as bodies can. " Handle me and see," said Christ,
" for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have."

It is immortal, and cannot be destroyed ; it has no seeds of death
within it, as our bodies have. Corruption, it is true, afflicts the soul,
spoils its beauty, and damages its powers ; but it cannot reduce it to
its original nothing. A soul has a beginning, but no end — a birth-
day, but no dying day.

Its powers and capabilities are some of the most wonderful things,
which ever could engage our imagination. Why, what can a soul do ?
It can ascertain the relative size, nature, and properties of all the won-
ders of creation — from the monad, several millions of which may be
found in a single drop of water, to the behemoth, which destroys men
and cattle, and the varied productions of the earth ; it can mount up
to heaven, and ascertain the motion of the planets, foretell the eclipses
of the sun and moon to a second of time, count the stars, and discern
the system, by which they are governed : it can invent the most inge-
nious and useful productions, for the service of man, and even for the
destruction of its own species ; it can penetrate the secrets of hidden
nature, and abstract from the bowels of the earth the greatest riches
and wonders ; it can trace, survey, and enjoy the beauties, the won-
ders, and the glories of redeeming love ; it can hold fellowship with
the Deity, as a man holds fellowship with his friend ; it can revolu-
tionize the feelings, and hopes, and joys of myriads of individuals, and
turn the world upside down, in its tendencies, and in its actions ; it
can make the men, who by vice have become like demons, by its
agencies and instructions, act like the sons of God, and the friends of



WISDOM OP WINNING SOULS. 319

heaven ; and above all this, it is capable of an immediate vision from
Almighty God, of living in the presence of God, and of serving him
in his temple, for ever and ever.

A man's soul is his all. Take this from him, and he is but a life-
less, and soon becomes a formless mass of corruption itself. Or let its
powers be deranged, so that he is an idiot or a lunatic ; and what is
the man then ? Nay, only derange its comforts, and let anxiety prey
upon the spirit ; and what is he then ? His soul, in its powers and its
influences, is his all — the chief part, the honor, the dignity, and the
glory of man.

Now this is the object, about which you are to be interested. Is it
not worthy of your interest ?

2. And come from a view of its structure, to view it, secondly, in
its lost estate. Our Savior says, that this soul is lost. " What shall
it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ? "
Then it is capable of being lost ; and if it continue in its present state,
it is lost." " The Son of Man has come to seek and save that which
was lost." Hence he describes himself under the figure of a shep-
herd, going over the mountains, seeking for a lost sheep, and rejoicing
when he has recovered his sheep.

Originally, mark, this soul was a pure spirit ; it was created in the
perfect image, and living Ukeness of its Creator, " in righteousness and
true holiness ; " but now it has lost this holiness, and has nothing but
impurity. " Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adul-
teries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies : these are the
things which defile a man." It has lost its innocence, and now has
nothing but impurity. " Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, mur-
ders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies : these
are the things which defile a man." It has lost its innocence, and
now has nothing but guilt ; for " all the world is condemned before
God." It has lost its wisdom, and now has nothing but ignorance ;
*' being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is
in it." It has lost its communion, and has now nothing but distance ;
"far from God, by wicked works." It has lost its comfort, and has
now nothing but fear ; " my flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I
am afraid of thy judgments." It has lost its paradise, and has now
nothing to look forward to, but hell ; for " the wicked shall be turned
into hell, and all the nations that forget God."

And here let no teacher say, " These passages and applications may
do very well for adults, but what have they to do with children ? "
Thus much have they to do with children : " Death hath reigned over
all, even those who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's



320 THE ENGLISH PtJLPIT.

transgression." And see the evil passions of children ; see, almost as
soon as they can talk and walk, what proof they give you of their
having lost souls ! I undertake not to tell you, (and perhaps you will
not require me,) when the responsibihty of a child commences ; that is
a question with which we have nothing whatever to do ; God will settle
it with you, and with the world, by-and-by ; it is no part of your work ;
therefore leave it entirely with him. You have proofs that they have
lost the image and likeness of God ; and that is the great thing which
you have to bear in mind.

Now behold, in the entire school to which you belong, there are five
hundred lost souls to excite your sympathy ; souls, which if they be not
regenerated and pardoned, must perish for ever ; souls, once the temples
of God, but now in ruins — once decorated over with all the emblems
of righteousness and glory, but now defaced and dishonored ; souls,
which have not lost a single fragment of their powers, though those
powers are deranged, and therefore lost to the original intention of their
creation. And what was that ? To serve and please God. To this
great end they are lost ; " they are all gone out of the way ; there is
none that doeth good, no, not one ; " "I was shapen in iniquity, and
in sin did my mother conceive me." Can a heart take a glance over
a school, feeling this great fact, and not compassionate the case of a
soul?

3. Then, thirdly, take another view of these subjects ; look at them
as capable of being recovered. Blessed be God, a lost soul is not past
recovery, while it remains upon the earth. That child, which is so
wayward, and gives you so much trouble — that boy, about whom your
anxieties are excited, and who seems to be fast arriving at manhood,
and developing all the powers of his mind, more like a devil than a
man, — is not hopelessly lost. Oh ! the comfort of this thought !

Let us ask the question — " Wherewith shall I come before the
Lord, and bow myself before the high God ? shall I come before him
with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old ? will the Lord be pleased
with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil ? shall I
give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the
sin of my soul ? " No ; this is too low a price for the soul, to restore
it. " We are not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold,"
of which there is abundance in the earth. No, that is not enough :
God's justice cannot be satisfied with a bribe ; his law must be vindi-
cated, his righteousness acknowledged, and his attributes, in their glory,
proclaimed throughout all worlds ; and therefore the scheme of redemp-
tion is his own.

I am afraid we get into the habit of repeating passages to the chil-



WISDOM OF WINNING SOULS. 321

dren, and to ourselves, and hearing them from the pulpit so often, till
we forget their value and their sweetness. Now strive, teachers, to
enter into this passage, and to feel its force to-night : " God so loved
the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth
in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Here the claims
of justice are not sacrificed at the shrine of mercy, and here the cries
of mercy are not powerless at the shrine of justice ; " mercy and truth
meet together, righteousness and peace embrace each other," " Christ
hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for
us." And what then ? " We joy in God, through Jesus Christ, our
Lord, by whom we have received the atonement."

How, then, is a soul saved ? By believing in, relying on, and ac-
cepting this atonement — by having it so presented and so applied, that
it shall welcome it, as a remedy to his own state. Not making an
atonement ; (never teach your children that) — that is done for ever,
and done completely. All the child has to do as well as yourself, is,
to receive what God has provided, and accept the remedy, which his
mercy has prepared ; and after he has received the one, and accepted
the other, he loves the at-onement, delights in it, is pleased with it, and
instrumentally strives to save and to bless others, as he himself has
been saved and blessed. And when the race is run, heaven is regain-
ed, and the soul enters into it, to live with God, who has thus saved
it, for ever and ever.

Teachers, your work is, to present that atonement. God forgive
you, if you do not do it, or if you put it into the background, in any
■v^ay ! This is the good news, the glad tidings, which fills the souls of
men with hope and joy — that " Christ Jesus came into the world, to
save sinners." Give it, in its fulness and freeness, to the children ;
talk about it to them , till you feel your own hearts glowing with love
to Him who accomplished it, — and then you warm others, with the
very warmth of your own, as you sensibly enjoy it.

Teachers, this is your work — to try to win this soul ; to set before
it that remedy, and to win that soul to accept and rejoice in that
Savior. Do you not think you are greatly honored ?

II. But I now pass to the second part of my discourse, and will
endeavor to show you the efforts which you are to make for these sub-
jects. " He that winneih souls is wise."

Let us now apply this " winning," both to the manner and to the
result.

1. Let us look at it, first, as to the manner, in which we are to win
these souls. To "win" suggests something more than mere labor.
21



THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

To " -win," a thing, implies the exercise of ingenuity, as those who ■win
at a game of play ; a certain power, as those who win by conquest ;
an adaptation of the best means suited to the object, as those who win
compUance by persuasion ; an indomitable perseverance, as those who
•will never give up a conquest, till they have obtained the victory ; and
a rule and order, by which you are to proceed, as legal and prescribed,
in order that you may win the crown, that is set before you — " for a
man is not crowned, unless he strive lawfully." So, then, you are to
win.

And if you will do this aright, the first thing you have to do, in
order to win their somIs, is to win their attention. Ingenuity may
honorably tax itself here. Your voice, your manner, your habits, if
you would be good teachers, must all be adapted to win. If your
voice is not good, you must aim, as Demosthenes did, to make it bet-
ter ; who went to the sea-shore, while the winds were roaring and rag-
ing, and recited his themes there, with pebbles in his mouth, to cure
his impediments. If your habits are rough or uncourteous, you must
mend them, if you would be good teachers. If your manner of teach-
ing is not that which impresses your own mind, as best adapted to im-
press the mind, and catch the heart of a child, that manner must be
improved, from good patterns, which are presented to you. Do not
look at these patterns with an evil eye, and with jealousy, but stoop to
imitate, wherever they are good and excellent, and you shall find the
advantage of them.

Children are not stones or ciphers ; they are naturally lively. We
always think there is something the matter with children, when they
sit down by themselves all day, and do not open their mouths and
prattle to those around them. Who would wish a child's tongue to be
still, or its limbs to be fixed ? And therefore instruction, to win, must
be adapted to their habits. Dull, cold, prosy, long lectures to a child !
Why, teachers, if you attempt this mode, half your time in your class
will be taken up by telling the children to sit still, not to be fidgety,
and not to move about. They cannot help it ; you are lulling them
into this very state, by your dry manner.

Oh ! sirs, there is much tact, as well as learning, required to win
the attention, especially of a child. Go to an Infant School, and see
the methods adopted there. What little child, that can walk, feels
weary ? Everything is adapted to its capacities ; its attention is kept
awake, and it learns lessons, and has precepts, and psalms, and hymns
there impressed upon its memory, which teaching by no other means
can accomplish. I am not saying this as exactly adapted to Sunday
School instruction ; but this mode must be the most useful, for it is the



WISDOM OF WINNING SOULS. 323

-first which David prescribes : " Come, ye children, hearken to me."
Get their attention, and you are in a ready way to get their souls ;
win their ears, and it is one of the doorways into their hearts.

Then, secondly, in order to apply this, as to the manner, you mu3t
win their affections, as well as their attention. Love does wonders.
If you gain the heart, you have, naturally enough, the key to the
understanding. A teacher is not likely to win a soul, whose love he
does not win. Do you ever write a senior scholar letters, and letters
in good English, well spelt, and not badly written ? Letters remain.
A child has a letter — a postman comes to the door, with a letter for
Master Johnson, or John Thomas, or Sarah Speedwell, from the
teacher ; oh ! the little document is treasured up by the child, as
something particularly precious ; and it is its own. How the news
goes through the house directly — ' I have got a letter from my
teacher ; ' and it is read, and read, and read again, till the sentiments
contained there find their way to that child's heart. It shows the
child that there is one interested in its everlasting blessedness. Ah !
when they can say, ' See what an interest my teacher takes in me ! '
You know what the effect would be upon yourselves. There is some
one of your friends takes a particular interest in you ; and what is the
consequence ? A corresponding feeling in your own heart, a natural
going forth of your heart towards that individual. Would you, then,
gain the souls of children ? You must win their affections.

And then, in the next place, you must win their judgment. Your
office is to teach them spiritual things, — how they may be pardoned,
regenerated, sanctified, and saved. You must endeavor, then, to win
their approval of these blessings, by showing them their guilt and
danger, and their destruction without them ; and for this purpose, you
must ransack the Scripture of all its similes, its stoi-ies, its illustrations
of the true effects of their fall, and make them all contribute to your
help. Then place before them the necessity of Christ's sacrifice, its
merit, and its blessedness — that it has appeased Avrath, and satisfied
justice on their behalf ; and the love of Christ and the Spirit, as ready
to save them. Faith will yield, if they do but embrace these things.
And do not be inclined to think, when a child sometimes seems dull,
as you are stating these truths, that your labor is lost : impressions are
often made, when least suspected, and revived after certain seasons,
when it was supposed they were long since buried.

Then, fourthly, win their confidence. If a child can say, by seeing



Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 36 of 45)