Copyright
John Bunyan.

The entire works of John Bunyan (Volume 3) online

. (page 36 of 124)
Online LibraryJohn BunyanThe entire works of John Bunyan (Volume 3) → online text (page 36 of 124)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


earth." What follows now? "And I beheld,
and I heard the voice of many angels round about



the throne, and the beasts, and the elders; and the
number of them was ten thousand times ten thou-
sand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a
loud voice, "V^'orthy is the Lamb that was slain, to
receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and
strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
And every creature which is in heaven, and on
the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that
are therein, heard I, saying. Blessing, honour,
glory and power, be unto them that sitteth upon
the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever."
(Rev. ix. 9—14.)

Thus also is the song, that new song that is said
to be sung by the hundred forty and four thousand
which stand with the Lamb upon Mount Zion,
with his Father's name written in their foreheads.
These are also called harpers, harping with their
harps. "And they sang as it were a new song
before the throne, and before the four beasts, and
the elders ; and none could learn that song but the
hundred and forty and four thousand, which were
redeemed from the earth." (Rev. xiv. 1 — 3.)

But why could they not learn that song? Be-
cause they were not redeemed ; none can sing of
this song but the redeemed ; they can give gbry
to the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain, and that
redeemed them to God by his blood. It is faith
in his blood on earth that will make us sing this
song in heaven. These shoutings and heavenly
songs must needs come from love put into a flame
by the sufferings of Christ.

The last Use,
If all these things be true, what follows but a
demonstration of the accursed condition of those
among the religious in these nations, whose notions
put them far off from Jesus, and from venturing
their souls upon his bloody death. I have observed
such a spirit as this in the world, that careth not
for knowing of Jesus ; the possessed therewith do
think, that it is not material to salvation to venture
upon a crucified Christ, neither do they trouble
their heads or hearts with enquiring whether
Christ Jesus be risen, and ascended into heaven,
or whether they see him again or no, but rather
are for concluding, that there will be no such
thing. These men speak not by the Holy Ghost,
for in the sum they call Jesus accursed ; but I
doubt not to say that many of them are anathema-
tised of God, and shall stand so, till the coming of
the Lord Jesus, to wfiom be glory for ever and
ever. Amen.



PEEFATORY REMARKS



ox



THE GREATNESS OF THE SOUL.



TuE aspects in which this subject may be viewed are very manifold. A human soul is great, because
of its wonderful capacity: it is great because of its value, viewed in respect to its salvation, or its loss,
and great from what has been done for it in the way of redemption, and is done in it by the inscrut-
able mystery of its sanctification. Sublime, indeed, must be the nature of that being to whom this
character belongs, and in whom all these processes close and concentrate when it reoccupies the place
designed it in creation.

Life and soul, both in Scriptural and ordinary language, are often spoken of as identical. There
would be little necessity for caution, in this respect, were life and soul to bear uniformly the same
meaning. But in each case there is a higher and a lower signification. Life, as physical and tem-
poral, is a very humble possession as compared with that which exists by other laws than those of
earth and time. The soul, as quickened only by the properties which it enjoys in common with other
animated creatures of this world, has little more claim to be priceless than the rest. Could reason,
with all its mysterious attendant poweTs, be considered as belonging to the natural soul, independent
of a higher essence, this would render it worthy of admiration above all other earthly beings : but
nothing could overcome the check which would be given to that feeling of reverence by the discovery
that this soul is mortal ; that though, for a time, it may unite in itself the tenderest grace and the
most majestic energy, it will ultimately pass away into thin air; and become as nothing, — like the
melody which, whatever its power to charm, exists no longer than the vibration which produces it.
Attribute, then, to the soul the noblest power of reason, and all that is sweet and subHme in the
affections, but show that it can perish by an accident, or grow infirm and die, and, thus degraded from
the ranks of the immortals, its very glories are a painful mystery. Let us imagine, for an instant, that
two spirits stand before us. Each is invested with the beauty proper to a heavenly origin. But one
exceeds the other both in the splendour of this beauty, and in all the signs of power and varied wisdom.
\Ve naturally feel a greater veneration for this apparently superior being. But suddenly we learn,
tliat it is one of an order of spirits which rapidly attain to the maturity of their powers, and then
suddenly perish, like an extinguished flame. The other, on the contrary, has been endowed with a
deathless nature. It is now of comparatively low degree in the ranks of spiritual life ; but it has
before it the line of an endless progress : it may be millions of years before it attain to the power and
glory exhibited by its companion; but when that bright subject of mortality shall have long passed into
nothingness, this heir of hope and eternity shall be still ascending from height to height of limitless
j)3rfection.

Thus the human soul, if supposed to be mortal, could not bear comparison with the humblest of
created beings inhabiting a sphere out of the reach of death. It is not to the animal soul, therefore,
any more than to the animal life, that we can properly attach the idea of an invaluable possession.
The entire superstructure of an edifice may present the finest combinations of architectural genius,
with the most successful efforts of masonry, but if the building itself rests upon a shifting quicksand,
who would purchase it ? The certainty that it will fall, and the uncertainty as to when, are equally
opposed to the feeling of safety.

Such reflections lead inevitably to the conclusion, that both the dignity and the happiness of the
human race depend upon the immortality of the soul. Progress, to which there is a limit, is especially
unsatisfactory and discouraging. Mankind at large, and each individual man, have the same interest
in this fact. No number of souls, however wonderful their united energy, can even accomplish the
designs proper to their own allotment of time, without the strength and the hopes of immortal being.
It is from the instincts of an imperishable nature, from the ardour of an unextinguishable flame, that
man is urged on to atteinj)ts utterly disproportion ed to the length of his earthly existence, or to the
value of anything which it can give. Deprive him of tlie mysterious impulses to which he is thus
happily subject, and slow and fluctuating as the progress of mankind even now is, it would then cease



PREFATORY REMARKS. 157

altogether, or become retrograde. The dull weight of mere earthly existence would grind us to dust.
Ignorant as most men are of this great truth, they owe to the fact itself all that has ever been gained
of the good, the beautiful, and the precious, by the doings or sufferings of successive generations.

With immortality as a basis, there need be no boundary in human apprehension to the in-
creasing grandeur of the soul. Starting with a just view of its proper attributes and capabilities, we
may contemplate its growth in wisdom and power as the intended result of its lengthened existence.
There being no waste of life, the life within it will itself become more and more intense, and the light
and glory beaming from it will have a greater radiance. Then if, having traced the course of its
wonderful ascent, as far as our thoughts will allow, we return to consider its present actual state, the
contrast may startle us, without dispossessing us of a single hope. Weak as the soul now is, burdened
as we feel it to be wiih unholiness and guilt, it is still great, and its greatness is plainly discernible
through the dark veil of its sorrows and infirmities. Capability not exercised, the powers of a great
life dormant but unabridged, are subjects for melancholy reflection ; but in the case of the human soul,
the sadness of the sentiment is relieved by the sublimity of the truths with which it is connected.
There is a witness to the greatness of the soul in its own instincts : there is another in the subordina-
tion of all earthly things to its will : another speaks in the works it has achieved : another in the
surpassing grandeur of its designs. But immeasurably in worth above all these, or any other that can
be conceived, is the witness of the mystery, that God has redeemed it from self-destruction by the blood
of his Son, and reanimates it by the breath of his own Spirit.

H. S.



THE GREATNESS OF THE SOUL,

AND

UNSPEAKABLENESS OF THE LOSS THEREOF;

WITH THE CAUSES OF THE LOSING IT.



" 0) ivhat shall a man give in Exchange for his Soul f" — Mark viii. 87.



I HAVE' chosen at this time to handle these
words among you, and that for several reasons : —

1. Because the soul, and the salvation of it, are
such great, such wonderful great things, nothing
is a matter of that concern as is, and should be,
the soul of each one of you. House and land,
trades and honours, places and preferments, what
are they to salvation? to the salvation of the soul?

2. Because I perceive that this, so great a thing,
and about which persons should be so much
concerned, is neglected to amazement, and that
by the most of men ; yea, who is there of the
many thousands that sit daily under the sound
of the gospel, that are concerned, heartily con-
cerned, about the salvation of their souls ? — that
is, concerned, I say, as the nature of the thing
requireth. If ever a lamentation was fit to be
t.iken up in this age about, for, or concerning any-
thing, it is about, for, and concerning the horrid
neglect, that everywhere puts forth itself with
reference to eternal salvation. Where is one man
fif a thousand — yea, where is there two of ten
thousand, that do show by their conversation,
public and private, tliat the soul, their own souls,
are considered by them, and that they are taking
that care for the salvation of them as becomes
them? to wit, as the weight of the work, and the
nature of salvation requireth. 3. I have, there-
fore, pitched u})on this text at this time, to see, if
peradventure the discourse which God shall help
rae to make upon it, will awaken you, rouse you
off of your beds of ease, security, and pleasure,
and fetch you down upon your knees before him,
to bog of him grace to be concerned about the
naivation of your houU. And then, in the last
place, I havp taken upon me to do this, that I may
deliver if not you, yet myself; and tliat I may be
clear of your blood, and stand quit, as to you,
before God, when you shall, for neglect, be
damned, and wail to consider that you have lost
your Boula. " When I say," saith God to the



wicked, " thou shalt surely die ; and thou," the
prophet or preacher, " givest him not warning,
nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked
way, to save his life ; the same wicked man shall
die in his iniquity ; but his blood will I require at
thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he
turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked
way, he shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast
delivered thy soul." (Ezek. iii. 18, 19.)

" Or what shall a man give in exchange for
his soul ?"

In my handling of these words, I shall first
speak to the occasion of them, and then to the
words themselves.

The occasion of the words was, for that the
people that now were auditors to the Lord Jesus,
and that followed him, did it without that con-
sideration as becomes so great a work ; that is, the
generality of them that followed him, were not for
considering first with themselves, what it was to
profess Christ, and what that profession might
cost them.

" And when he had called the people unto
him," the great multitude that went with him,
(Luke xiv. 25,) " with his disciples also, he said
unto them, whosoever will come after me, let him
deny himself, and take up his cross and follow
me," (i\Lirk viii. 3-1.) Let him first sit down, and
count up the cost, and the charge he is like to be
at, if he follows me. For following of me is not
like following of some other masters. The winds
sit always on my face, and the foaming rage of the
sea of this world, and the proud and lofty waves
thereof, do continually beat upon the sides of the
l)ark or ship that myself, my cause, and my fol-
lowers are in : he therefore that will not run
hazards, and that is afraid to venture a drowning,
let him not set foot into this vessel: so "whoso-
ever doth not bear his cross, and come after me,
he cannot be my disciple. For which of you
intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first



THE GREATNESS OF THE SOUL.



159



and coiinteth the cost, whether he have siafficient
to finish it ?" (Luke xiv. 27, 28.)

True, to reason, this kind of language tends to
cast water upon weak and beginning desires; but
to faith it makes the things set before us, and the
greatness, and the glory of them, more apparently
excellent and desirable. Reason will say. Then
who will profess Christ that hath such coarse
entertainment at the beginning ? but Faith will
say, Then surely the things that are at the end of
a Christian's race in this world, must needs be
unspeakably glorious; since whoever hath had but
the knowledge and due consideration of them,
have not stuck to run hazards, hazards of every
kind, that they might embrace and enjoy them.
Yea, saith Faith, it must needs be so, since the Son
himself, that best knew what they were, even,
" For the joy that was set before him, endured the
cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the
right hand of the throne of God," (Heb. xii. 2.)

But, I say, there is not in every man this know-
ledge of things, and so by consequence not such
consideration as can make the cross and self-denial
acceptable to them for the sake of Christ, and of
the things that are where he now sitteth at the
right hand of God, (Col. iii. 2 — 4.) Therefore our
Lord Jesus doth even at the beginning give to his
followers this instruction. And lest any of them
should take distaste at his saying, he presenteth
them with the consideration of three things to-
gether, namely, the cross, the loss of life, and the
soul ; and then reasoneth with them for the same,
saying, Here is the cross, the life, and the soul.
L The cross, and that you must take up, if you
will follow me. 2. The life, and that you may
save for a time, if you cast me off. 3. And the
soul, which will everlastingly perish if you come
not to me, and abide not with me. Now consider
what is best to be done, will you take up the
cross, come after me, and so preserve your souls
from perishing ? or will you shun the cross to save
your lives, and so run the danger of eternal damna-
tion ? or, as you have it in John, will you love
your life till you lose it? or will you hate your
life and save it ? " He that loveth his life shall lose
it, and he that hatcth his life in this world, shall
keep it unto Hfe eternal," (John xii. 25.) As who
should say. He that loveth a temporal life, he that
so loveth it as to shun the profession of Christ to
save it, shall lose it upon a worse account, than if
he had lost it for Christ and the gospel ; but he
that will set Hght by it, for the love that he hath
to Christ, shall keep it unto life eternal,

Christ having thus discoursed with his followers
about their denying of themselves, their taking up
their cross and following of him, doth, in the next
place, put the question to them, and so leaveth it
npon them for ever, saying, " For what shall it
profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and
lose his own soul ? " (Mark viii. 36.) As who
should say, I have bid you take heed that you do
not hghtly, and without due consideration, enter



into a profession of me and of my gospel ; for he
that without due consideration shall begin to pro-
fess Christ, will also without it, forsake him, turn
from him, and cast him behind his back; and since
I have, even at the beginning, laid the considera-
tion of the cross before you, it is because you
should not be surprised and overtaken by it un-
awares, and because you should know that to draw
back from me, after you have laid your hand to
my plough, will make you unfit for the kingdom
of heaven. (Luke ix. 62.) Now, since this is so,
there is no less lies at stake than salvation, and
salvation is worth all the world, yea, worth ten
thousand worlds, if there should be so many.
And since this is so also, it will be your wisdom
to begin to profess the gospel with expectation of
the cross and tribulation, for to that are my gos-
pellers in this world appointed. (I Thess. iii. 3.)
And if you begin thus, and hold it, the kingdom
and crown shall be yours ; for as God counteth it
a righteous thing to recompense tribulation to
them that trouble you, so to you who are troubled
and endure it — " for we count them happy," says
James, "that endure" (James i. 12; v. 11) —
rest with saints, when the Lord Jesus shall be
revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in
flaming fire, to take vengeance on them that know
not God, and that obey not the gospel, &c. And
if no less lies at stake than salvation, then is a
man's soul and his all at the stake ; and if it be so,
what will it profit a man if, by forsaking of me,
he should get the whole world ? " For what shall
it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world,
and lose his own soul ? "

Having thus laid the soul in one balance, and
the world in the other, and affirmed that the soul
outbids the whole world, and is incomparably for
value and w^orth beyond it; in the next place, he
descends to a second question, which is that I
have chosen at this time for my text, saying,
" Or what shall a man give in exchange for his
soul ? "

In these words, we have first a supposition,
and such an one as standeth upon a double
bottom.

The supposition is this. That the soul is capable
of being lost; or thus. It is possible for a man to
lose his soul. The double bottom that this sup-
position is grounded upon, is, first, man's igno-
rance of the worth of his soul, and of the danger
that it is in ; and the second is, for that men com-
monly do set a higher price upon present ease and
enjoyments than they do upon eternal salvation.
The last of these doth naturally follow upon the
first ; for if men be ignorant of the value and
worth of their souls, as by Christ in the verse
before is implied, what should hinder but that
men should set an higher esteem upon that with
which their carnal desires are taken than upon
that about which they are not concerned, and of
which they know not the worth ?

But again, as this by the text is clearly sup-



160



THE GREATNESS OF THE SOUL.



lK>sed, 60 there is also something implied, namely,
That it is impossible to possess some men with
the worth of their souls, until they are utterly
and everlastingly lost. " What shall a man give
in exchange for his soul ? " That is, men, when
their souls are lost, and shut down under the
liatches in the pits and hells in endless perdition
and destruction, then they will sec the worth of
their souls, tlien they will consider what they have
lost, and truly not till then. This is plain, not
only to sense, hut hy the natural scope of the
Words, " What shall a man give in exchange for
his sold ? " Or what would not those that are
now for sin made to see themselves lost, by the
light of hell -fire — for some will never be con-
vinced that they are lost, till, with rich Dives,
they see it in the light of hell-flames, (Luke xvi.
22, 23 ;) I say, what would not such, if they had
it, give in exchange for their immortal souls,
or to recover them again from that jilace and
torment ?

I shall observe two truths in the words.

The first is, That the loss of the soul is the
highest, the greatest loss — a loss that can never
be repaired or made up. " What shall a man
give in exchange for his soul?" that is, to recover
or redeem his lost soul to liberty.

The second truth is this. That how unconcerned
and careless soever some now be about the loss or
salvation of their souls, yet the day is coming —
but it ^^^ll then be too late — when men Avill be
willing, had they never so much, to give it all in
exchange for their souls. For so the question
implies, " What shall a man give in exchange for
his soul ? " What would he not give ? \Miat
would he not part with at that day — the day in
which he shall see himself damned — if he had it,
in exchange for his soul ?

The first observation, or truth, drawn from the
words, is cleared by the text, " What shall a man
give in exchange for his soul?" That is, there is not
anything, nor all the things under heaven, were
they all in one man's hand, and all at his disposal,
that would go in exchange for the soul, that would
be of value to fetch back one lost soul, or that
would certainly recover it from the confines of
hfll. " The redemption of their soul is j)reciou8,
and it ceaseth for ever." (Ps. xlix. 8.) And what
saith the words before the text but the same :
" For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain
the whole world, and lose his own soul ? " What
Bhall profit a man that has lost his soul ? Nothing
at all, thf.ugh he hath by that loss gained the
whole wf.rlil ; for all the world is not worth a soiil,
not worth a soul in the eye of God, and judgment
of the law. And it is fn.n) this consideration, that
good Elihii cautioneth .Jol) to take heed, "Because
there is wratli," saith he, " beware lest he take
thee away with his stroke : then a great ransom
cannot deliver thee. Will he esteem thy riches?
no, not gold, nor all the forces of strength." (Job
xxx\i. 18, 19.) Iliches and power, what is there



more in the world : for money answereth all things
• — that is, all but soid-concerns ; it can neither be
a price for souls while here, nor can that, with all
the forces of strength, recover one out of hell-
fire.

Doctrine First.

So then the first truth drawn from the words
stands firm, namely, That the loss of the soul is
the highest, the greatest loss, a loss that can never
be repaired or made up.

In my discourse ui:)on this subject, I shall observe
this method : —

First. I shall show you what the soul is.

Second. I shall show you the greatness of it.

Third. I shall show you what it is to lose the
soul.

Fourth. I shall show you the cause for which
men lose their souls ; and by this time the great-
ness of the loss will be manifest.

First. I shall show you what the soul is, both as
to the various names it goes under, as also by de-
scribing of it by its powers and properties, though
in all I shall be but brief, for I intend no long
discourse.

1. The soul is often called the heart of man,
or that in and by which things, to either good
or evil, have their rise : thus desires are of
the heart or soul ; yea, before desires, the first
conception of good or evil is in the soul, the heart.
The heart understands, wills, affects, reasons,
judges, but these are the faculties of the soul ;
wherefore, heart and soul are often taken for one
and the same. " My son, give me thy heart."
(Prov. xxiii. 26.) " Out of the heart proceedeth
evil thoughts," &c. (Matt. xv. 19. 1 Pet. iii. 15.
Ps. xxvi. 2.)

2. The soul of man is often called the spirit of a
man ; because it not only giveth being, but life to
all things and actions in, and done by, him.
Hence soul and spirit are put together, as to the
same action. " With my soul have I desired thee
in the night ; yea, with my spirit within me will I
seek thee early." (Isa. xxvi. 9.) When he saith,
" Yea, with my spirit I will seek thee," he ex-
plaineth not only with what kind of desires he de-
sired God, but with what principal matter his
desires were brought forth. It was with my soul,
saith he ; to wit, with my spirit within me. So
that of Mary, " My soul," saith she, " doth magnify
the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my
Saviour." (Luke i. 4G, 47.) Not that soul and
spirit are, in this place, to be taken for two superior
j)owers in man ; but the same great soul is here
jmt under two names or terms, to show that it was
the principal part in Mary, to wit, her soul, that



Online LibraryJohn BunyanThe entire works of John Bunyan (Volume 3) → online text (page 36 of 124)