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SERMON XXVI.

THE WISDOM OF WINNING SOULS.

BY REV. 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 tremendously responsible is the position, which some persons occupy! The eyes of the church are directed to you, as instruments of pouring 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 winneth 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 increased." 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

engine, and brought railways to perfection, to accelerate our speed, from one place or country to another, was thought wise in his generation; 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 individual, 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 inheritance," 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. O 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.

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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 unspeakably interested. They are "souls."

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

1. Let us now look at it, first, in its structure. It is a living thing, distinct and separate from the body. Matter is wholly passive; it cannot act, or move, or think, without this vital spirit. "The body, without 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 distinct 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 handled, 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 birthday, 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 wonders 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 ingenious 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 wonders, and the glories of redeeming love; it can hold fellowship with the Deity, as a man holds fellowship with his friend; it can revolutionize 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

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 lifeless, 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 shepherd, 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 likeness 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, adulteries, 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, murders, 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; 66 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

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