The Greatness of the Soul
by John Bunyan
1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse







London: Printed for Benjamin Alsop, at the Angel and Bible in the Poultry, 1682

Faithfully reprinted from the Author's First Edition.


Our curiosity is naturally excited to discover what a poor, unlettered mechanic, whose book-learning had been limited to the contents of one volume, could by possibility know upon a subject so abstruse, so profound, and so highly metaphysical, as that of the Soul—its greatness—and the inconceivableness of its loss. Heathen philosophers, at the head of whose formidable array stand Plato and Aristotle, had exhausted their wit, and had not made the world a whit the wiser by all their lucubrations. The fathers plunged into the subject, and increased the confusion; we are confounded with their subtle distinctions, definitions, and inquiries; such as that attributed to St. Aquinas, How many disembodied spirits could dance upon the point of a fine needle without jostling each other? Learned divines had puzzled themselves and their hearers with suppositions and abstract principles. What, then, could a travelling brasier, or tinker, have discovered to excite the attention of the Christian world, and to become a teacher to philosophers, fathers, and learned divines? Bunyan found no access to the polluted streams of a vain philosophy; he went at once to the fountain-head; and, in the pure light of Revelation, displays the human soul—infinitely great in value, although in a fallen state. He portrays it as drawn by the unerring hand of its Maker. He sets forth, by the glass of God's Word, the inconceivableness of its value, while progressing through time; and, aided by the same wondrous glass, he penetrates the eternal world, unveils the joys of heaven and the torments of hell—so far as they are revealed by the Holy Ghost, and are conceivable to human powers. While he thus leads us to some kind of estimate of its worth, he, from the same source—the only source from whence such knowledge can be derived, makes known the causes of the loss of the soul, and leads his trembling readers to the only name under heaven given among men, whereby they can be saved. In attempting to conceive the greatness and value of the soul, the importance of the body is too often overlooked. The body, it is true, is of the earth; the soul is the breath of God. The body is the habitation; the soul is the inhabitant. The body returns to the dust; while the soul enters into the intermediate state, waiting to be re-united to the body after its new creation, when death shall be swallowed up of life. In these views, the soul appears to be vastly superior to the body. But let it never be forgotten, that, as in this life, so it will be in the everlasting state; the body and soul are so intimately connected as to become one being, capable of exquisite happiness, or existing in the pangs of everlasting death. He who felt and wrote as Bunyan does in this solemn treatise, and whose tongue was as the pen of a ready writer, must have been wise and successful in winning souls to Christ. He felt their infinite value, he knew their strong and their weak points, their riches and poverty. He was intimate with every street and lane in the town of Man-soul, and how and where the subtle Diabolians shifted about to hide themselves in the walls, and holes, and corners. He sounds the alarm, and plants his engines against 'the eye as the window, and the ear as the door, for the soul to look out at, and to receive in by.' He detects the wicked in speaking with his feet, and teaching with his fingers. His illustration of the punishment of a sinner, as set forth by the sufferings of the Saviour, is peculiarly striking. The attempt to describe the torments of those who suffer under the awful curse, 'Go ye wicked,' is awfully and intensely vivid.

Bunyan most earnestly exhorts the distressed sinner to go direct to the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls, and not to place confidence in those who pretend to be his ministers; but 'who are false shepherds, in so many ugly guises, and under so many false and scandalous dresses;' 'take heed of that shepherd that careth not for his own soul, that walketh in ways, and doth such things, as have a direct tendency to damn his own soul; come not near him. He that feeds his own soul with ashes, will scarce feed thee with the bread of life.' Choose Christ to be thy chief Shepherd, sit at his feet, and learn of him and he will direct thee to such as shall feed thy soul with knowledge and understanding.

Reader, let me no longer keep thee upon the threshold but enter upon this important treatise with earnest prayer; and may the blessed Spirit enable us to live under a sense of the greatness of the soul, the unspeakableness of the loss thereof, the causes of losing it, and the only way in which its salvation can he found.

GEORGE OFFOR. Hackney, April 1850




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

l. 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 concerned, 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 taken up in this age about, for, or concerning anything, it is about, for, and concerning the horrid neglect that everywhere puts forth itself with reference to salvation. Where is one man in a thousand—yea, where is there two of ten thousand that do show by their conversation, public and private, that 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 therefore pitched upon this text at this time; to see, if peradventure the discourse which God shall help me to make upon it, will awaken you, rouse you off your beds of ease, security, and pleasure, and fetch you down upon your knees before Him, to beg of Him grace to be concerned about the salvation of your souls. And then, in the last place, I have taken upon me to do this, that I may deliver, if not you, yet myself, and that 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 souls. 'When I say,' saith God, 'unto 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 front his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul' (Eze 3:18, 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 consideration 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 (Luke14:25) '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 (Mark 8:34). 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 wind sits 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 bark of the ship that myself, my cause, and my followers 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 whosever 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 and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it (Luke 14:27-29).

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 12:2).

But, I say, there is not in every man this knowledge 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 3:2-4). 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 together—namely, the cross, the loss of life, and the soul; and then reasoneth with them from the same, saying, Here is the cross, the life, and the soul.

1. 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 damnation? 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 hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal' (John 12:25). 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 light 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 upon them for ever, saying, 'For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' (Mark 8:36). As who should say, I have bid you take heed that you do not lightly, and without due consideration, enter into a profession of Me and of My gospel; for he that without due consideration shall begin to profess 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 consideration of the cross before you, it is because you should not be surprised and overtaken by it unawares, 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 9:62).

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 gospellers1 in this world appointed (James 1:12; 1 Thess 3:3). 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 5:11), 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, etc. (2 Thess 1:7, 8). 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 out-bids the whole world, and is incomparably for value and worth 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—'Tis possible for a man to lose his soul. The double bottom that this supposition is grounded upon is, first, a man's ignorance of the worth of his soul, and of the danger that it is in; and the second is, for that men commonly 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 a 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 supposed, so to here 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 hatches in the pits and hells in endless perdition and destruction, then they will see the worth of their souls, then they will consider what they have lost, and truly not till then. This is plain, not only to sense, but by the natural scope of the words, 'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' 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 convinced that they are lost till, with rich Dives, they see it in the light of hell flames (Luke 16:22, 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 place and torment?2

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 will then be too late, when men will be willing, had they never so much, to give it all in exchange for their souls. For so the question implies—'What will a man give in exchange for his soul?' What would he not give? What would he not part with at that day, the day in which he will 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 hell. 'The redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever' (Psa 49:8). 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 shall profit a man that has lost his soul? Nothing at all, though he hath by that loss gained the whole world; for all the world is not worth a sou1, not worth a soul in the eye of God and judgment of the law. And it is from this consideration that good Elihu cautioneth Job to take heed, 'Because there is wrath,' 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 36:18,19). Riches and power, what is there more in the world? for money answereth all things—that is, all but soul 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.


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 upon 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 greatness 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 describing of it by its powers and properties, though in all I shall be but brief, for I intend no long discourse.3

[Names of the Soul.]

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 thine heart' (Prov 23:26). 'Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,' etc. (Matt 15:19; 1 Peter 3:15; Psa 26:2).

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 notion. 'With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early' (Isa 26:9). When he saith, 'Yea, with my spirit—will I seek thee,' he explaineth not only with what kind of desires he desired 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 1:46,47). Not that soul and spirit are, in this place, to be taken for two superior powers in man; but the same great soul is here put under two names, or terms, to show that it was the principal part in Mary; to wit, her soul, that magnified God, even that part that could spirit and put life into her whole self to do it. Indeed, sometimes spirit is not taken so largely, but is confined to some one power or faculty of the soul, as 'the spirit of my understanding,' (Job 20:3) 'and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.' And sometime by spirit we are to understand other things; but many times by spirit we must understand the soul, and also by soul the spirit.

3. Therefore, by soul we understand the spiritual, the best, and most noble part of man, as distinct from the body, even that by which we understand, imagine, reason, and discourse. And, indeed, as I shall further show you presently, the body is but a poor, empty vessel, without this great thing called the soul. 'The body without the spirit,' or soul, 'is dead' (James 2:26). Or nothing but (her soul departed from her, for she died). It is, therefore, the chief and most noble part of man.

4. The soul is often called the life of man, not a life of the same stamp and nature of the brute; for the life of man—that is, of the rational creature—is, that, as he is such, wherein consisteth and abideth the understanding and conscience etc. Wherefore, then, a man dieth, or the body ceaseth to act, or live in the exercise of the thoughts, which formerly used to be in him, when the soul departeth, as I hinted even now—her soul departed from her, for she died; and, as another good man saith, 'in that very day his thoughts perish,' etc. (Psa 146:4). The first text is more emphatical; Her soul was in departing (for she died). There is the soul of a beast, a bird, etc., but the soul of a man is another thing; it is his understanding, and reason, and conscience, etc. And this soul, when it departs, he dies. Nor is this life, when gone out of the body, annihilate, as is the life of a beast; no, this, in itself, is immortal, and has yet a place and being when gone out of the body it dwelt in; yea, as quick, as lively is it in its senses, if not far more abundant, than when it was in the body; but I call it the life, because so long as that remains in the body, the body is not dead. And in this sense it is to be taken where he saith 'He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it' unto life eternal; and this is the soul that is intended in the text, and not the breath, as in some other places is meant. And this is evident, because the man has a being, a sensible being, after he has lost the soul. I mean not by the man a man in this world, nor yet in the body, or in the grave; but by man we must understand, either the soul in hell, or body and soul there, after the judgment is over. And for this the text, also, is plain, for therein we are presented with a man sensible of the damage that he has sustained by losing of his soul. 'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' But,

5. The whole man goeth under this denomination; man, consisting of body and soul, is yet called by that part of himself that is most chief and principal. 'Let every soul,' that is, let every man, 'be subject unto the higher powers' (Rom 13:1). 'Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, three-score and fifteen souls (Acts 7:14). By both these, and several other places, the whole man is meant, and is also so to be taken in the text; for whereas here he saith, 'What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' It is said elsewhere, 'For what is a man advantaged if he gain the whole world, and lose himself?' (Luke 9:25) and so, consequently, or, 'What shall a man give in exchange (for himself) for his soul?' His soul when he dies, and body and soul in and after judgment.

6. The soul is called the good man's darling. 'Deliver,' Lord, saith David, 'my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog' (Psa 22:20). So, again, in another place, he saith, 'Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the [power of the] lions' (Psa 35:17). My darling—this sentence must not be applied universally, but only to those in whose eyes their souls, and the redemption thereof, is precious. My darling—most men do, by their actions, say of their soul, 'my drudge, my slave; nay, thou slave to the devil and sin; for what sin, what lust, what sensual and beastly lust is there in the world that some do not cause their souls to bow before and yield unto? But David, here, as you see, calls it his darling, or his choice and most excellent thing; for, indeed, the soul is a choice thing in itself, and should, were all wise, be every man's darling, or chief treasure. And that it might be so with us, therefore, our Lord Jesus hath thus expressed the worth of the soul, saying, 'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' But if this is true, one may see already what misery he is like to sustain that has, or shall lose his soul; he has lost his heart, his spirit, his best part, his life, his darling, himself, his whole self, and so, in every sense, his all. And now, 'what shall a man,' what would a man, but what can a man that has lost his soul, himself, and his all, 'give in exchange for his soul?' Yea, what shall the man that has sustained this loss do to recover all again, since this man, or the man put under this question, must needs be a man that is gone from hence, a man that is cast in the judgment, and one that is gone down the throat of hell?

But to pass this, and to proceed.

[Powers and Properties of the Soul.]

I come next to describe the soul unto you by such things as it is set out by in the Holy Scriptures, and they are, in general, three—First, The powers of the soul. Second, The senses, the spiritual senses of the soul. Third, The passions of the soul.

Of the powers of the soul.

First, We will discourse of the powers, I may call them the members of the soul; for, as the members of the body, being many, do all go to the making up of the body, so these do go to the completing of the soul.

1. There is the understanding, which may be termed the head; because in that is placed the eye of the soul; and this is that which, or by which the soul, discerning things that are presented to it, and that either by God or Satan; this is that by which a man conceiveth and apprehendeth things so deep and great that cannot, by mouth, or tongue, or pen, be expressed.

2. There is, also, belonging to the soul, the conscience, in which I may say, is placed the Seat of Judgment; for, as by the understanding things are let into the soul, so by the conscience the evil or good of such things are tried; especially when in the

3. Third place, there is the judgment, which is another part of this noble creature, has passed, by the light of the understanding, his verdict upon what is let into the soul.4

4. There is, also, the fancy or imagination, another part of this great thing, the sou1: and a most curious thing this fancy is; it is that which presenteth to the man the idea, form, or figure of that, or any of those things, wherewith a man is either frighted or taken, pleased or displeased. And,

5. The mind, another part of the soul, is that unto which this fancy presenteth its things to be considered of; because without the mind nothing is entertained in the soul.

6. There is the memory too, another part of the soul; and that may be called the register of the soul; for it is the memory that receiveth and keepeth in remembrance what has passed, or has been done by the man, or attempted to be done unto him; and in this part of the soul, or from it, will be fed 'the worm that dieth not,' when men are cast into hell; also, from this memory will flow that peace at the day of judgment that saints shall have in their service for Christ in the world.

7. There are the affections too, which are, as I may call them, the hands and arms of the soul; for they are they that take hold of, receive, and embrace what is liked by the soul, and it is a hard thing to make the soul of a man cast from it what its affections cleave to and have embraced. Hence the affections are called for, when the apostle bids men 'seek the things above; set your affections upon them,' saith he (Col 3), or, as you have it in another place, 'Lay hold' of them; for the affections are as hands to the soul, and they by which it fasteneth upon things.

8. There is the will, which may be called the foot of the soul, because by that the soul, yea, the whole man, is carried hither and thither, or else held back and kept from moving.5

These are the golden things of the soul, though, in carnal men, they are every one of them made use of in the service of sin and Satan. For the unbelieving are throughout impure, as is manifest, because their 'mind and conscience (two of the masterpieces of the soul) is defiled' (Titus 1:15). For if the most potent parts of the soul are engaged in their service, what, think you, do the more inferior do? But, I say, so it is the more is the pity; nor can any help it. 'This work ceaseth for ever,' unless the great God, who is over all, and that can save souls, shall himself take upon him to sanctify the soul, and to recover it, and persuade it to fall in love with another master.

But, I say, what is man without this soul, or wherein lieth this pre-eminence over a beast? (Eccl 3:19-21). Nowhere that I know of; for both, as to man's body, go to one place, only the spirit or soul of a man goes upward—to wit, to God that gave it, to be by Him disposed of with respect to things to come, as they have been, and have done in this life, But,

Of the senses of the soul.

Second, I come, in the next place, to describe the soul by its senses, its spiritual senses, for so I call them; for as the body hath senses pertaining to it, and as it can see, hear, smell, feel, and taste, so can the soul; I call, therefore, these the senses of the soul, in opposition to the senses of the body, and because the soul is the seat of all spiritual sense, where supernatural things are known and enjoyed; not that the soul of a natural man is spiritual in the apostle's sense, for so none are, but those that are born from above (1 Cor 3:1-3) nor they so always neither. But to go forward.

Of sight.

1. Can the body see? hath it eyes? so hath the soul. 'The eyes of your understanding being enlightened' (Eph 1:18). As, then, the body can see beasts, trees, men, and all visible things, so the soul can see God, Christ, angels, heaven, devils, hell, and other things that are invisible; nor is this property only peculiar to the souls that are illuminate by the Holy Ghost, for the most carnal soul in the world shall have a time to see these things, but not to its comfort, but not to its joy, but to its endless woe and misery, it dying in that condition. Wherefore, sinner, say not thou, 'I shall not see Him; for judgment is before Him,' and He will make thee see Him (Job 35:14).

Of hearing.

2. Can the body hear? hath it ears? so hath the soul (Job 4:12,13). It is the soul, not the body, that hears the language of things invisible. It is the soul that hears God when He speaks in and by His Word and Spirit; and it is the soul that hears the devil when he speaks by his illusions and temptations. True, there is such an union between the soul and the body, that ofttimes, if not always, that which is heard by the ears of the body doth influence the soul, and that which is heard by the soul doth also influence the body; but yet as to the organ of hearing, the body hath one of its own, distinct from that of the soul, and the soul can hear and regard even then, when the body doth not nor cannot; as in time of sleep, deep sleep and trances, when the body lieth by as a thing that is useless. 'For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man, (as to his body) perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,' etc. (Job 33:14-16). This must be meant of the ears of the soul, not of the body; for that at this time is said to be in deep sleep; moreover this hearing, it is a hearing of dreams, and the visions of the night. Jeremiah also tells us that he had the rare and blessed visions of God in his sleep (Jer 21:26). And so doth Daniel too, by the which they were greatly comforted and refreshed; but that could not be, was not the soul also capable of hearing. 'I heard the voice of His words,' said Daniel, 'and when I heard the voice of His words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground' (Dan 10:8,9).

Of tasting.

3. As the soul can see and hear, so it can taste and relish, even as really as doth the palate belonging to the body.6 But then the things so tasted must be that which is suited to the temper and palate of the soul. The soul's taste lieth not in, nor is exercised about meats, the meats that are for the belly. Yet the soul of a saint can taste and relish God's Word (Heb 6:5), and doth ofttimes find it sweeter than honey (Psa 19:10) nourishing as milk (1 Peter 2:2), and strengthening like to strong meat (Heb 5:12-14). The soul also of sinners, and of those that are unsanctified, can taste and relish, though not the things now mentioned, yet things that agree with their fleshly minds, and with their polluted, and defiled, and vile affections. They can relish and taste that which delighteth them; yea, they can find soul-delight in an alehouse, a whorehouse, a playhouse. Ay, they find pleasure in the vilest things, in the things most offensive to God, and that are most destructive to themselves. This is evident to sense, and is proved by the daily practice of sinners. Nor is the Word barren as to this: They 'feed on ashes' (Isa 44:20). They 'spend their money for that which is not bread' (Isa 55:2). Yea, they eat and suck sweetness out of sin. 'They eat up the sin of My people' as they eat bread (Hosea 4:8).

Of smelling.

4. As the soul can see, hear, and taste, so it can smell, and brings refreshment to itself that way. Hence the church saith, 'My fingers dropped with sweet-smelling myrrh;' and again, she saith of her beloved, that 'his lips dropped sweet-smelling-myrrh' (Song 5:5,13). But how came the church to understand this, but because her soul did smell that in it that was to be smelled in it, even in his word and gracious visits? The poor world, indeed, cannot smell, or savour anything of the good and fragrant scent and sweet that is in Christ; but to them that believe, 'Thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee' (Song 1:3).

Of feeling.

5. As the soul can see, taste, hear, and smell, so it hath the sense of feeling, as quick and as sensible as the body. He knows nothing that knows not this; he whose soul is 'past feeling,' has his 'conscience seared with a hot iron' (Eph 4:18, 19; 1 Tim 4:2). Nothing so sensible as the soul, nor feeleth so quickly the love and mercy, or the anger and wrath of God. Ask the awakened man, or the man that is under the convictions of the law, if he doth not feel? and he will quickly tell you that he faints and dies away by reason of God's hand, and His wrath that lieth upon him. Read the first eight verses of the 38th Psalm; if thou knowest nothing of what I have told thee by experience; and there thou shalt hear the complaints of one whose soul lay at present under the burden of guilt, and that cried out that without help from heaven he could by no means bear the same. They also that know what the peace of God means, and what an eternal weight there is in glory know well that the soul has the sense of feeling, as well as the senses of seeing, hearing, tasting, and smelling. But thus much for the senses of the soul.

Of the passions of the soul.

Third, I come, in the next place, to describe the soul by the passions of the soul. The passions of the soul, I reckon, are these, and such like—to wit, love, hatred, joy, fear, grief, anger, etc. And these passions of the soul are not therefore good, nor therefore evil, because they are the passions of the soul, but are made so by two things—to wit, principle and object. The principle I count that from whence they flow, and the object that upon which they are pitched. To explain myself.

Of love.

1. For that of love. This is a strong passion; the Holy Ghost saith 'it is strong as death, and cruel as the grave' (Song 8:6,7). And it is then good, when it flows from faith, and pitcheth itself upon God in Christ as the object, and when it extendeth itself to all that is good, whether it be the good Word, the good work of grace, or the good men that have it, and also to their good lives. But all soul-love floweth not from this principle, neither hath these for its object. How many are there that make the object of their love the most vile of men, the most base of things, because it flows from vile affections, and from the lusts of the flesh? God and Christ, good laws and good men, and their holy lives, they cannot abide, because their love wanteth a principle that should sanctify it in its first motion, and that should steer it to a goodly object. But that is the first.

Of hatred.

2. There is hatred, which I count another passion of the soul; and this, as the other, is good or evil, as the principle from whence it flows and the object of it are. 'Ye that love the Lord, hate evil' (Psa 97:10). Then, therefore, is this passion good, when it singleth out from the many thousand of things that are in the world that one filthy thing called sin; and when it setteth itself, the soul, and the whole man, against it, and engageth all the powers of the soul to seek and invent its ruin.7 But, alas, where shall this hatred be found? What man is there whose soul is filled with this passion, thus sanctified by the love of God, and that makes sin, which is God's enemy, the only object of its indignation? How many be there, I say, whose hatred is turned another way, because of the malignity of their minds.

They hate knowledge (Prov 1:22). They hate God (Deu 7:10; Job 21:14). They hate the righteous (2 Chron 29:2; Psa 34:21; Prov 29:10). They hate God's ways (Mal 3:14; Prov 8:12). And all is, because the grace of filial fear is not the root and principle from whence their hatred flows. 'For the fear of the Lord is to hate evil:' wherefore, where this grace is wanting for a root in the soul, there it must of necessity swerve in the letting out of this passion; because the soul, where grace in wanting, is not at liberty to act simply, but is biased by the power of sin; that, while grace is absent, is present in the soul. And hence it is that this passion, which, when acted well, is a virtue, is so abused, and made to exercise its force against that for which God never ordained it, nor gave it license to act.

Of joy.

3. Another passion of the soul is joy; and when the soul rejoiceth virtuously, it rejoiceth not in iniquity, 'but rejoiceth in the truth' (1 Cor 13:6). This joy is a very strong passion, and will carry a man through a world of difficulties; it is a passion that beareth up, that supporteth and strengtheneth a man, let the object of his joy be what it will. It is this that maketh the soul fat in goodness, if it have its object accordingly; and that which makes the soul bold in wickedness, if it indeed doth rejoice in iniquity.

Of fear.

4. Another passion of the soul is fear, natural fear; for so you must understand me of all the passions of the soul, as they are considered simply and in their own nature. And, as it is with the other passions, so it is with this; it is made good or evil in its acts, as its principle and objects are; when this passion of the soul is good, then it springs from sense of the greatness, and goodness and majesty of God; also God himself is the object of this fear'—I will forewarn you,' says Christ, 'whom ye shall fear. Fear him that can destroy both body and soul in hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him' (Matt 5:28; Luke 7:5). But in all men this passion is not regulated and governed by these principles and objects, but is abused and turned, through the policy of Satan, quite into another channel. It is made to fear men (Num 14:9), to fear idols (2 Kings 17:7,38), to fear devils and witches, yea, it is made to fear all the foolish, ridiculous, and apish fables that every old woman or atheistical fortune teller has the face to drop before the soul. But fear is another passion of the soul.

Of grief.

5. Another passion of the soul is grief, and it, as those afore-named, acteth even according as it is governed. When holiness is lovely and beautiful to the soul, and when the name of Christ is more precious than life, then will the soul sit down and be afflicted, because men keep not God's law. 'I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not Thy word' (Psa 119:158). So Christ; He looked round about with anger, 'being grieved for the hardness of their hearts' (Mark 3:5). But it is rarely seen that this passion of the soul is thus exercised. Almost everybody has other things for the spending of the heat of this passion upon. Men are grieved that they thrive no more in the world; grieved that they have no more carnal, sensual, and worldly honour; grieved that they are suffered no more to range in the lusts and vanities of this life; but all this is because the soul is unaquainted with God, sees no beauty in holiness, but is sensual, and wrapt up in clouds and thick darkness.

Of anger.

6. And lastly, There is anger, which is another passion of the soul; and that, as the rest, is extended by the soul, according to the nature of the principle by which it is acted, and from whence it flows. And, in a word, to speak nothing of the fierceness and power of this passion, it is then cursed when it breaketh out beyond the bounds that God hath set it, the which to be sure it doth, when it shall by its fierceness or irregular motion, run the soul into sin. 'Be ye angry, and sin not' (Eph 4:26), is the limitation wherewith God hath bounded this passion; and whatever is more than this, is a giving place to the devil. And one reason, among others, why the Lord doth so strictly set this bound, and these limits to anger, is, for that it is so furious a passion, and for that it will so quickly swell up the soul with sin, as they say a toad swells with its poison. Yea, it will in a moment so transport the spirit of a man, that he shall quickly forget himself, his God, his friend, and all good rule. But my business is not now to make a comment upon the passions of the soul, only to show you that there are such, and also which they are.

And now, from this description of the soul, what follows but to put you in mind what a noble, powerful, lively, sensible thing the soul is, that by the text is supposed may be lost, through the heedlessness, or carelessness, or slavish fear of him whose soul it is; and also to stir you up to that care of, and labour after, the salvation of your soul, as becomes the weight of the matter. If the soul were a trivial thing, or if a man, though he lost it, might yet himself be happy, it were another matter; but the loss of the soul is no small loss, nor can that man that has lost his soul, had he all the world, yea, the whole kingdom of heaven, in his own power be but in a most fearful and miserable condition. But of these things more in their place.


SECOND, Having thus given you a description of the soul, what it is, I shall, in the next place, show you the greatness of it.

[Of the greatness of the soul, when compared with the body.]

First, And the first thing that I shall take occasion to make this manifest by, will be by showing you the disproportion that is betwixt that and the body; and I shall do it in these following particulars:—

The body a house for the soul.

1. The body is called the house of the soul, a house for the soul to dwell in. Now everybody knows that the house is much inferior to him that, by God's ordinance, is appointed to dwell therein; that it is called the house of the soul, you find in Paul to the Corinthians: 'For we know,' saith he, 'that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens' (2 Cor 5:1). We have then, a house for our soul in this world, and this house is the body, for the apostle can mean nothing else; therefore he calls it an earthly house. 'If our earthly house'—our house. But who doth he personate if he says, This is a house for the soul; for the body is part of him that says, Our house?

In this manner of language, he personates his soul with the souls of the rest that are saved; and thus to do, is common with the apostles, as will be easily discerned by them that give attendance to reading. Our earthly houses; or, as Job saith, 'houses of clay,' for our bodies are bodies of clay:

'Your remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay' (Job 4:19; 13:12). Indeed, he after maketh mention of a house in heaven, but that is not it about which he now speaks; now he speaks of this earthly house which we have (we, our souls) to dwell in, while on this side glory, where the other house stands, as ready prepared for us when we shall flit from this to that; or in case this should sooner or later be dissolved. But that is the first; the body is compared to the house, but the soul to him that inhabiteth the house; therefore, as the man is more noble than the house he dwells in, so is the soul more noble than the body. And yet, alas! with grief be it spoken, how common is it for men to spend all their care, all their time, all their strength, all their wit and parts for the body and its honour and preferment, even as if the soul were some poor, pitiful, sorry, inconsiderable, and under thing, not worth the thinking of, or not worth the caring for. But,

The body clothing for the soul.

2. The body is called the clothing and the soul that which is clothed therewith. Now, everybody knows that 'the body is more than raiment,' even carnal sense will teach us this. But read that pregnant place: 'For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened (that is, with mortal flesh); not for that we should be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life' (2 Cor 5:4). Thus the greatness of the soul appears in the preference that it hath to the body—the body is its raiment. We see that, above all creatures, man, because he is the most noble among all visible ones, has, for the adorning of his body, that more abundant comeliness. 'Tis the body of man, not of beast, that is clothed with the richest ornaments. But now what a thing is the soul, that the body itself must be its clothing! No suit of apparel is by God thought good enough for the soul, but that which is made by God himself, and that is that curious thing, the body. But oh! how little is this considered—namely, the greatness of the soul. 'Tis the body, the clothes, the suit of apparel, that our foolish fancies are taken with, not at all considering the richness and excellency of that great and more noble part, the soul, for which the body is made a mantle to wrap it up in, a garment to clothe it withal. If a man gets a rent in his clothes, it is little in comparison of a rent in his flesh; yea, he comforts himself when he looks on that rent, saying, Thanks be to God, it is not a rent in my flesh. But ah! on the contrary, how many are there in the world that are more troubled for that they have a rent, a wound, or a disease in the body, than for that they have for the souls that will be lost and cast away. A little rent in the body dejecteth and casteth such down, but they are not at all concerned, though their soul is now, and will yet further be, torn in pieces, 'Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver' (Psa 50:22). But this is the second thing whereby, or by which, the greatness of the soul appears—to wit, in that the body, that excellent piece of God's workmanship, is but a garment, or clothing for the soul.

The body a vessel for the soul.

3. The body is called a vessel, or a case, for the soul to be put and kept in. 'That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctifcation and honour' (1 Thess 4:4). The apostle here doth exhort the people to abstain from fornication, which, in another place, he saith, ' a sin against the body' (1 Cor 6:18). And here again he saith, 'This is the will of God, that ye should abstain from fornication:' that the body be not defiled, 'that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour.' His vessel, his earthen vessel, as he calls it in another place—for 'we have this treasure in earthen vessels.' Thus, then, the body is called a vessel; yea, every man's body is his vessel. But what has God prepared this vessel for, and what has He put into it? Why, many things this body is to be a vessel for, but at present God has put into it that curious thing, the soul. Cabinets, that are very rich and costly things of themselves, are not made nor designed to be vessels to be stuffed or filled with trumpery, and things of no value; no, these are prepared for rings and jewels, for pearls, for rubies, and things that are choice. And if so, what shall we then think of the soul for which is prepared, and that of God, the most rich and excellent vessel in the world? Surely it must be a thing of worth, yea, of more worth than is the whole world besides. But alas! who believes this talk? Do not even the most of men so set their minds upon, and so admire, the glory of this case or vessel, that they forget once with seriousness to think, and, therefore, must of necessity be a great way off, of those suitable esteems that becomes them to have of their souls. But oh, since this vessel, this cabinet, this body, is so curiously made, and that to receive and contain, what thing is that for which God has made this vessel, and what is that soul that He hath put into it? Wherefore thus, in the third place, is the greatness of the soul made manifest, even by the excellency of the vessel, the body, that God has made to put it in.

The body a tabernacle of the soul.

4. The body is called a tabernacle for the soul. 'Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle' (2 Pet 1:14), that is, my body, 'by death' (John 21:18,19). 'For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God,' etc. (2 Cor 5:1). In both these places, by 'tabernacle,' can be meant nothing but the body; wherefore both the apostles, in these sentences do personate their souls, and speak as if the soul was THE ALL of a man; yea, they plainly tell us, that the body is but the house, clothes, vessel, and tabernacle for the soul. But what a famous thing therefore is the soul!

The tabernacle of old was a place erected for worship, but the worshippers were more excellent than the place; so our body is a tabernacle for the soul to worship God in, but must needs be accounted much inferior to the soul, forasmuch as the worshippers are always of more honour than the place they worship in; as he that dwelleth in the tabernacle hath more honour than the tabernacle.8 'I serve,' says Paul, God and Christ Jesus 'with my spirit (or soul) in the gospel' (Rom 1:9), but not with his spirit out of, but in, this tabernacle. The tabernacle had instruments of worship for the worshippers; so has the body for the soul, and we are bid to 'yield our members as instruments of righteousness to God' (Rom 6:13). The hands, feet, ears, eyes, and tongue, which last is our glory when used right, are all of them instruments of this tabernacle, and to be made use of by the soul, the inhabiter of this tabernacle, for the soul's performance of the service of God. I thus discourse, to show you the greatness of the soul. And, in mine opinion, there is something, if not very much, in what I say. For all men admire the body, both for its manner of building, and the curious way of its being compacted together. Yes, the further men, wise men, do pry into the wonderful work of God that is put forth in framing the body, the more still they are made to admire; and yet, as I said, this body is but a house, a mantle, a vessel, a tabernacle for the soul. What, then, is the soul itself?9 But thus much for the first particular.

[Other things that show the greatness of the soul.]

Second, We will now come to other things that show us the greatness of the soul. And,

The soul is called God's breath.

1. It is called God's breath of life. 'And the Lord God formed man,' that is, the body, 'of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul' (Gen 2:7). Do but compare these two together, the body and the soul; the body is made of dust, the soul is the breath of God. Now, if God hath made this body so famous, as indeed He has, and yet it is made but of the dust of the ground, and we all do know what inferior matter it is, what is the soul, since the body is not only its house and garment, but since itself is made of the breath of God? But, further, it is not only said that the soul is of the breath of the Lord, but that the Lord breathed into him the breath of life—to wit, a living spirit, for so the next words infer—and 'man became a living soul.' Man, that is, the more excellent part of him, which, for that which is principal, is called man, that bearing the denomination of the whole; or man, the spirit and natural power, by which, as a reasonable creature, the whole of him is acted, 'became a living soul.' But I stand not here upon definition, but upon demonstration. The body, that noble part of man, had its original from the dust; for so says the Word, 'Dust thou art (as to thy body), and unto dust shalt thou return' (Gen 3:19). But as to thy more noble part, thou art from the breath of God, God putting forth in that a mighty work of creating power, and man 'was made a living soul' (1 Cor 15:45). Mark my reason. There is as great a disparity betwixt the body and the soul, as is between the dust of the ground and that, here called, the breath of life of the Lord. And note further, that, as the dust of the ground did not lose, but gained glory by being formed into the body of a man, so this breath of the Lord lost nothing neither by being made a living soul. O man! dost thou know what thou art?

The soul God's image.

2. As the soul is said to be of the breath of God, so it is said to be made after God's own image, even after the similitude of God. 'And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.—So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him' (Gen 1:26,27). Mark, in His own image, in the image of God created He him; or, as James hath it, it is 'made after the similitude of God,' (James 3:9); like Him, having in it that which beareth semblance with Him. I do not read of anything in heaven, or earth, or under the earth, that is said to be made after this manner, or that is at all so termed, save only the Son of God Himself. The angels are noble creatures, and for present employ are made a little higher than man himself, (Heb 2); but that any of them are said to be made 'after God's image,' after His own image, even after the similitude of God, that I find not. This character the Holy Ghost, in the Scriptures of truth, giveth only of man, of the soul of man; for it must not be thought that the body is here intended in whole or in part. For though it be said that Christ was made after the similitude of sinful flesh (Phil 2), yet it is not said that sinful flesh is made after the similitude of God; but I will not dispute; I only bring these things to show how great a thing, how noble a thing the soul is; in that, at its creation, God thought it worthy to be made, not like the earth, or the heavens, or the angels, seraphims, or archangels, but like Himself, His own self, saying, 'Let Us make man in Our own likeness. So He made man in His own image.' This, I say, is a character above all angels; for, as the apostle said, 'To which of the angels said He at anytime, 'Thou art my Son?' So, of which of them hath He at any time said, This is, or shall be, made in or after Mine image, Mine own image? O what a thing is the soul of man, that above all the creatures in heaven or earth, being made in the image and similitude of God.10

The soul God's desire.

3. Another thing by which the greatness of the soul is made manifest is this, it is that—and that only, and to say this is more than to say, it is that above all the creatures—that the great God desires communion with. He 'hath set apart him that is godly for himself,' (Psa 4:3); that is, for communion with his soul; therefore the spouse saith concerning him, 'His desire is toward me,' (Song 7:10); and, therefore, he saith again, 'I will dwell in them, and walk in them' (2 Cor 6:16). To 'dwell in,' and 'walk in,' are terms that intimate communion and fellowship; as John saith, 'Our fellowship, truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ' (1 John 1:3). That is, our soul-fellowship; for it must not be understood of the body, though I believe that the body is much influenced when the soul has communion with God; but it is the soul, and that only, that at present is capable of having and maintaining of this blessed communion. But, I say, what a thing is this, that God, the great God, should choose to have fellowship and communion with the soul above all. We read, indeed, of the greatness of the angels, and how near also they are unto God; but yet there are not such terms that bespeak such familiar acts between God and angels, as to demonstrate that they have such communion with God as has, or as the souls of His people may have. Where has He called them His love, His dove, His fair one? and where, when He speaketh of them, doth He express a communion that they have with Him by the similitude of conjugal love? I speak of what is revealed; the secret things belong to the Lord our God. Now by all this is manifest the greatness of the soul. Men of greatness and honour, if they have respect to their own glory, will not choose for their familiars the base and rascally crew of this world; but will single out for their fellows, fellowship, and communion, those that are most like themselves. True, the King has not an equal, yet He is for being familiar only with the nobles of the land: so God, with Him none can compare; yet since the soul is by Him singled out for His walking mate and companion, it is a sign it is the highest born, and that upon which the blessed Majesty looks, as upon that which is most meet to be singled out for communion with Himself.

Should we see a man familiar with the King, we would, even of ourselves, conclude he is one of the nobles of the land; but this is not the lot of every soul—some have fellowship with devils, yet not because they have a more base original than those that lie in God's bosom, but they, through sin, are degenerate, and have chosen to be great with His enemy—but all these things show the greatness of the soul.

The soul a vessel for grace.

4. The soul of men are such as God counts worthy to be the vessels to hold His grace, the graces of the Spirit, in. The graces of the Spirit—what like them, or where here are they to be found, save in the souls of men only? 'Of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace' (John 1:16). Received, into what? into 'the hidden part,' as David calls it (Psa 51:6). Hence the king's daughter is said to be 'all glorious within,' (Psa 45:15); because adorned and beautified with the graces of the Spirit. For that which David calls the hidden part is the inmost part of the soul; and it is, therefore, called the hidden part, because the soul is invisible, nor can any one living infallibly know what is in the soul but God Himself. But, I say, the soul is the vessel into which this golden oil is poured, and that which holds, and is accounted worthy to exercise and improve the same. Therefore the soul is it which is said to love God—'Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?' (Song 3:3); and, therefore, the soul is that which exerciseth the spirit of prayer—'With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early' (Isa 26:9). With the soul also men are said to believe and into the soul God is said to put His fear. This is the vessel into which the virgins got oil, and out of which their lamps were supplied by the same. But what a thing, what a great thing therefore is the soul, that that above all things that God hath created should be the chosen vessel to put His grace in. The body is the vessel for the soul, and the soul is the vessel for the grace of God. But,

5. The greatness of the soul is manifest by the greatness of the price that Christ paid for it, to make it an heir of glory; and that was His precious blood (1 Cor 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18,19). We do use to esteem of things according to the price that is given for them, especially when we are convinced that the purchase has not been made by the estimation of a fool. Now the soul is purchased by a price that the Son, the wisdom of God, thought fit to pay for the redemption thereof—what a thing, then, is the soul? Judge of the soul by the price that is paid for it, and you must needs confess, unless you count the blood that hath bought it an unholy thing, that it cannot but be of great worth and value. Suppose a prince, or some great man, should, on a sudden, descend from his throne, or chair of state, to take up, that he might put in his bosom, something that he had espied lying trampled under the feet of those that stand by; would you think that he would do this for an old horse shoe,11 or for so trivial a thing as a pin or a point? 12 Nay, would you not even of yourselves conclude that that thing for which the prince, so great a man, should make such a stoop, must needs be a thing of very great worth? Why, this is the case of Christ and the soul. Christ is the prince, His throne was in heaven, and, as He sat there, He espied the souls of sinners trampled under the foot of the law and death for sin. Now, what doth He, but comes down from His throne, stoops down to the earth, and there, since He could not have the trodden-down souls without price, He lays down His life and blood for them (2 Cor 8:9). But would He have done this for inconsiderable things? No, nor for the souls of sinners neither, had He not valued them higher than he valued heaven and earth besides. 13 This, therefore, is another thing by which the greatness of the soul is known.

The soul immortal.

6. The soul is immortal, it will have a sensible being for ever, none can kill the soul (Luke 12:4; Matt 10:28). If all the angels in heaven, and all the men on earth, should lay all their strength together, they cannot kill or annihilate one soul. No, I will speak without fear, if it may be said, God cannot do what He will not do; then He cannot annihilate the soul: but, notwithstanding all His wrath, and the vengeance that He will inflict on sinful souls, they yet shall abide with sensible beings, yet to endure, yet to bear punishment. If anything could kill the soul, it would be death; but death cannot do it, neither first nor second; the first cannot, for when Dives was slain, as to his body by death, his soul was found alive in hell—'He lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment' (Luke 16:23). The second death cannot do it, because it is said their worm never dies, but is always torturing them with his gnawing (Mark 9:44). But that could not be, if time, or lying in hell fire for ever, could annihilate the soul. Now, this also shows the greatness of the soul, that it is that which has an endless life, and that will, therefore, have a being endlessly. O what a thing is the soul!

The soul, then, is immortal, though not eternal. That is eternal that has neither beginning nor end, and, therefore, eternal is properly applicable to none but God; hence He is called the 'eternal God' (Deu 33:27). Immortal is that which, though it hath a beginning, yet hath no end, it cannot die, nor cease to be; and this is the state of the soul. It cannot cease to have a being when it is once created; I mean, a living, sensible being. For I mean by living, only such a being as distinguishes it from annihilation or incapableness of sense and feeling. Hence, as the rich man is after death said to 'lift up his eyes in hell,' so the beggar is said, when he died, to be 'carried by the angels, into Abraham's bosom' (Luke 16:22,23). And both these sayings must have respect to the souls of these men; for, as for their bodies, we know at present it is otherwise with them. The grave is their house, and so must be till the trumpet shall sound, and the heavens pass away like a scroll. Now, I say, the immortality of the soul shows the greatness of it, as the eternity of God shows the greatness of God. It cannot be said of any angel but that he is immortal, and so it is, and ought to be said of the soul. This, therefore, shows the greatness of the soul, in that it is as to abiding so like unto him.

'Tis the soul that acts the body.

7. But a word or two more, and so to conclude this head. The soul!—why, it is the soul that acteth the body in all these things, good or bad, that seem good and reasonable, or amazingly wicked. True, the acts and motions of the soul are only seen and heard in, and by the members and motions of the body, but the body is but a poor instrument, soul is the great agitator and actor. 'The body without the spirit is dead' (James 2:26). All those famous arts, and works, and inventions of works, that are done by men under heaven, they are all the intentions of the soul, and the body, as acting and labouring therein, doth it but as a tool that the soul maketh use of to bring his invention into maturity (Eccl 7:29). How many things have men found out to the amazing of one another, to the wonderment of one another, to the begetting of endless commendations of one another in the world, while, in the meantime, the soul, which indeed is the true inventor of all, is overlooked, not regarded, but dragged up and down by every lust, and prostrate, and made a slave to every silly and beastly thing. O the amazing darkness that hath covered the face of the hearts of the children of men, that they cannot deliver their soul, nor say, 'Is there not a lie in my right hand?' (Isa 44:20), though they are so cunning in all other matters. Take man in matters that are abroad, and far from home, and he is the mirror of all the world; but take him at home, and put him upon things that are near him, I mean, that have respect to the things that concern his soul, and then you will find him the greatest fool that ever God made. But this must not be applied to the soul simply as it is God's creature, but to the soul sinful, as it has willingly apostatized from God, and so suffered itself to be darkened, and that with such thick and stupifying darkness, that it is bound up and cannot—it hath a napkin of sin bound so close before its eyes that it is not able—of itself—to look to, and after those things which should be its chiefest concern, and without which it will be most miserable for ever.

The soul capable of having to do with invisibles.

8. Further, as the soul is thus curious about arts and sciences, and about every excellent thing of this life, so it is capable of having to do with invisibles, with angels, good or bad, yea, with the highest and Supreme Being, even with the holy God of heaven. I told you before that God sought the soul of man to have it for His companion; and now I tell you that the soul is capable of communion with Him, when the darkness that sin hath spread over its face is removed. The soul is an intelligent power, it can be made to know and understand depths, and heights, and lengths, and breadths, in those high, sublime, and spiritual mysteries that only God can reveal and teach; yea, it is capable of diving unutterably into them. And herein is God, the God of glory, much delighted and pleased—to wit, that He hath made Himself a creature that is capable of hearing, of knowing, and of understanding of His mind, when opened and revealed to it. I think I may say, without offence to God or man, that one reason why God made the world was, that He might manifest Himself, not only by, but to the works which He made; but, I speak with reverence, how could that be, if He did not also make some of His creatures capable of apprehending of Him in those most high mysteries and methods in which He purposed to reveal Himself? But then, what are those creatures which He hath made (unto whom when these things are shown) that are able to take them in and understand them, and so to improve them to God's glory, as He hath ordained and purposed they should, but souls? for none else in the visible world are capable of doing this but they. And hence it is that to them, and them only, He beginneth to reveal Himself in this world. And hence it is that they, and they only, are gathered up to Him where He is, for they are they that are called 'the spirits of just men made perfect,' (Heb 12:23); the spirit of a beast goeth downward to the earth, it is the spirit of a man that goes upwards to God that gave it (Eccl 3:21;12:7). For that, and that only, is capable of beholding and understanding the glorious visions of heaven; as Christ said, 'Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which thou hast given Me; for thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world' (John 17:24). And thus the greatness of the soul is manifest. True, the body is also gathered up into glory, but not simply for its own sake, or because that is capable of itself to know and understand the glories of its Maker; but that has been a companion with the soul in this world, has also been its house, its mantle, its cabinet and tabernacle here; it has also been it by which the soul hath acted, in which it hath wrought, and by which its excellent appearances have been manifested; and it shall also there be its co-partner and sharer in its glory. Wherefore, as the body here did partake of soul excellencies, and was also conformed to its spiritual and regenerate principles; so it shall be hereafter a partaker of that glory with which the soul shall be filled, and also be made suitable by that glory to become a partaker and co-partner with it of the eternal excellencies which heaven will put upon it. In this world it is a gracious soul (I speak now of the regenerate), and in that world it shall be a glorious one. In this world the body was conformable to the soul as it was gracious, and in that world it shall be conformable to it as it is glorious; conformable, I say, by partaking of that glory that then the soul shall partake of; yea, it shall also have an additional glory to adorn, and make it yet the more capable of being serviceable to it, and with it in its great acts before God in eternal glory. Oh, what great things are the souls of the sons of men!

The soul capable of diving into the depths and mysteries of hell.

9. But again, as the soul is thus capable of enjoying God in glory, and of prying into these mysteries that are in him, so it is capable, with great profundity, to dive into the mysterious depths of hell. Hell is a place and state utterly unknown to any in this visible world, excepting the souls of men; nor shall any for ever be capable of understanding the miseries thereof, save souls and fallen angels. Now, I think, as the joys of heaven stand not only in speculation, or in beholding of glory, but in a sensible enjoyment and unspeakable pleasure which those glories will yield to the soul (Psa 16:11), so the torments of hell will not stand in the present lashes and strokes which by the flames of eternal fire God will scourge the ungodly with; but the torments of hell stand much, if not in the greatest part of them, in those deep thoughts and apprehensions, which souls in the next world will have of the nature and occasions of sin; of God, and of separation from Him; of the eternity of those miseries, and of the utter impossibility of their help, ease, or deliverance for ever. O! damned souls will have thoughts that will clash with glory, clash with justice, clash with law, clash with itself, clash with hell, and with the everlastingness of misery; but the point, the edge, and the poison of all these thoughts will still be galling, and dropping, and spewing out their stings into the sore, grieved, wounded, and fretted place, which is the conscience, though not the conscience only; for I may say of the souls in hell, that they all over are but one wound, one sore! Miseries as well as mercies sharpen and make quick the apprehensions of the soul. Behold Spira in his book, 14 Cain in his guilt, and Saul with the witch of Endor, and you shall see men ripened, men enlarged and greatened in their fancies, imaginations, and apprehensions though not about God, and heaven, and glory, yet about their loss, their misery, and their woe, and their hells (Isa 33:14; Psa 1:4; Rev 14:10; Mark 9:44,46).

The ability of the soul to bear.

10. Nor doth their ability to bear, if it be proper to say they bear those dolors which there for ever they shall endure, a little demonstrate their greatness. Everlasting burning, devouring fire, perpetual pains, gnawing worms, utter darkness, and the ireful souls, face, and strokes of Divine and infinite justice will not, cannot, make this soul extinct, as I said before. I think it is not so proper to say the soul that is damned for sin doth bear these things, as to say it doth ever sink under them: and, therefore, their place of torment is called the bottomless pit, because they are ever sinking, and shall never come there where they will find any stay. Yet they live under wrath, but yet only so as to be sensible of it, as to smart and be in perpetual anguish, by reason of the intolerableness of their burden. But doth not their thus living, abiding, and retaining a being(or what you will call it), demonstrate the greatness and might of the soul? Alas! heaven and earth are short of this greatness, for these, though under less judgment by far, do fade and wax old like a moth-eaten garment, and, in their time, will vanish away to nothing (Heb 1).

Also, we see how quickly the body, when the soul is under a fear of the rebukes of justice, how soon, I say, it wastes, moulders away, and crumbleth into the grave; but the soul is yet strong, and abides sensible to be dealt withal for sin by everlasting burnings.

The might of the soul further shown.

11. The soul, by God's ordinance, while this world lasts, has a time appointed it to forsake and leave the body to be turned again to the dust as it was, and this separation is made by death, (Heb 9:27); therefore the body must cease for a time to have sense, or life, or motion; and a little thing brings it now into this state; but in the next world, the wicked shall partake of none of this; for the body and the soul being at the resurrection rejoined, this death, that once did rend them asunder, is for ever overcome and extinct; so that these two which lived in sin must for ever be yoked together in hell. Now, there the soul being joined to the body, and death, which before did separate them, being utterly taken away, the soul retains not only its own being, but also continueth the body to be, and to suffer sensibly the pains of hell, without those decays that it used to sustain.

And the reason why this death shall then be taken away is, because justice in its bestowing its rewards for transgressions may not be interrupted, but that body and soul, as they lived and acted in sin together, might be destroyed for sin in hell together (Matt 10:28 Luke 12:5). Destroyed, I say, but with such a destruction, which, though it is everlasting, will not put a period to their sensible suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (2 Thess 1:8,9).

This death, therefore, though that also be the wages of sin, would now, were it suffered to continue, be a hinderance to the making known of the wrath of God, and also of the created power and might of the soul. (1.) It would hinder the making known of the wrath of God, for it would take the body out of the way, and make it incapable of sensible suffering for sin, and so removing one of the objects of vengeance the power of God's wrath would be so far undiscovered. (2.) It would also hinder the manifestation of the power and might of the soul, which is discovered much by its abiding to retain its own being while the wrath of God is grappling with it, and more by its continuing to the body a sensible being with itself.

Death, therefore, must now be removed, that the soul may be made the object of wrath without molestation or interruption. That the soul, did I say? yea, that soul and body both might be so. Death would now be a favour, though once the fruit of sin, and also the wages thereof, might it now be suffered to continue, because it would ease the soul of some of its burden: for a tormented body cannot but be a burden to a spirit, and so the wise man insinuates when he says, 'The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity;' that is, bear up under it, but yet so as that it feels it a burden. We see that, because of the sympathy that is between body and soul, how one is burdened if the other be grieved. A sick body is a burden to the soul, and a wounded spirit is a burden to the body; 'a wounded spirit who can bear?' (Prov 18:14). But death must not remove this burden, but the soul must have the body for a burden, and the body must have the soul for a burden, and both must have the wrath of God for a burden. Oh, therefore, here will be burden upon burden, and all upon the soul, for the soul will be the chief seat of this burden! But thus much to show you the greatness of the soul.


THIRD, I shall now come to the third thing which was propounded to be spoken to; and that is, to show you what we are to understand by losing of the soul, or what the loss of the soul is—'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?'

[He that loseth his soul loseth himself.]

First, The loss of the soul is a loss, in the nature of it, peculiar to itself. There is no such loss, as to the nature of loss, as is the loss of the soul; for that he that hath lost his soul has lost himself. In all other losses, it is possible for a man to save himself, but he that loseth his soul, loseth himself—'For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself?' (Luke 9:25). Wherefore, the loss of the soul is a loss that cannot be paralleled. He that loseth himself, loseth his all, his lasting all; for himself is his all—his all in the most comprehensive sense. What mattereth it what a man gets, if by the getting thereof he loseth himself? Suppose a man goeth to the Indies for gold, and he loadeth his ship therewith; but at his return, that sea that carried him thither swallows him up—now, what has he got? But this is but a lean similitude with reference to the matter in hand—to wit, to set forth the loss of the soul. Suppose a man that has been at the Indies for gold should, at his return, himself be taken by them of Algiers, and there made a slave of, and there be hunger-bit, and beaten till his bones are broken, 15 what has he got? what is he advantaged by his rich adventure? Perhaps, you will say, he has got gold enough to obtain his ransom. Indeed this may be; and therefore no similitude can be found that can fully amplify the matter, 'for what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' 'Tis a loss that standeth by itself, there is not another like it, or unto which it may be compared. 'Tis only like itself—'tis singular, 'tis the chief of all losses—the highest, the greatest loss. 'For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' A man may lose his wife, his children, his estate, his liberty, and his life, and have all made up again, and have all restored with advantage, and may, therefore, notwithstanding all these losses, be far enough off from losing of himself. (Luke 14:26; Mark 8:35). For he may lose his life, and save it; yea, sometimes the only way to save that, is to lose it; but when a man has lost himself, his soul, then all is gone to all intents and purposes. There is no word says, 'he that loses his soul shall save it;' but contrariwise, the text supposeth that a man has lost his soul, and then demands if any can answer it—'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' All, then, that he gains that loseth his soul is only this, he has gained a loss, he has purchased the loss of losses, he has nothing left him now but his loss, but the loss of himself, of his whole self. He that loseth his life for Christ, shall save it; but he that loseth himself for sin, and for the world, shall lose himself to perfection of loss; he has lost himself, and there is the full point.

There are several things fall under this first head, upon which I would touch a little.

He that has lost himself will never be more at his own dispose.

(1.) He that has lost his soul has lost himself. Now, he that lost himself is no more at his own dispose. While a man enjoys himself, he is at his own dispose. A single man, a free man, a rich man, a poor man, any man that enjoys himself, is at his own dispose. I speak after the manner of men. But he that has lost himself is not at his own dispose. He is, as I may say, now out of his own hands: he has lost himself, his soul-self, his own self, his whole self, by sin, and wrath and hell hath found him; he is, therefore, now no more at his own dispose, but at the dispose of justice, of wrath, and hell; he is committed to prison, to hell prison, there to abide, not at pleasure, not as long and as little time as he will, but the term appointed by his judge: nor may he there choose his own affliction, neither for manner, measure, or continuance. It is God that will spread the fire and brimstone under him, it is God that will pile up wrath upon him, and it is God himself that will blow the fire. And 'the breathof the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it' (Isa 30:33). And thus it is manifest that he that has lost himself, his soul, is no more at his own dispose, but at the dispose of them that find him.

He that hath lost himself, is not at liberty to dispose of what he hath.

(2.) Again, as he that has lost himself is not at his own dispose, so neither is he at liberty to dispose of what he has; for the man that has lost himself has something yet of his own. The text implies that his soul is his when lost, yea, when that and his all, himself is lost; but as he cannot dispose of himself, so he cannot dispose of what he hath. Let me take leave to make out my meaning. If he that is lost, that has lost himself, has not, notwithstanding, something that in some sense may be called his own, then he that is lost is nothing. The man that is in hell has yet the powers, the senses, and passions of his soul; for not he nor his soul must be thought to be stripped of these; for then he would be lower than the brute; but yet all these, since he is there, are by God improved against himself; or, if you will, the point of this man's sword is turned against his own heart, and made to pierce his own liver.

The soul by being in hell loseth nothing of its aptness to think, its quickness to pierce, to pry, and to understand; nay, hell has ripened it in all these things; but, I say, the soul with its improvements as to these, or anything else, is not in the hand of him that hath lost himself to manage for his own advantage, but in the hand, and in the power, and to be disposed as is thought meet by him into whose revenging hand by sin he has delivered himself—to wit, in the hand of God. So, then, God now has the victory, and disposeth of all the powers, senses, and passions of the soul for the chastising of him that has lost himself. Now the understanding is only employed and improved in and about the apprehending of such things as will be like daggers at the heart—to wit, about justice, sin, hell, and eternity, to grieve and break the spirit of the damned; yea, to break, to wound, and to tear the soul in pieces. The depths of sin which the man has loved, the good nature of God whom the man has hated, the blessings of eternity which the soul has despised, shall now be understood by him more than ever, but yet so only, as to increase grief and sorrow, by improving of the good and of the evil of the things understood, to the greater wounding of the spirit; wherefore now, every touch that the understanding shall give to the memory will be as a touch of a red-hot iron, or like a draught of scalding lead poured down the throat. The memory also letteth those things down upon the conscience with no less terror and perplexity. And now the fancy or imagination doth start and stare like a man by fears bereft of wits, and doth exercise itself, or rather is exercised by the hand of revenging justice, so about the breadth and depth of present and future punishments, as to lay the soul as on a burning rack. Now also the judgment, as with a mighty maul, driveth down the soul in the sense and pangs of everlasting misery into that pit that has no bottom; yea, it turneth again, and, as with a hammer, it riveteth every fearful thought and apprehension of the soul so fast that it can never be loosed again for ever and ever. Alas! now the conscience can sleep, be dull, be misled, or batter, no longer; no, it must now cry out; understanding will make it, memory will make it, fancy or imagination will make it. Now, I say, it will cry out of sin, of justice, and of the terribleness of the punishment that hath swallowed him up that has lost himself. Here will be no forgetfulness; yet nothing shall be thought on but that which will wound and kill; here will be no time, cause, or means for diversion; all will stick and gnaw like a viper. Now the memory will go out to where sin was heretofore committed, it will also go out to the word that did forbid it. The understanding also, and the judgment too, will now consider of the pretended necessity that the man had to break the commandments of God, and of the seasonableness of the cautions and of the convictions which were given him to forbear, by all which more load will be laid upon him that has lost himself; for here all the powers, senses, and passions of the soul must be made self-burners, self-tormentors, self-executioners, by the just judgment of God; also all that the will shall do in this place shall be but to wish for ease, but the wish shall only be such as shall only seem to lift up, for the cable rope of despair shall with violence pull him down again. The will indeed will wish for ease, and so will the mind, etc., but all these wishers will by wishing arrive to no more advantage but to make despair which is the most twinging stripe of hell, to cut yet deepeer into the whole soul of him that has lost himself; wherefore, after all that can be wished for, they return again to their burning chair, where they sit and bewail their misery. Thus will all the powers, senses, and passions of the soul of him that has lost himself be out of his own power to dispose for his advantage, and will be only in the hand and under the management of the revenging justice of God. And herein will that state of the damned be worse than it is now with the fallen angels; for though the fallen angels are now cast down to hell, in chains, and sure in themselves at last to partake of eternal judgment, yet at present they are not so bound up as the damned sinner shall be; for notwithstanding their chains, and their being the prisoners of the horrible hells, yet they have a kind of liberty granted them, and that liberty will last till the time appointed, to tempt, to plot, to contrive, and invent their mischiefs, against the Son of God and His (Job 1:7; 2:2). And though Satan knows that this at last will work for his future condemnation, yet at present he finds it some diversion to his trembling mind, and obtains, through his so busily employing of himself against the gospel and its professors, something to sport and refresh himself withal; yea, and doth procure to himself some small crumbs of minutes of forgetfulness of his own present misery and of the judgment that is yet to pass upon him; but this privilege will then be denied to him that has lost himself; there will be no cause nor matter for diversion; there it will; as in the old world, rain day and night fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven upon them (Rev 14:10,11). Misery is fixed; the worm will be always sucking at and gnawing of, their soul; also, as I have said afore, all the powers, senses, and passions of the soul will throw their darts inwards, yea, of God will be made to do it, to the utter, unspeakable, and endless torment of him that has lost himself. Again,

1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse