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they are called of God and man. To this they are dedicated and set apart, in the presence of God and his people. This they have voluntarily undertaken, and promised to perform, to the utmost of their power. For this they have, if not a plentiful income, or a handsome salary, at least a maintenance, and the supply of their daily wants. And for this, lastly, they have peculiar advantages, being happily excused from worldly cares and labours, and at liberty to devote their whole time to it. They, therefore, are inexcusable, if they do not win souls; at least, if they do not labour to win them, employing for this purpose their time and talents from day to day, with zeal, fidelity, and diligence, being instant in season and out of season; depending, however, for success, not on their own endeavours, but wholly on the presence and grace of him who hath said, "Without me ye can do nothing."
2. Parents are peculiarly concerned here. They, under God, have given being to their children, and are, of course, in an especial manner, entrusted with the care of them; and they are under many and great obligations to do all in their power to win their souls. Indeed, how, under a conviction of the truth of Christianity, they can be easy without doing this, is hard to say. To be persuaded there is a future and everlasting state of happiness and misery, and to see our own children, the offspring of our bodies, in the highway to miss of that happiness, and drop into that misery, and not endeavour to stop them, is surely an argument of a thoughtless or unfeeling heart! What sort of a father is he, that would not venture his life to rescue his children from devouring fire, or from the teeth of a raging wild beast? What then shall we think of him, who stands by and looks quietly on, while the grand adversary of men, as a roaring lion, swallows them up quick, and while Tophet opens its mouth and takes them in, transmitting both body and soul to everlasting burnings! If he be worse than an infidel, that does not endeavour to provide for his own household, in temporal matters, and use every lawful means to procure food and clothing for those dependent upon him, what is he that does not study to make provision for the spiritual and everlasting welfare of his own offspring; but, after having brought them into existence, suffers them to perish, and be eternally tormented in the flames of hell, without one drop of water to cool their tongues? Surely the name of a savage brute is too good for such a monster of cruelty!
3. Not only ministers and parents, but masters are also especially concerned here. Their servants, whether apprentices, journeymen, hired servants, or even day-labourers, while employed in
their service, are entrusted to their care; and God, and reason, require that they should attend to the welfare of their servants' souls, as well as pay them their wages, and provide for the maintenance of their bodies. This will more especially appear to be their duty, if it be considered, that while servants perform for their masters the low and laborious offices of life, they are prevented from spending much time in reading, hearing, and other means of instruction; and that their masters, in the meantime, are left more at liberty to pursue the nobler end of human life, and treasure up divine knowledge and grace, with which to enrich themselves and their families. Add to this, that being in general elder, and more experienced, as well as more knowing, than their apprentices and servants, and being their superiors, they have authority over them, and great advantages, many ways, for communicating instruction to them; and for these advantages they will undoubtedly be made to give an account.
4. Next to parents and masters, I might mention magistrates, who are continually termed by the most ancient writers, profane as well as sacred, the pastors or shepherds of their people; a most just and significant appellation, which implies, that it is their office to provide for, and superintend the welfare of, their subjects. But as it is not likely that my discourse should reach the ears of many of these, and as it would be of no service to us to be made acquainted with the duty of our superiors, while we are ignorant of our own; I proceed to say, that this subject concerns us all. For it is the duty of all men to win souls; or, at least, to use their utmost endeavours to win them. And accordingly, as has been observed, the words of our text are with equal propriety rendered, He that is wise winneth souls. For, it must be considered, that it is not only a point of wisdom to win souls; but he who is wise, that is, in the language of Scripture, who is righteous, will win them. His spirit and conduct, his dispositions and actions, bear witness to the truth, and at once manifest to others what Christianity is, and invite them to become Christians. Add to this, that as he has ability and opportunity, he will not fail to drop a word for God, will speak to others, in praise of that Saviour he so sincerely and dearly loves, and will recommend to them that pure and undefiled religion, which he finds to be such a source of consolation to his own soul. He will reprove sin, exhort to obedience, communicate information to the ignorant, respecting the great truths, privileges, and duties of the gospel; and will tell such as fear God, for their encouragement, "what God hath done for his soul." His
discourse will be serious, instructive, and edifying, and will conti nually minister grace to the hearers; tending both to bring lost sinners to God, and to preserve those that are already brought to him. So that we are none of us unconcerned in this matter. We must all remember, that it is an essential part of the character of a truly wise or righteous person, man or woman, to win souls: and that no one is, perhaps, truly wise or righteous, before God, who is not more or less successful in this way.
5. Nay, this is not all. It is not only certain that he, who having time and opportunity for it, does not win souls, is not truly wise or righteous, but according to our Lord, he that does not win them, will destroy them. For "he that is not for me," said that true and faithful Witness, "is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth." And that this is, and must be the case, is evident to a demonstration, to any considerate mind. For, as he who is truly wise and righteous will, by his conversation and behaviour, "shine as a light in the world," and others, "seeing his good works," will imitate the same, and “ 'glorify their heavenly Father :" So he that is of a contrary spirit and conduct, will, in a similar way, propagate his own likeness, and spread profaneness and immorality, as far as his influence can reach like a person that has the plague, he will, more or less, infect all that are about him, and make them unholy and unrighteous as he is. So that there is no standing neuter in this affair. If we will not be employed for Christ,-Satan will employ us. If we will not work in Christ's vineyard, and plant the trees of righteousness, or water what others have planted, we shall be occupied in the barren and dry heaths of the wilderness, in possession of the god of this world, and shall contribute to the growth of thorns and briers, those roots of bitterness, which are so ready to spring up and trouble many. And then, after destroying the souls of others, we shall lose our own; and the blood of the souls we have destroyed will be required at our hands.
6. And now, my brethren, our time is gone, otherwise I meant, before I concluded, to have called your attention to the amazing and everlasting importance of this doctrine, and to have exhorted you diligently to consider and lay it to heart. These things are either true or false. If they be false, let them meet with that inattention and disregard which they merit. But if they be true, as I am confident you know them to be, then how deeply, nay, how infinitely do they concern us all, and especially those of us who have taken upon us the solemn and important office of preach
ing the gospel? Surely we, at least, shall be inexcusable, if we do not prosecute this business faithfully, and make it our chief concern every day to win souls. Added to the obligations that lie upon us, in common with others, to be diligent in this work, you see the nature of our office lays us under other and peculiar engagements. Let us, therefore, especially attend to it. Let it be our sincere and fervent desire, and our daily endeavour, to win souls. That we may but accomplish this great and blessed end of our important calling, let us not account our case, our honour, our liberty, or even our lives, dear unto ourselves. Let us be willing to engage in any labour, to undergo any fatigue, and to endure any hardship or suffering, so we may but" fulfil the ministry we have received of the Lord Jesus," and save immortal souls from everlasting death.
7. Let us regard success in this work above all other considerations whatever. Indeed, other considerations, in the line of life we have chosen, there are none which can have any weight with a thinking mind. Prospects of gain we have not: our excellent plan allows us only the supply of our necessary wants, and indeed, hardly that. Preferment we cannot expect, except from our great Master, in consequence of our discharging our duty faithfully. Honour and applause are equally out of our reach, unless among the few poor people to whom we minister. We are therefore compelled even by our situation, to act in this business from pure motives, if we act at all, or act rationally. Let these motives, then, the only motives which are justifiable, or worthy of regard, be allowed to have their full weight with us, and let us abandon the very idea of any other. Let who will enter upon, and pursue this sacred calling, with a view to ease, honour, or interest, let our end be only the glory of God, in the salvation of souls. This is the only end we can reasonably hope to attain, others being all precluded; and this, which infinitely excels all others, blessed be God, we may attain. In some, yea, in a great degree, it has been attained already by many of you; especially by you, my fathers and brethren, who are old in the work. You have won many souls, and hereby God has been greatly glorified, while thousands of mankind have been, or shall be, eternally benefited. Go on, then, my dear and much-esteemed brethren, as you have begun, and persevered hitherto; only, if possible, with greater diligence than ever, running faster as your race grows shorter; and, as far as the decay of your health and strength will allow, Tabouring harder in proportion as your time for labour hastens to
a period. And let those of us that are younger, and those that have but lately given themselves up to the work, emulate the zeal and activity of our elder brethren, and strive to exceed even them in labours and success. In so doing we shall provoke, not their envy, but their love. Let us learn of them, and that more and more perfectly every day, the happy art of saving souls. In order hereto, let us make ourselves better acquainted than ever, with God, and Christ, and the Scriptures; as also with human nature, the deceitfulness of sin, and the various wiles of the devil. And as practice makes perfect, let us labour to become, daily, greater proficients in this blessed business of winning souls, by daily endeavouring to win them. Let us "give attendance to reading, to instruction, to exhortation." Let us preach the word; be instant in season and out of season; convince, rebuke, and exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine. Let us meditate on these things, and give ourselves wholly to them, that so our profiting may appear unto all."
8. And let us not confine our instructions, reproofs, or exhortations, to the pulpit, and the large assemblies of God's people; as if souls were only to be won in public, and it were beneath us to labour so much to save them, unless we saw a prospect of saving several at once. Let us remember what pains our Lord and Master took with one, single, sinful woman, at Jacob's well,—as well as with divers other individuals in private: and let us teach from house to house, as well as publicly. Let us speak for God as we have opportunity, instructing, advising, rebuking, exhorting those we come in company with, or can have access to. And let us water the seed sown with continual and fervent prayer, that God may cause it to spring up, and bear fruit to his glory.
9. Upon the whole; let us all, preachers and hearers, see that we have this blessed and important work at heart, and use every mean in our power to promote it; looking unto God alone, and not to any efforts of ours, for success. Let parents, masters, magistrates, nay, subjects, children, and servants, conspire together, to help it forward. Let us all endeavour to improve our several stations and situations in life, with the various talents and advan-ˆ tages intrusted to our management, to the attainment of this most desirable end. Let all be pressed into this service, and made to minister to the salvation of souls. Whatever influence our piety, virtue, learning, knowledge, eloquence, wealth, honour, pre-eminence, authority, or any other gift or endowment give any of us, let it be employed for this purpose; let it be laid at the feet of