From The Complete Duty of Man by Henry Venn

…dying Christians, that is, all that have duly sought in a right method, the salvation of their souls, have given proofs of the supreme wisdom of their conduct in the hour of nature’s sorrow and distress.

All the advantages, arising from supreme carefulness for the salvation of the soul, are still more worthy of regard, because not at all uncertain. You may be braving the thickest dangers of the field of war, to get the name of valour, and the place of command; yet fall an early victim in the bloody battle, or after it your services may be neglected. You may burn with inextinguishable ardour, to stand high in the rank of scholars, and ruin your health by intense study, yet die mortified at the littleness of your reputation.

Your labour to succeed in business may be incessant, yet, through a thousand circumstances which you have no power to prevent, you may repeatedly suffer disappointment, and poverty still remain your portion. The favour of patrons, friends, relations, may be assiduously courted, and appear promising to your earnest wishes; and yet others may supplant you, and, receiving the benefits you were grasping in idea, make the very name of patron, friend, relation, odious to you. The world is every day exhibiting instances of bitter disappointment, in each of the cases above described.

But if with all the strength of desire you have sought for the salvation of your soul, through Jesus Christ, you have nothing to do with the changes ever incident to the things of time and sense. You have to do with the blessed God, in whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. You may be therefore rich, or you may be poor; raised or depressed; beloved or slighted, by those on whom you are dependent; you may enjoy health, or be oppressed with mortal disease, whilst in each state were you to ask yourself, what course could I have best taken for my present peace and felicity? Reason, conscience, Scripture will all reply, the very course you have taken, that of caring, in the first place, for the salvation of your soul.

To say no more; the quick succession of years, which exceedingly impoverish, as they pass by, every man whose soul is not his chief care, will, on the contrary, be accumulating for you the true riches. Like a prudent factor, who, instead of lavishing his gain in present luxury, yearly remits it home, that he may return to enjoy life in his native country after all his toils with ease and honour; so will you be growing rich towards God; sure to return, by death, to that happy country, where, amidst congratulating saints and angels, you shall enter upon the possession of an inheritance prepared for your soul, incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.

Glory be to thee, for…revealing the worth of our souls in thy sight; for giving thine only Son to redeem them, when lost by the fall of our first parents; for opening a new and living way through his flesh, whereby our guilty souls can have access to thee with confidence; be acquitted, purified and exalted to dwell eternally in thy blessed presence. Bless thee for all thy compassionate calls…in word and providence…to lead us to regard above every thing the salvation of our soul.

Edited by Arthur Middleton

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