Soul Sermon Illustrations

Soul Sermon Illustrations

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An unsaved man who had been neglecting his soul, and sinning against it, went one night to a theater in England to enjoy himself. At the end of the play one of the characters, a British sailor about to mount the gallows to pay the penalty of his crime, lifted a glass and exclaimed, "Here's to the prosperity of the British nation and the salvation of my immortal soul!" When the curtain fell and the crowd in the theater dispersed, that phrase, "my immortal soul," remained with the man to impress him and to trouble him, until he had made his peace with God and found Christ as the Saviour of his soul.
Your immortal soul! What about that soul? Is it well with thy soul?

In his account of the German patriot and statesman Stein, who was outlawed by Napoleon with the celebrated description "One named Stein," Andrew White tells of the statesman's death. He says there was no mention of the salvation of the soul, for he took it for granted that his soul would be saved if it were worth saving.

That comment is characteristic of the wisdom of the world, which knows more than the Lord Jesus Christ. Every soul, indeed, is worth saving. The blood which stained the cross on Calvary is the eternal sign of the value of a soul. But only
Christ is the Saviour of the soul. Every soul is worth saving, but no soul is good enough, or can do enough, to save itself.

John Bunyan in his immortal allegory gave us the story of the pilgrim who set out from the City of Destruction for the City of Life. Now men have suddenly discovered that the famous pilgrim was a selfish and unworthy man, because he made the salvation of his own soul his chief end in life and set out all by himself, leaving his own family in the City of Destruction. But John Bunyan is eternally right. A man who has not himself started for the City of Life will never start others in that direction.

An old and beautiful legend relates how after Zacchaeus had been converted and found Christ, his wife used to note that early every morning he arose from the bed at her side and left the house. Curious to know where he went and what he did, she arose one morning and followed him. At the town well he lowered his bucket, filled it with water, and passed out of the gate of the city until he came to a sycamore tree. There, setting down the bucket of water, he began to gather and cast away the stones and branches and rubbish of any kind that lay about the foot of the tree. Having done this, he poured the water upon the roots of the tree and, gently caressing the trunk of the tree with his hand, stood silent, as if in affectionate reminiscence and contemplation. His amazed wife came out from her hiding place and asked him what he was doing. Whereupon Zacchaeus said: "This is the tree where I found Christ!"

Robert Louis Stevenson has a powerful tale of a man, Markheim, who murders a curio dealer so that he may rob the safe. As he is engaged in that task he hears a step mounting the stairs and is confronted by a figure who nods to him in friendly recognition. Then ensues a remarkable conversation between this mysterious intruder and Markheim, the murderer. Markheim is astonished and horrified to find that this visitor knows him to the very soul.

Markheim feels impelled to lay open his heart to this strange man; and he tells him how, although he has done great sins and crimes, there was another and a better self that did not consent. In answer to this the visitor rehearses the gradual progress of Markheim in evil, how three years ago he would have blanched at the name of murder, and how five years hence he will detect him in the very act from which he might now recoil. His way lies downward, and only death can avail to stop his progress.

Suddenly their interview is arrested by the ringing of the bell by the returning housemaid. The visitor suggests to Markheim that he admit her, make some plausible explanation as to his presence in the house, and then dispose of her as he had her master. But Markheim refuses the proposal, telling him that even if his love of good is damned, his hatred of evil still persists. With that the features of the visitor undergo a lovely change, brightening and softening with a tender triumph, and "even as they brightened, faded and dislimned." When he has vanished, Markheim opens the
door and asks the maid to go for the police, telling her that he has killed her master.

What is the meaning of this strange tale? Who is the mysterious visitor who seems to know Markheim so well and at times resembles him, one moment the personification of evil and the next the spirit of beauty and virtue? Who but the soul of Markheim? In this tale Stevenson makes a man—a man engaged in an evil enterprise—confront his own soul.

Hawthorne tells how the modern pilgrims came to Vanity Fair, where, in contrast with Christian and his companion, they were quite popular. In the fair almost anything could be purchased for a bit of scrip called Conscience. The dreamer thought he saw some foolish bargains: a young man giving his fortune for disease, a pretty girl who bartered a heart as clear as crystal for an utterly worthless jewel. Still, Vanity Fair sees some strange bargains. How many has it seen today? How many more will it see tonight? What are you doing with your soul? In what way are you wronging it, wounding, defiling it—by open and common practice, or by some secret sin known only to yourself and to God?

Standing amid the ruins of Ephesus, where one hears today only the sigh of the wind in the reeds and sees only the calf, the turtle, and the lizard, one thinks of the great business which once was carried on in that famous metropolis. In his description of the fall of Babylon, John described the business of Ephesus, how men sold there gold, silver, precious stones, pearls, fine linen, ivory, brass, iron, marble, wheat, sheep, horses, chariots, slaves, and souls of men! A magnificent and terrible climax—and souls of men! Alas, in every great city the business of selling the souls of men is still going on.

There is a great passage in Pilgrim's Progress, always grand when it is reproduced in human life. In the fierce battle between Christian and Apollyon, Apollyon had Christian down with his sword fallen out of his hand, and was pressing upon him to destroy him. But just as Apollyon was about to strike the last blow, "Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his sword, and caught it, saying, Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise, Mic. 7:8; and with that he gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound. Christian perceiving that, made at him again, saying, Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us. Rom. 8:37. And with that Apollyon spread forth his dragon wings, and sped him away, that Christian saw him no more. James 4:7." That is the greatest moment in human life—when it turns defeat into victory.

In his tale Mare Nostrum the Spanish novelist Blasco-Ibanez makes the action center about an unworthy, immoral woman, whose better nature has been aroused by the affection of her lover. She shows the awakening of that better nature by an endeavor to avoid him and to persuade him to set his affections upon one more worthy of him. So the mistress of this world has, as it were, moments of compunction and conscience when she repels men from her embrace and tells them to set their affections on higher things and to seek the Kingdom of God.

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