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BUT what is committing of the soul to God? Answer. I have, in general, briefly spoken to that already, and now, for thy further help, we will a little enlarge. Wherefore, 1. To commit is to deliver up to custody to be kept. Hence prisoners, when sent to the jail, are said to be committed thither. Thus Paul, “haling men and women, committing them to prison” ( Acts 8:3).
And thus Joseph’s master committed all his prisoners to him, to his custody, to be kept there according to the law ( Genesis 39:22). 2. To commit, is not only to deliver up to custody, but to give in charge; that that which is committed be kept safe, and not suffered to be lost ( Luke 16:11). Thus Paul was committed to prison, the jailer being charged to keep him safely ( Acts 16:23). 3. To commit, is to leave the whole disposal, sometimes, of that which is committed to those to whom such thing is committed. Thus were the shields of the temple committed to the guard ( 1 Kings 14:27) And Jeremiah to the hands of Gedaliah ( Jeremiah 39:14).
It must be delivered up to his care and put under his custody. Thou mayest also, though I would speak modestly, give him a charge to take the care of it. “Concerning my sons [and concerning my daughters] and concerning the work of my hands, command ye me” ( Isaiah 45:11).
Thou must also leave all the concerns of thy soul and of thy being an inheritor of the next world wholly to the care of God. He that doth this in the way that God has bid him is safe, though the sky should fall. “The poor committeth himself unto thee, thou art the helper of the fatherless” ( Psalm 10:14).
And for encouragement to do this, the Lord has bidden us, the Lord has commanded us, the Lord expecteth that we should thus do. Yea, thou art also bidden to commit thy way unto him ( Psalm 37:5). Thy work unto him ( Proverbs 16:3). Thy cause unto him ( Job 5:8). Thy soul to him, and he will take care of all. And if we do this, as we should, God will not only take care of us and of our souls in the general, but that our work and ways be so ordered that we may not fail in either. “I have trusted,” said David, “in the Lord, therefore I shall not slide” ( Psalm 26:1).
Let them commit the keeping of their souls to him “in well-doing”; or, in a way of well-doing. That is, therefore, the course that a godly man should be found in, at, in, and after he hath committed his soul to God to keep. And, as the apostle says in another place, this is but a “reasonable service” ( Romans 12:1). For if God be so gracious as to take care of my soul at my request, why should not I also be so gracious as to be found in a way of well-doing at his bidding? Take care, master, of me for meat and wages, and I will take care, master, that thy work shall be faithfully done.
A Christian is not to commit his soul unto God to keep, and so to grow remiss, carnal, negligent, cold, and worldly; concluding as if he had now bound God to save him, but sets himself at liberty whether he will longer serve him in trying and troublesome times or no. He must commit the keeping of his soul to him “in well-doing.” He may not now relinquish God’s cause, play the apostate, cast off the cross, and look for heaven notwithstanding. He that doth thus will find himself mistaken, and be made to know at last that God takes the care of no such souls. “If any man draws back,” saith he, “my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Wherefore, he that committeth the keeping of his soul to God must do it in that way which God has prescribed to him, which is in a way of well-doing. Alas! alas! there is never such a word in it; it must be done in a way of “welldoing.”
You must do it in well-doing . “In well-doing,” that is, in persevering in ways of godliness , both with respect to morals and also instituted worship. Thou, therefore, that wouldest have God take care of thy soul, as thou believest , so thou must do well ; that is, do good to the poor, to thy neighbor, to all men, especially to the household of faith. Benjamin must have a Benjamin’s mess; and all others, as thou art capable, must feel and find the fruit of thy godliness.
Thou must also keep close to gospel worship, public and private ; doing of those things that thou hast warrant for from the word, and leaving of that or those things for others that will stick to them — that have no stamp of God upon them. Thou must be found doing of all with all thy heart, and if thou sufferest for so doing, thou must bear it patiently. For what Peter saith to the women he spake to, may be applied to all believers, “whose daughters ye are,” saith he, meaning Sarah’s, “as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement” ( 1 Peter 3:6).
So then, the man that has committed his soul to God to keep has not at all disengaged himself from his duty, or took himself off from a perseverance in that good work that, under a suffering condition, he was bound to do before. No; his very committing of his soul to God to keep it has laid an engagement upon him to abide to God in that calling wherein he is called of God. To commit my soul to God, supposes my sensibleness of hazard and danger; but there is none [no danger] among men when the offence of the cross is ceased. To commit my soul to God to keep, concludes my resolution to go on in that good way of God that is so dangerous to my soul, if God taketh not the charge and care thereof. For he that saith in his heart, I will now commit my soul to God, if he knows what he says, says thus: I am for holding on in a way of bearing of my cross after Christ, though I come to the same end for so doing as he came to before me. This is committing the soul to him in well-doing. Look to yourselves, therefore, whoever you are that talk of leaving your souls with God, but do live loose, idle, profane, and wicked lives. God will not take care of such men’s souls; they commit them not unto him as they should. They do but flatter him with their lips and lie unto him with their tongue, and think to deceive the Lord; but to no purpose. “He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.” It is he that sows to the Spirit that shall “reap life everlasting” ( Galatians 6:7,8).