William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

Treason Against the Soul

by Richard Baxter

Remember that flesh-pleasing is a great contempt and treachery against the soul.
It is a great contempt of an immortal soul, to prefer its corruptible flesh
before it, and to make its servant to become its master, and to ride on
horseback, while it goes, as it were, on foot. Is the flesh worthy of so much
time, and cost, and care, and so much ado as is made for it in the world, and is
not a never-dying soul worth more? Nay, it is a betraying of the soul: you set
up its enemy before it; and put its safety into an enemy's hands; and you cast
away all its joys and hopes for the gratifying of the flesh. Might it not
complain of your cruelty, and say, Must my endless happiness be sold to purchase
so short a pleasure for your flesh? Must I be undone for ever, and lie in hell,
that it may be satisfied for a little time? But why do I speak of the soul's
complaint? Alas! it is of itself that it must complain! For it is its own doing!
It hath its choice: the flesh can but tempt it, and not constrain it: God hath
put the chief power and government into its hands, if it has determined to sell
its own eternal hopes to pamper worm's meat, it will act accordingly. You would
not think very honourably of that man's intelligence or honesty, who would sell
the patrimony of all his children, and all his friends that trusted him
therewith, and later sell their persons into slavery, and all this to purchase
for himself a delicious feast, with sports and entertainment for a day! And is
he wiser or better that selleth (in effect) the inheritance of his soul, and
betrayeth it to hell and devils for ever, and all just to purchase the fleshly
pleasure of so short a life?


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