Proverbs 11:30
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.
A Motto for a New YearC. A. Davis.Proverbs 11:30
A Wise WorkArchibald G. Brown.Proverbs 11:30
A Word to Winners of SoulsR. A. Griffin.Proverbs 11:30
How to WinD. L. Moody.Proverbs 11:30
How to Win Others to ChristG. F. Pentecost.Proverbs 11:30
Soul WinningC.H. Spurgeon Proverbs 11:30
Souls to be Won, not DrivenJ. Parker, D.D.Proverbs 11:30
Soul-WinningEdward Medley, B.A.Proverbs 11:30
Soul-WinningProverbs 11:30
Soul-WinningA. F. Barfield.Proverbs 11:30
Soul-WinningDean Hook.Proverbs 11:30
Success in Soul-WinningProverbs 11:30
The Best NewsProverbs 11:30
The Fruit of the RighteousJ. Cross, D.D., LL.D.Proverbs 11:30
The Joy of Winning SoulsF. E. Toyne.Proverbs 11:30
The Life of the GoodD. Thomas, D.D.Proverbs 11:30
The Mission Work of Winning SoulsH. F. Burder, M.A.Proverbs 11:30
The Soul WinnerC.H. Spurgeon Proverbs 11:30
The Soul-WinnerJohn Morgan.Proverbs 11:30
The Supreme WisdomE. E. Jenkins, M.A.Proverbs 11:30
The Winner of SoulsThos. Main, D.D.Proverbs 11:30
The Winner of Souls is WiseJohn N. Norton.Proverbs 11:30
The Winning of SoulsThe Congregational PulpitProverbs 11:30
The Wisdom of Winning SoulsC. S. Robinson.Proverbs 11:30
The Wisdom of Winning SoulsDiodoret, J. Beaumont.Proverbs 11:30
The Wise Man Wins SoulsJ. Parker, D.D.Proverbs 11:30
The Work and Responsibility of the MinistryJoseph Haslegrave, M.A.Proverbs 11:30
Two Ways of WisdomHenry Raikes, M.A.Proverbs 11:30
Winning First Your Own Soul, Then Other SoulsW. Arnot, D.D.Proverbs 11:30
Winning SoulsJ. F. Pridgeon.Proverbs 11:30
Wisdom's Brightest Crown and Hardest TaskE. Johnson Proverbs 11:30
The Pricelessness of IntegrityE. Johnson Proverbs 11:3-5, 8-11, 19, 20, 28, 31
Temporal and Eternal ContrastsE. Johnson Proverbs 11:27-31

He that winneth souls is wise. Wisdom does many things for us; but we shall find -

I. ITS BRIGHTEST CROWN in the souls that it wins, Wisdom wins wealth, honour, friendship, knowledge; acquaintance with men and with nature; high position and commanding rule; the gratification that attends achievement. Wisdom makes great changes in the face of nature, and effects great results in the organization of men. But the crown which it wears is its beneficent work in human souls. "He that winneth souls is wise" indeed. For to do that is:

1. To arrest a stream of evil influence, the full outflow and consequence of which it is impossible to estimate.

2. To originate a stream of holy and helpful influence, the growing and widening range of which we cannot imagine.

3. To turn back a human spirit from a course which leads downward to an opposite course which leads homeward and heavenward; it is to change the direction of one in whom are boundless capacities of accomplishment and of endurance, and to change it permanently for the better.

4. It is to give joy of the purest kind to hearts of the greatest worth, and satisfaction to the Divine Saviour himself (see James 5:19, 20). It is wisdom's brightest crown; but it is also -

II. ITS HARDEST TASK. He that winneth souls must be, or needs to be, wise indeed; for he has a very great thing to do. He has:

1. To oppose himself to he knows not what supernatural hostilities (Ephesians 6:12).

2. To do battle with human obduracy and the evil spirit of procrastination.

3. To contend with the spiritual blindness and insensibility which are the sad consequence of long disloyalty.

4. To baffle the arts of false friendship and overcome the blandishments of an evil world.

5. To silence the deceitful voices which whisper to the awakened soul that there is no need to render an immediate and wholehearted decision; and thus to lead it to a full surrender to Christ and to his service.

6. To persuade to a life of earnest and habitual devotion and holy usefulness. The practical lessons of the text are:

(1) That we cannot expend ourselves too lavishly in the great work of winning men to Jesus Christ. There is no room for extravagance here.

(2) That we have need to put forth our whole strength to gain so great a victory.

(3) That when we have done all we can do we must remember that nothing is accomplished without the influence which is from above. - C.

By this is meant his prayers, his charities, his good example, the virtues which compose his character and adorn his life, and all the efforts and influences by which he shows forth his wisdom in winning souls. To win souls in the best sense is to bring them to the saving knowledge of Jesus and subjugate them to His gracious dominion. An illustrious ancient philosopher said, "There is nothing great on earth but man, and nothing great in man but his soul." How will you compute the worth of a soul, or by what standard measure its greatness? Will you estimate it by its nature and origin, or by its power and capacities, or by the duration of its being, or by the cost of its redemption, or by the struggle for its possession and control, or by comparison with the splendid and precious? And if such is the value of the soul that worlds acquired could not compensate its loss, nor a material universe redeem its forfeiture, how excellent, beyond all power of language or of thought, the work of saving the priceless thing from destruction, and placing it among the crown-jewels of the King of kings! Look at the matter in another light. The soul is fallen, guilty, perishing; and he who rescues and restores it confers an incalculable and inconceivable benefit. Who shall limit the effect of your labour in saving a soul, or trace the blessed influence to an end? The beneficent effect of faithful Christian labour is an ever-swelling stream and an ever-enlarging growth. All heaven unites with all that is heavenly on earth in witnessing to the precious fruit of righteousness and the transcendent wisdom of winning souls. These considerations appeal to your charity, others appeal with equal force to your piety, your gratitude, your interest, your ambition. The Church was ordained for mutual help and the recovery of the lost. The saints live for others, God has blessed them, that they may be blessings to their race.

(J. Cross, D.D., LL.D.)

He that winneth souls is wise
I. THE OBJECT OF THE CHRISTIAN WORKER. It is a good thing in any work to have a clear perception of the object to be sought after. This brings our efforts into order and gives them consistency. If a man lose sight of a clear purpose he becomes listless, or at best mechanical. This is true pre-eminently in Christian work. They who undertake it purpose the gathering of immortal souls out of darkness into God's marvellous light. Ours is an apostolic mission. We are to catch men — souls. Their salvation is the centre of the target — the bull's-eye which we are to hit. We should be thankful for every token of success. If we can instruct the mind or store the memory with the things of God, ours is not lost work, but we are not to be content with these things; they may be means to the end, they are not the end itself. Our purpose is to bring the young to Christ, and Christ to them. The very magnitude of the purpose will give us encouragement if we look at it rightly.

II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THIS WORK IS TO BE DONE. "Winneth." No force is to be employed. We cannot drive even little children into the fold of safety with clogs and stones. We want to lay hold of the heart, to gain the affections, and to do that we are to use the persuasive aspect of the gospel. A forced religion, if you can conceive it, is nothing worth. It is a sham flower. The examples of winning are found in the way in which the first disciples of the Saviour, and above all, the Saviour Himself, did their work. We are to live the truth, letting our whole life tell of what is right, and that beyond mistake; and yet over all love is to preside, softening our asperities, and making our wisdom peaceable as well as pure. Where there is a tender, winning spirit, then plain home-thrusts can be made that would be resented if they were mingled with the wrath of man. The attractive power lies even more in the evident tone of our teaching than in the sort of language we use. The root of persuasion lies in love to God and love to man, cherished by prayer, kindled and sustained by the Holy Ghost.

III. THE CHARACTER REQUISITE FOE THIS GREAT WORK. "Wise." There is needed a high style of Christian character. We are to be good. The successful winner of souls must himself be already won for Christ. Our work is intimately bound up with our characters. Other things being equal, he will be most likely to bring others to Christ who himself is nearest to Christ. The influence of personal holiness steals in where nothing else can find a place. Our power with man will be just in proportion to our power with God. Every devout effort to reach a holier life is a way of increasing our efficiency as winners of souls. We have also to be wise in the knowledge of God's truth. A man may know enough for his own salvation and yet not know so as to be able to impart effectively to others. Mighty in the Scripture, we shall be mighty for our work. And we are to be wise in the knowledge of the human heart. In their inmost nature the heart of a child and of a man are very much alike. Any one may gain this knowledge who, with a prayerful, sympathising nature, goes out into the world and keeps his eyes open. The teacher who knows his children can give to each his portion of meat in due season as none other can. Think of the encouragements to this work. Ours is everlasting work, its monuments are to abide for ever. We are working for eternity, polishing stones for the heavenly temple, searching for gems with which to deck the Saviour's crown. Think of the joy of the heavenly greeting, and the approval of the Lord, an approval not bestowed according to success, but according to fidelity. Upon no better purpose can you spend your life. Work for Christ that shall stand.

(Edward Medley, B.A.)

He must be a wise man in even ordinary respects who can by grace achieve so Divine a marvel as win a soul. He that winneth souls is usually a man who could have done anything else if God had called him to it. He is wise —

1. Because he has selected a wise object.

2. Because to win a soul requires infinite wisdom.

3. He will prove to have been a wise man in the judgment of those who see the end as well as the beginning.

I. THE METAPHOR USED IN THE TEXT. We use the word "win" in many ways, e.g., game of chance, juggling tricks, etc. It is used in warfare. Warriors win cities and provinces. The word was used to signify success in a wrestling match. There are secret and mysterious ways in which those who love win the object of their affections. Love is the true way of soul-winning. The Hebrew is, "He that taketh souls is wise," and the word refers to fishing, or bird-catching. We must have our lures for souls adapted to attract, to fascinate, to grasp.


1. A preacher wins souls best when he believes in the reality of his work.

2. When he keeps closest to saving truth.

3. Souls are won by bringing others to hear the Word.

4. By trying after sermon to talk to strangers.

5. By button-holing acquaintances and relations.

6. By writing letters.

7. The soul-winner must be a master of the art of prayer.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Our Lord's estimate of the soul's value was exceeding high. His mind saw its spiritual nature as an object of supreme worth. In proportion as we are Christ-like will our views correspond, and our efforts also.

I. A GREAT WORK CONTEMPLATED. The definite business of all Christian workers. Great because —

1. Of the value of the object.

2. Of the soul's capacities — for evil if not won, and for good if won.

3. Because the soul is the mainspring of life and action.


1. Christian work is a magnetic force. The centre of electric magnetism is the Cross.

2. The possibility here embodied. A work which all may undertake and accomplish.

III. A CHARACTER HERE DEFINED. "Is wise." Because he benefits others. Because he gains a star for his own crown. Because he is laying up treasure in heaven. For he wins the approval of his God and the plaudits of the angels. The highest form of wisdom is to devote life's strength to gather pearls whose salvation will enrich with eternal wealth.

(J. F. Pridgeon.)

Note —

I. THE INVOLUNTARY INFLUENCE OF A GOOD MAN'S LIFE. The fruit of a life is the involuntary and regular expression of what the man is in heart and soul. All actions are not the fruit of life, inasmuch as man in the exercise of his freedom and, indeed, even by accident, performs actions that, instead of fully expressing, misrepresent his life. The regular flow of a man's general activity is the fruit, and this, in the case of a good man, is a "tree of life." It is so for three reasons.

1. It expresses real life.

2. It communicates real life.

3. It nourishes real life.

II. THE HIGHEST PURPOSE OF A GOOD MAN'S LIFE. "He that winneth souls is wise." This implies —

1. That souls are lost.

2. That souls may be saved.

3. That souls may be saved by man.

4. That the man who succeeds in saving souls is wise.

III. THE INEVITABLE RETRIBUTION OF A GOOD MAN'S LIFE. The recompense here is supposed to refer rather to the suffering he experiences in consequence of his remaining imperfections than of the blessings he enjoys as a reward for the good that is in him. The sins of good men are punished on this earth. The argument here is a fortiori — if God visits the sins of His people with punishment, much more will He visit the sins of the wicked.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

Most men are aiming and endeavouring to win something to which they attach great value. It may be secular wealth, or earthly honour, or sensual pleasure. But there can be no wisdom in spending one's life in the endeavour to win any one of these things. The aim of Paul was to win Christ, and that should be our first aim too. Having won Christ for ourselves, our aim should be to win souls for Christ.

I. HE WHO WOULD SUCCEED IN WINNING SOULS NEEDS TO BE WISE. It needs wisdom to succeed in the business of life. It needs a far higher and nobler wisdom to win Souls. It is an exceedingly difficult thing to win men over from the ranks of sin and Satan to the ranks of God and His Christ.

1. The would-be soul-winner needs to be theoretically wise. He needs to be well informed. He cannot know too much and must be well informed on some very important matters, e.g., the sacred Scriptures, human nature, etc.

2. He needs to be practically wise — wise in action as well as in thought. He should deal largely in the most attractive and pathetic truths. He should carefully choose the most appropriate seasons. He should cultivate the most loving spirit and the most kindly manner. He should be much in communion with God.

II. HE WHO DOES SUCCEED IN WINNING SOULS PROVES HIMSELF TO BE WISE. This is true looked at from several points of view.

1. Think of this work in relation to God. It is co-operation with God.

2. In its relation to those who are won.

3. In its relation to society.

4. In its relation to those who are engaged in it.In this world it brings them honour, pleasure, and culture. The blessings follow them into the future world.

(John Morgan.)

I. WHAT IS A SOUL? We know little about a soul apart from the Bible. It teaches —

1. That man is a compound being.

2. That the soul is indestructible.

3. Because indestructible, its value is infinite.


1. The word "win" is used both in a good and bad sense. There are no mean tricks in winning souls.

2. "Win" is a warlike word: what powers are there striving for the soul?

3. Margin has, "he who taketh souls," implying the use of various allurements.

III. HOW MAY SOULS BE WON? There must be —

1. Adaptation.

2. The soul-winner must be careful not to offend the prejudices of those he seeks to win.

3. There must be method. The soul-winner must first have the love of Christ in his own heart. Then he must proclaim it patiently, lovingly, prayerfully, earnestly. This can be done in various ways.


1. In the ordinary sense. The man of business who has adaptation, method, diligence, etc., you say is a wise man.

2. Because he is preparing for the future.

3. Because he builds lasting monuments.

4. Because he pleases God.

(A. F. Barfield.)

The Book of Proverbs may be compared to a basket of pearls. Each verse is complete in itself; the truth contained within it is of independent worth.

I. WISDOM IS SEEN IN THE ATTEMPT TO WIN. The very effort itself is a proof of true wisdom.

1. The soul's position proves it. It is a perishing one.

2. Soul-winning is a noble work. A soul-winner need envy no one. His work surpasses all in true nobility.

3. Soul-winning is a lasting work, and therefore he who attempts it is wise.

4. It is a soul-profiting work. The man who imparts a blessing by the very act receives one. The way to be a joyful Christian is to be a working one at the winning of souls.

5. Winning souls is a work that tells on eternity.

6. Winning souls is a work which will influence you in heaven.


1. The nature of the work as suggested in the text shows it. The word for "winneth" has three references. It refers to the snaring of birds, the catching of fish, the taking of a city. To the accomplishment of each of these wisdom is required.

2. The variety of disposition seen in souls requires it.


1. They must be alarmed.

2. They must be allured.

3. They must be taken by the hand.

4. They who would win others must show that they themselves are won.

(Archibald G. Brown.)

This text may refer to two things: wisdom in winning souls, or the wisdom of winning souls. He who assumes, as the errand and purpose of his life, the conversion of his fellow-men to Christ, has given the highest proof within his reach that he himself is a wise man.

I. HE HAS SELECTED THE NATURAL FIELD FOR SUCCESSFUL HUMAN EFFORT. It is time to drop our suspicion in reference to honest work. Butler's definition says, "Happiness consists in a faculty having its proper object." That is, let any one of our powers fasten itself upon a legitimate end, and proceed at once unto vigour, and a feeling of true continuous joy will spring up from the mere exercise. Our reason is the happiest in reasoning; our judgment in deciding; our imagination in the poetic drawing of pictures; our affections in lavishing their love on chosen friends. There needs only to be added the element of success. That is, we must be able to gain the ends we aim at. If we are baulked, we are disappointed and discontented. Hence it is important for each man to understand his own adaptations and possibilities, so that he may seek right ends. Winning souls is the true work for human souls to do. For it flings into successful action the whole Christian man, body, mind, and spirit. There is intelligence in it; there is faith in it; there is hope in it; there is activity in it; there is excitement and exhilaration in it. And success is sure to follow fidelity. The old fable was that one who always carried a myrtle-wand in his hand would never grow weary in the way. But here is no fable. The love of Christ in the heart, and the zeal of Christ in the life, are what evermore satisfy, exercise, and rest the soul.

II. THE SPECIFIC END TO BE REACHED IN WINNING SOULS EVIDENCES WISDOM IN THE CHOICE. Even a ministry of destruction has something grand about it, fearful as it seems to gaze upon, awful as it must be to exercise. But a ministry of relief is better than any of retribution. It has in it all the sublimity of power, and then the additional grace and glory of help, the beauty of being serviceable. A ministry of salvation is simply transcendent. It deals with a man's highest nature, and touches upon the destinies of eternity. Everywhere God seems to look upon human beings as just so many souls. To save a man is to deliver a fellow-man from sin and hell, and bring him to holiness and heaven. To save a soul is to incorporate with the eternal destiny of a sentient and reasoning being a new spring and force of exultant and exhilarant life; to quicken all its susceptibilities; to renew the will into a profitable obedience to God; to unfold all the capacities of intellect and affection. In a word, to save the soul is more than to create the soul.

III. THE PROPRIETORSHIP WE GAIN IN THE SOULS WE INSTRUMENTALLY WIN. We love what we work for more than what costs us nothing. Value to you is measured by this sum of yourself you have put in possession. A soul we help to save possesses a value to us unlike that of any other soul. For we gain a kind of proprietary right in it. God lets us feel so.

1. Present companionship. The soul we lead into the joys of this new life becomes our helper, and returns the benefit. If we put into active, beneficent, useful, attractive life any human soul, may we not share all the benedictions its sweet, gentle, Christlike career is scattering around it?

2. Eternal communion. Those who are with us here will go with us to be in our company hereafter.


1. The growth of personal graces. He who watereth others shall be watered himself. He who carries a lantern for darkened men finds his own path lit the clearest.

2. The day of approval. Every soul which saves a soul shares in the satisfaction his work gives to the Master. Oh, the exquisite joy of that supreme moment when a Christian labourer presents a new prince or princess to Christ, the King of Glory, in the midst of heaven!

(C. S. Robinson.)

The estimate which men form of spiritual things is very different from that which they form of temporal things. An individual who is the victim of temporal evil excites our pity, and kindles our compassion, but an individual perishing in ignorance, and dying in sin, excites no compassion.

I. THE OBJECT HERE PROPOSED TO OUR BENEVOLENT SYMPATHY AND REGARD — THE SOUL OF MAN. The soul of man — who of us understands it? Fix attention on the nature and frame of the human soul. In nature it is not material, it is spiritual and immaterial. The body is divisible, the soul is a homogeneous substance — it is indivisible, insoluble, inseparable. The soul is not matter. We know of only two substances, matter and spirit, flesh and mind, body and soul — these make up the whole of what we know to have any existence in the universe of God. Philosophers have speculated much about the locality of the soul in the body. All that we know is, that although the soul dwells in matter, it is perfectly and entirely distinct from it.

1. We may endeavour to form some estimate of the soul by noticing its Maker, its origin. Think of it as formed for eternity; as occupying all the attributes of Jehovah in its formation; as made in the true image of God; as made next in rank and degree, though equal in blessedness, to the angelic multitude. Though the soul is not in the condition it was in when it came from the hands of its Maker, still there is that about it that tells us something of what it was; there are traces of primeval glory and dignity. Such is the faculty of reason, and the power of conscience.

2. Form a notion of the soul's capacities, and faculties, and properties. Think of its power of thought; of the recording pen of memory; of the tablet of the heart; of the creations of genius; the glow of enterprise; the light of reason; all proving to us that the soul of man is spiritual, intellectual, immaterial, immortal. Think, too, of its power of knowledge. The soul of man wanders on and on, exploring invisible and distant objects.

3. Think of the power of pleasing. How it can charm by description, dazzle by comparison, enliven by wit, convince by argument, thrill, captivate, and carry away by eloquence. Think of its power of acting on matter, in the glow of painting, in the symmetry of architecture, in the beauty of sculpture, in the enchanting intonations of the human voice.

4. The soul must be of inestimable value, for its redemption has been effected by Jesus Christ.

5. Think, too, on the endless duration of the soul's existence. Only one word can be applied to the duration of the human soul — it is the word Eternity. The soul never dies.

II. THE CONDUCT DESCRIBED IN THE TEXT, IN REFERENCE TO THIS OBJECT, AND RECOMMENDED TO OUR ADOPTION. We can only win souls as instruments and accessories. Christ is the ransomer of the soul. The French commentator paraphrases the text thus: "He that sweetly draweth souls to God, maketh a holy conquest of them"


1. We are to endeavour to win souls by instruction. Knowledge is wanted, is agreeable. Knowledge is to be communicated, now, from mind to mind, from one to another. The man who has knowledge is bound to communicate it to the man who has not.

2. We must do it by persuasion. For the soul is not only ignorant, but perverse. Its ignorance calls for illumination, and its perverseness and obstinacy call for entreaty and persuasion. Seriousness of manner, combined with affectionateness of spirit, are the charms we are to employ, the artillery we are to command. We are to clothe our words with plainness, seriousness, and affection.

3. It is our duty to endeavour to win souls by admonition. It is necessary, sometimes, to rebuke with all authority and all earnestness.


1. Scriptures say that man is wise who saves his own soul.

2. The text pronounces that man wise who is instrumental in winning the souls of his fellow-creatures. Such a man, in his conduct, is promoting the honour, and glory of God. Such a man connects himself with the coming in of the mediatorial reign of our Immanuel. Such a man is the best friend of the human race, and most effectually promotes the welfare of mankind around him.

(J. Beaumont.)

The work of the ministry is an awful thing. What shall we say of the responsibility which belongs to him who, at an age when he could neither deceive himself nor be deceived, chooses an office to which he professes to be divinely called, even the cure of souls?

I. THE WORTH OF SOULS. The very word "souls" is startling. The soul is a direct emananation from God — a breath of God, a spark, so to call it, of Deity. It is a living soul. It has infinite capacities. See the estimation in which God holds it; especially in giving His Son for its redemption. See not the original redemption only, but also all the subsequent acts of grace. Then most guilty must he be who despises his own soul, and in spite of all this array of mercy, chooses death rather than life.


1. The agency which the Divine wisdom has seen fit to employ in this business.

2. The means which this agency is commissioned to use. In preaching the doctrine of Christ, we are wielding a weapon of omnipotent might.

3. While with fidelity we preach Christ, we must do it with the earnestness which its importance demands, and the affection which its subject warrants.

4. And we must also labour to the utmost to give no offence, that the ministry be not blamed. But this line of conduct is strictly within the limit of the faithful preaching of the Word. What are the noble and glorious results of a ministry so conducted? Such a pastor both saves himself and them that hearken.

(Joseph Haslegrave, M.A.)

1. Missionary associations and enterprises take their rise out of the most enlightened and comprehensive views of human nature.

2. Missionary Societies employ the only expedient which has ever been known to act on human nature with the power of effecting a moral transformation.

3. Missionary enterprises proceed on the most enlightened views of the harmony between the instrumentality of man and the agency of God in the work of winning and saving souls.

4. The instrumentality employed secures the most glorious of all results to the instruments themselves.

5. Missionary operations are conducive, in a high degree, to the prevalence of the spirit of Christian union.

(H. F. Burder, M.A.)

The charity that wins a soul begins at home; and if it do not begin there it will never begin. The order of nature in this work is, "save yourselves and them that hear you." But though this charity begins at home, it does not end there. From its centre outward, and onward all around, like the ripple on the surface of the lake, compassion for the lost will run, nor stop until it touch the shore of time. Winning immortal souls is work for wise men, and we lack wisdom. On this point there is a special promise from God. Those who need wisdom and desire to use it in this work will get it for the asking. The wisdom needed is different from the wisdom of men. It is very closely allied to the simplicity of a little child. Much of it lies in plainness and promptness.

(W. Arnot, D.D.)

I. IN THE CHOICE OF THE OBJECT OF PURSUIT. When men fix on that which is of real and unquestionable value to the exclusion of other things. There can be no doubt of the preference due to the soul's interests, even on the low standard of calculated good. Common sense must admit the wisdom shown in making the soul of man the object of the pursuit of men. If true of man's own soul, equally true of the souls of others. He who makes the soul the object of his pursuit, and aims at doing good to men through those means that are spiritual, finds that his benevolence is exercised under circumstances very favourable.

II. IN DETERMINING THE MANNER IN WHICH THAT OBJECT SHALL BE PURSUED. In selecting, out of many plans, that which is the most likely to succeed. Of these plans for winning souls some are of men's devising, and bear the marks of their original. There is one, and one alone, of God's ordaining. Of men's schemes there is —

1. The religion of morality, which aims at men's reformation, by addressing the reason in the form of arguments and conviction.

2. The religion of sentiment, which addresses itself to the feelings, and endeavours to win the affections by exhibitions calculated to melt and touch and soften the sensibilities of men's natures. And there is the Divine religion of the gospel, which aims at the conversion of the soul through faith. This system speaks to the heart and to the conscience; and this is the way of wisdom in winning souls.

(Henry Raikes, M.A.)


1. That these souls might be lost, else they could never be won — would never need to be won.

2. That these souls, though lost, are not irrecoverably lost; they may yet be won.

3. That human instrumentality is to be employed for the accomplishment of these ends; the work is the Lord's.

II. THE WINNER OF SOULS HAS A TWOFOLD AIM. The immediate aim is the salvation of souls; the ultimate aim is the glory of God.

III. THE GAIN IS PERPETUAL. These souls once won are won for ever. Leave it to other men to build palaces and rear memorial pillars, to add house to house, and call their lands by their own names; be yours the God-like task of contributing to rear the palace of the Great King — of adding another and another stone to that goodly structure — of setting up pillars in the eternal temple that shall stand when all others have fallen — of brightening the diadem of Jesus with gems rescued from ruin — with stars that shall shine for ever and ever. Be it yours to win souls; for the price of them is far above rubies, more precious than the gold of Ophir — to rear plants that shall flourish and bloom for ever in the paradise of God.

(Thos. Main, D.D.)


1. The best way to keep our own souls in health is to seek those of others.

2. The best way to benefit our brethren is to seek souls.

II. HE HAS A BLESSING IN THE WON. Every soul we win for Christ —

1. Is a token of His favour. It proves we have used the means in the right way.

2. Causes, or should cause, more watchfulness. We are examples to them.

3. Is an additional helper for us. What sweet communion have we with our spiritual fathers and spiritual children!


1. Exalted position. "Shine as stars."

2. Perpetual preferment. "For ever and ever."

3. Unbounded delight.

(R. A. Griffin.)

The Congregational Pulpit.
To win souls is a proof of wisdom, and it is also an exercise of wisdom. There is the wisdom of winning souls to be considered, and also the wisdom in winning souls.


1. Human souls require to be won. They are at first in a lost state. They are lost as being without knowledge, without righteousness, without happiness, and without hope.

2. But the souls of men may be recovered. The method of their salvation is arranged and completed in the gospel.

3. See the wisdom of this work in its innate grandeur and excellence. In a shipwreck or a fire what strenuous efforts are made to save property, or to save life: how much more to pluck these brands from the burning.

4. See what an enduring work it is. Other things, saved, may perish again; but a soul saved will be secure for ever.

5. See the reward it brings to the happy agent himself. It gratifies his benevolence, and his piety — it secures him affection and love — it will ensure immortal honour (Daniel 12:3).

6. It is an essential part of our duty as Christians. The task of winning souls is committed to us. A dispensation of the gospel is entrusted to us. We are bound by the pledges of our allegiance and gratitude to Christ to employ ourselves in this work.


1. There are difficulties peculiar to the work.(1) In the perversity and prejudices of those whom we seek to save.(2) In the snares and oppositions of the world, skilfully managed by the great adversary of our souls.(3) In the ignorances, jealousies, and inconsistencies of the agents themselves.

2. The required wisdom consists of several important constituents.

(The Congregational Pulpit.)

The literal meaning of these words is "He that catcheth souls is wise." The figure is taken from the manner in which the fowler catches the birds. He that goeth into the wilds of nature, where the spirits of men are rude and untamed, and employs his skill in attracting and winning them to cultivation and righteousness, is wise. The enterprise of capturing a soul for this end is replete with honour, and brings such distinction that rank and talent have been proud to consecrate themselves to the work. The ostensible end of all enlightened government is to win souls, and that administration is the wisest whose measures are fitted to win the largest number to civilisation and from vice to morality. The legislature that does not apprehend the moral as well as the social and civil wants of a people is either barbarous or wicked — as it may happen to rest on ignorance or selfishness. Let us select any form of philanthropy — the genius of that form really is the recovery of the soul. You never give a beggar alms without some reference to his mind. Whether you would or not, you must include the relief of his mind when you are moved to lighten his bodily distress. The true philanthropist gives scope to this mental sympathy. Why does he seek to alleviate the mental and physical disorders of his fellow-men? Because they stand in the way of their moral nature. He does not stop when he has rescued a family from starvation. "He that winneth souls is wise." He makes the world better and increases the resources of his country's greatness. In treading a low neighbourhood of the East-end of London, you find a family bearing every mark of extreme distress. You enter what more resembles a den than a room. But in that foul and wretched hovel there would be a lot more than meets the eye. Amid that squalor, and in such a home, there would be scenes of the greatest crime and ruin, and if the children were turned out on society they would be like so many prowling wolves. But suppose you are the instrument of checking this current of evil and wickedness. What have you done? In rescuing these poor creatures from poverty you dispel one of the chief incentives to crime by waking up energies laid asleep by destitution or wickedness. You have, by sending the children to school, closed one door of ignorance and vice, and opened another of intelligence and virtue. You have won souls to knowledge and integrity. But here I ask, Have we done all when we have reached this step? Have governments arrived at the limit of their possibilities when they have made men free and prosperous? Has philanthropy executed her mission when she has supplied the needy with bread and gathered about them conditions of health? As if a man had drawn up a careful design for a mansion, had laid the foundation, carried up the walls, and then had neglected to cover the building, the result being that when the winds and rain came the splendid fragment, wanting the coherence and support of a roof, falls away and collapses. Long experience has convinced me that unless education be roofed and crowned with religion, the principles of human character, however wisely laid, however right in themselves, will not prevent the character from collapsing. The principles of human character will go down, and the soul is not won, but lost. The doctrines Christ came to reveal or enforce, and the great atoning work which it was the business of His life to finish were illustrated upon a miniature scale in order that we might be ready and able at once to study their operation. The truths He proclaimed were for all time and for the world, but the application was first directed by Himself to a small district of Palestine. He taught us how to win souls. He addressed Himself to every human want. Unlike all other benefactors I have ever seen or heard of, He did not give Himself to one department of charity. He raised the whole man. And the dispensation of His goodness was as practical as it was beneficial. He satisfied the hungry, but He never pauperised indolence. Why do I mention these particulars? In order to show that our heavenly Lord took care of the earthly life — its animal and social wants; and in His daily teachings He included those earthly virtues of truth, purity, industry, loyalty, and love. But the basis of His superstructure of philanthropy was the salvation of the soul. It must be the aim of all power professing beneficence to take the soul to the arms of God. The soul not only belongs to God, everything belongs to Him; but the soul has a future of immortality, and the brief life of a few years here must train it for the life of ages. To win a soul is not to bring it into bondage, it is to take it and keep it for God. The Saviour was ever removing obstacles in the way to heaven, and the supreme obstruction — sin — He laid down His life to remove. All His earthly lessons, all His parables and teachings, lead up to heaven like the steps of a ladder. And I think you cannot begin this winning process too soon. The perceptions of a child are far in advance of its tongue, although that begins early. Its temper and will are apt scholars before its tongue can frame a syllable. It will learn more in the first three years than you can teach it in the next ten.

(E. E. Jenkins, M.A.)

It is supposed that a man is wise because he wins souls. That is not the teaching of the text. He wins souls because he is wise. Let us look at the matter in this way: there is a necessity in wisdom that it shall win souls. Wisdom always wins. The wise man may never speak to a soul, and yet he may win it. This is not the picture of an ardent evangelist running to and fro in the earth upon the vague and general mission of winning souls. That is the popular misunderstanding of the text. The real interpretation is that if a man is wise he will by the very necessity of wisdom win souls, draw them to him, excite their attention, compel their confidence, constrain their honour. There is a silent conquest; there is a preaching that never speaks — a most eloquent preaching which simply does the law, obeys the gospel, exemplifies the spirit of Christ, works that spirit out in all the detail of life, so swiftly, patiently, sympathetically, completely, that souls are won, drawn, saying, Behold, what virtue is this! what pureness, what charity, what simplicity, what real goodness and beneficence! This must be the right doctrine, because it comes out in the right line. So then the scope of the text is enlarged.

(J. Parker, D.D.)

This wise man does not drive souls — he wins them. Souls cannot be driven. We may attempt to drive them, and therein show our folly, but it is of the nature of the soul that it be charmed, lured by angel-like beauty, by heavenly eloquence, by mighty persuasion of reason. The soul that is driven offers no true worship; nay, as we have just said, the soul can defy the driver. The body can be driven to church, but not the soul. It does not follow because a man is sitting in church that he himself is there. A child forced to church is not at church. The house of God, therefore, should be filled with fascination, attraction, charm, so that little children should long to go to it, and it should be a deprivation not to go there. The wise man would not drive men to any form of goodness, though he is bound to prohibit them under penalty from certain forms of social evil, because those forms involve the health, the prosperity, and the best advantage of others.

(J. Parker, D.D.)

Soul-winning is a blessed possibility to all who are "filled with all the fulness of God."

1. Be prayerful. Have regular hours for secret communion with God.

2. Study the Scriptures.

3. Be gentle. Lead rather than drive. Speak the truth in love. Never argue.

4. Be polite. Haste or brusqueness will repel. A courteous, affable manner is well-nigh irresistible.

5. Be courageous. Trusting the guidance of the Spirit, never be afraid to speak to any soul.

6. Leave the result with God. It is unwise ever to waste time in regrets. A rebuff may mean a soul under strong conviction. Some seeds take longer to sprout than others. Remember you are not working for yourself, but for God; that without Him you could do nothing; and to Him belongs all the glory.

(G. F. Pentecost.)

In Chicago, a few years ago, there was a little boy who went to one of the mission Sunday-schools. His father moved to another part of the city, about five miles away, and every Sunday that boy came past thirty or forty Sunday-schools to the one he attended. One day a lady who was out collecting scholars for a Sunday-school met him and asked him why he went so far, past so many schools. "There are plenty of others just as good," said she. "They may be as good, but they are not so good for me," he said. "Why not?" she asked. "Because they love a fellow over there," he answered. Ah! love won him. "Because they love a fellow over there!" How easy it is to reach people through love!

(D. L. Moody.)

Some preachers think only of their sermon; others think only of themselves: the man who wins the soul is the man who aims at it.

(Dean Hook.)

Success in soul-winning is only given to skill, earnestness, sympathy, perseverance. Men are saved not in masses, but by careful study and well-directed effort. It is said that such is the eccentric flight of the snipe when they rise from the earth, that it completely puzzles the sportsman, and some who are capital shots at other birds are utterly baffled here. Eccentricity seems to be their special quality, and this can only be mastered by incessant practice with the gun. But the eccentricity of souls is beyond this, and he had need be a very spiritual Nimrod, a "mighty hunter before the Lord," who would capture them for Christ.

When Chalmers was in the very zenith of his popularity in Glasgow, and crowds were gathering every Sabbath round his pulpit, he was walking home one evening with a friend, who told him of a soul who had been converted through the instrumentality of a sermon which he had preached. Immediately the tear-drop glittered in the good man's eye, and his voice faltered as he said, "That is the best news I have heard for a long time. I was beginning to think that I had mistaken the leadings of providence in coming to your city; but this will keep me up."

Bishop Harold Browne of Winchester once said that among all the joys which had been given him in the course of a long and busy life, none had come with a deeper thrill, or had remained so freshly in his heart, as the joy he had felt when, as a young curate, he had been for the first time the means, through God, of leading a soul to peace and trust in Christ. This is a joy which all can have, if they ask for guidance in the work of influencing others for God.

(F. E. Toyne.)

A learned divine was asked, on his death-bed, what he considered the greatest of all things. His answer was, "It is not theology, nor controversy; it is to save souls." Doddridge wrote, "I long for the conversion of souls, more sensibly than for anything besides." Matthew Henry says, "I would think it a greater happiness to gain one soul to Christ than mountains of gold and silver for myself." Brainerd said, "I cared not where nor how I lived, or what hardship I went through, so that I could but gain souls to Christ." Ward Beecher says, "As the pilot beats cruise far out, watching for every whitening sail, and hover through day and night all about the harbour, vigilant to board every ship that they may bring safely through the Narrows all the wanderers of the ocean, so should we watch off the gate of salvation for all the souls, tempest-tossed, beating in from the sea of sin, and guide them through the perilous straits, that at last, in still waters, they may cast the anchor of their hope." The Christian is to do good, not by force or hardness, but by gentle persuasion and persevering kindness. To win, as in a game, implies skill in adapting the means to the end.

1. He who would be successful in winning souls to Christ must be considerate and thoughtful.

2. Another qualification is courage.

3. Another is tender, unaffected sympathy. It is said that if a piano is struck in a room where another stands unopened, one who should place his ear near it would hear a responsive note within, as though touched by the hand of an unseen spirit. Such is the power of sympathy.

(John N. Norton.)

Our first object should be to win Christ. That being attained, we cannot adopt a better motto for life than this, "He that winneth souls is wise."

1. He is a wise man who sets this before him as the object for which to five. No pursuit is more worthy of our energies. No pursuit yields a better return.

2. He who would be successful in this work must go about it wisely. He must himself be wise unto salvation. He must have the tact to discern his opportunities, and rightly direct his appeals. The word winneth (margin, "taketh") is an allusion to the hunter's craft.

3. A wise adaptation to the circumstances and temperaments of those we seek to bless is needed in this work. It will not answer to deal with all alike. Men are not to be taken in the lump and treated after some patent method of moral mechanics. Every human being is an individual, and must be so reckoned and laboured for. No labour or self-denial will be misspent in this holy cause.

(C. A. Davis.)

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