3 John 1:2
Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.
Every minister is, or ought to be, a physician of souls. He should know how to feel the soul's pulse and to read its spiritual symptoms. He has the experience of his own inner life. He should understand the art of anatomy. He should know the intimate connection of the spiritual with the physical. Is the level of your religious good health at the level of your bodily health? How comfortable, how robust, how active, how capable your body is! but your soul — your real life inside your body — how is it with that? What would be the result of a careful examination this morning of your soul's health?
I. Let us examine, first, what may be at this moment THE SICKNESS OF THE SOUL TO WHICH YOU ARE SUBJECT, and from which you may now be suffering. It may be that your soul looks better, healthier, than ever it did in your life. But inwardly you are getting weaker and weaker; you do not know it — you scarcely feel it. You think that all is right; that you will be better to-morrow: that's consumption! Or, you have no religious feelings at all; you are neither happy nor unhappy. Your vital power is passing away, but you do not know that it is decreasing — you do not care about it: that is paralysis, creeping paralysis! Or, on the contrary, you are very excited; you talk very much about religion, often very foolishly, very wildly. Your words are extravagant; you cannot restrain yourself; it is all high-flown: that's fever! Or you have run down to the opposite extreme; every feather is a burden, every shadow distresses you. You are miserable. That's inanition or melancholia! It is a heart disease. Or your soul generally seems right. But there is one very sore, bad place, and you cannot get rid of it — it grows: that's ulcer — perhaps cancer! Or, worse still, some immorality is vitiating your soul. An allowed sin is sapping everything that is good: that's poison — poison of the blood! Or every thing that is good and true in you is dying — dying slowly, surely. There is no pain now; there is no pain: that's mortification: that's death!
II. But now the question is, WHAT IS THE REMEDY? What are the secrets of the recovery of the spiritual life to a diseased soul?
1. The first and all-important and sure remedy is to go at once to the Good and Great Physician Himself; He can and He will cure all.
2. Then go and do exactly according to His orders.
3. Next bathe yourself in blood. He will show you the fountain, and Himself will do the washing.
4. Take the medicines which He prescribes. They will, perhaps, be bitter, very bitter: penitence, tears, losses, afflictions, severe self-discipline — it may be amputation! But there will be something very sweet to take away the bitterness and lull all the pain!
III. But now let me suppose, that you are "in health," that "your soul prospers," or, as the word is in the original, more literally, that "your soul is in a good way" — WHAT SHALL YOU DO TO KEEP WELL?
1. First, keep very near to the Good Physician to whom you owe your recovery, and consult Him very often, and wait for His answer.
2. Then, use His prescription, for He is the Counsellor to the soul, always ready to listen patiently; He knows the exact treatment your constitution requires, and His remedies are infallible.
3. Then, you must never forget two things: one, the fact that you have a soul, and the other, that your soul is a very delicate thing, easily and immediately affected by all outward things, and has a great tendency to relapses.
4. Fourthly, you must be very careful of the atmosphere in which you live; see that it be a pure atmosphere, free from all impurities!
5. Your soul must never omit its daily exercises: some good work which you have in hand for God, some labour of love.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.