Vessel of the Soul
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Psalm 42:1-2
The following is an adaptation from Jonathan Edward’s sermon, Safety, Fullness, and Sweet Refreshment in Christ:
The soul of a person is like a vessel. The capacity of the soul relates to the largeness, or contents, of the vessel. If any person has much pleasure or happiness, yet the vessel is not full, the craving will not cease. Every creature is restless until it enjoys what is equal to the capacity of its nature. We observe this in animals. When they have what is suitable to their nature and proportional to their capacity, they are contented. Human beings are also of such a nature; they are capable of an exceedingly great degree of happiness. However, human beings are of a vastly higher nature than animals, and therefore must have much greater happiness to satisfy their souls. The pleasure of the outward senses which content an animal will not content a human being. He has other faculties of a higher nature that stand in need of something to fill them. If the faculties of a human soul are not filled, that person will remain in a craving, restless state. The understanding of the human soul is an exceedingly extensive faculty. It extends itself beyond the limits of the earth. We are capable of understanding immensely more than we currently understand. Who can tell how far the understanding of humanity is capable of stretching itself? As the understanding enlarges, desire will enlarge with it. Therefore, the object that will satisfy the human soul must be an incomprehensible object. The human heart will never be content with an object whose end can be perceived. It will never be satisfied with that happiness to which it can find a bottom. A man may seem to take contentment for a little while in a finite object, but after he has had a little experience, he finds that he wants something else. This is very apparent from the experience of this restless, craving world.
People in a natural condition may find something to gratify their senses, but there is nothing to feed their soul. For lack of food, that more noble and more essential part perishes. They may fare sumptuously every day, they may pamper their bodies, but the soul cannot be fed from a sumptuous table. They may drink wine in bowls, yet the spiritual part is not refreshed. The superior faculties want to be supplied as well as the inferior. True poverty and true misery consist in the lack of those things which our spiritual part stands in need.
But Christ Jesus has true excellency, and such a great excellency that when we come to see it we look no further, but the mind rests there. It sees a transcendent glory and an eternal goodness in Jesus. It sees until now it has been pursuing shadows, but now it has found true substance. Before it had been pursuing happiness in the stream, but now it has found the ocean. The excellency of Christ is an object adequate to the natural cravings of the human soul and is sufficient to fulfill its capacity. He is of an infinite excellency which has no bounds, and the more the mind is used to him, the more excellent Jesus appears. Every new discovery makes this beauty appear more ravishing, and the mind sees no end. In Christ is room enough for the mind to go deeper and deeper, and never come to the bottom. The soul is exceedingly overjoyed when it first looks on his beauty and is never wearied of it. The mind never has any contentment, but Christ’s excellency, which is always fresh and new.
The excellency of Jesus Christ is the suitable food of the rational soul. The soul that comes to Christ feeds upon Him and lives upon Him. He is that bread that has come down from heaven, of which he that eats shall not die. It is wine and milk that is given without price. Here the longing soul may be satisfied, and the hungry soul may be filled with goodness. The delight and contentment that is found here passes all understanding, is unspeakable and full of glory. It is impossible for those who have tasted this fountain and know the sweetness of it ever to forsake it. The soul has found the river of the water of life, and it desires no other drink. It has found the Tree of Life and it desires no other fruit.