By Charles J. Fowler
BACKSLIDING NOT SUDDEN
No more is there an outer man than is there an inner man; there is the spiritual, as is there the physical; and it needs attention.
Life is a tenacious thing and allows no interference without protest; that which seeks to limit the existence or expansion of life, will discover what we mean. The merest worm as it crawls along the earth seeks to protect itself against all encroachments upon its life or liberty. Take a higher or stronger form of life as in a dog; to protect himself against violence he will bite and fight to the bitter end. Take man. He is justified in taking even the life of a fellowman who seeks to encroach upon the liberty and existence which belong to him. This is simply saying that life is sensitive, insistent, exacting, resentful and resourceful, that it may be protected. This is nature; it is just an expression of the great law governing intelligent life, and that not intelligent as well. A strong band of iron about a tree will find itself grown over and literally lost to view while the tree grows out and up as though no grip of strength had encircled it . A sapling has taken root in soil in the crack of a great rock, till not having room for itself it actually breaks open the great dead stone by the demands of its life.
But no life is comparable to the spiritual. It does not give itself up easily and he who gives it and seeks to conserve it, does not retire from the scene of the soul at once upon the approach of the soul's danger.
Therefore we have been in the habit of thinking that spiritual declension and death were not come by suddenly; they were reached rather by a process -- a downward going, more or less drawn out. As the young man of strength and of health does not come to a condition of weakness and illness suddenly, so with the spiritual man. If what one eats and drinks be disregarded; if sleep be ignored and a lounging about in idleness in the pent-up quarters of sin be indulged in, it will not be long before the step will slacken and spring be gone from the heel. So with the greater and better man within us. If spiritual food and spiritual rest and spiritual exercise be lost sight of, or ignored, then declension follows which if not rallied from, ends in final death.
How frequently do people contract disease because they were so susceptible to it through a weakened condition; and how many can live in most unsanitary conditions and contract no fevers because of the resistance their good health gives.
We cannot always be well in body it may be, but the soul can. If health and strength are desirable for the body, how much more for the soul. If the outer man is of value enough to demand attention that its interests may be conserved, how should the inner man have it? We cannot altogether get away from the untoward conditions of evil that are around us, for we are in a world that abounds in sin, but we can be rid of the conditions of spiritual weakness that so invite disease that wait to fasten upon the soul.
We all know people who in early or middle life were declared to be unable to resist their physical inheritances long, but would be in early graves, who have taken such systematically "good care of themselves" as to outlive the promising and strong who made the prophecies. Three times a day, in all weathers, there comes to our door a "postman," who only a few years since was given over to die early with consumption, [TB] but those outdoor exercises and hard work have been the means of curing, so that with ease he makes his long round daily. One of the most distinguished editors and ministers in our land, asserts that he has been cured of a lung trouble by mountain climbing, and he is now a hearty man of over seventy years.
The soul needs care unto its spiritual preservation.