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of suffering, and to die a death of ignominy. Who can now help exclaiming, in the amazement of admiring concern, O the unutterable worth of an immortal soul !
When we take such a view of a virtuous human soul, even while on earth, What a piece of work is man; how noble in reason ; how infinite in faculties ; in form and moving, how express and admirable! But when we contemplate the immortal soul in heaven, In action, how like an angel; in apprehension, how like a god!
III. IF THE SOUL BE LOST, WHAT WILL AVAIL ALL THE ACQUISITIONS OF THIS WORLD?
When we look around on this assembly, of different ages, and of various characters, how is the mind solemnized at the reflection, that each individual has a never-dying soul, which is to be saved, or lost. For the words of our Lord, in our text, imply, that the soul, although immortal, and inestimable, may be lost. Let then our meditations be sobered, while we recount some of the ways, whereby we may lose our own souls.
The soul may be lost, not only by open violation and rejection of the pure Saviour, and his doctrine ; not only by indulging in dissolute habits, and keeping irreligious company ; but by remaining satisfied with a mere historical knowledge of religion, without its being allowed to affect the heart. By a corrupt faith, resulting from partial views, and only leading to the form of godliness without
Or by an accommodating faith, which excludes self-denial, and has a reservation for easily besetting sins. Also the soul may be hazarded, by sluggishness in things spiritual, more than in things temporal; and keeping this world and its vanities uppermost in our hearts. By presuming upon a long life, and therefore procrastinating repentance. By neglecting self-scrutiny, and relying upon the flattering opinions of others. And by blunting pungent convictions, before they produce proper transformation of hearts, and purity of actions.
Man has a nature destined to two separate lives. The one limited, and fleeting ; the other unlimited, and permanent. Now the important inquiry arises, in which of these two lives would a reasonable soul wish to be
happy ? However ready every person may be to answer this question ; however wise they are in theory, yet how many in practice contradict their own judgments. How many are laying up stores for this life, as though there were no danger of losing it ; and neglecting to insure an interest in the other, as if they doubted whether it were worth possessing. How many are selling their holy birthright, for a small mess of that same red pottage. How many, who have once gone forward, are looking back after the Egyptian flesh-pots. How many are coveting secretly the wedge of gold, and the beautiful Babylonish garment. How many are even wishing for their poor neighbour's one little pet lamb. But what are pleasure, power, honour, fame, or wealth, or all combined, when put in competition with the sublime anticipation of an existence without end, and a felicity proportionate to that existence ? What more obvious disgrace to man's boasted reason, than that those, who fully believe in these two different modes of being, should yet be unceasingly coveting, and scheming, and toiling, after the perishable treasures of this world; especially when they experience, that oftentimes their best endeavours defeat their hopes ? These riches, which all so much applaud, the owner feels the weight of. Every wise man values this life, only as it is a preparation for another; and is ready cheerfully to sacrifice the gratifications of a few wasting years, for the promise of an eternity. Suppose a man, by a mode of unprincipled worldly wisdom, to pamper his craving heart to the full
, and thereby to forfeit his soul; or suppose him, by a life not legally vicious, to gain vast possessions, and thereby to neglect his soul; what profit hath he ? Doth not the Day approach, when he shall find his foolish plans defeated, and be made to confess the truth of what he now despises? The Day, when self-deceiving mortals shall be persuaded of the futility of their schemes; and when those few wiser persons who, scorning the enticements of lust, and the paltry vanities of the world, took the word of truth for their guide, and aspired to an abode in the heavens; when they shall enjoy their utmost desires, without any risk or possibility of disappointment ? What though one might possess the whole world, all its wealth, its domina
tions, and its festivities, for sixty or even eighty years ? It were but walking on rolling logs in the water ; one by one, they would slip from under him. After all, no man is happier in truth, than he is in God's esteem.
He is the only rich man, who understands the use of wealth ; and of sinful pleasures, repentance only remains. Then how ought all trifling amusements, and all interests of time, in propriety to be forgotten, or but secondary, to the more momentous claims of eternity. Eternity, thou pleasing, dreadful thought !
Let then the culture of the soul be recognized as our prime solicitude. A contemplation so elevated and beneficial, as that of the soul's immortality and value, cannot too often engross our minds. What exercise can be more improving to the human heart, than to be often reflecting on the soul's superior endowments, and immense privileges ? Or what method more powerful to excite in us an emulation lifted above groveling, trivial avocations, than to regard ourselves as inheritors of eternity ? The man, who realizes the worth of the soul, will not need a stronger argument for the dignity of virtue ; nor a more forcible incitement to live worthy of it. For as noble and generous thoughts spring from dignified and virtuous actions ; so likewise are virtuous and dignified actions the offspring of noble and generous thoughts. How then should we reverence our souls. How should we be circumspect, not to degrade and injure this celestial inmate, by any mean pursuit, or sensual grossness. How should we endeavour to eject all evil qualities of the heart, and to infuse heavenly habits in their room.
What power can any momentary afflictions have, to cast down that person, who considers that he is destined to ages after merely of contentment and delight, but of rapture and ecstasy hereafter ? Such an one can exclaim under trials and bereavements, All is good that God sends us ; peace with heaven is the best friendship ; and where God is, there is nothing wanting. Yes! Experience has recorded, that he lives indeed, who lives not to himself alone; that he can do nothing well, who is at enmity with his Maker ; but that he, who resolves to amend, hath God on his side. In whatever profession, or condition, Provi
dence hath cast our lot, we should thank God, and be content with what we have ; remembering, that to serve God in our honest occupation is the best kind of praying ; and that he, who obeys Him, hath the best master in the world. Although we should love many things beside God, we should love nothing above God. For the sum of all is, to fear and love our Creator and our Saviour, and to do no evil thing ; in short, to live, as we mean to die.
With this assurance of immortality, the Christian can exult even in bodily agonies, while on the pinions of faith his soul soars upward with ecstasy, to the sublime object, which it has long been worshipping ; and cries, O blissful day, when I shall escape from this crowd of noises, and empty bustle, this world of impurities; and be welcomed into the exalted company of that Saviour, who poured out his blood like water to wash me from my sins, and into the holy community of those beatified spirits, who are the ransomed of the Lord. The christian soul can bid a cheerful farewell to its clayey tenement, with a foretaste of being reunited to it, in a glorious and joyful resurrection. Othen, when the disembodied and accepted soul appears before its Judge, the Accusing Spirit, to apply a sublime sentiment, beautifully expressed, the Accusing Spirit, which has flown up to heaven's chancery with its sins, shall blush as he gives them in ; and the Recording Angel, as he writes them down, shall drop his tears upon the words, and blot them out forever.
In review of this subject, I close with this solemn selfapplication. If the soul is of such infinite value, and liable to be lost ; how awfully responsible is it, to have the charge of souls. How should a minister watch over a people, as one that careth for their souls ; and how should a people pray for him to the Father of Spirits, that he may obtain
mercy to be faithful, as one that must give an account.
VOICE FROM THE D E A D.
SERMON X X X V.
A FUNERAL SERMON.
Matth. xxiv, 44.
BE YE ALSO READY.
The Pale Horse, with his Grim Rider, hath approached this house.
1. We are assembled to bear the remains of a human being to the house appointed for all the living ; to take a last farewell, and to bury the dead out of our sight. We are taught by this mournful event, the instability of all earthly things. Change is the only certain thing in this world. Man, that is born of a woman, is of few days, and full of trouble. We spend our years, as a tale that is told. Brief, very brief, is the space between the cradle and the coffin. Short, very short, the time from the swaddling clothes and the nurse's arms, to the shroud, the sepulchre, and the worm. Here lies a senseless body, that was lately animated with a living spirit ; that was all activity, and health, and joyousness. Now the eye is quenched, the cheek is cold, the lips are sealed, and the heart is still ; the soul has gone to judgment. O why is dust and ashes proud !
2. In small villages, death is so rare, that we seldom think of it ; in large cities, it is so common, that we little regard it. But what more solemn a spectacle can there be, than the funeral of a fellow mortal, a fellow immortal ? Dust to dust, earth to earth, ashes to ashes ; so passes away the body. Not so the soul. Another spirit is added to gloom or to glory ; to heaven or to hell. And