Page images






On the excellent Worth of the Soul.

It is evident man is made with an active principle entirely distinct from his body. For this is chained down to a spot of earth, no more than a mass of unconscious matter.

But his soul can expatiate in contemplation, reflection, and, with infinite variety, compare the numberless objects which present themselves before it. When his body has attained maturity, his soul arrives not to perfection, but increases in wisdom and knowledge; and when the feeble body is sinking in decay, the soul is often full of vigour, and feels joy or anguish all its own.

To demonstrate the worth of the soul, so admirable in its properties, will be of great use: because all that the term religion comprehends respects the soul. And many precepts in the word of God must be judged unreasonable, or prove irksome, till the salvation of the soul is known to be the greatest good man can attain; the loss of it the greatest evil he can suffer.

To prove this point, I shall make my appeal to observation and scripture, entirely waving all abstract reasoning about the nature of the soul.*

Experience then powerfully proves the excellent worth of the soul. For what is the case of thousands around you, if it has not already been your own ? Are they not mourning over some tender parent, near relation, or affectionate friend? How greatly did they value the dear deceased! How useful, or how entertaining! Perhaps the head, the comfort of the whole family—perhaps in the prime of life and beauty. Behold the sudden, bitter, prodigious transformation! The desirable object is become a putrid mass, insufferably loathsome, fit only for the grave. Do you ask how, in so small a space of time, what was before admired should become hideous even to look on? The answer loudly proclaims the excellent worth of the soul. For could the dead parent, relation, or friend, speak to you on the subject, his answer would be to this effect:

Afflicted and surprised, you bewail, with tears of tenderness, the frightful change you see in a form long so familar and pleasing to you. Know the cause.

The immortal inhabitant which lodged for a few years under this roof of flesh is gone. My soul, by its presence, gave life, motion, and beauty to my body. The instant the one took its destined flight, the other began to turn into an offensive carcase, which must moulder into dust, and

Our inquiries about the nature of the soul (says Lord Bacon) must be bound over at last to religion, for otherwise they still lie open to many errors. For since the substance of the soul was not deduced from the mass of heaven and earth, but immediately from God, how can the knowledge of the reasonable soul be derived from philosophy? It must be drawn from the same inspiration from whence its substance first flowed. Advancement of Learning. book iv. ch. 3.

[ocr errors]

dust remain, till his voice, who is the resurrection and the life, unites it for ever with its former inmate.

From this striking difference between a dear parent, relation, or friend, active, useful, entertaining, and the cold pale piece of outcast earth he instantly becomes upon the departure of his soul into eternity, understand what must be its excellent worth.

From observing this fact, daily passing before our eyes, turn to the page given by inspiration of God. Nothing can be conceived more grand than the scripture account of the soul.

Look up to the heavens ; immensely high, im measureably wide as they are. God only spoke, and instantly, with all their host, they had their being. The earth, the sea, the air, with all their millions of inhabitants, were formed in the same manner. But before the human soul comes into being, a council of the Trinity is held. God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God cre. ated he him," Gen. i. 26. 37. He formed his soul, in its moral faculties and powers, a sinless immortal image of himself.

To ruin so grand a being was an attempt equal to the execrable malice which Satan bore against God, and the favourite work of his hands. But no sooner did Satan bring the soul of Adam nigh to everlasting destruction, than the method used to recover it declared a second time, still more loudly the exceeding greatness of its worth. This must be granted, if you take a just survey of his majesty, who alone was sufficient to redeem it. Before him the countless multitudes which people the whole carth, with all their wealth and pomp, are less than nothing and vanity. Before his incomprehensible glory, the height of the mountains, and the unfath.


omable depth of the sea, the dimensions of the earth, and the circuit of the skies, are as the small dust of the balance. This is HE, behold him, behold him !* who takes upon himself a work impossible for angels to effect, the redemption of the soul. He takes upon himself to replace it in union and communion with God; not by the word of his mouth, as in the day when he made the heavens and the earth, but by a work infinitely costly; by a process of many painful steps, each of them mysterious and astonishing to angels, as well as to men.

To redeem the soul, he is born of a poor virgin, in the likeness of sinful flesh; he lives afficted, insulted, oppressed above measure, till in his death he is made sin and a curse, offering up to the Father a divine obedience, and a death fully satisfactory to his broken law.

From considering duly who this Redeemer is, and what he hath done, you must conclude that every thing the world admires as excellent, or extols as valuable, is unspeakably mean, when put in the balance against the worth of the soul.

It is, indeed, a matter of the utmost difficulty to believe, that the word, who is God, did abase him. self to the death of the cross, a ransom for the soul. Here reason is lost in the unfathomable mystery, and, if left to itself, leads to an obstinate denial of the fact. The means used to prevent this effect, full of blasphemy against God, and perdition to ourselves, forcibly proves the soul's excellent worth. For the same Eternal Spirit, which in the beginning brought

* The reader is desired, as he would not injure the Redeemcr by unworthy thoughts of his person, to meditate on the grand things Isaiah speaks of the Mesiah. The 40th chapter, from whence the above description of his glory is extracted, puts it out of question, that he is the true God. The 6th, the 9th, and the 35th, each prove the same to deinonstration.

« PreviousContinue »