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ECCLES. xii. 7.
Then shall the Dust return to the Earth as it
was, and the Spirit shall return to God
Solomon describes the Infirmities of old Age and the Approaches of Death in all its Degrees, with a great deal of Pomp, and in many beautiful and lofty Figures ; and having shewn its several Steps, and the Wastes it gradually makes on our Body, he intimates at last in the Words I have read to you what will be the Consequence when it totally prevails : Then shall the Dust return to God who
The Truth of the first part of this Affertion, or the Fall of the Dust into Duft again, we have already seen and examined at large : We have traced the Subject
SER M. of our Diffolution or Death both in its XVII.
Cause and Effect, from the first Threat and Denunciation of it against Adam in Paradise, to the Execution of it upon him and his whole Posterity to the Grave. But this left us in too melancholy a State for Man to acquiesce in, without carrying his Thoughts beyond it. Death, as gloomy a Prospect as it is now, would still be a much more melancholy View, if it put an End to the whole Man at once. For there is nothing we have so much an Aversion to, as a total Annihilation : Nothing our Nature desires more than to continue and exist. It may therefore be an agreeable Prosecution and Relief of the Subject I have begun, if after having contemplated that what is visible of us must soon have an End, I go on to prove that there is something invihble belonging to us which shall still remain.
For though we firmly believe that hereafter we shall live in our Bodies again; and that they shall not for ever. remain in the Grave; yet since we know they must be Prisoners of the Grave for a certain Time; that during that Time they must rot into Duft, and lie there as insensible as Dust can be; it must be some Consolation to think that
the Soul, the mean while, is alive, and though SERM
SERM. much Modesty left as to affert that Body and
Soul fill rise again bereafter at the Sound of the Voice of the Archangel and the Trumpet of God. However, I say, in the Opinion of the Nature and Existence of the Soul, Atheist and Socinian both agree : Both affirm without a Mask, and without a Blush, that the Soul is only the Flame of Life, which is kindled in the Body at its Formation or Birth, and again extinguished when the Body dies : Wiser, it seems, than the wisest of Men, that have lived before, who in the Words of my
Text partly supposes, and partly affirms the direct contrary to what our present Sophifts advance. He supposes à Spirit in every Man distinct from the Dust, and affirms that this Spirit, when the Dust Mall return to its native Prin. ciple, to the Earth as it was, shall continue to live and exist by itself, it shall then return to God who gave it. Now by the Spirit here which Solomon names in Opposition to the Duft, it is plain he means the thinking part of Man or Soul. The Doctrine therefore which issues from the Text, and which I design for the Subject of this Discourse, in Opposition to the Notions I have here laid down, branches of itself into these two Particu, lars : viz.
1. FIRST, That the Soul is a spiritual Substance diftin&t from the Body : And
II. SECONDLY, That it continues to live and exist when the Body dies.
I. In the Prosecution of the First of these Heads, which is to prove that the Soul is a spiritual Substance, distinct from the Body, I shall not trouble you with the various Opipions of Philosophers and others concerning the Nature and Powers of the Soul, and in what particular Part of the Body her Throne is placed ; nor shall I needlesly inquire into her Origin or Source, as whether she is derived together with the Body down from the first Man through our Ancestors to us; or whether she takes Possession of the Body, after she had existed many Ages before in a separate State, or whether laftly she is purposely created and infused at the same Instant into the Body by God himself ? These are Quertions I shall leave entirely unexamined ; they being such as it is only in the Power of him that made them to folve; for the Soul must transcend herself to judge of them, for no Circle can comprehend itself, or be compreCc 2