ePub 版

count their numbers, and ascertain their distances, and calculate their movements. Wondrous being! The soul of man can do more still. The soul of man can mount up from the loftiest works of nature to the God of nature himself! For God was the soul formed

of God is the soul capable--and short of Him no rest can the soul of man find or enjoy! And, although, morally speaking, this soul is not now what it once was—although it is not now the pure and holy Spirit it was when it sprang forth from its great Originator, yet still there is the capacity-still there is something that cannot be satisfied of any thing short of God. It is a matter of conscience to any man, that he is formed for God that there is something within him capable of knowing, enjoying, and serving Him for ever and ever.

Now, what is there in this world to compare with the soul of man? Is it the Regent of day,' as he has been called—the centre of the system—the most glorious of all the visible objects in the universe ? But what is the sun even in his meridian splendor ? Why, he is unconscious of his own glory—he does not know to how many myriads of human beings he conveys light and heat and blessing. The sun has no power of self-determination-he acts necessarily, according to the laws which the Governor of the universe has imposed. The sun! Why the sun knows nothing—the sun enjoys nothing--the sun in his noon-day splendor is a senseless ball compared with the soul of the meanest slave, possessing, as it does, the high attributes of intelligence, of sensibility and spirituality. Wondrous creature ! Oh, what a thing to possess such a soul !

I argue the excellence, and consequently the worth of the human soul, in the third place, from its duration. Wondrous as is this being, high as are its capacities, vast as are its powers, if it were destined very soon to be blotted out of existence, and be as it never had been, how would it then dwindle into insignificance ! But, now, the soul of man is destined to an unending existence. I think this might be fairly argued from the immateriality of its nature : on the admission of the one, I think the other follows by necessary consequence. For instance, a spiritual nature, you know, cannot be destoyed by any influence of corruption--a spiritual essence cannot be dissolved by decomposition of parts-an immaterial nature cannot be destroyed by external violence. By this argument, then, we must arrive at the conclusion, that the soul must still exist—that it is never to die. The same thing may justly be inferred from the vast powers and capacities of the soul. The only wise God never acts without reason and design, not unworthy of himself ; and is it conceivable that he would have made man so wonderful, so stupendous in his capacities and powers, if he had not intended that he should exist longer than threescore years and ten? Would the vessel

And do you

have been so richly freighted if he, who was the framer of that véssel and its charterer, had determined it should become a total wreck as soon as she had sailed across the stream-the narrow stream of time? No, my brethren.

Besides, the desire of perpetuity of being, which is a matter of consciousness to all, I believe, is a strong indication of the same truth. During my travels in some parts of this country and in the sister island, I have sometimes, when I had a few moments .. spare, taken a pensive walk into the church-yard--and there, upiik. the humble stone, in rude sculpture, I have seen the names of thi:: man and that woman, and of such a son and daughter, who once, like myself, were instinct with life. And here, I have thought, was an indication of immortality. No man wishes, however humble bis situation, to be forgotten---never wishes to be blotted out of being. There is the desire, then, after an endless existence. think that He who framed us would have given us this desire after a thing while that thing itself was altogether deceptive and unreal ? And then, we all know, from what we feel in ourselves, that this cannot be the native region of the soul--that in this world its proper element is not to be found—that it does not find here any thing congenial to its nature or equal to its cravings and capacities; it is obviously formed for a good which this world does not contain. But does not this go to presume immortality--a nobler and higher state of things ?

Then the conviction of responsibility, which we all have, proves the same thing. Yes, a conviction of responsibility ; for I should pause before I credited any infidel that would tell merid of it-such a thing never crosses my mind.' Ah, they may say this in the seasons of wealth and of prosperity, they say very differ-Ent things to me in the hour of sickness and on the approach of death. They tell me then that they were acting the hypocrite all the time that they had a conscience all the while—and althongh they tried to administer opiates by infidelity, and sometimes by sensuality, they still felt that they had a conviction of accountability. And what does that imply ? Immortality! But still the unending duration of the soul is not a settlement of the question. The grand question is, - What saith the scriptures?' Here we are always safe when we confine ourselves to 'What saith the Lord ?' There is a Being who only hath immortality, and who has, as we here learn for certain, made the soul of man immortal. Life and immortality are brought clearly and fully to light by the Gospel.

What an overwhelming thought is this ! Brethren, do you frequently indulge in it? There is something in you and in me, that in being must always be !-an existence commensurate with eternity, which shall never, never terminate. Awful thought! Yonder

-- I have got

sun shall be quenched in total and final darkness, and yonder moon shall for ever withdraw her shining--and the stars of heaven shall fall from their orbits—the universe shall dissolve with fervent heat, and the works that are therein shall be burnt up ; but the soul shall live when all created nature shall die—the soul shall blaze out in immortality, and shall outlive

"The wreck of matter and the crash of worlds!' There is another argument which will, perhaps, be called the trite and common argument in the mouth of every one ; but, be that as it may, let all such know that every thing new in Christianity is false. Revealed truth is essentially the same; and truth is not the less valuable because it is either old or common.

Would to God it were more common than it is! What is the argument, then, my friends ? I argue

the worth of the soul from the price which has been paid for its redemption ? I have already intimated, that the soul of man is not now the being it once was. God created man upright and perfect ; but by transgression he fell—the crown tumbled from his head, and his honor lies in the dust--the soul is loaded with guilt and blackened with its crimes ; and man cannot redeem his own soul. The redemption of the soul was too precious for man to effect-the price required was too great, and no created being could redeem it. Our poet of Paradise has, indeed, supposed a case ; and it may pass fór poetry, but, depend upon it, it is not theology. He absolutely supposes the Divine Being instituting an inquiry among the angelic orders :

'Say, heavenly Powers! where shall we find such love?
Which of ye will be mortal to redeem
Man's mortal crime, the just, the unjust to save?
Dwells in all heaven charity so dear?
He asked, but all the heavenly choir stood mute,

And silence was in heaven.'
What, then, did the poet Milton' imagine, that if Gabriel had said,

Lo, here am I, send me; I am willing, for the sake of man, to assume his nature, to live and suffer and die, “ the just, the unjust to save!”?-did the poet imagine that the death of Gabriel in a human body would have effected the redemption of the soul of man ? The thing was impossible. No mere creature could have effected the redemption of the souls of myriads of men. Man was redeemed, but by what? Let St. Peter tell. We were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold '--no, no ; there had been no proportion between the worth of that to be redeemed and the price, in that case—not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot !' A price this, 0, how precious! Who can conceive the preciousness of the blood of Christ ? A price beyond all power of angels and of men to compute !

The argument is this. If the sum paid down was so incalculably great, what, in the estimation of the Divine Being, must have been the worth of the soul which was redeemed by such a price ? But, then, that redemption might be carried into practical effect, what a wonderful diversity of means has God instituted! For this he has given us the word of his truth—for this he has sent down the Spirit of his grace—for this he has appointed the holy Sabbath-for this he has appointed the service of the sanctuary—for this he has commissioned his ministers—for this he has given us line upon line and precept upon precept--for this the Spirit strives for this the ordinances of his grace are dispensed for this the successive seasons revolve--for this the sun gives his light-for this the willing earth continues her increase--and for this time is continued, and human life is prolonged, and death is delayed; all this that the soul may be saved! Oh, man, Oh, woman, reverence thyself! Thou hast a soul-a soul whose interests are immeasurable, whose worth is incalculable,--reverence thyself! And, secondly, tremble for thyself; for invaluable as is thy soul, it may by possibility be lost ! Now, when our Lord speaks of the loss of the soul, he does not speak of the loss of its existence, but the loss of its well-being, the loss of all that for which it would be desirable to have a soul. To be lost is to be cast away—to be lost is to be undone—to be lost is to perish!

Now, there are two great ideas comprehended here ; and I shall just name them. The loss of the soul implies the privation of all the good of which a soul is capable in this world and in the nextthe loss of pardon, the loss of peace, the loss of holiness, the loss of happiness, and the loss of the beatific vision—the loss of the crown of glory and the palm of victory—the loss of the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away—the loss of the rivers of pleasure which are at God's right hand : it is to be shut out from happiness and from heaven and from hope. And not only does the loss of the soul imply the loss of all the good, but the endurance of all the evil of which the soul is capable. We cannot tell how much ibat is. Sin and misery are in close neighborhood-they go hand in hand. Who can tell what some souls endure in this world, in the corrodings of guilt and the lashings of an accusing conscience ? May the gracious God forbid that any of us should ever know, by experience, what it is to lose the soul to be where there is no eye to pity, no cordial to relieve, no ray of hope to cheer, and where justice and self condemning guilt consign the lost soul to eternal perdition! God has said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die !' Is not the traveller in danger of losing his life, who, bewildered in

my soul!

the darkness of midnight, has turned out of the right way into a place of pitfalls ? But is not the sinner who has forsaken the royal road of ruth and holiness—wandered into the mazes of error and tumbled into the ditches of wickedness, is he not in danger of losing his soul forever?

Where this event takes place there are sad and awful aggravations and this is one--it is the man's own deed; "For what is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' If the soul be lost, it is not the act of his neighbor or of his ministerit is the man's own act. This will be the terrible scourge of lost souls in perdition. I did it-it was my own act—I bartered with

And remember, this is an incalculable loss. A man may lose property--he may calculate how much; a man may lose friends, he knows how many; but, Oh, if the soul be lost, who can tell the amount of that loss? If the soul perish, it is, once more, an irreparable loss-a loss that cannot be retrieved. A man may lose health, and yet, by the blessing of Providence upon medical aid, he may become more healthy than before; a man may lose property-his all in the world, and yet, by industry and the smile of Providence, he may become richer than before; a man may lose friends God may raise up others in their room; but, Oh, if the soul is lost, it is lost not for a day, a month, or a year, but for eternity ; and it is that word ' eternity' which give emphasis to bliss or woe, to ease or pain, to hell or heaven. It is eternity which makes a hell of hell, and a heaven of heaven !

I think, my friends, by this time you are prepared for the third proposition and for its adoption, that for SUCH A LOSS THE AC-, QUISITION OF A WORLD WOULD BE NO RECOMPENSE. " What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?" You will observe, that our Lord does not mean by this to denounce a due regard to worldly business or the acquisition of property ; but still he teaches us that there is danger; because, when riches increase, a man is apt to set his heart upon them. When properly viewed, riches are a great blessing : where this is the case, the rich man is a blessing to all around him, and he blesses others while Providence is blessing him. Again, when our Saviour speaks of a man gaining the whole world, he is not to be understood as though that were literally possible. You know there was a man that was called Alexander the Great—he was in many things Alexander the Little, and was a wretched slave to his own unsanctified passions ; however, it was said that this man had conquered the whole world : he never saw the whole world. So, here, a man cannot strictly gain the whole world ; and the expression means that he has gained every thing of the world that he can possibly enjoy. Ś

Let us, then, suppose a case. Here is a man that has gained all

« 上一頁繼續 »