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in the grave.
of all the intelligent creatures, is destined to arrive at the grandest, and most extended, and exalted, conceptions of the Infinite Supreme. This poor imbecile and almost inert and unconscious existence, wrapped up, at its first formation, in a little organized body, totally dependent on the sympathies of a mother's soul, is to be raised to immediate communion, and most endeared intimacy, with the high and mighty Ruler of the universe!
Oh! who can under-value the soul of man? That man is an enemy of his race, who would persuade us there is no other principle in our nature than what is destined to rot
Shall we give up the hope of immortality, and quietly prepare for an eternal sleep?—the hope of glory for the dark, cheerless hope of annihilation? The mind sickens and revolts from the thought of its own destruction. And, blessed be God, the volume of his word affords the choicest cordial to refresh its drooping and sinking spirits. There is a deathless soul in man, shut up for a season indeed, in the casement of this mortal body, but destined, to an emancipation both wonderous and blissful--and to become the eternal friend and companion of Jehovah of Hosts, or the wretched slave and dotard of Hell. The spirit within is capable of indefinite improvement, and exaltation, or deterioration and misery. Whether the progress shall be towards bliss or woe, depends upon our faith. Reader, do you consult sense, and reject faith? Are you skeptical and unbelieving? You are exchanging, the only hope of a lost world, for the horrors of Tophet. You have a soul that must dwell forever in the presence of God, or be the companion of devils and damned spirits. Your speculations are vain! Your philosophy may prove
Oh your soul is of value too immense thus to be endangered, or thrown away. The joys of sense may allure and blunt the powers of perceiving truth-wealth may make her boastful promises and load thee with her
cares—ambition may fire thy spirit and urge thee on to deeds of vengeance or of desperate daring—but thou must die. And " what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul."1
1 Mark, vüi. 36, 37.
THE LIFE OF MAN'S RATIONAL SOUL.
The subject of the chapter-The importance of accurate knowledge with
regard to it-Psalm xxx. 5—The life of the rational soul does not consist in the mere circumstance of its perpetuity-No more reason to infer any thing as to the life of the soul from its perpetuity than as to the life of the body, from the permanent existence of the elementary particles which enter into its composition—The life of the soul does not consist in its spirituality—But in those actions which are appropriate to its capacities—What those capacities in general are—Col. iii. 10: Eph. iv. 24—A description of the condition of our first parent, as originally created—in knowledge-righteousness—and holiness—The loss of life consequent on the first act of rebellion-Regeneration defined-Contrast between sensual and spiritual men—The scriptural phraseology on the subject Not metaphorical-A caution.
It has been shewn that man is a complex being, and unites, in himself, the three orders of life--vegetative, animal, and intellectual or spiritual:~that he is possessed of a rational soul, which is immaterial in its substance, and not necessarily dependent on organization, nor a, mere chain of ideas and exercises, but is capable of existence in a separate state, and is the immediate author of thought and volition, and the subject of consciousness. The nature of life too has been illustrated, and a definition given which it is intended shall be applied to the elucidation of the leading subject of this treatise. These things, it is expected, will be kept in view by the reader, while we proceed to inquire, in this chapter, in what consists the life of the immortal spirit.
The language of the Psalmist is ordinarily quoted on
this subject, and it is apprehended by many, that when he says, in reference to God, “In His favour is life,” there is a sufficient explanation given of spiritual life. But, though the heart, which has had experience of the divine favour, may practically, and sufficiently for all the purposes of a walk with God, know something of the life that is "hid with Christ in God;" yet it is desirable to have, as far as possible, clear ideas on a subject of such deep and eternal interest.
It is highly probable, that the sentiment of the Psalmist, as expressed in the terms quoted above, was widely different from that which they are commonly employed by Christians to represent. The inspired writer had been greatly besct, and persecuted by enemies. His very life had been in danger from their malice and menaces. Their opposition and power, their provocations and prevalence against him, he had interpreted, as proof of the displeasure of God who had permitted him, in His holy providence, thus to be afflicted and assailed: and in this belief, he would not fail to be confirmed by the proverb of his day, and no doubt applicable still, that “when a man's ways please the Lord He maketheven his enemies to be at peace with him"2 A change however had taken place in this respect, in the Psalmist's circumstances. The Lord had rescued him from the hands of his foes, and as his heart overflowed with gratitude for such deliverance, he exclaimed “I will extol thee, O Lord, for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me." This interposition of providence on his behalf, he felt to be an immense favour. He attributed it entirely to the grace of God, and felt that to it he was indebted for the preservation of his life. Such we apprehend to be the original, and legitimate import of the Psalmist's words.
But, although they primarily direct our attention to the
1. Psalm xxx. 5.
2. Pidy. xvi. 7.
3. Psalm xxx. 1..
mortal life of believers, as protected and preserved by the gracious providence of God, yet we think, that the language does as appropriately intimate the general nature of that life which is peculiar to the immortal soul, of which, the reader will judge, when he shall have carefully considered the remarks which follow.
1. The life of the rational soul does not consist in the mere circumstance of its immortality or indestructibility. Immortality is a quality attributed to the human soul in contradistinction from what eventuates in the perishable body, and it rather denotes the perpetuity of its existence than the nature of its life. The very phrase "immortal life,” so commonly used, shews evidently a distinction between life and immortality. The body possesses an appropriate life, which does not consist in the presence of a spiritual principle in it, as we have already seen. The soul is not the life of the body. Its life is peculiar and distinct but of a temporary continuance and liable sooner or later to extinction by means of that process of dissolution which destroys the entire organization. Hence the life of the body is called a mortal life. But the soul is not liable to such a dissolution or separation of its parts. And being devoid of and unaffected by the properties of matter it is destined to continue to all eternity uninfluenced by decay. It is therefore said to be immortal.
We cannot indeed speak with the same precision, and certainty of the immortal spirit, that we do of the mortal body; for we do not and cannot know what is its essential nature, and whether there is any thing in it answerable to organization, or whether it is susceptible of variety in the modification of its essence, so that when we attribute perpetuity, and the absence of decay to it, we take it for granted that its essential being remains unaltered and unaffected. For any thing we know to the contrary, the perpetuity of the human soul is as entirely distinct from,