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earnest request, in which the author begs every reader would join with him to the Fountain of all good, that it would please him to make the following sheets instrumental in giving to those who peruse them, such a manifestation of the glory of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as shall make sin and the world, with their bewitching charms, appear vain, despicable, odious-such a conviction of human ignorance, guilt and depravity, as may infinitely endear the name of a Redeemer and Sanctifier, and create tender compassion and humbleness of mind one towards another such a knowledge of the pardon and peace, the strength and power, the purity and holiness which ennoble and bless those who have scriptural faith in Christ, as may manifest the emptiness of deistical and formal religion, and excite an earnest desire to behold the meridian glory of christianity in the eternal world; where every creature breaks forth in fervent acknowledgment of infinite obligation, saying, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”
OF THE SOUL.
VII. Its Perfection and Use
X. Its Nature and Extent
XV. His Divinity
XXI. Of a Christian towards God
Purity of Heart
XXX. With respect to Intemperance
Love of Praise
XXXIII. Evil Shame
Fear of suffering for Religion
Pride of Reason
XXXIV. Its object
XXXVII. Method of Studying it
XXXVIII. Its Resources
XXXIX. The Reasonableness of expecting it
XL. Its Certainty and Necessity
DUTY OF MAN;
DOCTRINAL AND PRACTICAL CHRISTIANITY.
ON THE EXCELLENCY OF THE SOUL.
It is evident that man is endued with an active principle, entirely distinct from his body. For whilst his body is chained down, an unconscious mass of matter, to a spot of earth, his soul can soar and expatiate in contemplation; can reflect, and with variety almost infinite, can compare the numberless objects which present themselves before it. When his body has attained maturity and perfect strength, his soul arrives not to a state of perfection, but goes on increasing in wisdom and knowledge; and when the body is feeble or sinks into decay, the soul is often full of vigour; or feels grief and anguish all its own.
To demonstrate the excellency of the soul, in its properties so singular and admirable, is of great importance: because all that is comprehended under the word religion, respects the soul. And many precepts in the book of God must be resisted as unreasonable, or slighted as unnecessary, if the salvation of the soul be not considered as the greatest good man can attain; the ruin of it, the greatest evil he can suffer.
To prove the worth of the soul, I shall make my appeal to your own observations, and to the evidences of holy scripture, entirely waving all philosophical inquiries into its nature, and all abstract reasoning concerning it.*
* Let not this be thought to proceed from any ignorant contempt of philosophical inquiries, when confined to their proper sphere; since
*** Are you
Observation then upon what passes before your eyes powerfully proves the worth and excellency 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, some affectionate friend, or near relation? One week, the dear deceased, how much was he valued! What a sprightly entertaining companion, in the prime of life, perhaps, of personal comeliness! The next, ah! sudden, bitter, prodigious transformation! the desirable object is become a putrid mass; the desirable object is become insufferably loathsome, fit only for the grave. Do you ask, how it comes to pass, that what was lovely to admiration, only a week or day before, should so soon be even hideous to look on? The answer loudly proclaims the dignity and excellency of the soul. For could the dead parent, friend, or relation, hold discourse with you on the subject, his answer would be to this effect. seized with afflicting surprise? Do you with tears of tenderness, bewail the frightful change you see, in a form long so familiar and so pleasing to you? The cause is this—The immortal inhabitant, which for a few years lodged under this roof of flesh, hath removed its abode. My soul by its presence gave to my body all its motion, life, and beauty. The instant the one took its destined flight, the other began to turn into an offensive carcase, which must moulder into dust, and dust remain, till his voice, who is the Resurrection and the Life, unites it for ever to its former inmate.”
From this most striking difference, therefore, between a dear parent, friend, or relation, active, useful, lovely, and the cold pale piece of outcast earth, which he instantly becomes upon the departure of his soul; understand what dignity and worth must necessarily belong to the soul. this is the determination of one of the greatest philosophers in whom our nation glories
“ All 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 seeing 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 the substance thereof first flowed.”—Advancement of Learning, Book, iv. Chap. 3.