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NATIONAL PREACHER. .
No. 1. VOL. XI.)
[Whole No. 121.
By Rev. TRYON EDWARDS, ROCHESTER, NEW YORK.
THE INFINITE WORTH OF THE SOUL.
Psalm xlix. 8. The redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth
forever. THESE words suggest a topic of thought, demanding the most serious consideration. They involve two propositions. 1. That the soul of eyery individual is of infinite value; “The redemption of their soul is precious.”—2. That there is a period, beyond which, there is no hope of its salvation ; " It ceaseth forever.”
I. THE SOUL OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL IS OF INFINITE VALUE. redemption of their soul is precious.” This is the first truth presented to our attention. Now in estimating the force, or ascertaining the truth of any assertion, we are accustomed to examine the evidence by which it is supported. This is the case, in courts of justice, for example, where the testimony of witnesses is taken, as to the point in question. The question before us is, “ what is the value of the soul ?" We assert that its value is INFINITE. Do you ask for the evidence? To prove it, we shall summon witnesses FROM THREE WORLDS. Their testimony shall be given, at the bar of common sense. * Judge ye,” as to its weight. And,
1. The first witness to the value of the soul whose testimony shall be presented, is the infinite and ever-blessed God. He tells you that the soul is immortal ; that it is not only capable of, but destined to, endless expansion and growth; and that through the ages of eternity, it shall forever be rising higher and higher amid the glories of heaven, or sinking deeper and deeper in the unspeakable bereavements and woes of hell. In the strong language of interrogation, he asks, “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul; or what shall a man give in exchange for iis soul ?" And again, he tells you, that the “ redemption of the soul is precious.” Such are one or two of God's many assertions, as to the value of the soul of man. But it is a common maxim, that actions speak louder than words. What then is the testimony of Jehovah's conduct? What his practical estimate of its worth? What has he done for its salvation? GOD THE FATHER, to redeem it, devised a scheme of salvation, and for its execution, he freely gave his well-beloved son–a gift, in comparison with which, the treasures of a universe are but paltry trifles. Jesus, to save it, took upon his own soul
VOL. XI. No. 1,
the sins of a world. Follow him in his career of grace, from a throne in the heavens to a manger on earth--from the manger to the cross--from Bethlehem to Calvary from Calvary to the grave-and from the grave back again to his native skies; and in every step of his progress, in every act of his mediatorial existence, you may see his estimate of that for which he bled and died. The Holy SPIRIT too, by his efforts to convert and sanctify the soul of man, testifies most unequivocally to his sense of its unspeakable value. No other object-no other being in the universe, has ever excited half the interest in Jehovah's bosoin, or called forth half the effort in its behalf, that the soul of man has. When angels fell, no redeeming system was arranged for their recovery-110 voice of mercy proclaimed peace in hell, and good will to devils--they were left in everlasting chains, and under everlasting darkness. But when man became the victim of hellish temptation, and the devotee of sin, the resources of infinite benevolence were put in requisition to restore his soul to God's favour, to holiness, to happiness, to heaven.
2. The second class of witnesses, whose testimony shall be presented, are of a very different character-I refer to devils. Could we summon some one of those dark spirits, "scarred with the marks of omnipotent vengeance,” to come up from yonder world of wo, and here to tell, in audible accents, the condition of those whose endless habitation is fixed amid the lamentations, and the anguish, and the hopeless despair of hell, then you would indeed have fearful evidence, both in his testimony, and in his own hell-worn aspect, of the value of the soul, one of the alternatives of whose existence it is, to be forever the companion of such a spirit, and the inhabitant of such an abode! But in vain do we call to the caverns of despair to yield up one of their wretched inmates. The gates of hell, like the portals between time and eternity, open in only our direction, and the keys are in his hand “ who openeth, and no man shutteth, and who shutteth, and no man openeth.” How then shall we learn the opinion of its inhabitants, as to the point before us? Much of it may be gathered from the pages of inspiration. There you may find the most abundant evidence of the value of the soul, as estimated by devils. It is written indeed, not in acts of friendship, but in the equally legible characters of bitter enmity, and fiendish opposition. Through their efforts man was first'seduced from his primitive holiness, and brought into a state of sin and wretchedress. And every hour of our lives, they are going about seeking whom they may destroy; striving by all the arts of temptation, and by all the force of open opposition, to circumvent our souls to delude us to our ruin-to make us their drudges here, that we may be the victims of their cruelty and scorn hereafter. On earth, they are ever active to destroy us; and, as the unconverted soul is borne by death to its eternal prison-house, in the strong language of the prophet, “all hell is moved to meet it at its coming,” and to exult over its remediless ruin ! Could you wish for more conclusive evidence of the opinion entertained by devils of the value of the soul? But,
3. Let us summon a third class of witnesses let us attend to the testimony of angels, as to the importance of the soul. They, as we well know, are ministering spirits to the children of men ; and is the soul of trifling value, if they can condescend to be its servants? Often, under a former dispensation, did they come in visible form to earth, to do good to man, and to instruct him verhally in the secrets of the skies.
if the veil which hides the spiritual world, were removed from before our eyes, we might see them all around us, intent on their ministrations of mercy. For a moment let that veil be taken away. It is gone! And now we see with the purified vision of the upper world. On every side we clearly behold the angelic messengers-robed in the garments of immortality-joy glowing in their looks—love beaming in their eyes--hastening with all the activity of spirits, and burning with all the benevolence of heaven, to do good to men. There is one, beaming with a cherub's brightness and a seraph's holiness, ardently intent upon some unearthly commission. Let us follow his footsteps, and observe his motions. Rapidly he wends his way to yonder desolate and lonely cottage, the wretched abode of misery and sin. But what can attract the inhabitant of heavenly mansions to an abode like this? Let us enter with him and see.
There in yonder corner, upon a few coarse straws, lies a poor victim of wretchedness and guilt-whose days have been spent in reckless depravity and crime—an outcast alike from earth and from heaven. Disease has seized upon his vitals, and his whole frame is racked with agony, while no one is near to sooth his sufferings or minister to his wants. But why that expression on his countenance, of heart-felt despairing anguish-mingled now with doubt--and now with rising sorrow? Is it from bodily pain? No, he is thinking of his soul! The Holy Spirit has moved upon his heart. His sins have been set in array before him. He is looking upon Jesus, whom his iniquities have pierced. "Salvation,” he asks, “can it come to one so vile, so guilty, as I am? But I will renounce my sins. I will cast myself at the foot of the cross, and if I perish, I will perish there.” In despair of all other help, he does it; and at once, his burden is gone! Now, in an instant, tears of mingled penitence and love gush from his eyes-joy spreads through his bosomhis fears are gone—his Saviour is his all! He is an humble penitentCONVERTED MAN! But where is that angel spirit with whorn we entered this abode of misery—this very gate of heaven to yonder sufferer's immortal spirit? Speedily has he winged his way to his native skies, there to publish the conversion of this new born-soul. And as he announces the tidings, there is fresh joy among the angels of God, over another sinner that hath repented. Fresh anthems of praise burst with uncarthly melody and sweetness from all the choirs of the redeemed ; and the noble band before the throne, wake their golden harps to still loftier strains, while with all the ecstasy of heavenly worship, they shout that sons
which is the climax even of heaven's adoration, “Worthy, worthy, is the Lamb that was slain !" It is enough--enough---you need no other evidence, that angels correctly estimate the value of the soul!
4. We shall summon but one more class of witnesses to testify to the value of the soul-and these are men. And the first that shall be called to the stand is
The habitually careless sinner. We put him under oath, as in the presence of God, to tell us the plain and simple truth, and we ask him if, in the estimation of his conscience and his sober judgment, his soul is not of infinitely more value than all things beside ? He answers in the affirmative. We ask him again, if, while he neglects the salvation of his soul, or defers it to some future season, he does not feel guilty and self-condemned for his presumptuous conduct ? Again he frankly answers in the affirmative. It is enough---his testimony is to the pointit is clear—it is decisive. We call up another :
The sinner under conviction. Anxiety is on his countenance, and paleness sits upon his brow, and the tear trembles in his eye as he approaches. Tell us, fellow-mortal, what do you think is the value of the soul ? “Oh! I would give thousands of worlds for an interest in the great salvation-thousands of worlds, for the assurance that my sins were pardoned that my soul were safe for eternity!" It is enoughlet him retire to bewail his sins before God, while we summon another to come before us. To come to us, did I say? No-we must go to him-it is
The sinner in a dying hour; and we must take his deposition froin lips quivering in death. Tell us, departing spirit, gasping on the verge of eternity-tell us the value of the imınortal soul. "Soul-immortal soul, did you say? Ah! I have sinned away my day of grace-God is my enemy--my soul is lost !-lost forever. Oh! the insufferable pangs of endless death!" A single stifled groan, and all is over, and his spirit has gone to the fearful retributions of eternity! Well--follow that departing spirit, down to perdition, and call up from that dark abode, another witness:
The sinner in hell. Long has he been drinking in the dregs of righteous wrath-suffering the just punishment of his sins, and his aspect is that of a being who is "worn and wasted with enormous wo." Ask him “what is the value of the soul ?" But he hears you not. He is lifting up his eyes in torment, and crying to Abraham who is afar off, to have mercy on him, and to send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool his tongne from the torments of the flame. Well-speak to him again--again ask him the value of the soul. He groans out in bitter anguish, “Who can dwell with devouring fire ?-who can inhabit everlasting burnings? Oh! the gnawings of the undying worm !--Oh! the horrors of the second death! Are they forever ?” And the dark caverns of despair, in prophetic accents, echo back, "FOREVER.” You have heard enough to know his opinion of the worth of his soul, which he now feels has been self-destroyed, and that eternally. Let us summon another witness :
The humble Christian. He replies to your inquiry, that the value of the soul is infinite; and that for the whole material universe he would not relinquish the hope, that his own soul will be saved. Listen also to. the testimony of another :
The dying saint. There he lies upon the bed of death--but death to him is stripped of its terrors and deprived of its sting. The world is receding from his view, and eternity is rapidly drawing near. But he has no fears for the future, for his spirit is filled with joy which is unspeakable and full of glory. In the sentiment of the dying Payson, the celestial city is full in his view-its vivid glories beam upon his enraptured vision--its breezes fan his feverish cheek.its odours are wafted around him-its ravishing sounds strike upon his ears--its blessed spirit breathes through his heart. He is almost impatient to be gone. His soul is " striving with an angel's energy," and with an angel's feeling too, to break through the clay walls of its prison-house, and rise to the blessedness of the just made perfect. But he stays this side of eternity a little longer. Draw nearer then, in stillness, and ask him, now on the
very verge of heaven, what is his estimate of the value of the soul. Though his voice may be silent, the joy that beams in his countenance and the ecstasy that thrills his spirit, speak in unearthly eloquence of its infinite importance. Your question is more than answered. One more witness, and our evidence is closed. We call for the testimony of
The saint in heaven. Go to yonder redeemed spirit before the throne, who, from the exliaustless fountain, is drinking in his full of transport, and knowledye, and holiness. Bid him descend from that world of glory, and come before us, and testify to the value of the human soul. True, he might feel reluctant to leave that blessed abode, for these dark regions of sin and wo. But bid him put off his robes of light, and lay aside his crown of glory, and hang his harp upon the willows of heaven, and come and inform us what is the value of the soul. He tells us that we can never fully estimate it, till we reach the world of spirits—till we calculate it in the arithmetic of heaven or of hell. But with deep solemnity and earnestness he reiterates the language of the blessed Saviour, “What shail it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul ; or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?" And again he tells us, “ That the redemption of the soul is precious, and it ceaseth forever.” And scarcely have the last accents of the declaration fallen from his lips, when he wings his joyful flight back again to heaven his blessed, his endless home.
Such are the witnesses, whose testimony to the value of the soul, is briefly but candidly before you. As witnesses, they are competentthey are credible. Cross-examine them as you will, and their testimony is still the same. They are self-consistent, and mutually harmonious; and they unanimously agree, that “the redemption of the soul is precious," that its salvation is of infinite moment. This leads us to
II. The second general truth included in the words that have been quoted, viz. : THAT IN THE EXISTENCE OF EVERY IMPENITENT PERSON, THERE IS A PERIOD, BEYOND WHICH, THERE IS NO IOPE OF HIS SOUL'S SALVATION. " It ceaseth forever.” And,
1. All hope of its salvation ceases at death. If it be unconverted then, it never can be converted ; if without salvation then, it is unsaved forever. As the tree falls, so-it lies; and as death leaves the soul, so judgment and eternity find it. Again,
2. When the unpardonable sin has been committed by any individual, there is no further hope of his salvation. I stop not to inquire as to the nature of that sin, or the reason why forgiveness is denied to it. It is sufficient for our warning, that after its commission, there is no further hope for the soul.
3. The same is true of the period when the Holy Spirit ceases to strive with the heart. When his blessed influence is withdrawn, hope sets to rise no more; and though the individual may not know it, yet from that moment the gates of heaven are shut against his soul, and he is given over to hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, to treasure up to himself wrath against the day of wrath. These are some of the periods in the existence of the impenitent, beyond which there is no hope of their salvation-beyond which, they might well take up the lamentation,
The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and our souls are not gathered into the garner of heaven !"
Two remarks and I have done. And,