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tered to mankind according to their deserts. In this life, the
of the wicked often prospers; and they are happy who deal very treacherously. The righteous are also frequently involved in great aflliction and adversity. On this account, David was in deep perplexity, until he went into the sanctuary of God, and understood the end of the wicked. In the sanctuary, he was led to contemplate the future state of rewards and punishments; and in a view of this great and solemn scene, bis mind was relieved. He saw how the divine character would be vindicated, by the administration of justice in the eternal state of retribution; and his pious soul was satisfied.
5. The doctrine of immortality is the only ground on which good morals can be supported.--Set aside this solemn doctrine, and the great body of mankind will adopt the libertine maxim, Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.". Let us gratify every propensity of the heart, and of the mind ; let us riot in carnal pleasures; for soon we shall be annihilated. Our existence and our memory will perish. Of all doctrines, that of annihilation has the greatest tendency to licentious
Take away all sense of accountability, and all fear of future punishment; and the principal inotives to morality are destroyed. Present gratification will be the sole object of pursuit. Conscience will be seared as with a hot iron, and will cease to do its office. Can we suppose a doctrine to be true, which is not according to godliness? but which opens the floodgates of iinpiety and iniquity ? Certainly not. By its moral tendency, every doctrine may be tested. If it produce good works, it is the doctrine of divine truth; but if it produce evil works, it is a false and heretical doctrine, a doctrine that leads to death. We
may now attend to what is taught us in the scriptures, concerning this solemn and interesting doctrine. In them we read, that “ life and immortality are brought to light, through the gospel.” By the gospel of Christ
, the immortality of the soul is more clearly revealed, than it was by the scriptures of the old testament. Speaking of the resurrection of the body, it is said by the Apostle, hó This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this
mortal must put on immortality." Can we suppose, that the body will put on immortality, and the soul be annihi- . lated ? This is an absurdity. From the scriptures it is evident, that the souls and bodies of the saints, after the resurrection and judgment, shall inherit the kingdom of heaven; and that the souls and bodies of sinners shall depart accursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
In the scriptures, the doctrine of a future retribution is clearly revealed. God will render to every one, according to his deeds. This implies the immortality of the soul. A heaven and a hell are often and familiarly spoken of in the scriptures; but these can exist, only in the eternal world. To inhabit one or the other, the soul must be immortal.
Very little account is made in scripture of the present life, only as a state of probation for'a boundless eternity. But the very idea of probation, implies a future state of happiness or misery, according to men's characters.
Finally ; The scriptures represent the Deity as a being possessed of every adorable perfection, and as a being who will display his glory in the view of all his intelligent creatures. But, in tħis world, “ Clouds and darkness are round about him." His glory is, in a great measure, concealed from mortal eyes. ( Verily, thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel.” Millions of our mortal race die in infancy and childhood, millions in pagan darkness; and hitherto, but a small proportion of the human race, have even begun to see the glory of God. But it is unscriptural and unreasonable to suppose, that God will forever conceal his glory from his rational and moral creation. For what purpose did he create the myriads of rational beings and moral agents; but that they might, here or hereafter, discover and celebrate bis glory? But should the doctrine of the immortality of the soul prove false, the glory of God will forever be concealed, and his veracity destroyed.
1. The subject leads us to consider this life as nothing. in comparison with a future and eternal state. It is but
the beginning and infancy of our existence. Why should we magnify worldly objects or attainments ? For, " 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 ?" Is it not infinitely more important, to provide for the immortal, than for the mortal part?
2. How thankful should we be, that we enjoy the precious privilege of a divine revelation, by which life and immortality are most clearly brought to light! How greatly are we distinguished, by the sovereign mercy of God, from the benighted heathen, who are perishing for lack of a knowledge of the way of salvation ! On the great subject of the immortality of the soul, “ He that haih ears to hear, let him hear."
Death, and the Separate State. HAVING proved the immortality of the soul, which is the joyful hope of all God's suffering saints, in this militant state ; and which is alarming to the ungodly; it is proposed in the next place, to treat of the death of the body, and the separate state.
That we are all liable, every moment, to the arrest of death, and to the dissolution of our mortal bodies, is evident from universal experience and observation. This is a point, realized indeed by few ; but denied by no
may be useful, however, to consider briefly, what things are implied in the death of the body. It ima plies a separation of the soul and body. 66 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who
it." 66 Dust thou art," as to the mortal body,“ and unto dust shalt thou return." The dissolution of that mysterious .union of soul and body, which was constituted in man's creation, is the main thing implied in death, as respects the soul. But the body, in consequence of this dissolution, returps to its primitive dust, and mingles with the common earth. The soul, at this important crisis, instead of returning
to its primitive non-existence, returns to God who gave
Death, however, has its glooms and its terrors ; par-
Having dilated thus far, on the particular subject of death b; we proceed to consider the separate state both of saints and sinners. By the separate state, is meant that state of existence, in which the soul and body are separate from each other ; or the state of departed souls. The bodies of both saints and sinners, moulder down to common dust; in which state they will continue, till the resurrection, when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality."
With regard to the separate state of the soul, different opinions have been entertained. Some have supposed, that between death and the resurrection, mankind are in a state of dormancy, and insensibility. But it is as difficult to conceive of a motive to this opinion, as of an argument to support it. Sinners may imagine, that it affords to them a long reprieve from deserved punishment; but in this they are under a gross mistake : For, in a state of dormancy, time is wholly lost ; so that the
moment of death, would seem to be immediately connected with the moment of resurrection. On the part of the wicked, therefore, nothing is gained by this opinion ; and on the part of the righteous, much is lost.' They loose the privilege of being spectators of the wonderful works of divine providence and grace, down through the latter day of glory of the church, and to the day of the resurrection of the dead, and the conflagration of the world.
But the more general opinion is, that the separate state is a state of sensible existence; a state of perfect holiness and happiness to the righteous; and a state of perfect sinfulness and misery to the wicked. This opinion appears to be abundantly supported by the holy scriptures.
66 I heard a voice from heaven," says the Revelator 66 saying unto me, Write; blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, from henceforth ; yea, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them. They are said to be now blessed, while they are in the congregation of the dead. They are blessed in particular, from henceforth, from and after the separation of the soul and the body, by natural death. 66 And their works do follow them." They commence, at their death, a glorious retribution ; and begin to reap the reward of all their labors, and toils, and sufferings in the cause of Christ. By this passage, the state of departer saints is explained ; and proved to be a state of high felicity.
The separate state of sinners is taught, with equal clearness, by the story of the rich man, and Lazarus. 66 Lazarus, the beggar died, and was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in tor
In his torments, he had a dialogue with Abraham, which proves, that neither he nor Abraham was in a state of dormancy. Call this a parable, if you please. Yet its design is to represent the matter as iť is; and it proves the separate state of the wicked, as well as that of the righteous, to be a state of sensibility; and a state of awful retribution.