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wickedness interrupted, the swellings of pride, birth, rank, and fortune, brought low, and persecutions for the sake of righteousness are at an end. Here the prince lays down his sceptre, the statesman his power, the warrior his shield, the navigator his compass, the lawyer his brief, the minister his charge, the banker his cash, the merchant his accounts, the scribe his pen, to resume them no more. Here all relative connections between the sovereign and his subjects, the land owner and the occupier, the husband and his wife, parents and children, master and servant, are dissolved. Hither let the living come, and learn what perhaps their Bible, their ministers, their conscience, their afflictions, have not yet effectually taught them, concerning religion, death, and another world.a
DEATH.—The subject of death should be considered on the spot where his triumphs are so numerous, and practically improved for the durable interests of the soul. The frequent consideration of death, though it be one most essentially requisite in this life, yet is what most persons wilfully neglect, and put away from them as a melancholy speculation. There is no glass less looked in than that of our mortality; some studiously shun all thoughts of dying, as if they could exempt themselves from being mortal, by forgetting that they
But what reason can they give for such a conduct, or how can they justify it by any rule of prudence? Supposing death to be an enemy, and the greatest they
* “A church-yard ought to be a school of morality. Itis on such a spot that the contemplation of the mighty, the rich, and the wicked, humbled nto dust, makes human passions disappear, and suspends, for a time at east, the influence of pride, avarice, and envy. It is on such a spot that the dearest affections of our nature revive at the remembrance of children, parents, friends, and conjugal partners.”-St. Pierre's Harmonies of Nature, vol. i. p. 208.
dread in the world; yet surely, the looking through a perspective on the motions of an enemy, does not in the least accelerate his approach ; it only puts us into a better state of readiness to receive him ; therefore, no one has just cause to banish the subject of death from his recollections.
The two constituent parts of the composition of man, are matter and spirit, or body and soul. The latter is the principal part, the proper agent, the animating and active principle. The former is only the habitation, theinstrument by which it acts, or executes its purposes. Moses, the sacred historian, represents the immaterial part as a principle of life. “ The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath, non ruach, spirit of life, and man became a living soul;" the dust of the ground was animated by a living soul, capable of thought, understanding, and choice. Elihu says, “ There is a spirit in man; and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” The spirit is the grand principle both of natural and religious actions. It is by this that we live, and move, and worship God. St. Paul, speaking of himself, says, “I serve God with my spirit in the gospel of his Son."
In the Scriptures, a plain distinction is made between the soul and the body. “ The dust shall return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Our Saviour addressing his disciples, says, “ Fear not them which can kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” In this scripture; the body and the soul are distinguished from each other, what is affirmed of the one, is denied of the other; the one may be killed while the other is alive. Again, after his resurrection, when his disciples were terrified, thinking they saw a spirit, he said, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Handle me, and see : for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” The soul, therefore, being distinct from the body, is not capable of being handled or seen, nor does it come within the reach of any of the bodily senses. St. Paul states, “ For which cause we faint not ; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." That is, though the body suffers and decays, by means of afflictions and persecutions, yet the soul receives advantage, increasing in strength under them ; is supplied by the Holy Spirit with larger measures of faith, love, hope, and courage--the one perishes, the other is renewed—which clearly demonstrates they are distinct things. The apostle, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, makes an evident distinction between the fathers of our flesh, and the Father of our spirits, saying, “We have had fathers of our flesh, which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live ?" The apostle John, in the Epistle to his wellbeloved Gaius, wishes that he did enjoy bodily health in proportion to the prosperity of his soul; but this would have been a vain wish, if the one had not been distinct from the other.
The nature of the one is quite different from that of the other. The body is wholly material—the soul, being a spirit, is wholly immaterial. It thinks, reasons, judges, doubts, and has a power of beginning and concluding an action. It is allowed, by competent authorities, that we have no idea, conception, or knowledge of the intrinsic abstract essence of any being, whether material or immaterial, corporeal or incorporeal, but only of the essential properties and distinguishing qualities and modes which relate to it. From whence we infer, that our not having an idea of the intrinsic essence of any substance, is no argument against its existence; since the existing properties or qualities show the existence of their substratum, or the substance which is their support, and in which they adhere. For instance, we have clear ideas of the properties, qualities, and modes of the human body, such as bulk and figure, solidity and extension, impenetrability and divisibility ; and, on the other hand, of the properties of the soul, such as sensation, thought, reason, and spontaneous motion; but have no idea of the abstract intrinsic essence of any substance of either body or soul, in which the fore-mentioned properties inhere—yet, for want of that, we have no reason to deny the existence of one or the other. Though we can form no idea of the abstract essence of the body, yet we know it to be a material substance, by the properties of solidity and extension; and though we can form no idea of the intrinsic essence of the soul, yet we know it to be a spiritual or immaterial substance from the qualities of thinking and reasoning, of which it is the substratum. We might here notice, that such qualities as sensation, thought, reflection, reason, volition, spontaneous motion, are neither essential to matter, nor can arise from, or be produced by any motion or modification of it, however refined or nicely organized. These qualities are incompatible with matter, and relate to a substance of a quite different nature and kind from it, namely, to a spiritual substance, such as the soul of man is, which is therefore frequently called spirit.
The soul being of a spiritual nature, is immortal. There is a two-fold immortality; one is essential, which imports an absolute necessity of existence : this is peculiar to God, who is said “only to have immortality.” The meaning of which is, that his life, which includes his being and all his perfections, is necessary and independent : but, in this respect, no creature is like him, their lives being maintained by his will and providence. The other is, a natural immortality, dependent on the will, power, and providence of God. This is the immortality of angels and the souls of men. There is nothing in the human soul that tends to its dissolution ; in the constitution of its own nature there is no principle of corruption, it cannot be destroyed by second causes. God, indeed, the Creator of the soul, could easily annihilate it, but this he has declared he will not do; he purposes that it shall continue in being for ever, and its everlasting duration depends on his will and conservative influence. That the soul is immortal, was the general sense of the wisest and best of the heathen philosophers and moralists, it appearing the most agreeable to the light of their own understanding, and the evident reason of things: but it is clear and certain, from the testimony of divine revelation.
The disposal of the soul at death is fully developed in the sacred writings. Great is the difference between the death of a man and a mere animal. The spirit of an animal depends on and perishes with the body ; but the soul of man does neither result from the body, nor perish with it, but remains alive when the material form is reduced to its original dust. Men may live like beasts, a mere sensual life, yea, in some respects, may die like them—a stupid death. But in this there will be found a vast difference,-death destroys both the spirit and form of animals: whereas it reduces to its first principles the body of man only, dislodging the soul, but cannot affect . its existence.