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• Know'st thou the value of a soul immortal ?
Of unintelligent creation-poor!" And what is the soul—the human soul ? Who can describe its nature, ascertain the extent of its capacity, or measure the period of its duration ? We are fearfully and wonderfully made! The curious structure, the elegant formation, the diversified, yet harmonious, parts of the material portion of our being, are truly surprising. But these, with all their proofs of contrivance and adaptation, are low and inferior, compared with the intellectual and spiritual properties of the mind. The body was formed out of the ground, but the soul was infused by the breath of God, who created it in his own likeness, and stamped it with immortality. The soul is an intellectual property, or rational principle, which renders man an accountable agent, and places him in a position distinct from the brute creation. It is the most excellent part of our nature, the source of our thoughts and reasonings, and contains the spring of our motives and actions. It is the seat of understanding, of memory, of judgment, of will, of conscience, of imagination; and hence, possessed of attributes, which, according to the light of revelation, declare it to be an immaterial substance, capable of surviving the dissolution of the body, and existing in a separate state. Its capacity is such that, let its stores of knowledge be ever so large and diversified ; and even if it were to go on increasing its stock of information, until it had explored every part of the universe, there would, with all its acquirements, be a miserable void, apart from the SUPREME GOOD. God only can inspire it with solid and permanent satisfaction. In its original state it was capable of the most sublime associations and enjoyments; and now, when renewed by the Holy Spirit, it seeks by faith to draw near to God, and derives its only happiness from the manifestations of his favour.
And how solemn the thought ! how momentous the consi. deration—the soul cannot die! It cannot forget, cannot cease to be conscious-cannot abandon or desert itself, and, therefore, cannot by any possible effort, or accident, fall back into non-existence. Having come into life, onward we must go. An endless progression of being awaits us ! And have I a soul? Am I one of those, who, though but of yesterday, can never cease to be? Are things brought to such an issue, that eternal bliss or eternal woe must be our portion ? Must we at last enter the gates of heaven, or descend into hell; and have our fixed abode with the saints, or for ever perish with the ungodly? Are we immortal and accountable creatures ?. Let us then carefully inquire into our circumstances, and, with becoming seriousness, ponder over the solemn and weighty questions—“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 his soul ?” We shall consider :
I. The ConsequeNCES INVOLVED IN THE LOSS of the Soul,
The loss of the soul is a calamity which exceeds all description, calculation, or comparison. Numerous and affecting are the losses which befal mankind. One is stripped of his property-another is bereft of his friends another loses his health another his reason.
What losses occur by sea, by fire, by vain speculations, by connexions in trade, and various other causes ! But what loss, let it be ever so great or overwhelming, is equal to the loss of the soul? What calamity so dreadful, as that of an immortal spirit judicially abandoned to endless misery and despair?
In a certain sense all souls are lost—lost by sin—lost by guilt and corruption,- lost under the sentence of wrath and condemnation-lost to God, holiness, and happiness. But to man, while in the body, the Gospel reveals a method of recovery. Christ is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour. “Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Behold, the fountain is opened !-See, the streams of mercy flow! Attend to the kind and urgent entreaty to come and partake of the benefits of a full and free salvation. “Incline your ear,” says Jehovah, “and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live.” But the condition of a lost spirit in another world is very different. The day of grace has closed
it, and a dark and fearful night has overtaken it. The Divine forbearance towards it has ceased ; mercy has retired from its view, and justice only is seen to occupy the throne.—What a loss! How tremendous! Consider the doom it involves—what exclusion !—what subjection !-what duration !
1. What exclusion! The spirit departed hence, in its sins, with its guilt uncancelled, and its nature unrenewed, is wholly unprepared to enjoy fellowship with God, or to engage in the services and partake of the pleasures of the saints in light. The harp—the song-the society--the harmony-the contemplations—the purity—the blessedness of heaven, fur. nish nothing that is congenial with the taste, or suited to the inclinations and habits of a soul alienated from God, and under the reigning power of corruption. It can have no sympathy with them. The countenance, the majesty, the throne, the sceptre, the splendour and manifestations of Deity, can yield nothing that is joyous or attractive to such a spirit. Truth and holiness, and the very nature of things, forbid its entrance within the walls of the
celestial city. The heavenly life consists in the enjoyment of God and the Lamb-in loving and adoring Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-in obtaining immediate access to the possession and enjoyment of incorruptible treasures-in exploring the wonders of creation, providence, and redemption-in the attainment of views and feelings wholly refined and elevated, capable of being expanded and improved with ever new and increasing discoveries, and all tending to higher bliss and glory. But the soul, absolutely and irrecoverably lost, is completely cut off from God's mercy, deprived of all hope of his favour, shut out from the light of his countenance, and denied the felicity of his kingdom. It is lost to heaven, and heaven is lost to it. Instead of looking upwards with joy, it is compelled to look downwards with despair. There is no seat in bliss for it to occupy; no portion with God for it to inherit; no companionship with holy beings for it to participate ; no heavenly fruits for it to reap and enjoy.
2. In the case of the lost soul—What subjection! The loss of God's favour is attended with subjection to his displeasure. The lost soul is not only excluded from the chief good, but doomed to endure evil to the uttermost, which, in the Holy Scriptures stands out in awful and fearful contrast to the purity and blessedness of the heavenly world. The lost soul, as a vessel of wrath, fitted by reason of sin, for destruction, is full of nothing but evil. There is no mixture of sweet, no cooling or mitigating property in its cup of woe. Wrath without mercy is its portion—the wrath of inflexible, unerring, impartial justice--wrath to the very uttermost!
can tell what is comprehended in the displeasure of God, righteously poured forth in the execution of his threatenings upon the guilty and helpless spirit, in a separate state of being ? The curse, no longer suspended by the intervention of mercy, descends with its dreadful weight upon the soul thus cast away from the Divine presence. And what must be its feelings upon finding itself shut up in the pit of deep perdition, surrounded with the blackness of darkness, in which no cheering ray presents itself, as a signal of hope amidst the fearful gloom ! It is lost to every token of comfort and happiness, and lost in utter anguish and despair. It is lost to every principle and emotion of spiritual life-lost under the power of the second death-lost to heaven, and lost in hell!
3. What duration! The loss of the soul is immense, both in degree and duration. It is a loss never to be repaired nor mitigated. A lost estate may be regained—and lost liberty may be regained and lost friends may be regained and lost health—and lost reason may be regained ; but the loss of the soul is irreparable! It is a loss beyond the possibility of recovery-an abiding loss- -a loss which will always be felt in the stings of bitter remorse, unavailing anguish, and tremendous anticipation. Its banishment is perpetual ; its destruction everlasting; and its woe without end. It will be wrath ever present, and ever to come. Who can estimate the magnitude of the soul's loss in losing heaven? Who can fathom the depth of its misery, in the utter extinction of every comfort, and the gnawings of the never-dying worm? What rule of calculation or plan of measurement will suffice to demonstrate the nature and extent of such a calamity? Other losses are connected with time—this has a relation to eternity. Other losses admit of gradual mitigation; but, as the enmity of the lost spirit to the Divine character and government will continue without abatement, and even acquire increasing strength of opposition to the authority and image of infinite holiness, the load of its guilt will be ever accumulating, with a consequently increasing weight of punishment. Oh, the dreadful state of the soul thus placed beyond the reach of grace and mercy-for ever! Thus an outcast from life and happiness—for ever! thus abandoned to its depraved appetites and passions—for ever! thus doomed to sink in filth and misery-for ever! thus left to reap the fruit of sin, and suffer the displeasure of God-for ever! We noticeII. THE UTTER IMPOSSIBILITY FOR ANY Earthly PossesSION, HOWEVER LARGE, TO COMPENSATE FOR SUCH A Loss.
“What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" Admit, for a moment, that the possession of the whole world is not only attainable, but actually realised. Imagine a man able to appropriate the entire globe to himself. All its sources of wealth and means