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First. At death the soul quits the body to return to it no more, as an animal frame, for its companion.

At death, the animal functions cease; or rather the cessation of them, is death itself. Then the flexibility, the power of action, and the consequent usefulness to which they gave birth, are terminated also. The soul, of course, finds the body no longer fitted to be an instrument of its wishes or its duties. The limbs can no longer convey it from place to place; the tongue cannot communicate its thoughts, nor the hands execute its pleasure. Deprived of all its powers, the body becomes a useless and uncomfortable residence, for a being to whose nature activity is essential; and the purposes of whose creation, would be frustrated by a longer confinement to so unsuitable a mansion. We cannot wonder, therefore, that the Author of our being, should in his providence, remove the soul from a situation so contradictory in all respects to the design of its existence. Though the body was once its beloved partner, yet utility now demands an entire separation. And they are not only disunited, but their abodes are in different worlds. Whilst the one is consigned to the mansions of the dead, the other becomes an inhabitant of the world of spirits. And whilst the one is deprived of all sensation and enjoyment, the other is rendered more sensible and active, and its happiness or misery augmented.

Second. It certainly is possible for the soul thus to survive the body.

There is nothing absurd in the belief, that the soul exists in a state of perfect consciousness when the body is deprived of animal life and of all sense, and turned to dust; for they are essentially different in their natures. The one is a material substance, the other immaterial : The one is naturally sluggish, inactive, and unconscious; but the other is by nature, alert, active, and conscious. Moreover, the soul is the agent which actuates and governs the body in all


the various movements of life, in such a manner that the body is as it were a mere machine, performing all those things which the soul directs. It labours or rests; moves hastily or slowly; views distant or present objects at the discretion of this intelligent agent. Hence, it is the soul which denominates the person. Were we possessed of our present organized bodies, and endued with animal life without the soul, we should not be constituted human beings; but would be sunk to the grade of the animal creation. St. James remarks, The body without the spirit, is dead: This expression favours the sentiment that the soul is distinct and can exist separate from the body. St. Peter calls the soul himself, and the body the tabernacle for the soul. His words are, Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance, knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me.

There is no more difficulty in supposing the soul of man to be capable of existing in a conscious and active state, when separated from the body, than in supposing any other spirit to be capable of existing and acting without a body. Are angels unembodied? Why may not the spirits of deceased persons exist in a similar state? Surely such a thing is more than possible ; and the belief of such existence is not inconsistent nor improbable.

Third. Evidence may be derived from the great desire and universal expectation of mankind, that the soul will exist, a conscious and active being, after it has forsaken the body.

În the human breast there is a secret and strong desire of immortality. The soul, so averse to annihilation, shrinks at the very thought. As it is capable of making constant improvements in useful knowledge, so with all the opportunities of life and of

age, it only makes a beginning towards its perfection. Hence, there is an ardent desire for immortality, and a strong aversion to the thought of annihilation.

Moreover, mankind are looking forward beyond the grave; some with awful, and others with joyful expectaticn. Human beings have apprehensions of future rewards and punishments so universally, that this appears to be the consent of all nations in every age of the world. The criminal condemned to death, fears the dreadful hour of his execution, not as the end of his being, but as the entrance into a world of strict retribution. The good man, with joyful anticipation, looks forward to the event of his dissolution, not merely as an end of his trials, but as the commencement of a glorious reward. Let us go to the solemn chambers of death, and inquire of those who are about to depart. The impenitent and unreconciled in heart to God, with deep distress, are constrained to express their awful apprehensions of an existence beyond the grave. On the other hand, the man of penitence and submission, with cheering expectation and ecstasy of expression, evinces his views of death as the gate to immortal glory. And the desire of immortality, and the universal expectation of a future conscious existence, are not merely the effect of a religious education; but they are sentiments implanted in the active principles of our nature, by the Author of our being; and as it respects their propensity, are innate. They doubtless are improved by moral culture; but their original is God.

Fourth. The consideration of the present state of things, will furnish an argument of much weight, to prove the future existence of the human soul.

Divine Providence is so administered in the present world, as to furnish strong presumptive evidence, that there will be another state of human existence, as a world of righteous retribution. Do we believe that the supreme, moral governour and Disposer of all existences and events, is a being of the most per


fect righteousness and goodness? Then we must conclude that the present life is only a state of probation; for we cannot with clearness discern these important truths merely from the present dispensation. No man knoweth either love or hatred, by all that is before him. Hence, then, there is nothing in the bestowment of favours, or the sending of judgements, which can enable us with assurance to determine that God is perfectly righteous and good, should we confine our views solely to the present state of things. Were this the only state of existence for human beings, and should we judge from the allotments of Providence, we could not discern who were righteous, or who wicked; who the friends of God, or who his enemies. We should be liable to pronounce the rich man the favourite of heaven, and Lazarus a son of perdition. And consequently, we could not determine with any degree of certainty, that the Lord loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity; for many of the righteous suffer very great and grievous calamities, drinking deeply of the cup of affliction, of poverty, and persecution; while some of the wicked, even the openly profane and licentious, are crowned with wealth and worldly prosperity, raised to great worldly honours, and followed with affluence to their graves. These remarks give conclusive evidence, that this world is not designed as a state of righteous retribution ; but as a state of probation, in which characters are formed, and souls prepared for future rewards and punishments.

Therefore we may conclude from the present state of things, and from the most perfect righteousness and goodness of God, that the souls both of the righteous and of the wicked, will exist beyond the grave, and be rewarded according to the deeds done in the body.

Fitih. By various considerations we are taught from divine revelation, that the soul exists in a state of sensibility and activity, and of happiness or miscry, from deatk till the resurrection and general judgement.

In the words of the text, we are informed, That then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return to God who gave it. Thus we may see, the soul and body are natures so essentially different, that in a certain sense, they are two distinct beings : That the one returns to the earth, as from that it was formed; and the other returns to God, as he is the Father of all spirits. The most obvious sense of the latter part of the text is, that 'at death, the soul is adjudged and awarded with strict retribution, according to the moral character formed while in the body: That the souls of the righteous return to God, to be received into his

peculiar favour; and the souls of the wicked, to be banished from his glorious presence. I have already noticed there is nothing absurd in such a belief; for

a we can as easily conceive of the souls of the righteous and of the wicked, existing without an earthly house of a tabernacle, as we can of the existence of the spirits of angels and of devils; and that the souls of the former may be as capable of enjoyment or suffering, as are the latter.

Although the souls of the righteous may not participate so great a degree of happiness, nor the souls of the wicked endure so great a degree of misery, as they will after the resurrection and general judgement, still this does not militate against the reality of their consciousness, and of their existence in a world of righteous retribution. It is probable that the holy angels will then be more exalted in glory; and the devils are bound under chains of darkness, reserved to the judgement of the great day, when they expect to suffer fiercer torments, as appears from this their interrogation of the Saviour: Art thou come to torment us before the time? Hence, fallen angels have not yet received their final judge

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