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Jesus Christ should endeavour to dwell perpetually in the neighbourhood of this sublime fact, and suffer no sense of the awful inferences which may be inseparable from it, to scare him from its recognition. It may seem an astounding proposition, that the souls of all the busy, thoughtless, and impious myriads around should be going into an eternal state, with the certainty that the larger part, the immensely larger part, are utterly unfit for the change.
But the explicit testimony of revelation must explode all vague speculations, and dissipate all doubts.
The fact itself must never be obscured, much less questioned, by any minister of God's word. It must be his pole-star. It must be the preliminary to all bis designs, the starting-post of all his exertions. Unless, it is true, his religion is a fable; and unless it is believed, his office is but a tragic mask. The immortality and the ruin of souls are, in their
own nature, parallel truths, and they must be laid side by side, as parallel axioms in the mind, by every minister. Let him throw into his conceptions of them, all the vigour, and all the generality, all the awfulness, and all the individuality, all the immensity and practical infinitude, which belongs to them; let them live as real and unquestionable verities in his mind; let them be to him lights that never go down influences that never abate--for as they subside or suffer obscuration, so will the energy of his efforts decline-80 will the ardour of his love decay-so will the fire of his zeal expire, or sink down into smouldering and offensive embers.
It is therefore necessary, imperiously so, to awaken attention to the worth, the duration, the everlasting consciousness, the impending fate of human souls.
The dependence of that fate, in the consummation of happiness or woe, upon the evangelical labours of Christian ministers, must be vividly realized. There is imminent danger, amidst the businesses and the agitations of life which surround us, of overlooking, or of undervaluing the soul, and its eternal wel fare.
There is danger of being decoyed from the high aim of our ministry, by laudable, but lower objects. The vast and ever-changing population of the globe'the apparent insignificance of a single unit in the mighty mass—the astounding and yet familiarized profusion with which the inestimable and responsible gift of life and consciousness is both bestowed and revoked, -all conspire to induce a sort of practical infidelity in regard to the soul, by generating a mode of thinking and talking about human beings, more assimilated than it ought to be, to that in which we treat of the production and decay of mere material forms, or animal natures. We look only at their present existence and relations. A deeper sort of sympathy may be excited towards human sufferings, than towards those of the brute creation; but the undeniable fact is, that the bestowment and resumption of human life by the Creator, are contemplated by us, almost without a thought of that immortal principle which imparts to the body its real dignity, to time its true importance, and to eternity its sublime interest. A child is born into the world ; but who says Here is the commencement of a conscious existence, which shall never end—here is a nature that will suffer no decay through endless ages—here is a spark of intellectual light just kindling into radiance, which will outlive the bright sun—witness the death of time, and retain its intelligence, its consciousness, its feeling, for
ever-and maintain its perception of good and evil, and its moral connection with the supreme Spirit, through untold and unimaginable duration. The birth of such a being is little, or not at all, contemplated in reference to its eternity of existence, its immensity of suffering or of joy. It is thought of only, or chiefly, as a child of time, and its interests for this life, which nature compels us to make our earliest, we are apt to make our exclusive care. The removal of such a being too, in the vast majority of instances, is spoken of only as the loss of a human life, the dissolution of an animated fabric, the departure of one of the human animals from amidst a teeming and overgrown population. If the family or the afflicted parents share in our sensibility, and if we drop a tear, or heave a sigh, over their misfortunes, we usually think that we have extended the sphere of our sympathy far enough. But the SPIRIT—where is it? Immortality! Who feels the sublime conception? Who values the ineffable, the deathless endowment ?
“ Were but one immortal, how would others envy!
How would thrones adore !" How little just sense of the spiritual dignity of the soul is any where to be found. How rarely is its worth, and its capabilities, and its destiny, made a subject of reflection and inquiry! How little respect
for its interests can be said to pervade society, or even that portion of it which is professedly Christian ! O this corruptible and craving body! this state of enslavement to sense, to matter, and to time; this ever-present and all-engrossing world !. They grow upon the soul like a stony incrustation, hard,
opaque, and cold. The gem reflects no rays; the flower exhales no fragrance. They pervert us from our proper and spiritual associations--they incapacitate us for the conception of our immortality--they alienate us from communion with the divine Author of our being
Let us arise and shake ourselves from the dust lof this general degradation let us break the dead and withered slough of this reptile existence, and come forth to receive the rays, and reflect the lustre, of our native immortality-let us unearth our intelligent spirits, and burst from this deep and dreary incarceration. Let us assert and reiterate to ourselves and to others, that the soul is of a spiritual and eternal essence ; that it even now has the mastery of the animal machine, for which it provides the needful supply by its ingenuity and skill; while itself lives on other food, and delights in what is intellectual, what is new, what is great or wonderful in thought, what has some rays of Divinity about it. Let its powers and its achievements be recounted, and let us estimate something of its resources. It is capable of an unbounded, of an untiring reach of knowledge. It takes off the veil from nature's secrets ; it threads the labyrinths of the universe; it mounts above the tracks of the sun; it tells the course of the stars, and foretells the phenomena of the heavens; it measures the circumference of the earth, and, with a confidence approaching to prophetic foresight, proceeds across trackless oceans, to distant and unseen continents, it registers the laws and productions of nature, and reduces the very elements to their first and simplest essences; all this vast frame of universal nature, this boundless magazine of divine art and
power, passes through its scrutinizing thoughts, and engages its profoundest consideration, from the most distant and vast of the planetary bodies floating in infinite space, and made visible only by human, ingenuity, to the minutest atom that swims in air, or constitutes the essence of light-from the cedar of Lebanon, to the hyssop on the wall--from Behemoth and Leviathan, to the myriads of animal fabrics which seience has made visible in every drop of water. Be But if nature veils its greatest mysteries from sense, only to honour science and reward mind, if such are the discoveries, such the acquisitions, such the element and the aliment of the soul of man-what must itself be? How spiritual its essence! How unbounded its aspirations ! How exhaustless its capacity for knowledge and for enjoyment! It is in one sense a being of infinite, because of eternal receptiveness; and it longs to find the counterpart to its own unsated thirst of good, in the infinitude of communicativeness. It pants for the solution of that mystery of its nature, which makes it an enigma to itself---its passion for immortality. It searches perpetually, and in every thing, for the exhaustless and the endless, and even tries to impose upon itself by multiplying finites, to make up the infinite. It demonstrates, by its boundless passions, that creation itself is both too mean, and too contracted, and too gross to satisfy and to fill it; and that till it find the Creator himself, it must remain - empty and unblest. For here all the accumulations
it makes, of all kinds, do not fill it. It can never be said to possess enough of knowledge, nor-enough of joy. It dreads to approach a limit, or to conceive even in imagination of an impassable boundary, of an end, of an extinction. It is abhorrent to its very