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you an hundred years hence, that you were gay and merry; that you saw every fine sight, and indulged every sensual pleasure? but it will avail you, a thousand years hence, that you regard the one thing needful, and choose the good part. And let it be observed, that the person who can take no pleasure in religion, is not at all qualified for the joys of heaven, nor could he be happy there if he were admitted. If you can take no pleasure in the things of God; in singing his praises; in conversing with his people; in observing his Sabbath; what would you do in heaven, where the delights are not carnal, such as you love; but wholly spiritual, such as you hate? Does not this convince you that something is wrong? that your state and disposition is not what it should be? "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."—It is regeneration that makes the important change in a person's views and taste, for that "which is born of the flesh is flesh," and therefore can relish only carnal things; but "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit," and therefore enjoys spiritual pleasures. Oh, look up to God in earnest prayer, that you may experience this blessed charge. Then will sin be the object of your hatred, and holiness that of your delight. Depend upon it you will be no loser by religion. Godliness is profitable to all things, "having the promise of this life and of that to come." What can you wish more? While your eternal happiness is secured, you will enjoy "a conscience void of offence towards God and man." Your way will be directed, your crosses sanctified, and your earthly comforts doubled. "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good."
Come, we that love the Lord,
And let our joys be known;
And thus surround the throne.
The sorrows of the mind
Religion never was design'd
Let those refuse to sing
That never knew our God,
May speak their joys abroad.
The men of grace have found
Glory begun below,
From faith and hope may grow.
The hill of Sion yields /
A thousand sacred sweets,
Or walk the golden streets.
Then let our songs abound,
And every eye be dry;
To fairer worlds on high.
Matt. Xvi. 26.
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
IN all the Bible I know not a more weighty sentence than this. Were it duly considered, what a religious world would this become! The disregard of it makes the world that scene of mischief and folly which you behold. To give these words there full force, remember whose they are. They are the words of Jesus Christ, the incarnate God, the Creator of the world. And who so able to determine that the soul is worth more than the world, as he who made them both? He made the soul, and he made the world; yea, the price he paid for the redemption of the soul was his own precious blood. Surely then he knew the value of the soul! Regard these words, my friends, as full of truth, and truth of the greatest importance to yourselves. And, oh, that he who first spoke them to his disciples, may now speak them to our hearts by his Holy Spirit!
In the text there are three things which require our attention.
I. Every man has a soul of inestimable value.
II. There is a possibility of a man's losing his soul; yes, there is great danger of it.
III. The whole world can make no amends for the loss of a soul.
I. Every man has a soul of inestimable value.
The nature of the human soul is, at present, but imperfectly known. God has not told us so much about it as to gratify our curiosity; but enough to assist our faith. From the Scriptures alone we learn any thing satisfactory concerning our souls, and there we find that the soul is a something distinct from the body; a thinking immortal substance; and capable of living
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separately from the body in another world. This appears from Matt. x. 28. where our Lord says to his disciples—" Fear not them which 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 like manner, we learn from the parable of Dives and Lazarus, that the soul of the former was tormented in hell, while his body lay buried on earth. Jesus Christ assured the penitent thief on the cross, that he should be with him that very day in Paradise, while, as we know, the body of Jesus was laid in the tomb. It is said of Judas, that he went to his own place, which certainly was hell; but his wretched carcass was on earth. St. Paul declares that death would be gain to him, because, when absent from the body, he should be present with the Lord; useful as he was in the church, and happy in that usefulness, he rather desired to die, to depart, to be with Christ, which was far better.
Now this immortal soul is of immense value; and its excellency may be argued from the following considerations—
1. • Its origin; it came immediately from God. Something peculiar is said of the formation of man, Gen. i. 26. "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." Surely it was the soul of man, rather than his earthly body, that bore the divine resemblance.
2. Consider, again, the vast and noble powers of the soul. When these powers are assisted by learning, how does the philosopher survey, measure, and describe the heavenly bodies, or search into the hidden secrets of nature. And, in an ordinary way, how skilfully does the mechanic form various instruments and engines for the common purposes of life. The farmer cultivates and improves the earth, and produces from it the foodful grain. Artificers, of various names, furnish us with useful and ornamental articles of clothes and furniture; while the scholar, like the industrious bee, collects the wisdom of all countries and acres. And what is far better, the soul is capable, by divine grace, of knowing God, of being renewed in his holy image, of paying him cheerful service, and of enjoying him for ever in a better world.
3. Once more, consider the worth of the soul in the amazing price paid down for its redemption. "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold; but with the precious blood of Christ." 1 Pet. i. 18, 19.—Thousands of rams, or ten thousands of rivers of oil, would not have sufficed; nothing but the blood of the Lamb of God could atone for sin:
"The ransom was paid down; the fund of heaven,
Surely the ransom-price of the soul bespeaks its infinite value. Oh, let us learn to value our souls!
4. Consider, again, the contention of heaven and hell for the soul of man. Heaven from above invites us come to God. Jesus Christ came down on purpose to show us the way: yea, to be himself the way. The ministers of the Gospel, "watch for souls;" for this they study, and pray, and travail, and labour, that they may snatch perishing souls from the devouring flames. They are "instant in season and out of season," and are "all things to all men," that they may win some. Your serious relations, friends, and neighbours, long for your conversion; for this purpose they pray for you, speak to you, and lend you books. Yea, the angels of God are waiting around us, longing to be the messengers of good news to heaven, that sinners are repenting on earth.
On the other hand, it is the business of the devil to tempt and destroy the souls of men. As a subtle serpent he lies in wait to deceive, or as a roaring lion he roams about to destroy. Gladly would he seduce you into sin, by the love of pleasure; or get you to neglect salvation, by the love of business; or prejudice your