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THE CARE OF THE SOUL RECOMMENDE!).
We live in awful times! - menaced with invasion by a fierce, powerful, cruel, and tyrannic enemy. Politicians and patriots, both nobles and plebeians, unite in arms with their king, for the defence of their country, their property, their liberty, ther-constitution and national existence. Scarce a village do we pass but what resounds with the noise of bnglehows and druins. It is to be hoped the united, patriotic, and well-timed zeal of the nation, inay check the impetnosity of the enemy, and cause bis proud and ambitious schemes to prove abortive; but should he be permitted to land, it is more than probabic that blood will be shed, and many souls hurried into the eternal world. As such, how needful is it, that while, as a nation, le fortify against the French, we do so as individuais, in respect of our souls, against the attack and shock of the great and last enemy, Death! To rouse attention to this “one thing neerul,” is the design of this paper. In attempting which, it inay be proper to take a survey ot' the dignity and inportance of the soni, with the care and attention included and required in securing its salvation,
it inust be acknowledged that the soul is a mysterious subject. It is indeed easy to prove its existence, and to describe many of its operations; but fully to untold and discover its nature, requires more than the tongues of inen; perhaps, more than the tongues of angels. Man is a mystery to man: he sonetimes“ trembles at himself, and in bimseit is lost." To estimate the value of his soul, is by him utterly impossible; because there is nothing wiihin his knowledge to which its value can be compared. “What shall a man give in exchange for bis soul?" Let us keep in memory its divine origin. It was pot the production of the air, the earth, or the waters; but breathed imincdiately from the ever adorable Jehovah! Our earthly parents are styled Fathers of our Flesh, in distinction from the Futher of Spirits, to whom ihe soul returns when once the body dies. But some may enquire," If God, in the present time, form the spirit of man within bin, as the prophet Zechariah speaks, in chap. xii. 1, and that by infusion, as in the case of Adam, whence is it that the soul, coming immediately from God, is ihe subject of moral evil?" And how is it that“ we are conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity ?" These are difficult questions, perhaps the most so of any in the whole body or divinity. It is not iö be supposed, that he who iš supremely glorious in holiness can create a soul with a propensity to sin; and yet the universal depravity of Adam's whole posterity, and that froin the birth, is too evident for the contrary ever lo be demonstrated,
In Nature, there are many things we huow to be true, which yet, for their origin and manXII.
ner of existence, we are incompetent to ascertain ; and in the present case, it is better to confess our owa ignorance than proudly charge God with foolishness. Till a better answer to the enquiries be found, it may suffice to say, That though a holy God necessarily creates the soul holy, yet he does not possess it of supernatural grace to resist the flesh; and, therefore, being infused into a body that is corrupt and defiled, as being propagated by corrupt mortals, the pure soul, by its conjunction with a defled body, may receive its contagion iin mediately; and which may be considered as a just punishmeut of the sin of our first parents. Thus we discern a wide difference between the soul, as crcated with sinful propensities, and receiving them from sinful bodies, propagated by sinful more tals; and so the Former of the soul is holy, while man is shapen in iniquity.
Besides the soul's divine origin, we further contemplate its wonderful powers and faculties. How capacious is the human inind ! - how wonderful its understanding! By the exertion of its own energies, under proper cultivation, to what amazing beiglits hath it soared, and discoveries made, in the knowledge of philosophy, astronomy, physic, music, trade, and naviga. tion, with a variety of particolars too numerous to inention! How astonishing is the human imagination! It can transcend the bounds of reality : it can imagine a huge mountain to be a mass of gold; the ocean to be replete with milk or wine, and all the sands that bound its shores to be so many valuable pearls! Some have written on the pleasures of imagination, but more bave experienced the miseries of imagination; and all have to lament that, naturally,“ the imagination of the heart is evil continually;" but Christians may rejoice in knowing, that, capacious as the imagination is, “it hath not entered into the imagination of the heart of inan fully to conceive what God hath laid up for them that love him.” How surprizing the power of thinking! What crowds of thoughts pass through human hearts! How silent, and yet how quick they more! They can ascend to Heaven in the twinkling of an eye, — and, in as short a space of time, penetrate the depths of Hell! What a pity that so many of them are foolish and vain !
"The memory likewise is a choice faculty: therein many things are deeply engraven, particularly such as greatly affect us at ibe time they occurred. The aged soldier, mariner, or minister, can entertain and surprize with accurate relations of various transactions which long since took place. How desirable that this repository be sacred, and only retain what is worth se membrance !
The will is another of the mental powers, which, alas! is often at variance with the will of God.
Were it not su, how often should we be happy in our several stations, relations, aod circumstances, in which we are wretched !
But of all the powers of the soul, let us attend to consciitere : this is either the best friend or the worst enemy of its possessor. It is indeed a noble and mighty power; it is God's vicegerent. Sooner or later it will speak so as to be heard and obeyed. Happy they in whoin it abides void of offence, both in the sight of God and man! Men are often cowards or heroes, according to the state of their consciences. The wicked flee when none pursue, while the righteous are bold as a lion." Concience can account for this.
But in respect of the soul, let us further consider the im. mensity of its desires. Nothing sublunary can possibly satisfy its boundless cravings. If it had all the world, it would still ary,“ Give, give.” Those who have had the best opportunis ties for making experiments, to try what the things of tine and sense could do, have been known to confess that all are va. nity; and, instead of satisfaction, prove vexation of spirit. The choicest blessings earth can yield, starve the hungry mind, Besides the immensity of its desires, there is to be considered the immortality of its nature. If men kill not the body, diseases may ; but whether or not, it will, in time, wear away and die. Not so the soul. The body is but its tenement, or rather prison ; and when it quits the saine, its powers expand in a state of endless bliss or endless woe!
But the value and dignity of the soul will abundantly appear from the price of its redemption. It was not to be redeemed by corruptible things, such as silver and gold; - nothing less than the precious blood of Christ was sufficient. This infinite price was paid to put away sin's infinite offence, and redeem the soul to God. Strict justice could not require too much ; and when the Redeemer laid down his life, he paid no inore than divine justice required. He died, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. Now, on such accounts and considerations as these, the wisest, the greatest, and best of men in all ages, have made the salvation of their souls their main and chief concern. Rather than lose their souls they would deny themselves, and suffer the greatest afflictions. They would submit to the spoiling of their goods, the loss of their liberty, and even of their lives, and rather die martyrs than deny their Lord and Saviour! They wisely considered, that no savings could compensate for the loss of the soul. If it were safe, all things else would be secure, and work together for good; but if its state were wretched, nothing could give satisfaction. Wealth, honour, splendor, and power would all be miserable comforters. The dread of death, judgment, and eternity would embitter every thing. What care then is necessary to prevent the loss and secure the eternal salvation of the.soul! On this care, let us expatiate a little further, and particularly remark, that it must bear some proportion to the magnitude of its object. Persons cannot properly be said to care for their souls all they care for them as such : while they care most for their bodies, they may truly be said to veglect their souis. This inplies a due consideration of the soul's dangers. The defenders of a city or nation inust pay particular attention to the weak and vulnervable parts: they must watch the enemy. If the mariner neglect the leaks in his vessel, he may perish with her in the mighty deep. The divine oraclee abound with caveats 10 apprize men of the dangers incident to their souls. Such watch-words are not superfluous. He who daily cares for his soul, takes heed to them all. Finally, this care includes the diligent and persevering use of all the appointed means of grace: -- they are kindly instituted to facilitate the work. ing out of our salvation. No one who understands their design can think of making a merit or boast of his attendance upon them. He knows, that the more of them he enjoys under the greater obligations he lies to the giver of them, and the more he improves them, the more he loves them. They who neglect out ward ordinances as beggarly elements, have pot experienced what it is to hold communion with God therein; they who are most careful of their souls will be most attentive, constant, and diligent in their attendance on divine ordinances; they will not forsake those ministers who watch for their souls; they will be giad to go to the house of God, that their souls may be fed and feasted with the rich provisions thereof; they will listen to that word, by the hearing of which faith comes; they will wait where the Lord waits to be gracibus. In a word, the care of the soul includes putting on the whole armour of God, and standing fast in the evil day, in the exercise of prayer and watchfulness, and abounding in whatever inay be the work of the Lord.
S. B. Scarborough.
There was in a populous Swiss village a pious and excel tent clergyman, who preached and lived with such holy zeal and exemplary piety, that many were converted under his ministry. But there lived in the same place a wicked and abandoned character, who not only slighted all the means of grace, but turned the most serious matters and expressions of his minister into ridicule, and made them a public laughing scoff. Once he came very early in the morning to the public house, and began to intoxicate himself with liquor, repeating his old wicked tricks, profaning the natne and word of God, and ridiculing the term of conversion. “Now," says he, “ I myself also will become a convert,” turning himself from one side to the other, and dancing about in the room with a variety of foolish gestures : he quickly left the room, fell down the stairs, broke his neck, and expired as an awful monument of God's most righteous vengeance, which sonetimes, even in this life, overtakes them that abuse his game, and prove a scandal to A worthy Protestant Clergyman in Montpelier, rela:ed the following Awfal Warning, upon the authenticity of which the Reader may rely :
A few years ago, several French soldiers, quartered in that part of the country, assisted a good honest peasant in gathering in his barvest. A thunder-storm, accompanied by a torrent of rain, overtook them in the midsi of their work, Being thus interrupted, they got so angry, that they broke out in the most blasphemous language against the Holy One of Israel. “Had I but my gun," said the inost impious among them," I would soon putihis troublesome thunderer to silence.” His wicked coinrades laughed applause; but the simple good peasant was so shocked with the enormity of his crime, that he fied, as it were, from the immediate destruction, which he was afraid would overtake then: and so it was. The blasphemer had hardly finished his vain threatenings, when a tremendous clap of thunder was heard; four of the soldiers were struck dead on the spot, and the fifth was carried senseless to the city.
ANECDOTES. The Rev. David Some, of Market Harborough, was a person eminent for" piety, zeal, prudence, and sagacity,” according to Mr. Orton's expressions in his valuable biography of Dr. Doddridge. His advice was highly prized, not only by the members of his own congregation, but by his brethren in the ministry of the gospel. Dr. Doddridge hiinself, when in the twenty-fourth year of his age, removed from Kibworth, where he statedly preached at that time, to reside at Market Harborough, for the sake of being near Mr. Some; and has recorded, " That in him he found a sincere, wise, faithful, and tender friend; and from hin bad met with all the goodness he could have expected from a father, having received the greatest assistance from him."
This excellent man, after having lain several days in a very serene and comfortable frame of mind, and expressed a very cheerful hope of approaching glory, fell asleep in Jesus, May 99, 1737. On his death-bed, he said, “If it be asked how David Some died, let it be answered, That he sought, and he found Mercy!
DR. DODDRIDGE was one day conversing with his pupils in the lecture-room of his academy at Northampton, on the various manner in which real.Christians died. He said, “ I kisli that my last words may be those lines of Dr. Watts :
" A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On thy kind arms I fall;
Book ii. H. 9o. Whether he uttered those words on his death-bed is not certain ; but it is well known that the spirit which they breathe