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The Precioufnefs of the Soul.
Pfalms, xlix. 8. For the Redemption of their Soul is Precions, and it ceafeth forever.
OUR existence is not confined to this ftate, neither our happiness or mifery. We are all capable of, and formed for an eternal duration. And this interminable duration will be filled up with perfect felicity or perfect mifery. When death fhall have performed his office and put a period to our present existence, we will have a full experience of this moft folemn truth. Whatever may be our condition at this concluded moment of the prefent existence, that will be our condition throughout eternity. All change and deliverance after this event, has impoffibility fealed upon it. This is ordained in the eternal nature of things, and in the immutable decrees of heaven. "As the tree falls fo it must lie. There is no work, “labour, wisdom, or device in the grave whereunto we are "hastening." A fhort time, and we shall all know, and faints and finners will prove, the truth of the account of the eternal world. We muft quickly pafs into, and feel in our fouls the
joys of Paradife, or torments of the infernal regions. One or the other of thefe conditions await each of us, we draw near we haften towards them as faft as moments fly. The last moment will foon be here, and when it comes, we must pass into eternity prepared or unprepared. No circumstances can procure us à moments stay. We may plead the dreadfulness of our condition, and cry for a fufpenfion of the ftroke of death. We may groan with the most dolorous importunity, for the mercy of another day or hour; but in vain. We must pass to be swallowed up immediately and forever in the felicities. of Seraphs or forrows of the damned.
In what a folemn point of view does this doctrine fet the eternal world? How precious and invaluable does it render our present time, as the only feafon of preparation for it? What high conviction does it afford of the wifdom, importance and neceffity of seeking the salvation of our immortal fouls? And how clearly does it fhow the extreme folly and madness of hesitating, or being unwilling to fubmit to any labour or felf denial, that may be requifite to obtain the redemption of them from everlasting misery ?
This is the doctrine on which the difcourfe of the Pfalmift in our text is founded. He is fhowing the vanity of all worldly things as a ground of confidence and truft in the day of death. Wealth or riches cannot fupport a man at that tremendous period. They cannot purchase or effect the continuance of his life. They can give him no relief, nor afford him deliverance. "They that truft in their wealth, or boast them"felves in the multitude of their riches, none of them by any "means can redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom "for him, that he should ftill live forever, and not fee corrup"tion." The fpecial reason is affigned in our text, why riches cannot purchase life or redeem from death. "For the re"demption of the foul is precious, and it ceafeth forever."
That is, it is an article of too great value to be purchafed by riches. All the wealth in the world is not an adequate price for this privilege. The whole fum, that all the fons of for tune can collect, cannot procure for them one moment beyond the time affigned them. Like other poorer mortals they do but ftand their glass; they cannot ftop the running fands. And when their glass is out, the redemption of their foul cea feth forever.
The addition of this claufe," It ceafeth forever," has occafioned some variation among commentators refpecting the sense of it. Some fuppofe that "The redemption of the foul" in our text, refers to the redemption made by Chrift Jefus, and it being once performed and never repeated, it ceafed forever. And it is an established truth, that the redemption of the foul from death and hell, is fo precious and important, it could be obtained by no lefs a price than the death of the Son of God. And there is now no other method for a person to secure the falvation of his foul than by becoming interested in the redemption of Christ according to the conftitution of the gospel, Hence it is faid, "There is no other name given under hea"ven, by which any can be faved, but the name Chrift Jesus."
But the words as they stand in their connection feem more directly and evidently to refer to the abfolute infufficiency of all riches and wealth as forever incapable of making so high a purchase as the redemption or falvation of the foul. The original word which is tranflated ceafeth, never fignifies to ceafe from a thing by way of reft and quiet, but either because it is impoffible to be performed, or to ceafe from a thing by way of contempt and rejection. In the former fenfe it is thus uled, "Jofeph gathered corn as the fand of the fea, until he left "numbering;" or as the Hebrew is, until he ceafed from num. bering it; and the reafon is given becaufe it was impoffible, "For it was without number." It is likewife ufed to exprefs
contempt and rejection, as in the prophet Ifaiah, "He was "rejected of men." The word rejected is the fame as in our
Thefe obfervations feem to fettle the precife meaning of our text, it is impoffible, that wealth can redeem a foul from death, and it contemns and rejects all riches as entirely infufficient for this purpofe. Hence this is the idea, to which your attention is invited in the present lecture.
That the falvation of the foul is incomparably more precious than all the riches and treasures of this world.
When any one confiders what is here afferted by the Pfalmift, and afterwards advanced by our Lord, that the acquifition of the whole world could not profit a man who loft his foul, the truth of the doctrine muft remain undeniable. For the fake therefore of proving this propofition, it were entirely needlefs to add any thing further. But the defign of the gofpel miniftry is not merely to eftablish the doctrines of divine revelation, but one principal end is to reprefent and illustrate thofe doctrines, fo that they may be most likely to ftrike the careless with conviction of their reality and importance, and roufe them out of their natural inattention, and regardleffne of the matters of religion.
In this view I would lay before you the following confiderations, tending to illuftrate this truth, that the foul is incomparably more precious than all the riches and treasures of this world.
First, the foul is capable of and defigned for an eternal ex. iftence. The body must foon return to its original duft. The time is fhort, and this world with all its riches and treasures, in regard to us, will be no more. A few years will close our
eyes on all below the fun. As we brought nothing with us into the world, we can carry nothing out of it. "Wife men "die, likewife the fool and the brutish perfon, and leave their "wealth to others." But when the body dies, and the world and its honors and pleasures are no more, the foul is as capable of existence as ever. It is not fubject to corruption and decay like material things. It is a spirit and immaterial, having no corruptible principles in its constitution. There is no tendency in its nature to extinction or death; neither can this be effected by its own will, nor by the will of any other creature. None but God who gave the foul exiftence, can extinguish it. His power is only adequate to this effect, and we are fure, he never will exert his power for any fuch purpose. As God made the foul capable of an eternal existence, so we are affured by himself, he defigned it should endure forever. There will be no end of its duration. The fun and moon and ftars must cease, the world with all its works must be burnt up, but the foul will exift immortal and forever. When millions of milli. ons of ages are run out, the foul's capacity of existence will be the fame. When as many millions more will be finished, it will be fill as diftant from any end of its duration, as remote from any tendency to non-existence, as the first moment it began.
The facred pages abound with confirmation of this truth, that God made and defigned the foul of man for an everlasting duration. When the body returns to duft, the foul returns to God who gave it. Not to have an end put to its existence, but to be fixed in an unalterable state of happiness or misery forever, according to its character as being righteous or wicked. For on these two characters depends the eternal destiny of eve. ry foul of man. There is no third character among the human race. As a perfon is of one or other of thefe when he dies, fo will his eternal state be, unspeakably happy or miferable.