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does not appear possible that any ingenuity in explaining, or skill in perverting, the meaning of holy writ, should enable any person to show that the passages quoted mean any thing more or less, than that these persons were all separate spirits. Elders are men—those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, are redeemed from amongst men. It follows, then, that men, that is, the souls of men, are around the throne of God, and before his throne. They were brought out of great tribulation, and are arrived at perfect felicity, where “all tears are wiped from their eyes,” many ages before the resurrection. If any doubt remained, John would settle it at
Rev. vi. 9. “ And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held; and white robes were given unto every one of them.” What did John see? Doubtless they were persons and intelligent beings, who had sealed the truth with their blood. But it was not their bodies which John saw, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." These things, indeed, John saw in vision, but nevertheless they were matters of fact which were so represented. The language is symbolical, but the doctrines are true.
Let us not overlook the words of Paul, 1 Thess. iv. 14. “ For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again; even so them also, who sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him.” This will be accomplished when “ the Lord shall descend" with a “ shout," with an innumerable company of angels, and shall
bring with him the “ spirits of just men made perfect,” who, together with those that are alive and remain, “ shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and so be for ever with the Lord.”
The following passage, one would think, must be secure from all evasion and cavil, (Mark ix. 25.) When Jesus was transfigured on the mount, Moses and Elias were present with him, and they were conversing together. Then it was that " he spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.” The body of Elias was changed when he was conveyed to heaven in a chariot of fire. But the body of Moses was buried by the divine hand, “in a valley, in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor;" and will rise at the last day, with other bodies of saints at the general resurrection. Yet, let the reader observe, Moses was actually in this mount, in company with Elias. And if, when he thus appeared, he was not a separate spirit, let it be declared who and what he was.
It is then evident, that God has stamped the seal of immortality on the soul of man, which is a spirit, and that each individual of the human race must be happy or miserable for ever. Sinners must “ go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous," all holy and prosperous souls, “ into life eternal."
Let me pause a moment, and think who and what I am. I am a creature of God, for he formed my body, and is the Father of my spirit. My mind is in constant activity, but, alas, how seldom is it employed in a right and profitable manner! I am a sinful being ; God made me upright, indeed, even in his own image, but by the fall I have lost that image, and am “ altogether as an unclean thing.” I am made with “a lofty visage,” and am so formed as to be able to turn my eyes upwards, in pious adoration and humble prayer. But alas ! my
mind is often filled with sin and vanity, and " is like the fool's eye, in the ends of the earth.” In this world, all is flceting and vain. A building, which, after its first erection, becomes a stately and splendid dwelling for different persons, through several generations, at length is impaired by the rough hand of time, and it is ultimately thrown down, and “ razed to the foundation."
The stately oak, which was once an acorn, after having gradually sprung up, extended its branches, and enlarged its trunk, at length arrives at its meridian. But, after having lived through the reigns of several monarchs, and borne the storms perhaps of five hundred winters, it becomes old, crumbles away, and is “ hewn down and cast into the fire.”
Our bodies, frail at best and often cut down with a stroke as in a moment, if they stand the attack of diseases, for what is considered a long life, “ must steeds die," and turn to corruption. is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment.” My soul, never forget this solemn fact.
There is, however, within me, a vital intelligent
principle, which is liable to no such decay, a principle evidently furnished with a capacity of surviving the body, and all the revolutions of time.
“ Shall I, who some few years ago was less'
Yes, I shall survive them all, for I am conscious of possessing an immortal soul. But, ah! how have I slighted and neglected it! If the whole earth were composed of solid pearls and diamonds, it would not equal my immortal soul in value. Yet how foolishly have I trifled with it, as if it were inferior in value to a common pebble! Forgive my negligence, and my guilt, 0 thou most merciful God! Let this immortal soul of mine " be reconciled to thee, by the death of thy Son." Let me enjoy thy favour, and be admitted at last to dwell with those who shall compose the family of heaven.
But if this soul of mine should be lost! Alarining thought! Have I “ turned to the strong hold as a prisoner of hope ?” Have I fled to Christ for refuge; or am I still careless, on the very brink of eternity? Awful state! In a moment I may sink into the bottomless pit, to rise no more! Forbid it, O gracious Redeemer. Behold the fountain of life is open, fly to it my soul, that thy sins and thy pollutions may be washed away, and that I may “ be accepted in the beloved.” Soon it will be said to me,“ Go thou thy way,” (as it was said to the pious Daniel,) quit thy earthly station, and give in thy account. This is “ the way of all the earth.” “ The body must return to the earth as it was, and the spirit to God that gave it.” May I be an heir of immortality and glory, while here I abide for a time, as in a state of minority. And when it is actually said to me, “ Go thou thy way,” “ arise and depart, for this is not thy rest," may an entrance be ministered unto me abundantly, into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ." Amen.