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CHAP. VIII. The Contrast, with a lamentation over
Conclusion-A prayer for Soul Prosperity ....
THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL,
A Short Prayer.
O THOU infinitely holy and blessed God, who art a Spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable, “ in whose hands my breath is, and whose are all my ways," who didst breathe into the nostrils of man, and he became a living soul; enable me, by thy Holy Spirit, to form a right estimate of the immense value of that immortal principle within me, of which I cannot but be conscious, and which must be happy or miserable for ever. Suffer me never to trifle with it, and instead of exchanging it, or throwing it away for the sake of this world or any thing that it can offer, máy my chief concern be about it; may it be redeemed and saved by the blood of thy wellbeloved Son; may it be renovated by thy Holy Spirit, and may I cheerfully surrender my whole self to thee, and "glorify thee in my body and spirit
which are thine," through Jesus Christ, as my only hope and Redeemer. Amen.
We are now entering upon a subject, to which it will be impossible, within the compass of this essay, to do sufficient justice. The immortality of the soul is one of the grandest themes which can engage the mind of man. The belief of it is of vital importance, since, to a secret disbelief of this truth, must be attributed that prevailing infidelity, which in spite of the progress of religious knowledge, is still a prominent feature of the present times. It is difficult to imagine how men could pay so little regard to the concerns of futurity, as the generality of them appear to do, if a state of retribution after death were firmly believed.
To demonstrate the truth of this doctrine is the object of the present essay. If in labouring to accomplish this, it be objected to us that we have been too prolix in stating the natural and moral evidences, whilst our arguments from scripture are somewhat contracted, we answer, that we have been ånxious to draw some of our arguments from principles which are admitted by infidels, in common with believers, under a hope, that if the doctrine of immortality appear to be probable, from these evidences, they may be led to examine. scripture for themselves, where they will find it confirmed by authority which can never be overthrown.
It will not be expected, that on a subject like the present, which has employed the minds of the most eminent philosophers and metaphysicians, both ancient and modern, we should be able to bring forward any new or original matter. Our labours are of a more bumble description. All we can attempt is, to col : lect the most intelligible and important arguments in favour of this truth, from the few sources that are accessible to us, and to exhibit these arguments to the reader, in as abridged and clear a form as possible. It will of course be a mere outline of the grand field before
which we must leave those readers who may be disposed to pursue the inquiry, to fill up by a reference to such works upon the subject, as shall be afterwards pointed out for their perusal.
The belief of the immortality of the soul has been almost as universal as that of the existence of a Deity, for wherever men have been in any degree civilized, and in some nations where they have been in the most savage state, it has been the general persuasion, that the mind or soul subsists after the dissolution of the body. The origin of this persuasion, about which disputes have been raised, no christian hesitates to attribute to revelation. The Egyptians, from whom the Greeks derived
of their theological and philosophical principles, appear to have taught the immortality of the soul, not as a truth discovered by the exertions of human reason, but as a dogma derived to them from the earliest ages of tradition. This, indeed, may be confidently inferred from the character and conduct of the first Greek disciples. Those early wise men who fetched their philosophy immediately from Egypt, brought it home as they found it, in detached and independent parcels. Afterwards, when schools were formed,