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The Care of the Soul. I. Man is composed of an immortal Soul; and II. of a more
tal Body. III. How the future State of the Soul is determined; and IV. the Neceflity of caring for the Soul V. It is in every Man's Power to take that Care of bis
Soul which the Gospel requires. 1.
AN consists of soul and body; a soul, Man confias
which never dieth, and, according to of soul and the care we take of it in this life, is designed to re
body. turn unto God, who made it; when the body shall return unto the earth, from whence it was taken. And therefore, We may rightly conclude, that the soul of man
The soul is, is an immaterial principle, distinct of from the body, and is the cause of those several operations, which by inward sense and experience we are conscious of to ourselves. It is that whereby we think and remember, whereby we reason and debate about any thing, and do freely chuse and re
+ We learn from scripture, that a beast has a ipirit distinct from its body, and that the said spirit is separated from it by death; and, that they are not to be confidered as mere machines and engines without real sensation, is as evident to us, as that Men have sensations; for the brute beasts appear to have all the five senses as truly as any man whatever. Nevertheless it will not follow, that their souls are immortal in the sense we attribute immortality to the souls of men; because they are not capable of the exercise of reason and religion : whereas the immortality of mens souls consist not only in a capacity of living in a state separate from the body, but of living so as to be sensible of happiness and misery, in that ttate of see paration ; because they are not only endued with a faculty of sense, but with o. ther faculties that do not depend upon, or have any connection with matter. And therefore altho’ it hould be allowed, that the souls of brutes remain when separa, ted from their bodies ; yet being only endowed with a sensitive principle, the operations of which depend upon an organical disposition of the body, which being : once diffolved, they probably lapse into an insensible and inactive state ; and being no further necessary, may return to their primitive nothing.
fuse such things as are presented to us ; it is so created by the divine wisdom and goodness, as not to have in itself any principle of corruption; but that it will naturally, or of itself,
continue for ever, and cannot by any natural de
cay,or power of nature, be diffolved or destroyed: That when the body falls into the ground, the soul will still remain and live separate from it, and continue to perform all such operations, towards which the organs of the body are not necessary, and not only continue, but live in this separate state, so as to be sensible of happiness or misery.
All which truths have great probability from It'simmortality proved the evidence of reason; and natural arguments inby reason.
cline us to believe them. Now the arguments from reason are taken from the nature of the soul itself; for those several actions and operations, which we are all conscious of to ourselves, such as liberty, or a power of chusing or refusing, and the several acts of reafon and understanding, cannot without great violence be ascribed to matter, or be resolved into any bodily principle; and therefore we must attribute them to another principle different from matter; and consequently immortal and incapable of corruption in its own nature. Besides,
When all men, tho' diftant and remote from one another, and different in their tempers and manners, and ways of education ; when the most barbarous nations, as well as the most polite, agree in a thing, we may well call it the voice of nature, or a natural notion or dictate of our minds. And it is evident from the testimony of many ancient heathen writers, and the consent of several credible histories, that they believed that men and women do live after death, and have an existence, when separated from their bodies; and consequently that the soul is immortal. It is true, that some few instances may be brought where some have denied this, but their opposition is no proof that this notion is not natural ; for some few exceptions are no better arguments against an universal consent, than some few monsters and prodigies are against the regular course of nature; because men may offer violence to nature, and debauch theirunderstandings by luft, interest or pride, and an affectation of fingularity. Moreover
The sense of nature is very evident from the great number of wicked men in the world, who, notwithstanding it is their interest that there should be no life after this, cannot overcome the fears of those torments in which the wicked are threatened to be punished for ever.
Again, this truth is confirmed by those natural notions we have of God, and of the essential difference between good and evil; for the belief of a God implies the belief of his infinite. goodness and justice. The first, or his goodness inclines him to make some creatures more perfect than others, and capable of greater degrees of happiness, and of longer duration; because goodness delights in communicating its own perfections: and since in man are found the perfections of an immortal nature, which are knowledge and liberty, we may infer, that he is endowed with such a principle as in its own nature is capable of eternal life.
The latter, or his infinite justice proves, that he loves righteousness and hates iniquity: but the dispensations of his providence in this world being very promiscuous, so that good men often suffer, and that for the sake of righteousness; that wicked men frequently prosper, and that by means of their wickedness; it is reasonable to believe the suitable distribution of rewards and punishments in a future state : because, as there is a difference between good and evil founded in the nature of things, it is reasonable to imagine they will be distinguished by rewards and punishments, not in this world, but in a future state, where all things shall be set right, and the justice of God's providence vindicated; which is the very thing meant by the immortality of the soul. And
Lastly, the natural hopes and fears of men, cannot well be accounted for without the belief of the soul's immortality; such hopes and fears are common to all men. For,what would it avail to be desirous to perpetuate a name to posterity, and by brave actions endeavour to purchase fame, if there was not
belief of an existence in another world to enjoy it? Or, can it be thought that they, who by the virtue and piety of their lives, by the justice and honesty of their actions have endeavoured to seek the Lord, have not been raised to an expectation of rewards after death? Again, how can you account for
that shame and horror, which follow the commission of any wicked action, tho'covered with the greatest privacy, and unknown to anyone but the offender? certainly it can be only the effect of nature, which suggests to them the certainty of an after-reckoning, when they shall be punished for their bad actions, or rewarded for their good; and fo fills the one full of hopes, and the other with fear and dread.
These are such arguments as in reason the nature of the thing will bear; for, an immortal nature is neither capable of the evidence of sense, nor of mathematical demonstration; and therefore we should content ourselves with these arguments in this matter, so far as to suffer ourselves to be persuaded, that it is highly probable. But
That which giveth us the greatest affurance of it, By scripture is the revelation of the gospel, whereby life and immortality is brought to light, and which is the only sure foundation of our hopes, and an anchor for our faith ; because the authority of God is above all reason and human knowledge. The resurrection of Christ is not only a manifeft proof of his divine authority, and that he was a prophet sent from God, but also that we shall rise again to be reunited with our souls ; and therefore should make us prefer the interest of our souls before all the advantages of this life: nay, it should make us ready and willing to part with every thing that is most dear to us in this world, to secure their eternal welfare; because if we lose our own souls, all the enjoyments of this world can make us no recompence. Wherefore
Let us always be zealous and diligent in the end created. ways of piety and virtue; for, it is only by such
qualifications that our fouls can be prepared to enjoy the happiness of their immortal state. Let us carefully avoid all fin, as the greatest enemy to our future hopes, as well as of our present comfort and ease. Let us not yield our affections too much to this world, which was never designed for our happiness, and is not capable of satisfying the desires of an immortal being: for, the belief of our immortal state will support us under all the afflictions of this life, knowing that here we have no abiding city, but expect one to come immortal in the heavens, and will comfort us at the approach of
death; because when this earthly tabernacle is dissolved, we Thall be received into the mansions of eternal bliss. For,
Notwithstanding the fall of our first parents has made us all subject to death,
yet our souls, when separated from our bodies, shall live in another state; and even our bodies, tho'committed to the grave, and turned to dust, Thall, at the last day, rise again, and be united to our souls; and being so united, the whole man, body and soul, shall be made capable of eternal happiness or misery. And
II. Since this is the case with all of us, how in- The body. considerately do men act in spending so much thought about the body, which is the seat of pains and the most noisome diseases, whilst it is alive ; and which death (which it cannot escape) renders so intolerably offensive and odious, that it must be buried out of our sight. To spend all our time and care about this vile part the body, and to neglect the most valuable part the soul, which is of inestimable worth, on account of its noble faculties, and as it is made after God's own image, and is to exist to all eternity, certainly argues the greatest degree of imprudence and stupidity. Not that I would be understood to intend, that we must neglect our bodies: but that which promotes the interest of our
souls, must be preferred before any interests of the body, which cannot live without the soul. For
Every present enjoyment, tho' it be ever so Has no cer. comfortable, may be lost; and as riches, whatever tain huppiadvantage they give us, may take themselves wings and fly away; How many are reduced in a few hours from plentiful circumstances to extreme necessity by fire or water? Besides, if people do imagine themselves fécure in an inheri. tance, a small observation of human life may shew, that this cannot absolutely be depended upon; for, fraud and violence may turn a man out of his fortune or estate: And where is the person that can depend upon a continued state of health? The most confirmed constitution is not proof against the affaults of pain or sickness; for, every member of the body, every bone, and joint, and sinew, lies open to many disorders; and the greatest prudence, or precaution, or skill of the physician cannot many times prevent those disorders from com2 3