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furs of this world be, you both can, and do, find time to fit alone, and bethink yourselves of a much more important business you have to da.
My friends, we are borderers upon eternity, we live upon the confines of the spiritual and immaterial world: we must shortly be associate with bodiless beings, and- lhall have, after a sew days are past, no more concerns for meat, drink, and fleep, baying and selling, habitations and relations, than the angels of God now have. Besides, we live here in a state of trial: Man, (as Staliger fitly calls him), is utriu/que mendi nexus, One in whom both worlds do meet; bis body participates of th« lower, his foul of the upper world; hence it is, that he finds such tugging and pulling this way and that way, upward and downward; both worlds, as it were, contending for this inva> luable prize, the precious foul. All Christ's ordinances are in* stituted, and his officers ordained for no other use or end, but the salvation of souls. Books are valuable, according to their conducibility to this end: how rich a reward of my labours shall 1 account it, if this treatise of the soul may but promote the faoctification and salvation of any reader's soul.
To your hands 1 first tender it: it becomes your property, sot only as a debt of justice, the fulfilling of a promise made you long since, upon your joint and earnest desires for the publication of it; but, as an acknowledgement of the many favours I have received from you: To one of you 1 stand obliged in the bond of relation, and under the sense of many kindnesses, beyond whatever such a degree of relation can be supposed to exact.
You have here a succinct account of the nature, faculties and original of the foul of man, as also of its infusion into the body by God, without intitling himself to the guilt and sin resulting from that their union.
You will also find the breath of your nostrils to be the nexus, tie, or bond, which holds our fouls and bodies in personal u* nion; and that, whilst the due crasis and temperament of the body remains, aud breath continues, your fouls hang, as by a weak and slender thread, over the state of a vast eternity in heaven or in hell; which will inform you both of the valuee£ jour breath, and the best way of improving it, whilst you enjoy it
The immortality of the soul is here asserted, proved, and vh> dicated from the most considerable objections; so that it will evidently appear to you, by this discourse, you do not cease to be, when you cease to breathe: and, seeing they will overlive all
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temporal enjoyments, they must necessarily perish as to all their joys, comforts, and hopes, (which is all the death that can be incident to an immortal spirit), if they be not in the proper season secured and provided of that never perishing food of souls, God in Christ, their portion for ever.
Here you will find the grounds and reasons of that strong inclination, which you all seel them to have to your bodies, and the necessity, notwithstanding that, of their divorce and separation from their beloved bodies; and that it would manisestly be to their prejudice, if it should be otherwise: and to overcome the unreasonable aversations of believers, and to bring them to a more becoming cheerful submission to the laws of death, whensoever the writ of ejection shall be served upon them; you will here find a representation of that blessed lise, comely order, and most delightful imployment of the incorporeal people inhabiting the city of God; wherein, beside those sweet meditations, which are proper to seast your hungry affections, you will meet with divers unusual, though not vain or unuseful, questions stated and resolved, which will be a grateful entertainment to your inquisitive and searching minds.
. It is possible they may be censured by some as undeterminable and unprofitable curiosities; but as I hate a presumptuous in-," trufion into unrevealed secrets, so I think it is a weakness to be discouraged in the search of truth, so sar as it is fit to trace it, by such damping and causeless censures. Nor am 1 sensible t have in any thing transgressed the bounds of Christian sobriety, to gratify the palate of a nice and delicate reader.
I have also here set before the reader an idea, or representation of the state and case of damned souls, that, if it be the wilt pf God, a seasonable discovery of hell may be the means of some men's recovery out of the danger of it; and closed up the whole with a demonstration of the invaluable preciousness of fouls, and the several dangerous snares and artifices of Satan, their prosessed enemy, to destroy and cast them away for ever.
This is the design and general scope of the whole, and of the principal parts of this treatise. And, O that God would grant me my hearts desire, on your behalf, in the perusal of it! Even that it may prove a sanctified instrument in his hand, both to prepare you for, and bring you in love with the unbodied lise,; to make you look with pleasure into your graves, and die by consent of will, as well as necessity of nature. 1 remember Dr. Stoughton, in a sermon preached before king James, relates a strange story.of a little child in a shipwreck, sast asleep upon its mother's lap, as she sat upon. a piece of the wreck .amidst the waves; the child being awaked with the noise, asked the mother what thofe things were \ She told it, They were drowning waves to swallow them up. The child, with a pretty smiling countenance, begg'd a stroke from its mother to beat away those naughty waves, and chide them as if they had been its play-mates. Death will shortly shipwreck your bodies; .your fouls will fit upon your lips ready to expire, as they upon the wreck ready to go down. Would it not be a comfortable and moft becoming frame of mind, to sit there with as little dread, as this little one did among the terrible waves? Surely, if out faith had but first united us with Christ, and then loosed our hearts off from this enchanting and ensnaring warld, we might make a fair step towards this most desireable temper; but unbelief and earthly-mindedness make us loth to venture. , ., I blush to think, what bold adventures those men made, who, upon the contemplation of the properties of a despicable stone, first adventured quite out of sight of laud, under its conduct and direction, and securely trusted both their lives and estates to it, when all the eyes of heaven were veiled from them, amidst the dark waters, and thick clouds of the sky, when I either start, or at least give au unwilling shrug, when I think of adventuring, out of fight of this world, under the more sure and steady direction and conduct of faith and the promises. To cure these eTils, in my own and the reader's heart, these things are written, and in much respect, and love tendered to your hands, as a testimony of my gratitude, and deep sense of the many obligations you have put me under. That the blessing of the Spirit may accompany these discourses to your fouls, afford you some assistance in your last and difficult work, of putting them eff at death with a becoming chearfulness, saying in that.hour, Can I not see God till this flesh be laid aside in the grave? must I die before I can live like myself? then die my body, and go to thy dust, that I may be with Christ. With this design, and with these hearty wishes, dear and honoured cousin, and worthy friends, I put these discourses into your hands, and remain,
AMONG many other largesses and rich endowments, bej£X stowed by the Creator's bounty upon the soul of man, the * sentiments and impressions of the world to come, and the Itbility of reslexion andself-intuitien, are peculiar, invaluable, and heavenly gins. By the former, we have a very great evidence of our own immortality, and designation for nobler employments and enjoyments than this embodied state admits. And by the latter, we may discern theagreeabltness of our hearts, and therein the validity of our title to that expected blessedness.
But these heavenly gifts are neglected and abused all the world over. Degenerate souls are every where fallen into fa deep an oblivion of their excellent original, spiritual and immortal nature, and alliance to the Father of spirits; that (to use the upbraiding expression of a great + philosopher) "they seem *' to be buried in their bodies, as so many silly worms that lurk "in their holes, and are lath to peep forth, and look abroad."
So powerfully do the cares and pleasures of this world charm all, (except a small remnant of regenerate fouls), that nothing but some smart stroke of calamity, or terrible messengers of death can startle them; (and even those are not always able to do it), and when they do. all the effect is but a transient glance ft another, and an unwilling thrug to leave this world, and so' to steep again. And thus the impressions and ientiments of the world tQ come (which are the natural growth and offspring of the soul) are either stisled and supprest, as in Atheists; or bora down by impetuous masterly Insts, as in Sensualists.
And for its self-.reflecting and considering power, it seems in many to be a power received in vain. It is with most souls as it is with the eye, ^which sees^not itself, though it sees all other objects. There be those that have almost finished the course of a long lise, (wherein a great part of their time hath lain upon their hands, as 3 cheap and useless commodity, which they knew oo%
* We have demonstrated from the common consent of all nations and people, since the creation of the world, especially from the consent of the goo4 and learned, that the human soul j? incorruptible and immortal ; and that therefore it survives the corrupted body, that it may he for ever either rewarded for good actions. or pu.Bished for bad actions. Zanch. on the tmvtortality es the soul.
^ixh T (fvMti, &«t NUx. Tyr. IJisf. 41,
what to do with) who yet never spent one solemn entire hour in discourse with their own souls I. What serious heart doth not melt into companion over the deluded multitude, who are mocked with dreams, and perpetually busied about trifles? Who are (after so many frustrated attempts, both of their own, and all past ages) eagerly pursuing the fleeting shadows, who tortnre and rack their brains to find out the natures and qualities of birds, ieasts, and plants; indeed any thing rather than their own fouls, which are certainly the most excellent creatures that inhabit this world. They know the true value and worth of othcr things, but are not able to estimate the dignity of that highborn spirit which is within them. A spirit which (without the addition of any more natural faculties or powers, if thole it hath be but sanctified and devoted to God) is capable of the highest persections and fruitions, even complete conformity to God, and the satisfying visions of God throughout eternity. They herd themselves with beasts, who are capable of an equality with angels. O what compassionate tears must such a consideration as this draw from the eyes of all that understand the worth of fools!
As for me, it hath been my fin, and is now the matter of Oy sorrow, that whilst myriads of souls (of no higher original than mine) are some of them beholding the highest Majesty in heaven, and others giving all diligence to make lure their ialvation on earth; I was carried away so many years in the course of this world (like a drop with the current of the tide) wholly forgetting my best self, my invaluable soul; whilst I prodigally wasted the stores of my time and thoughts upon vanities, that long since passed away as the waters which are remembered no more ft. It (halt be no shame to me to consess this folly, since the matter of my consession shall go to the glory of my God. I studied to know many other things, but I knew not myself. It was with me as with a servant to whom the master commited two things, viz. the child, and the child's cloaths; the servant is very careful of the cloaths, brushes and washes, starches and irons
j Ita Dei eji ista vita mortalit, ubi homo vanitati Jimilii saftut (pi et dieji ejus velut umbra pratterunt. Aug. de Civ. lib. 2W e. 34.
I Saints after their hearts are renewed by repentance, are not afliamed to acknowledge their ignominious faults, to the glory of God. For nothing is lost to us that redounds to his praise, who pardoning our sins, transsers us from misery to happiness. Brightmo tn Cunt. f. l 2.