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rated from a part of ourselves; and, what remains, must launch out into a new and unknown state.
II. This separation of the soul from the body is the second view of death which the text gives us ;— "Yea, man giveth up the ghost."
I will not take up your time in demonstrating, that there is a principle in man distinct from the body, and endowed with nobler powers. This sact was acknowledged by the Heathens; it is capable of being proved by reason ; it is consirmed by experience ; and it is put beyond all question by the scriptures of truth. I have only to explain the view of death here given us.
It is the dissolution of that union which subsists between the foul and body. It unties the knot, so to speak, on which our present animal lise depends. We have no reason to think, indeed, that the essential lise of our nobler part is hereby extinguished; nay, we have the clearest proof to the contrary. The soul is an immortal principle, that never dies. That diviner breath does not expire when the breath of our nostrils goes forth. Yet, if we consider human nature, as it is now compounded of foul and body, v death may, in some sense, be accounted the destruction of it, as it reduces all that is visible of man to deplorable ruins. It tears down our earthly tabernacles, curiously framed by insinite wisdom; and renders them unsit for the rational foul to lodge and act in any more. And now, that person, whom we beheld a little before so vigorous and active, so sull of busy thoughts and restlese ambition, becomes to our view an inanimated lump, devoid of sense and of mo- tion. That body, which was so exactly proportioned in all its parts, so fondly cherished, and which occupied so much of our attention, is now left a hideous and ghastly spectacle, and so offensive, that we are obliged to hide it from-the eyes of the living, and commit it to the cold and silent grave. Such is the visible contempt that death pours upon human nature;
ture; such tlic dark and black cloud, it draws over all its beauty and its glory. "If I wait," fays Job* "the grave is my house; I have made my bed in the "darkness; I have faid to corruption, Thou art my "father; to the worm, Thou art roy mother, and "my sister. Then does the dust return to the earth "as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave "it."
1 acknowledge, indeed, that we are not able to show how the vital union is disfolved by death, and the unwelcome separation made. None of those numberless spirits, that have been dislodged from the body, ever- came to inform us what it is to die: only* from daily experience, we know, that death, in its near- approaches, offers considerable violence to our nature; and this union is seldom disfolved without sharp and violent conflicts. Hence we fo often read and hear of the pangs of death; and hence, when we attend the beds of our dying friends, what deep groans have we not fometimes heard [ What painsul struggles, when the summons of removal was put into their hands, and the foul, as it were, torn from its intimate companion! In fome sew, indeed, the - spark of lise does almost insensibly expire, like a taper,whose light goes gently out. But there are innumerable other instances, which give death a frightsul aspect even to good men themselves, and represent him as the king of terrors. Hear to this purpose Hezekiah's mournsul complaint. "He will cut me off "with pining sickness; from day, even to night, "wilt thou make an end of me. I reckoned till ** morning, that, as a lion, fo will he break all my "bones (a)."
'. Such, then, is death, when we view it in itself, as a separation os the foul from the body. Such is the dismal ruin it brings upon our meaner part: and, with respect to the foul, it is its last farewell to this world, never again to return to the low pursuits of an animal life. "For, as the cloud is consumed, "and vanisheth away, fo, he that goeth down to
(aJ Isa. xxxviii. I*, 13.
"the grave, shall come up no more: He shall re"turn no more to his house, neither shall his place "know him any more."
I shall now suggest a sew practical reflections on this second view of death.
'What humble sentiments should we entertain of ourselves, when we consider, that, in a sew years, we shall be laid in the grave! How effectually should this hide pride from our eyes! What has man to foster pride, who carries about witlr him such arguments and motives to humility? Should he boait of his noble blood, and dignisied ancestors, who may fay to corruption, Thou art my sather? Why should any glory in the beauty and strength of their bodies, when, in a very little time, they will be desaced by the hand of death, and crumble into dust? "Their beauty," says the Psalmist, "shall consume "in the grave from their dwelling." In the grave, there is no distinction between the remains of a prince, and the ashes of a peasant. The rich and the poor, the ignorant and the learned, the proud and the humble, enemies and friends, lie down together. Let these reflections, by the bleffing of God, cure us of pride and ambition.
Again: This subject should teach us, not to be oversolicitous about the concerns of the body. Many take more care of the tottering house, which is ready every moment to moulder into dust, than of the precious and immortal being which inhabits it. How often do these questions, What shall I eat? what shall 1 drink? and wherewithal shall I be clothed ? supersede another, of insinitely more importance; What shall I do to be saved? We are anxiously concerned to keep up the battered cottage, while yet the valuable inhabitant is left to bleed to death of his wounds, unheeded and disregarded. We care for the body, which, in a little, we must put off by death and we neglect the eternal happiness of our immortal and better part. This is just as if a man should take
care care to presexve his garments, while he took none to fave his lise: or, as if he should be very folicitous to secure the calket, while the jewel is cast away. O! that we would seriouiiy reflect: on the unaccountable madness and folly we are guilty of, iu chiefly caring for the body, which shall foon be thrown aside as an 'useless lump, and disregarding the foul, the only part of us which shall then survive ! - This is an instance of stupidity or madness, which no words are sufsicient to express, nor tears to deplore.
Another thing we may learn from this view of death, is the inestimable dignity and worth of the foul. It continues to exist, unextinguished, aster- the separation from the body. Hence- the apostle Paul, speaking of his own death, calls it the time of his departure; and, in the text, it is represented as a giving up the ghost or spirit. The body, indeed, is reduced to its sirst principles; but the foul, being uncompounded, a thinking spiritual substance, cannot sufser disfolution. "The dust returns to the ejjrth "as it was; but the spirit returns to God who gave "it." There is no argument more efsectual to inspire us with a true sense of religion, than a just esti* mation of the dignity and worth of the soul; and there is no period of the foul's duration, which place* this in fo strong a light, as the period of its separation from the body. The beautisul structure of the body is then taken to pieces; its animal lise and powers expire; it crumbles into dust, and is preyed upon by the vilest reptiles: But the foul, remains unshaken, and unhurt; all the attacks of the king of terrors cannot destroy it; and the only effect that death has, is to make it change its habitation. And therefore,
In the last place, this shows us, that our chief care, and most serious thoughts; our most precious moments, and greatest application; should be employed about our heaven-born and immortal fouls. Since we all acknowledge, tkat the foul is insinitely more valuable than the body, let us think of beautifying ing and adorning it. This is an exercise worthy of a rational being. Now, the soul is adorned by knowledge, especially of divine things. Let us therefore labour to know God, the persection of beauty and love. Let us contemplate his works; let us meditate on his word; and, chiefly, let us study to know God as, in Christ, reconciling the world to himself: "For this is lise eternal, to know Thee, the only "true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." Let it be our principal concern to attain that knowledge of God, and of divine things, which warms the heart, which enlightens the mind, and which slieds abroad its enlivening influence on the temper and lise.
But the foul is adorned also by holy and pious dispositions; for these are the image of God, aster which it was at sirst created. Let us therefore endeavour, through grace, to have this image, which sin has in a great measure efsaced, restored to our souls; our wills conformed to the will of God, and our affections*' placed on noble and sublime objects, that so the graces of the Spirit may abound in us, and the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, dwell in our fouls. If this be your serious concern, if this sanctifying change is wrought in you by renewing grace, and your souls made thereby like tc* God in holiness; when they come to leave the body, they shall not be found naked nor unsurnished, nor unsit for that state of glory and blessedness, in which alone they can be completely, and for ever happy.