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misery should occupy it! If it lose an eternity of joy, how dreadful the reverse ! It cannot cease to exist. It cannot be annihilated. It must endure positive pain. There is a
worm that dieth not, and a fire that is not quenched," Mark ix. 44. With what anguish will a ruined sinner cry, “ How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof!" Prov. v. 12, 13. I was warned, but I disregarded the warping. I was invited, but I refused the invitation. I was entreated, but I neglected the entreaty. I was threatened, but I disbelieved the threatening. If an occasional thought of eternity protruded itself, it was an unwelcome guest. I went to my farm, to my merchandise, to my pleasures, to my sins; but could find no time or inclination to go to my minister, my Bible, my Saviour, my God. Evil spirits have been my tempters; they are now my companions and tormentors. I am without hope ; darkness and despair have seized
my soul : “ The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved,” Jer. viii. 20. My sins and negligence are set in dread array before me, and this is their desert. I see others entering into the kingdom of heaven, but I am shut out, Matt. xxv. 10. The only sound I hear from heaven, is. Eternity! Eternity! Eternity! Rev. xiv. 10, 11.
Thus, if we consider the capacity of the soul for happiness or misery, we may learn something of its nature and worth ; and surely this ought to serve as a guard against neglect of its welfare. Shall we run into danger, and risk the loss of so invaluable a treasure'? Shall we be content that it should remain doubtful whether we shall be saved or lost? Shall we take such a leap in the dark, when, if we be found wrong, there is no remedy? He who once loses his soul, loses his all. He is like a merchant whose ship sinks with all his property on board. A man may recover many losses on earth, but the loss of the soul is a loss never to be repaired. Once lost, lost for ever.
Still more shall we discover its worth, if we consider,
your souls by that astonishing truth, “ God was manifest in the flesh," 1 Tim. iii. 16. “Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor,” 2 Cor. viii. 9. He became “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” Isa. liii. 3. He tabernacled thirty-three years in our evil world. He was obedient to the law for man, Dan. ix. 24. He was made answerable for sin, 2 Cor. v. 21; Gal. iii. 13.
“ He was wounded for our transgressions." “ He was bruised for our iniquities." “ He poured out his soul unto death,” Isa. liii. 5–12. By all he did and suffered, by the mystery of his holy incarnation, by his holy nativity and circumcision, by his baptism, fasting, and temptation, by his agony and bloody sweat, by his cross and passion, by his precious death and burial, by his glorious resurrection and ascension, and by his second coming to judge the world, an infinite dignity and incalculable value are stamped on the soul. “ Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ,” 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. Shall such a price be paid, and will you not regard your soul? If immortal souls were so precious in the sight of God, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that through him they might be saved ; if they were so valuable in the sight of the Divine Saviour, that he did not shrink from laying down his life for their sake, let then your own soul be precious in your own sight, and seek its present and everlasting salvation through him; for he freely offers you his salvation, yea, beseeches you to accept it at his hands, 2 Cor.'v. 20, and vi. 1.
To this end, let it be your immediate object to consider,
III. The means appointed for the soul's spiritual welfare. Ministers labour continually. “They watch for your souls as they that must give an account;” Heb. xiii. 17. They are the appointed messengers of God to warn men to flee from the wrath to come, and to invite them to lay hold on eternal life, Col. i. 28; 1 Tim. vi. 12. By them the blessing and the curse are continually set before you, Deut. xxx. 19. The gospel is preached, that "faith may come by hearing, Rom. x. 17. And the Spirit of God waits to apply it, and make it
effectual, Isa. xxx. 18; Rev. iii. 20. It is brought near,
and its blessings freely offered, Rom. x. 8–13; and the consequences of neglecting it are fully stated, Acts iv. 12; 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. The Holy Scriptures are written “ for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness,” 2 Tim. iii. 15–17. They are an infallible guide, “ a sure word of prophecy,” 2 Pet. i. 19; a light to guide the soul into the way of peace, Psa. cxix. 105–130. Conscience admonishes and accuses, Rom. ii. 15. Oftentimes, with a voice too powerful to be altogether resisted, it whispers, “ Take heed to thy soul,” Acts xxiv. 25. Providences are arranged by infinite wisdom in such manner, that they may speak a warning voice, Luke xiii. 4; Mark xii. 37. Afflictions are sent to awaken a concern for eternity, Isa. xxxviii. 1 And the Holy Spirit strives, yea, condescends to invite to a conference, with the promise of a happy result, Gen. vi. 3 ; Isa. i. 18; Acts ïïi. 19. Destruction has no covering, that we may not fall into the pit, Luke xvi. 23; and heaven darts its splendours from afar to attract the notice of immortal souls, Psa. xvi. 11; Rev. xxi. 23—27. Then neglect not to use those means which are placed within your power. God continually, Isa. xl. 31. Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day, Isa. Iviii. 13, 14. Search the Scriptures daily, Acts xvii. 11, 12. Be earnest in prayer. Cry migitily unto God to enlighten your mind, and renew a right spirit within you, Luke xi. 9–13. Plead the promises of God, and you will find them faithful and true for the welfare of your souls, Isa. Ixv. 24.
Upon the whole, therefore, observe, Those who neglect the means of grace, deprive their souls of good, Heb. iv. 1, 2. Those who do not reverence the Son of God and trust in him, lose their souls for ever, John viii. 24. In this there is great folly, as well as guilt. He who is more anxious about time than eternity, and disregards spiritual things, is more foolish and cruel than the man who, when his house is on fire, looks after trifles, and exposes himself, or leaves his children, to perish in the flames.
Will you postpone the consideration of these things ? What and if this night your souls should be required of you? Be ye therefore ready, Luke xii. 20—40.
“ Behold, now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation,” 2 Cor. vi. 2. “ Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near,” Isa. lv. 6; lest you resemble the Roman emperor who, in his dying moments, said, “ My poor vagrant soul, whither art thou going ?” or the unbelieving Voltaire, who declared to his physician, he would give half his fortune to have his life lengthened half a year; or the Jewish rabbi, who said to them that asked him why he wept, “ If they were carrying me before a king of flesh and blood, who is here to-day and to-morrow in the grave; who may bring me into bondage, but cannot keep me there, only for a season; who may destroy my body, but cannot touch my soul, even in these circumstances I should weep. But now I am going before the King of kings, the only blessed God, who liveth and endureth for ever and ever ; who, if I die impenitent, will consign me to the pit whence there is no redemption.”
Instead of being thus left, with pagans, infidels, and Jews, to dread uncertainty on a subject so amazingly important as the future state of the immortal soul; instead of the dreadful risk which all must run who are careless or indifferent on such a matter, you may, by that grace of the Holy Spirit which you are encouraged to seek, by that repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, which you are invited to exercise, and which is the gift of God, be enabled to triumph over death, and say, “ I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him," 2 Tim. i. 12. “ O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Cor. xv. 55. You may carry your imagination beyond the grave, and say, in the prospect of an appearance at the judgment of the great day, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died,” Rom. viii. 34. You may look forward to eternity, and say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith ; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,” 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. That God of his infinite mercy
and love may bless
with this grace, and lead you to the exercise of this repentance and faith ; or, if you are now penitent believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, that you may be kept “ stedfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” is the hearty desire of the friend who thus wishes to draw your attention to the worth of your souls, by leading you to consider their na the price of their redemption, and the means of their spiritual welfare.
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