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the conclusion of that long period, his eye had not waxed dim, nor was his natural force abated. He died, not from debility, but yielded up his breath at the divine command. The more signally to mark his abhorrence of iniquity, of whatever kind, God has often punished his servants, in the present life. For the sin of Moses at Meribah, God had declared he should not enter the promised land. Accordingly, when God had said to him, "Behold, thy days approach that thou must die," having exhorted his successor and all the people, he went up to the top of Mount Nebo; and, being divinely strengthened, saw all the land below, unto the utmost sea. This being over, the venerable man breathed his spirit into the hands of his Maker; and God buried his body, but where, "no man knoweth unto this day."
THE LOSS OF THE SOUL.
"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Mark viii, 36, 37.
MEN and brethren, what solemn words are these! Questions involving deeper interests were never proposed. And, if we consider by whom they were put, that all are concerned in the proper solution of them, and that no period can arrive when the result of our determination of them shall cease to be a matter of importance, we shall do well to give our whole souls to the inquiries pressed on our notice by the Saviour of
There are several considerations suggested by the slightest perusal of these verses. The first question implies, that a man cannot make the world his gain at any less expense than that of his soul's everlasting welfare. A man must not count life, or aught that makes life desirable, to be dear unto him, so that he may win Christ. No man can serve God and mam
By "the whole world," we cannot understand the empire of the habitable globe. This is what no one ever had; nor is it in any degree probable that any one ever shall have it, until He come whose right the kingdoms are. Alexander the Great made some advances toward universal empire; but, in reality, he extended his sway no farther over Europe than the Grecian islands and Main; comparatively little of
Africa, beyond the limits of Egypt, was then known; America was not discovered; the vast regions of northern and eastern Asia were not reached; and, though his empire was deemed of almost immeasurable extent, its boundaries were far within those of man's utmost habitation.
Rome, at the height of its power, had under its influence, or within its empire, the whole of what had once acknowledged Alexander, and comprehended, besides, nearly the whole of continental and insular Europe, much of northern Africa, and vast additional regions in Asia; but, after all, it did not embrace one half the territory of the globe. To "gain the whole world,” in a literal sense, is not the thing in question. The thing supposed must be one of possible attainment. It is, the enjoyment of all the satisfaction which the world can afford to an intelligent being. The text, then, puts the question, What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain, for a life-time, uninterruptedly, all the pleasures of sense and intellect, and, in the end, forfeit his own soul?
To follow out the propositions of our text, we must state (so far as we can do it) and place in opposition, what the world can give, and what we lose by an exclusive pursuit of its gifts; in a word, the "profit and loss" of having our heaven in this world, what are the pleasures to be obtained, and what is the risk to be incurred. There is a remark which ought to be made before we proceed farther. It is this: many pious men have, we fear, injured the cause of pure and undefiled religion, by denying the very existence of any pleasure, short of that which is to be found in communion with God. Now the hearer is conscious that, the matter is not fairly stated, and that he has really derived much
gratification (I will not call it solid, or noble, or pure, or permanent, but) much delight of its kind, from things of a worldly nature. It has emanated from a variety of objects and engagements; and the knowledge that this has been the case will steel his mind against the impression which otherwise might be made. It is true, an enlightened conscience would mar all the sensual delights of its possessor. It is true, a tender conscience would shrink with pain from all approach to sinful pleasures. But the conscience of many is neither tender nor enlightened; they sin without remorse or apprehension; and, could we stop to dwell upon the subject, we might prove, that to be possessed of only so much. religion as enlightens the conscience without changing the heart is to be in a condition more wretched and less secure, more guilty and more hopeless, than when a deceived heart hath led a man unknowingly astray.
I. Let us sum up, and place in order, the happiness of the man who has gained the whole world. And
1. He has every natural endowment and advantage, such as health, vigour, hilarity, grace, and symmetry. His health is unbroken and uninterrupted, or only experiences such slight and passing intervals of indisposition as make his enjoyment of a sound and undisturbed constitution more sensible and more exquisite. He has the vigour of a powerful frame, capable of sustaining exertion without exhaustion, and of commanding all the pleasures which strength alone can ensure. He is a stranger to deformity and weakness. There is a buoyancy of spirit, and a liveliness of animal feeling, like the exuberance of the principle of existence. And, in truth, next to the favour of God and a good conscience, there is no one blessing more desirable than cheerfulness. This man's spirits have suffered no shock,
have experienced no waste or decay from disappointments, privations, bereavements, family afflictions, losses, insult, or fear. Then he has the inferior advantages of a form all symmetry, an action untaught but graceful, a countenance full of expression, beaming with thought and emotion.
2. The next class of worldly happiness consists of accidental advantages, such as rank and wealth. No one in this land can divest himself entirely of reverence for superior birth and station. The man who has gained the whole world as his portion may be supposed to hold a station not inferior to the throne, or, if inferior, that of the premier of his country, and he may be imagined to claim all the honours that belong to a distinguished ancestry. He may, farther, be understood to have all the wealth that heart could wish, or art could employ. The man we speak of has all the happiness that wealth and station can, in the most favourable cases, procure for their possessor.
3. Next take into the account every natural indulgence. All the refinements of luxury, and all the ingenuity of art, are put in requisition to minister to his appetite. He is an epicure, and science is taxed to contribute to the pleasures of his table and his festive board. To-morrow he trusts shall be as this day and more abundant. He is an elegant and accomplished voluptuary; all the grossness is separated from the indulgence, by the modern refinements of polished sensuality.
4. But farther, he hath learned to give himself unto wine, and yet acquaint himself with wisdom. His taste is rich and cultivated, his talent vast and varied, his acquirement bounded only by the circle of science.
By taste I mean the rare faculty of perceiving the