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tress; the departure of a friend in whose life ours was bound up, creating a sense of desolation and desertion; the sorrow of a blasted reputation refusing to be comforted; and the deep unmeasured calamity of perverted reason; of all these we may know something from experience or observation, but who knoweth the state of a lost soul; deserted of its God, abandoned to misery and despair? "Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath." Of every other evil the fear is worse than the reality; apprehension mistifies and magnifies the object; but, in this case, fear never adequately conceived of the extent of the loss. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Imagination can picture nothing so dreadful as the reality of that which is impórted in these words.
Hear the words of a distinguished man :-" In consequence of neglecting the great salvation, to sink at last under the frown of the Almighty, is a calamity which words were not invented to express, nor finite minds framed to grasp. What, my brethren, if it be lawful to indulge such a thought, what would be the funeral obsequies of a lost soul? where shall we find the tears fit to be wept at such a spectacle? or could we realize the calamity in all its extent, what tokens of commiseration and concern would be deemed equal to the occasion? Would it suffice for the sun to veil his light, and the moon her brightness; to cover the ocean with mourning, and the heavens with sackcloth; or were the whole fabric of nature to become animated and vocal, would it be possible for her to utter a groan too deep, or a cry too piercing, to express the magnitude of such a catastrophe ?"
What is the state of a lost soul! It is that of one
who looks backward on time with inexpressible remorse; of one who looks upward to the throne of the sinavenging God with terror and dismay; of one who looks around on the companions of his misery, some of whom he has lured to destruction, and others of whom have tempted him to his ruin. A lost soul is one that looks forward without the feeblest hope that his misery shall terminate, (" hope deferred maketh the heart sick;" but tell me, ye who can, what is the sickness and sinking of heart which belong to hope extinguished?) There is a great gulf fixed; it cannot be passed, and it cannot be removed. A lost soul is one that looks inward, at the undying worm, and the undecaying flame, fed by the vitals it may never consume; at the understanding too enlightened any longer to be deceived; at the heart, which once cheered its possessor, when every other frowned, but now condemns, and cannot be bribed to silence or approbation; at the memory which records and calls up every sin committed, and every opportunity of salvation neglected; at the imagination which pictures deeper sorrow yet to come, and adds the horror of anticipation to the sickness of despair and the misery of torment. The thought is almost too painful to be dwelt upon, though at the distance of earth from hell!
"What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" What would a man give to secure his soul's salvation, to escape from so great a death? The question is one of the highest importance; but who is there convinced of his danger? This question, to be put with effect, should be proposed to a dying man, who sees and feels himself on the verge of an eternal world, and about to enter an "unprovided-for eternity." The most avaricious man, at that dread hour, would yield up his hoarded treasure; the voluptuary would forego his de
lights; the lover of this world would abandon his idol, for an assurance of salvation; and as death presses nearer and nearer to him, how gladly would he accept of life, on the condition of being poor, afflicted, and despised; for then there would be space for repentance. Think for a moment what it is to gain one's soul; it is to be borne on the wings of angels to the paradise of God; it is to bid an eternal adieu to the frailties and sorrows of humanity; it is in the upper sky, above and beyond the regions of storm and cloud, grief and separation, and death, to look upward at a smiling God, from whom are constantly shed forth blessing and glory, rays of brightness and riches of eternity, inspirations of knowledge and overflowings from the fulness of joy, the glowing of love, and the purity of holiness. A redeemed soul is one that looks around at the companions of his bliss, some of whom have been the helpers of his faith; others are the crown of his rejoicing in this the day of the Lord Jesus: in a word, it is to look forward into an eternity of joy; backward on a life of mercy from God and faith in Christ; inward at the reflected image of his God; an unclouded understanding, a purified heart, an exalted imagination, a holy will, a memory enriched with the treasures of truth and mercy.
My brethren, I have been talking with you of judgment and of mercy; bear now with the word of exhortation. There is an awful certainty attending the threatenings of revelation; we may put these things far from our thoughts, but they are every moment drawing nearer and nearer to our experience. If looking around on this assembly I could say, every other is secure of eternal salvation, but there is one individual, I will not say where in this place, I may not say who of this congregation, but, that man is in danger of
everlasting damnation. O! how would you look one at another, and then say, addressing your Maker, "Lord, is it I? Lord, is it I?" And is the matter less weighty because not one is beyond the reach of falling; because we may any of us perish, because, if unchanged, our path shall terminate in perdition? shall there be no searchings of heart because multitudes are in equal danger with ourselves? O! foolish and unwise, can the company of all we love make hell endurable; or the loss of heaven a matter of indifference!
THE REDEMPTION OF THE SOUL.
For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever," Psa. xlix, 8.
UPON inquiry and reflection it will appear that the obvious meaning of these words is the correct one. The subject redeemed is the immortal soul of man; the price at which its redemption was effected was beyond comparison precious, and the precious redemption is available only for a season; that season past, the opportunity of salvation ceaseth for ever..
I. The subject redeemed. The value of the soul may in some degree be estimated by its powers, affections, capacities, and duration.
When God made man, he made him in his own image, and endued him with intelligence. "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him," Col. iii, 10. "There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the
Almighty giveth them understanding," Job xxxii, 8. Of which knowledge the highest and noblest exercise is "to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent," John xvii, 3.
It is possible to underrate the value of knowledge, considered either as a faculty or as an acquirement. Because the forbidden fruit was that of the knowledge of good and evil, and because, under the gospel dispensation "not many wise are called," some pious persons have thought lightly even of this gift, but knowledge is in itself a part of "the image of God," and we are in duty bound to render unto God the things that are God's; the things which bear his image and superscription. Redemption had for its object, not an extent of territory, however beautiful, for the earth may impart, but cannot entertain, delight; it may suggest knowledge, but cannot conceive it; it was not the brute creation, for though they know somewhat, it is of that only which concerns their immediate wants; it is very limited and may not be enlarged; but redemption had man for its object, alone, of all creatures made in the image of God, alone, of all who live upon earth, able and fitted to know his Maker, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.
The value of this knowledge who can tell? Observe, it is not a faculty to discover God, but to know him in so far as he hath revealed himself, and he hath done so in the person and character, the incarnation and death of Jesus Christ. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out," Rom. xii, 33.
The redemption of the soul is precious because man is a moral agent: he acts under the influence of moral