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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
motives. This the lower creation is perhaps entirely incapable of doing. The devil and his angels have so much knowledge as that one of their number said, "I know thee who thou art, Jesus the Son of God;" but they have ceased to be moral agents. Knowing evil to be such, they prefer it, and say, "Evil, be thou my good."
Sinful man puts darkness for light and light for darkness; his understanding first errs, and then he commits sin, not as such, for every man has some rule, some code of morals, some excuse for his conduct. And if there be any of the children of disobedience to whom this remark does not apply, it must be those who most resemble their "father the devil, for his works they do."
And because man is a moral agent, he is capable of loving God, and of being conscious that God loves him. How precious then is the soul of man thus nobly endowed, thus richly capacitated! Of what high, exalted, pure, unutterable delight must the soul be capable from such a source of happiness: external nature has its delights, and sense has its gratifications; the pursuits and acquisitions of knowledge have their joys; but they are lost in the distance, they sink into insignificance, compared with the rapture of the accepted child of God when he saith," Abba Father," and in the hearing of faith is addressed with, "My son! My son !" This is a joy which earth cannot give, nor death take away.
The soul is capable of divine holiness; according to St. Peter, he may be "a partaker of the divine nature;" he may, saith our Lord, be merciful and loving as his heavenly Father. Being first justified from all things by the blood of Christ, he may be cleansed from all sin, and do the will of God on earth, even as it is done
in heaven. How precious then is the soul of man! Its redemption will appear unspeakably important, if you consider the unholy motives of which it is capable; the misery of which it is susceptible; and the utter impurity to which it may sink. What an awful description is that which a single sentence contains! "Hateful and hating one another;" reft of every excellence, lost to affection, abandoned of God, incapable of sympathy, sunk in the depths of pollution, consigned to misery and despair!
Nothing that appertains to the soul of man makes its redemption appear more precious than the eternity of its duration. One of the most accomplished of heathen bards ventured the conjecture, "non omnis moriar," "All of me shall not die :" life and immortality had not to him been brought to light by the gospel. We know that we shall live for ever. Then it is true that all the happiness of men in all ages is not equal to what one soul may enjoy in heaven. The years of every man's life since the days of Adam added into one sum would be immeasurably insignificant contrasted with the years of eternity. Eternity hath no wrinkle on its brow; no symptom of decay. The mind is overwhelmed with the idea, it cannot comprehend it; nor can any being but the Eternal, whose "goings forth are from everlasting."
But the happiness of man in time is very partial; much remains to be wished; it is interrupted by infirmity; by the very provisions of providence it is the pledge of something better, but not the thing itself: it is of short continuance; we talk of an aged man, but where is he who has seen many days? comparatively, some are old men; but few and evil are the days of the longest lived. Man, however, is capable of happiness,