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part." Plato not only asserts the immortality of the souls of men, but disputes for it; and among other arguments he urges this; "If it were not so, wicked men would certainly have the advantage of righteous and good men, who, after they have committed all manner of evils, should suffer none." But why speak I of philoso phers? the most barbarous nations in the world constantly believe it. The Turks acknowledge it in their Alcoran; and though they grossly mistake the nature of heaven, in fancying it to be a paradise of sensual pleasures, as well as the way thither, by their impostor Mahomet: yet it is plain they believe the soul's immortality, and that it lives in pain or pleasure after this life.
The very savage and illiterate Indians are so fully persuaded of the soul's immortality, that wives cast themselves cheerfully into the flames to attend the souls of their husbands; and subjects, to attend the souls of their kings into the other world.
The immortality of the soul may be evinced from the dignity of man above all other creatures, (angels only excepted) and his do minion over them all.
In this, the scriptures are clear, that man is the master-piece of all God's other works: "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou hast made him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet." Psalm viii. 5, 6. Other creatures were made for his service, and he is crowned king over them all. One man is of more worth than all the inferior creatures.
But wherein is his dignity and excellency above all other creatures, if not in respect of the capacity and immortality of his soul? Sure it can be found no where else; for as to the body, many of the creatures excel man in the perfections of sense, greatness of strength, agility of members, &c. And for beauty, "Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of the lilies of the field." The beasts and fowls enjoy more pleasure, and live divested of all those cares and cumbers which perplex and wear out the lives of men. It cannot be in respect of bodily perfections and pleasures, that man excels all other creatures.
If you say, he excels them all in respect of that noble endowment of reason, which is peculiar to man, and his singular excellency above them all.
It is true, this is his glory; but if you deprive the reasonable soul of immortality, you despoil it of all, both of its glory and comfort, and put the reasonable into a worse condition than the unreasonable and brutish creatures. For if the soul may die with the body, and man perish as the beast, happier is the life of the beast, which is perplexed with no cares nor fears about futurities: our reason serves to little other purpose but to be an engine of torture, a mere rack to our souls.
Certainly, the privilege of man doth not consist in reason, as abstracted from immortality. But in this it properly consists, that he enjoys not only a reasonable, but also rejoiceth in an immortal soul, which shall over-live the world, and subsist separate from the body, and abide for ever, when all other souls, being but a material form, perish with that matter on which they depend. This is the proper dignity of man, above the beast that perisheth; and to deprive him of immortality, and leave him his reason, is but to leave him a more miserable and wretched creature than any that God hath put under his feet. For man is a prospecting creature, and raiseth up to himself vast hopes and fears from the world to come: by these he is restrained from the sensual pleasures which other creatures freely enjoy, and exercised with ten thousand cares, which they are unacquainted with; and to fail at once of all his hopes and expectations of happiness in the world to come, is to fall many degrees lower than the lowest creature shall fall; even so much lower as his expectations and hopes had lifted him higher.
The denial of the soul's immortality overthrows the main principles and doctrines of the Christian religion, upon which both our faith and comfort are founded; and, consequently, it undoes and ruins us as to all solid hope and true joy.
It nullifies and makes void the great design and end of God's eternal election. The scriptures tell us, that from all eternity God hath chosen a certain number in Christ Jesus, to eternal life, and to the means by which they shall attain it, out of his mere good plea
sure, and for the praise of his grace. This was (1.) An eternal act of God, Eph. i. 4. long before we had our being, Rom. ix. 11. (2.) This choice of God, or his purpose to save some, is immutable, 2 Tim. ii. 19. James i. 17. (3.) This choice he made in Christ, Eph. i. 4. Not that Christ is the cause of God's choosing us; for we were not elected because we were, but that we might be in Christ. Christ was ordained to be the medium of the execution of this decree. And all the mercies which were purposed and ordained for us, were to be purchased by the blood of Christ. He was not the cause of the decree, but the purchaser of the mercies decreed for us. (4.) This choice was of a certain number of persons, who are all known to God, 2 Tim. ii. 19. and all given to Christ in the covenant of redemption, John xvii. 2, 6. So that no elect person can be a reprobate, no reprobate an elect person. (5.) This number was chosen to salvation, 1 Thess. v. 9. No less did God design for them that glory and happiness, and that for ever. (6.) The same persons that are appointed to salvation as the end, are also appointed to sanctification as the way and means by which they shall attain that end, 1 Pet. i. 1, 2. 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14 (7.) The impulsive cause of this choice was the mere good pleasure of his will, 2 Tim. i. 9. Rom. ix. 15, 16. Eph. i. 9. (8.) The end of all this is the praise of his glorious grace, Eph. ì. 5, 6. to make a glorious manifestation of the riches of his grace for ever. This is the account the scripture gives us of God's eternal choice.
But if our souls be mortal, and perish with our bodies, all this in a mistake, and we are imposed upon, and our understandings are abused by this doctrine; for to what purpose are all these decrees and contrivances of God from everlasting, if our souls perish with our bodies? Certainly, if it be so, he loses all the thoughts and counsels of his heart about us; and that counsel of his will, which is so much celebrated in the scriptures, and admired by his people, comes to nought. For this is evident to every man's consideration, that if the soul, (which is the object about which all those thoughts and counsels of God were employed and laid out) fail in its being, all those thoughts and counsels that have been employed about it, and spent on it, must necessarily fail and come to nothing with it.
The thoughts of his heart connot stand fast, as it is said, Ps. xxxiii. 11. if the soul slide, about which they were conversant. In that day the elect soul perisheth, the eternal consultations and purposes of God's heart perish with it. Keckerman tells us, that " Albertus Magnus, with abundance of art, and the study of thirty years, made a vocal statue in the form of a man. It was a rare contrivance, and much admired; the cunning artist had so framed it, that by wheels, and other machines placed within it, it could pronounce words articulately." Aquinus being surprised to hear the statue speak, was affrighted at it, and brake it all to pieces; upon which Albertus told him he had at one blow destroyed the work of thirty years. Such a blow would the death of the soul give to the counsels and thoughts, not of man, but of God, not of thirty years, but from everlasting, Flavel.
Having settled this point, viz. that my soul is immortal, and that it will not die when it leaves the body, it now becomes a matter of no trifling importance to inquire, what and where will be its future resting-place, not for some forty or fifty years, but for forty or fifty thousand; and when they are gone, as many more will rise in view,
Till numbers drown the thought;-but, ah! I shiver,
To think upon the dreadful sound, for ever!
Upon this subject we should have to work in the dark, were it not for the Scriptures; but they are as "a lamp unto our feet, to guide us in the way." They shed a lustre on the valley of the shadow of death, and open to the faithful servant of the Most High the blissful regions of immortality!
I will now present the reader with what my library affords upon their authenticity and utility.
If these fail,
The pillar'd firmament is rottenness,
And earth's base built on stubble.
Read, and revere the sacred page; a page Where triumphs immortality; a page Which not the whole creation could produce; Which not the conflagration shall destroy; In nature's ruins not one letter lost; 'Tis printed in the mind of God for ever. YOUNG. BIBLE. This name is given to the Word of God; and no one is at a loss to know what is meant by it, when we say say, the Bible. But it is not, perhaps, so generally known, wherefore the sacred scriptures are called the Bible. This is the reason: the word Bible is taken from the Greek biblos, or book; and it is so called by way of eminency and distinction, as if there were no other book (and which is, indeed, strictly and properly speaking, the case) in the world. So then, by Bible is meant the Book, the book of God, the only book of God, including the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and no other; for these, and these alone, are able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. The Hebrews call their Scriptures Mirka, which means lesson, instruction, or scripture. Dr. Hawker.
The opinions, or rather the conjectures, of the learned, concerning the time when the books of the New Testament were collected into one volume, as also about the authors of that collection, are widely different. This important question is attended with great and almost insuperable difficulties to us in these latter times. It is, however, sufficient for us to know, that before the middle of the second century, the greatest part of the books of the New Testament was read in every Christian society throughout the world, and received as a divine rule of faith and manners. Hence it appears, that these sacred writings were carefully separated from several human compositions upon the same subject, either by some of the apostles themselves, who lived so long, or by their disciples and successors, who were spread abroad through all nations. We are well assured, that the four Gospels were collected in the lifetime of St. John, and that the three first received the approbation of this divine apostle. And why may we not suppose, that the other books of the New Testament were gathered together at the same time?
Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History.