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between the soul and body now appears SERMON to be, it is no more than a temporary union. It subsists only during the continuance of a tabernacle of dust, which, by its nature, is tending towards ruin. The dust must soon return to the dust, and the spirit to God who gave it. The dissolution of the earthly house of this tabernacle, is an event full of dismay to wicked men. Deyond that period they see nothing but a dark unknown, which, as far as they can discern, is peopled with objects full of terrour; even to the just, this dissolution is a serious and awful event. Providence has wisely appointed that, burdened as our present state is with various ills and frailties, we should, however, be naturally attached to it. Its final close is always attended with several melancholy ideas.Thou who now flourishest most in health and strength, must then have thy head laid low. From thy closing eyes the light of the sun shall disappear for ever. That light shall continue to shine, the seasons to return, and the earth to fourish; but to thee no more, separated from the dwellings of men, and cut off from all thou wert accus
SERMON tomed to love, as though thou hadst never
been. Such is the fate of man considered merely as inortal; as dwelling in an earthly house which is about to be dissolved. The consolatory corrective of those humbling ideas, the ray that is to dissipate this gloom, we behold in the subsequent part of the text; that when this earthly house is dissolved, there is prepared for the righteous a building of God, an house not made with hands. But before proceeding to this part of the subject, let us pause for a little, and make some reflections on what has been already said.
· Let the distinction between the soul and the body, which is so clearly marked in the text, be deeply imprinted on our minds. Few things in religion or morals are entitled to make a stronger impression than this distinction; and yet, with the bulk of men the impression it makes appears to be slight. They seem to think and act as if they consisted of no more than mere flesh and blood, and had no other concerns than what respect their embodied state. If their health be firm, if their senses be gratified, and their appetites indulged, all is
well with them. Is not this to forget that SERMON the body is no more than an earthly house to or tabernacle of the soul? The soul, that thinking part which they feel within them, and which it is impossible for them to confound with their flesh or their bones, is certainly far nobler than the tenement of clay which it inhabits. The soul is the principle of all life, and knowledge, and action. The body is no more than its instrument, or organ; and as much nobler as is the part which belongs to him who employs an instrument, than to the instrument which is employed, so much is the soul of greater dignity than the body. The one is only a frail and perishable machine ; the other survives its ruin, and lives for ever.
During the time that the union continues between those two very different parts of our frame, I by no means say that it is incumbent upon us to disregard all that relates to the body. It is not possible, nor though it were possible, would it be requisite or fit, for man to act as if he were pure immaterial spirit. This is what the condition and laws of our nature permit i Vol. V.
SERMON not. But must not the greatest sensualist
admit, that if the soul be the chief part of man, it must have interests of its own, which require to be carefully attended to? Can he imagine that he truly consults either his interest or his pleasure, if he employs the thinking part of his nature only to serve, and to minister to the bodily part? Must not this infer, not merely a degradation of the superiour part, but an entire perversion of that whole constitution of nature which our Maker hath given us ? Be assured, my brethren, that the soul hath a health and a sickness, hath pleasures and pains of its own, quite distinct from those of the body, and which have a powerful influence on the happiness or misery of man. He who pays no attention to these, and neglects all care of preserving the health and soundness of his soul, is not only preparing final misery for himself when he shall enter into a disembodied estate, but is laying, even for his present state, the foundation of many a bitter distress. By folly and guilt he is wounding his spirit. Its wounds will often bleed when his body appears sound, and will give rise to inward SERMON pangs, which no animal comforts shall be able to assuage or heal.
When we impress our minds tvith a sense of this important distinction between the body and the soul, let us not forget, that closely united as they now are in our frame, their union is soon to terminate. The earthly house of this tabernacle is to be dissolved; but the soul which inhabits it remains. Let us therefore dwell in our earthly house with the sentiments of those who know they are about to dislodge. The endowments and improvements of the soul are the only possessions on which we can reckon as continuing to be our own. On every possession which belongs to our bodily estate, we ought to view this inscription as written by God; “ This is “ an earthly house which is tottering to its “ fall; This is a tabernacle which is about “ to be taken down.”— Let us with pleasure turn our thoughts towards those higher prospects that are set before us, when this change shall have taken place in the human condition; which naturally brings us to the P 2