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fairs of this world be, you both can, and do, find time to fit alone, and bethink yourselves of a much more important business you have to do.
My friends, we are borderers upon eternity, we live upon the confines of the spiritual and immaterial world: we must fhortly be affociate with bodilefs beings, and thall have, after a few days are past, no more concerns for meat, drink, and sleep, buying and felling, habitations and relations, than the angels of God now have. Befides, we live here in a state of trial: Man, (as Scaliger fitly calls him), is utriufque mendi nexus, One in whom both worlds do meet; his body participates of the lower, his foul of the upper world; hence it is, that he finds fuch tugging and pulling this way and that way, upward and downward; both worlds, as it were, contending for this inva luable prize, the precious foul. All Chrift's ordinances are inftituted, and his officers ordained for no other use or end, but the falvation of fouls. Books are valuable, according to their conducibility to this end: how rich a reward of my labours fhall I account it, if this treatife of the foul may but promote the fanctification and falvation of any reader's foul.
To your hands I first tender it: it becomes your property, not only as a debt of justice, the fulfilling of a promife made you long fince, upon your joint and earnest defires for the publication of it; but, as an acknowledgement of the many favours I have received from you: To one of you I ftand obliged in the bond of relation, and under the fenfe of many kindnesses, beyond whatever fuch a degree of relation can be fuppofed to exact.
You have here a fuccinct account of the nature, faculties and original of the foul of man, as alfo of its infufion into the body by God, without intitling himself to the guilt and fin refulting from that their union.
You will also find the breath of your noftrils to be the nexus, tie, or bond, which holds our fouls and bodies in perfonal union; and that, whilft the due crafis and temperament of the body remains, and breath continues, your fouls hang, as by a weak and flender thread, over the state of a vaft eternity in hea ven or in hell; which will inform you both of the value of your breath, and the best way of improving it, whilst you enjoy
The immortality of the foul is here afferted, proved, and vin dicated from the moft confiderable objections; fo that it will.evidently appear to you, by this difcourfe, you do not cease to be, when you cease to breathe: and, feeing they will overlive all VOL. II. Q
temporal enjoyments, they must neceffarily perish as to all their joys, comforts, and hopes, (which is all the death that can be incident to an immortal spirit), if they be not in the proper season fecured and provided of that never perishing food of fouls, God in Chrift, their portion for ever.
Here you will find the grounds and reasons of that strong inclination, which you all feel them to have to your bodies, and the neceffity, notwithstanding that, of their divorce and feparation from their beloved bodies; and that it would manifeftly be to their prejudice, if it should be otherwise and to overcome the unreasonable averfations of believers, and to bring them to a more becoming cheerful fubmiffion to the laws of death, whenfoever the writ of ejection fhall be ferved upon them; you will here find a reprefentation of that bleffed life, comely order, and moft delightful imployment of the incorporeal people inhabiting the city of God; wherein, befide thofe fweet meditations, which are proper to feast your hungry affections, you will meet with divers unusual, though not vain or unufeful, queftions ftated and refolved, which will be a grateful entertainment to your inquifitive and fearching minds.
It is poffible they may be cenfured by fome as undeterminable and unprofitable curiofities; but as I hate a prefumptuous intrufion into unrevealed fecrets, so I think it is a weakness to be difcouraged in the fearch of truth, fo far as it is fit to trace it, by fuch damping and caufelefs cenfures. Nor am I fenfible have in any thing tranfgreffed the bounds of Christian sobriety, to gratify the palate of a nice and delicate reader.
I have alfo here fet before the reader an idea, or reprefentation of the state and cafe of damned fouls, that, if it be the will of God, a seasonable discovery of hell may be the means of fome men's recovery out of the danger of it; and clofed up the whole with a demonstration of the invaluable preciousness of fouls, and the feveral dangerous fnares and artifices of Satan, their profef fed enemy, to destroy and caft them away for ever.
This is the defign and general scope of the whole, and of the principal parts of this treatife. And, O that God would grant me my hearts defire, on your behalf, in the perufal of it! Even that it may prove a fanctified inftrument in his hand, both to prepare you for, and bring you in love with the unbodied life, to make you look with pleasure into your graves, and die by confent of will, as well as neceffity of nature. I remember Dr. Stoughton, in a fermon preached before king James, relates a ftrange ftory of a little child in a fhipwreck, faft afleep upon its mother's lap, as the fat upon a piece of the wreck amidst the
waves; the child being awaked with the noife, asked the mother what thofe things were? She told it, They were drowning waves to fwallow them up. The child, with a pretty fmiling countenance, begg'd a stroke from its mother to beat away thofe naughty waves, and chide them as if they had been its play-mates. Death will shortly fhipwreck your bodies; your fouls will fit upon your lips ready to expire, as they upon the wreck ready to go down. Would it not be a comfortable and moft becoming frame of mind, to fit there with as little dread, as this little one did among the terrible waves? Surely, if our faith had but first united us with Christ, and then loofed our hearts off from this enchanting and enfnaring world, we might make a fair step towards this moft defireable temper; but unbelief and earthly-mindedness make us loth to venture.
I blush to think, what bold adventures those men made, who, upon the contemplation of the properties of a defpicable stone, first adventured quite out of fight of laud, under its conduct and direction, and fecurely trufted both their lives and eftates to it, when all the eyes of heaven were veiled from them, amidst the dark waters, and thick clouds of the sky, when I either start, or at least give an unwilling fhrug, when I think of adventuring out of fight of this world, under the more fure and steady direction and conduct of faith and the promises. To cure thefe c vils, in my own and the reader's heart, these things are written, and in much respect, and love tendered to your hands, as a teftimony of my gratitude, and deep fenfe of the many obligations you have put me under. That the bleffing of the Spirit may accompany thefe difcourfes to your fouls, afford, you fome affiftance in your last and difficult work, of putting them off at death with a becoming chearfulness, faying in that hour, Can I not fee God till this flesh be laid aside in the grave? muft I die be fore I can live like myfelf? then die my body, and go to thy duft, that I may be with Chrift. With this defign, and with these hearty wishes, dear and honoured coufin, and worthy friends, I put thefe difcourfes into your hands, and remain,
Your most obliged
kinfman and fervant,
THE PR EF A C E
MONG many other largeffes and rich endowments, be
ftowed by the Creator's bounty upon the foul of man, the fentiments and impreffions of the world to come, and the ability of reflexion and felf-intuition, are peculiar, invaluable, and heavenly gifts. By the former, we have a very great evidence of our own immortality, and defiguation for nobler employments. and enjoyments than this embodied ftate admits. And by the latter, we may difcern the agreeableness of our hearts, and therein the validity of our title to that expected bleffednefs.
But thefe heavenly gifts are neglected and abused all the world over. Degenerate fouls are every where fallen into fo deep an oblivion of their excellent original, fpiritual and immortal nature, and alliance to the Father of fpirits; that (to use the upbraiding expreffion of a great + philofopher)" they feem 66 to be buried in their bodies, as fo many filly worms that lurk “in their holes, and are loth to peep forth, and look abroad."
So powerfully do the cares and pleafures of this world charm all, (except a fmall remnant of regenerate fouls), that nothing but fome fmart ftroke of calamity, or terrible meffengers of death can startle them; (and even those are not always able to do it), and when they do. all the effect is but a tranfient glance at another, and an unwilling fhrug to leave this world, and fo to fleep again. And thus the impreffions and tentiments of the world to come (which are the natural growth and offspring of the foul) are either ftifled and fuppreft, as in Atheists; or born down by impetuous masterly lufts, as in Senfualifts.
And for its felf-reflecting and confidering power, it seems in many to be a power received in vain. It is with most fouls as it is with the eye, which fees not itself, though it fees all other objects. There be thofe that have almost finished the course of a long life, (wherein a great part of their time hath lain upon their hands, as a cheap and useless commodity, which they knew not
We have demonstrated from the common confent of all nati ons and people, fince the creation of the world, especially from the confent of the good and learned, that the human foul is incorrupti ble and iminortal; and that therefore it furvives the corrupted body, that it may be for ever either rewarded for good actions, or py. nifhed for bad actions. Zanch, on the immortality of the foul.
+ Η δε δειλη ψυχη κατορωρυγμένη εκ σωμάλι ως ερπελον μήθες εις φώλεις CAST OWλSON, &C. Max. Tyr. Diff. 41.
what to do with) who yet never spent one folemn entire hour in discourse with their own fouls . What serious heart doth not melt into compaffion over the deluded multitude, who are mocked with dreams, and perpetually busied about trifles? Who are (after fo many fruftrated attempts, both of their own, and all past ages) eagerly pursuing the fleeting shadows, who torture and rack their brains to find out the natures and qualities of birds, beafts, and plants; indeed any thing rather than their own fouls, which are certainly the most excellent creatures that inhabit this world. They know the true value and worth of other things, but are not able to estimate the dignity of that highborn fpirit which is within them. A fpirit which (without the addition of any more natural faculties or powers, if those it hath be but fanctified and devoted to God) is capable of the highest perfections and fruitions, even complete conformity to God, and the fatisfying vifions of God throughout eternity. They herd themselves with beafts, who are capable of an equality with angels. O what compaffionate tears muft fuch a confideration as this draw from the eyes of all that understand the worth of fouls!
As for me, it hath been my fin, and is now the matter of my forrow, that whilft myriads of fouls (of no higher original than mine) are fome of them beholding the highest Majesty in heaven, and others giving all diligence to make fure their falvation on earth; I was carried away fo many years in the course of this world (like a drop with the current of the tide) wholly forgetting my best felf, my invaluable foul; whilft I prodigally wafted the ftores of my time and thoughts upon vanities, that long fince paffed away as the waters which are remembered no more. It fhall be no fhame to me to confefs this folly, fince the matter of my confeffion fhall go to the glory of my God. I ftudied to know many other things, but I knew not myself. It was with me as with a fervant to whom the mafter commited two things, viz. the child, and the child's cloaths; the fervant is very careful of the cloaths, brufbes and washes, ftarches and irons
Ita Dei eft ifta vita mortalis, ubi homo vanitati fimilis factus eft; et dieft ejus velut umbra præterunt. Aug. de Civ. lib. 21.
Saints after their hearts are renewed by repentance, are not afhamed to acknowledge their ignominious faults, to the glory of God. For nothing is loft to us that redounds to his praise, who pardoning our fins, transfers us from mifery to happiness. BrightWay on Cant. p. 12.