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of their wisdom and experience. "Wherefore is there a price "in the hand of a fool, seeing he hath no heart to it?" Prov. xvii. 16. The expence of one minute's breath in season, may, if God concur with it, be to you the ground of breathing forth praises to God to all eternity.
Infer. 8. Are fouls and bodies tacked together by fo frail a thing as a puff of breath? How vain and groundless then are all thofe pleasures men take in their carnal projects and defigns in this world?
We lay the plot and defign of our future earthly felicity in our own thoughts; we mould and contrive a defign for a long and pleafant life. The model for raifing an eftate is already formed in our thoughts, and we have not patience to defer our pleasure till the accomplishment of it, but prefently draw a train of pleafing confequents from this chimera, and our thoughts can stoop to nothing less than fitting down all the remainder of our days in the very lap of delight and pleafure; forgetting that our breath is all the while in our noftrils, and may expire the next moment: and if it do, the ftructure of all our expectations and projects comes to nothing in the fame moment. "His breath "goeth forth, he returneth to his duft: And in that very day "his thoughts perish," Pfal. cxlvi. 4. The whole frame of his thoughts falls instantly abroad, by drawing out this one pin, his breath. 'Tis good with all our earthly defigns to mingle the ferious thoughts of the dominion of providence, and our own frailty; James iv. 15. "If the Lord will, and we live."
'Tis become a common obfervation, that as foon as men have ⚫ accomplished their earthly defigus, and begin to hug and blefs themselves in their own acquifitions, a fudden and unexpected period is put to their lives and pleasures, as you may fee Luke ́xii. 19, 20. Dan. iv. 30.
Oh then drive moderately; you will be at the end of all these things fooner than you imagine. We need not victual a ship to cross the channel, as they do that are bound to the Indies. "What is your life? It is even a vapour, which appear"eth for a little while, and then vanisheth away," James iv. 14. In one moment the projects of many years are overturned for
Infer. 9. Is it but a puff of breath that holds men in life? Then build not too much hope and confidence upon any man. Build not too high upon fo feeble a foundation. Ceafe ye "from man (faith the prophet) whofe breath is in his noftrils; " for wherein is he to be accounted of?" Ifa. ii. 22. There are
two things that should deter us from dependance upon any man, viz. his falfenefs and his frailty. Grace in a great measure may cure the first, but not the last. The best of men must die, as well as the worft, Rom. viii. 10. 'tis a vanity therefore to rely upon any man. It was the faying of a philofopher when he heard how merchants loft great estates at sea in a moment, Non amo felicitatem e funibus pendentem; I love not that happiness (faith he) which hangs upon a rope. But all the happiness of many men hangs upon a far weaker thing than a rope, even the perishing breath of a creature.
Let not parents raise their hopes too high, or lean too hard upon their children. Say not of thy child, as Lamech did of Noah, "This fon fhall comfort us," Gen. v. 29. The world is full of the lamentings and bitter cries of difappointed parents. Let not the wife depend too much on her husband, as if her carthly comforts were fecured in him against all danger. God is often provoked to stop our friend's breath, that thereby he may flop our way to fin, 1 Tim. v. 5. The truít, and depen dance of a foul, is too weighty to be hang'd upon fuch a weak, and rotten pin, as the breath of a creature.
Infer. 10. To conclude; if this frail breath be all that differenceth the living from the dead, then fear not man whose breath is in his noftrils. There is as little ground for our fear of man, as there is for our trust in man. As death, in a moment, can make the best man useless, and put him out of a capacity to do us any good; fo it can in a moment, make the worst man harmlefs, and put him out of a capacity to do us any injury. Indeed, if the breath of our enemies were in their power, and ours at their mercy, there would be juft caufe to tremble at them; but they are neither masters of their own, or ours. "Who art "thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man, that shall die?" faid God to Jacob, Ifa. li. 12. The breath of the mightiest is no better fecured than of the meaneft, nor never in more danger to be flopt than when they breathe out threatnings againft the upright.
Julian's breath was foon stopt after he threatned to root out the Galileans. Queen Mary refigned her breath, at the very time when she had filled the prifons with many of Christ's sheep, and defigned them for the flaughter. Read Ifa. xvii. 12. and fee what mushrooms we are afraid of. The best way to continue your relations, and friends, to your comfort, is to give God and not them, your dependance; and the best way to fecure yourselves against the rage of enemies, is to give God your fear,
and not them. And thus much of the nature of the foul, and its tie with the body.
REVEL. VI. 9, 10, 11.
And when he had opened the fifth feal, I faw under the altar the fouls of them that were flain for the word of God, and for the teftimony which they held.
And they cried with a loud voice, faying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, doft thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
And white robes were given unto every one of them, and it was faid unto them, that they should reft yet for a little season, until their fellow-fervants alfo, and their brethren, that bould be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
HAVING, from the former text, fpoken of the nature of
the foul, and the tie betwixt it and the body; I fhall, from this fcripture, evince the immortality of the foul, which is a chief part of its excellency and glory; and in this fcripture it hath a firm foundation.
This book of the Revelation completes and feals up the whole facred canon, Rev. xxii. 18. It also comprehends all the great and signal events of providence, relating either to the Chriftian church, or to its antichriftian enemies in the feveral periods of time, to the end of the world; chap. i. 19. All which the Spirit of God difcovers to us in the opening of the feven feals, the founding of the feven trumpets, and the pouring out of the feven vials.
The first five feals express the state of the church under the bloody, perfecuting, Heathen emperors.
The first feal opened, ver. 2. gives the church a very encouraging and comfortable prospect of the victories, fuccesses, and triumphs of Chrift, notwithstanding the rage, fubtlety and pow er of all its enemies. He fhall ride on conquering, and to conquer, and his arrows fhall be fharp in the hearts of his enemies, whereby the people shall fall under him. And this chearing profpect was no more than was needful: For,
The fecond feal opened, ver. 3, 4. reprefents the first bloody perfecution of the church under Nero, whom Tertullian calls
* Dedicator damnationis noftrae : he that first condemned Chri ftians to the flaughter. And the perfecution under him is fet forth by the type of a red horse, and a great fword in the hand of him that rode thereon.. His cruelty is by Paul compared to the mouth of a lion, 2 Tim. iv. 17. Paul, Peter, Bartholomew, Barnabas, Mark, are all faid to die by his cruel hand; and fo fierce was his rage against the Chriftians, that at that time, as + Eufebius faith, "a man might fee cities lie full of dead bo"dies, the old and young, men and women, caft out naked, "without any reverence of perfons or fex, in the open street." And when the day failed, Chriftians, (faith Tacitus) were burnt in the night, instead of torches, to give them light in the freets.
The third feal opened, ver. 5, 6. fets forth the calamities which should befal the church by famine; yet not so much a literal, as a figurative famine, as a grave and learned commentator expounds it, like that mentioned, Amos viii. 11, 12. which fell out under Maximus and Trajan; the former directing the perfecution, especially against minifters, in which many bright lamps were extinguished; the latter exprefsly condemned all Christian meetings and affemblies by a law. The type by which this perfecution was fet forth, is a black harfe. A gloomy and difmal day it was indeed to the poor faints, when they eat the bread of their fouls, as it were, by weight; for he that fat on him had a pair of ballances in his hand. Then did John hear this fad voice, "A measure of wheat for a penny, and three "measures of barley for a penny." The quantity was but the ordinary allowance to keep a man alive for a day, and a Roman penny was the ordinary wages given for a day's work to a labourer. The meaning is, that, in thofe days, all the fpiritual food men fhould get to keep their fouls alive from day to day, with all their travel and labour, fhould be but fufficient for that end.
The fourth feal opened, ver. 7, 8. reprefents a much more fad and doleful fate of the church; for under it are found all the former fufferings, with fome new kinds of trouble fuperadded. Under this feal, Death rides upon the pale horse, and
*Tertul. Apol. c. 5.
+ Adeo ut videret repletas humanis corporibus civitates, jacentes mortuos, fimul cum parvulis fenes, fœminarumque abfque ulla fexus reverentia, in publico rejecta cadavera.
Taciti 1. xv. Annal.
Durham on the place.
Hell, or the Grave, follows him. It is conceived to point at the perfecution under Dioclesian, when the church was mowed down as a meadow.
The fifth feal is opened in my text, under which the Lord: Jefus reprefents to his fervant John, the ftate and condition of thofe precious fouls which had been torn and feparated from their bodies, by the bloody hands of tyrants, for his name's fake, under all the former perfecutions. The defign whereof is, to fupport and encourage all that were to come after in the fame bloody path. I faw under the altar, &c. In which we have an account,
1. Of what John faw.
1. We have an account of what he faw: "I faw the fouls of "them that were flain for the word of God, and for the testi"mony which they held."
Souls, in this place, are not put for the blood, or the dead carcaffes of the faints who were flain, as fome have groundlesly imagined; but are to be understood properly and frictly, for those spiritual and immortal substances, which once had a vital union with their bodies, but were now feparated from them by a violent death; yet ftill retained a love and inclination to them, even in the state of feparation; and are therefore here brought in complaining of the shedding of their blood, and destruction of their bodies.
These fouls (even of all that died for Chrift, from Abel to that time) John faw, that is, † in fpirit; for thefe immaterial fubftances are not perceptible by the grofs external fenfes. He had the privilege and favour of a spiritual reprefentation of them, being therein extraordinarily affifted, as Paul was when his foul was wrapt into the third heaven, and heard things unutterable, 2 Cor. xii. 2. God gave him a tranfient vifible reprefentation of thofe holy fouls, and that under the altar: he means not any material altar, as that at Jerufalem was; but as the holy place figured heaven, fo the altar figured Jefus Chrift, Heb. xiii, 10. And most aptly Chrift is reprefented to John in this figure, and
* Eidov ras Juxas. i. e. I faw the fouls; here the word foul is taken for the immortal fpirit of man, as in Matth. x. 28, in which fense John here fays, that he faw the fouls, &c, Marlorat on the place.
+ Souls divefted of bodies are invifible to corporeal eyes; theres fore John faw them in the Spirit. Pareus on the place.