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speak or not to speak, to act or not to act, to do this or the contrary, as I am of my own existence. I have not only what is termed a liberty of contradiction, a power'to do or not to do, but what is termcd, a liberty of contrariety, a power to act one way, or the contrary: to deny this would be to deny the constant experience of all human kind. Every one feels that he has an inherent power, to move this or that part of his body, to move it or not, and to move this way or the contrary, just as be pleases. I can, as I choose, (and so can every one that is born of a woman,) open or shụt my eyes, speak or be silent, rise or sit down, stretch out my hand, or draw it in, and use any of my limbs according to my pleasure, as well as my whole body. And although I have not an absolute power over my own mind, because of the corruption of my own nature, yet, through the grace of God assisting me, I have a power to choose and do good, as well as evil. I am free to choose whom I will serve, and if I choose the better part, to continue therein even unto death.
'But tell me, frighted nature, What is death?
Blood only stopt, and interrupted breath ?
Death is properly the separation of the soul from the body. Of this we are certain: but we are not certain, (at least in many cases,) of the time when this separation is made. Is it when respiration ceases, according to the well-known maxim, Nullus spiritus, nulla vita : “Where there is no breath, there is no life ?” Nay, we cannot absolutely affirm this: for many instances have been known, of those whose breath was totally lost, and yet their lives have been recovered. Is it when the heart no longer beats? Or when the circulation of the blood ceases ? Not so, For the heart may beat anew; and the circulation of the blood, after it is quite interrupted, may begin again. Is the soul separated from the body, when the whole body is stiff and cold as a piece of ice?. But there have been several instances lately, of persons who were thus cold and stiff, and had no symptoms of life remaining, who, nevertheless, upon proper application, recovered both life and health. Therefore we can say no more, than that death is the separation of the soul and body; but in many cases God only can tell the moment of that separation.
13. But what we are much more concerned to know, and deeply to consider, is, the end of life : for what end is life bestowed upon the children of men ? Why were we sent into the world? For one sok end, and for no other, to prepare for eternity. For this alone we live : for this, and no other purpose, is our life either given or continued. It pleased the all-wise God, at the season which he saw best, to arise in the greatness of his strength, and create the heavens and the earth, and all things that are therein. Having prepared all things for him, “ He created man in his own image, after his own likeness.” And what was the end of hiş creation? It was one, and 20 other--That he might know, and love, and enjoy, and serve his great Creator to all eternity.
14. But “man, being in honour, continued not; but became lower than even the beasts that perish.” He wilfully and openly rebelled against God, and cast off his allegiance to the Majesty of Heaven. Hereby be instantly lost both the favour of God, and the image of God, wherein he was created. As he was then incapable of obtaining happiness by the old, God established a new covenant with man: the terms of which were no longer, “ Do this and live," but, “ Believe, and thou shalt be saved." But still the end of man is one and the same ; only it stands on another foundation. For the plain tenor of it is, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, whom God hath given to be the propitiation for thy sins, and thou shalt be saved ” first, from the guilt of sin, having redemption through his blood; then from the power, which shall have no more dominion over thee; and then from the root of it, into the whole image of God. And being restored both to the favour and image of God, thou shalt know, love, and serve bim, to all eternity. So that still the end of his life, and the life of every man born into the world, is to know, love, and serve his great Creator. :
15. And let it be observed, as this is the end, so it is the whole and sole end, for which every man upon the face of the earth, for which every one of you were brought into the world, and endued with a living soul. Remember! You were born for nothing else. You live for nothing else. Your life is continued to you upon earth, for no other purpose than this, that you may know, love, and serve God on earth, and enjoy hiin to all eternity. Consider! You were not created to please your senses, to gratify your imagination, to gain money, or the praise of men; to seek happiness in any created good, in any thing under the sun. All this is “ walking in a vain shadow:" it is leading a restless, miserable life, in order to a miserable eternity. On the contrary, you were created for this, and for no other purpose, by seeking and finding happiness in God on earth, and to secure the glory of God in heaven. Therefore, let your heart continually say, “ This one thing I do.” Having one thing in view, remembering why I was born, and why I am continued in life, “I press on to the mark.” I aim at the one end of my being, God: even at God in Christ reconciling the world to himself." He shall be my God for ever and ever, and my guide even unto death.
BRADFORD, May 2, 1788.
ON THE DISCOVERIES OF FAITH.
- Now Faith is the Evidence of Things not seen,”—Hebrews xi. 1.
1. FOR many ages it has been allowed by sensible men, Nihil est in intellectu quod non fuit prius in sensu : that is, “ There is nothing in the understanding which was not first perceived by some of the senses." All the knowledge which we naturally have, is originally derived from our senses. And therefore those who want any sense, cannot have the least knowledge or idea of the objects of that sense : as they that never had sight, have not the least knowledge or conception of light or colours. Some indeed have, of late years, endeavoured to prove, that we have innate ideas, not derived from any of the senses, but coeval with the understanding. But this point has been now thoroughly discussed, by men of the most eminent sense and learning. And it is agreed by all impartial persons, that although some things are so plain and obvious, that we can hardly avoid knowing them, as soon as we come to the use of our understanding, yet the knowledge even of those is not innate, but derived from some of our senses.
· 2. But there is a great difference between our senses, considered as the avenues of our knowledge. Some of them have a very narrow sphere of action; some a more extensive one. By feeling, we discern only those objects that touch some part of our body; and, consequently, this sense extends only to a small number of objects. Our senses of taste and smell (which some count species of feeling) extend to fewer still. But, on the other hand, our nobler sense of hearing has an exceedingly wide sphere of action; especially in the case of loud sounds, as thunder, the roaring of the sea, or the discharge of cannon; the last of which sounds has been frequently heard at the distance of nearly a hundred miles. Yet the space to which the sense of hearing itself extends is small, compared to that through which the sight extends. The sight takes in at one view, not only the most unbounded prospects on earth, but also the moon and the other planets, the sun, yea, the fixed stars, though at such an immeasurable distance, that they appear no larger through our finest telescopes than they do to the naked eye.
3. But still none of our senses, no, not the sight itself, can reach heyond the bounds of this visible world. They supply us with such knowledge of the material world, as answers all the purposes of life. But as this was the design for which they were given, beyond this they cannot go. . They furnish us with no information at all concerning the invisible world.
4. But the wise and gracious Governor of the worlds, both visible and invisible, has prepared a remedy for this defect. He hath appointed faith to supply the defect of sense; to take us up where sense sets us down, and help us over the great gulf. Its office begins where that of sense ends. Sense is an evidence of things that are seen; of the visible, the material world, and the several parts of it. Faith, on the other hand, is the “evidence of things not seen," of the invisible world : of all those invisible things which are revealed in the oracles of God. But, indeed, they reveal nothing, they are a mere dead letter, if they are “not mixed with faith in those that hear them.”
5. In particular : Faith is an evidence to me of the existence of that unseen thing, my own soul. Without this I should be in utter uncertainty concerning it. I should be constrained to ask that melancholy question ;
“ Hear'st thou submissive, but a lowly birtb?
Some separate particles of finer earth ?”
But by faith, I know it is an immortal spirit, made in the image of God, in his natural and moral image; "an incorruptible picture of the God of glory.” By the same evidence I know that I am now fallen short of the glorious image of God: yea, that I, as well as all mankind, am “dead in trespasses and sins." So utterly dead, that “ in me dwelleth no good thing ;" that I am inclined to all evil, and totally unable to quicken my own soul.
6. By faith I know, that besides the souls of men, there are other orders of spirits : yea, I believe that
-"Millions of creatures walk the earth
These I term angels, and I believe part of them are holy and happy, and the other part wicked and miserable. I believe the former of these, the good angels, are continually sent of God, “to minister to the heirs of salvation," who will be “equal to angels” by and by, although they are now a little inferior to them. I believe the latter, the evil angels, called in Scripture, Devils, united under one head, (termed in Scripture Satan ; emphatically, the Enemy, the Adversary, both of God and man,) either range the upper regions, whence they are called “Princes of the power of the air ;" for, like - him, “ walk about the earth as roaring lions, seeking whom they may devour.”
7. But I know by faith, that above all these is the Lord Jehovah; He that is, that was, and that is to come; that is God from ever-. lasting, and world without end: He that filleth hearen and earth;
Ile that is infinite in power, in justice, in mercy, and holiness; He that created all things, visible and invisible, by the breath of his mouth, and still upholds them all, preserves them in being, by the word of his power;” and that governs all things, that are in heaven above, in earth beneath, and under the earth. By faith I know, "there are Three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and that these Three are One:" that the Word, God the Son, “was made flesh,” lived and died for our salvation, rose again, ascended into heaven, and now sitteth on the right hand of the Father. By faith I know that the Holy Spirit is the giver of all spiritual life; of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; of holiness and happiness, by the restoration of that image of God, wherein we are created. Of all these things, faith is the evidence, the sole evidence, to the children of men,
8. And as the information which we receive from our senses, does not extend to the invisible world, so neither does it extend to (what is nearly related thereto) the eternal world. In spite of all the instruction which either the sight or any of the senses can afford,
“ The vast, the unbounded prospect lies before 19;
But clouds, alas ! and darkness rest upon it."
Sense does not let in one ray of light, to discover “the secrets of the illimitable deep.” This, the eternal world, commences at death, the death of every individual person. The moment the breath of man goeth forth, he is an inhabitant of eternity. Just then, time vanishes away,
" like as a dream when one awaketh.” And here again, faith supplies the place of sense, and gives us a view of things to come : at once it draws aside the veil which hangs between mortal and immortal beings. Faith discovers to us the souls of the rightcous, immediately received by the holy angels, and carried by those ministering spirits into Abraham's bosom ; into the delights of paradise, the garden of God, where the light of his countenance perpetually shines; where the spirit departed converses, not only with his former relations, friends, and fellow-soldiers, but with the saints of all nations and all ages; with the glorious dead of ancient days; with the noble army of martyrs, the Apostles, the Prophets, the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yea, above all this, he shall be with Christ in a manner that he could not be while he remained in the body.
9. Faith discovers, likewise, the souls of unholy men; seized the moment they depart from the quivering lips, by those ministers of vengeance, the evil angels, and dragged away to their own place. It is true, this is not the netherniost bell: they are not to be tormented there “before the time;" before the end of the world, when every one will receive his just' recompense of reward. Till then they will probably be employed by their bad master, in advancing Jis infernal kingdom, and in doing all the mischief that lies in their power, to the poor, feeble children of men. But still, wherever