« PoprzedniaDalej »
ECCLES. xii. 7. .
was, and the Spirit shall return to God
who gave it. IN the Verses preceding this of my Text, SERM. I Solomon describes the Infirmities of old
XVII. Age and the Approaches of Death in all its Degrees, with a great deal of Pomp, and in many beautiful and lofty Figures; and having Thewn its several Steps, and the Waftes it gradually makes on our Body, he intimates at last in the Words I have read to you what will be the Consequence when it totally prevails : Then mall the Duft return to God who gave it.
The Truth of the first part of this Affertion, or the Fall of the Dust into Duft again, we have already seen and examined at large : We have traced the Subject
S E R M. 0f our Dissolution or Death both in its Cause and Effect, from the first Threat and Denunciation of it against Adam in Paradise, to the Execution of it upon him and his whole Posterity to the Grave. But this left us in too melancholy a State for Man to acquiesce in, without carrying his Thoughts beyond it. Death, as gloomy a Prospect as it is now, would still be a much more melancholy View, if it put an End to the whole Man at once. For there is nothing we have so much an Aversion to, as a total Annihilation: Nothing our Nature desires more than to continue and exist. It may therefore be an agreeable Prosecution and Relief of the Subject I have begun, if after having contemplated that what is visible of us must soon have an End, I go on to prove that,there is something invisible belonging to us which shall still remain.
For though we firmly believe that hereafter we shall live in our Bodies again; and that they mall not for ever, remain in the Grave > yet since we know they must be Prisoners of the Grave for a certain Time; that during that Time they must rot into Dust, and lie there as insensible as Dust can be j it must btsome Consolation to think that
the the Soul, the mean while, is alive, and though s E R M; stripped of its Cafe, can yet live and act without it. And therefore before I come to speak of that perfect Triumph over Death and the Grave, which the whole Man expects to obtain, hereafter, when his Body and Soul shall be united again, and to which the Order of these Discourses will lead me; I think it expedient and necessary too, to shew first that during this intermediate Space it is but a partial Conquest and Victory that Death gains over us: He cannot render it total and, compleat; but whilst he seizes and lays hold of our Dust, is forced to leave our Soul untouched and still surviving. And this is so much the more necessary to be done, because not only Atheists who deny any future State at all, but even Men who call themselves Christians; and profess to believe a Resurrection and the World to come, are yet ready to dispute the Soul's Existence or Being in a separate State. The Socinians, a Class of Men, whose Name and Opinions have been known too much and too well of late, have so far united and jumped in their Sentiments with Atheists themselves, as to assert—the Soul to be a material Spirit, generated, growing and falling with the Body; though they still indeed have so Vol. II. Cc much
s xvif1' muck Modesty feftas to a^rt ^iat Btdy an^
i Souljlill ri/e again hereafter at the Sound of the Voice of the Archangel and the'ttumpet of God. However, I fay, in the Opinion of the Nature and Existence of the Soul4 Atheist and Socinian both agree: Both affirm without a Mask, and without a Blush, that the Soul is only the Flame of Life, which is kindled in the Body at its Formation or Birth, and again extinguished when the Body dies: Wiser, it seems, than the wisest of Men, that have lived before, who in the Words of my Text partly supposes, and partly affirms the direct contrary to what our present Sophists advance. He supposes a Spirit in every Man distinct from the Dust, and affirms that this Spirits -yvhen the Dust shall return to its native Principle, to the Earth as it was, mall continue to live and exist by itself, it flaaH then return to God who gave it. Now by the Spirit here which Solomon names in Opposition to the Dust, it is plain he means the thinking part of Man or Soul. The Doctrine therefore which issues from the Text, and which I design for the Subject of this Discourse, in Opposition to the Notions I have here laid down, branches of itself into these two Particulars: viz. ' .'... '. ',.
r..,.':.' :j . . I. First,
,. ' '' .. SER M.
'I. First, That the Soul is a spiritual Substance distinct from the Body: And
II. Secondly, That it continues to live and exist when the Body dies.
I. In the Prosecution of the FiRS T of these Heads, which is to prove that the Soul is a spiritual Substance, distinct from the Body, I shall not trouble you with the various Opinions of Philosophers and others concerning the Nature and Powers of the Soul, and in what particular Part of the Body her Throne is placed; nor shall I needlefly inquire into her Origin or Source, as whether (he is derived together with the Body down from the first Man through our Ancestors to us; or whether she takes Possession of the Body, after she had existed many Ages before in a separate State, or whether lastly she is purposely created and infused at the fame Instant into the Body by God himself? These are Questions I shall leave entirely unexamined; they being such as it is only in the Power of him that made them to solve; for the Soul must transcend herself to judge of them, for no Circle can comprehend itself, or be compreC c 2 hended