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rental restraint. Morals, politics, truths of every kind, have thus been sapped in their very foundation, until the broad distinctions set before us in the word of God, between good and evil, light and darkness, happiness and misery, have been well nigh obliterated and forgotten.
If such, then, be the fruits which these mischievous principles produce ; let it be remembered, that every departure from the revealed will of God is an approach to this. It is opening a way for the uncontrolled operation of passion or imagination, and abandoning the human mind to its native infirmity and corruption. Against these evils there is no effectual safeguard but a resolute adherence to sacred truth. So long as that is duly revered, no one can deliberately confound evil with good, or good with evil. He may occasionally, through ignorance or inadvertency, mistake the one for the other. Practically also, he may sometimes pursue the one instead of the other.
But when reflection returns, when his error is pointed out to him, and he betakes himself again to his heavenly Guide, his conscience cannot but warn him of danger, and his understanding take the alarm. Not so with him who acts upon opinion only, or upon false principle. Under the influence of false principle, conscience itself misleads ;—under that of opinion, it has but a precarious hold. None but the commanding voice of a Divine Legislator will be heard with effect, amidst the conflict of unruly appetites and contending passions.
Happy, then, is he who builds upon the rock of Faith ; against which the winds and waves, the storms and tempests, of adversity and temptation, of error and falsehood, of reproach and calumny, of hatred and persecution, will beat in vain. Fortified by the assurance of Divine support, trusting in the mercies and promises of a gracious Redeemer, and upholden by that Holy Spirit which strengthens him with might in the inner
8;" internal confidence and tranquillity will be his portion ; verifying the Prophet's declaration, “the work of righteousness shall be
and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for “ ever h.”
8 Ephes. iii. 16.
h Isaiah xxxi. 17.
PSALM Ixix. 33.
Seek ye after God, and your soul shall live.
WHEN the holy Scriptures speak of the soul of man as liable to decay and death, and requiring continual nourishment for its preservation and support, the expressions can only be understood in a figurative sense ; nothing being more clearly revealed to us, than that the spiritual part of man partakes not of the perishable nature of his bodily frame, nor can ever cease to exist, but by a special act of the Almighty in its annihilation: and that such an act of omnipotence never will be exerted, the assurance of a future and eternal state of being, for which the souls of the wicked as well as of the good are reserved, affords most decisive proof.
It is only by analogy, therefore, and for the purpose of engrafting upon that analogy such instructions as might not otherwise be
so easily apprehended, that the soul is represented to be capable of growth and decay, of health and sickness, of refreshment and languor, and ultimately of death ; since, literally understood, whether we “ seek after God, or seek Him not; whether we grow in grace, or fall short in spiritual attainments; our souls shall certainly live: they shall live to partake either of the everlasting enjoyments of the righteous, or of the endless miseries of the wicked.
Nevertheless, the figurative meaning of these expressions is not difficult to be understood. For, as the life of the body depends upon its union with the soul, so what is called the life of the soul (denoting its state of happiness and perfection) depends upon its union with God:—and as the death of the body is the consequence of its dissolution or separation from the soul, so that which is called the death of the soul, (denoting its depraved condition and its consequent consignment to misery and perdition) is the effect of its departure from God, and the loss of the Divine favour. And again ; as the growth, and health, and vigour of the body depend upon its proper food and nourishment; so the improvement of the soul and its capacity of enjoyment are derived from the proper use and application of those means which God hath provided for its advancement in holiness and virtue.
The life of the soul, then, being understood to denote its present enjoyment of good, and its assurance of eternal happiness; the Psalmist admonishes us in the words of the text, that this is to be obtained by seeking after God :-“ Seek ye after God, and your soul “ shall live.” The whole inquiry, therefore, arising out of this portion of Scripture, is what we are to understand by “ seeking after “ God,” and what is promised as the result of so doing
To “ seek after God” is a phrase of considerable latitude; and, if not cautiously interpreted, may lead to extravagances, both in opinion and in conduct, detrimental to the Christian character.
Strange notions have been entertained by mystics and enthusiasts respecting the necessity of holding communion with God, in modes altogether visionary and fanciful, unauthorized by any Divine injunctions, and tending to dangerous delusions. In almost every age of the Christian church, there have been not only individuals, but entire sects, pretending to inconceivable abstractions of the mind from bodily and temporal concerns;