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decked thyself in meretricious attire,—thou hast led on by gentle steps thy wretched victim, until destruction and misery have ensued, and thousands and tens of thousands have fallen into thy cruel and unpitying grasp.
O ye intelligent youth of this vast and guilty metropolis, let me warn you against the wretched devices of infidelity, whether exhibited in a more public or concealed manner. Breathe not the tainted atmosphere in which scepticism, like a destroying angel, walks her deadly rounds. Turn away from the apostles of this wretched system, to the apostles of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ;—from the writings of Paine and Carlile, to the pure and infallible records of inspired
If you should once suffer yourselves to think lightly of the Bible, or to treat with ridicule or scorn its momentous and life-giving truths, you will then have entered upon a career, every step of which will tend to perdition; and while the result will be thus fatal, the intermediate progress will leave you destitute of character, without the approbation of good men, and, it may be, the wreck of your own lusts, and the victims of public justice.
It is now proper that I should drop a few thoughts,
II. ON THE WORTH OF THE SOUL.
Could I transport you to the regions of the blessed, there to behold millions of happy souls drawing near to the very Fountain of life,– every thought sublime, every affection holy,--and all placed under the seal of eternity ; -or could I carry you to the abodes of lost spirits, where there is “weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched ;" I might then be able to awaken some vivid impressions of the worth of but one soul. Could I take you into the company of angels, as they hear from the church of the conversion of one returning prodigal ; and as they celebrate, in awful pomp and majesty, the blessed event; how convincingly would these pure intelligences teach you the value of the soul! Could I, above all, lead you to Gethsemane and Calvary, and there place before you a suffering Redeemer, and there shew you that the agonies endured were for the redemption of guilty and apostate spirits ;-could I do all this, I might, by the Divine blessing, leave some impression upon your minds of the soul's infinite worth; and promote, in some humble measure, the object at which we now aim.
1. In the first place, refer to the great atonement, as the most magnificent proof of the soul's worth.
A comprehensive view of the incarnation, sufferings, and death of
the great Messiah, cannot fail to impress upon your minds the incalculable value of the human soul. He who saw that the redemption of the soul was precious,” and who, at the same time, saw that all created help was unavailing, withheld not his only Son, but resigned him to ignominy and death, in order that guilty and apostate men might be reconciled unto him, and that the soul might be delivered from going down to the pit.
What, then, must be the Divine estimate of the worth of souls, when such an expensive method of redemption was determined upon, and determined upon by Infinite Wisdom? Behold the all-glorious person of the Deliverer, the Maker of all things, the Upholder and Preserver of all things, "the Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace;" “ the brightness of his Father's glory and the express image of his Person ;” the Lord of angels and the Head of all principalities and powers, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come !" Behold the mighty preparations for his incarnate and suffering state ! For the space of four thousand years you witness a system of providential and gracious operation,--all pointing to the glorious day when our great High-Priest should " finish transgression, make an end of sin, and bring in everlasting righteousness." During this protracted period, you behold a long train of types, shadows, and predictions, all looking forward to Calvary, to the great sacrifice of the cross. Behold the depth of the Redeemer's humiliation, and the weight of sorrow he endured! He did not appear in our sinful world in a state of glory, with angels as his visible retinue, or with kings and armies as his chosen guards : but he grew up as a root out of a dry ground; poverty was his constant lot; the fishermen of Galilee were his humble attendants ; shame and ignominy never forsook him ; persecution and desertion were his ceaseless companions ; he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; he felt the hidings of his Father's face; and voluntarily endured those inflictions of wrath which would have been sufficient to crush the whole range of created intelligences. See him sweating as it were great drops of blood falling on the ground. Hear him exclaiming, “ My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Ask the reason of these mystic scenes, and the whole resolves itself into the unparalleled worth of the human soul. Let us refer,
2. To the triumphant joy awakened in heaven by the conversion of but one sinner from the error of his ways.
That there is such joy is clear from the testimony of Christ himself; and its existence is an interesting proof of the high value of the soul.
As angels are specially represented as the subjects of this joy, we may calculate that they have penetration sufficient to select the occasions of their triumph, and benevolence sufficient to exercise it with reference to suitable objects. When the heavens and the earth, and all living creatures were formed, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” But how amazing is it to find the whole heavenly host awakened into rapture at the sighing of the contrite heart; at the first burst of ingenuous grief from the lips of the returning prodigal, as he utters the memorable words, “ I will arise and go to my father!” What adequate reason can we assign for this mighty movement of celestial joy? What stimulates a care so watchful, an interest so benevolent, an exultation so great and triumphant ? The only reply I can make is—the tremendous value of the soul, the happy consequences of its redemption, the honour which will accrue from the event to the exalted Redeemer, and the happiness which it will diffuse throughout the rational universe. Contrasted with the interest which angels take in the conversion of souls, how mournful is the indifference of thousands of the human race to this weightiest of human concerns! They can live from year amidst a thousand mercies and warnings, and never once indulge a serious thought about what will befal the immortal spirit after death. Oh, if this is the sad state of any who are now within the reach of my voice, let me persuade them, by the terrors of the Lord, as well as by the hope of mercy, to bethink themselves of their apathy ere it be too late, and to remember that while holy angels are triumphing over the true penitent, they are viewing with disapprobation and grief their thoughtless folly and continued rebellion against the most high God, the Majesty of heaven and earth. Let us refer,
3. To the certain anticipations of misery or bliss, which await each soul as it
passes into eternity. This is a view of the solemn question before us, which should find its way to every one whom I now address; inasmuch as we must all, ere long, make trial of eternity. We may, at this moment, value our souls less than almost any other consideration ; but, in the twinkling of an eye, the actual experience of eternity may rescue us, when too late, from our fatal security. When we enter upon
that dread condition, there will be an everlasting progression either in suffering or in bliss. What an affecting proof of the value of the soul is its unlimited susceptibility, in the world of spirits, both of pleasure and of pain! It will be for ever adoring the God of salvation for his rich and sovereign grace, or for ever groaning beneath the pressure of his awful displeasure. It will for ever be adding to the stores of its enjoyment, or accumulating the materials of its unalleviated misery and wretchedness. It will for ever hallow the day that it came into being, or curse with tenfold bitterness the era of its existence.
Ah, my hearers, it is eternity that stamps such an unutterable value
upon the immortal spirit. If you would know the worth of your souls, you must look into futurity, and remember that when millions of ages shall have rolled on, eternity will not have advanced a single moment nearer to a close. Remember it is life eternal that awaits the righteous! But, forget not, that the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment! We can form but a very inadequate idea of a state of existence altogether interminable ; but surely the thought, that our souls are destined to such a state of existence, should awaken immediate attention to their all-important concerns. In eternity, every thing is fixed and unalterable : “He that is filthy, let him be filthy still ; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” If you die under the curse, it can never be removed. If you die the servants of Christ, your felicity will never terminate.
I am anxious, before I conclude, to leave upon the minds of the young present, a consciousness that a great change must be wrought on them ere they can be admitted into the New Jerusalem. We need no preparation for hell, for we are all “by nature children of wrath ; " but we must be regenerated, we must be justified, -we must be made partakers of a Divine nature, ere we can find an entrance where nothing will be received “that defileth or that maketh a lie.” If a new heart is not imparted to each of you, you must die in your sins. Remember an unholy sinner cannot be recognised among the spirits of the just. Should you die in awful impenitency, “ in hell you must lift up your eyes being in torment :" and worlds will not be able to procure you one “drop of cold water to cool your parched tongues.” O, delay not the spiritual culture of the soul. Let
your best days be devoted to the service of Christ and the pursuits of holiness. There is, indeed, a temporary glare accompanying a course of vice and irreligion ; but that glare will terminate in the blackness of darkness for ever.” If the soul is henceforward to be the object of your care, every habit of sin must be abandoned. One leak will sink the stateliest ship that sails the ocean; and one unconquered sin will sink to perdition the immortal spirit. Beware of the seductions of evil company.
Flee from scenes of intoxication, of lewdness, and debauchery. Cultivate the society of the good. Make the Bible the constant companion of your spare hours. Enter upon a life of prayer. Be diligent in your lawful calling ; while, at the
same time, you are “fervent in spirit serving the Lord.” And amidst all your pursuits, let the care of your souls be esteemed your chief. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things shall be added thereunto.” Remember, my friends, God is the poor man's best stay. With many
you, troublous times. But know that Jehovah is a very present help in time of trouble. Hide yourselves, then, in his pavilion, until the cloud that now gathers blackness is dispelled, and the cheering light of the sun again shine upon your path. Amen.