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empire, when he should be reduced to the condition of the brutes, and degraded from the rank of a man to that of an irrational being ? Of what avail was it to Nebuchadnezzar that he was the proudest monarch on earth, reigned over an extensive empire, and contemplated a city which he had enlarged, and beautified, and adorned with a splendour formerly unknown, when a man's heart was taken from him and a beast's heart given him; and when, with brutish insensibility, he grazed the fields, or herded with the gregarious animals ? All his acquired splendour was now utterly contemptible, and the greatness of his elevation only increased the depth of his fall. Of what avail now were bis splendid palaces, his hanging gardens, his golden chair of state, his princely attendants, and obsequious flatterers? They were gone with his intellectual nature, and he enjoyed not the bare consciousness of his former greatness, nor of the titles with which the world still honoured him.
But even though the whole soul should not be obliterated, and only its rational faculty paralysed and deranged, still it would hold true, that the acquisition of the whole world was of no consequence to his happiness. What pleasure would his vast possessions afford him when some groundless hallucipation brooded over his mind, when he was presented with the visions of a disordered imagination, when the thought of the conspiracies which his feverish fancy conjured up before him, agitated him by day, and formed the substance of his dreams by night, and when, perhaps, the thought of poverty haunted him in the midst of his extensive dominions? The man of the most toilsome labour would contemplate him with pity, and consider himself happier than the monarch of the world.
If we leave these senses of the passage, and adopt a translation which some have proposed, namely, 6. What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own life?" still the truth implied in the interrogation would be obvious. In so far as the world is concerned, life, if not
imbittered by some overwhelming calamity, is the greatest blessing enjoyed by man. It is the basis of all the comforts which he experiences on earth; and what will it avail the individual, though he should have accumulated the wealth of the world, when life's brittle thread is snapt asunder, and he is shut out from all his possessions for ever? The earth is a universal blank to him, though its surface was lately all his
He has not been able to carry with him a single item of his riches, nor a ray of this world's light to illuminate the grave, nor the smallest measure of his extensive fields to enlarge its narrow domain. His possessions have descended to others, and his portion on earth is ended; and what does it now avail him that he lived in the richest mansions that adorned its surface, and contemplated its accumulated stores of wealth as the sources of his gratification ?
But the sense of the passage is somewhat higher than that which is contained in any of these suppositions. By the loss of the soul here mentioned by the Saviour, is not meant the mere privation of life, nor the derangement of the faculties of the mind, nor even its annihilation. It is something more serious and awful than any of these calamities. The lost soul is condemned to a never ending existence, and retains the use of its faculties only as so many sources of anguish. The loss of the soul implies the entire loss of the divine favour, eternal exclusion from the divine presence, and the privation of all comfort and happiness for ever. It implies the loss of all that renders existence desirable, and the unwilling acquisition of much that shall imbitter it; and the consideration of all these circumstances convinces us, that a man is nothing profited, nay, that he sustains a dreadful disadvantage, who gains the whole world, and yet loses his soul.
In the prosecution of this subject, I intend, in humble dependence on divine aid, First, To make a few statements illustrative of the worth of the soul. And Secondly, To labour to impress upon the minds of the audience the dreadful ruin included in its loss.
I. On the former of these topics I remark,
1st, That the human soul was formed in the image of its Creator.
In the history of the formation of man, the divine determination is thus expressed :-“ Let us make man in our image after our likeness ; and let him bave dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth ;" and the result is stated in similar terms, “ So God created man in his own image ; in the image of God created he him.” Now, these declarations must principally relate to his soul: for though the body of man is invested with a dignity superior to that of the beasts that perish; and, as the poet has expressed it, can contemplate the heavens with an upright countenance, while the latter grovel downwards with their faces to the earth; yet the human body, finely fashioned and diguified as it is, would be a very sorry representative of Deity without the animation and rationality of the soul. This dart of his nature originated not in the dust of the earth, but was produced by an immediate act of Almighty power.
“ The Lord God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” The soul of man, therefore, was an emanation from God himself, and participates of some of the dignity of its Divine Original. It is endowed with faculties corresponding in some degree to the exalted attributes of Divinity; and though not the image of its Creator, in the same sense in which the Son of God is the image of the Father, namely, the exact representative of his nature and perfections, yet it bears a resemblance not mean and insignificant to this great and eternal existence. The human soul is invested with intellectual faculties-with moral feelings-with social sym
pathies—with tasteful sensibilities. Man possesses a range of mental powers by which every thing in nature produces its appropriate relish upon his mind; and he can roam through the heavens and the earth, and discern in
department of his field of contemplation some objects that merit his study and invite his inquires.
He has the capacities of knowledge, by which he becomes familiar with the objects and the laws of the material world; and he has the faculty of invention, by which he can employ the powers of nature to promote the purposes of utility and comfort. And while the inferior animals are generally moved by the laws of instinct, man is a moral and a voluntary agent, and can select his line of action according to the dictates of an enlightened understanding. He can imitate, in an humble degree, the operations of Omnipotence. Though utterly destitute of creative
power, and unable even to grasp the idea of it, yet he can convert the things already made into a variety of forms; and, by bringing the particles of matter within the range of nature's laws-he can effectuate many new and surprising combinations. Soon after his creation, did Adam manifest an instance of an acute understanding, by giving names to the animal tribes—a proof that he knew, at a single view, the qualities and dispositions of these objects; and, since this period, the ingenuity of man, though wasted in pernicious inventions, and unprofitable speculations, and indubitably crippled by the injury sustained by the fall, has yet brought to light many secrets, and traversed creation with such an enlightened eye, as may well make us exclaim
with the poet
“ And thou, this spark, that moves, that guides,
That warns, that tells what betides,-
But the human soul is not merely invested with the powers of intellect and imagination; it is also endowed with moral discernment and capacities for religion. Man, as originally formed, was a devotional intelligence. In other words, his intellectual powers were capable of contemplating that lofty range of subjects connected with God and his supreme administration; and his sentient feelings were capable of being impressed with reverence for the Creator, and of paying him a grateful and a voluntary homage. He could place before the eye of his mind the most glorious intelligence in the universe ; he could contemplate bis wondrous perfection, trace his magnificent operations, and prosecute a series of inquiries in reference to his august and benevolent designs. In connection with these intellectual movements, he could pursue a course of high and honourable action, involving the noblest sentiments of the heart, living in God and to God,-labouring to honour him, to please him, to resemble him ;-ascending higher and higher in the scale of moral and intellectual excellence, and approaching nearer and nearer in assimilation to the Deity throughout eternity. Connected with this was a correspondent, though lower train of feeling and action, in regard to his fellow-creatures. Every virtuous intelligence attracted his love, and secured his kind and friendly offices; unceasing harmony subsisted between him and every other worshipper of God : and to those of his own species he was destined to be bound by ties that were indissoluble, and by a series of good offices that were equally dignified and delightful.
These natural and spiritual endowments originally implanted in the human mind, prove its value ; and though the lustre of these endowments be obscured, yet the intellectual nature of man still remains, as the monument of that noble structure which it exhibited, as it proceeded from the hands of its Creator. It is a splendid fragment of humanity, standing out from the mass of ruins with which it is surrounded; and it