Page images
PDF
EPUB

our Saviour's sacred side. Amazing love! that he should permit this even to be done after he was dead! that the world might be assured of the truth of his death. Oh! the greatness of the wrath of Almighty God, and the heinous nature of our sins, that nothing less than the last drop of the heart's blood of our Lord could quench it, and wash them away.

In the heart is that crimson fountain which sustains the whole human system ; but how from the ventricles it is forced into the arteries, and thence diffused into numberless streams through the body, and returned again by the veins through the auricles to the heart, anatomy not being our subject, I shall not determine ; but further notice, how the heart is guarded by ribs, flesh, muscles, and skin, near which are likewise placed the arms for its protection. By all which we see the wisdom and goodness of our Creator, in placing those principles of existence, namely, the brain and the heart, with such security in the body.

Should I speak of the members, we would find them no less wonderfully contrived and situated to answer the conveniencies of life.

But curiously and wonderfully as the body is framed, the soul is still more so, being an immaterial, thinking substance, possessed of powers immediately derived from God; one of which is that of the understanding, by which we discern and have a knowledge of things, their situations, qualifications and qualities, and form our judgements of them accordingly.

Next, the will, that power by which we choose or refuse that which the understanding pointeth out to be good or hurtful for us. Likewise that of the conscience, by which we are approved, when we have chosen, loved, or done, that which our understanding pointed out to be right for us, and reproved when we have acted the contrary.

Next, the memory, that by which we retain those things in our minds which we have understood or learned. And the ima

gination, which serveth as a handmaid to the understanding, and all the other faculties, by supplying them with ideas; and is to the soul as the breath to the body, the setter of all the other powers in motion not to speak of the passions, which, for noble purposes, the Most High hath endued us with, but which, alas ! are too often used to his dishonour.

;

The brutal creation, indeed, enjoy those powers in some measure after their kind; to instance only that of the dog for all. Does he not understand that which is good or hurtful for him? For, place him upon the edge of a high precipice, where, on the one side he can come from it with safety, will he not discern his danger in leaping, and show his will in choosing to come down the other way? And if he has often done wrong, and been frequently beaten for it, will he not thereby become sensible that that is displeasing to his owner? And if he see or hear his master coming at the time he is doing that particular fault, as, for instance, lying in a bed or so, will he not show his consciousness of it, and his fear of punishment, by his immediately leaping out, or giving over what he was doing? And does he not show his memory, when he has lost his master, in running to the different houses or places which he used to frequent, seeking him ? and his thought, or consideration, at the meeting of two ways, when running before, stopping at an uncertainty, till such time as he sees which road his owner will take? And that he is possessed with passions, is evident from his affection for his master, fear, anger, and resentment of injuries.

Now, since brutes are thus endowed, this question will naturally occur, What pre-eminence hath a man above a beast? I answer, A very great deal. The spirit, or brutal soul, is from the earth, and answereth to man and the things of this life; and that in a very limited capacity : whereas the soul of man is from God, and answereth to God; and the things not only of this life, but also of that. which is eternal, in a most extensive degree; being highly distinguished by the faculty of rationality or reason, whereby it can discri

minate and clearly distinguish betwixt moral good and evil, truth and falsehood; assemble ideas, comparing one with another through means of intermediate ones ; reflect and deduce causes from effects, and effects from causes, and so find out truth from error, right from wrong, a future state from a present, and delight in the contemplation of infinity itself,

What a noble creature then is the soul of man! True, indeed, it, by the fall of Adam, (as Mephibosheth falling out of his nurse's lap,) was maimed in all its powers, and greatly defiled, yet, blessed be God, through faith, Christ Jesus, that Physician of value, will heal and purify all again, and set it down to feast continually at the King's table above. 2 Sam. iv. 4. and ix. 13. And seeing God hath thus highly distinguished us from the inferior creatures, not only by reason, but also in the use and capacity of all our mental powers, how thankful should we be, and improve them for his honour and glory, for which end we were endowed with them, and after whose image we were made! And, on

« PreviousContinue »