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of it. No, my brethren! we have no more design to deduce inferences of fanaticism from the doctrine of the text, than we have to infer maxims of anarchy and rebellion. But we infer just conclusions conformable to the precious gift of reason, that the Creator hath bestowed on us, and to the incomparably more precious gift of religion with which he hath enriched us. Derive then, my brethren, conclusions of these kinds, and let them be the application of this discourse.
Derive from our subject conclusions of moderation. Labor, for it is allowable, and the morality of the gospel doth not condemn it, labor to render your name illustrious, to augment your fortune, to establish your reputation, to contribute to the pleasure of your life; but labor no more than becomes you. Let efforts of this kind never make you lose sight of the great end of life. Remember, as riches, grandeur, and reputation, are not the supreme good, so obscurity, meanness, and indigence, are not the supreme evil. Let the care of avoiding the supreme evil, and the desire of obtaining the supreme good, be always the most ardent of our wishes, and let others yield to that of arriving at the chief good.
Derive from our doctrine conclusions of acquiescence in the laws of providence. If it please pro'vidence to put an essential difference between you and the great men of the earth, let it be your holy ambition to excel in it. You cannot murmur without being guilty of reproaching God, because he hath made you what you are; because he formed you men, and not angels, archangels, or seraphims. Had he annexed essential privileges to the highest ranks, submission would always be your lot, and you ought always to adore, and to submit to that intelligence, which governs the world: but
this is not your case. God gives to the great men of the earth an exterior, transient, superficial glory: but he hath made you share with them a glory real, solid, and permanent. What difficulty can a wise man find by acquiescing in this law of providence?
Derive from the truths you have heard conclusions of vigilance. Instead of ingeniously flattering yourself with the vain glory of being elevated above your neighbor; or of suffering your mind to sink under the puerile mortification of being inferior to him; incessantly inquire what is the virtue of your station, the duty of your rank, and use your utmost industry to fill it worthily. You are a magistrate, the virtue of your station, the duty of your rank, is to employ yourself wholly to serve your fellow subjects in inferior stations, to prefer the public good before your own private interest, to sacrifice yourself for the advantage of that state, the reins of which you hold. Practise this virtue, fulfil these engagements, put off self-interest, and devote yourself wholly to a people, who entrust you with their properties, their liberties, and their lives. You are a subject, the duty of your rank, the virtue of your station, is submission, and you should obey not only through fear of punishment; but through a wise regard for order. Practise this virtue, fulfil this engagement, make it your glory to submit, and in the authority of princes respect the power of God, whose ministers and representatives they are. You are a rich man, the virtue of your station, the duty of your condition, is beneficence, generosity, magnanimity. Practise these virtues, discharge these duties. Let your heart be always moved with the necessities of the wretched, and your ears open to their complaints. Never omit
an opportunity of doing good, and be in society a general resource, and universal refuge.
From the truths, which you have heard, derive motives of zeal and fervor. It is mortifying, I own, in some respects, when one feels certain emotions of dignity and elevation, to sink in society. It is mortifying to beg bread of one, who is a man like ourselves. It is mortifying to be trodden under foot by our equals, and, to say all in a word, to be in stations very unequal among our equals. But this œconomy will quickly vanish. The fashion of this world will presently pass away, and we shall soon enter that blessed state, in which all distinctions will be abolished, and in which all, that is noble in immortal souls, will shine in all its splendor. Let us, my brethren, sigh after this period, let us make it the object of our most constant and ardent prayers. God grant, we may all have a right to pray for it! God grant, our text may be one day verified in a new sense. May all, who compose this assembly, masters and servants, rich and poor, may we all, my dear hearers, having acknowleged ourselves equal in essence, in privileges, in destination, in last end, may we all alike participate the same glory. God grant it for his mercy-sake. Amen,
THE WORTH OF THE SOUL.
Matthew xvi. 26.
What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Y brethren, before we enforce the truths,
M which Jesus Christ included in the words of
the text, we will endeavor to fix the meaning of it. This depends on the term soul, which is used in this passage, and which is one of the most equivocal words in scripture; for it is taken in different, and even in contrary senses, so that sometimes it signifies a dead body, Lev. xxi. 1. We will not divert your attention now by reciting the long list of explications, that may be given to the term: but we will content ourselves with remarking, that it can be taken only in two senses in the text.
Soul may be taken for life; and in this sense the term is used by St. Matthew, who says, They are dead who sought the young child's soul, chap. ii. 20. Soul may be taken for that spiritual part of us, which we call the soul by excellence; and in this sense it is used by our Lord, who says, fear not them, which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him, which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell, chap. x. 28.
If we take the words in the first sense, for life,
we put into the mouth of Jesus Christ a proposition verified by experience; that is, that men consider life as the greatest of all temporal blessings, and that they part with every thing to preserve it. This rule hath its exceptions: but the exceptions confirm the rule. Sometimes, indeed, a disgust with the world, a principle of religion, a point of honor, will incline men to sacrifice their lives; but these particular cases cannot prevent our saying in the general, What shall a man give in exchange for his life?
If we take the word for that part of man, which we call the soul by excellence, Jesus Christ intended to point out to us, not what men usually do; (for alas! it happens too often, that men sacrifice their souls to the meanest and most sordid interest) but what they always ought to do. He meant to teach, that the soul is the noblest part of us, and that nothing is too great to be given for its ransom.
Both these interpretations are probable, and each hath its partisans, and its proofs. But, although we would not condemn the first, we prefer the last, not only because it is the most noble meaning, and opens the most extensive field of meditation; but because it seems to us the most conformable to our Saviour's design in speaking the words. Judge by what precedes our text. What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Jesus Christ spoke thus to fortify his disciples against the temptations, to which their profession of the gospel was about to expose them. If by the word soul we understand the life, we shall be obliged to go a great way about to give any reasonable sense to the words. On the contrary, if we take the word for the spirit, the meaning of the whole is clear and easy. Now it seems to me beyond a doubt, that Jesus Christ, by