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live in wilful opposition to the commands of Christ, and in neglect of his great salvation.
Some persons likewise withdraw, apparently, lest they should make too avowed a profession of religion, or bind themselves too closely to a holy life. As if this particular instance of disobedience would excuse their general conformity to the world, and contempt of the favour and authority of their Judge! Others are harassed with groundless scruples, lest a well-meant but unsuitable approach to the Lord's table should exclude them from future pardon: though even the scandalous profanation of the Corinthians was visited only by temporal corrections, " that they might not be condemned “ with the world.” Or they fear, lest some subsequent fall should render their case desperate; though Peter denied Christ the very night in which he had both celebrated the passover and the Lord's
supper, and yet was graciously restored !Thus, remaining unbelief induces
appear to be pious christians in other respects, to hesitate, and often to refuse obedience to this plain command, during their whole lives; while others seem afraid of communicating too frequently; or make the languor of their affections a reason for absenting themselves, though this negligence has a powerful tendency to increase the lamentable disease. But let the new convert, who would thrive in his profession, speedily begin to consider this institution, and deliberately prepare for attending on it, as soon as he can do it sincerely: and let the believer gladly embrace every opportunity of communicating; avoid whatever may unfit him for it; and daily remember the vows of God that are upon him, to live to him who died for his salvation.
On the State of separate Spirits; the Resurrection
of the Body; Judgment and Eternity.
It is the grand design of revealed religion, to draw off our attention and affections from things present and temporal, and to fix them on things future and eternal. Yet, such is the constitution of the universe, and such the plan of the gospel, that the regulation of our pursuits and actions, in subordination to the interests of the unseen state, tends to produce by far the greatest measure of happiness to individuals and to society, which can possibly be attained in this present life. Whatever conjectures or discoveries the more rational of the heathen had made in this interesting concern, or whatever intimations God had given about it to the ancient church; it may with the strictest propriety be said, that “ life and immortality are “ brought to light by the gospel.” For, the revelation made in the New Testament elucidating and confirming that of the Old, has removed all doubt and uncertainty about a future state of existence, except what arises from want of faith or acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures: it has given every
needful instruction on the important subject, and it has sanctioned it with that authority which is suited to render it influential on our whole conduct. This decisive and complete information is of the greatest moment; for, all error, obscurity, or uncertainty, in a matter of such vast importance, must proportionably enfeeble and unsettle the mind; and deduct from the efficacy of those motives, which excite or animate the soul to vigorous exertion, self-denying obedience, patient sufferings, or courage when called to face dangers, in adhering to the truth and will of God, amidst the opposition of this evil'world. Our concluding essay, therefore, will contain some thoughts on the intermediate state of souls when separate from the body; the second coming of Christ; the resurrection of the body; and the process, rule, and event of judgment.
The immortality of the soul is fully established by the uniform testimony of Scripture, which fully declares, not only that it is created capable of endless existence, but also that it is the unalterable purpose of the Creator it should exist to eternity. But it is impossible in the nature of things, that this should be proved by any reasonings or arguments whatever; because the intention of God can only be known by express revelation.
The language of holy writ constantly implies, , that the soul is capable of exerting its powers and
faculties in a state of separation from the body. The apostle could not tell, “ whether,” during his vision, “ he was in the body or out of the body ;” and he spoke of being “ absent from the body,” present with the Lord.” ?
We frequently read of “the things done in the body,” which certainly implies that the sanie agent is capable of doing things out of the boły. “Our earthly house “ of this tabernacle must be dissolved, that we
may have a building of God, a house not made “ with hands, eternal in the heavens.”3 Then the body “shall return to the dust, and the spirit to “ God.”+ Accordingly we read of " the spirits “ of just men made perfect,” as well as of “an “ innumerable company of angels:”s and even these brief hints may suffice to shew, that the system of modern materialists cannot be supported, (any more than the other doctrines of the same school,) except by rejecting the word of God, and treating the sacred writers as men who espoused and propagated vulgar errors, whilst they professed
speak as they were moved by the Holy " Ghost.”
The Scriptures likewise teach us, that both the righteous and the wicked, immediately on leaving the body, enter on a state of happiness or misery. Lazarus was carried, as soon as he died, into Abraham’s bosom; and when “ the rich man died and
1 2 Cor. xii. 1-4.
4 Eccles, xii. 7,
2 2 Cor. v. 8. 3 2 Cor. v, 1,
5 Heb. xii, 22, 23,