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" Man dieth and wasteth away ; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and •where is he ?" — Job 14 : 10. The phrase, "man dietli and wasteth away," can apply only to his mortal part; particularly to his body. For that only can " die and waste away." The phrase, "man giveth up the ghost," may denote the act of yielding up the soul, or the process of dying. The last clause, " where is he ?" respects man as an immortal being; referring, especially, to his immaterial or spiritual part. By way of proof, or illustration, I need spend no time on the declaratory part of the text, that " man dieth and wasteth away ;" that " he giveth up the ghost." o proof beyond observation and the past history of a hundred generations can make it more certain; though no fact is more frequently declared in Divine revelation, while none, certainly, is more important. This great change will pass on all of us, and on all that shall live after us, down to that last generation, who, instead of dying, will be "' changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." This great
change, however, is not confined to the body. It must necessarily affect the spirit. It ushers it into a new
state of existence. It becomes at once conversant with new beings, new objects, new scenes. When death has laid his hand on man, we know what becomes of the body. It is laid in the grave, there to waste away and be resolved into its original dust. But death does not extinguish the spirit. That is indestructible, imperishable, immortal. But where is it ? What is it ? In reply, I answer, 1. So far as personal identity or moral character is concerned, man is the same after, as before the body's death; the same rational, thinking being. Whatever the place or- mode of his existence, the mental faculties are not destroyed. He has memory to recall the past; reason adapted to all its appropriate operations; conscience to judge, to approve, or condemn ; while his consciousness tells him that he has always been the same individual person, through all the various stages of his existence. Indeed, instead of being impaired, we have every reason to believe that all his mental powers will be vastly expanded and invigorated, when released from the restraints of the body. True, the reverse might be the conclusion of the senses. But we are not left to the, testimony of the senses, or the conclusions of reason. God hmiself has condescended to instruct us on this momentous subject. He has placed the doctrines of the soul's 29
450 SERMO XXIY. immortalit}' and its activity after death on the firmest ground. or is there less full or less clear evidence, that death produces no essential change of moral character.
At that hour, the plain declaration of God's word is, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still ; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still ; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." Probation is limited to this life. " Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might ; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." "After death, comes the judgment." Indeed, the whole plan of salvation is evidently founded on the fact, that eternal life must be secured in this world, or never secured. All the motives to immediate repentance ; all the solemn admonitions on the uncertainty of this life, and remonstrances against delay, are drawn from that fact ; while there is not a hint in all the Bible, that an offer of salvation was ever made, or ever will be made, to a departed spirit. It is then the same being that wakes up in eternity, who at death leaves this world ; possessing the same powers or mental faculties, though vastly expanded, and sustaining the same moral character. Hence, 2. The soul when it leaves the body passes to an unalterably fixed condition. There is no reason why it should not be so, if the character is wholly formed in this life, as we have seen that it is.
SERMO XXIV. 451 With all the writers on this subject who believe the soul to be immortal, there has been, as clearly there can be, but one possible conjecture in opposition to this statement. And that is, that between the events of the death and the resurrection of the body, the soul lies in a dormant state ; a state in which all its powers are suspended. And what is this but a state of annihilation ? It is utterly inconsistent with
the idea of the soul's immortality ; which means, not only the everlasting existence of the soul, or eternal duration, but its continued, uninterrupted existence. Moreover, the very language is unintelligible. What is the soul, when all its faculties cease their exercise ? So far at least as we can form any idea of the soul, it consists of its various faculties. If it cannot think, nor will, nor remember, nor reason, nor know, it is nothing — it is annihilated. These are its essential attributes ; without them, we can form no idea whatever of the soul. If it exist again, it is, therefore, a new existence. This view, I scarcely need say, is entirely inconsistent with the teachings of the inspired volume. We have abundant information respecting the soul after, and immediately after, it leaves the body ; both in regard to the righteous and the wicked. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is conclusive. The declaration of the Saviour to the Sadducees, who denied the existence of the soul after death, confirms the same fact : " God is not the God of the dead, but
452 SERMO XXIV. of the living ;" and hence, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom the reference was made, were still living beings, though their bodies had been slumbering manycenturies in their graves. Thus we have seen that man, as to his better part, will continue to exist after death has crushed his body into the dust, in the exercise of all its mental powers ; that his moral character will then be unalterably formed ; his condition unchangeably fixed ; no change but either that of mounting upward, in enlarged knowledge and augmented happiness ; or, under the weight of accumulating guilt, sinking lower and lower
in the pit of endless woe, 3. But where is he ? Where, as to place, as well as condition ? for the one necessarily implies the other. I answer, in one of two places, for there is not a third ; and these are fitted to the only two essentially different characters of men, or they to them, as formed in this life, and completed at death. In Scripture, they are each called by different names : as, Abraham's bosom. Paradise, Mansions, Heaven, Tophet, Prison, Outer-darkness, Hell, and perhaps some others. or is there any foundation for the notion that the souls of all, both renewed and unrenewed, go to one place at death, and there remain till the resurrection and judgment ; which place they understand by the word Paradise. But St. Paul tells us that Paradise is only another name for Heaven ; and even the third Heavens, which the Jews always regarded as denoting
SERMO XXIV. 453 the place of endless and ineffable bliss. In his second Epistle to the Corinthians, twelfth chapter, he writes : " I knew a man in Christ, above fourteen years ago, whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell, God knoweth; such a one caught up to the third heavens. And I knew such a man, whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell, God knoweth ; how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful (or possible) for a man to utter." Here Paul evidently means the same place by " the third heavens" and " Paradise ;" and no less plainly as a place of supreme felicity. He was there relating, too, his own experience. He was himself that man in Christ who was thus favored, though it occasioned the thorn in his flesh, " lest he should be exalted above measure, through the abundance of the
revelations." It is certain, from Christ's own words, that Christians at death go where he is, to those mansions which he had prepared for them, and w^liere they should behold his glory, and see him as he is. But he ascended to " the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens." That saints at death go there, the Apostle writes to the Thessalonians. " For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God." " Therefore, we are always confident,
454 SERMO xxiy. knowing that whilst we are at home in the boclj, we are absent from the Lord. We are confident, I say, and w^illing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." Let me refer you to a familiar portion of our Saviour's instruction when on earth. " And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried, and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments." The resurrection had not arrived ; that generation had not passed away. He was not referring to what was at some future period to be, but stating what already was. For, hear that rich man in his last urgent petition : " I pray thee, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brethren, that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment." Everything is here represented as occurring immediately after death. The joy of the one and the misery of the other, at once followed that event. The whole is clear. It seems to defy ingenuity to place
a different plausible construction on that representation. o doubt, the happiness of the righteous and the misery of the wipked will be greatly enhanced at the resurrection. or will this cease to be the case at any period of their existence. The righteous will eternally be soaring aloft toward the infinite God, and the wicked forever sinking lower and lower in the pit of woe !
SERMO XXIV. 455 One thought more of deep interest is suggested by the question, " AVhere is he ?" It is evidently, however, in sense and meaning, an exclamation rather than a mere inquiry. And it is this thought I wish to present. It is as much as to exclaim, "Alas, where is he !" While it conveys the idea, that the event of death, the exit of the soul out of the body, is the most important, most deeply interesting, and deeply solemn moment of our existence, it conveys the idea of surprise and doubt — surprise at the vastness, the entireness of the change which then instantly passes upon one, and doubt, while that change is passing, what objects and scenes are in a moment more to present themselves to the clear and open vision of the immortal spirit ! And in numberless instances, awful doubt whither it is going, what is to be its final and endless destiny ! Is it possible to conceive of a moment of deeper solemnity ? It may be, and it probably is the case, that every departing soul is freed from all doubt, as to its having or not having a saving interest in the Lord Jesus Christ, before the last moment comes. We have the best evidence that this is true of many a Christian in the dying hour. Long previously, and down to the expiring moment, they have expressed a joy, a confidence, an earnest
of heaven, which they had never before experienced. The very countenance bore testimony to the truthfulness of their declarations. It was inconceivable that they could be deceived. And though all Christians
456 SERMO XXIV. are not thus highly favored and blest, yet he that is a present help in every time of need, Avill not be absent from a child of his in the moment of his greatest extremity. Ofttimes, indeed, there is much darkness, many doubts in the last hours of the sincere believer. But ere the soul takes its flight, it is more than probable that the Saviour visits him with the smiles of his countenance, and goes with him through the valley of death, or sends his angels to convey him to heaven. Yet to the best-prepared Christian for the event, there is much, yea, everything most deeply to affect him, to fill him with surprise and wonder. He can have no conception of the greatness of the change to pass upon him, till he experiences it. What can he know of the mode of his existence when he has laid aside this body? By what means he shall hold intercourse with others like himself — with angels — with the Saviour, whom he will see face to face ? Every Christian must wake up with surprise in eternity. " Where is he ?" Where am I ? In a new world ! Himself, almost a new being ! Everything new around him, and within him, save that grace, of which, in a low degree, he was here the subject, and the feeble views of faith which that grace enabled him in some favored moments to have. But now wholly sanctified, what a change! Such we may readily suppose were the reflections of Job when he exclaimed, •' Man givetli up the ghost, and where is he !" But if it be thus with the Christian most eminent for his
SERMO XXIV. 457 piety, who habitually lives in view of that world which he is soon to enter, and like Job, is waiting for the change before him, what must it be to the ordinary Christian ; the doubting and doubtful Christian ; the unfaithful, oft-offending, too worldly-minded Christian ? What surjDrise will seize the soul as it enters eternity ! But numerous as these instances may be, they are few compared with the multitudes who come to that hour in utter thoughtlessness of what awaits them when that hour is past ! Who have never made the scenes of eternity the subject of serious contemplation, or even any at all. When sucli a one is called from time into eternity, how natural, how irrepressible the thought at least, " Where is he ?" Where is the immortal spirit that has fled? What are the scenes upon which it has entered, even before the lifeless body is conveyed to its grave, there to waste away, till the announcement of the resurrection awake it from its slumbers. It is not the prerogative of man, indeed, to pronounce on the eternal destiny of any soul. But the wicked die. And dying thus, if there is truth in God's book, they are forever lost ! They wake up, where the Judge of all himself said the rich, impenitent man did, when he died. Some may be found, even among such, who are sustained with a false hope to the expiring moment. Others disbelieve a hell, and even deny the immortality of the soul. Others comfort themselves with
458 SERMO XXIV.
the delusive notion of a universal salvation, and that the best have no advantage over the worst. Others again place their dependence on their morality and their almsdeeds. Still others come to that hour with consciences seared as with a hot iron, in utter insensibility ; while others are cut off with a stroke, and have not a moment for reflection, or are bereft of reason ; millions, too, are wickedly made to believe in the efficacy of masses, or at worst, the purifying fires of an imaginary purgatory. What multitudes come to their death in these various ways ! What, what must be their surprise when they wake up in the other world; when they see all their hopes forever dashed; their vain expectations driven away -like the chaff before the wind ! Yes, in all these ways, men come to their death-hour. or are they exclusively from heathen lands. Ah, gladly would they exchange conditions with the vilest who lived and died without the Gospel. But they will come from Christianized nations; from Gospel-enlightened assemblies; from the very sanctuaries of God ! where the sound of the Gospel had often saluted their ears, and the offer of life had often been pressed on their acceptance. They will carry with them all their knowledge of the great plan of salvation which they here acquired, and the clearest recollection of their opportunities for securing an interest in it, into eternity, and to the bar of God. We, my hearers, are approaching that solemn hour, in which the destiny of man, as recorded in the text,
SERMO XXIV. 459 ¦will be our destiny and doom. We shall die, and our bodies waste away in the grave, till the voice of the Son of God shall open every grave. The same process of dying which those who have gone before us have gone through, we will go through. And by some at least of those who shall attend our funeral,
while standing around our encoffined remains, will the question be mentally put, or the thought silently pass the mind, " Where is he ?" Shall it be a question of a doubtful nature? of doubtful answer ? We have all of us, sometimes, been present on such an occasion, when we felt authorized to repeat over the grave of the deceased, that divinely inspired eulogium, " Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors ; and their works do follow them." But, alas, how often is it otherwise ! How often, at least, are we compelled to feel- a painful doubt, with regard to the eternal destiny of the departed spirit! In life they gave no evidence of an interest in Christ. They came to their last sickness in all their indifference, and passed into the dark valley without a ray of hope ! My hearers, how shall that question be answered over our lifeless bodies? "Where is he?" It is a solemn question. It is a pertinent question. And, though no response will come from the eternal world, yet it is a question of solemn, practical bearing on the living. AVere it an idle one, it had never found a place in the in-
460 SERMO XXIV. spired Book. But we need not that proof of its practical pertinence. It brings to our view the solemn realities of that eternal world, to which we are rapidly hastening, and which we shall soon enter. It reminds us of the preceding scenes of our own dying hour, and when those scenes are over, of our souls' immediate entrance on their changeless, eternal state. And whence, if not from these solemn considerations, shall we derive motives to prepare us for the one, and for the other ? Our existence was given us, and our lives have been spared to this hour, to prepare, on leaving
this, to enter a better world ; to prepare for a heavenly world. For this, the present opportunity is afforded us. For no other kind purpose have we been spared to see this day; and, rightly improved, this would be secured beyond the possibility of failure.
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