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St. Matth. xvi. 26.
be fall gain the whole World,
HOULD we understand this Serm.
Some lowest Sense, the Words are
by the Sout here is meant only
Serm. us of all our earthly Goods, neither shall VIII, our Pomp follow us. But if we take the
Soul to mean, as it properly does, the spiritual and principal Part of our Nature, what makes us to be Men, rational, moral, and eternal Beings; the Argument will appear in a much stronger Light, as the Paffage is thus raised to a more exalted Sense, and adapted to a more excellent Purpose.
If Life is preferable to all Things in the World ; If whatever a Man is poffeffed of he would gladly part with to ransom himself from the Jaws of Death : Much more freely should he resign all his tempora! Acquisițions together with even this mortal Life itself (if necessary) in order to save his Soul,-to obtain a better Resurrection and a blessed Immortality. Since fo inconceivable an Happiness is absolutely to be preferred before All, that Men account valuable in this World, and, indeed, before the World itself.
· This is the only Way of Thinking, which can have the Approbation of found Reason, as it has the Authority of divine Revelation: And notwithstanding that small Price, which wicked Men, blinded by their Vices, fet upon their Souls, selling them
many times, as it were for nothing, and SERM. quitting their Title to an everlasting In- VIII. heritance for very trifling Confiderations, our good Lord, whose Judgment may bë implicitly relied on, waś, we fee, in very different Sentiments, and by putting the Question home to us, would have us answer it for ourselves : Which if we do with any tolerable Serioufnefs and after due Reflection, we shall be obliged to acknowledge the human Soul to be à Thing of real intrinsic Worth, its Value to be inestimable, and its Lofs to be irreparable. And this fhould any one ignorantly doubt of, there are many Arguments to convince him of his Error. Thefe I propofe here to consider with a View of awakening you to a juft Sense of your most important Interests. ;
1. The great Value of the Soul may be discovered from its fuperior Faculties and Perfections above every other Being in this World,
The Soul, tho' fallen from its original Dignity, is yet venerable in its Ruins. It is capable of reaching with its Thoughts to the most distant Objects either in Time' or Place, of making the past and absent present, and
SERM. of ranging in an Instant through the UniVill. verse :---It can mark out the Paths, compute
the Distances, calculate the Dimensions, and determine the Motions of the heavenly Bodies :---It measures the Surface of the Earth, and dives into its capacious Womb :---Its Reason extends to all natural Things, and enlightened by Revelation advances even to supernatural, so far as to penetrate into the invisible Regions of Bliss and Misery :----It can follow Effects to their Causes ; till through the Chain of second Causes, which are but so many natural Effects dependant each on the foregoing, it ascends up to God himself the great Author of Nature, the first, and, strictly speaking, the only Cause of all Things :--- In short, it is the Soul, which alone of all Creatures upon Earth can trace out its divine Origin, can conceive fome faint Idea of the Infinite Creator, and look into his adorable Perfections.
And as the Soul can discern and demonstrate the Natural, so can it transcribe and imitate the Moral Attributes of God. However low it may lay grovelling now, or how much soever it may be at present polluted, yet is it capable of being renewed after the Image of him, who formed it ; of