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he will not resign such a Charge to them- SERM. selves, to the Guidance of their own Reason; VIII. tho' one might think, their natural Powers were sufficient to guard them from those Rocks and Shelves, to which they are obnoxious in passing through the dangerous Ocean of the World.
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But he better knows, how much they need his divine Afiftance; and therefore never leaves them nor forfakes them, till they renounce, and do Despite to him. He never Numbereth nor seepeth; but is continually watching over them for their Good, by vạ. rious Ways warning them of any Evil, which threatens them, and assisting them against the Affaults of those malicious Spirits, who range up and down in the Earth, seeking whom they may seduce.
And in all such Conflicts, unless our Souls cowardly and wilfully draw back, their great Supporter renders them more than Conquerors. And when, as many times they do, they yield themselves Captives to the Enemies of their Salvation, yet does he not presently give them up for lost; but he pursues them eagerly, in order to their Rescue --follows them with his Motions and Impor
Serm. tunities, and never desists, till he has recoVIII. vered them out of the Snare of the Devil,
or found them so absolutely in Love with their Chains, as not in the least to second his gracious Efforts for their Deliverance. When he finds them so stupidly fond of Death and Destruction, he like a grieved Friend leaves them with Reluctance to their sad Choice and deplorable Fate.
AFTER all this, and much more that he has done, can we suppose, the Holy Ghost would be so diligent in his Ministry, for Souls,---would take such Pains to save them,-would continue to exercise his Care over them on Earth, whilst the Son intercedes for them in Heaven; if he did not know afsuredly that they were of an exceeding high Value ?
It would be a lessening of the Argument I have been upon, to urge here that Esteem and Concern, which the Angels in heavenly Places entertain for their Fellow-creatures in this inferior World, of like spiritual Nature with themselves; since the affectionate Regards of the Deity are infinitely more honourable, as well as beneficial, than those of the chiefest created Beings: And since besides
they are Servants of his that do his Pleasure, Serm. all ministring Spirits fent forth to minister for VII. them who fall be Heirs of Salvation (k). So that whatever kind Offices they do us, are ultimately to be resolved into the Love and Favour of our common Lord and Master, and to him must the Glory be ascribed,
I SHALL therefore rather proceed to this awakening Consideration, that the Loss of the Soul is, what our Saviour declares it to be, irreparable.
But can an immaterial Substance be disa. solved, or an immortal Being perish? Either of these Points must not be affirmed. No, by the Loss of the Soul we are not to understand its strict and proper Destruction, as though it could be wiped out of the Book of Nature, or cease to have any more Existence in the Universe. The Deprivation it is capable of undergoing, is of its Happiness, not of its Essence, and such amazing Injury and Damage may it receive, as to make even Annihilation itself (however dread. ful the Thought) to be coveted as a Blessing.
This (k) Heb. i. 14.
from those dreadful Törments, the Soul is
A Specimen hereof is fometimes afforded at present in the Agonies of despairing Perfons ; who labouring under no visible Indifposition of Body are however seized with such an inconceivable Anguish of Mind, as no corporeal Pains can bear any Proportion to.
And if the Soul is in this World liable to feel the wrathful Resentments of the Almighty, what shall hinder it from having as
quick, or probably a much quicker Sense of Serm. them in that which is to come?
Many, indeed, are now by sensual Mirth and vicious Indulgences diverted from reflecting on their Actions, and frequently lull themselves asleep with false and deceitful Hopes, crying, Peace, Peace to their Souls, when there can be no Peace, so long as their Offences against God, their Neighbours and themselves are so many. But in another State Things will appear in their proper Dress and genuine Light : None shall then be able to impose on themselves, much less on him, from whose Sight there is no Darkness nor Shadow of Death, which can hide the Workers of Iniquity. They will then be exposed to their own furious Thoughts, and nothing shall they have to still the Clamours of their guilty Minds : As Thought is the inseparable essențial Property of the Soul, the self-condemned Sinners will be always under the Lash of Conscience, representing continually to their View those Crimes, which have separated between God and them, and set an invincible Bar between them and Happiness: Their Pera ceptions too will be much clearer than at present, and their Convictions more sharp T4