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independent of all other created ones, whether material or spiritual. The production of such an existence can be no other than the immediate and entire work of God. Created beings cannot cooperate with the creator in the work of creation. That work is all the Lord's, as it ever has been. Souls, therefore, are not derived from each other, or framed by the instrumentality of ancestors, but are created simple, entire, and unchanging in their essences by the immediate power of God. The time of the creation of souls by God, corresponds to the time in which their material dwellings are fitted to receive them. They are not selected out of a preexisting, unconscious spiritual mass, but are first formed when an opportunity is afforded for the commencement of their agency, and a material lodgment is provided for them. Being formed, they begin the exercise and development of their powers, both voluntary and involuntary. They begin, to continue through eternal ages, a course of honor or infamy. The construction of an appropriate material organization is the occasion, but not the cause, of the existence of a soul destined to occupy it. That cause is nothing less than a creative act of God. In conformity with this sentiment, God is styled the Father of Spirits. Zecb. xii. 1; Heb. xii. 9. Men are fathers in respect to the bodies of their descendants, but God is the sole father of spirits. But though souls have no natural relation to each other, they have important social and moral ones, in which their interests are deeply implicated. These extend to all men, and all moral beings with which we are permitted to hold jotercourse. They are not however the same in respect to all, but widely different. The relations of parent and child, brother and sister, companion and friend, subject and sovereign, etc., are of this description. Considered in respect to the soul, they are entirely of a social and moral character, and are treated as such in the word of God. Many of them are peculiar to the present life, result from the circumstances in which it is commenced and continue ed, and will cease whenever those circumstances shall be essentially altered or modified.
The relation of the soul to the material universe. The material universe is a vast and glorious structure. The earth, with its extended continents and oceans, its lofty mountains and deep ravines, is but a speck in comparison even with the visible creation. To a mind that could view all material objects within the circumference to which human vision extends, in their true magnitudes and proportions, this earth would appear like a single particle of dust amid the extended fields of a continent, or like a grain of sand among the innumerable multitudes that line the sea shore.
The sun with his attendant train of revolving spheres, is but one of a countless multitude of suns which gleam upon us from afar with diminished brightness, but with unrivaled glory. They are insignificant only in appearance, distance immeasurable having robbed them of the profusion of their beams, but in reality they are of vast extent, and of brightness unsurpassed. Suns and planets are sublime, considered merely as insulated objects called into being by the power of the Almighty. But when considered in their mutual relations to each other, as organized into stupendous systems, existing, moving, and operating harmoniously together, in the production of the stupendous effects which are daily developed before our eyes; that which was before sublime becomes invested with a still higher sublimity, and the solitary glory of the noblest single object is annihilated by the full tide of splendor which bursts upon us from the one vast structure to which it belongs. Not only do the general arrangements of the universe awaken interest in the observing mind; the same is true in respect to those which are particular. The internal structure of minerals, vegetables, and animals on the earth, and their mutual relations show them to belong to one extensive and varied system of things. The most remote and general agencies are often concerned in the most minute and limited changes; that of the sun and of the revolutions of the earth for example, with the phenomena of vegetation, animal life, the winds, etc. etc.
But to what purpose is all this profusion and adjustment of material beings? For what high end does the sun shine, and the earth revolve? For what general and worthy purpose are the thousand agencies of the visible creation unceasingly at work? Is the material universe formed for itself, or for the ultimate use of a bigher order of beings? This question is easily answered in the light which is reflected upon it by the soul. Let the material universe exist alone, without a single created spirit to observe and enjoy its existence and operation, and it would be difficult to conceive of any useful end to be answered by it. But with souls constituted and located as ours are, material objects do not exist in vain; their uses are obvious and important. The relation of the universe to the soul is in some respects peculiar and mysterious; but to a certain extent it is sufficiently obvious to be entitled to a place amongst the items of our most assured knowledge.
1. The material universe is the soul's place of residence. Man during this life is confined to the earth. He cannot leave it. Still less can he leave the extended system of material being which surrounds him on every side. Judging from analogy, we have reason to believe, that the soul will be securely lodged in some part of the material creation after death. This is not only probable as a hypothesis suggested by analogy, but the contrary is so improbable, even on philosophical_grounds, as to be scarcely distinguishable from the absurd. The scriptures favor the hypothesis of a material heaven and hell. The doctrine of the
resurrection requires it. No part of the christian system is incompatible with it. The material universe, therefore, sustains to the soul the relation of a place of residence, circumscribed by impassable limits.
2. Matter is subservient 10 mind. This is true of the body, the earth, and the numerous material objects connected with it. Every part of the visible creation, even that which is most remote, sustains this relation to the human soul.' The earth contributes of its substance to the nutriment and clothing of our bodies, and thus subserves the comfort and welfare of our souls. Our relation to it as its tenants, leads in various ways, to the development and exercise of the mental faculties. Perception, reason, affection, and will are kept constantly at work by it. Whatever can become an object of knowledge must by that means exert some influence on our mental faculties, and may exert a salutary one. The mind exercises a lordship over surrounding material objects. It is allowed to regard them as the instruments of its activity and happiness. When rightly improved they obviously are of this character. Mind is not made for matter, but matter for mind. Mind is not controlled by matter or material influences, but subordinates to its own good all known material things.
The history of creation and providence, as given by the Holy Spirit, the infallible witness, accords with the voice of reason in exalting the spiritual above the material, and in representing man as standing under God at the head of the material creation. Viewed in this light, how deeply interesting does the material universe appear! How dignified is the character and position of the human soul! The earth is its platform, the heavens its present canopy, all material objects from the immeasurable and the remote, to the diminutive and near, the instruments of its wonderful activity, and as far as rightly improved, of its happiness. How much has such a spirit, so constituted and so furnished with facilities for the effective and profitable exercise of its powers, to be thankful for! Surely, as creatures, we are the objects of inconceivable beneficence from God, but as redeemed creatures, our debt is truly infinite. How invaluable the soul! “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
ART. V.-CHRISTIAN INTERCOURSE. Hints Designed to Regulate the Intercourse of Christians. By William B.
SPrague, D. D. Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Albany. With a recommendatory preface, by W. Urwick, D. D. Second edition. New-York. D. Appleton, & Co. pp. 307.
The subject of this volume is one of great importance, and the niche which the work was designed to fill, has remained too long
unoccupied. The demand for a second edition, may doubtless be supposed to indicate a disposition in the christian community to consider the subject, and it will be a source of gratification to the author, to believe that something may be done through his instrumentality, towards rendering the intercourse of christians, more christian-like and useful.
The “ Hints” of Dr. Sprague, are very naturally and happily divided into two parts :--the first, treating of the Intercourse of Christians with each other,"—and the second, of the "Intercourse of Christians with the world.” As to space, the two parts are nearly equal, although the first part is subdivided into twelve chapters, while in the second there are only half that number. The titles of these chapters are in the main judiciously selected, tastefully expressed, and logically arranged. The author has, however, in our view, in one instance, either inadvertantly or out of regard to the symmetry or sound of the table of contents, introduced a chapter representing a very slight distinction. We refer to the 6th chapter as following the 5th. In running over the outline, the inquiry involuntarily arose, what can be said under the head of " opportunities for christian intercourse,” which might not have been just as well said under the head of occasions of christian intercourse?” And after reading the two chapters, our mind was not entirely relieved from its perplexity, by attempting to remember things as distinct and different, which are exactly or very nearly alike.
With this plan of the work before us, instead of proceeding to furnish a more minute account of its contents, in manner and form, we shall present to our readers several trains of thought just as they arose in our mind on reading the book.
1. We advert then to the subject of haste in the preparation and publication of books. We are of opinion, that haste in preparing books for the church, at the present day, can hardly be too much deprecated.
Io the preface to the first edition, which by the by is done up in the usual style of despatch, we are informed, that the subject, or the thought of writing a book upon it, was suggested by an indifferent incident; and it is strongly intimated, that we are indebted for the early appearance of the work, to the author's tact in writing. “ The reader will scarcely need be informed, that it has been prepared in great haste," is an acknowledgment which we think peculiarly unfortunate; for we regard that haste which allows not of maturity in deliberation, and discrimination in judgment, as one of the most prominent and hurtful features in that system of "new measures,” against which Dr. Sprague has so stoutly, and with such an array of authorities contended in his Lectures on Revivals, and in some more recent publications. Although “ the
author is not disposed to urge this as an apology for its imperfections,” it is, we think, the cause of the principal defects which an intelligent or critical reader may find in the work. Since, too, the cause is one which a mind of slender powers and attainments might remove, we intend to dwell on the point long enough to make it evident, that we do not regard the effects with all the complacency which we should feel towards more unavoidable offenses.
It is usually the misfortune of haste, to omit particulars which are essential to the completeness of its productions, to substitute diffuseness, and a passing consideration of important topics, for conclusive argumentation, to take positions which are untenable, to introduce matter which is foreign to the main design, -and to make admissions which more thought would discover to be undecessary. There is no remedy for these evils in a book, but the pruning or enlargement of a second edition, or the substitution of an entirely new work. But these remedies will fail to reach the evil, because the defective work will still maintain its ground, either on the shelves of the bookseller, or in the family library. Thus it sometimes happens, that the unadvised publication of a basty production entirely prevents, or greatly retards the appearance of something more like a standard work on the same subject. Or if the more valuable work is brought forward, its predecessor, like an unworthy office-holder, stands directly in the way, and the simple fact which has contributed to its perfection,—that it appears a little later in the day,—will prevent its being read by a portion of the reading community. For who that has gone half through the year with a meager almanac, will think, at that late hour, of treating himself to a new and more expensive one?
Hardly any thinking person can have failed to observe, that there is a deteriorating process going forward in the two grand means by which the church sustains herself, and propagates her doctrines in this world. The exercises, or exhibitions of the pulpit, are fast sinking to the common talk of the conference room, and the religious press turns off its books, which are to remain and make a more lasting impression upon the religious community, with as little ceremony as if they were the weekly sheets of an Observer-the voice of an Evangelista Chronicle-an Intelligencer, Recorder, or Telegraph. Unless we entirely mistake the aspect of our times, there is a strong tendency to the superficial and showy parts of religion. There is a more general call for extemporaneous preaching, than has ever before been known in the land of the puritans; and a more common disposition among ministers to gratify the prevailing taste for immediate effect. If the books which are to supply the church with reading are to fall under the same influence, and are to be written extemporaneously, what ground is there to hope that the character