FOR THE CHURCHES COMPOSlNG THE MIAMl A8SOCIATION
Dear Brethren: - We propose to address you at this time upon the worth of the soul. The subject is of high importance and we hope cannot be deemed unworthy of yonr notice.
The value of tbe SOUL is inexpressible. It has in its constitution a durability parallel with Eternity and to develope its greatness Eternity is requisite. Tbe author of the soul and of the world knew the value of both. And it is HE who asks; "what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul! or what shall a man give in exchange for his tool." The thought is boundless - the worth of the soul inestimable. The subject on which we are entering overwhelms us in the immensity of its greatness. All that we can do is to commence at some point and proceed on until it transcends the grasp of our feeble powers.
In appreciating the value of the soul there is no one view that more assists the feebleness of our understanding or carries to a higher point the conceptions of the mind than the eternity of its duration - a duration to which we conceive no end. Should the smallest particle of which this mighty globe is composed be annihilated every million of ages, a period would come when its place would be an immense blank; but that period, inconceivable as it may be, is nothing in comparison with the soul's duration. Nay, should suns and systems, scattered through immensity, and rising in gradation to the throne of heaven, in like manner be destroyed one after another, the soul would witness the destruction of all and the measure of its duration be unimpaired. Here the imagination gives way, and tbe powers of the mind sink under the contemplation of the subject, 'ere it has advanced a step in tracing the soul in its endless excursions. The day of its duration cannot be told. It is a "morn without eve - a race without a goal." However this view of the eternal existence of the soul, may enhance, in our estimation, its value; yet there are others still more overpowering. The soul is not only endless in its duration; but infinite in its progresiion and susceptible enlargement. What shall we say of man's capacity to improve, when we consider the arts and sciences; the high state of perfection to which they are carried, their wide diffusion in the world; all owing their origin, improvement and circulation to the invention of the human mind. The earth, under the skilful hand of man, every where, produces the necessaries and luxuries of life. By him towns and cities are erected - national works constructed, and the extensive markets of the world crowded with the products of his skill and labor. He climbs the towering billows
in the pursuit of commerce, makes the winds his servants, and draws harmlessly at his feet the thunderbolts of heaven. By one invention he is enabled to see thousands of animated being sporting in the smallest drop of water; while, by another, he looks into the regions above and counts millions of worlds which roll beyond the reach of natural vision.
To this degree of improvement the mind is capable of arriving in a very few years under all the consequences of an imperfect state. But who among men or angels, can anticipate the god-like splendor of its acquirements when transplanted into that salubrious clime, the mansion of the righteous; sedulously engaged through all eternity unfolding the mysteries of divine knowledge. When we consider its wonderful susceptibility of feeling either happiness or misery, joy or grief; knowing too, that it must "Live through all life, extend through all extent" - giving us access to the highest source of enjoyment or plunging us into the deepest state of suffering we have some faint conception of its value. To it, in the eternity of God, are opened .the highest fountains of bliss. No prospect is spread out here in the boundless regions of glory which it will not survey - no brilliant beams of light bursting from the throne of the Eternal, which it will not feel. Here charms forever new, will pour upon it in endless succession. No one is capable of appreciating the pleasure derived to man, through the organs of sensation; by which the mind may enter five different worlds of enjoyment - that of taste, smell, feeling, sound and vision. Into these abodes, crowded with endless enjoyment, the mind enters only through the senses. Who, then, can set a value upon these organs of sensation! Could any one be induced to part with the eye and thereby shut from his mind the world of vision, or with the Ear and feast his soul no more with the melody of sound? Then what must be the value of that faculty of his nature which admits him to the boundless empire of Jehovah. Is this the principle about which mortals think with indifference! with which thousands are sporting! the principle which in immortal wedlock unites them to eternity and makes heaven, with all its sublime joys, or hell, with all its direful horrors, their portion forever!!!
But if there is a consideration which in connection with the eternity of its duration, above all others, enhances the value of the soul, it is the price paid for its redemption. When all the oblations which for centuries had smoked on Jewish Altars - when rivers of sacrifical blood had flowed - when the efforts of men and angels had failed to wash out the stain of sin and raise the soul to a perpetuity of bliss; the Son of God left the glory of his Father, left the joys of heaven - took upon him the nature of man and offered himself a sacrifice for its redemption. What then can be its value? or for what
shall we give it in exchange? It was Jesus the Son of God, whom angels adore that laid down his precious life for its ransom. Ask him who descended from amidst thrones and dominions - ask the reeking cross on which his body hung - ask the Jewish Temple that rent her veil - ask the darkened universe which at mid-day put on sackcloth and from the portals of the east and west hung out her mantle of mourning; - Ask the angels and the risen dead, why Jesus died! why the blood of immaculate innocence was shed, and they all, as with undying voices respond, "the redemption of the soul is the cause." Ask the angels why they descended from their mansions of glory and rolled back the stone from the sepulchre - ask the grim monster death why he gave up his victim - ask the Father who owned and received him why he now hears his entercession in his court of inflexible justice; and with one voice they all respond, "because the salvation of the soul is precious." Ask the Holy Spirit why it descends. Ask prophets and inspired apostles why they sufferred persecution of men and "counted not their lives dear unto them:" ask all the faithful heralds ol the cross why they now proclaim the everlasting gospel and they all responsive say "because the soul is precious." Ask Eternal Wisdom why the glorious heavens were fitted up; why angels surround the dazling throne; the answer is "this is the habitation of the soul," these the ministering spirits sent forth to minister unto the heirs of salvation; and when time shall have been long forgotten and eternity completed many cycles around the throne, ask the blissful millions why with ecstacies of unearthly joy they mingle in the melody of heaven in "ascribing glory to God forever and ever" they all exclaim "the salvation of the soul is still precious."
Dear Brethren; do you believe that souls are precious; - do you feel an interest in their eternal welfare? we exhort you then by all that is sacred in the commands of God; by all that is valuable in the soul that never dies, by all that is glorious in heaven or degrading in hell to awake speedily to the duties of your high calling: be up and doing whilst the day lasts.
Ministers of the Gospel; we call upon you by all that is solemn in the ministerial vocation to be instant in season and out of season to rebuke and exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. When you enter the crowded assembly think of God, think of heaven, in the worth of souls and of Eternity into which you must all soon enter. Think of Jesus, think of his humiliation in the manger, of his agony in the garden, of his suffering on the cross. Think of his dying groans and his dying prayer and then think of precious souls for whom all this was endured; can yon then be cold and speculative? Can ministers of the gospel stand upon the verge of eternity; survey the glories of heaven, the dying world, the bleeding Jesus and yet
show no emotions? Brethren! are souls precious and are not thousands going daily into eternity, who, if unprepared must suffer unquenchable flames! O horrid thought! O awful spectacle! you contemplate this subject and not enquire what more can be done? Has not Jehovah said he will hear our prayers - that he will regard our fervent supplications? Has he not said "he will be s[ought] unto by the house of Israel." Has he not commanded us repeatedly to call upon his holy name. Then let us cry mightily unto him that he may bow the heavens and come down. Let us come humbly unto a throne of Grace; let us come statedly to the house of prayer - let us entreat the Lord until he pour out a blessing upon us.
Brethren, be vigilant; let no interest of a worldly nature hinder your work and labor of love. Your course is onward and will be soon finished; a day or two and your work is done; your bodies will be mouldering in the carnal house of all living, your spirits translated to God. Would you go down to the grave in peace, and leave the world and weeping friends with joy; would you meet the judge with sweet serenity of soul; then discharge your duty to your fellow immortals. Brethren, we are deeply concerned for you. Enemies are becoming numerous and bold; errors are pouring like a flood. "Damnable heresies, divers and strange doctrines, foolish and untaught questions" are endeavoring to make the most among yon; but we fervently pray, that from all these you might be delivered. And may the fire that burns on heaven's altar descend upon you; may its hallowed flame spread from the pulpit to the congregations, and may every prayer meeting; every assembly of the saints; every fireside conversation, to the farthest boundaries bring union, feel its heavenly influence. And as the "night is far spent and the day is at hand, let as, therefore, cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light and walk henceforth as citizens of the day." May you be kept by the power of God, until you shall all meet in that grand association in heaven, where you mingle with "the general assembly and church of the first born, whose names are written in the book of life," "in ascribing glory and honor and power and dominion to him who hath loved us and hath washed us in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto him and his Father forever and ever. Amen."
[From Miami Baptist Association Minutes, 1831. Document from the Miami Baptist Association Office, Cincinnati. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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