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soul, which is the animal or
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CHAP. IL d the OU SO The several branches of self knowledge : We must kndiv ୦୧୬
what sort of creatures we are, and what we shalt beyo as to
THAT we may have a more distinct and orderly view of this subject, I shall here consider the several branches of self knowledge; or
some of the chief particulars wherein it consists. ht.
Whereby, perhaps, it will appear to be a more con i
copious and comprehensive science than we eart imagine. And,
I. To know ourselves, is to know and serinił
ously consider what sort of creatures. we are, and what we shall be. !' te caigos
1. What we are. But
Man is a complex being, trimeres upostasis, a tripartate person ; or a compound creature made up of three distinct parts, viz. the body, which is the earthly or mortal part of him ; the the spirit or mind, which is the rational and immortal part. Each of these three parts have their respective offices assigned them. And a man then acts becoming himself, when he keeps them employed in their proper functions, and preserves their natural subordination. But it is not enough to know this merely as a point of speculation ; we must pursue and revolve the thought, and urge the consideration to all the purposes of a practical self acquaintance.
We are not all body, nor mere animal creatures. We find we have a more noble nature than the inanimate or brutal part of the creation. We can not only move and act freely, but we observe in ourselves a capacity of reflection, study, and forecast, and various mental operations, which irrational animals discover no symptoms of. Our souls, therefore, must be of a more excellent nature than theirs; and from the power of thought, with which they are endowed, they are proved to be immaterial substances. And consequently in their own nature capable of immortality. And that they are actually immortal, or will never die, the sacred scriptures do abundantly testify. Let us then hereupon seriously recollect ourselves in the following soliloquy :
O my soul, look back but a few years, and thou wast nothing ! And how didst thou spring out of that nothing ? thou couldst not make thyself. That is quite impossible. Most certain it is, that that almighty, self-existent, and eternal Power, which made the world, made thee also out of nothing ; called thee into being; when thou wast not; gave thee these reasoning and reflecting faculties, which thou art now employing in searching out the end and happiness of thy nature. It was He, O my soul, that made thee intelligent and immortal
. It was He that placed thee in this body, as in a prison, where thy capacities are cramped, thy desires debased, and thy liberty lost. It was
He that sent thee into this world, which by all circumstances appears to be a state of short dism ciplineand trial And wherefore did he place thee here, when he might have made thee a more free, unconfined, and happy spirit ? But check that thought ; it looks like a too presumptuous curiositý. 1. A more needful and important inquiry is-What did he place thee here for? And what doth he expect from thee whilst thou art here ? 'What part hath he allotted me to act on the stage of human life, where He, angels, and men are spectators of my behaviour? The part he hath given me to act here is, doubt less, a very important one ; because it is for eternity. And what is it but to live up to the dignity of
rational and intellectual nature; and as becomes a creature born for immortal ity ?
• And tell me, O my soul, (for as I am now about to cultivate a better acquaintance with thee, to whom I have been too long a stranger, I must try thee, and put many a close question to thee) tell me, I say, whilst thou confinest thy desires to sensual gratifications, wherein dost thou differ from the beasts that perish ? Captivated by bodily appetites, dost thou not act beneath thyself ? Dost thou not put thyself upon a level with the lower class of beings, which were made to serve thee, offer an indignity to thyself, and despise the work of thy Maker's hands? Oh, remember thy heavenly extract ! remember thou art a spirit! Check
then the solicitations of the flesh; and dare to do nothing that may diminish thy native excellence, dishonour thy high original, or degrade thy noble natyre. But let me still urge
it Consider, I say,
my soul, that thou art an immortal spirit. Thý body dies; but thou, thou must live forever, and thine eternity will take its tincture from the manner of thy behaviour, and the habits thou contractest, during this thy short copartnership with flesh and blood. Oh! do nothing now, but what thou mayest with pleasure look back upon a million of ages hence. For know, O my soul, that thy selfconsciousness and reflecting faculties will not leave thee with thy body ; but will follow thee after death, and be the instrument of unspeakable pleasure or torment to thee in that separate state of existence.
2. In order to a full acquaintance with ourselves, we must endeavour to know not only what we are, but what we shall be.
And Oh ! what different creatures shall we soon be, from what we now are ! Let us look forwards, then, and frequently glance our thoughts towards death ; though they cannot penetrate the darkness of that passage, or reach the state behind it. That lies veiled from the eyes of our mind ; and the great God hath not thought fit to throw so much light upon it, as to satisfy the anxious and inquisitive desires the soul hath to know it. However, let us make the best use we can of that little light which
scripture and reason have let in
this dark and important subject.
Compose thy thoughts, O my soul, and imagine how it will fare with thee, when thou goest a naked, unembodied spirit into a world, an unknown world of spirits, with all thy selfconsciousness about thee, where no material object shall strike thine eye ; and where thy dear partner and companion, the body, cannot come nigh thee; but where, without it, thou wilt be sensible of the most noble satisfactions, or the most exquisite pains. Embarked in death, thy passage will be dark ; and the shore on which it will land thee, altogether strange and unknown. - It doth not yet appear what we shall be.'
That revelation, which God hath been pleased to make of his will to mankind, was designed rather to fit us for the future happiness, and direct our way to it, than open to us the particular glories of it; or distinctly show us what it is. This it hath left still very much a mystery ; to check our too curious inquiries into the nature of it, and to bend our thoughts more intently to that which more concerns us, viz. an habitual preparation for it. And what that is, we cannot be ignorant, if we believe either our bible or our reason.
For both these assure us, that that which makes us like to God, is the only thing that can fit us for the enjoyment of him." Here then let us hold. Let our great concern be to be holy as he is holy. And then, then