Address to the Reader
The soul of man, which is at once both his nearest and dearest property or possession, is perhaps If considered and understood, as to its real essence, qualities and character, than any other property or possession belonging to him. Indeed, it appears questionable (if we are to be guided by the authority of strict and accurate definition respecting the precise meaning of words) whether it can be asserted, with any degree of truth, that any other property does belong to him. For, can that, with any show of reason, be called man's property which he is to quit for ever, immediately on his removal from this world to another ? Is not the soul, therefore, his single exclusive possession, as being that alone which he can carry with him beyond the grave ? Of consequence, is not the soul a possession which merits his attention, his concern, and his daily investigation of its astonishing powers and capacities, infinitely above every other?
It has been my design, in the following Letters, to give a satisfactory answer to these questions, by attempting to prove, so far as the subject will admit of proof, that the human soul is not a mere vapour, ether, or fire as some writers suppose which is destitute of form and substance, and in possession of an independent life of its own; but that, on the contrary, it is both a substance and form, created to receive life continually from its great Creator, who is, and ever must be, the sole Fountain of all Life, whether it be angelic, human, animal, or vegetative.
From this view of the living principle by which man is animated, as being not in itself a fountain, but only perpetual stream from a Divine source above and within itself, an entirely new light is thrown on the philosophy of the parentage, birth, and growth of the human soul; whilst at the same time a satisfactory solution is given of the riddle (otherwise inexplicable), of its astonishing capacities and operations; and especially of that preeminent and distinguished faculty by which it is enabled, through the power of evangelical faith and love, to ascend to and conjoin itself with its Maker in an eternal bond of the nearest and most endearing relationship! From the same consideration, too, is pointed out the high reasonableness of some of the most important duties inculcated in the Gospel, such as humility, self-denial, repentance, and faith in the internal operation of a divine spirit in the soul of man, for the double purpose of purification and regeneration; since these duties are evidently calculated to recall man to the humble and grateful acknowledgment of his continual dependance on his Heavenly Father, not only for his life in general, but for all its particular capacities, powers, and enjoyments; and in so doing, to place him in the fittest state to receive all that fulness of bliss which that Heavenly Father is ever eager to communicate to all His returning, penitent children.
Such, dear Reader, is the outline of the contents of the following Letters; to which I have only to add my devout prayer, that they may be read with all that serious attention which the subject demands, and may thus be instrumental in opening a door in your mind for the admission of that holiness, wisdom, and happiness, the promotion of which is the ardent wish of
Your affectionate friend,
J. CLOWES. April 16th, 1825.