is one part of it in which he discovers himself in a most transcen. dent and visible glory.

2. This is that place which is marked out in scripture under the different appellations of Paradise, the third Heaven, the throne of God, and the habitation of his glory. It is here where the glorified body of our Saviour resides, and where all the celestial hierarchies, and innumerable hosts of angels, are represented as perpetually surrounding the seat of God with hallelujahs and hymns of praise. This is that presence of God which some of the divines call his glorious, and others his majestic presence.

3. He is indeed as essentially present in all other places as in this; but it is here where he resides in a sensible magnificence, and in the midst of all those splendours which can effect the imagination of created beings.

It is very remarkable that this opinion of God Almighty's presence in heaven, whether discovered by the light of nature or by a general tradition from our first parents, prevails among all the nations of the world, whatsoever different notions they entertain of the Godhead.

4. If you look into Homer, who is, the most ancient of the Greek writers, you see the supreme power seated in the heavens, and encompassed with inferior deities, among whom the muses are represented as singing incessantly about his throne. Who does not here see the main strokes and outlines of this great truth we are speaking of ?

5. The same doctrine is shadowed out in many other heathen authors though at the same time, like several other revealed truths, dashed and adulterated with a mixture of fable and human inventions But to pass over the notions of the Greeks and Ron mans, those more enlightened parts of the pagan world, we find there is scarce a people among the late discovered nations who are not trained up in an opinion that heaven is the habitation of the divinity whom they worship.

6. Asin Solomon's temple there was the Sanotem Sanctorum, in which a visible glory appeared among the figures of the cherubims, and into which none but the high-priest himself was permitted to enter, after having made an atonement for the sins of the people ; so, if we consider this whol creation as one great temple, there is in it the Holy of Holies, into which the highpriest of our salvation entered, and took his place among angels and archangels, after having made a propitiation for the sins of mankind.

7. With how much skill must the throne of God be erected ? With what glorious designs is that habitation beautified, which is contrived and built by him who inspired Hiram with wisdom?

How great must be the majesty of that place, where the whole art of creation has been employed, and where God has chosen to shew himself in the most magnificent manner ? What must be the architecture of infinite power under the direction of divine wisdom? A spirit cannot but be transported after an ineffable manner with the sight of those objects, which were made to affect him by that being who knows the inward frame of a soul, and how to please and ravish it in all its most 'secret powers and faculties.

8. It is to this majestic presence of God we may apply those beautiful expressions in holy writ: Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. The

light of the sun, and all the glories of the world in which we live, * are but as weak and sickly glimmeriags, or rather darkness itself,

in comparison to those splendours which encompass the throne of God.

9. As the glory of this place is transcendent beyond imagination, so probably is the extent of it. There is light behind light, and glory within glory. How far that .space may reach, in which God thus appears in perfect majesty, we cannot possibly conceive. Though it is not infinite, it may be definite; and though not immeasurable in itself, it may be so with regard to any created eye or imagination. If he has made these lower res gions a matter so inconceivably wide and magnificent for the habitation of mortal and perishable beings how great may we suppose the courts of his house to be, where he makes his residence in a more especial manner, and displays himself in the fulness of his glory, among an innumerable company of angels, and spirits of just men made perfect !

10. This is certain, that our imaginations cannot be raised too high when we think on a place where omnipotence and omniscience have so signally exerted themselves, because that they are able to produce a scene infinitely more great and glorious than we are able to imagine.

11. It is not impossible but at the comsummation of all things, these outward apartments of nature, which are now suited to those beings who inhabit them, may be taken in and added to that glorious place of which I am here speaking; and by that means made a proper habitation for beings who are exempt from mortality, and cleared of their imperfections; for so the scripturės seem to intimate, when it speaks of new heavens and of a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.

12. I have only considered this glorious place with regard to the sight and imagination, though it is highly probable, that our other senses may here likewise enjoy their highest gratifications. There is nothing which more ravishes and transports the soul, than harmony; and we have great reason to believe, from the description of this place in holy scripture, that this is one of the entertainments of it.

13. And if the soul of man can be so wonderfully affected with those strains of music, which human art is capable of producing, how much more will it be raised and elevated by those, in which is exerted the whole power of harmony! The senses are faculties of the human soul, though they cannot be employed during this our vital union, without proper instruments in the body.

14. Why therefore should we exclade the satisfaction of these faculties, which we find by experience are inlets of great pleasure to the soul, from among these entertainments which are to make our happiness hereafter? Why should we suppose that our hearing and seeing will not be gratified by those objects which are most agreeable to them, and which they cannot meet with in these lower regions of nature; objects, " which neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor can it enter into the heart of man to conceive !"

15. “ I knew a man in Christ (says St. Paul, speaking of himself) above fourteen years ago (whether in the body I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell ; God knoweth) such a one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man (whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth) how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not possible for a man to utter.”

16. By this is meant, that what he heard was so infinitely different from any thing which he had heard in this world, that it was impossible to express it in such words as might convey a notion of it to his hearers.

It is very natural for us to take delight in inquiries concerning any foreign country, where we are some time or other to make our abode; and as we all hope to be admitted into this glorious place, it is both a laudable and useful curiosity, to get what information we can of it, while we make use of Revelation for our guide.

17. When these everlasting doors shall be opened to us we may be sure that the pleasure and beauties of this place will infinitely transcend our present hopes and expectations, and that the glorious appearance of the throne of God will rise infinitely beyond whatever we are able to conceive of it. We might here entertain ourselves with many other speculations on this subject, from those several hints which we find of it in the holy scriptures : as whether there may not be different mansions and apartments of glory, to beings of different natures, whether, as they excel one another in perfection, they are not admitted nearer to the throne of the Almighty, and enjoy greater manifestations of his presence.


18. Whether there are not solemn times and occasions, when all the multitude of heaven celebrate the presence of their Maker, in more extraordinary forms of praise and adoration; as Adam, though he had continued in a state of innocence, would, in the opinion of our divines, have kept holy the Sabbath Day, in a more particular nanner than any other of the seven. These, and the like speculations, we may very innocently, indulge so long as we make use of them to inspire us with a desire of becom ing inhabitants of this delightful place.

19. I have in this, and in the two foregoing letters, treated on ; the most serious subject that can employ the mind of man, the omnipresence of the Deity; a subject which, if possible, should never depart from our meditations. We have considered the Divine Being, as he inhabits infinitude as he dwells among his works, as he is present to the mind of man, and as he discovers himself in a more glorious manner among the regions of the blessed. Such a consideration should be kept awake in us at all times, and in all places, and possess our minds with a perpetual awe and reverence.

20. It should be interwoven with all our thoughts and perceptions, and become one with the consciousness of our own being. It is not to be reflected on in the coldness of philosophy, but ought to sink us into the lowest prostration before him, who is so astonishingly great, wonderful and holy.


The present Life to be considered only as it may conduce, to the Happiness of a future one.

SPECTATOR, No. 575. 1. LEWD young fellow seeing an aged hermit go by him

barefoot," Father," says he," you are in a very miserable condition, if there is not another world.” True son, said the hermit, “ but what is thy condition if there is ?" Man is a creature designed for two different states of being, or rather for two different lives. His first life is short and transient; his second permanent and lasting.

2. The question we are all concerned in is this, in which of these two lives is our chief interest to make ourselves happy? or in other words, whether we should endeavour to secure to ourşelves the pleasures and gratifications of a life which is uncertain and precarious, and at its utmost length of a


inconsiderable duration; or to secure to ourselves the pleasures of a life which is fixed and settled, and will never end? Every man upon the first hearing of this question; knows very well which side of it he ought to close with.

3. But however right we are in theory, it is plain that in pracs tice we adhere to the wrong side of the question. We make

provisions for this life as though it were never to have an end, and for the other life as though it were never to have a beginning.

Should a spirit of superior rank, who is a stranger to human nature, accidentally alight upon the earth, and take a survey of its inhabitants, what would his notions of us be ?

4. Would not he think that we are a species of beings made for quite different ends and purposes than what we really are ? Must not he imagine that we were placed in this world to get riches and honours ? Would not he think that it was our duty to toil after wealth, and station, and title ? Nay, would not he believe we were forbidden poverty, by threats of eternal punishment, and enjoined to pursue our pleasure under pain of damnation? He would certainly imagine that we were influenced by a scheme of duties quite opposite to those which are indeed prescribed to us.

5. And truly, according to such an imagination, he must conclude that we are a species of the most obedient creatures in the universe; that we are constant to our duty; and that we keep a steady eye on the end for which we were sent hither.

But how great would be his astonishment, when he learned that we were beings not designed to exist in this world above three-score and ten years, and that the greatest part of this busy species fall short even of that edge ?

6. How would he be lost in horror and admiration, when he should know that this set of creatures, who lay out all their endeavours for this life, which scarce deserves the name of existence, when I say, he should know that this set of creatures are to exist to all eternity in another life, for which they make no preparations ?

7. Nothing can be a greater disgrace to reason than that men, who are persuaded of these two different states of being, should be perpetually employed in providing for a life of three-score and ten years, and neglecting to make provisions for that, which, after myriads of years, will be still new, and still beginning; especially when we consider that our endeavours for making ourselves great, or rich, or honourable, or whatever else we place our happiness in, may, after all, prove unsuccessful ; whereas, if we constantly and sincerely endeavour to make ourselves happy in the other life, we are sure that our endeavours will succeed, and that we shall not be disappointed of our hope.“

3. The following question is started by one of the school-men. Supposing the whole body of the earth were a great ball or mass of the finest sand, and that a single grain or particle of this sand should be annihilated every thousand years. Supposing then that you had it in your choice to be happy all the while this prodigious mass of sand was consuming by this slow method till there

« ForrigeFortsett »