Графични страници
PDF файл

ART. XVI. Elay on the Happiness of the Life to come. Small

Svo. 35. 6. Crutwell, Bath; Cadell, London. IT is with fone degree of trepidation, that serious men

take up a work upon a subject like the present, fo difficult to handle judiciously, fo dangerous to handle indisi reetly; so likely to be deformed by the touches of enthusiaitic or licentious fancy; and so much better left untouched, than treated with the flightelt impropriety; which, for one whom it persuades to any useful end, will give cause for disgult, perhaps for mockery, tu numbers. We are happy to perceive that in the work before us no apprehensions of this kind are justified. The whole is rational and fcriptural, and tends to exercise the thoughts of those who read it, in a manner no lfs profitable than delightful. As the original work of Monfieur de Villette, from which this essay is professedly extracted, has not fallen into our hands, we cannot undertake the task of comparison ; but if it be, as we suspect from the above-cited expression, much more bulky than its offspring, we cannot but coinmend the judgment with which a complete body, so fair and wellproportioned, has been composed out of diffected

parts. The only postulate affumed, as the foundation for this essay, is drawn chiefly from the evangelical doctrine of the resurrecţion of the body; from which, as well as from other intimations in the gospel, it is presumed, “ that we shall possess in heaven our present faculties, and enjoy many of our present pleasures, though improved and refined beyond all human conception.” Page iii. Such is the ground-work of ihe essay, and its object is thus fatisfactorily explained.

• To familiarize the joys of heaven to our imagination, without degrading them by too close a comparison with our present pleasures ;-to place them in such a point of view, as to warm the heart without dazzling the understanding ;-to represent our occupations in the celestial abodes, as holding such affinity with our earthly pursuits, that, in order to be admitted to the privileges of the former, we must observe the stricteft rectitude in the objects of the latter ; to direct our views in

every event beyond the narrow bounds of time, to a happy eternity, where that which is in part Thall be swallowed up in that which is perfect ;—these are the views of the Translator, as they evidently were those of the Author.” Pref, p. vi, • The pleasures we are taught to look for in an heavenly state, are properly distributed under two general heads ; 1. The pleafures of knowledge, and 2. Those of sentiment. Under the first divifion are stated the impediments which in our present Itate obstruct our knowledge, and the imperfections which un


der the most favourable circumstances still attend it, notwithKanding the desire of gaining it is one of the most active of our natural faculties. The fuperiority of the pleasures to arise hereafter from this fource, is therefore easily explained by the mere removal of those known imperfections. All this is elegantly as well as clearly thown:

“ Those who fail upon the ocean, fome leagues from land, sec only the coasts. Those who have the cleareft eyes, with the best infruments, discern in this confused landscape only some objects, which are lost to others, and which itrongly excite curiosity. Night comes on and veils the prospect from their fight. During their sleep the vessel approaches the port, and at fun-rise casts anchor. The land; a thousand beautiful and magnificent obj Ets present themselves on every side, infinitely excelling all which the distant view had induced them to imagine.

“ Thus we shall enjoy in heaven, to a degree beyond all conception, the pleasures of novelty and surprise, of finding our curiohty satisfied, or at least ourselves provided with means to enable us to fatisty it: for if we were to suppose that God would display to us at once, all which we hope to know through eternity, this would be, according to my ideas, to suppose that he would rob our knowledge of one of its greatest charms.

op In proportion as the truths we are to learn fall become more difficult to comprehend, we sha'l doubtless acquire talents adapted to them; and thus we shall go on from strengti to strength, with rez gard to the pleasure of acquiring and poffeffing knowledge, as in every respect we lhall rise from glory to glory.

" The studies requisite to advance in this manner will not be opprefsive labours. The assistance which may be necessary to us, an infinite number of beings more intelligent than ourlelves, and full of celestial goodness, will be eager to offer. If they are now " minif

tering spirits, fent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of ç salvation,” will they not then rejoice to associate with us, when purified from the corruptions of mortal ty, we shall be as the an

gels which are in heåven " Our own efforts, provided they do not fatigue us, contribute much to our satisfaction. Our exertions being thus the fource of our pleasure, nothing will discourage us ; for can we fail to have a ftédfast hope of success? Upon what could a fear of disappointment be founded? Whatever then may be the length of the attentions requifite to attain to a certain point, the hope, or rather affurance of success, will support, animate, and fill us with joy,

“ Our progress, always equal to our faculties, and not retarded by involuntary interruptions, will be great and rapid. In a world where we shall be freed from all the cares which are here requisite for our subsistence, our clothing, cur lodging; where we shall sleep no more; where “ there shall be no more sorrow, nor crying, nor “pain ;" where all, far from molefting us, or deranging our plans of Kudy, will favour them; it is evident that we must have undisturbed Jeilure to execute them.”


The second head of the Pleasures of Sentiment, affords more {ubject for discussion; and occupies the 2d, 3d, and 4th parts of the effay. Among these are numerated, gratitude and fove to God; the recollections of his past goodness to us ; the fetrofpect of past evils, and the expectation of increasing good; the absence of all tormenting paflions, and of all dangerous temptations; the delight of feeing others happy ; and the happiness of being beloved and elteemed by multitudes, all amiable themselves, all estimable; the revival of ancient friendihips, and the cultivation of new, by no means incompatible with the general love prevailing in that happy state ; the internal sentiments of self-approbation, with the anticipation of its everlasting continuance ; the feeling of perfect fecurity from all possibility of misfortune. These and other topics, intimately connected with them, are well arranged and sensibly handled, in a manner very animating, and very useful. The recapitulation of the whole in the conclusion, is executed so well, that we Thall doubtless benefit, as well as gratify our readers, by giving it at large.

In heaven, our glorified bodies will be no longer subject to infirmity or decay : all positive evil will cease. Our faculties, being perfected to a degree of which we can at present form no idea, will bring to the soul an endless variety of delightful emotions. In the enjoyment of eternal youth and health, endued perhaps with modes of perception, at present as incomprehensible to us as are the pleasures of vision to a man born blind, our senses will no longer be at variance with our reason: the corruptible body will no more press down the soul, but will be the instrument of its happiness. We shall enjoy the pleasure of acquiring and possessing knowledge, unallayed by any of those inconveniences which accompany them on earth. Our faCulties, talents, and assistances, will always be equal to the studies in which we shall employ them: a firm confidence of success in our enquiries and researches will make them so easy to us, that they will be productive of pleasure, unmixed with the flightest degree of fatigue ; and being secure of an eternal duration, we shall not fear any impediment to our advancement in those sublime attainments, which will be the objects of our pursuit in the realms of immortality.

". The Supreme Being will always be the principal object of our meditacions. Here below we see him darkly ; but then we shall see him face to face. The attributes of God, the wonders of creation, the conduct of Providence, the great designs of the Most High, and all those beautiful, sublime, and infinitely diversified objects, in the contemplation of which we feel every moment the weakneís of our earthly faculties, will be displayed before us in all their luftre.

" At the sight of that immense store of pleasures, of which God will have given us possession, our boundless admiration will be accompa. nied with the sweetest emotions of gratitude and love. By the recollection of the past, those evils, which can exist no longer but in our


[ocr errors]

memory, will be admirably instrumental in enhancing the value of our hppiness, and procuring us a more exquisite enjoyment of it. During tnis delightfu retrospect, we shall look up to that Being, who is th- uui hur and finisher of our fai:b, with transports of gratitude and love, of which with our most ardent sensations of piety on earth can give us but a faint idea.

“ From reflecting on the past, we shall naturally proceed to, media tate on the future, and to enjoy the delightful anticipation of those degrees of glory and felicity which we shall not at firit poffefs. Admitted into the pref nce of God, honoured by his approbation, we fhall see in Him, and in every thing around us, the great system of univertal felicity, a felicity for ever extending, and for ever increafing: God, who knows our hearts, will place objects before us to exa ercise our noblest virtues, in all their variety, delicacy, and ardour, Happy in ourselves, and in the happiness of myriads of our fellowcreatures, exulting in the prospect of an eternal augmentation of excellence and felicity, we shall enjoy these inestimable blessings with a warmth, an energy of fentiment, which it is impossible to feel in this imperfect ftate.

• We shall be secure of finding, in each of the blessed, every disposition and affection towards us which can gratify our social feelings, and our natural desire to love and to be beloved. Strengthened by our progress in knowledge, in virtue, and in amiable fentiments; animated by the prefence of our heavenly Father; free from all impediments ; secure from all indifference ; our affection for each individual of the blessed will be more ardent and tender, than that which we now feel for the most beloved friend : while we have the greatest reason to hope, that every tender and virtuous attachment formed on earth, if the object of it be really deserving of our esteem, will be renewed with augmented ardour, and be enjoyed for ever. No envy, no jealousy, can ever disturb our social happiness. Every one will be contented with his own lot, every one will fincerely rejoice in the superior exaltation of others; and thus we shall in some measure appropriate to ourselves all the happiness of heaven. At the first fight of a glorified spirit, we shall feel a reciprocal attachment; and shall for ever rejoice in the blessings of mutual love.

“When we shall reflect on the numerous temptations we have overcome, and the various afflictions we have endured, in our progress towards that felicity to which we have at length attained, we Thall enjoy the approbation of our own conscience, and that approbation which on earth had seldom been more than a consolation in adversity, will become in heaven a pure and delightful pleasure;-a pleasure which we shall anticipate in an everlasting futurity; for we shall be secure of preserving it inviolate, and of augmenting it continually, in the constant exercise of virtue.

“ All these blessings will be accompanied with the certainty that they are ours for ever. In heaven, where pain and sorrow are no more, and death is swallowed up in viétory, we shall feel a fweet security that every danger is paft: while futurity presents an endless perspective, a boundless field for the exercise of the noblest virtues, and the enjoyment of constantly increasing happiness.” P. 166.

In various parts of this delightful little work, we find citations from English authors, evidently and very honourably denoting the hand of the translator; they are chosen in general with taste, and introduced with judgement. The writings of Milton, Young, Thompson, Armstrong, Dr. Beattie, Miss H. More, and the author of the Pleasures of Memory, are the sources whence these pleasing ornaments are taken.

We are not inclined to object to any thing in a tract which has given us so much pleasure, nor indeed is there any thing material to which we could object if we had the disposition ; but we think it right to hint to the author, male or female, * in case of a revision, that the expression here below is not so elegant in English, as ici bas may be in French ; and that it occurs rather too frequently in the latter part of the effay, in places where it might with ease be varied.

* We suspect the latter : and Miss Bowdler, of Bath, particularly falls under our fufpicion.



POETRY. ART. 17. The South Downs, a Poem. 8vo. 25. Symonds. IN Na short advertisement prefixed to this poem the author irforms

us, that it is “ a maiden essay,” and seems to expect censure from profeffional critics; but desires that it may not be “unaccompanied

by instruction.” Our wish is always to give this tendency to our remarks; and where it is so particularly requested, we surely ought not to neglect it. In this spirit we shall give the author two articles of advice; one respecting his poetry, and the other on the subject of his temper. We give him credit for a poetical turn of mind, worthy of cultivation; but we think it necessary to suggest to him, that without care and study, nothing can be written that will be worthy to be read, much less to live. We inform him, therefore, that such lines as these,

“ And at each look discover something new.”
And all our wealth the nearly calls her own.”.

“ Because, forsooth. The helps t'extend our trade.”. With a prodigious number more, dispersed through this poem, are mere prole: that he ought not to offend against usage and gramınar,


« ПредишнаНапред »