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The blesied in heaven behold him face to face, that is, are as fenfible of his presence as we are of the presence of any person whom we look upon with our eyes. There is doubtless a faculty in fpirits, by which they apprehend one another, as our senses do material objects ;. and there is no question but our fouls, when they are disembodied, or placed in glorified bodies, will by this faculty, in whatever part of space they refide, be always sensible of the divine presence.
We, who have this veil of flesh itanding between us and the world of spirits, must be content to know the spirit of God is present with us, by the effects which he pro. duceth in us. Our outward senses are too gross to apprehend him ; we may however taite and see how gracious he is, by his influence upon our minds, by those virtuous thoughts which he awakens in us, by those secret comforts and refreshments which he conveys into our souls, and by those ravishing joys and Inward fatisfactions which are perpetually springing up, and diffusing themselves among all the thoughts of good men. He is lodged in our very essence, and is as a soul within the soul to irradiate its understand ing, rectify its will, purify its paflions, and enliven all the powers of man. How happy therefore is an intellectual being, who by prayer and meditation, by virtue and good works, opens this communication be. Iween God and his own soul! Though the whole creacion frowns upon him, and all nature looks black about him, he has his light and support within him, that are able to chear his mind, and bear him up in the midst of all those horrors which encompass him. He knows that bis helper is at hand, and is always nearer to him than any thing else can be, which is capable of annoying or terrifying him. In the midst of calumny or cons tempt, he attends to that Being who whispers better things within his soul, and whom he looks upon as his defender, his glory, and the lifter-up of his head. In his deepest solitude and retirement, he knows that he is in company with the greatest of beings; and perceives within himself such real sensations of his pre
fence, as are more delightful than any thing that can. be met with in the conversation of his creatures. Even in the hour of death, he confiders the pains of his dir. solution to be nothing else but the breaking down of that partition, which ftands betwixt his soul, and the Sght of that Being who is always present with him, and is about to manifest itself to him in fulness of joy.
If we would be thus happy, and thus senfible of our Maker's presence, from the secret effects of his' mercy, and goodness, we must keep such a watch over all our thoughts, that in the language of the Scripture, hissoul may have pleasure in us. We must take care not to grieve his holy spirit, and endeavour to make the meditations of our hearts always acceptable in his fight, that he may delight thus-to reside and dwell in us. The light of nature could direct Seneca to this doctrine, in a very remarkable paffage among his epis-ties; Sacer ineft in nobis fpiritus, bonorum malorumque cuftes et observator ; et quemadmodum nos illum tractamus, ita et ille nos. There is a holy spirit residing in
us, who watches and observes both good and evil men, and will treat us after the same manner that
we treat him. But I shall conclude this discourse with those more emphatical words in divine revelation. If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and zve will come unto him, and make our. abode with him.
Reflections on the Third Heaven,
[Spect. No. 580.]
and tremendous subject, the ubiquity or omnipresence of the divine Being. I have shewn that he. is equally present in all places throughout the whole
extent of infinite space. This doctrine is so agree• able to reason, that we meet with it in the writings " of the enlightened heathens, as I might fhew_at. *- large, were it not already done by other hands. But
• tho' the Deity be thus essentially present through all
the immensity of space, there is one part of it in • which he discovers himfelf in a most transcendent and • visible glory. 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 glo
rified body of our Saviour resides, and where all the ' celestial hierarchies, and the innumerable hosts of
angels, are reprefented as perpetually surrounding • the seat of God with hallelujahs and hymns of praise.
This is that presence of God which some of the di. • vines call his glorious, and others his majestic pre• fence. He is indeed as effentially present in all • other places as in this; but it is here where he re• fides in a sensible magnificence, and in the midst of • all those splendors which can affect 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 enter• tain of the God-head. If you look into Homer, that • is, the most ancient of the Greek writers, you see the . fupreme power feated in the heavens, and encompar• sed with inferior deities, among whom the muses are ' represented as finging incessantly about his throne. • Who does not here see the main strokes and out. • lines of this great truth we are speaking of? The • fame doctrine is shadowed out in many other hea-, • then authors, tho' at the same time, like several other • revealed truths, dashed and adulterated with a mix
ture of fables and human inventions. But to pass over the notions of the Greeks and Romans, 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
• As in Solomon's temple there was the Sanctum • 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 fins of the
people ; so if we consider this whole creation as one
great temple, there is in it the Holy of Holies, into • which the high priest of our salvation entered, and. • took his place among angels and archangels, after having made a propitiation for the sins of mankind.
With how much skill must the throne of God be: • erected ? With what glorious designs is that habita• tion 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 thew himself in the most magnificent man• ner? What must be the architecture of infinite power
under the direction of infinite wisdom? A spirit can-• not but be transported after an ineffable manner with • the fight 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. It is to this majestic :
presence of God, we may apply those beautiful ex-• pressions in holy writ: Behold even to the moon, and it Jbineth not; yea the stars are not pure in his fight. The
light of the sun, and all the glories of the world in • which we live, are but as weak and fickly glimmer
ings, or rather darkness itself, in comparison of those splendors which encompass, the throne of God. *As the glory of this place is transcendent beyond imagination, lo 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 ap
pears in perfeet majesty, we cannot possibly conceive. • Tho' it is not infinite, it may be indefinite ; and tho' "not immensurable in itself, it may be fo with regard • to any created eye, or imagination. If he has made these lower regions of matter so inconceivably wide B. 6
* and magnificent for the habitation of mortal and pe
rishable 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 companys ti of angels, and spirits of just men made perfect !
• This is certain that our imaginations cannot be * raised too high, when we think on a place where.
omnipotence and omniscience have fo fignally exer• ted themselves, because that they are able to pro-• duce a scene infinitely more great and glorious than "what we are able to imagine. It is not impossible but
at the consummation of all things, these outward apartments of nature, which are now suited to thofe. beings who inhabit them, may be taken in and added
to that glorious place of which I am here fpeaking: * and by that means made a proper habitation for be
ings who are exempt from mortality, and cleared of “their imperfections ; for for the Scripture seems to. • intimate when it speaks of new heavens and of a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
I have only considered this glorious place with * regard to the fight and imagination, though it is
highly probable that our other senses may here like. $ wise enjoy their highest gratifications. There is no.
thing which more ravishes and transports the soul,,
than harmony; and we have great reafon to believe, • from the descriptions of this place in holy Scripture, * that this is one of the entertainments of it. 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 s'elevated by those, in which is exerted the whole:
power of harmony! The fenses are faculties of the • human soul, though they cannot be employed, during •-this our vital union, without proper inftruments in • the body. Why therefore should we exclude the fatis-
faction of these faculties, which we find by expe* rience are inlets of great pleasure to the soul, from among those entertainments which are to make up