Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

our happiness hereafter ? Why hould we suppose ' that our hearing and seeing will not be gratified with

those objects which are moit agreeable to them, and "which they cannot meet with in these lower regions ' of nature ; objects, which neither eye hath seen, nor ear. I heard, nor can it enter into the beart of man to conceive? ' I knew a man in Chrift. (says St. Paul speaking of him• self) above fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I I cannot tell, or whether out of the body, I cannot iell :

God knoweth) such a one caught up to the third bea' ven. And I knezu such a man, (zubet her in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) how " that he was caught up into paradise, and heard un. * Speakatle words, which it is not possible for a man to. * utter. By this is meant that what be heard was so “infioitely different from any thing which he had “ heard in this world, that it was imposible 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 inquia "ries 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. sit is both a laudable and useful curiosity, to get what + informations we can of it, while we make use of “ revelation for our guide. When thefe everlasting “ doors shall be opened to us, we may be sure that the • pleasures and beauties of this place will infinitely 6. transcend our present hopes and expectations, and 6. 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 6. Scriptures; as whether there may not be different • mansions and apartments of glory, to beings of dif6ferent natures; whether as they excel one another 6. in perfection, they are not admitted nearer to the 6. throne of the Almighty, and enjoy greater manifelta. * tions of his presence; whether there are not folemn

^ .n6. times:

* times and occasions, when all the multitude of hea. s ven celebrate the presence of their Maker in more * extraordinary forms of praise and adoration ; as

Adam, though he had continued in a state of inno* cence, would, in the opinion of our divines, have • kept holy the Sabbath-day, in a more particular & manner than any other of the seven. There, and * the like speculations, we may very innocently in• dulge, so long as we make use of them to inspire us • with a desire of becoming inhabitants of this delight. « ful place.

I have in this, and in 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 bleft. - Such a considera. & tion should be kept awake in us at all times, and • in all places, and possess our minds with a perpe-> "tual awe and reverence. It should be intervoven. • 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 philofophy,

but ought to fink us into the lowest prostration be « fore him, who is so astonishingly great, wonderful, . 6 and holy.'

The present life to be considered only as it may conduce ta

the happinejs of a future one. [Spect. No. 575.] · A LEWD young fellow seeing an aged hermit go. A by him barefoot, Father, says he, you are inia: 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

ftates

ftates of being, or rather, for two different lives. His first life is short and transient: his second permanent and lasting. The question we are all concerned in is. this, in which of those two lives is our chief interest to make ourselves happy! or, in other words, whe. ther we should endeavour to secure to ourselves the pleasures and gratifications of a life which is uncertain and precarious, and at its utmost length of a very in. considerable duration; or to secure to ourselves the pleafures of a life that is fixed and settled, and will never end ? Every man, upon the first hearing of this. question, knows very well which fide of it he ought to close with. But however right we are in theory, it is plain that in practice 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? 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 threatsof eternal punishment, and enjoined to pursue our pleasures under pain of damnation? He would certainly imagine that we were influenced by a scheme of duties quite opposite to thcse which are indeed prefcribed to us. And truly, according to such an imam , gination, 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 learnt that we were beings not designed to exist in this world above threescore and ten years; and that the greatest part of this busy species fall fort even of

that

that age? How would he be loft in horror and admiration, when he mould know that this set of creatures, who lay out all their endeavours for this life, which scarcely 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 ? Nothing can be a greater disgrace to reason than that men, who are perfuaded of these two different states of being, should be perpetually employed in providing for a life of threescore and ten years, and neglecting to make provifion for that, which, after many myriads of years, will be ftill 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 conitantly and fincerely endeavour to make ourfelves happy in the other life, we are sure that our endeavours will succeed, and that we shall not be disappointed of our hope.

The following question is farted by one of the schoolmen. Supposing the whole body of the earth were a great ball or mass of the finest fand, and that a fingle grain or particle of this fand should be annihi. lated 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 flow method till there was not a grain of it lelt, on condicion you were to be miserable for ever after; or fup. pofing that you might be happy for ever after, on condition you might be miserable till the whole mass of fand were thus annihilated at the rate of one fand in a thousand years : which of these two cases would you make your choice ?

It must be confefied in this case, so many thousands of years are to the imagination as a kind of eternity; tho’ in reality they do not bear so great a proportion to that duration which is to follow them, as an unic does to the greatest number which you can put together in figures, or as one of those fands to the supposed

heap.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

seap. Reason therefore tells us, without any manner of hesitation, which would be the better part in this choice. However, as I have before intimated, our reason might in such a case be so overset by the imagination as to dispose sume persons to sink under the conöderation of the great length of the first part of this duration, and of the great distance of that second dusation, which is to succeed it. The mind, I say, might give itself up to that happiness which is at hand, con fidering that it is so very near, and that it would la it so very long. But when the choice we actually have before us, is this, whether we will chuse to be happy for the space of only threescore and ten, nay, perhaps, of only twenty or ten years, I might say of ooly a day or an hour, and miserable to all eternity ; or on the contrary, miserable for this short term of years, and happy for a whole eternity; what words are sufficient to express that folly and want of consderation which in such a case makes a wrong choice?

I here put the case even at the worst, by suppo. fing (what seldom happens) thát a course of virtue makes us miserable in this life ; but if we suppose (as is generally happens) that virtue will make us more happy even in this life than a contrary course of vice; how can we sufficiently admire the stupidity or madness of those persons who are capable of making so absurd a choice?

Every wise man, therefore, will consider this life only as it may conduce to the happiness of the other, and chearfully facrifice the pleasures of a few years to those of an eternity.

On the Immartality of the Soul..

[Spect. No. 111..]

I Was yesterday walking alone in one of my friend's I woods, and lost myself in it very agreeably, as I was running over in my mind the several arguments. that establish this great point, which is the basis of

ents : morality's

« ПредишнаНапред »