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our happiness hereafter ? Why Tould we suppose that our hearing and seeing will not be gratified with those objects which are mot 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 himself) above fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I cannot tell, or whether out of the body, I cannot iell :God knoweth) such a one caught up to the third bea
And I knezu such a man, (whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell.. God knoweth) how Sthat he was caught up into paradise, and heard une speakable words, which it is not posible for a man to
utter.. By this is meant that what he 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, “it is both a laudable and useful curiosity, to get what • informations we can of it,, while we make use of o revelation for our guide. When these everlasting “ doors shall be opened to us, we may be sure that the
pleasures 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 * chofe several hints which we find of it in the holyno • Scriptures; aswhether there may not be different • manfions and apartments of glory, to beings of dif“ferent natures ; whether as they excel one another •. in perfection, they are not admitted nearer to the 6. throne of the Almighty, and enjoy greater manifesta
tions of his presence; whether there are not solemir
6. times ftates
* times and occasions, when all the multitude of hea.
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. These, 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 confidered 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 hould 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
with the consciousness of our own being. It is: not to be reflected on in the coldness of philosophy, • 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 happiness of a future one. [Spect. No. 575.].
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, jon, said the hermit; but what is thy condition if there is? Man is a creature designed for two different
ftates of being, or rather, for two different lives. His first life is sort and transient: his second permanent and lafting. The question we are all concerned in is. this, in which of those two lives is our chief interest to make ourselves happy? of, in other words, whether 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 inconsiderable 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 side 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 fide 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 fuperior 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: Muft not he imagine that we were placed in this world to get riches and how nours ? 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 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 ima. 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 fent 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 age? How would he be loft in horror and admiration, when he should 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 persuaded 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 provision 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 started 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 low method till there was not a grain of it left, on condition you were to be miserable for ever after; or supposing 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 á thousand years : which of these two cases would you make your choice ?
It must be confessed 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 sands to the supposed
. 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 fume persons to sink under the consideration of the great length of the first part of this duration, and of the great distance of that second du. ration, which is to succeed it. The mind, I say, might give itself up to that happiness which is at hand, considering that it is so very near, and that it would last fo 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 only 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 confia deration which in such a case makes a wrong choice ?
I here put the case even at the worst, by suppofing (what seldom happens) that 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 Immortality of the Soul..
[Spect. No. 11.)
my woods, and lost myself in it very agreeably, as I
and was running over in my mind the several arguments that establish this great point, which is the basis of