« ForrigeFortsæt »
it does more than compensate the difficulties
happy in comparifon of the loose and wicked; but in comparison with what he shall be here: after, he is infinitely short of the joy and glory of his end. In this respect indeed he is yet in a state of tryal and trouble, of discipline and probation; in this respect his perfection and happiness do but just peep up above the ground, the fulness and maturity of both he cannot enjoy till he come to heaven. And this is,
\. 4. The last fruit of Christian liberty. That heaven will consist of all the bleflings, of all the enjoyments that human nature, when railed to an equality with angels, is capable of; that beauties and glories, joys and pleafures, will as it were, like a fruitful and ripe harvest here, grow up there in all the utmoft plenty and perfection that Omnipotence itself will e'er produce, is not ac all to be controverted. Heaven is the masterpiece of God, the accomplishment and confummation of all his wonderful designs, the laft and most endearing expression of boundless love. And hence it is, that the Holy Spirit in fcripture describes it by the most taking and the most admired things upon earth; and yet we cannot but think that this image, tho? drawn by a divine pencil, must fall infinitely sort of it: for what temporal things can yield colours or metaphors Jirong and rich enough to paint heaven to the life? One thing there is indeed,
which seems to point us to a just and adequate notion of an beaven ; it seems to excite us to strive and attempt for conceptions of what we cannot grasp, we cannot comprehend; and the labouring mind, the more it discovers, concludes still the more behind; and that is, the beatific vision. This is that, which, as divines generally teach, does confitute heaven; and scripture seems to teach so too. I confess, I have often doubted, whether our seeing God in the life to come, did necessarily imply that God should be the immediate objeet of our fruition : or only, that we should tkere, as it were, drink at the fountain-head; and being near and dear to him in the bighest degree, should ever flourish in his favour, and enjoy all good, beap'd up, frejš'd down, and running over. Í thought the scriptures might be eafily reconciled to this sente; and the incomprehensible glory of the divine Majesty inclined me to believe it the most reasonable, and moft eafily accountable. Enjoyment, and especially where an intelligent Being is the object of it, seemed to imply something of proportion, something of equality, something of familiarity. But ah! what proportion, thought I, can there ever be between finite and Infinite? what equality between a poor creature and his incomprehensible Creator? What eye shall gaze on the splendors of his essential beauty, when the very light he dwells in
is inaccessible, and even the brightness he veils himself in, is too dazling even for cherubs and seraphs, for ought I know, to behold ? Ah! what familiarity can there be between this eternal and inconceivable Majesty, and beings which he has formed out of nothing ? and when on this occasion I reflected on the effects which the presence of angels had upon the prophets, and saw human nature in man Jinking and dying away, because unable to sustain the glory of one of their fellow-creatures, I thought myself in a manner obliged to yield, and stand out no longer againlt a notion, which, though differing from what was generally received, seemed to have more reason on its side, and to be more intelligible. But when I called to mind, that God does not disdain, even while we are in a state of probation and bumility, of infirmity and mortality, to account us not only his servants and his people, but his friends and his children ; I began to question the former opinion: and when I had surveyed the nature of fruition, and the various ways of it a little more attentively, I wholly quitted it. For I observed, that the enjoyment is most transporting, where admiration mingles with our pason: where the beloved Obje&t stands not upon the same level with us, but condescends to meet a virtuous and aspiring, and ambitious affection. Thus the happy favou.
rite enjoys a gracious master : and thus the child does with respectful love meet the tenderness of his parent : and the wisdom and virtue, which sometimes raises fome one happy mortal above the common size and height of mankind, does not furely diminish, but increate the affection and the pleasure of his friends that enjoy him. Again, the nature of enjoyment varies, according to the various faculties of the foul, and the sense of the body. One way we enjoy trutb, and another goodness: one way beauty, and another harmony: and so on. These things considered, I saw there was no necessity, in order to make God the object of our fruition, either to bring him down to any thing unworthy of his glory, or to exalt our selves to a beight we are utterly uncapable of. I easily faw, that we, who love and adore God bere, should, when we enter into his presence, admire and love him infinitely
For God being infinitely amiable, the more we contemplate, the more clearly we discern his divine perfektions and beauties, the more must our souls be inflamed with a passion for him : And I have no rea, son to doubt, but that God will make us the most gracious returns of our love, and express bis affections for us, in fuch condefcenfions, in such communications of himself, as will transport us to the utmost degree that created beings are capable of.