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and those who are instructed in sounder princi-ples of virtue and religion.
No. 580. FRIDAY, AUGUST 13, 1714,
Si verbo audacia detur,
Ovid. Met. i. 175.
"I CONSIDERED in my two last letters. that awful and tremendous subject, the ubiquity or omnipresence of the Divine Being. I have shown that he is equally present in all places throughout the whole extent of infinite space. This doctrine is so agreeable to reason, that we meet with it in the writings of the enlightened heathens, as I might show at large, were it not. already done by other hands. But though the Deity be thus essentially present through all the immensity of space, there is one part of it in which he discovers himself 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 glorified body of our Saviour resides, and where all the celestial hierarchies, and the innumerable hosts of angels, are represented as perpetually surrounding the seat of God with hallelujahs and hymns of praise. This is that presence of God which some of the divines,
call his glorious, and others his majestic, pre
He is indeed as essentially present in all other places as in this; but it is here where he resides 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 entertain of the Godhead. If you look into Homer, the most ancient of the Greek writers, you see the supreme power seated in the heavens, and encompassed with inferior deities, among whom the Muses are represented as singing incessantly about his throne. Who does not here see the main strokes and outlines of this great truth we are speaking of? The same doctrine is shadowed out in many other heathen authors, though at the same time, like several other revealed truths, dashed and adulterated with a mixture 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 worship.
Asin 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 sins of the people; so if we consider the whole creation as one great temple, there is in it this 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 habitation 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 show himself in the most magnificent manner? What must be the architecture of infinite power under the direction of infinite wisdom? A spirit cannot but be transported after an ineffable manner, with the sight 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 expressions in holy writ: Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea the stars are not pure in his sight.' The light of the sun, and all the glories in which we live, are but as weak and sickly glimmerings, or rather darkness itself, in comparison of those splendors which encompass the throne of God.
"As the glory of this place is transcendant beyond imagination, so 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 appears in perfect majesty, we cannot possibly conceive. Though it is not infinite, it may be indefinite ; and, though not immeasurable in itself, it may be so with regard to any created eye or imagination. If he has made these lower re. gions of matter so inconceivably wide and magni. ficent for the habitation of mortal and perishable
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 company 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 so signally exerted themselves, because that they are able to produce 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 those beings who inhabit them, may be taken in and added to that glorious place of which I am here speaking, and by that means made a proper habitation for beings who are exempt from mortality, and cleared of their imperfections: for so the scripture seems to intimate when it speaks of “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
• I have only considered this glorious place with regard to the sight and imagination, though it is highly probable that our other senses may here likewise enjoy their highest gratifications. There is nothing which more ravishes and transports the soul than harmony; and we have great reason 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 mu. sic which human art is capable of producing, how much more will it be raised and elevated by those in which is exerted the whole power of harmony! The senses are faculties of the human soul, though they cannot be employed, during this our
vital union, without proper instruments in the bo. dy. Why therefore should we exclude the satisfaction of these faculties, which we find by experience are inlets of great pleasure to the soul, from among those entertainments which are to make up our happiness hereafter? Why should we suppose that our hearing and seeing will not be gratified with those objects which are most agreeable to them, and which they cannot meet with in these lower regions of nature ; objects, « which neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor can it enter into the heart of man to conceive? I knew a man in Christ (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 tell : God knoweth,) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man (whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell: God knoweth) how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not possible for a man to-utter.” By this is meant that what he heard is so infinitely different from any thing which he had heard in this world, that it was impossible 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 inquiries 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, whilst we make use of revelation for our guide. When these everlasting doors shall be open 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 ap