Page images

xvii. 24

if I may so express myself, more glorious than Cor. xv.i. others. But wherever Shechinab is, or the glorious Body of Christ, it spreads its Rays like a new Star, and its Light around it, and in its Neighbourhood all around it, the blesfed Saints shall dwell, as under a Throne of Glory. Christ has often told us that, and thus, being about to die, accosts his Father, Father, I will that those whom thou hast given John xii. unto me, where I am jould be with me, that 26. xiv. 3. they may behold the glory which thou hast given me ; for thou lovedst me before the Foundation of the World. But strictly to define these Seats and these Mansions of Bliss, is not in our Power at present ; nor, indeed, does it much concern us : But since the Saints shall have their Habitation in Heaven, and their Inheritance in the Realms of Light, 'tis very 2 Cor. v.

Col. i. s. probable that their Seats will be not only above the Globe of the Moon, but above the Atmofpheres of all the Planets, in those Ætherial Regions where there is eternal Day, and where Night never comes. Lastly, since Christ has taught us, that in his Fa- Eph.iv.10. ther's House there are many Mansons, 'tis but Joh.xiv. 2.. reasonable to suppose, that every Saint, or Assembly of Saints, according to the Degree of their Purity and Perfection, will have their Habitation nearer to Shechinah, or to the Throne of Glory.

Thus much concerning the Station and Seat of the Blessed. As for their Condition,


(for we have said that both of them are comprehended under the Name of Heaven,) that is, the Kind and Degree of Felicity, which the Saints will enjoy in these Ætherial Re

gions, the Saying of the Apostle has here Cor.ii.g. deservedly a Place; Eye hath not seen, nor

hath Ear heard, nor can the Mind of Man conceive the Happiness that God has prepared for those who love him. These Things surpass our present Capacities, and the Force of human Thought. Yet this is certain, that let them be what they will

, they must all be referr’d, either to the Body, or to the Mind. What the Body of the Blessed will be in Heaven, both as to the Matter and to the Form of it, we have in the seventh and eighth Chapters, to the best of our Power, explain’d: That besides its incomparable Endowments, it will be free from every Evil of Sickness, or Pain, or Trouble, with which we are afflicted in our present Bodies : And that it will willingly, and without Reluctance, obey the Commands of Reason, prepar'd and ready for every kind of Obedience. As for the Soul, all its Faculties in that State, will grow greater and stronger, and will aspire to the utmost Perfection. The Senses, the Affections, all the Faculties of the Soul will become more lively, and will terminate in greater and more illustrious Objects.

AND first of all, new and most wonderful Objects will not be wanting to entertain


the outward Senses, when being exalted above all the Planets, we shall view the boundless Ocean of the Universe, and innumerable Globes of Worlds floating along the vast Stream of the Sky, each fill’d with its proper Inhabitants : For the Force of the Eye, and the visual Faculty will be so ordain'd and constituted, that it will surpass all the Power of the most artful Glasses, and will reach and take in Objects much greater and nobler, and more remote than what wę now discern in this muddy Air. Then, when we shall contemplate the fix'd Stars, those eternal celestial Fires, those numberless Suns of prodigious Magnitude, succeeding one another without End, through all the immense Spaces of the Sky, what Pleasure, what Raptures will not this Prospect of the Universe raise in us? How great is the Lord, how great is our God, the Author and Creator of every Cream ture, of every Thing that fills this boundless All.*

LASTLY, Besides this Magnificence of the Works divine, there will be a matchless Beauty in the Face of the Heavens, seeing that the Stars, like so many Gems of different Orders, and of different kinds, will shine with a thousand several Glories, and a thousand various Colours; when in the Confines of the Orbs, and their Approaches Y


* Alas! How vile does this Earth seem, when I look up to Heaven! See the Place of Senec. in his Natur. Qu.eft. Brafat. Quam juvat inter. Sydera, &c.

to each other, their Rays being variously refracted, new Lights and painted Arches will arise, and numerous Kinds and Forms of Splendors will be seen, such as are painted by the Prophet in the holy City, Revel

. xxi. 18, 19, &c. This, besides, ought to be added, that when we shall have obtain'd a Station, or Seat, in those Ætherial Regions, a Station exalted above all the Planets, we shall not only fee one Hemisphere, or half of the Heavens, as now we see it, but shall behold the Sphere intire, and at one and the fame Time become Spectators of the vast Circumference and Amphitheatre of the World, the Palace of the universal King, with all its Ornaments, and its most splendid Furniture. What and how much will be added to this celestial Sight by the Presence and Influence of the divine Shechinah, is beyond all mortal Power to express.

But why do we dwell so long upon the outward Senses? The chief Felicity of the Saints in Heaven will consist in the Contemplation of their Minds, and the Motions of their Affections. But this Felicity escapes us, or, as the Apostle expresses it, does not enter into the Heart of Man in this present Stațe. But this, nevertheless, we know, that the greater and the more excellent the Objects of the Understanding are, the purer and the fuller Joy does the Mind receive from the Contemplation of them. This likewise we know, that there

[ocr errors]

is nothing in the Universe, or the Nature of Things, greater than the divine Nature ; and the Perfections of it, to whom nothing that is finite can be equal, or second; from which the Consequence is very clear, that to Minds rightly prepared, the most transporting Happiness must arise from the Contemplation and the Love of God. So far the Point is clear but we are not able, in this Life, either to express in Words, or to reach in Thought, the very lowest Degrees, or so much as a light Idea of this high Beatitude ; so foreign and so remote is true Felicity from our present Condition,

But to proceed a little: By the fame Degrees that we make an Improvement and Proficiency in the Knowledge of God, will the Love and Admiration of him increase in us, than which Affections human Nature knows nothing that brings more Felicity to it: Then the facred Scripture testifies, and Reason on several Accounts convinces us, that our Knowledge of Things divine will be improv'd in the Heavens, to the very utmost of our Endeavour, and our Capacity. Here, says the Apostle, our Knowledge is like that of Children; but it will be there like that in the Vigour and Maturity of manly Age ; Here we see through

through a Glass darkly, _but sCor.xiii; there Face to Face; now I know in Part, but then I mall know as also I am known. Whatever secret Sense these Words of the Apostle may have, consider'd one by one,



Y 2

« PreviousContinue »