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first parents, prevails among all the nations of the world, whatsoever different notions they entertain of the Godhead. If you look into Homer, that is, 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. ‘As in 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 shew 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 of the world 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 transcendent 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 regions of matter so inconceivably wide and magnificent 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 2 * 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 of 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 music 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 body. 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, " about fourteen years ago, whether in the body, I cannot tell, or whether out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth: such a 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 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 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 those several hints which we find of it in the holy scriptures; as, whether there may not be different mansions and apartments of glory to beings of different natures; whether, as they excel one another in perfection, they are not admitted nearer to the throne of the Almighty, and enjoy greater manifestations of his presence; whether there are not solemn times and occasions, when all the multitude of heaven celebrate the presence of their Maker in more extraordinary forms of praise and adoration; as Adam, though he had continued in a state of innocence, 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 indulge, so long as we make use of them to inspire us with a desire of becoming inhabitants of this delightful 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 blest. Such a consideration should be kept awake in us at all times, and in all places, and possess our minds with a perpetual awe and reverence. It should be interwoven 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 philosophy, but ought to sink us into the lowest prostration before him, who is so astonishingly great, wonderful, and holy.”
SPECTATOR, No. 590.
“We consider infinite space as an expansion without a circumference: we consider eternity, or infinite duration, as a line that has neither a beginning nor an end. In our speculations of infinite space, we consider that particular place in which we exist as a kind of centre to the whole expansion. In our speculations of eternity, we consider the time which is present to us as the middle, which divides the whole line into two equal parts. For this reason many witty authors compare the present time to an isthmus or narrow neck of land, that rises in the midst of an ocean, immeasurably diffused on either side of it.
‘Philosophy, and indeed common sense, naturally throws eternity under two divisions, which we may call in English that eternity which is past, and that eternity which is to come. The learned terms of atternitas a parte ante, and atternitas a parte post, may be more amusing to the reader, but can have no other idea affixed to them than what is conveyed to us by those words, an eternity that is past, and an eternity that is to come. Each of these eternities is bounded at the one extreme ; or, in other words, the former has an end, and the latter a beginning.
‘Let us first of all consider that eternity which is past, reserving that which is to come for the subject of another paper. The nature of this eternity is utterly inconceivable by the mind of man: our reason demonstrates to us that it has been, but at the same time can frame no idea of it, but what is big with absurdity and contradiction. We can have no other conception of any duration which is past, than that all of it was once present; and whatever was once present is at some certain distance from us, and whatever is at any certain distance from us, be the distance never so remote, cannot be eternity. The very notion of any duration being past, implies that it was once present, for the idea of being once present is actually included in the idea of its being past. This therefore is a depth not to be sounded by human understanding. We are sure that