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imagination, it leaves it resting in all the mystery of sublime obscurity. “ Eye hath not seen,” says St. Paul, “ nor ear heard, neither have entered into the mind of man, the things which God hath prepared for those, that love him 1.”—“ They shall hunger no more," as we read in the Apocalypse, “ nor thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat: for the Lamb shall feed them, and shall lead them into living waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes 2.” In this state of beatitude, free from every vicissitude of change or decay, they shall associate, not only with an assemblage of all the wisest and best of every age and nation, but with a numerous host of seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, virtues, angels, and archangels, whose glory and whose ecstasy is continually evinced by hymns of praise, harmonizing in concert with innumerable harps 3.
In the description of the paradise of Fûh, by the Chinese writers, it is said, that the inhabitants sprung from the Lotus. Their bodies pure and fragrant; their persons well formed; and their countenances beautiful. They were believed to inhale odours; and to be surrounded by birds of paradise. In this region there were no women; they being turned into men immediately upon their arrival.
i 1 Corinth. ch. ii. v. 9. Isaiah, ch. lxiv. v. 4.
· Rev. ch. vii. v. 16, 17; ch. ii. v. 4; also Isaiah, ch. xlix. v. 10; and ch. xxv. v. 8. Psalms xxxvi. v. 8, 9; xvi. v. 2. Matth. ch. xxv. v. 46. Rom. ch. ii. v. 7. 1 Peter, ch. i. v. 4. Dan, ch. xii. v. 2. John, ch. v. v. 24, 29. 1 Cor. xiii. v. 12.
3 Baron Swedenborg fancied, that he was permitted to behold the interior of heaven. The account, he gives of this celestial vision, is a little too sublunary; for he says, that he found men but little changed. They eat, drink, and marry. There are towns, cities, and villages; silver, gold, and every description of precious stone. The chief difference he observed, he says, is, that every thing seemed to exist in a greater state of perfection.
III. Virgil and Tibullus, conceiving that the enjoyments, which delight the good in this world, will constitute their principal happiness in the next, describe Elysium as a residence, worthy of those, who had died for their country; who were inventors of useful arts; who were inspired poets; who had led a life of innocence; or had conferred essential benefits on mankind. Delighting in those luxuriant gifts, in which Elysium abounded, they are represented, as deriving the highest enjoyments from reposing on flowery banks, and from wandering among shady groves.
These happy fields are variously situated by the poets'. Lucian places them in the moon; some in the isle of Leuce, between the mouths of the Danube and Borysthenes. Virgil in Italy?; some in the centre of the earth; and others at Andalusia, or Granada, in Spain. Lucretius3 describes the inhabitants as being free from care and vicissitude; living in a splendid diffusion of light; and, amid unclouded ether, enjoying the benefit of immortality. The paradise of Plato, on the other hand, was evidently borrowed from that of the Jews.
The Icelanders imagine, that on the summit of the
1 Vid. Hor. lib. iii. ode 4. Tibull. lib. i. El. 3. v. 57. Claudian. de Raptu Proserp. Plutarch de Consol. 9 En. vi. 673.
3 Lib. iii. 1. 18.
Boula, a mountain which no one has hitherto ascended, there is a cavern, which opens to a paradise in perpetual verdure, delightfully shaded by trees, and abounding in large flocks of sheep!
The cave of Candahar is believed to present an analogous similitude?. This cave the Afghauns esteem impenetrable, owing to the roar of winds, and the rushing of waters. They relate, however, that some hardy adventurers once penetrated it, and beheld a most enchanting garden, in the bowels of the earth; in which were every beautiful flower and perfume; all rendered more delightful by the sounds of music, so exquisite as, at once, to ravish and enchant the soul.
The Greenlander imagines heaven to turn round a large rock; and happiness to consist in hunting from age to age. The Laplander believes, that paradise is situated in the centre of the snows of Sweden; and that they will be accompanied thither by their favourite reindeer. The Muscogulgees imagine it among the islands of the vast Pacific. “ Do you see those blue mountains," says Piomingo, " whose towering summits are mixed with the descending clouds ?”_5 I see them.”—“Beyond those mountains there is a wide river; beyond that river there is a great country; on the other side of that country there is a world of water; in that water there are a thousand islands: the sun is gone among them. These islands are full of trees and streams of water; a thousand buffaloes, and ten thousand deer, graze on the hills, or ruminate in the valleys.”_" When I die shall I become an inhabitant
1 Voy. en Iceland, 168.
Elphinst. Caubul, 222.
of those islands ?"_“ Love your friends; become a great warrior; and when you die, the great spirit will conduct you to the land of souls.” Such is the belief of one of the tribes of North America.
IV. The heaven of the New Zealanders' is called Taghinga Attua; and abounds in all the fanciful delights, the wildest imagination can conceive. The natives of Benin, on the coast of Africa, believe theirs to be situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The Sintoists of Japan imagine, that the soul is transmitted to sub-celestial fields, immediately lying beneath the thirty-three heavens, which are the native mansions of their gods. The Langoins of Laos assert, that the souls of good men assume a body of ethereal substance, clear and transparent as light; and that after enjoying the pleasures of sixteen successive heavens, they return to the earth, and once more take up their habitation in a human body. The Siamese believe, that souls transmigrate three or four times ; after which they are permitted to enter the true paradise, (the Nireupan), in which they enjoy perpetual repose; and their delight is presumed to equal that of the gods.
The Mexicans conceived, that those who died of wounds, or were drowned, went to a cool and delightful place; there to enjoy all manner of pleasures : those who died in battle, or in captivity, were wafted to the palace of the Sun, and led a life of endless delight. After an abode of four years, they animated clouds and birds of
Nicholas. vol. i. p. 61.
beautiful feather, and of sweet song; having, at the same time, liberty to ascend to heaven or descend to earth, to suck sweet flowers, and warble enchanting songs.
The natives of the Friendly Islands believe, that good souls will be admitted into a region, which they call Boolootoo; where they will live to eternity. The Javanese, residing from the sea, imagine that paradise is open only to the rich. The inhabitants of the Pelew Islands' suppose, that immoral men remain on the earth after death; but that good ones ascend into the sky, and become exceedingly beautiful.
The Ingrian Tartars imagine the dead to live in a subterranean world; where they resume the same mode of life, they were accustomed to in this. The ancient Bramins imagined seven paradises, situated in seven seas, viz. of milk, curds, butter, salt, water, honey, and wine. The Essenes, according to Josephus, believed, that good spirits were wafted to regions beyond the ocean; where there was neither hail, rain, snow, nor winter; nor excessive heats: but a gentle wind, breathing perpetually from the ocean.
The Tonquinese, who are said to equal the Chinese in the art of landscape, imagine their forests and mountains to be peopled with a peculiar kind of genii, who exercise an influence over the affairs of mankind. And in their ideas relative to a state of future happiness, they regard a delightful climate and an atmosphere, surcharged with odours, with a throne, profusely covered with garlands of flowers, as the summit of celestial felicity. Among the Arabs, a fine country, with abundance of shade, forms the
1 Keate's Account of the Pelew Islands, p. 354.