Imágenes de páginas

it does more than compensate the difficulties to which either the attainment or the practice of it can expose a man. Lastly, He that Is freedom guilt, is free from fear too. And indeed ?to is the 0#/y way to get rid of <z// our fears; not by denying or rfnouncing God, with atheists; but by <&«ig /#? A&/»g\j /to />/i?tf7£ itfVfl. He that is truly religious, is the only man who upon ratio-. nal ground is railed above melancholy and fear: for what should he fear? God is his glory, his boafi, his joy, his strength; and, if GW be for him, who can be against him? neither things present, nor to come; neither life, nor death, canseparate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus. There is nothing within the bounds of time or eternity that he needsy^r. Man cannot hurt him; he is encompassed with the favour and lovingkindness of God, as with a shield. But if God permit him to suffer for righteousness fake, happy is he; this does but increase his present joy, and future glory. But what is most considerable, death itself cannot hurt him, devils cannot hurt him; the sting of death is fin, and the strength of fin is the law, but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our J_ ord Jesus Christ. For there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but ester the Spirit. Theie confiderations prove the present condition of a servant of God happy;

happy happy in comparison of the loose and wicked; but in comparison with what heshall be hereafter; he is infinitely yfer/ of the joy and g/ury of his end. In /<&/* respect indeed he is yet in -a si ate of /ry#/ and trouble, of discipline and probation; in /Æ« respect his perfeStion and happiness do but just /w/> up above the ground; the fulness and maturity of both he cannot enjoy till he come to heaven. And /feV is,

§. 4. The las fruit of Christian liberty. That heaven will consist of #// the blesjings, of #// the enjoyments that human nature, when raised to an equality with angels, is capable of; that beanies and glories, joys and pleasures, will as it were, like ^fruitful and n^<? harvest fen?, grow up /fe/r in #// the utmost plenty and perfection that Oz»nipotence itself will e'er produce, is not at all to be controverted. Heaven is the masterpiece of Gc^, the accomplishment and «#summation of «// his wonderful defgns, the /««/? and #zi9/? endearing expression of boundless love. And hence it is, that the iZo/v #//n> in scripture describes it by the T»o/? taking and the /»o/? admired things upon ^zr^6; and yet we cannot but think that this image, tho' drawn by a divine pencil, must fall infinitely short of it: for what temporal things can yield colours or metaphors strong,and r;ct& enough to paintheaven to the Ifef One thing there is indeed, S 2 which

which seems to point us to a just and adequate notion of an heaven; it seems to excite us to strive and attempt for conceptions of what we cannot grajp, we cannot comprehend; and the labouring mind, the more it discovers, concludes still tht more behind, and /jW is, /^ beatific vision. This is that, which, as divines generally tawv&, does constitute heaven; and scripture stems to tozr>& 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 objeSl ot ow fruition: or only,that we should there, as it were, drink at the fountain-head; aril being near and <&<zr to him in the highest degree; should ever fiouristh in his favour, and «j^y all good, heap'd up, prefd down, and running over. I thought the scriptures might be easily reconciled to this sense; and the incomprehensible glory of the divine Majesty inclined me to believe it the most reasonable, and most easily accountable. Enjoyment, and especially where an intelligent Being is the objeSl 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 incomprehenfible Creator? What ^y^ shall gaze on the splendors of his eJJ'ential 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 las formed out of nothing? and when on this occasion I reflected on the effecis which the presence of angels had upon the prophets, and saw human nature in man finking 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 against 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 estate of probation and humility, of infirmity and mortality, to account us not only his servants and his/w^/<?, but his friends and his children ; I began to question the former opinion: and when I had surveyed the nature ot fruition, and the various w<zy.f of it a little more <z/tentively, I wholly quitted It. For I observed, that the enjoyment is most transporting, where admiration mingles with our pajfion: where the beloved ObjecJ^ stands not upon the fame level with us, but condescends to meet a virtuous and aspiring, and ambitious affeclion. Thus the happy favour

S 3 rite rite enjoys a gracious master: and thus&e child does with respectful hve meet the tenderness of his parent: and the wisdom and virtue, which sometimes raises some one happy mortal above the common size and height of mankind, does not surely diminish, but increase the affection and the pleasure of his friends that enjoy him. Again, the nature of enjoyment varies, according to the various faculties of the soul, and the sense of the body. One way we enjoy /r«/£, and another goodness: one way beauty, and another harmony: andsoofr. These things considered, I law 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 height we are Utterly uncapable of. I easily saw. that We, who love and adore God here, should, when we enter into his presence,, admire and love him infinitely more. For God being infinitely amiable, the more we contemplate, the #ro/r clearly we discern his divine perfections and beauties, the wore must Guv fouls be inflamed with a pafjion for Æ«»: And I have no reason to doubt, but that GW will make us the most gracious returns of »wr /aw, land express &J affections for us, in such 'fondejeenfons, in such communications of himjelf, as will transport us to the utmost degree that created beings are capable of.

« AnteriorContinuar »