Imágenes de páginas

is put into actual possession of them. His present enjoyment is in his hope; one of the greatest pleasures in the world: indeed, so great a pleasure, that some have supposed all the happiness of man to consist in it. They have discovered, that the affections of men are alive and active, so long as they are kept in expectation; but dead and flat when they have nothing more to look for: and, on this ground, they have affirmed, that human happiness is nothing but expectation: a sort of chace, whose pleasure is not in the end, but in the pursuit. If this be so, then the vicissitudes of human life, are one continued series of deception; and no hope is worth entertaining, but the hope of heaven; the only hope that will not make us ashamed at last. It is true, that if we are never so sharp-sighted, all our contemplation will not give us an adequate conception of the things above. We are told, they are such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive them: but it is sufficient for us to know, that they have this one property of lasting for ever. If we remove our affections from the happiness of this world, because we cannot be sure of it; it is a good reason for setting our affections on things above, because they afford

afford that happiness which cannot be taken away from us and which will probably be advancing, by steps unknown to us, through all the ages of eternity.

We may form some conjecture concerning the sufficiency and fulness of this happiness, by considering the power of that God who has engaged himself to make us happy. If we look around us, we are astonished at the manifestations of his power and wisdom; and cannot but see, how the elements work together for the benefit and support of this habitable world. Hence it may be concluded, that he who hath made his sun to rise upon us in this lower state of our existence, can bring us, in his own good time, to that unspeakable brightness, in comparison of which, the sun himself shall disappear, as the stars are drowned in the light of the morning. For God himself, the fountain of uncreated light, shall enlighten that kingdom, which hath been prepared for us from the beginning of the world. It is said of the new Jerusalem, that the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God doth enlighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.


If we consider the structure of an human body; how the eye is exquisitely framed to re

ceive the impressions of the light; the ear to be sensible of sounds; and the skill with which all the organs of circulation and the several instruments of motion are adapted to the kind of life for which the body is now prepared; we can never doubt, but that the same wisdom, which, even in this fallen state, hath so prepared us for all the functions of this present life, will, in the regeneration of things, fit us in like manner with higher and more perfect fa culties for the enjoyment of that life which we have in expectation. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God: human nature, with its present weakness, could enjoy nothing amidst that glorious light, which would dazzle and confound all its powers: and therefore, as the Scripture hath greatly expressed it, mortality must first be swallowed up of life, before we can be capable of enjoying the presence of God, and the glorious scenes of the invisible world.

The man who can raise his mind to the contemplation of these things, will not be mortified when he withdraws himself from the gratifications of sin; for he will find himself above them. A man of years feels no uneasiness because he is without the toys and rattles with which children are delighted: their treasure consists

consists in these little things, and their hearts are full of them: but men of skill and science are delighted with what children cannot cómprehend. There is just the same difference between the man of pleasure and the man of devotion: the one is a child all his life long the other is rational and manly in the choice of his objects; which, in their nature, are alone worthy of his attention, and capable of satisfying all the highest affections of the mind and understanding. God hath so ordained, that what is our duty is also our present interest and satisfaction; I mean, the interest of our better part. The good man, by his alliance to God, is certainly more happy, as well as more honourable, than he that is allied only to the world; allowing him to be connected with what we usually look upon as the higher part of it. Should we not think and feel ourselves abundantly happier in the court of Solomon, partakers of his wisdom and splendour, than if we belonged to the train of an Indian prince, who is a black and a savage? Infinitely greater is the difference between the felicity of those who attend upon God, and those who are confined to the pleasures of sense. The eyes of the swine are invincibly directed to the earth, and his neck is inflexible, but man has a


countenance directed toward the heaven; and the smallest star that is visible in the firmament, is incomparably brighter than all the diamonds and gold of the earth, even when human art has united and polished them to the greatest advantage. As the glories of the heaven are more excellent than the splendor of the earth, so is the contemplation of heavenly things better than the enjoyment of earthly. The astronomer, who measures the courses of the stars, and observes all the appearances of the sun, is employed more to his own satisfaction, than the wretch who dwells in the bottom of a mine, and is digging there by the light of a taper, in danger of being overwhelmed with the ragged vault that hangs over his head; or stifled with poisonous damps and vapours. In a word, the greater and better the objects are, of which we are in pursuit, the higher is the satisfaction afforded by them. The angel is happier than the man, because he has greater things before him: and by parity of reason, the Christian is happier than the man of sensuality. If angels are spectators of what passes here below, how must they look down with pity and contempt on the childish agitations of human affections? on the elevations of pride, the uneasiness of ambition, the misery of covetous


« AnteriorContinuar »