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be sure at length to feel him in his displeasure. And how dreadful is the condition of that creature, who is sensible of the being of his Creator, only by what he suffers from him! He is as essentially present in hell as in heaven ; but the inhabitants of those dismal regions behold him only in his wrath, and shrink within the flames to conceal themfelves from him. It is not in the power of imagination to conceive the fearful effects of Omnipotence incensed.
But I shall only consider the wretchedness of an intellectual being, that, in this life, lies under the displeasure of him, who, at all times, and in all places, is intimately united with him. He is able to disquiet the foul, and vex it in all its faculties. He can hinder any of the greatest comforts of life from refrelhing us, and give an edge to every one of its flightest calamities. Who then can bear the thought of being an outcast from his presence, that is, from the comforts of it, or of feeling it only in its terrors? How pathetic is that expoftulation of Job, when for the real trial of his patience, he was made to look upon himself in this deplorable condition ! " why halt thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am become a burden to myself ?”
But, thirdly, how happy is the condition of that intellectual being, who is sensible of his Maker's presence, from the secret effects of his mercy and loving-kindness ! The blessed in heaven behold him face to face, that is, are as sensible of his presence as we are of the presence of any perfon whom we look upon with our eyes. There is doubtless a faculty in spirits, by which they apprehend one another, as our senses do material objects ; and there is no question but our fouls, when they are disembodied, or placed in glo. rified bodies, will, by this faculty, in whatever part of space they reside, be always sensible of the divine presence. We, who have this veil of Aesh standing between us and the world of spirits, must be content to know the Spirit of God is present with us by the effects which he produces in us. Our outward senses are too gross to apprehend him. We may however tatte and see how gracious he is, by his influence upon our minds : by those virtuous thoughts which he awakens in us; by those secret comforts and refrethments which he conveys into our souls ; and by those ravilling joys and inward satisfactions which are frequently springing up, and diffuting themselves among the thouglits of good mene He is lodged in our very essence, and is as a low! within the soul, to irradiate its understanding, re&tify its will, purify its passions, and enliven all the powers of man. How happy therefore is an intellectual being, who, by prayer and meditation, by virtue and good works, opens this communication between God and his own foul ! Though the whole creation frowns, and all nature looks black about him, he has his light and support within, that are able to cheer his mind, and bear him up in the midst of all those horrors which encompass him. He knows that his helper is at hand, and is always nearer to him than any thing can be, which is capable of annoying or terrifying him. In the midst of calumny or contempt, he attends to that Being who whispers better things within his soul, and whom he looks upon as his defender, his glory, and the lifter-up of his head. In his deepest solitude and retirement, he knows that he is in company with the greatest of beings; and perceives within himself such real sensations of his presence, as are more delightful than any thing that can be met with in the conversation of his creatures. Even in the hour of death, he considers the pains of his dissolution to be only the breaking down of that partition, which stands betwixt his soul, and the fight of that Being who is always present with him, and is about to manifest itself to him in fulness of joy.
If we would be thus happy, and thus sensible of our Maker's presence, from the secret effects of his mercy and goodnefs, we must keep such a watch over all our thoughts, that, in the language of the scripture, his soul may have pleasure in us. We must take care not to grieve his holy Spirit, and endeavour to make the meditations of our hearts always acceptable in his fight, that he may delight thus to reside and dwell in us. The light of nature could direct Seneca to this doctrine, in a very remarkable paffage in one of his epistles: “There is (fays he) a holy spirit residing in us, who watches and observes both good and evil men, and will treat us after the same manner that we treat hin." But I shall conclude this discourse with those more emphatical words in divine revelation : “ If a man love me, he will keep my words ; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."
Our imperfca knowledge of a future fate, fuited to the condition
of man. THE sceptic, who is dissatisfied with the obscurity which Divine Providence has wisely thrown over the future ftate, conceives that more information would be reasonable and falutary He desires to have his view enlarged beyond the limits of this corporeal scene. Instead of resting upon evidence which requires discussion, which must be support. ed by much reafoning, and which, after all he alleges, yields very imperfect information, he demands the everlasting mansions to be fo displayed, as to place faith on a level with the evidence of sense. What noble and happy effects, he exclaims, would instantly follow, if man thus beheld his present and his future existence at once before him! He would then become worthy of his rank in the creation. Instead of being the sport, as now, of degrading passions and childish attachments, he would act solely on the principles of immortality. His pursuit of virtue would be steady : his life would be unditurbed and happy. Superior to the attacks of distress, and to the solicitations of pleasure, he would advance, by a regular progress, towards those divine rewards and honours which were continually present to his view.-Thus fancy, with as much ease and confidence as if it were a perfect judge of creation, erects a new world to itself, and exults with admiration of its own work. But let us pause, and suspend this admiration, till we coolly examine the contequences that would follow from this supposed reformation of the universe.
Consider the nature and circumstances of man. Introduced into the world in an indigent condition, he is supported at first by the care of others; and, as soon as he begins to act for himself, finds labour and industry to be necessary for sustaining his life, and fupplying his wants. Mutual defence and interelt give rise to fociety; and society, when formed, requires diftinctions of property, diversity of conditions, subordination of ranks, and a multiplicity of occupations, in order to advance the general good. The services of the poor, and the protection of the rich, become reciprocally necessary. The governors, and the governed, must co-operate for general safety. Various arts must be ftudied; fome respecting the cultivation of the mind, others the care of the body ; fome to ward off the evils, and some to provide the conveniences of life. In a word, by the destination of his Creator, and the necessities of his nature, man commences, at once, an active, not merely a contemplative being. Religion assumes him as fuch. It supposes him employed in this world, as on a busy stage. It regulates, but does not abolish, the enterprises and cares of ordinary life. It addresses itself to the various ranks in society ; to the rich and the poor, to the magistrate and the subject. It rebukes the flothful ; directs the diligent how to labour; and requires every man to do his own business,
Suppofe, now, that veil to be withdrawn which con. ceals another world from our view. Let all obscurity vanifh ; let us no longer “ see darkly, as through a glass ;" but let every man enjoy that intuitive perception of divine and eternal objects, which the sceptic was supposed to desire. The immediate effect of such a discovery would be, to annihilate in our eye all human objects, and to produce a total ftagnation in the affairs of the world. Were the celestial glory exposed to our admiring view ; did the angelic harmony found in our enraptured ears ; what earthly concerns could have the power of engaging our attention for a single monient? All the studies and pursuits, the arts and labours, which now employ the activity of man which support the order, or promote the happiness of fociety, would lie neglected and abandoned. Those desires and fears, those hopes and interests by which we are at present stimulated, would ceafe to operate. Human life would present no objects sufficient to rouse the mind ; to kindle the spirit of enterprise, or to urge the hand of industry. If the mere sense of duty engaged a good man to take some part in the business of the world, the talk, when submitted lo, would prove distasteful Even the prefervation of life would be flighted, if he were not bound to it by the authority of God. Impatient of his confinement within this tabernacle of dust, languishing for the happy day of his translation to those glorious regions which were displayed to his fight, he would sojourn on earth as a melancholy exile. Whatever Providence has prepared for the entertainment of man would be viewed with contempt. Whatever is now attractive in society would appear insipid. In a word, he would be no longer a fit inhabitant of this world, nor be qualified for those exertions which are allotted to him in his present sphere of being. But, all his faculties being fublimated above the measure of humanity, he would be in the condition of a being of superior order, who, obliged to reside among men, would regard their pursuits with scorn, as dreams, trifles, and puerile amusements of a day.
But to this reasoning it may, perhaps, be replied, that such confequences as I have now itated, supposing them to follow, deserve not much regard. For what though the present arrangement of human affairs were entirely changed, by a clearer view, and a stronger impression of our future ftate ; would not such a change prove the highest blefling to man? Is not his attachment to worldly objects the great
source both of his misery and his guilt ? Employed in perpetual contemplation of heavenly objects, and in preparation for the enjoyment of them, would he not be. come more virtuous, and of course more happy, than the nature of his present employments and attachments per. mits him to be ?-Allowing for a moment, the consequence to be fuch, this much is yielded, that, upon the supposition which was made, man would not be the creature which he now is, nor human life the state which we now behold. How far the change would contribute to his welfare, comes to be considered.
If there be any principle fully ascertained by religion, it is, that this life was intended for a state of trial and im. provenient to man. His preparation for a better world required a gradual purification, carried on by steps of pro. grellive discipline. The fituation, therefore, here alligned him, was such as to answer this design, by calling forth all his active powers, by giving full scope to his moral dispositions, and bringing to light his whole character, Hence it became proper, that difficulty and temptation fhould arise in the course of his duty. Ample rewards were promised to virtue ; but these rewards were left, as yet, in obscurity and distant profpect. The impressions of sense were so balanced against the discoveries of immortality, as to allow a confict between faith and sense, be. tween conscience and desire, between present pleasure and future
good. In this conflict, the souls of good men are tried, improved, and strengthened. In this field, their