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the beatific vision of the ever blessed God; without which, neither the tranquillity they enjoy, nor the society of saints, nor the possession of any particular finite good, nor indeed of all such taken together, can satisfy the soul, or make it completely happy. The manner of this enjoyment we can only expect to understand, when we enter upon the full possession of it; till then, to dispute, and raise many questions about it, is nothing but vain foolish talking, and fighting with phantoms of our own brain. But the schoolmen, who confine the whole of this felicity to bare speculation, or, as they call it, an intellectual act*, are, in this, as in many other cases, guilty of great presumption, and their conclusion is built upon a very weak foundation. For although contemplation be the highest and noblest act of the mind; yet complete happiness necessarily requires some present good suited to the whole man, the whole soul, and all its faculties. Nor is it

any

objection to this doctrine, that the whole of this felicity is commonly comprehended in scripture under the term of vision; for the mental vision, or contemplation of the primary and infinite good, most properly signifies, or, at least, includes in it the full enjoyment of that good; and the observation of the Rabbins concerning scripture-phrases, “That words expressing the senses, include also the affections naturally arising from those sensationst," is very well known.

well known. Thus, knowing is often put * Actus intellectualis. + Verba sensus connotant affectus.

for approving and loving ; and seeing for enjoying and attaining. “ Taste and see that God is good," says the Psalmist; and in fact, it is no small pleasure to lovers to dwell together, and mutually to en. joy the sight of one another. Nothing is more agreeable to lovers, than to live together

We must, therefore, by all means conclude, that this beatific vision includes in it not only a distinct and intuitive knowledge of God, but, so to speak, such a knowledge as gives us the enjoyment of that most perfect Being, and, in some sense, unites us to him ; for such a vision, it must, of necessity, be, that converts that love of the infinite good, which blazes in the souls of the saints, into full possession, that crowns all their riches, and fills them with an abundant and overflowing fulness of joy, that vents itself in everlasting blessings and songs of praise.

And this is the only doctrine, if you believe it, and I make no doubt but you do: This, I say,

,

is the only doctrine that will transport your whole souls, and raise them up on high. Hence you

will learn to trample under feet all the turbid and muddy pleasures of the flesh, and all the allurements and splendid trifles of the present world. However those earthly enjoyments, that are swelled up by false names, and the strength of imagination, to a vast size, may appear grand and beautiful, and still greater, and more engaging to those that are unacquainted with them; how small, how inconsiderable do they all appear to a soul that looks for a heavenly

* 'ουδεν έτω των φίλων ως το συζήν.

country, that expects to share the joys of angels, and has its thoughts constantly employed about these objects ? To conclude, the more the soul withdraws, so to speak, from the body, and retires within itself, the more it rises above itself, and the more closely it cleaves to God, the more the life it lives, in this earth, resembles that which it will enjoy in heaven, and the larger foretastes it has of the first fruits of that blessed harvest. Aspire, therefore, to holiness, young gentlemen, “ without which no man shall see the Lord.”

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LECTURE VII.

Of the Being of God.

THOUGH, on most subjects, the opinions of men are various, and often quite opposite, insomuch that they seem to be more remarkable for the vast variety of their sentiments, than that of their faces and languages; there are, however, two things, wherein all nations are agreed, and in which there seems to be a perfect harmony throughout the whole human race; the desire of happiness, and a sense of religion. The former no man desires to shake off; and though some, possibly, would willingly part with the latter, it is not in their power to eradicate it entirely; they cannot banish God altogether out of their thoughts, nor extinguish every spark of religion within them. It is certainly true, that for the most part this desire of happiness wanders in darkness from one object to another, without fixing upon any; and the sense of religion is either suffered to lie inactive, or deviates into superstition. Yet the great Creator of the world employs these two, as the materials of a fallen building, to repair the ruins of the human race, and as handles whereby he draws his earthen vessel out of the deep gulph of misery into which it is fallen.

Of the former of these, that is, felicity, we have already spoken on another occasion: we shall therefore now, with divine assistance, employ some part of our time in considering that sense of religion, that is naturally impressed upon the mind of man.

Nor will our labour, I imagine, be unprofitably employed in collecting together these few general principles, in which so many,

dissimilar forms of religion, and sentiments, extremely different, harmoniously agree: for as every science, most properly, begins with universal propositions, and things more generally known; so in the present case, besides the other advantages, it will be no'small support to a weak and wavering mind, that, amidst all the disputes and contentions subsisting between the various sects and parties in religion, the great and necessary articles, at least, of our faith are established, in some particulars, by the general consent of mankind, and, in all the rest, by that of the whole christian world.

and so very

I would therefore most earnestly wish, that your minds, rooted and established in the faith*, were firmly united in this delightful bond of religion, which, like a golden chain, will be no burden, but an ornament; not a yoke of slavery, but a badge of true and generous liberty. I would, by no means, have you to be Christians, upon the authority of mere tradition, or education, and the example and precepts of parents and masters, but from a full conviction of your own understandings, and a fervent disposition of the will and affections proceeding therefrom; “ for piety is the sole and only good among mankindt," and you can expect none of the fruits of religion, unless the root of it be well laid, and firmly established by faith ; " for all the virtues are the daughters of faithf,” says Clem. Alexand.

Lucretius, with very ill-advised praises, extols his favourite Grecian philosopher as one fallen down from heaven to be the deliverer of mankind, and dispel their distressing terrors and fears, because he fancied he had found out an effectual method to banish all religion entirely out of the minds of men. And, to say the truth, in no age has there been wanting brutish souls, too much enslaved to their corporeal senses, that would wish these opinions to be true; yet, after all, there are very few of them, who are able to persuade themselves of the truth of these vicious principles, which, with great impu

Ερριζωμεις και βεβαιεμενες έν πιςει. Coloss. ii. 7. + “Εν γάρ και μόνον έν ανθρώποις αγαθόν η ευσέβεια. Trismegist, + Πάσαι γάρ άρεται πίςεως θυγάτερες.

*

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