« PreviousContinue »
cation which it is in the humour to be pleased with. If we wish to be in groves or bowers, among running streams or falls of water, we shall immediately find ourselves in the midst of such a scene as we de-, fire. If we would be entertained with music, and the melody of sounds, the concert arises upon our wish, and the whole region about us is filled with harmony. In short, every desire will be followed by fruition, and whatever a man's inclination directs him to, will be present with him. Nor is it material whether the Supreme Power creates in conformity to our wishes, or whether he only produces such a change in our imagination, as makes us believe ourfelves conversaut among those scenes which delight
Our happiness will be the fame, whether it proceeds from external objects, or from the impressions of the Deity upon our own private fancies. This is the account which I have received froin my learned friend. Notwithstanding this system of belief be in general very chimerical and visionary, there is fomething sublime in its manner of considering the influence of a Divine Being on a human soul. It has also, like most other opinions of the heathen world upon these important points, it has, I say, its foundation in truth, as it supposes the souls of good men after this life to be in a state of perfect happiness, that in this Itate there will be no barren bopes, nor fruitless wishes, and that we shall enjoy every thing can delire.
But the particular circumstance which I am most pleased with in this scheme, and which arises from a just reflection upon human nature, is that variety of pleasures which it fupposes the fouls of good men will be pofseffed of in another world. This I think bighly probable, from the dic. tates both of reason and revelation. The foul confits of many faculties, as the understanding, and the will, with all the fenfes both outward and inward ; or, to speak more philofophically, the foul can exert herself in many different ways of aclion. understand, will, imagine, lee, and hear, love, and
discourse, and apply herself to many other the like exercises of different kinds and natures; but what is more to be considered, the soul is capable of receiving a mos exquifite pleasure and satisfaction from the exercise of any of these its powers, when they are gratified with their proper objects; she can be entire ly happy by the satisfaction of the memory, the fight,
: the hearing, or any other mode of perception. Every faculty, is as a distinct taste in the mind, and bath: objects accommodated to its proper relifh. Doctor Tillotson somewhere says, that he will not presume to determine in what confitts the happiness of the bleft, because God Almighty is capable of making the foul happy by ten thousand different ways. Be fides those several avenues to pleasure which the soul; is endued with in this life, it is not impossible, according to the opinion of many eminent divinesys but there may be new faculties in the souls of good! men niade perfect, as well as new fenses in their glorified bodies. This we are sure of, that there will be new objects offered to all those faculties which are: effential to us.
We are likewise to take notice that every particular faculty is capable of being employed on a very great variety of objects. The understanding, for example, may be happy in the contemplation of moral, natural, mathematical, and other kinds of truth. The memory likewise may turn itself to an infinite multitude of objects, especially when the soul. fhall. have passed through the space of many millions of years, and shall reflect with pleasure on the days of eternity. Every other faculty may be considered in the same extent.
We cannot question but that the happiness of a foul will be adequate to its nature, 'and that it is not endued with any faculcies which are to lie useless and unemployed. The happiness is to be the happiness of the whole man, and we may easily conceive to ourfelves the happiness of the soul, whilst any one of its.
faculties is in the fruition of its chief good. The happiness may be of a more exalted nature in proportion as the faculty employed is fo; but as the whole foul acts in the exercion of any of its particular powers, the whole soul is happy in the pleasure which arises from any of its particular acts.
of its particular acts. For norwithstanding, as bas been before hinted, and as it has been taken notice of by one of the greatest modern philosophers, we divide the soul into several powers and faculties, there is no such division in the soul itfelf, fince it is the whole foul that remembers, underitands, wills, or imagines. Our manner of con. fidering the memory, understanding, will, imagination, and the like faculties, is for the better enabling us to express ourselves in such abstracted subjects of speculation, not that there is any such division in the foul itself.
Seeing then that the soul has many different facul. ties, or, in other words, many different ways of acting; that it can be intensely pleased, or made happy by all these different faculties, or ways of acting; that it may be endued with several latent faculties, which it is not at present in a condition to exert; that we cannot believe the soul is endued with
any faculty which is of no use to it; that whenever any one of these faculties is transcendently pleased, the soul is in a state of happiness; and, in the last place, conlidering that the happiness of another world is to be the happiness of the whole man; who can question but that there is an infinite variety in those pleasures we are speaking of; and that this fulness of joy will be made up of all those pleasures which the nature of the soul is capable of receiving.
We shall be the more confirmed in this doctrine, . if we observe the nature of variety, with regard to the
mind of man. The soul does not care to be always on the same bent. The faculties relieve one another by turns, and receive an additional pleasure from the novelty of those objects about which they are converiant.
Revelation likewise very much confirms this ñotion, under the different views which it gives us of our future happiness. In the description of the throne of God, it represents to us all those objects which are able to gratify the senses and imagination : in very many places it intimates to us, all the happiness which the understanding can pollibly receive in that state, where all things shall be revealed to us, and we shall know, even as we are known; the raptures of devotion, of divine love, the pleasure of conversing with our blessed Saviour, with an innumerable host of angels, and with the spirits of just men made perfect, are likewise revealed to us in several parts of the holy writings. There are also mentioned those hierarchies or governments, in which the blessed shall be ranged one above another, and in which we may be sure a great part of our happiness will likewise con Gift; for it will not be there as in this world, where every one is aiming at power and superiority; but, on the contrary, every one will find that station the most proper for him in which he is placed, and will probably think that he could not have-been so happy in any other station. These, and many other particulars, are marked in Divine Revelation, as the several ingredients of our happiness in heaven, which all imply such a variety of joys, and such a gratification of the soul in all its different faculties, as I have been here mentioning.
Some of the Rabbins tell us, that the cherubims are a set of angels who know most, and the seraphims a set of angels who love most. Whether this distinction be not altogether imaginary, I shall not here examine, but it is highly probable, that among the fpirits of good men, there may be some who will be more pleased with the employment of one faculty than of another, and this perhaps according to those innocent and virtuous habits or inclinations which have here taken the deepest root.
I might here apply this consideration to the spirits of wicked men, with relation to the pain which they shall suffer in every one of their faculties, and the respective miseries which shall be appropriated to each faculty in particular. But leaving this to the reflection of my readers, I shall conclude with observing, how we ought to be thankful to our great Creator, and rejoice in the being which he has bestowed upon us, for having made the soul susceptible of pleafure
ways. We see by what a variety of paffages joy and gladness may enter into the thoughts of man ; how wonderfully a human spirit is framed, to imbibe its proper fatisfactions, and taste the goodness of its Creator. We may therefore look into ourselves with rapture and amazement, and cannot sufficiently express our gratitude to him, who has encompafled us with such a profusion of bles. sings, and opened in us so many capacities of enjoy
by so many
There cannot be a stronger argument that God has designed us for a state of future happiness, and for that heaven which he has revealed to us, than that: he has thus naturally qualified the foul for it, and made it a being eapable of receiving fo much bliss. He would never have made such faculties in vain, and have endued us with powers that were not to be exerted on fuch objects as are suited to them. It is. very manifest, by the inward frame and constitution of our minds, that he has adapted ihem to an infinite variety of pleasures and gratifications, which are not to be met with in this life. We should therefore, at all times, take care that we do not disappoint this his. gracious purpose and intention towards us, and make those faculties which he formed as so many qualifications for happiness and rewards, to be the inftruments of pain and punishment.