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frequently declared, that “they could feel no pleasure in being suspended for ever in an ethereal region, and perpetually singing psalms and hymns to the Eternal”—an idea of heaven which is too frequently conveyed, by the vague and distorted descriptions which have been given of the exercises and entertaininents of the future world. There is an intimate connection between the word and the works of God: they reflect a mutual lustre on each other; and the discoveries inade in the latter, are calculated to expand our conceptions an i to direct our views, of the revelations contained in the former. Without taking into account the sublime manifestations of the Deity, exhibited in his visible creation, our ideas of celestial bliss must be very vague and confused, and our hopes of full and perpetual enjoyment in the future state, extremely feeble and languid. From the very constitution of the human mind, it appears, that in order to enjoy uninterrupted happiness, without satiety or disgust, it is requisite that new objects and new trains of thought be continually opening to view. A perpetual recurrence of the same objects and perceptions, however sublime in themselves, and however interesting and delightful they may have been felt at one period, cannot afford uninterrupted gratification to minds endowed with capacious powers, and capable of ranging through the depths of immensity. But all the objects in this sublunary world and its environs, and all the events recorded in sacred and profane history, are not sufficient to occupy the expansive minds of renovated intelligences for a million of ages, much less throughout an endless duration of existence. A series of objects and of moral dispensations, more extensive than those immediately connected with the globe we inhabit, must, therefore, be supposed to engage the attention of “the spirits of just men made persect,” during the revolutions of eternal ages; in order that their faculties may be gratified and expanded—that new views of the divine character may be unfolded— and that in the contemplation of his perfections, they may enjoy a perpetuity of bliss. It has been, indeed, asserted by some, that “the mysteries of redemption will be sufficient to afford scope for the delightful investigation of the saints to all eternity.” It is readily admitted, that contemplations of the divine perfections, as displayed in human redemption, and of the stupendous facts which relate to that economy, will blend themselves with all the other exercises of redeemed intelligences. While their intellectual faculties are taking the most extensive range through the dominions of Him who sits upon the throne of universal nature, they will never forget that love “which brought them from darkness to light,” and from the depths of misery to the splendours of eternal day. Their grateful and oriumphant praises will ascend to the Father of
glory, and to the Lamb who was slain, for cueand ever. But, at the same time, the range or objects comprised within the scheme of redemption, in its reference to human beings, cannot be supposed, without the aid of other objects of contemplation, to afford full and uninterrupted scope to the faculties of the saints in heaven, throughout an unlimited duration.—This will appear, if we endeavour to analyze some of the objects presented to our view in the economy of redemption. In the first place, it may be noticed, that a veil of mystery surrounds several parts of the plan of redemption. “God manifested in the flesh,” the intimate union of the etermal selfexistent Deity with “the man Christ Jesus,”— is a mystery impenetrable to finite minds. But the eternity, the omnipresence, and the omniscience of the Deity, are equally mysterious; for they are equally incomprehensible, and must for ever remain incomprehensible to all limited intelligences. It is equally incomprehensible, that a sensitive being should exist, surnished with all the organs and functions requisite for animal life, and yet of a size ten thousand times less than a mite. These are facts which must be admitted on the evidence of sense and of reason, but they lie altogether beyond the sphere of our comprehension.—Now, an object which involves a mystery cannot be supposed to exercise and entertain the mind through eternity, considered simply as incomprehensible, without being associated with other objects which lie within the range of finite comprehension; otherwise, reflections on the eternity and omnipresence of God, considered purely as abstractions of the mind, might gratify the intellectual faculties, in the future world, in as high a degree as any thing that is mysterious in the scheme of redemption. But it is quite evident, that perpetual reflection on infinite space and eternal duration, abstractly considered, cannot produce a very high degree of mental enjoyment, unless when considered in their relation to objects more definite and comprehensible Such contemplations, however, will, doubtless, be mingled with all the other views and investigations of the sainta in the heavenly world. In proportion as they advance through myriads of ages in the course o unlimited duration, and in proportion to the enlarged views they will acquire, of the distances and magnitudes of the numerous bodies which diversify the regions of the universe, their ideas of infinite space, and of eternal duration, will be greatly expanded. For we dan acquire ideas of the extent of space, only by comparing the distances and bulks of material objects with one another-and of duration by the trains of though, derived from sensible objects, which pass through our minds, and, from the periodical revolutions of material objects around us.-The same things may be affirmed in relation to all that is myste
rious in the economy of human redemption; and, is what has been now said be admitted, it will follow that such mysteries, considered merely as incomprehensibie realities, could not afford a rapturous train of thought to entertain the mind throughout the ages of eternity. It is definite and tangible objects, and not abstract mysteries, that constitute the proper subject of contemplation to a rational mind. For although we were to ponder on what is incomprehensible, such as the eternity of God, for millions of years, we should be as far from comprehending it, or acquiring any new ideas respecting it, at the end of such a period, as at the present moment. In the next place, redemption may be considered in reference to the important facts connected with it, in which point of view, chiefly, it becomes a tangible object for the exercise of the moral and intellectual powers of man . These facts relate either to the “man Christ Jesus, the Mediator between God and man,” or to the saints whose redemption he procured. The general facts which relate to Christ, while he sojourned in our world, are recorded in the New Testament by the Evangelists. These comprehend his miraculous conception, and the circumstances which attended his birth; his private residence in Nazareth: his journies as a public teacher through the land of Judea ; his miracles, sufferings, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension to heaven. There is doubtless a variety of interesting facts, besides those recorded in the Gospels, with which it would be highly gratifying to become acquainted: such as, the manner in which he spent his life, from the period of the first dawnings of reason, to the time of his commencing his public administrations—the various trains of thought that passed through his mind—the mental and corporeal exercises in which he engaged —the social intercourses in which he mingled— the topics of conversation he suggested—the amusements (if any) in which he indulged—the pious exercises and sublime contemplations in which he engaged, when retired from the haunts and the society of men;–and particularly those grand and important transactions in which he has been employed, since that moment when a cloud interposed between his glorified body, and the eyes of his disciples, after his ascent from Mount Olivet—What regions of the material universe he passed through in his triumphant ascent—what intelligence of his achievements he conveyed to other worlds—what portion of the immensity of space, or what globe or material fabric is the scene of his more immediate residence—what are the external splendours and peculiarities of that glorious world—what intercourse he has with the spirits of just men made perfect; with Enoch and Elijah, who are already furnished with bodies, and with other orders of celestial intelligences—what scenes and movements will take place in that world, when he is
about to return to our terrestrial sphere, to sum mon all the tribes of men to the general judgment? The facts in relation to these, and similar circumstances, still remain to be disc.osed, and the future details which may be given of such interesting particulars, cannot fail to be highly gratifying to every one of the “redeemed from among men.” But still, it must be admitted, that although the details respecting each of the facts to which I allude, were to occupy the period of a thousand years, the subject would soon be exhausted, is other events and circumstances, and another train of divine dispensations were not at the same time presented to view; and the future periods of eternal duration would be destitute of that variety and novelty of prospect which are requisite to secure perpetual enjoyment. The other class of facts relates to the redeemed themselves, and comprehends those diversified circumstances in the course of providence, by means of which they were brought to the knowledge of salvation, and conducted through the scenes of mortality to the enjoyment of endless felicity. These will, no doubt, afford topics of interesting discourse, to diversify and enliven the exercises of the saints in heaven. But the remark now made in reference to the other facts alluded to above, is equally applicable here. The series of divine dispensations towards every individual, though different in a few subordinate particulars, partakes of the same character, and wears the same general aspect. But although the dispensations of Providence towards every one of the redeemed were as different from another as it is possible to conceive, and although a hundred years were devoted to the details surnished by every saint, cternity would not be exhausted by such themes alone. Again, it has been frequently asserted, that the saints in heaven will enjoy perpetual rapture in continually gazing on the glorified humanity of Christ Jesus. The descriptions sometimes given of this circumstance, convey the idea of a vast concourse of spectators gazing upon a resplendent figure placed upon an eminence in the midst of them—which, surely, must convey a very imperfect and distorted idea of the sublime employments of the saints in light. The august splendours of the “man Christ Jesus,” the exalted station he holds in the upper world, the occasional intercourse which all his saints will hold with him, the lectures on the plans and operations of Deity with which he may entertain them—the splendid scenes to which he may guide them —and many other circumstances—will excite the most rapturous admiration of Him who is “the brightness of the Father's glory.”—But, since the glorified body of Christ is a materiat substance, and, consequently, limited to a certain portion of space, it cannot be supposed to be a. all times within the view of every inhabitant on
heaven ; and although it were, the material splendours of that body, however august and astonishing, cannot be supposed to afford new and varied gratification, throughout an endless succession of duration. He will be chiefly recognised as the Head of the redeemed family of man, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” who will gradually reveal the secret counsels of God, and direct his saints to those displays of divine glory which will enlighten and entertain their mental powers. This seems to be inimated in such representations as the following-" The Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them to living fountains of water.” By directing their attention to those objects in which they may behold the most august displays of divine perfection, and teaching them in what points of view they ought to be contemplated, and what conclusions they ought to deduce from them, “he will feed” the minds of his people with divine knowledge, and “ lead them” to those sublime and transporting trains of thought, which will fill them with “Joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
Thus it appears, that neither the mysteries, nor the leading facts connected with the plan of redenption, when considered merely in relation to human beings—can be supposed to be the principal subjects of contemplation in the heavenly state, nor sufficient to produce those diversified gratifications which are requisite to insure perpetual enjoyment to the expanded intellects of redeemed men in the future world—though such contemplations will undoubtedly be intermingled with all the other intellectual surveys of the saints in glory.
I now proceed to the principal object in view, namely, to inquire, what other objects will employ the attention of good men in the world to come, and what light the material works of God, which have been unfolded to our view, tend to throw upon this subject.
The foundation of the happiness of heavenly intelligences being laid in the destruction of every principle of moral evil, in the enjoyment of moral perfection—and in the removal of every physical impediment to the exercise of their intellectual powers—they will be fitted for the most profound investigations, and for the most enlarged contemplations. And one of their chief employments, of course, will be, to investigate, contemplate, and admire the glory of the divine perfections. Hence it is declared in Scripture as one of the privileges of the saints in light, that “they shall see God as he is”—that “they shall see his face”—and that “they shall behold his glory,”—which expressions, and others of similar import, plainly intimate, that they shall enjoy a clearer vision of the divine glory than in the present state. But how is this vision to be obtained The Deity, being a spiritual uncom
pounded substance, having no visible form, nor sensible quantities, “inhabiting eternity,” and filling immensity with his presence—his essential glory cannot form an object for the direct contemplation of any finite intelligence. His glory, or, in other words, the grandeur of his perfections, can be traced only in the external manifestation which he gives of himself in the material creation which his power has brought into existence—in the various orders of intelligences with which he has peopled it—and in his moral dispensations towards all worlds and beings which now exist, or may hereafter exist, throughout his boundless empire. It is in this point of view, that our knowledge of the material universe assists our conceptions of the scenes of a suture state, and throws a refulgence of light on the employments, and the uninterrupted pleasures of the redeemed in heaven. By the discoveries of modern science, in the distant regions of space, we are fully assured, that the attributes of the Deity have not been exercised solely in the construction of our sublunary sphere, and of the aerial heavens with which it is encompassed, nor his providential regards confined to the transactions of the frail beings that dwell upon its surface, but extend to the remotest spaces of the universe. We know, that far beyond the limits of our terrestrial abode, the Almighty has displayed his omnipotence in framing worlds which, in magnitude, and in splendour of accompaniments, far surpass this globe on which we dwell. The eleven planetary bodies which, in common with the earth, revolve about the sun, contain a mass of matter two thousand five hundred times greater, and an extent of surface sufficient to support an assemblage of inhabitants three hundred times more numerous than in the world which we inhabit. The divine wisdom is also displayed in reference to these vast globes, in directing their motions, so as to produce a diversity of seasons, and a regular succession of day and night—in surrounding some of them with moons, and with luminous rings of a magnificent size, to adorn their nocturnal heavens, and to reflect a mild radiance in the absence of the sun-in encompassing them with atmospheres, and diversifying their surface with mountains and plains. These and other arrangements, which indicate special contrivance and design, show, that those bodies are destined by the Creator to be the abodes of intellectual beings, who partake of his bounty, and offer to him a tribute of adoration and praise. Although no other objects were presented to our view, except those to which I now allude, and which are contained within the limits of our system, yet even here—within this small province of the kingdom of Jehovah—a grand and diversified scene is displayed for the future contemplation of heavenly intelligences. But it is a fact which cannot be disputed, that the sun and all his attendant planets form but a small speck in the map of the universe. How great soever this earth, with its vast continents and mighty oceans, inay appear to our eye, -how stupendous soever the great globe of Jupiter, which would contain within its bowels a thousand wor.as as large as ours—and overwhelming as the conception is, that the sun is more than a thousand times larger than both, yet, were they this moment detached from their spheres, and blotted out of existence, there are worlds within the range of the Almighty's empire where such an awful catastrophe would be altogether unknown. Nay, were the whole cubical space occupied by the solar system—a space 3,600,000,000 miles in diameter—to be formed into a solid globe, containing 24,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 cubical miles, and overspread with a brilliancy superior to that of the sun, to continue during the space of a thousand years in this splendid state, and then to be extinguished and annihilated—here are beings, who reside in spaces within the range of our telescopes, to whom its creation and destruction would be equally unknown : and to an eye which could take in the whole compass of nature, it might be altogether unheeded, or, at most, be regarded as the appearance and disappearance of a lucid point in an obscure corner of the universe—just as the detachment of a drop of water from the ocean, or a grain of sand from the sea shore is unheeded by a common observer. At immeasurable distances from our earth and system immense assemblages of shining orbs display their radiance. The amazing extent of that space which intervenes between our habitation and these resplendent globes, proves their immense magnitude, and that they shine not with borrowed but with native splendour. From what we know of the wisdom and intelligence of the divine Being, we may safely conclude, that he has created nothing in vain; and consequently, that these enormous globes of light were not dispersed through the universe, merely as so many splendid tapers to illuminate the voids of infinite space. To admit, for a moment, such a supposition, would be inconsistent with the marks of intelligence and design which are displayed in all the other scenes of nature which lie within the sphere of our investigation. It would represent the Almighty as amusing himself with splendid toys, an idea altogether incompatible with the adorable Majesty of heaven, and which would tend to lessen our reverence of his character, as the only wise God.—If every part of nature in our sublunary system is destined to wome particular use in reference to sentient beings—if even the muddy waters of a stagnant pool are replenished with myriads of inhabitants, should we for a moment doubt, that so many thousands of magnificent globes have a relation to the accommodation and happiness of intel
ligent beings: since in every part of the material system which lies open to our minute inspection, it appears, that matter exists solely for the purpose of sentient and intelligent creatures. As the Creator is consistent in all his plans and cpcrations, it is beyond dispute, that those great globes which are suspended throughout the vast spaces of the universe are destined to some noble purposes worthy of the infinite power, wisdom, and intelligence, which produced them. And what may these purposes be? Since most of these bodies are of a size equal, if not superior, to our sun, and shine by their own native light, we are led by analogy to conclude, that they are destined to subserve a similar purpose in the system of nature—to pour a flood of radiance on surrounding words, and to regulate their motions by their attractive influence. So that each of these luminaries may be considered, not merely as a world, but as the centre of thirty, sixty, or a hundred worlds, among which they distribute light, and heat, and comfort.* ls, now, we attend to the vast number of those stupendous globes, we shall perceive what an extensive field of sublime investigation lies open to all the holy intelligences that exist in creation. When we list our eyes to the nocturnal sky, we behold several hundreds of these majestic orbs, arranged in a kind of magnificent confusion, glimmering from afar on this obscure corner of the universe. But the number of stars, visible to the vulgar eye, is extremely small, compared with the number which has been descried by means of optical instruments. In a small portion of the sky, not larger than the apparent breadth of the moon, a greater number of stars has been discovered than the naked eye can discern throughout the whole vault of heaven. In proportion as the magnifying powers of the telescope are increased, in a similar proportion do the stars increase upon our view. They seem ranged behind one another in boundless perspective, as far as the assisted eye can reach, leaving us no room to doubt, that, were the powers of our telescopes increased a thousand times more than they now are, millions beyond millions, in addition to what we now behold, would start up before the astonished sight. Sir William Herschel informs us, that, when viewing a certain portion of the JMilky JVay, in the course of seven minutes, more than fisty thousand stars passed •The Author will have an opportunity of illus trating this subject, in minute detail, in a work entitled, The scenery of the heavens displayed, with the view of proving and illustrating the doctrine of a plurality of trurids;" in which the positions here assumed will be shown to have the force of a moral demonstration, on the same general principles by which we prove the being of a God, and the immortality of man. In this work, all the known sucts in relation to descriptive astronomy, and the structure of the heavens, will be particularly detailed, and accompanied with original remarks and moral and religious reflections, so as to form a comprehensive compend of popular astronomy
across the field of his telescope, and it has been
-alculated, that within the range of such an in
strument, applied to all the different portions of the firmament, more than eighly millions of stars would be rendered visible. Here, then, within the limits of that circle which human vision has explored, the mind perceives, not merely eighty millions of worlds, but, at least thirty times that number ; for every star, considered as a sun, may be conceived to be surrounded by at least thirov planetary globes;* so that the visible system of the universe may be stated, at the lowest computation, as comprehending within its vast circumference, 2,400,000,000 of worlds ! This celestial scene presents an idea so august and overwhelming, that the mind is confounded, and shrinks back at the attempt of forming any definite conception of a multitude and a magnitude so far beyond the limits of its ordinary excursions. If we can form no adequato idea of the magnitude, the variety, and economy of one world, how can we form a just conception of thousands? If a single million of objects of any description presents an image too vast and complex to be taken in at one grasp, how shall we ever attempt to comprehend an object so vast as two thousand four hundred millions of worlds ! None but that Eternal Mind which counts the number of the stars, which called them from nothing into existence, and arranged then in the respective stations they occupy, and whose eyes run to and fro through the unlimited extent of creation—can form a clear and comprehensive conception of the number, the order, and the economy of this vast portion of the system of nature. But here, even tho very feebleness and obscurity of our conceptions tend to throw a radiance on the subject we are attempting to illustrate. The magnitude and incomprehensibility of the object, show us, how many diversified views of the divine glory remain to be displayed ; what an infinite variety of sublime scenes may be asforded for the mind to expatiate upon ; and what rapturous trains of thought, ever various, and ever new, may succeed each other without interruption, throughout an unlimited duration. Let us now endeavour to analyze some of the cbjects presented to our mental sight, in this vast assemblage of systems and worlds, which lie within the sphere of human vision. The first idea that suggests itself, is, that they are all material structures—in the formation of which, infinite wisdom and goodness have been employed; and consequently, they must exhibit
• The solar system consists of eleven primary and eighteen secondary planets ; in all twenty-nine, besides inore than a hundred comets; and it is probable that several planetary bodies exist within the limits of our system which have not yet been discowered. Other systems inay prohal ly contain a more turnerous retinue of worlds, and perhaps of r larger than thore belongitig to the system of the sun.
scenes of sublimity and of exquisite contrivance worthy of the contemplation of every rational being. If this earth, which is an abode of apostate inen, and a scene of inoral depravity, and which, here and there, has the appearance of being the ruins of a former world—presents the variegated prospect of lofty mountains, romantic dells, and fertile plains: meandering rivers, transparent lakes, and spacious oceans : verdant landscapes, adorned with fruits and flowers, and a rich variety of the finest colours, and a thousand other beauties and sublimities that are strewed over the face of nature—how grand and magnificent a scenery may we suppose, must be presented to the view, in those worlds where moral evil has never entered to derange the harmony of the Creator's works—where love to the Supreme, and to one another, fires the bosoms of all their inhabitants, and produces a rapturous exultation, and an incessant adoration of the Source of happiness . In such worlds, we may justly conceive, that the sensitive enjoyments, and the objects of beauty and grandeur which are displayed to their view, as far exceed the scenery and enjoyments of this world, as their moral and intellectual qualities excel those of the sons of men. In the next place, it is highly reasonable to bolieve, that an infinite diversity of scenery exists throughout all the worlds which compose the universe; that no one of all the millions of systems to which I have now adverted, exactly resembles another in its construction, motions, order, and decorations. There appear, indeed, to be certain laws and phenomena which are common to all the systems which exist within the limits of human vision. It is highly probable that the laws of gravitation extend their influence through every region of space occupied by material substances; and, it is beyond a doubt, that the phenomena of vision, and the laws by which light is reflected and refracted, exist in the remotest regions which the telescope has explored. For the light which radiates from the most distant stars (as formerly stated) is found to be of the same nature, to move with the same velocity, to be refracted by the same laws, and to exhibit the same colours as the light which proceeds from the sun, and is reflected from surrounding objects. The medium of vision must, therefore, be acted upon, and the organs of sight perform their functions, in those distant regions, in the same manner as takes place in the system of which we form a part, or, at least, in a manner somewhat analogous to it. And this circumstance shows, that the Creator evidently intended we should form some faint ideas, at least, of the general procedure of nature in distant worlds, in order to direct our conceptions of the sublime scenery of the universe, even while we remain in this obscure corner of creation. But, although the visible systems of the universe