Page images

the thought of being an out-cast 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 trial of his patience, he was made to look upon himself in this deplorable condition! Why bast thou fet me as a mark against thee, so that I ain 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 fenfible of his presence as we are of the prefence of any person whom we look upon with our eyes. There is doubtless a faculty in fpirits, by which they apprehend one another, as our senses do inaterial objects ; and there is no question but our fouls, when they are disembodied, or placed in glorified bodies, will by this faculty, in whatever part of space they reside, be al-' ways fenfible of the divine presence. We, who have this veil of flesh ftanding between us and the world of spirits, nust be content to know that the Spirit of God is present with us, by the effects which he produceth in ys. Our outward senses are


too gross to apprehend him ; we may, however taste and see how gracious he is, by his influence upon our minds, by those virtuous thoughes which he awa. kens in us, by those secret comforts and refreshments which he conveys into our souls, and by those ravishing joys and inward satisfactions, which are perpetually springing up and diffosing themfelves among all the thoughts of good men.. He is lodged in our very essence, and is as a soul within the soul, to irradiate its understanding, rectify its will, purify its pafsions, 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 soul! Tho' the whole crea. tion frowns upon him, and all nature looks black about him, he has his light and support within him, that are able to cheer his mind, and bear him up in the midst of all thofe horrors , which incompass him. He knows that his helper is at hand, and is always nearer to him than any thing else 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 folicude 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 nothing else but the breaking down, of that partition, which stands betwixt his soul, and the sight 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 goodness, 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 passage a. mong his epistles, Sacer ineft in nobis spi


[ocr errors]

ritus bonorum, malorumque custos, & obfer. vator, & quemadmodum nos illum tracta

mus, ita & ille nos. There is a holy Spiil rit residing in us, who watches and ob

ferves both good and evil men, and will treat us after the same manner that we treat him. But I shall conclude this discourse with those more emphatical words in divine revelation, If a man love me, he will keep my word, and my father will love bim, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. .

-Si verbo audacia detur, Non metuam magni dixisse palatia Cæli. Ov. Met. SIR, ; T Considered in my two last letters I that awful and tremendous subject, the Ubiquity or Omnipresence of the · Divine Being. I have shewn that he

is equally present in all places throughout the whole extent of infinite space., This doctrine is so agreeable to reason, that we meet with it in the writings of the enlightened Heathens, as I might Thow at large, were it not already done by other hands. But tho' the Deity ' be thus essentially present through all F4

o the


• the immensity of space, there is one

part of it in which he discovers himself in a most transcendent and visible

glory. This is that place which is • marked out in Scripture, under the dif

ferent appellations of paradise, the third heaven, the throne of God, and the habis

tation of his glory. It is here where the • glorified Body of our Saviour' resides,

and where all the celestial hierarchies, . and the innumerable hosts of Angels, • are represented as perpetually surround

ing the seat of God with hallelujahs . and hymns of praise. This is that pre• sence of God which some of the divines . call his glorious, and others his maje"static presence. He is indeed as effenti

ally present in all other places as in this, • but it is here where he resides in a sen<sible magnificenée, and in the midst of

those splendors which can affect the imá

gination of created Beings. . It is very remarkable that this opi

nion of God Almighty's presence in • heaven, whether discovered by the light

of nature, or by a general tradition from 5 our first parents, prevails among all the

nations of the world, whatsoever diffe

rent notions they entertain of the God• head. If you look into Homer, that is,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »