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Still, if I mistake not, it is often made the foundation of views concerning Heaven, which are erroneous, and unhappy. Unless I am deceived, it is a very common opinion, that to receive enjoyment, and to praise the Author of it, constitute chiefly, if not wholly, the state of existence, allotted to the Righteous in the future world. This opinion I suppose, indeed, to exist indefinitely, and loosely; and without any known decision of the mind, either that such will be the fact, or that such is its own opinion. Yet I suspect, that, if many persons, and those not of inferior understanding, were to be asked in what the happiness of Heaven consists; the two particulars above mentioned would make up their answer. This I suspect, because I find these objects mentioned alone, almost always, when Heaven becomes the theme of discourse.

To praise God for the perfections of his nature is unquestionably an universal, and eternal duty, as well as a delightful employment, of Intelligent creatures. Far be it from me to undervalue the importance, or the excellence, of this duty. To receive enjoyment, also, is unquestionably one great end, for which Intelligent creatures are made ; and an end, clearly worthy of their Maker. But the mode, in which this enjoyment is attained, and the means of its accomplishment,, are considerations of peculiar moment both to the views, which we form of the celestial happiness, and to the nature of the happiness itself.

The State of existence in Heaven is not exhibited in the Scriptures as a state of mere recipiency; if I may be allowed the term, or of mere quiescent enjoyment. Glorified spirits are not, as I believe, mere vessels, into which happiness is poured by the Divine Hand; and do not merely enjoy what is thus communicated. On the contrary, they are the most active of all beings in the Creation of God; the most laborious ; and the most unremitting in their exertions. Out of this activity their happiness in a great measure springs.

Christ has taught us, that it is more blessed to give, than

receive ; that is, to communicate good to others, than to receive it from their hands. This great principle I have endeavoured to illustrate, variously, in several of these discourses ;

particularly in those on the End, for which man was created; on the Foundation of virtue ; and on the Influence of Virtue upon Personal happiness. In these discourses it was, I Aatter myself, clearly proved, that to do good is to possess a higher, and happier, state of being, than that of merely receiving. If, then, the state of the blessed is a state of mere recipiency; it is plainly, and wonderfully, inferior to such a state, as we can see with certainty might easily exist: for nothing is more clear, than that a world might be created, and filled with inhabitants, whose employment it would be to do good.

Again ; Angels are the present inhabitants of Heaven. Of all beings they are the most active : as I have endeavoured to show, when discoursing concerning their character. The present state of Heaven, therefore, is a state of the most active and unwearied exertion. It cannot be believed, that, when this glorious world is so far changed, as with propriety to be styled a new Heaven, its inhabitants will be sunk from a higher to an inconceivably lower state of being.

If the observations, which have been already made, are allowed to be just; it must be clearly perceived, that the enjoyments of the Righteous will arise, to such a degree, out of their employments ; and that these objects will be so necessarily, so frequently, and so extensively blended together; as to render a distinct consideration of them both difficult and useless. shall, therefore, blend my observations concerning them under the following heads.

1. It will be one Employment of the Righteous in the future world to study the Works, and learn the Characler of God.

It will not be denied, that this is the proper employment of the Intellect possessed by rational beings; the purpose, for which it was created. The end, here proposed, is the knowledge of God. The means, by which it is accomplished, are the study of his works. These, whether material or immaterial, all existed, originally, in the Uncreated Mind; and are all, merely, various means of displaying infinite power, wisdomn, and goodness.

Matter, however insignificant it may seem as a collection of atoms, assumes a very different character, when cndued with its

peculiar powers, arranged in an immense system, and operating to great and glorious purposes. In this view, it becomes capable of exhibiting the greatness and glory of Jehovau in a manner, exceedingly sublime and wonderful. Accordingly, the divine writers, particularly the Psalmist, often make the objects, constituting this part of the Creation, the themes of their wonder and praise.

In the material kingdom, particularly, we see beauty displayed in millions of forms, and varieties; and novelty in every transition from object to object. Grandeur also, and sụblimity, engross the imagination in the mountain and the ocean, the tempest and the volcano, the sun, the moon, and the host of heaven. When we lift up our thoughts, by the aid of astrono. my, to the solar system, and contemplate the Sun as a vast central world, encircled by a host of other worlds, with their innumerable inhabitants; when we consider the universe as filled with suns, surrounded by similar worlds ; still more, if we regard all these as arranged into one vast harmonious system, suspended from the throne of God, and, amid all their apparent wanderings and mazes, moving for ever with perfect order around the Heaven of Heavens; we can want no proofs, that the material creation is sufficiently magnificent to become a most useful object of investigation to any created mind, however capacious, however dignified, however sublime, may be its powers of conception.

But the material creation is capable of becoming a still more interesting object of contemplation. It is a vast store-house of means, all fitted, all operating, to the production of the best ends. In this world we daily see it the means of life, comfort, and usefulness; of instruction and warning; of admiration, gratitude, and praise ; to ourselves. In other worlds it is, probably in a far higher degree, the means of excellence, and enjoy. ment, to their respective inhabitants : such as are capable of enlarging any mind with both physical and moral science in a manner, which ages of ages will not enable us to comprehend.

, Above all, when we remember, that God is the grandeur, which every where spreads; the sublimity which rises; the beauty which glows; the life which animates; the wisdom which asVol. V.

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tonishes; and the goodness which provides, sustains, and rejoices; we shall see this field of contemplation, and intelligence, not only exalted, immense, and endlessly improving, but literally divine.

The world of minds is, however, a far more august and glorious field of such contemplation. Minds are as much superior to matter, as thought and volition are superior to extension and solidity; and are the end, for which matter was formed. The material creation is a sumptuous palace. Minds are its inhabitants; without which, the mansion, with all its furniture, would be empty, solitary, and useless.

In the world of minds, all the sources of admiration, and enjoyment, are found in still higher degrees. They are endlessly diversified in thought, purpose, and action; and hence furnish to the eye novelty, presented to its view in an eternal succession. Minds are, also, intensely and divinely beautiful. Virtue, the beauty of the mind, derives this peculiar character from the gentle, serene, and sweet affections; and is of all attributes incomparably the most delightful. In a single mind, it is capa. ble of diversities, incomprehensible by us. What then must be its varieties in the whole Intelligent Creation! All these, it must be remeinbered, are varieties of beauty only; as light in all its different colours is still the same glorious element.

At the same time, minds are the noblest specimens of created greatness. This is especially seen in magnanimous affections, elevated sentiments, sublime conceptions, and the exalted actions to which they give birth. Even in the present world we are not absolute strangers to these illustrious objects. Heaven is the native Country of all that is beautiful and magnificent. Virtue here exists in every beautiful, every noble, form. Whatever is trifling, little, and low, is here precluded for ever. Here are seen, and studied, the beauty of the Cherub, the dignity of the Seraph, and the greatness of the Archangel. Here, also, the Messiah presents, in a manner capable of being understood by sanctified minds, the excellence and glory of Jehovah; the effulgence of the Sun of Righteousness; reflected, softened, and brought down to the comprehension of a limited understanding. All these objects, it is to be remembered, are seen in Heaven by minds, invested with new powers of discernment; and with an equally new, as well as intense, delight in the contemplation of the objects themselves.

The Providence of God will become a still more glorious field of knowledge to the Righteous in the future world.

The providence of God is the End, for which the Creation exists. Creation is merely a collection of means; immensely magnificent indeed; an astonishing display of contrivance; a sublime proof of almighty agency; but by itself inexplicable, and useless. In providence, worlds do not barely exist; but operate to desirable purposes, and become the means of created wisdom, virtue, and happiness. In providence, minds do not barely possess being ; but understand, design, act, love, and enjoy. Here the reasons are found, why such beings have esisted in such places, times, and circumstances; and were en. dued with such powers and faculties. Here, also, is seen the government of God, exerted over them; and the wisdom and goodness, employed in his various dispensations. Providence, therefore, is the fairest and best display of Infinite perfection.

In this world we are children, standing on the bank of a mighty river. Casting our eyes upward, and downward, along the channel, we discern various windings of its current; and perceive, that it is now visible, now obscure, and now entirely hidden from our view. But, being far removed from the fountains whence it springs, and from the ocean into which it is emptied, we are unable to form any conceptions of the beauty, usefulness, or grandeur, of its progress. Lost in perplexity and ignorance, we gaze, wonder, and despond. In this situation a messenger from Heaven comes to our relief, with authentic information of its nature, its course, and its end ; conducts us backward to the fountains, and leads us forward to the ocean.

This river is the earthly system of providence: the Bible is the celestial messenger: and Heaven is the ocean in which all preceding dispensations find their end.

In that glorious world, no Revelation will be needed to illumine the thoughts of its inhabitants concerning the Divine administrations. While they were here below; they thought as children, they spake as children, and they reasoned as children ;

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