« AnteriorContinuar »
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 sensible of his presence, as we are of the presence of any person whom we look upon with our eyes. There is, doubtless, a faculty in spirits, by which they apprehend one another, as our senses do material objects: and there is no question but our souls, when they are disembodied, or placed in glorified bodies, will, by this faculty, in whatever part of space they reside, be always sensible of the Divine Presence. We, who have this veil of flesh standing between us and the world of spirits, must be content to know that the Spirit of God is present with us, by the effects which he produceth in us. 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 thoughts which he awakens 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 diffusing themselves 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 passions, 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! Though the whole crcation 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 those horrors which encompass 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 con
tempt, 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 solitude 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 betwist his soul, and the sight of that Being, who is always present with him, and is about to manifest itself to him in fullness 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 lan. guage 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 sight, 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 among his epistles ; Sacer inest nobis spiritus bonorum malorumque custos, et observator, et quemadmodum nos illum tractamus, ita et ille nos. There is a holy spirit residing us, who watches and obsertes both good and evil men, and will treat us after the same mauner 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 him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.'”.
No. 574. FRIDAY, JULY 30.
Non possidentem multa vocaveris
Muneribus sapienter uti
HOR, 4 Od. ix. 45.
For what kind fates bestow,
I was once engaged in discourse with a Rosicrucian about the Great Secret. As this kind of men, (I mean those of them we are not professed cheats) are overrun with enthusiasm and philosophy, it was very amusing to hear this religious adept descanting on his pretended discovery. He talked of the secret, as of a spirit which lived within an emerald, and converted every thing that was near it to the highest perfection it was capable of. 'It gives a lustre, (says he,) to the sun, and water to the diamond. It irradiates every metal, and enriches lead with all the properties of gold. It heightens smoke into flame, flame into light, and light into glory. He further added, that a single ray of it dissipates pain, and care, and melancholy, from the person on whom it falls. In short, (says he,) its presence naturally changes every place into a kind of heaven. After he had gone on for some time in this unintelligible cant, I found that he jumbled natural and moral ideas together into the same discourse, and that his great secret was nothing else but Content.
This virtue does indeed produce, in some measure, all those effects which the alchymist usually ascribes to what he calls tho
Philosopher's Stone ; and if it does not bring riches, it does the same thing, by banishing the desire of them. If it cannot remove the disquietudes arising out of a man's mind, body, or fortune, it makes him easy under them. It has, indeed, a kindly influence on the soul of man, in respect of every being to whom he stands related. It extinguishes all murmur, repining, and ingratitude towards that Being, who has allotted him his part to act in this world. It destroys all inordinate ambition, and every tendency to corruption, with regard to the community wherein he is placed. It gives sweetness to his conversation, and a perpetual serenity to all his thoughts.
Among the many methods which might be made use of, for the acquiring of this virtue, I shall only mention the two following. First of all, a man should always consider how much he has more than he wants; and, secondly, how much more unhappy he might be, than he really is.
First of all, a man should always consider how much he has more than he wants. I am wonderfully pleased with the reply which Aristippus made to one who condoled him upon the loss of a farm; 'Why, (said he,) I have three farms still, and you have but one; so that I ought rather to be afflicted for you, than you for me.' On the contrary, foolish men are more apt to consider what they have lost, than what they possess : and to fix their eyes upon those who are richer than themselves, rather than those who are under greater difficulties. All the real pleasures and conveniencies of life lie in a narrow compass; but it is the humour of mankind to be always looking forward, and straining after one
* Condoled him. In verbs of Greek or Latin derivation and construction, to which the preposition oùv, or cum, softened into sym, and con, is prefixed, we now repeat the preposition, i. e. its equivalent in English, after the verb. Thus, we say, condole with, sympathize with, &c. The reason why we do not compound with with verbs of our own growth, as the Latins do cum, is, because this preposition, so placed, has an adversative sense: as withhold, &c.-H.