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God thus appears in perfect majesty, we cannot possibly conceive. Though it is not infinite, it may be indefinite ; and though not immeasurable in itself, it may be so with regard to any created eye or imagination. If he has made these lower regions of matter so inconceivably wide and magnificent for the habitation of mortal and perishable beings, how great may we suppose the courts of his house to be, where he makes his residence in a more especial manner, and displays himself in the fullness of his glory, among an innumerable company of angels, and spirits of just men made perfect ?
“This is certain, that our imaginations cannot be raised too high, when we think on a place where Omnipotence and Omniscience have so signally exerted themselves, because that they are able to produce a scene infinitely more great and glorious than what we are able to imagine. It is not impossible but at the consummation of all things, these outward apartments of nature, which are now suited to those beings who inhabit them, may be taken in and added to that glorious place of which I am here speaking; and by that means made a proper habitation for beings who are exempt from mortality, and cleared of their imperfections : for so the scripture seems to intimate, when it speaks of new heavens and of a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
“I have only considered this glorious place with regard to the sight, and imagination, though it is highly probable that our other senses may here likewise enjoy their highest gratifications. There is nothing which more ravishes and transports the soul, than barmony; and we have great reason to believe, from the descriptions of this place in holy scripture, that this is one of the entertain. ments of it. And if the soul of man can be so wonderfully af
* Because that is equivalent to by reason that, or, on this acc unt that. This way of speaking is now out of use. We omit, that, and say more concisely, though, with regard to the etymology of because (by cause,) less properly-because they are able, &c.-H.
fected with those strains of music, which human art is capable of producing, how much more will it be raised and elevated by those, in which is exerted the whole power of harmony! the senses are faculties of the buman soul, though they cannot be employed, during this our vital union, without proper instruments in the body. Why, therefore, should we exclude the satisfaction of these faculties, which we find by experience, are inlets of great pleasure to the soul, from among those entertainments which are to make up our happiness hereafter ? why should we suppose that our hearing and seeing will not be gratified with those objects which are most agreeable to them, and which they cannot meet with in these lower regions of nature; "objects which neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor can it enter into the heart of man to conceive ? I knew a man in Christ (says St. Paul, speaking of himself) above fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I cannot tell, or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) such a one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man (whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not possible for man to utter.' By this is meant, that what he heard was so infinitely different from any thing which he had heard in this world, that it was impossible to express it in such words as might convey a notion of it to his hearers.
“It is very natural for us to take delight in inquiries concerning any foreign country, where we are some time or other to make our abode; and as we all hope to be admitted into this glorious place, it is both a laudable and useful curiosity, to get what informations we can of it, whilst we make use of revelation for our guide. When these everlasting doors shall be opened to us, we may be sure that the pleasures and beauties of this place will infinitely transcend our present hopes and expectations, and that the glorious appearance of the throne of God, will rise infinitely beyond whatever we are able to conceive of it. We might here entertain ourselves with many other speculations on this subject, from those several hints which we find of it in the Holy Scriptures; as whether they may not be different mansions and apartments of glory, to beings of different natures; whether as they excel one another in perfection, they are not admitted nearer to the throne of the Almighty, and enjoy greater manifestations of his presence; whether there are not solemn times and occasions, when all the multitude of heaven celebrate the presence of their Maker in more extraordinary forms of praise and adoration; as Adam, though he had continued in a state of innocence, would, in the opinion of our divines, have kept holy the Sabbath-day, in a more particular manner than any other of the seven. These, and the like speculations, we may very innocently indulge, so long as we make use of them to inspire us with a desire of becoming inhabitants of this delightful place.
“I have in this, and in two foregoing letters, treated on the most serious subject that can employ the mind of man, the Omnipresence of the Deity: a subject which, if possible, should never depart from our meditations. We have considered the Divine Being, as he inhabits infinitude, as he dwells among his works, as he is present to the mind of man, and as he discovers himself in a more glorious manner among the regions of the blest. Such a consideration should be kept awake in us at all times, and in all places, and possess our minds with a perpetual awe and reverence. It should be interwoven with all our thoughts and perceptions, and become one with the consciousness of our own being. It is not to be reflected on in the coldness of philosophy, but ought to sink us into the lowest prostration before Him, who is 80 astonishingly great, wonderful, and holy."
* An apology for the popular manner in which he has treated this sublime and abstract subject.-H.
No. 582. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18.
- Tenet insanabilo multos
Jav. Sat. vii. 51.
There is a certain distemper, which is mentioned neither by Galen nor Hippocrates, nor to be met with in the London Dispensary. Juvenal, in the motto of my paper, terms it a Cacoethes, which is a hard word for a disease, called in plain English, the itch of writing. This Cacocthes is as epidemical as the smallpox, there being very few who are not seized with it some time or other in their lives. There is, however, this difference in these two distempers; that the first, after having indisposed you for a time, never returns again; whereas this I am speaking of, when it is once got into the blood, seldom comes out of it. The British nation is very much afflicted with this malady, and though very many remedies have been applied to persons infected with it, few of them have ever proved successful. Some have been cauterized with satires and lampoons, but have received little or no benefit from them; others have had their heads fastened for an hour together between a cleft board, which is made use of as a cure for the disease, when it appears in its greatest malignity. There is, indeed, one kind of this malady which has been sometimes removed, like the biting of a Tarantula, with the sound of a musical instrument, which is commonly known by the name of a cat-call. But if you have a patient of this kind under your care, you may assure yourself there is no other way of recovering him effectually, but by forbidding him the use of pen, ink, and paper. But to drop the allegory before I have tired it out, there is
* The pillory.-C.
no species of scribblers more offensive, and more incurable, than your periodical writers, whose works return upon the public on certain days, and at stated times. We have not the consolation, in the perusal of these authors, which we find at the reading of all others, namely, that we are sure, if we have but patience, we may come to the end of their labours. I have often admired a humorous saying of Diogenes, who reading a dull author to several of his friends, when every one began to be tired, finding he was almost come to a blank leaf at the end of it, cried, ' Courage, lads, I see land. On the contrary, our progress through that kind of writers, I am now speaking of, is never at an end. One day makes work for another; we do not know when to promise ourselves rest.
It is a melancholy thing to consider, that the art of printing, which might be the greatest blessing to mankind, should prove detrimental to us, and that it should be made use of to scatter prejudice and ignorance through a people, instead of conveying to them truth and knowledge.
I was lately reading a very whimsical treatise, entitled, “William Ramsay's Vindication of Astrology. This profound author, among many mystical passages, has the following one: “ The absence of the sun is not the cause of night, forasmuch as his light is so great, that it may illuminate the earth all over at once as clear as broad day, but there are tenebrificous and dark stars, by whose influence night is brought on, and which do ray out darkness and obscurity upon the earth, as the sun does light.”
I consider writers in the same view this sage astrologer does the heavenly bodies. Some of them are stars that scatter light, as others do darkness. I could mention several authors who are tenebrificous stars of the first magnitude, and point out a knot of gentlemen, who have been dull in concert, and may be looked