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heaven. Our fall was easily brought about, but our restoration was a work of the greatest difficulty, and only to be performed by the powerful hand of God. There are but few whom the 'exalted Father of spirits has loved, and Christ has raised up to heaven, He is the source whence the Spirit of God flows down to us. He is the fountain of that new life and sanctified nature, by which we mount towards God, whereby we overcome the world, and, in consequence thereof, are admitted into heaven. And happy indeed are those truly noble souls whose portion it is to be thus born again, to be admitted into the choirs of the holy angels, and to be clothed with those glorious robes that are whiter than snow! They will follow the Lamb wherever he goes, and he will lead them to the crystal streams, and even to the fountain of life itself.
But all those that are to be the attendants of the Lamb in those blessed pastures which are to be met with in his heavenly country, must of necessity, even while they live in this lower world, be followers of him in his humble innocence and purity. This spotless, holy, and pure Lamb of God, is the guide and shepherd of a pure and holy flock, a flock dear to God and of distinguished beauty; but “the shepherd is still more beautiful than they.” But the impure goats and uncleanly hogs he beholds at a distance, and leaves them to unclean spirits, to be possessed by them at pleasure, and afterwards to be precipitated into the depth of misery; unless it be determined to deliver some of them from that shocking form, by a wonderful and divine change, and to convert them into lambs, which is effected in proper time by the influence of the Holy Ghost. Whence they are called the holy, pure, and divine sons of God; and all love to earthly things, all carnal, impure affections, are banished out of those hearts, which are, as it were, temples consecrated henceforth to God; “ for the dwelling place of the Holy One must be holy also."
LECTURE XVII. Of true Felicity and Eternal Punishment. O how insipid and unsatisfactory are all the pleasures of this earthly life which we now live, in comparison with that incomparable and altogether heavenly delight which attends the meditation and contemplation of divine things! When mortals are thus employed, they eat the bread of angels; and if there are any who do not relish the sweetness of this food, it is because the divine part of their composition is become brutish, and, forgetting its original, lies buried in earth and mud. But though the soul is reduced to these woful circumstances, it is not yet so entirely divested of itself, but it still retains some faint remains of its heavenly original and more exalted nature; insomuch that it cannot acquiesce in or be at all satisfied with those fading enjoyments wherewith it is surrounded, nor think itself happy or easy in the greatest abundance of earthly comforts. And though possibly it may not be fully sensible of what it wants, yet it perceives, not without some pain and uneasiness, that something is still wanting to make it happy. The truth is, besides that great and unknown good, even those, whom by an abuse of the term we call most happy, are in want of a great many things ; for if we look narrowly into the condition of those who are arrived at the highest pitch of earthly splendour, we shall certainly find some defect and imperfection in it, and be obliged to conclude with the poet, that “ since the earth began to be inhabited by men, a full cup of good things, without any mixture of evil, never fell to the share of one man: a graceful body is often dishonoured by bad morals, and a mind of uncommon beauty !! is sometimes joined to a deformed body.”
But what we call the chief and supreme good must of necessity be complete, and entirely free from every defect;
li and therefore what is not in every respect perfect, properly speaking, is not perfect at all. The bappiness of rich and great men, which the poor admire and respect, ist only a gaudy and splendid species of misery. What St. Bernard says of the rash and ill founded opinion which the he
TRUE FELICITY AND ETERNAL PUNISHMENT. 99 generality of mankind form of the lives of the saints, from the imperfect knowledge they have of them, “They see our crosses, but they know not our comforts,” may be bere inverted: we see the advantages of those men that are puffed up with riches and honours, but we see not their troubles and vexations. “I wish,” says one, “that those who desire ricbes would consult rich men ; they would then certainly be of another opinion."
I will spend no more time in describing or lamenting the wretched state of mankind on this earth, because it would answer no end; for suppose a more complete assemblage of sublunary enjoyments and a more perfect system of earthly felicity than ever the sun beheld, the mind of man would instantly devour it, and, as if it were still empty and unsatisfied, would require something more. And indeed, by this insatiable thirst, the mind of man discovers its natural excellence and dignity; for thus it proves, that all things here below are insufficient to satisfy or make it bappy; and its capacity is so great and extensive, that it cannot be filled by the whole of this visible frame of things ; for, as St. Augustine observes, “Thou hast made us, O Lord, for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they return to Thee.” The mind that makes God its refuge, after it has been much tossed to and fro, and distressed in the world, enjoys perfect peace and absolute security; and it is the fate of those, and those only, who put into this safe harbour, to have what the same St. Augustine calls a very great matter, “The frailty of man, together with the security of God."
Therefore it is not without reason, that the royal psalmist boasts not of his victories nor the splendour of his royal crown, but of this one advantage; The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup. Thou maintainest my lot; and, on the justest grounds, he immediately adds, The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places ; yea, I have a goodly heritage. And it is quite agreeable to reason, that what improves and completes any thing else must be itself more complete and perfect; so that the mind of man can neither be made happy by earthly enjoyments, which are all får inferior to it in dignity, nor be só in itself. Nay, neither can the angels, though of a more perfect and sublime nature, confer felicity either
upon men or themselves; but both they and we have our happiness lodged in that eternal mind, which alone is its own felicity. Nor is it possible for us to find it any wbere else, but in our union with that original wisdom and goodpess, from which we at first took our rise. Away then with all the fictitions schemes of felicity proposed by the philosophers, even those of them that were most artfully contrived; for even Aristotle's perfection of virtue, as well as what the Stoics fancied concerning their wise man, are mere fictions. They are nothing but dreains and fancies that onght to be banished to Utopia ; for what they describe is no where to be found among meif, and, if it were, it would not constitute complete felicity. So far indeed they are to be commended, that they call in the mind from external enjoyments to itself; but in this they are defective, that when the mind is returned to itself, they carry it no further por direct it to ascend, as it were, above itself. They sometimes, it is true, drop such expressions as these, that there can be no good disposition of the mind without God: and that in order to be happy, the soul must be raised up to divine things : they also tell us, that “the wise man loves God most of all, and for this reason is the most happy man;" but these expressions they drop only at random, and by the by. O how much fuller and clearer are the instructions of the Teacher sent down from heaven; Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God !
But because the purest minds of the saints, while they sojourn in this earth, stiil retain some mixture of earthly dross and arise not to perfect purity, therefore they cannot yet enjoy the full vision of God, nor consequently that perfect happiness which is inseparably connected with it; for they see only darkly, and ihrough a glass ; but with the advantage even of this obscure light, they direct their steps, and go on cheerful and unwearied. The long wished for day will at length come, when they will be admitted into the fullest light. That day, which the unhappy men of this world dread as their last, the sons of light wish for as their nativity into an endless life, and embrace it with the greatest joy when it comes. And this indeed seems to me to be the strongest argument for another life and an immortality to come; for since no complete or abso
lutely perfect happiness is to be found in this life, it must certainly follow, that either there is no such thing to be had any where, or we must live again somewhere after our period here is out. And O what fools are we, and how slow of heart to believe, who think so rarely, and with such coolness, of that blessed country; and that in this parched and thirsty land, where even those few, who are so happy, bave only some foretastes of that supreme happiness! But when they remove hence, they shall be abundantly satisfied, or, as the word ought to be translated, intoxicated, O Lord, with the fatness of thy house, and thou shalt make them drink of the rirer of thy pleasures. Thus the divine psalmist expresses it; and it is certainly very surprising, that the great and ancient pbilosopher Pythagoras, in communicating his thoughts upon the same subject, should happen to fall upon the very same figure; for he used to promise those of his disciples who conducted themselves right in this life, that they should be continually " drunk". in that which is to come.
But what we have said formerly of the felicity of the life to come, and all that we could say were we to treat of the same subject over again, is but mere trifling. And yet it is not disagreeable to hear children speak even with stammering, about the dignity of their father, and of the riches and magnificence of his inheritance. It is pleasant and decent to speak of our native country, even while we are sojourning in a foreign laod. But for the present, I shall insist no longer on this subject, but turning the tables, lay before you that dreadful punishment which stands in opposition to this happiness, by presenting you only with a transient view of the future misery of the wicked. And though this is indeed a most unpleasant task, yet nothing but our own çarelessness and inattention can render it useless.
Here, first of all, it is to be observed, that as in this life there is no perfect felicity, so neither here is there any complete misery. Those, whom we look upon as the most wretched, in this world, have their sufferings checquered with many intervals of ease. But the misery to come admits of no abatement. It is all of a piece, without admitting any mixture of relief. They are surely mad with their notions, who here talk of the advantages