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and imperfect discovery of another life worthy to proceed from God? Does it not afford some ground, either to tax bis-goodness, or to suspect the evidence of its coming from him ? This is the point which we are now to consider; and let us consider it with that close attention which the subject merits. Let us inquire whether we have any reason, either to complain of Providence, or to object to the evidence of a future state, because that evidence is not of a more sensible and striking nature. Let us attempt humbly to trace the reasons, why, though permitted to know and to see somewhat of the eternal world, we are nevertheless permitted only to know in part, and to see through a glass, darklj.

It plainly appears to be the plan of the Deity, in all his dispensations, to mix light with darkness, evidence with uncertainty. Whatever the reasons of this procedure be, the fact is undeniable. He is described in the Old Testament as a God that hideth himself* Clouds and darkness are said to surround him. His way is in the sea, and his path in the great waters ; his footsteps are not known. Both the works and the ways of God are full of mystery. In the ordinary course of his government, innrmerable events occur which perplex us to the utmost. There is a certain limit to all our inquiries of religion, beyond which, if we attempt to proceed, we are lost in a maze of inextricable difficulties. Even that revelation which affords such material instruction to man, concerning his duty and his happiness, leaves many doubts unresolved. Why it was not given sooner ; why not to all men ; why there should be so many things in it hard to be understood; are difficulties not inconsiderable, in the midst of that incontestible evidence by which it is supported. If, then, the future state of man be not placed in so full and clear a light as we desire, this is no more than what the analogy of all religion, both natural and revealed, gave us reason to expect.

* Isaiah, xlv. 15.

But such a solution of the difficulty will be thought imperfect. It may, perhaps, not give much satisfaction to show, that all religion abounds with difficulties of a like nature. Our situation, it will be said, is so much the mote to be lamented, that not on one side only we are confined in our enquiries, but on all hands environed with mysterious obscurity. Let us thén, if so much dissatisfied with our condition, give scope for once to Fancy, and

, consider how the plan of Providence might be rectified to our wish. Let us call upon

. the Sceptic, and desire him to say, what measure of information would afford him entire satisfaction.

This, he will tell us, requires not any long or deep deliberation. He desires only to have his views enlarged beyond the limits of this corporeal state. Instead of resting upon evidence which requires discussion, which must be supported by much reasoning, and which, after all, he alleges, yields very imperfect information, he demands the everlasting mansions to be so displayed, if in truth such mansions there be, as to place faith on a level with the evidence of sense. What noble and happy effects, he exclaims, would instantly follow, if man thus beheld his present and his future existence at once before him ! He would then become worthy of his rank in the creation. Instead of being the sport, as now, of degrading passions and childish attachments, he would act solely on the principles of immortality. His pursuit of virtue would be steady; his life would be undisturbed and happy. Superior to the attacks of distress, and to the solicitations of pleasure, he would advance, by a regular process, towards those divine rewards and honours which were continually present to his view.

Thus Fancy, with as much ease and confidence, as if it were a perfect judge of creation, erects a new world to itself, and exults with admiration at its own work. But let us pause, and suspend this admiration, till we coolly examine the consequences that would follow from this supposed reformation of the uni


Consider the nature and circumstances of man. Introduced into the world in an indigent condition, he is supported at first by the care of others; and as soon as he begins to act for himself, finds labour and industry to be necessary for sustaining his life, and supplying his wants. Mutual defence and interest give rise to society; and society, when formed, gives rise to distinctions of property, diversity of conditions, subordinations of ranks, and a multiplicity of occupations, in order to advance the general good. The services of the poor, and the protection of the rich, become reciprocally necessary. The governors, and the governed, must co-operate for general safety. Various arts must be studied; some respecting the cultivation of the mind, others the care of the body: some to ward off the evils, and some to provide the conveniences of life. In a word, by the destination of his Crea.or, and the necessities of his nature, man commences, at once, an active, not merely a contemplative being. Religion assumes him as such. It supposes him employed in this world, as on a busy stage. It regulates, but does not abolish, the enterprises and cares of ordinary life. It addresses itself to the various ranks in society ; to the rich and the poor, to the magistrate and the subject. It rebukes the slothful ; directs the diligent how to labour; and requires every man to do his own business.

Suppose, now, that veil to be withdrawn which conceals another world from our view. Let all obscurity vanish ; let us no longer see darkly, as through a glass ; but let

every man enjoy that intuitive perception of divine and eternal objects which the Sceptic was supposed to desire. The immediate effect of such a discovery would be, to annihilate in our eyes

all human objects, and to produce a total stagnation in the affairs of the world. Were the celestial glory exposed to our admiring view ; did the angelic harmony sound in our enraptured ears; what earthly concerns would have the power of engaging our attention for a single moment?. All the studies and pursuits, the arts and labours, which now employ the activity of man, which

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