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more definite and circumstantial had been presented to the mind? Here I am, for a very little while, in a world where, in respect to the best desires of my heart, I must walk by faith and not by sight. I am to be always on my guard against the world, as, on the whole, an evil world, and one which wars against the soul. I am not to be of it, not to love it, nor to be conformed to it; but to be a pilgrim and a stranger on the earth, and to keep my eye on another world, which is my real home. There I have my citizenship and my treasure; and there my heart must be also. But yet, what do I know about it? The main and essential things, indeed, I know; and these are doubtless sufficient to awaken and maintain a warm hope and expectation. But beyond these essential points, I can lay hold on nothing. I can discern few intimations as to place and circumstances; as to the faculties I shall possess, or the employment I shall find for them; as to the objects which will awaken my affections, or the society in which I shall be incorporated; or even as to the manner in which I shall enjoy the love of Christ, or see the glory of God. In fact, I can depict little to my own mind; and however I gaze onwards and upwards, all seems 'dark' with impenetrable 'light.' Might not some clearer glimpses of eternal things have assisted to fix my slow affections more strongly on my heavenly home, and given that prospect greater power to counterbalance the importunate influence of a world which approaches me through every sense, and attracts me by every affection? Would it not, for instance, have weakened the ties of earth, and strengthened those of Heaven, had I been invited to dwell on the future recognition of those whom I have loved on earth, and whose life has been more or less interwoven with my own? But even this is left to inference; an inference uncontradicted, perhaps faintly encouraged,-and in which the heart can scarcely be wrong: but it is the heart, and not the Scripture, that presents the subject. On this, as on all secondary points, the same careful reserve is maintained."

Such thoughts may, and I think often do, vaguely and indistinctly indeed, pass through a good man's mind; but if he come to weigh and examine them, they will soon lose their plausible appearance, and he will find reason to give thanks for the care which has been taken of his weakness, and to acknowledge that Divine wisdom, in drawing a veil of reserve over the prospect in which he is so greatly interested, has really consulted best for his present safety, and comfort, and growth in grace.

Three considerations shall here be advanced, on which such acknowledgements of the wisdom and mercy of God, as to this point, may be founded.

There is, then, in the first place, every reason to believe that a clearer view of such overwhelming scenes and interests would rather enervate than stimulate the mind, would unfit us for our actual condition, would relax the steady fulfilment of duty, and injure the tone of quiet practical piety. Who does

not know the evil effects of that dreaming habit of mind, in which some characters are so prone to indulge? There are many who are busy actors in a sort of visionary history, even in the midst of the actual business of life; in histories and scenes, we may say, sometimes wholly visionary, and without resemblance to any thing which we can reasonably anticipate in life. Such persons place themselves in imaginary circumstances, taste imaginary pleasures, carry on imaginary transactions, and please themselves with imaginary dignities and achievements. Sir James Macintosh, I remember, makes some confessions as to the manner in which his own fancy was sometimes thus occupied, and expresses his belief that many a grave person, shut up in his study, and supposed to be absorbed in serious researches, is really, like himself, conducting the affairs and distributing the honours of the empire of Constantinople. Some sagacious persons may smile at such confessions; but the writer does not smile, having some little experience of the same nature, and he knows how "fancy, thus indulged, grows first imperious, and, in time, despotic,"* and steals away the vigour and interest of the mind from the common occurrences and wholesome occupations of actual life.

But far more extravagant are those exercises of the fancy which are stimulated by hope. Let but a hint be afforded of future possibilities, and how quickly the scene presents itself,not in dim outline, but with all the details and circumstances of reality. Nothing, for instance, could be more natural than the indignant motion of the foot with which Aladdin repulsed the kneeling princess. All, however, are not at once recovered back from their reveries, as he was, by his broken crockery. Some little touch, indeed, of this faculty may not be a bad ingredient in the composition of the mind, but it requires keeping low; so soon does it begin to enervate, to distract, to render our actual situation tasteless, and unfit the mind for ordinary duties.

Now we must remember that this natural tendency is not annihilated as soon as the things of God begin to take possession of the mind. There are such temptations as the indolence of religious dreaming, and the fastidiousness of spiritual fancy; and when new worlds of happiness and glory are to be revealed, it might seem, at first sight, that such temptations must receive a mighty impulse through such revelations. But by the reserve which we have noticed, that danger is averted. There is every thing, in the discoveries made, to meet the love of holiness and the love of God; but nothing to gratify those inferior inclinations which may be combined with those high principles. There is little on which the fancy can work; no flowery fields are displayed, in which, as with a Divine sanction, the dreaming soul may waste its energies, and disqualify itself for its place on earth. Were we to obtain, by some means, a more intimate acquaintance with the unknown world, it is not easy to conceive the extent to which the operation of Divine truth might be hindered, and the

Johnson's Rasselas.

spiritual health of the mind disordered. The imaginative character of religion would be strengthened, and its practical character proportionably impaired; great would be the accession to the class of dreaming and talking Christians, who sit, book in hand and feet on the fender, while uninteresting but essential duties cry unheeded at the door. This is the time, and this the world, for forming, in "the common round and the daily task," those tempers and habits which will fit us for a higher state; and, in one sense, we must not have ideas beyond our station, if we are to fulfil our present part, lest our actual circumstances should come to appear contemptible, and our actual duties irksome. We are now entrusted with the "few things," and employed about "that which is least." Our business is, by patient and daily trading, to gain the "ten pounds;" and it is well for us, while so engaged, that the "ten cities" are kept out of sight, lest, by unseasonable thoughts of what fine places they are, and what fine things we should do in them, we should be betrayed into neglect of our allotted opportunities, and an irreparable waste of time.

In the second place, it is plain that, when the Scripture confines our view of eternal life and happiness to that which is their essence, namely, our relation to God and our intercourse with Him, it takes an effectual way to fix our wandering attention on that which is the essence of true religion. There is but one and the same principle of spiritual life, as it springs in the uncongenial air of this world, and as it will be perfected where God makes all things new. "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." All acknowledge that the one thing needful is, a soul inwardly cleaving to God in Christ, and drawing from Him its hourly supplies of life and holiness, of grace and peace. But all must also acknowledge, how readily this one thing may be lost sight of in the midst of all the minor duties, affections, interests, engagements, which our present situation imposes upon us, and which, in a great degree, form the necessary exterior of a religious life. How easy is it for a person of Christian profession, full of interest in good things, and of pleasure in good people-how easy for a maintainer of the Gospel, busy here and there, preaching, writing, defending, to find himself, after all, in a most uncertain and suspicious state in regard to the one thing needful. The inward union with Christ; the secret transactions of the soul with God; the satisfaction in His favor and presence alone; the desire for an increasing conformity to Him-these things appear sometimes to be almost swallowed up in those secondary objects and pursuits, which we are tempted to regard as the clear manifestations of inward godliness. How suited to warn us against such dangers is the character of the great prospect on which the Scripture fixes our eyes! Nearer and nearer are we borne onward towards a world, where everything is withdrawn from sight which could awaken an ambiguous interest or gratify an inferior desire. There is but one ex

pectation-"They shall see His face;" nothing appears to divert the mind from "the throne of God and of the Lamb." Many, in fact, have been awakened to a consciousness of their true state in the sight of God, by the conviction that such a prospect has not the attractions for them which they hoped, and that, after all, the love of God and desire of His image are but secondary principles in the heart. Many too, who have steadily fixed their eyes on that prospect, have felt it perpetually recalling their minds from what is external or accidental in religion, to what is real and essential; perpetually witnessing to the soul against insidious delusions; perpetually demanding singleness of mind towards God; a life of direct communion with Him, and a heart in which self is mortified, the world crucified, and "Jesus reigns alone."

A third consideration I am unwilling to omit, though it must be briefly touched. It is that the present limited revelation of a future state affords us a happy and useful exercise of faith. If a person undertake to arrange for us any thing which is of great importance to our happiness, we feel a natural anxiety to know how he will arrange it. If he explain to us his whole plan, and tell us the methods by which he proposes to meet our wishes, there is, even then, a certain exercise of faith while we trust him for its accomplishment. But if, while giving the highest promises, he conceal his plan of fulfilment; if he say, "Do not enquire about it; leave it wholly to me, you must know nothing till the moment arrive "-we are then called upon for a far higher and more difficult exercise of faith. Our confidence in the person himself is put more strongly to the test while we rely, without questioning, not only on his faithfulness to his word, but on his intimate knowledge of our wants, and his conceptions of what will make us happy, on the largeness of his liberality, and on the depth of his love, and, where such confidence is perfect, such reliance is delightful. Now, such, to a great degree, is the course which the Lord pursues in regard to "the good things which he has prepared for them that love him." While we advance to the very edge of the world to come, a thousand questions may occur concerning it, to none of which we are supplied with an answer. If about to make a change in our life below, we are eager to figure to ourselves the circumstances that will ensue. But, in the case of this great change, we receive no account of the nature of the state which is to follow, of its circumstances, its scenes, or its society. And an enlightened Christian will not wish for such knowledge. It is the habit of his mind to commit his affairs to another. He would rather know nothing of the "how" and the "where;" he would rather not be perplexed with a multitude of dazzling ideas. He wishes only to hear, "In my Father's house are many mansions: I go to prepare a place for you: I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there may ye be also." It is surely an immeasurable happiness to feel that we may leave everything in the hands of Him who

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thus addresses us-to feel that we can lack nothing "the Lord is our Shepherd." While the mind reposes on Him whose righteousness is our title to glory; whose power and love are preparing the bright inheritance, and who will Himself share it with us, we must feel that any attempt to explain it to our present apprehensions could only confound or mislead us,-so far beyond everything which human words can convey, or human conceptions reach, must be an inheritance which is reserved, and prepared, and partaken by Him; to whom be glory for ever and ever! Amen.

T. D.


Ir will probably have struck most of our readers, that the great mass of those who are received by Christians as among the most genuine members of their body, are incapable of appreciating those evidences of religion which have chiefly been made the subject of writing and argument.

There are in the Church "ignorant and unlearned men," who are not aware of those exterior testimonies which prove that the first preachers of Christianity must have certainly known whether what they declared was truth or falsehood; and that they suffered in attestation of its truth. Such persons also, both from their ignorance of the proper interpretation of prophecy, and of the facts of history, are equally incapable of deciding that the Scriptures were written under the guidance of Him who alone can see into the future. Further, they have minds neither sufficiently observant nor comprehensive to compare accurately the institutions of Christianity with the movements of Divine Providence, and to deduce the conclusion that the same God is the author of both. Again, independently of their own experience, they are not so well acquainted with human nature in general, as to understand that the wonderful fitness of Christianity to our necessities, is, to say the least, an intimation of its Divine origin. Neither can they detect or estimate those subtle and hidden coincidences which go far to establish the sincerity and truthfulness of the writers of the New Testament. Nor have they their senses so exercised by extensive reading, as to appreciate that almost undefinable look of genuineness, which spontaneously commends itself to the scholar, just as the expression of a man's countenance reveals the sincerity of his heart to one who is skilled in physiognomy. Or, supposing them to be aware of the fact that the Christian nations of the world are the most civilized, they are not capable of so distinguishing the effects of Christianity on the temporal well-being of man from those of every other influence, as to decide that the social benefits arising from Christianity are a proof of its being an ordinance of God.

We will not insist upon the various difficulties which beset

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