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the time; i. e. somewhat which serves to turn us aside from, and prevent our attending to this our internal poverty and want; if they serve only, or chiefly, to suspend, instead of satisfying our conceptions and desires of happiness; if the want remains, and we have found out little more than barely the means of making it less sensible; then are we still to seek for somewhat to be an adequate supply to it. It is plain that there is a capacity in the nature of man, which neither riches, nor honors, nor sensual gratifications, nor any thing in this world, can perfectly fill up, or satisfy: there is a deeper and more essential want than any of these things can be the supply of. Yet surely there is a possibility of somewhat, which may fill up all our capacities of happiness; somewhat, in which our souls may find rest; somewhat, which may be to us that satisfactory good we are inquiring after. But it cannot be any thing which is valuable only as it tends to some further end. Those, therefore, who have got this world so much into their hearts, as not to be able to consider happiness as consisting in any thing but property and possessions, which are only valuable as the means to somewhat else, cannot have the least glimpse of the subject before us; which is the end, not the means; the thing itself, not somewhat in order to it. But if you can lay aside that general, confused, undeterminate notion of happiness, as consisting in such possessions; and fix in your thoughts, that it really can consist in nothing but in a faculty's having its proper object; you will clearly see, that in the coolest way of consideration, without either the heat of fanciful enthusiasm, or the warinth of real devotion, nothing is more certain, than that an infinite Being may himself be, if he pleases, the supply to all the capacities of our nature. All the common enjoyments of life are from the faculties he hath endued us with, and the objects he hath made suitable to them. He may himself be to us infinitely more than all these; he may be to us all that we want. As our understanding can contemplate itself, and our af
fections be exercised upon themselves by reflection, so may each be employed in the same manner upon any other mind and since the supreme Mind, the Author and Cause of all things, is the highest possible object to himself, he may be an adequate supply to all the faculties our souls; a subject to our understanding, and an object to our affections.
Consider then: When we shall have put off this mortal body, when we shall be divested of sensual appetites, and those possessions which are now the means of gratification, shall be of no avail; when this restless scene of business and vain pleasures, which now diverts us from ourselves, shall be all over : we, our proper self, shall still remain we shall still continue the same creatures we are, with wants to be supplied, and capacities of happiness. We must have faculties of perception, though not sensitive ones; and pleasure or uneasiness from our perceptions, as now we have.
There are certain ideas, which we express by the words, order, harmony, proportion, beauty, the furtherest removed from any thing sensual. Now, what is there in those intellectual images, forms, or ideas, which begets that approbation, love, delight, and even rapture, which is seen in some person's faces upon having those objects present to their minds? "Mere enthusiasm!"-Be it what it will there are objects, works of nature and of art, which all mankind have delight from, quite distinct from their affording gratification to sensual appetites; and from quite another view of them, than as being for their interest and further advantage. The faculties from which we are capable of these pleasures, and the pleasures themselves, are as natural, and as much to be accounted for, as any sensual appetite whatever, and the pleasure from its gratification. Words, to be sure, are wanting upon this subject. To say, that every thing of grace and beauty throughout the whole of nature, every thing excellent and amiable shared in differently lower degrees by the whole creation, meet in the Author and
Cause of all things; this is an inadequate, and perhaps improper way of speaking of the divine nature. But it is manifest, that absolute rectitude, the perfection of being, must be in all senses, and in every respect, the highest object to the mind.
In this world it is only the effects of wisdom, and power, and greatness, which we discern: it is not impossible, that hereafter the qualities themselves in the Supreme Being may be the immediate object of contemplation. What amazing wonders are opened to view by late improvements? What an object is the universe to a creature, if there be a creature who can comprehend its system? But it must be an infinitely higher exercise of the understanding, to view the scheme of it in that Mind. which projected it, before its foundations were laid. And surely we have meaning to the words, when we speak of going further, and viewing, not only this system in his mind, but the wisdom and intelligence itself from whence it proceeded. The same may be said of powBut since wisdom and power are not God, (he is a wise, a powerful Being) the divine nature may therefore be a further object to the understanding. It is nothing to observe that our senses give us but an imperfect knowledge of things: effects themselves, if we knew them thoroughly, would give us but imperfect notions of wisdom and power; much less of his being, in whom they reside. I am not speaking of any fanciful notion of seeing all things in God, but only representing to you, how much a higher object to the understanding an infinite Being himself is, than the things which he has made; and this is no more than saying, that the Creator is superior to the works of his hands.
This may be illustrated by a low example. Suppose a machine, the sight of which would raise, and discoveries in its contrivance gratify, our curiosity; the real delight, in this case, would arise from its being the effect of skill and contrivance. The skill in the mind of the artificer would be a higher object, if we had any senses or ways
to discern it. For, observe, the contemplation of that principle, faculty, or power, which produced any effect, must be a higher exercise of the understanding than the contemplation of the effect itself. The cause must be a higher object to the mind than the effect.
But whoever considers distinctly what the delight of knowledge is, will see reason to be satisfied that it cannot be the chief good of man. All this, as it is applicable, so it was mentioned with regard to the attribute of goodness. I say, goodness. Our being and all our enjoyments are the effects of it: just men bear its resemblance but how little do we know of the original, of what it is in itself? Recall what was before observed concerning the affection to moral character; which, in how low a degree soever, yet is plainly natural to man, and the most excellent part of his nature: suppose this improved, as it may be improved, to any degree whatever, "in the spirits of just men made perfect:" and then suppose that they had a real view of that "righteousness, which is an everlasting righteousness;" of the conformity of the divine will to the law of truth, in which the moral attributes of God consist; of that goodness in the sovereign mind, which gave birth to the universe; add, what will be true of all good men hereafter, a consciousness of having an interest in what they are contemplating; suppose them able to say, "This God is our God for ever and ever: " Would they be any longer to seek for what was their chief happiness, their final good? Could the utmost stretch of their capacities look further? Would not infinite perfect goodness be their very end, the last end and object of their affections; beyond which they could neither have, nor desire; beyond which they could not form a wish or thought?
Consider wherein that presence of a friend consists, which has often so strong an effect, as wholly to possess the mind, and entirely suspend all other affections and regards; and which itself affords the highest satisfaction and enjoyinent. He is within reach of the senses. Now,
as our capacities of perception improve, we shall have, perhaps by some faculty entirely new, a perception of God's presence with us, in a nearer and stricter way; since it is certain he is more intimately present with us than any thing else can be. Proof of the existence and presence of any being, is quite different from the immediate perception, the consciousness of it. What then will be the joy of heart, which his presence, and "the light of his countenance," who is the life of the universe, will inspire good men with, when they shall have a sensation, that he is the sustainer of their being, that they exist in him; when they shall feel his influence to cheer, and enliven, and support their frame, in a manner of which we have now no conception? He will be, in a literal sense," their strength and their portion for ever."
When we speak of things so much above our comprehension, as the employment and happiness of a future state, doubtless it behooves us to speak with all modesty and distrust of ourselves. But the Scripture represents the happiness of that state, under the notions of "seeing God, seeing him as he is, knowing as we are known, and seeing face to face." These words are not general or undetermined, but express a particular determinate happiness. And I will be bold to say, that nothing can account for, or come up to these expressions, but only this, that God himself will be an object to our faculties; that he himself will be our happiness, as distinguished from the enjoyments of the present state which seem to arise, not immediately from him, but from the objects he has adapt ed to give us delight.
To conclude: Let us suppose a person tired with care and sorrow, and the repetition of vain delights which fill up the round of life; sensible that every thing here below, in its best estate, is altogether vanity. Suppose him to feel that deficiency of human nature, before taken notice of; and to be convinced that God alone was the adequate supply to it. What could be more applicable to a good man, in this state of mind, or better express his present