תמונות בעמוד

grade, from the lowest to the highest, are called into exercise in the church of Christ; and no one who is competent to form a judgment on the subject, doubts, for a moment, that the arrangement, in virtue of which these are called forth and brought into exercise in the sphere to which they are best adapted, is productive of incalculable advantage to the body at large. And if so, the good of its members indivi. dually must also be promoted to the same extent; the happiness of the body being nothing else than the happiness of the individuals of which it is com. posed.

But if we ascend a step higher, we shall find that the same principle is in operation amongst the holy angels in the celestial world. This seems to be plainly intimated by the language of scripture :-"For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers : all things were created by him, and for him.”That ye may know what is the exceeding greatness of his power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” *

Whatever we

* Colos. i. 16; Eph. i. 18-21.

may conceive the distinctions mentioned in these

passages to be, we are warranted to conclude that some orders of the angelic beings are more highly exalted in official dignity than others, whilst some excel in strength and intellectual greatness. But though they are not, like the human race, raised to these honours by divine mercy, they are indebted for the possession of them to divine goodness. And since none of them can, by any possibility, have stronger claims on that goodness than others, there can be no cause of dissatisfaction or discontent on the part of those who are lower than others in the scale of dignity and intellectual greatness, because they have not been placed higher; nor can the unequal distribution of these favours, in any way, be a ground of reflection on the equity of the Most High. All of them are happy to the utmost extent of their capacity, and are possessed of the faculties requisite for the services in which they are employed. Nor do these gradations interrupt the harmony of heaven, nor introduce a discordant note into the anthem which they for ever sing in the higher temple :—" And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen : Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen."

Although I by no means assert that the doctrine in question can be satisfactorily proved by any analogies

however striking, they, at least, bring it within the limits of probability; and whilst they assist us in determining the import of many passages of scripture, they ought to give additional force to the conclusions to which such passages seem naturally to lead. The following series of remarks will, perhaps, be found to go a great way towards the establishment of its truth :

First, The intellectual faculties of redeemed men will be as diversified in the heavenly state as they are in this world.

Intellectual power is one of the gifts which the Creator has, for wise purposes, conferred upon the human race; and it is, perhaps, of all the ordinary gifts which he bestows, capable of being improved to the greatest extent, and is subservient to the most important purposes. The difference in the circumstances of men, occasioned by mental culture, is surprising, and shows how high they may rise in the scale of intelligence. Indeed, some have affirmedand, perhaps, the affirmation is, in some measure, founded on facts—that there is not so great a difference betwixt the most sagacious brute animal and the lowest savage, as there is betwixt the savage and the most improved of the human species. Making all the allowance, however, which can reasonably be required for the improvement effected by education, it cannot be doubted that there is an almost endless variety in the original constitution of different minds.

Many, perhaps the majority of mankind, are as in, competent, however much their faculties may be cul. tivated, to comprehend the profound scientific speculations of men of gigantic intellect, or to understand fully the nature of the discoveries made by them, as they are, by their physical energy, to arrest in its orbit the globe on which they dwell. Such marked distinctions must be traced, not to the means of improvement enjoyed, and the use which has been made of them, but to the will of the Creator who originally formed the human mind. And who will question the rectitude of his procedure when he distributes his gifts to whom and in what measure he pleases ? As well might we find fault with the arrangements of his providence because every man is not born to inherit a throne or a large estate, as to complain that all are not endowed with an equal degree of mental power. That power, though it is, no doubt, conferred for the general good of mankind, is the means of individual enjoyment, and renders its possessor susceptible of the most elevated pleasure. He who, by the supe. riority of his intellect, can explore the different de. partments of the creation, who can comprehend the nature of the laws which are concealed from the vulgar eye, and can trace the power and wisdom which they all display, has within himself a source of refined gratification; and he experiences emotions of which the man has no conception who looks upon

the varied beauties of this lower world and on the awful

grandeur of the firmament “ with brute unconscious gaze."

When men of enlarged capacity, who have travelled to the very confines of the cloudy and dubious regions which bound human knowledge, shall lay aside the garments of mortality and mingle with the spirits of just men made perfect, they will be placed in the same relative position which they occupied in the for. mer stage of their existence.

We can scarcely conceive, indeed, how it can be otherwise ; and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to assign a satisfactory reason why the intellectual superiority of such individuals as Newton and Pascal and Milton should cease to be seen and felt after they enter upon a sphere where they can exercise their capacious powers with greater advantage. When the field of contemplation is indefinitely extended, and the impediments which formerly obstructed the exercise of their powers are entirely and for ever removed, they will be able to penetrate deeper into the subjects which shall engage their attention, than the less highly-favoured individuals whom, in this world, they so far excelled. They will, in that case, necessarily occupy a higher place than the persons whose capacities are more limited. Yet what is that but the carrying out of the principle on which the Most High acts in other departments of his government ? “Unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one."

Secondly, Their capabilities of enjoyment will vary

« הקודםהמשך »