« AnteriorContinuar »
humble suppliant prayer, whilst angels watch the sacred worship, marking with ecstacy that piety which makes accessions to their blest society, and leads
souls from earth to heaven. That these benignant ministers do guard and superintend our worldly sanctuary, Scripture most clearly ascertains ; and St. Paul even directs to observances of outward decorum, because of the presence of the angels in our solemn assemblies. (1 Cor. xi. 4—10.) But, that philosophy may here not bound its views, from this etherial firmament and these radiant orbs, these lively symbols next invite the meditative mind to contemplate remoter realms, the second grand division. Many preliminary observations, however, here occurring, prevent our entering into that regular and distinct inquiry respecting the appropriation of each district of the boundless universe, which the subject may in this place appear to demand; and which, before we finally dismiss it, we propose in a cursory way to make : to fully discuss it would take
up a folio.
These we shall commence by pointing out that harmonizing truth which so conspicuously pervade's the whole relation of the sacred volume; for New Testament information not only entirely confirms that glimmering view of distant climes which feeble reason suggested to our minds,* but also exactly coincides as to number with the apt types, delineating their existence by the Mosaic institution. The wonderful communication commences thus:- It is not expedient for
* Page 4.
me, doubtless, to glory : I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. Dr. Doddridge's comment is as follows :-“ I have spoken with freedom in the preceding discourse of my labours and sufferings in the Christian cause, but whatever they have been, I well know that it is not expedient for me to boast, nor would I by any means indulge myself in such a practice : nevertheless, with the precaution I have already ad. vanced, and with these good purposes continually in view, that have led me so far out of my common manner of speaking, I will now come to say something of those visions and revelations of the Lord with which his unworthy servant has by his astonishing condescension been favoured. I hardly indeed know how to mention a name so undeserving as my own in this connexion, but I will venture in the general to say, that I well know a certain man in Christ;* one who esteems it his highest honour to belong to such a Master, who, though he hath hitherto thought proper to con
“He must undoubtedly means himself, or the whole article had been quite foreign to his purpose; and, indeed, the ensuing consequences clearly prove St. Paul to have been this highly favoured person. For lest he should have been exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, and the view with which he was honoured of the celestial glories, there was given to him a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to buffet him, by grievously afflicting and distressing his nervous system ; that the being subject to such disorders, though paturally resulting from the manner in which his nerves were impressed by this ecstacy, might bear away, like Jacob, when he had been so successfully wrestling with the angel, an infirmity in his animal frame."-Selected from Doddridge's Expositor. VOL. I.
ceal it, was remarkably indulged in this respect, about fourteen years ago. Whether he was then in the body during that ecstacy, I know not; or for a time taken out of the body, so that only the principle of animal life remained in it, I know not: God only knows how that was ; nor is it of any importance too curiously to search into such a circumstance: He had at least no consciousness of any thing that passed about him at that time, and his sensations were as entirely ceased, as if his union with the body had been broken. Such an one, I say, I did most intimately know, who was snatched up even into the third heaven, the seat of the divine glory, and the place where Christ dwelleth at the Father's right-hand, having all the celestial principalities and powers in humble subjection to him; yea, I say, I even knew such a man, whether in the body* or out of the body I now say not, because I know notGod knoweth; and let him have the glory of supporting his life in so extraordinary a circumstance, whichever might be the case; and I know that having been thus entertained with these visions of the third heavens in which good men are to enter after the resurrection, lest he should be impatient under the delay of his part of the glory there, he was also caught up into paradise — that garden of God which is the seat of happy spirits in the intermediate state, and during their separation from the body
* “ Whether St. Paul was in the body, or out of the body, as he himself expresses a doubt on this point, is not essential or possible for man to ascertain.”
where he had the pleaşure of an interview with many of the pious dead, and heard among them unutterable words, expressive of their sublime ideas, which he was there taught to understand, But the language was such as it is not lawful, or possible for man to utter. We have no terms of speech fit to express such conceptions, nor would it be consistent with the schemes of Providence, which require that we should be led by faith rather than by sight, to suffer such circumstances as these to be revealed to the inhabitants of mortal flesh.”* By this wonderful and momentous revelation, we find not only a corroboration of that triune division portrayed under the law,t but also, should that excellent paraphrast'sť remarks on this extraordinary subject be just, which we think we shall from Scripture very fully prove, the precise and highly important purposes to which the sublimest regions of the boundless universe are expressly ordained. That the third, and last division, the most holy place, was always allowed to be a type of heaven, a type of the place of God's throne, (Ezek. xliii. 7,) is an unquestionable fact; it was always so considered by the Israelites themselves ; and the splendid
+ Under the law, the Israelites considered the sanctum sanctorum, or most holy place, a type of heaven, as appears by their own historian, Josephus; who tells us, that the third part of the tripartite division of the tabernacle which was contained within the four pillars, to which the priests bad no access, did, in a manner, represent heaven, the seat of God himself.-- Book iii. chap. v. p. 81.
1 Dr. Doddridge.
symbols therein contained, which we are expressly
* “ Over the ark was the mercy-seat, and it was the covering of it."-Prideaux.