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about it in the natural world, and after examination and deliberation declare their sentiments.
732. After some consultation, the FIRST COMPANY, which was from the north, declared their opinion, that heavenly joy and eternal happiness are one with the very life of heaven; whosoever therefore enters heaven, enters, as to his life, into all its festivities, just as a person admitted to a marriage enters into all the festivities of a marriage. “ Is not heaven," they argued, “ before our eyes in a particular distinct place above us? and are there not in that place, and no where else, transcendant felicities and pleasures? when a man therefore is admitted into heaven, he is admitted, both as to mental perception and bodily sensation, into the full enjoyment of all these felicities and pleasures : of course heavenly happiness, which is also eternal happiness, consists solely in admission into heaven, which admission depends purely on the divine grace.” They ended, and the second COMPANY from the north, according to the measure of their wisdom next delivered their response to the following purport: “Heavenly joy and eternal happiness consist solely in the most delightful association with angels, and in holding such sweet conversation with them, as to keep the countenance continually expanded with gladness; while by the elegance and playfulness of wit, the smiles of mirth are for ever spread over the face of the company : what else can constitute heavenly joys, but the variations of such pleasures to eternity?” The THIRD COMPANY, which was the first of the wise from the western quarter, according to the thoughts which flowed from their affections, thus declared their sentiments. 6. Of what else,” said they “ do heavenly joy and eternal happiness consist, but to feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, at whose tables there will be an abundance of rich and delicate food, with the finest and most generous wines; these to be succeeded by sports and dances of virgins and young men, accompanied by choral symphonies and
the harmony of flutes, and at times varied by the melodious singing of sweet songs; the evening to close with public exhibitions, in which different characters will be represented : this again to be followed by feasting, and so on every day to all eternity?”-When they had ended, the fourth comPANY, which was the second from the western quarter, declared their sentiments to the following purport : “ We have entertained,” said they,“ many ideas concerning heavenly joy and eternal happiness, and we have examined a variety of joys, and compared them one with another, and have at length come to this conclusion, that heavenly joys are paradisiacal joys: for wbat is heaven but a paradise extended from the east to the west, and from the south to the north, in which there are trees of fruit, and flowers of delight, and, in the midst, the magnificent tree of life, round which the blessed will take their seats, feeding on fruits most delicious to the taste, and adorned with garlands of flowers of the most grateful odour? In this paradise there will be a perpetual spring, so that the fruits and flowers will every day spring forth afresh with an infinite variety, and the mind being thus perpetually refreshed by their continual growth and renewal, added to the vernal temperature of the atmosphere, must needs daily receive and taste new joys, and so be restored to the flower of its age, and be brought back to that primitive state, in which Adam and his wife were created, and thus recover their paradise, which has been transplanted from earth to heaven.”—The Fifth COMPANY which was the first of the ingenious spirits from the southern quarter, next delivered their opinion: “ Heavenly joys and eternal happiness,” said they, “consist solely in super-eminent dominion and the never-failing abundance of treasure, joined with super-royal magnificence and super-illustrious splendour. That the joys of heaven, and their continual fruition, which is eternal happiness, consist in these things, we discovered by observation on those who possessed these in the former world, and also by the declaration that the blessed in heaven are to reign with the Lord, and to become kings and princes, because they are the sons of Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords, and that they are to sit on thrones, and be ministered unto by angels. Moreover, the magnificence of heaven is plainly discovered to us in the account given of the New Jerusalem, which is a description of the glory of heaven, that it is to have gates, each of which shall consist of a single pearl, and streets of pure gold, and a wall with foundations of precious stones; every one, consequently, who is received into heaven, is to have a palace of his own resplendent with gold and other costly materials, and to enjoy dominion, every one in succession. Now knowing that such things contain innate joys and inherent happiness, and that they are promised us by God whose Word cannot fail, we therefore conclude, that the most happy state of heavenly life can be derived from no other source than this.”-After this, the Sixth COMPANY, which was the second from the southern quarter, with a loud voice spake as follows : “ The joy of heaven and its eternal happiness consists solely in the perpetual glorification of God, in a never-ceasing festival of praise and thanksgiving, and in the most blessed performance of worship, accompanied with songs and jubilee, which shall keep the heart in a constant state of elevation towards God, with a full confidence that He accepts such prayers and praises, on account of His divine munificence in imparting blessedness.” Some of the company added further, that this glorification would be attended with magnificent illuminations, and with most fragrant incense, and with processions of great pomp, preceded by the chief pontiff with a great trumpet, who would be followed by primates and priests of various orders, and these again by men carrying palms, and women with golden images in their hands.
733. The seventh COMPANY, which was invisible to the rest, came from the east of heaven, and consisted of angels of the same society with the angel who sounded the trumpet: they, when they heard in heaven that not a single person throughout the Christian world was acquainted with the true nature of heavenly joy and eternal happiness, said one to another, “Surely this cannot be true: among Christians such darkness and blindness of mind cannot prevail : but let us even go down and hear whether it be true, for if so, it is indeed a prodigy.” Then they said to the angel who sounded the trumpet, “ Thou knowest that every one who hath longed for heaven, and hath formed any determinate opinion respecting its joys, is introduced after death into the joys of his imagination; and after experiencing what they are, and being convinced that they are only the offspring of his own vain notions, and the delusions of his fancy, he is then led out of his mistakes, and instructed in the truth: this is the case with several in the world of spirits, who in their former life have meditated about heaven, and have formed distinct notions of its joys until at last they have been filled with a desire of possessing them.” On hearing these words, the angel who had the trumpet said to the six companies of wise men assembled from the Christian world, “ Follow me, and I will introduce you into your joys, and consequently into heaven."
734. When the angel had thus spoken, he went out before them, and he was first attended by the company who were of opinion, that the joys of heaven consisted in pleasant association and entertaining discourse; these the angel introduced to an assembly of spirits in the northern quarter, who during their abode in the former world had entertained the same notions of the joys of heaven. There was in the place a large and spacious house, where all these spirits were collected : in the house were more than fifty different apartments, allotted to different kinds and subjects of conversa
tion: in some they conversed about such matters as they had seen or heard in the public places of resort, and in the streets of the city : in others the discourse turned upon the various charms of the fair sex, interspersed with jests, which were carried on, till the countenances of all present were expanded with the smiles of mirth: in other apartments they discoursed on news relating to courts, to public ministers, to state-policy, and to various matters wbich had transpired from privy-councils, interspersing many conjectures and reasonings of their own on the issues of such plans : in other apartments they conversed about trade and merchandise : in others upon subjests of literature: in others upon points of civil prudence and of moral life: in others about affairs relating to the church, its sects, &c. I was permitted to enter and look about the house, and I saw people running from one apartment to another, seeking out such company as was best suited to their several affections and delights; and among the parties I could distinguish three kinds of persons, there were some panting to speak, some eager to ask questions, and others greedy to devour what was said. The house had four doors, one towards each quarter; and I observed several leaving their respective companies, and hastening to get out of the house : I followed some of them to the east-door, where I saw several sitting with great marks of dejection in their faces; and on my inquiring into the cause of their trouble, they replied, “ The doors of this house are kept shut against all persons who would go out, and this is the third day since we entered, to pass our life, according to our desire, in company and conversation, but now we are grown so weary with continual talking, that we can scarce bear to hear the sound of a human voice; wherefore, from mere irksomeness, we have betaken ourselves hither to the door; but on our knocking to have it opened, we were told, that the doors of this house are never opened to let any persons out, but only to let them it; "Stay then,'