Sunday, January 22, 2006

Happiness, Misery, and Things Unseen

From a Sermon by Samuel Davies (1723-1761), “Things Unseen to be Preferred to Things Seen.”

Let me compare visible and invisible things, so that you see the trifling nature of temporary, visible things, and the vast importance of eternal, invisible things.  I’ll illustrate the unimaginable difference by looking first at the two extremes of pleasure and pain.  All men & women live their lives to avoid pain and to obtain pleasure.  This drives all of their pursuits.  The two great springs (sources) of all human activity are:
  1. The inborn desire for happiness

  2. The inborn aversion to misery.
If these inborn drives stopped for all men, all business would cease, lethargy and apathy would ruin life as we know it, and universal inactivity would seize the world. And our desire for happiness and aversion to misery continue into Eternity where our immortal souls will continue powerfully in a future state either in pure joy or in pure misery.  When the soul ripens in the heavenlies and all its powers are maturing, this eagerness after happiness and aversion to misery, will be even stronger.

The soul in its present state of infancy, like a young child or a man stupefied by sickness, cannot experience pleasure or pain very deeply. Excess joy or excess sorrow can undo these fallen bodies.  In our current feeble condition, we could not survive the pure joy or complete misery of the future world. We cannot see God and live.

If the glory of Heaven blazed down on us in all its invincible splendor, it would overwhelm our feeble natures as we cannot now support such a weight of glory. And one twinge of the agonies of hell would dislodge the soul from its earthly dwelling. But in the future world all the powers of the soul will be mature and strong, and the body will be clothed with immortality; the union between our souls and our bodies after the resurrection of our bodies will be inseparable, and able to support the most oppressive weight of glory or the most intolerable load of torment.

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