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joyment of them, God will give to every one the abilities of one hundred men.
It would not be easy to collect, from any human description of the punishments and rewards of a future state, a number of absurdities and ridiculous fictions, equal to those which we have quoted from the Koran and the traditions of Mohammed ; and these are but as a drop in the bucket, when compared with the full account of them. To any man who is acquainted with the doctrine of retribution taught us in the Scripture, the absurdities are so glaring, that to expose them would be labour lost. We shall only observe, in general, that neither the misery nor the happiness which the impostor describes, can be the misery or the happiness of rational beings. His representation of the wicked as shod with shoes of fire, so that their skulls shall boil like a caldron, unites the horri. ble with the ludicrous. All tortures that merely affect the body, fall infinitely short of the full punishment of hell, and are utterly unworthy of that awful hand by which they are inflicted. Were the inhabitants of those doleful mansions unjustly condemned, or capriciously punished, their immortal spirits, retiring within themselves, would be full mighty to bear; and, impassive themselves, might support the feebler body, under all its tortures. The sufferings of the body exhaust the whole torments of Mohammed's hell. They are, however, the lightest part of those torments, to which the hell described in the Gospel dooms the wicked. The anguish of a guilty conscience, of a conscience stung by the remembrance of crimes, deliberately committed ; the consciousness of having incurred the Divine vengeance, and rejected Divine mercy, is the worm that never dies, and the fire that is never quenched. The soul herself feels this as a poison trans
fused through all her faculties, and the arrows of Jehovah piercing into her inmost recesses, and drinking up her spirits. The hell of Mohammed, except in its perpetuity, contains no more punishment than what the most capricious tyrant can inflict. The hell against which Christi. anity points our fears, is that consciousness of guilt, which even in the impostor's Paradise, would wring our souls, and turn all its sensual pleasures into death. The flames of a hell that can only reach the outward man, are feeble indeed; but those that penetrate the soul are intolerable.
If Mohammed's hell wants rational punishment, his heaven is destitute of all dignified enjoyment. Pleasure is either sensual, intellectual, or spiritual. Sensual pleasures are those which men possess in common with brutes, and, which brutes, as they do not feel that mighty void in them that rational beings are forced to know, it is highly probable, enjoy with a quicker relish than men, who are formed for higher and nobler delights. Intellectual pleasures rise above sensual, as far as the man is elevated above the beast. The pleasures of literature and philosophy are of a vastly more exalted kind than those of sense. The range they have is more ample; the objects about which they are conversant, more multifarious; and as they engage the attention of the bigher faculties, to a certain extent they give scope to gratifications which, instead of depressing, invigorate and sublimate the powers of an immortal spirit. But, like water which can rise no higher than its source, the joys of Mohammed's paradise cannot enter the soul, nor can they ascend even to the dignity of philosophy.—Spiritual pleasure, which is that of the Saint, and which consists in the love of God, in being changed into his moral image, from glory to glory, in not only contemplating, but also in adoring the fulness of infinite
perfection, is still farther exalted above the low and gro. velling sensations of that pleasure, which only occupies the senses, and cannot expand itself more widely. The future pleasures which Christianity opens to believers are, seeing God,-dwelling eternally under the light of his countenance,—tracing the mysteries of his Providence, and of his astonishing love in our Redemption, by the incarnation and atonement of his own Son-singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb,—seeing the blessed Redeemer, and conversing with Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,-being led by Him to living fountains of waters—and every tear being wiped from our eyes, for ever and ever. It also presents to us, the hope of being inseparably associated with an innumerable company of angels, and with the patriarchs, the prophets, the apostles, the saints and martyrs of our God: of being re-united to those from whom we were torn; the stroke of death separating them from our society, almost as soon as we had fully entered into their secret, and been united to their assembly.
Joys, such as these, the paradise of Mohammed has never known. Of his paradise, the joys are suited to the most profligate and vicious; and such are the persons who are best qualified to relish them. Here Jupiter, and the whole multitude of heathen gods, could sit down to the banquet, and feel all the pleasure that they are said to have enjoyed in their nectar and ambrosia ; and the girls of paradise are just such as they are said to have sought, but could not find. In such a paradise, a Christian would be eternally miserable. " Whom have I in heaven but Thee; and there is none on earth that I desire besides Thee.” “God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever and ever.” Into the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the eternal rest of the Saints, none can enter but the pure in heart. Were Mohammed and his lovers of sensual pleasures to be admitted here, they could find no objects of gratification : but must languish in everlasting disappointment and misery. .
One of the finest geniuses that ever adorned the paths of literature, in an exquisitely beautiful paper, in the Spectator, called the Vision of Mirza, formed upon the Mohammedan creed, has, with a taste and delicacy peculiar to him, and far more refined than that of the impostor, drawn a striking view of a paradise merely sensual. The nice discernment of Mr. Addison, taught him to leave out of this paradise, whatever was gross and luscious, and to exclude from it whatever was ridiculous. “ It appeared to me,” says Mirza, “a vast ocean planted with innumerable islands, that were covered with fruits and flowers, and interwoven with a thousand little shining seas that ran among them. I could see persons dressed in glorious habits, with garlands upon their heads, passing among the trees, lying down by the sides of fountains, or resting on beds of flowers.—Gladness grew in me on the discovery of so delightful a scene. I wished for the wings of an eagle, that I might fly away to those happy seats.”—A beautiful description certainly of the most delicate pleasures adapted to sensual gratification, and if man had originally possessed no faculties and powers capable of knowing and loving God, and of resembling his moral perfections, such a paradise might have been suitable to his nature. But of a being possessed of such capacities, such a paradise is utterly unworthy. It is remarkable, that almost all these images are employed in scriptyre to represent the bliss of the heavenly state, so far as it is suited to that glorified body with which, in the resur
rection, the saints of God shall be clothed. But the principal pleasures of heaven are such as we have already represented ; and are both intellectual and spiritual. Mr. Addison, indeed, is not to be blamed for not introducing into the Vision of Mirza, intellectual and spiritual pleasures, which the creed of Mirza did not admit. The writer did not intend to describe the heaven of the Gospel, but the paradise of Mohammed.
Sixth. The sixth article of Mohammedan belief is God's absolute decree and predestination, both of good and evil. The orthodox doctrine is, that whatsoever comes to pass in this world, whether it is good or bad, proceeds entirely from the Divine will, and is irrevocably fixed from all eternity, in the preserved table; God having secretly predetermined, not only the prosperous and adverse fortune of every person in this world, in the most minute particulars; but also his faith or his infidelity, his obedience or his disobedience, and, consequently, his everlasting happiness, or his everlasting misery after death. This fate or predestination it is not possible, by any foresight or wisdom, to avoid. The article of predestination has been the subject of almost incessant disputes among Protestants, ever since the time of Arminius, and many pious and excellent men are to be found, ranked on both sides of this question. The statement of this doctrine by Mohammed seems to be utterly at variance with the free agency of man; and, by reducing him to a machine, renders him unfit for moral government. It seems also to represent God as the author of sin, both of which tenets Christian predestinari. ans universally reprobate. How well soever Mohammed found this doctrine calculated to inspire resolution, and the contempt of death, in the minds of his soldiers, in the day of battle, it has produced the most unhappy ef