THOUGHTS ON A FUTURE STATE,
Occasioned by the Death of Mrs. Hester Ann Rogers.
By a young lady who met in her class.
Air built and baseless all, are earth’s delights,
And grief intrudes into their noblest heights;
To changes subject, and to ills a prey,
They bud and wither in a winter’s day;
And like the unfriendly plant of sense too quick,
Bloom at a distance, but when touch’d grow sick:
What calls on man to look beyond this sphere,
Since he’s immortal, and all is mortal here!
If endless life, and lasting summers wait,
To crown us when we leave this wint’ry state,
How should each change instruct us to be wise,
And tell us we are natives of the skies!
But, sure of bliss, (if ought deserves the name,)
Fair friendship’s pleasures must the title claim:
Her joys are mighty, but they often fail,
For while in mortal robes, e’en she is frail,
Ah yes, Celestia! friendship’s tears must flow,
While memory lasts, or we thy absence know;
Full oft we trace the happy moments fled,
When we to noblest joys by thee were led;
And whilst we talk’d of heaven, and learn’d the way,
Mercy divine let in a beam of day,
Till faith and hope exulting soar’d on high,
And each affection centred in the sky;
We long’d to clap the immortal wing, and praise
In louder songs the source of boundless grace,
Where no dull sense, or intermediate cloud,
Can ever the Redeemer’s presence shroud,
But love unbounded, and ecstatic joy,
Burst forth in endless songs without annoy.
But scenes elapsed I’ll leave, while I presume,
With daring thought to penetrate the gloom
That hides immortal things from mortal view,
And humbly thy enraptured flight pursue
To worlds of bliss, complete fruition’s height,
Perfect existence, and immediate sight
O, had we seen thee when the veil withdrew,
And thy freed spirit from its prison flew!
What floods of glory burst upon thy sight,
What songs melodious rung the ether bright,
As heavenly spirits led thee through the sky,
‘Midst blazing suns, and rolling worlds on high;
While joyful friends throng’d thick the heavenly way,
And hail’d thee to the bright abodes of day;
Then joining in their songs of triumph high,
The loud hosannas echo’d through the sky.
And now what mighty joys thy powers surprise,
Stretch’d out from mortal to immortal size;
Surrounded, fill’d, absorb’d in Godhead’s sea,
And wrapp’d in visions of the Deity,
Yet not o’erwhelm’d, bewilder’d, or confused,
Thy nature so with the divine infused,
So fitted to thy state, so pure and high,
That heaven’s profounds suit thy capacity.
Thy glow-worm knowledge here by faith begun,
In open vision bursts into a sun;
Through organs weak no longer dribbled in,
Nor labours purblind reason scrapes to win:
But senses large, congenial with the skies,
‘Wake to new life, and into action rise,
By intuition now, all ear, all sight,
Perception all, and piercing as the light,
Thou need’st no medium to convey delight,
With open face thou view’st the eternal Three,
In union join’d a glorious Trinity!
And at the view increasing raptures flow,
While proving “’tis eternal life to know.”
Thou view’st unveil’d the attributes divine,
Which in unrivall’d beauty round thee shine,
Adoring the transcending harmony,
Which joins them all in man’s redemption free.
Alike by thee his government is survey’d,
Where’er his all-creative power ‘s display’d,
Allow’d his circling providence to trace
From heaven’s first order to the reptile race:
Here wonders now create sublime delight,
And holy praise breaks forth at every sight.
Nor less his grace thy searching mind employs,
Since “angels o’er a penitent rejoice;”
Here they discover mercy’s richest store,
And endless cause to wonder and adore.
Now thou well know’st the secret works of grace,
Which first attracted thee to seek his face,
From hence pursuing all the steps divine,
Which through thy life in ceaseless mercies shine;
The end discovering of each grief and pain,
Why they were sent, and what the endless gain:
Alike survey’d in every hidden snare,
Escap’d by thee through providential care;
A thousand blessings now to thee are known,
O’er which on earth a pierceless veil was thrown.
What funds of pleasure must such views supply,
And themes for praise throughout eternity!
Creation’s works are open to thy sight,
From lifeless matter to the seraph bright:
What wonders in the world of spirits shine,
Expressive of their origin divine!
Here beings high and things inanimate,
Which still retain their pure primeval state,
Are understood by thee, whose piercing eye
Can into being’s inmost essence pry;
And if revisiting this nether sphere,
How differently each object must appear!
No longer can the surface bound thy sight,
But nature’s secret springs are brought to light;
And God appears diffused throughout the whole,
The source of life, — creation’s living soul.
Is such thy knowledge of thy glorious Lord?
Then sure thy love in measure must accord;
Possessing now the end thy soul pursued,
In near fruition of its perfect good:
No more (as here) frail nature sinks opprest,
When with peculiar revelation blest;
Then words were lost in love’s immense abyss,
And silence best express’d the unutter’d bliss.
(What proof that love is heaven’s commencement here,
Since mortal language sinks beneath its sphere.
Praise aims in vain to set its glories forth,
And only songs celestial gave it birth:)
But now at large uncircumscribed and free,
Thy vast affections feed on Deity;
Ecstatic love in holy rapture flows,
Increasing ever as thy knowledge grows:
In full enjoyment and immediate sight,
Of him whose beauties are thy sole delight,
Thy praise unwearied, must for ever flow,
And pleasures no embarrassment can know:
Renew’d by having his continual smile,
No doubt intruding thy delights to spoil,
But large returns for ever flow to thee,
Of mutual love and sweet complacency.
And joy (love’s first-born offspring) lives to prove,
And celebrate the jubilee above;
Immediate draughts receiving from the throne,
While thy loved Saviour makes his joy thy own;
Thou sharest in all his glorious victories,
Exulting o’er its vanquish’d enemies,
Ascribing endless glories to his name,
And ever crying, “Worthy is the Lamb
Who wash’d our robes and conquer’d all our foes,
And now on us eternal life bestows:”
And fresh discoveries of unfathom’d love
Will through eternity thy joys improve.
Are such the glories of thy perfect state?
Then thy employments must alike be great;
(For spirit is to action ever bent,
And torpid rest is not its element.)
Art thou engaged in acts to us unknown
Of solemn worship ‘fore the eternal throne,
Which all thy mighty faculties employ,
And give full scope to wonder, love, and joy?
Or sent to this terrene on errands kind,
Perhaps to soothe thy partner’s fainting mind,
When deep-felt grief’s impetuous tempests blow
Or secret tears from silent anguish flow?
Then to administer the cordial sweet,
And lead his views to yon celestial seat,
Where kindred souls in sweet enjoyment meet?
Or dost thou come a guardian angel bright
O’er the dear objects of thy late delight,
Averting danger, and instilling truth
In soft instructions to their tender youth?
Or dost thou visit those with kind solace
Who were thy pupils in the school of grace?
O, have I ever felt thy friendly power
Conducting me through dark temptation’s hour,
And taken, when unconscious of thy aid,
The cup of comfort by thy hand convey’d?
Reviving thought! it wipes the tear of wo,
Since friendship lives more perfect than below.
Nor less ’tis likely that thy guardian hand
Supports thy friends along thy shadowy land,
When life is hov’ring on the short’ning breath,
And its warm current gently cools in death;
Then bearing the triumphant soul away,
Thou sid’st its anthems in the courts of day,
And mixing with the brilliant hosts above,
Recount’st the wonders of redeeming love;
While list’ning angels hear with sweet surprise;
And gusts of allelujahs ring the skies.
Now fellowship is perfect and complete,
Where thought communes with thought, and notions meet,
And swift as lightning distant souls can reach,
With clear expression far surpassing speech;
Thus fitted for sublime society,
With beings of consummate purity,
Thou hold’st high converse with angelic choirs,
Cherub, and seraph, and with human sires,
With all the glorious hosts around the throne,
Perhaps with beings yet to us unknown,
Gather’d from num’rous worlds remote from ours,
And form’d with various faculties and powers;
While each the victories of grace declare,
And countless acts of providential care:
Then joining in melodious strains of praise,
To mercy’s centre, and the source of grace,
Each happy soul takes in large draughts of joy,
And unconceived delights thy powers employ.
Say, does some spirit (perhaps thy infant son,
For sure by thee he’s still beloved and known,)
Direct thy flight along the ethereal way,
Where suns unnumber’d burn, and comets stray,
To some new workmanship of power divine,
Where beings in Adamic glory shine,
And uncursed nature all harmonious glows,
And shining fair its Maker’s glory shews.
Here wonders rise on wonders to thy view,
In objects fair, immaculate and new;
And seem with thee in concert sweet to join,
In one delightful hymn of praise divine.
Are such as these thy blest employs on high?
While God is all in all, and ever nigh;
For wide extended space is full of him,
Nor aught thy ever-waking sight can dim
Hence, though engaged at nature’s utmost bound,
Thy heaven — thy God, must still thy soul surround.
But cease my vent’rous thought, too apt to fly
To things for thy capacity too high:
Since ear hath never heard, nor eye beheld,
Th’ immortal glories of the upper world,
And all is bold chimera at the best,
In darkness form’d, and wrapt in errors, rest;
Nor thought can paint, nor language give them birth,
And faint descriptions but degrade their worth.
Hence I’m constrain’d the subject to dismiss,
Till made with her a fellow-heir of bliss.
May 15, 1795