Images de page
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

arrangements, the scenery, the modes of angelic life; the joys of the blessed, with interesting particulars in great abundance, have all been disclosed, and with such lucidity as to give the fullest conviction to the thoughtful mind that these things are so. This is the day of which the Divine Mercy has said—“At the same time, saith the Lord, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.

. . Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee." Again :-"I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, О virgin of Israel ; thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry. Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things." (Jer. xxxi. 1, 3, 4, 5.) Let us, beloved brethren, humbly and gratefully enjoy these blessings so graciously bestowed. Let us take the truths of faith, the choicest vines of heaven, implant them on the mountains of holy affections, and cultivate them until we can eat them as common things.”

The Conference has seen, with great satisfaction, the efforts of the Swedenborg Society and the Missionary Society to place important portions of the writings of the New Church within the reach of all; and most strongly urges upon all who will listen to its voice, to avail themselves of this great opportunity to obtain and to read those works which open the fountains of living water in the Divine Word, and bring life and immortality to light to an extent never before realised. “Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

But, beloved brethren, we would also affectionately remind you of the solid character of the religion of the New Jerusalem, and this we do all the more from the prevalence at the present time of unwonted activity in the efforts of those who suppose all things necessary to salvation are enclosed in the one word "Believe," alluding to the persuasion set up in the shallow mind, that to acknowledge their mistaken views of the Lord's death is to obtain the Divine mercy, and thus receive salvation. On this point let us steadily bear in mind

6. That the Lord, of His mercy, leads every one who receives Him; that they receive Him who live according to the laws of Divine order, which are the precepts of love and of faith ; and that to be thus led by the Lord, from infancy to the end of life in the world, and afterwards to eternity, is what is meant by mercy. Every man is born for heaven. He is received into heaven who receives heaven in himself during his life in the world; and he is excluded, who does not receive it.” (H. H. 420.)

What higher privilege can be committed to men, than that of proclaiming, and with evidence immeasurably brighter than any known before, that all men are born for heaven! Born for heaven, what a grand destiny! But this, from the nature of the Divine Love, the constitution of heaven, the disclosures of the spirit and of the letter of the Holy Word, and the principles of human nature, as unfolded in the writings of the New Church, all bring before us, and all confirm the grand truth that every man is born for heaven. But they inform us, also, that our work is to teach and to learn ; to teach by the Word, and to learn by experience, that they only enter heaven into whom heaven has entered, by a life in the world according to the precepts of love and faith, that is, the Divine commandments.

"In order that man may receive the life of heaven, it is necessary that he should live in the world, and engage in its business and duties, for thus, by a moral and civil life (from heavenly principles) he receives spiritual life. Spiritual life cannot be formed in man, nor can bis spirit be prepared for heaven, without these means." (H. H. 528.)

This great and important truth is that which the New Church has especially to proclaim, and to proclaim in life by practice, to shew men that it can be done, and the blessedness of doing it; as the Divine Word says—"

“ In doing thy commandments there is great reward.” In thus living a life of uses, in heavenly order, in justice and judgment, we shall have difficulties to encounter, from ourselves and from the world, but here is the trial of our faith and patience; here our victories are to be

Let us, then, beloved brethren, make it our daily prayer and work to bring our religion into life, and thus to make our circles of life circles of uses, done from love to the Lord, shewn first in shunning all evils as sins against Him, and then by active usefulness, carried out in the faithful performance of every duty, at home and in the world, to become angelic forms of charity and use, as are described by Swedenborg, when he says

“Goodness and charity mould the form into their own image, and cause the delight and beauty of charity to shine forth from every part of the face, so that they are the very forms of charity. The form of charity which is seen to the life in heaven, is produced by charity itself; and is the representation of the cause so perfectly, that the whole angel, and especially the face, is, as it were, charity openly visible and perceptible. When this form is looked upon, it appears ineffably beautiful, and affects with charity the very inmost life of the mind. In a word, to grow old in heaven is to grow young. They who have lived in this world in love to the Lord, and in charity towards the neighbour, become such forms, or such beauties in the other. All angels are such forms, with innumerable variety, and of these heaven consists." (H. H. 414.)

won.

The Conference cannot conclude its sittings better than, beloved brethren, once more, with all zeal and tenderness urging you to learn the truth, by diligently reading the Word, and the inestimable writings which are committed to the New Church, and by doing the truth in all the ways of daily life. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” I am, beloved Brethren, in behalf of the General Conference,

Yours affectionately,

J. BAYLEY.

INDIVIDUAL CHARACTER.

No. II.

BY THE REV. John HYDE. The advantage of possessing a worthy and competent model, by which to be guided in the “formation of character,” must be evident: but to what extent such possession will be of advantage to each individual, depends on several important considerations. Its value to each will be in proportion to his clear comprehension of its beauties ; to his ability to imitate it; to the fidelity of his self-examination, and to his persistence in the effort of imitation. Without a clear comprehension of its beauties, imitation would be indiscriminating and vague, a hazard and a speculation. Without the ability to imitate, effort would be fruitless, and hope, baffled, would sink into despair. Without rigid self-scrutiny, self-deception would entail failure, and the model would be useless. Without strong persistence, the possession of the preceding would be only detrimental to the artist; for then, the clear perceptious of its beauty would only daunt him with a vision of something unattainable;—his ability to imitate would be first doubted, and then disbelieved, and the fidelity of his self-examination would only appal him by the contrast afforded by his own imperfections.

I propose briefly to take up these considerations in the following:

First, then, the clear comprehension of the beauties of our Divine Ensample.Rational admiration can only result from a rational perception of the admirable. The fuller the perception, the more profound will be the admiration. All admiration, however, presupposes a judgment, and all judgment presupposes a standard to which the object is brought, and by which the object is measured. As is the standard by which we judge, so will be the judgments that we make. For our judgments to be exalted, our standard must be high; for our judgments to be just, our standard must be true. A false standard must involve fallacious judgments, and a standard that is low must entail judgments that are worthless. There is a standard of judgment in every mind, because every mind is capable of judging. This standard of judgment is the aggregate of all that each mind has perceived to be true and good. According as that aggregate is enlarged by study, enriched by experience, and made accurate, so the standard becomes truer, juster, and more complete. Man's sense of good becomes increased by the increased perceptions of goodness, as his standard of beauty is enhanced by the increase of his perceptions of the beautiful. It is, therefore, necessary that our conception of what character ought to be, should be accurate and comprehensive, before our judgments as to character can be either sound or just. But for that idea to be comprehensive, it must have been guided and taught, and to be accurate, it must have been guided and taught by an authority capable of guiding and teaching. No human authority can be final, because no human authority can be unquestioned. There is but one authority to which all men must bow, and by which all men should be directed ;-and that authority is God. God must reveal a standard of character, in order that our judgments of character may be guided. If God has supplied His children with a model for imitation, He must have furnished them with a standard by which to measure the perfection of that model ; and that standard will be, at the same time, a code of duty to direct the imitators of that model. To have furnished the model without supplying the criterion by which to judge of it, would subject that model to suspicion and rejection. The completeness of the work requires the supply, not only of the model, but also of the standard. Our great and wise Father has done both! The model is the Humanity assumed and glorified. The standard of judgment, the code of duty, is the law enunciated from Mount Sinai,—the Decalogue. The standard is as infallible as the model is perfect. There is a direct relation between the model and the standard of judgment, for both are DIVINE :—the one, the dictation of infinite wisdom ; the other, its illustration.

To perceive the full truth of this position we must see the full meaning of that Divine Law. Its letter seems only to treat of and prohibit certain actions; but its spirit applies to the desires of the heart and the thoughts of the understanding. The Lord Jesus has shewn this, and illustrated it in reference to the two laws—"Thou shalt not kill," and “Thou shalt not commit adultery." Hatred is spiritual murder, lust is spiritual adultery; that is, murder in the heart, and adultery in the heart. Thus viewed, the Decalogue includes the prohibition of every evil affection, of every impure thought, of every wicked deed. Prohibiting these, it enjoins the contraries of these. There is, therefore, in this sublime and comprehensive law a direct injunction to the love and thought and practice of all holiness of every virtue; as there is the prohibition of the love and thought and practice of all evil, -of every vice-not only in general, but specific terms. The evils are specified, so that no error of omission may occur, and the forbidding of each particularised evil involves the enjoining of its specific contrary good.

We have, then, in the Decalogue, a standard of judgment that is allcomprehensive, and in all things accurate. According to our perception and acknowledgment of this law, our judgment of our "Divine Ensample will be just, and our self-examination will be thorough ; and measured by this standard, our sublime model shines forth resplendent in glory and august in perfection. The prohibition "Thou shalt not steal," enjoins charity, and His boundless benevolence stands forth to view,a love surpassing all comparison, a mercy knowing no respect of persons, a tenderness that is as universal as humanity, and a munificence that shall know no end ;-blessings and gifts, the inchoation only of which is realisable here, to be developed, infilled, and amplified throughout eternity. The prohibition “ Thou shalt not kill,” enjoins the most scrupulous regard to the soul's deeper life and its everlasting bliss, and His marvellous self-abnegation confronts the law;-to rescue His beloved from a death of which our physical decease is only a faint image, and an inadequate symbol, He came, enduring the cross, despising the shame, bearing the burden of our woes, daring the dangers of our life-struggle, subduing the enemies of our peace, combatting hell, and wresting from Death the portentous keys of his prison-house ;--withholding not even His life, which He laid down, and which He took up again, that He might become a living sacrifice for those whom He condescended to call His brethren. The yielding up His life to preserve mankind from death was the fulness of His obedience to this injunction. The prohibition—"Thou shalt not commit adultery,” enjoins, in its highest sense, the non-adulteration of truths and of goods; and His teachings and His practice stand forth,—the one Divine in its purity, the other Divine in their truth. “He spake as never man spake,” was the testimony extorted even from His enemies; “He acted as never man acted,” is the witness of His life. How easy to pursue the thought! So easy, that I leave it to my readers, until they ascend into a perception of the beauties of our Divine Ensample, that shall be as clear and vivid as it is comprehensive and all-embracing

« PrécédentContinuer »