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cannot understand by "the light of the world," of which the truths of the externals are said to be, any light of solar origin.
The following passage seems to me to give the key for the true construction of the expression in question :
"The light of the world is for the natural or external man, thus for those things which are in him. Such things, although they do not appear to appertain to that light, still do appertain to it; for nothing can be comprehended or conceived by the natural man except by such things as exist and appear in the solar world, and thus except they have somewhat of form from the light and shade therein. All ideas of time and space, which are of so much account in the natural man that he cannot think without them, appertain also to the light of the world."-A. C. 3223.
Thus, the things of the natural mind are of the light of the world, because the material ideas, furnished in the first instance by ocular vision, remain as the basis of all that is afterwards collated into them by discerning, comparing, reasoning and concluding. But these operations are asserted in so many passages to be effects of light flowing in from heaven, that they cannot be supposed to appertain to the light of the world, in any other sense than this, that that light furnishes the rude materials from which, as from their foundations, intellectual ideas are raised up, and from which they are never separated. In a similar sense it might be said that a house appertains to its founda tions, or a statue to its base. "The things which are of the light of the world" is thus a convenient phrase for expressing the things of the natural mind considered as to their origin by the external way.
But taken in this sense it lends no confirmation to the
the "Spiritual Diary."
Shall we now infer from this negative result that the solar atmospheres have absolutely nothing to do with vision properly mental? I do not know how it may strike others, but, for my own part, I cannot persuade myself that what presented itself as probable to Swedenborg, after the opening of his spiritual sight, on a subject to which his meditations had been so long turned previously, and with such fruitful results, should not have a foundation in truth. It may be that solar light plays a subordinate part in a region lying within that of our occular vision, though Swedenborg, fixing his attention chiefly on the light which was truly and essentially effective of thought, takes no distinct notice of it in the "Arcana." The natural mind, we are taught (D. L. W. 257), contains natural substances, although thought
is not produced from them. These substances do not exist merely on its outermost confines, since they recede at death, that is, remove themselves from its interior to form the cutaneous covering of the spirit. There seems no reason for doubting that where these things "from purest nature" can go, the atmospheres of the sun can also find access and carry light. But the action of this light must be quite subordinate to that of light properly spiritual in its origin, and to this we may attribute the fact, that while Swedenborg makes frequent statements about it, as productive of bodily sight, he makes no distinct mention of it in the works published by himself, as concerned in mental vision. A. E. F.
PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS ARISING FROM THE AUTHORITY OF SWEDENBORG IN THE NEW CHURCH.
THE general nature and uses of the Sacraments having been considered in the former part of this paper, it is not necessary to refer at length to the subject here, except to remark that it was there explained that the Sacraments themselves were instituted to serve as an ultimate basis of the Church and its worship, in which the higher influences of spiritual life proceeding from the Lord find their ultimate plane. Beyond this it is impossible to go; whereas, had not such a termination been supplied, the last link in the chain of correspondences would have been wanting.
The teaching of the New Church on the subject of an ultimate is highly important. It supplies a common fulcrum, where the superior powers, activities, and influences, concentrate themselves in one complex; so that meeting here in the plane of their common reaction, they exist there in their greatest fulness. For this reason the Word is in its fulness, sanctity, and power, in its literal sense, and "the Sacraments are the most holy solemnities of worship." (T. C. R. 667.)
The relation of the two Sacraments is also highly important. Baptism, as was shown, is the divinely appointed means of introduction into the Christian Church. The Holy Supper is the divinely appointed
medium, when worthily received, of admission into heaven (T. C. R. 719), or of incorporating the soul into the Lord's mystical body. This arises from its spiritual relation to the sustenance of the spirit; for as only those organic forms are united to the physical frame which are the recipients of its common life, and partake of the common nourishment it supplies, so the spirit of man can only be united with the living Church in heaven and the world by participating in the common sustenance whereby the whole is supported, and the life by which it is animated. The apostle therefore calls the elements of this Sacrament the communion of the body and blood of Christ: "The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? and the cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the commnnion of the blood of Christ?" (1 Cor. x. 16). Thus, in the Holy Supper, the soul is not only fed with the divine good and true, but becomes thereby a part of, and is organized into, the Lord's mystical body, living the common life, and being an integral part of His kingdom.
As, however, the remarks in this paper are addressed to those who accept the testimony and authority of Swedenborg, it is not necessary to extend them, which would be foreign to my present object. They are intended for a class amongst us who believe that the external ordinance of the Holy Supper does not belong to the new dispensation. It might be, they argue, useful to the first Christian Church, and as such was permitted by the Lord; but the ordinance in its external form is foreign to the genius of the New, and is to be regarded by us as a representative mode of enforcing the necessity of our living in the continual reception from the Lord of the spiritual realities symbolized in the elements employed in the Sacrament.
That this is an important duty is not denied, so is that of constantly living in a spirit of prayerfulness; but the latter does not dispense with the necessity of oral prayer or public worship. Then why, it may be asked, should the former render actual participation in the sacred ordinance unnecessary? But the main point to be considered is, does Swedenborg sanction this view? Certainly no direct statement to that effect anywhere occurs in his writings. It has, consequently, never been attempted to bring any direct proof from his treatment of the subject, but arguments are based on what he has said relating to correspondences; and because the two elements in the Holy Supper are correspondent with the essential principles to which they refer, it is urged that it behoves us to leave the external form to secure the essence. Swedenborg, however, affords no sanction to such a mode of
reasoning. He teaches the correspondence of the elements of the ordinance, not with a view to its abolition, but for the purpose of explaining its eminent uses, and enforcing its observance.
Before, however, adducing his testimony, an impression that his remarks relating to this subject are intended for the use of the Old Church rather than for the New, demands a brief consideration. Whoever carefully reads the extract in my paper inserted in the January number of this Magazine, in which the distinguishing features and characteristics of the two are described, must feel some surprise that such an impression should ever obtain. Besides, the very title of the work where the subject is most largely treated proves on how great a misapprehension the opinion rests. It is "The Universal Theology of the New Church," not of the Old. It is, consequently, addressed to the former, not to the latter; and those who accept the authority of Swedenborg, are, in all consistency, bound to defer to him in the matter. With those who do not admit his testimony we have nothing to do in these remarks. We will, however, proceed to a closer examination of his teachings.
Having referred to the vague surmises current on the nature of the Holy Supper, he explains that the reason of this obscurity arises from the spiritual sense, by which alone the uses and benefits of this ordinance can be truly discerned, having hitherto remained unknown; and he adds-
"The reason why this spiritual sense is now first revealed is because, prior to this, Christianity existed only in name, and at best as only a kind of shadow in certain individuals. For mankind have not heretofore approached and worshipped the Saviour Himself as the only God, in whom is the Divine Trinity, immediately, but only mediately, which is in fact not to worship Him, but only to honour and respect Him as a cause for Whose sake salvation is given to man; and this is not making Him essential, but the mediatory cause, which is below the essential cause, and extrinsic to it." (T. C. R. 700.)
He then adds, and the attention of the reader is particularly requested to what he states:
"But as true Christianity is now beginning to dawn, and the Lord is now instituting a new Church signified by the New Jerusalem in the Revelation, in which God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are acknowledged as one, because they are in one person, it has therefore pleased the Lord to reveal the spiritual sense of the Word, to the intent that this Church may be admitted into the real use and benefit of the two Sacraments, Baptism and the Holy Supper, which intent is fulfilled when the members of the Church perceive with their spiritual eyes, that is, with their understandings, the sanctity concealed in it, AND APPLY IT TO THEMSELVES BY THOSE MEANS WHICH THE LORD HAS TAUGHT IN THE WORD." (Ib.)
A statement more directly to the point in question cannot well be conceived, and demonstrates that, so far as Swedenborg's authority is concerned, it is most decidedly opposed to the view of the Holy Supper being superseded. But, whilst this places the fact beyond controversy, his testimony acquires greater force from the explanation afforded of the specific uses of the ordinance, all of which are contingent on the actual participation of it. This is involved even in his treating on its correspondence, as will appear from the subjoined remarks:
"An acquaintance with correspondences serves to discover the signification of the Lord's flesh and blood, and that the bread and wine signify the same, namely, that the Lord's flesh and the bread signify the divine good of His love, and likewise all the good of charity, and that His blood and the wine signify the divine truth of His wisdom, and likewise all the truth of faith, and that to eat signifies appropriation." (T. C. R. 702.)
To suppose that the statement here adduced refers to mere mental acts, and that such mental acts are what is meant by the Holy Supper, would be a most unwarrantable perversion of Swedenborg's language. The actual elements, and the actual partaking of them, is the only sense in which the above extract legitimately admits of being understood.
In a subsequent section we find the following:
"By understanding what has been said above, it may be clearly comprehended, that the Holy Supper contains, both universally and in its minutest particulars, all things of the church and all things of heaven." (T. C. R. 711.)
This agrees with what has previously been explained respecting an ultimate, viz., that it is the common ground where all superior things terminate, existing there in their whole complex. The Holy Supper is consequently the ultimate plane in which all the spiritual blessings, both of the Church and Heaven, are collated, and exist in their greatest fulness.
But, further, we read that
"In the Holy Supper, the Lord is entirely present, with the whole of His redemption." (T. C. R. 706.)
"The Lord is present, and opens heaven to those who approach the Holy Supper worthily, and He is present also with those who approach it unworthily, but does not open heaven to them; consequently, as baptism is an introduction into the church, so the holy supper is an introduction into heaven." (T. C. R. 719.) "Those approach the holy supper worthily who are under the influence of faith towards the Lord, and of charity towards their neighbour, thus who are regenerate." (T. C. R. 722.) "Those who approach the holy supper worthily, are in the Lord, and He in them; consequently conjunction with the Lord is effected by means of the holy supper." (T. C. R. 725.)