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Another great doctrine of the Word is the doctrine of its inspiration. It is the great desideratum of modern times. The increased liberty of thought which the present age has witnessed, has rudely assailed all the cherished sentiments of the past, and subjected all opinions to the searching scrutiny and fearless conclusions of the natural reason. The letter of the Word of God has not escaped; and men, who feel that without a revelation from God they are in a sea of uncertainty in regard to everything holy and hopeful, tremble for their faith. What can science do for us in the night of our affliction? What hope does she set before us in the period of our departure? Thoughtful men feel their want of a more reliable guide than the mere conclusions of their own minds; and their own experience teaches them to recognise the truth that “the way of man is not in himself, it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." Looked at from the letter only, the Word is full of perplexities and difficulties. These difficulties, often exaggerated, are expounded and enforced with all the powers of learning and eloquence. The simple are beguiled, the intelligent are perplexed. It is the privilege of the New Church to possess the solution of these perplexities, and it is her duty to proclaim them to the world. This solution is found in a deeper view of the nature, and a clearer insight into the structure of the Word of God. This Word, to us, is divine. Its inmost is the Lord Himself. It is so constructed as to communicate at once with the Church triumphant in heaven and the Church militant on earth. It is thus the bond which binds all rational natures in one, and which unites them to the one fountain of everlasting truth and righteousness. The Word thus divinely inspired, contains within its literal teaching a spiritual sense in which it treats exclusively of spiritual and divine subjects. This sense pervades the letter, and is everywhere united with it by the closest correspondence. The science of correspondences is, therefore, the key for the exposition of the Word. Its application reconciles its apparent discrepancies, and opens to the mind a view of its inner wisdom. The Word is thus adapted to the intellectual requirements of mankind. It can never be outgrown nor superseded. It goes before all human progress as a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. Increased investigation discloses ever-widening prospects of truth and deeper wells of wisdom. The thirsty soul finds in its pages the amplest refreshment, the lover of beauty is charmed by its reflection of the city and valley of God. The discovery of this Divine science reconciles the Word with the discoveries of science, gives wings to thought, and offers the boundless prospect of
ever-increasing intelligence and love. Such is the glorious Word of God to the member of the New Church. Such is it destined to become to the universal Church of God. Its light, but now rising upon the Church, is in the end to flood the nations with glory. It is ours to see this light as it tinges with its rising splendour the tops of the distant mountains. It is ours—our privilege and our joy—to waken the world to its dawn, and to point them to its rising glories.
It is a grand, it is a glorious distinction. May we not be unfaithful to its requirements !
Another feature of the spiritual beauty of the Church, on which I desire for a moment to dwell, is its spiritual and thence natural order; or, in other words, its doctrine of life. This is involved in the words our feet shall stand within thy gates, 0 Jerusalem.”
There is a correspondence between every portion of the body and some faculty or power of the mind. The head corresponds to wisdom, the feet to the external man, and the sole of the foot to what is merely sensual and corporeal in the external man. For the feet to stand within the gates of Jerusalem is to have the external man established in the order, the purity, the rectitude of the Church. Now this is one of the greatest requirements of modern times, and involves far more than at first sight appears.
There is no greater difficulty than the orderly regulation of the external man. The regeneration of the natural mind is not its destruction, but its purification and restoration to order. Celibacy is not purer than marriage, and the relation of the sexes is not brought into a wiser order or a purer life by its adoption. The very idea that such is the case is a libel on the wisdom of God as manifested in the universal institution of sex, and the exalted uses accomplished thereby in His creation. So, again, because the senses are abused by self-indulgence, intemperance, and folly, w are not to conclude that they are not to be wisely exercised and temperately enjoyed. And so of everything which relates to the external life.
The great canon of New Church doctrine on this subject is this“ All religion has relation to life, and the life of religion is to do good.” All the interior affections of love to God and charity to man, and all the wisdom and faith whereby these great elements of the spiritual life are illustrated and sustained in the spirit, are to be embodied in a wise and orderly regulation of our natural powers, and their active employment in a life of usefulness and goodwill. True religion has a direct relation to the external mind of man and to his outward life and
" I pray
conduct. It is not a mere dream of enthusiasts, it is not confined to spiritual meditation and exercises, it flees rather than courts cloisters and concealment, and it seeks to manifest itself in the
markets of the world and in the daily transactions of the duties of life. not,” says the Saviour of His disciples, “ that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” Whatever, therefore, relates to external life and duty is to be brought under the control of religious thought and feeling. The Lord by His truth and goodness, is to reign universally in everything pertaining to man from highest to lowest. His will is to be done in the earth of the natural mind, even as it is done in the heaven of the spiritual mind. There is to be at His second advent, and under the New Jerusalem dispensation, a new earth of external life and order and beauty, as well as a new heaven of internal peace and purity and good.
And just as earthly fertility and beauty is the result of heavenly influences, the influences of heat and light, of rain and dew, so the external mind and life attain their true order and beauty, and manifest their fertility and usefulness when subject to the influences of the spiritual man. In other words, all external duty in the new age on which the Church has entered is to be performed from internal, i.e. spiritual, motives. Let us briefly trace this feature of the Church in some prominent examples.
And first in regard to worldly duty. It is a distinct teaching of the New Church that all religion has relation to life, and that the life of religion is to do good ; but it is an equally distinct teaching that the channels in which this good is to flow are our several occupations in life. The quality of all external conduct is the motive in which it originates. If it spring from selfish affections it is internally selfish, if from benevolent love, it is internally benevolent and good. Now the moral qualities of the external man are selfish and worldly, of the internal man benevolent and wise: · The will of the natural man is the love of self and of the world, and his understanding the science which is in harmony with these affections. The will of the internal man is the love of God and the neighbour, and his understanding the truths which are in harmony with these affections. To love the neighbour is to do good to the neighbour; and our several occupations in life are providentially arranged to furnish the means and opportunities of doing good. The minister of religion who uprightly instructs his people in the way of salvation, and patiently leads them in the path of everlasting life, is performing the highest use to his fellow-creatures, and if he act from the motives of Christian charity (love for his neighbour
springing from the still higher and holier love of God) he is building up a spiritual character in and by the labours in which he is engaged. The same remark applies to every other worldly occupation—to medicine and law; to manufactures and commerce ; to arts and handicrafts -to all orderly labour, to all worldly occupation and employment.
Now, as members of the New Church, this is to us a doctrine of life. Work is in a certain sense worship. It is one form of dedication to God; of service rendered to Him in the upright discharge of the duties
; we owe to His children. This to us is not a matter of intellectual speculation, but of realized Christian faith and doctrine. It is a religious duty to be upright and honorable in trade, and to make our several occupations the means of blessing and benefiting our fellowcreatures.
And let me observe, there is no feature of religion of greater importance at the present time than this. Worldly duty is too often discharged from the most selfish motives. The man who would hesitate to steal his neighbour's goods, has no misgiving in defrauding him in his labour, or over-reaching him in his bargaining. The disclosures of commercial life show a want of commercial morality ; the revelations of trade and labour show a want of conscience, and an entire disregard of the obligations of charity and neighbourly love. And this sad spectacle extends to professedly Christian men and women, as well as to those who care for none of these things. Christian men not unfrequently sail as near the wind in their bargaining as other classes. Nor, I fear, do we as New
I Churchmen give sufficient attention to these things. On their observance, however, depends the success of all efforts to build up the Church in ourselves, and to aid its extension in the world around us. It will not be by abstract doctrine that the world will be converted to God, but by sound doctrine embodied in the practices of genuine piety and a life of charity, uprightness, and good will. And we are in an eminent sense, the witnesses of this truth. Let us bear a faithful testimony, and let us be especially mindful to exemplify our testimony in our conduct and conversation.
That we are fearfully and wonderfully made is a truth of which every child of A dam is a witness. To show forth the wonders of our natural and external formation would be to explore the entire domain of
physiology. Our corporeal frame, a world of wonders in itself, epitomizing the universe—our various senses connecting consciousness and creation, whether catching the eternal harmonies of nature in the “magic shell” of the ear—or inhaling with “the breath of our nostrils” the ethereal spirit of the flowers—or painting on the tiny sphere of the eye the wide and ever-varying landscape, with its infinities of light and shade, and form and colour. And as we explore this palace of marvels more inwardly still, “ at each step do higher wonders rise.” First, we have “active fancy” which "travels beyond sense and pictures things unseen "—and then memory storing and preserving the pictures both of sense and fancy, and ever ready to bring them from her vast repository for future use-next the rational faculty abstracting and, as it were, sublimating the knowledges acquired by the foregoing faculties and elevating them to general truths—and proceeding still more interiorly, we come to the region of universal truths, of ideas properly so called, the intuitions of the infinite and the eternal, the good, the true, the beautiful, where thought unites with affection. Here the torch of
. philosophy goes out, and our further exploration must be made by the light of the Day-star. But ere we advance, let us pause for a moment, and see what cause have we for admiring the Divine goodness as displayed in these very outworks of our being. A retrospect of the portion of our field of contemplation already gone over is calculated to fill us with the deepest gratitude to the great Author of our existence, mingled
reverence and godly fear,” for His signal mercies in so constructing us that our mere corporeal life, if properly regulated, is a delight; and our senses are the inlets of most exquisite and refined pleasures, which, touched from above, may be exalted even to heavenly joys. A thoughtful survey of our natural faculties, both exterior and interior, and their relation to the universe (on the details of which many excellent and suggestive volumes have been written, and should be attentively read), may well kindle our devotion to the “God of our life and Author of our days.” How appropriate are the words of the poet,
But the crowning wonders are in the inner chambers of the palace. Here, as already observed, we meet with what are properly termed ideas—thoughts of a more universal compass combined with affection, united radiance and geniality, like the light of spring-intuitions, as we