« EdellinenJatka »
By these doctrines we are taught, that when the body is deceased, the spirit of man, which is in fact the man himself, still retains the full consciousness of existence. The stream of life does not sink into the ground to emerge we know not when or where, and to be re-united with this perishable dust; but is continued uninterruptedly through that transition which is called by the fearful name of death. Cut off from the sight of a beloved object, the only appearance of death is with those who remain behind ; for the good spirit who has passed that happy moment, and is free from the bondage of the body, perceives the change no otherwise than by the freer and fuller influx of the light of heavenly wisdom, and the quickening warmth of heavenly love. The present life of man is a state composed of natural affections, thoughts and sensations, distinct from, and yet connected as an effect with its efficient cause, with that future state, in the perception of which man is indrawn 30 soon as he is fitted for the change. Being in a natural state as to the apperceptions of his mind, he associates with those who, as to their apperceptions also, are placed upon the same plain of existence with himself: Indrawn from these, he straitway comes into a spiritual state of mind, and then he sees around him beings of like description with himself; he associates with those towards whom he is attracted by congenial ends of life, and has presented to him a world which is the representative form of his inward frame and disposition of mind. There is no break or chasm in creation; it is not made up of parts which bear no relation to one another, but is one harmonious whole, in which the two states of existence, called in common language the spiritual and natural worlds, are mutually dependent, and, as it were, so interwoven with one another, that, though unconscious of it, our very thoughts and affections in their inmost ground, are all derived by influx from our spiritual associates. With these views, we do not tremble at the thought of death, nor strive to banish it from our minds, as we would the horrid image by which it is falsely represented; so far from it, we delight to make it the cherished object of our thoughts ; for it is no longer a dismal mystery which we droad to solve, but comes before us in a beautiful and majestic form, arrayed in the garments of heaven, to connect the two states of life together, and introduce us to the company of those we love.
But why, my Friends, should I detain you, by repeating that which you already know so well? In the reflections to which these few words may give rise, you will recal to mind some state of sorrow and distress, when views such as these brought consolation to your wounded hearts, and filled you with a heavenly peace you never felt before. Such recollections will serve to inspire you with fresh zeal to go forward in your work; that the same bright star of consolation may shine for others also, and that they too may adore their Lord and Saviour, when they shall spiritually see that the heavens are opened, and that the Angels of God are ascending and descending on the Son or Man.” [John i. 51.]
After the last Warwick Reportw as read, the following Resolutions on the subject of a FUTURE STATE, were unanimously passed :
Resolved, I. “That it is a point of the first importance to every human being, to acquire a just and well-grounded idea of that invisible state, into which, on the dissolution of his mortal body, he is immediately to be introduced, that so, being well persuaded in his own mind, not only as to the existence of such a state, but likewise respecting the principles which constitute both its happiness and misery, he may be led to explore and separate those principles in himself, and thus to provide most effectually for his own eternal well-being.
II. That on the ground of the above momentous subject of enquiry, the Theological Writings of the Honourable Emanuel Swedenborg, and more particularly bis Treatise on Heaven and Hell, can never be sufficiently recommended to the serious perusal and diligent investigation of all ranks and descriptions of men, since in those writings, and especially in that Treatise, every satisfactory information may be found, in regard both to the reality of a future world, to the distinct characters of its bliss and woe, and at the same time to the qualifications necessary to secure the highest possible degree of the bliss, and to escape the lowest and every other possible degree of the woe.
III. That when it is considered how the testimony of the above writings is founded not only on the Divine Authority of the Sacred Scriptures, but also on rational and experimental evidence; how it in some measure, and probably for providential purposes, respecting the prevailing Sadducism of the times, draws aside the vail, which hath heretofore been interposed between the present visible world of shadows, and the invisible world of substances; how beyond that vail it presents, to the view of mortals, prospects the most animating and consolatory to the true Christian, and at the same time the most awful and alarming to tbe pretended one; how these prospects are shown to be alike reconcileable with the infinite mercy of the FATHER OF BEING on the one hand, and with every rational idea of His intelligent creatures on the other, being calculated at once to excite every virtuous energy, and to check every vicious propensity; how, in short, the above testimony has a happy and powerful tendency to introduce man, even during his abode here below, into a blessed association in heart and life with those heavenly beings of whom it is written, that they “encamp round about them that fear the LORD,” [Psalm xxxiv. 7.) and to rescue him at the same time from a miserable confederacy with those infernal foes, of whom also it is written, that they “ go about as a roaring lion, seeking whom they may devour,"[1 Peter v. 8.]-it is scarcely possible to conceive any testimony either more interesting, more edifying, or more likely to engage the general attention of mankind, howsoever they may differ on other points of religious speculation.
IV. That this testimony, nevertheless, demands on the part of the reader a previous deliberate scrutiny as to his own purposes and ends of life, before he ventures on its perusal, since, if he hear not Moses and the prophets, Jesus Christ and his apostles, calling him to forsake his sins, and to enter on a new course of life, in such case it is more than probable, not only that he will altogether reject the testimony itself as visionary and groundless, but that it will also add to his condemnation, by hardening his heart in a more criminal and obstinate unbelief. Whilst therefore the real Christian is admonished and encouraged to open the door, and take a view of the astonishing and heretofore unknown objects, which the above testimony presents to his delighted eyes, it is equally adviseable that the mere nominal Christian should be on his guard, lest by admitting the light of that testimony separate from the life, he should plunge himself into a more terrible condemnation, and thus verify the words of the Great Saviour, where he says, “ This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John iii. 19.]
It was further
Resolved—That the Treasurers of the Printing Society in London, and of the Advertising Fund in Manchester, be requested to publish the above Resolutions in as many of the Public papers, and in such other modes, as the printing Societies may deem expedient.
The last report of the London Printing Society was then read, and the following resolution was passed unanimously :
Resolved—That the thanks of this meeting, and indeed of every member of the Lord's New Church throughout the earth, are justly due to the London Printing Society for their anwearied exerlions in printing and circulating the heavenly doctrines of the New Jerusalem, and especially for the ardent zeal in favour of those Doctrines, by which, as is evident from their interesting Report, the London Society have been influenced in their important labours. This Meeting also think it right to recommend to the particular notice of the reader, the very just and edifying criterion of Truth as pointed at in the opening of the society's Report, and applied more especially to the truth now revealed to mankind in the Theological Writings of the enlightened Scribe of the New Church, the honourable Emanuel Swedenborg. For manifest and undeniable as it is, that the evidence of truth is not dependant on the number of its advocates, but only on its own intrinsic characters, it is yet lamentable to observe, especially in reference to the new doctrines at this day in circulation, that their authority is generally made to depend, not on the bright and consolatory conviction of their divine origin, which they impress on every well-disposed mind, but only on the multitude of voices raised for and against them, and thus on the many who oppose, rather than on the few who admit their testimony. It is therefore the devout prayer of this meeting, that, in agreement with the views of the London Printing Society, the testimony of the heavenly doctrines of the New Jerusalem may no longer be subjected to the misapprehensions resulting from a false estimate of the criterion of truth, but may rather be submitted to the scrutiny of that single (or simple) eye, of which it is an. nounced by the GREAT SAVIOUR, “If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” (Matt. vi. 22,]; and also to the decision of that regard to the DIVINE WILL, of which it is again asserted by the same high authority, “ If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.” (John vii. 17.}
In the evening of the same day, a most interesting letter was read from Mr. Willm. Malins, of No. 55, Newington Place, Kennington, near London, inviting the attention of this Meeting to a report of the proceedings of a special general meeting of the New Jerusalem Church Free School Society, which report having been read, it was agreed to adjourn the further consideration of it until the following morning.
THURSDAY MORNING. The meeting was again opened by reading the portion of Psalms appointed for the morning service, and repeating the Lord's prayer, after which the following resolution was passed uanimously :
Resolved—That the proceedings of the Special General Meeting of the New Jerusalem Church Free School Society which were read in the evening of yesterday, meet with the entire and cordial approbation of this meeting, and that the support of that highly useful establishment be ear. nestly and devoutly recommended to the members of the New Chnreh throughout the United Kingdom.
On reading the last Report of the Manchester Printing Society, the following Resolution was unanimously passed :
Resolved—That this meeting, whilst they lament with their Manchester brethren the scarcity of Foreign intelligence respecting the progress of the heavenly doctrines of the New Jerusalem, rejoice with them most cordially in subscribing to the truth of their remark, that “the recovery of the kingdom of God within is the grand point, towards which the whole of the testimony of tbose doctrines is directed.” They think it right therefore to unite their voices with those of the Manchester Society, by proclaiming aloud to all the families of the earth, that it is their firm belief, that, the kingdom of God within, which is doubtless the blessing of all blessings, hath been nearly closed among christians at this day by the division of the Godhead into three distinct persons, which division implies the monstrous idea of a kingdom governed by three kings, or of a body under the direction of three heads, thus of a form of government completely at variance with the best reason of man, as well as with the divine order of God. This meeting therefore are decidedly of opinion with their Manchester brethren, that the kingdom of God within can never be again established here on earth, but by the heartfelt reception of that heavenly doctrine of the New Jerusalem, which teaches, that in heaven above, and in the church beneath, there is ONLY ONE God, whose high and holy name is Jesus Christ, and that this God can never be duly acknowledged and obeyed, until His Holy Word, or Law, be seen in connection with him, and exalted in the human mind as the All of saving good and truth, leading man to renounce all evil, not only because it is opposed to human laws, but because it is in direct contrariety also to the Divine Love and Wisdom, and thus utterly subversive of the kingdom of that love and wisdom in the defiled hosom of every impenitent offender.
On the evening of the same day, the following concluding Resolution was passed unanimously :
Resolved–That we are again debtors to the divine mercy, and this to an immense. degree, for the high honour and happiness of being once more called together by the ALMIGHTY to co-operate with him in laying the foundation of that glorious New Church here on earth, which is to bear the distinguished name and title of “ the Tabernacle of God with men, in which He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, their God.” [Rev. xxi. 3.] For can any honour and happiness be set in competition with this, involving in it a conjunction of life with the GREAT FATHER of heaven, and a communion with all his holy angels, in effecting a purpose of all others the grandest and most dignified, because including in it the eternal welfare and salvation of myriads of human beings yet unborn? Whilst however we return our grateful thanks to our DIVINE BENEFACTOR for this unmerited favour conferred upon us, of being called to co-operate with him on an occasion of such pre-eminence, it surely becomes us to consider in a proportionable degree, what is properly to be understood by this co-operation, that so we may be enabled to ascertain how far we ourselves individually have obeyed the call, and are thus entitled to the favour. For the term co-operation, it is evident, when applied
to man in reference to his God, is a complex term, expressive of complex acts, and therefore it is impossible for any one to discover how far he cooperates with God in any instance, unless he first explores, so as distinctly to see and apprehend, the number and the nature of those complex acts. It is happy however for us, that this investigation requires no extraordinary powers of mind to make it, but is within the reach of the most ordinary capacity, provided only that sincerity of heart be united with exercise of judgment. For what well-disposed mind cannot discern, as by the light of a noon-day sun, that man is capable of co-operating with his God in a three-fold manner and degree, viz: in will, in understanding, and in act, and that the perfection of his co-operation will depend altogether on the conjunction, or union, of these three co-operating principles, which constitute the life of every rational being? What well-disposed mind therefore cannot discern yet further, that to co-operate with God in will is to submit our will to His will, or, what is the same thing, our love to His love; and that to co-operate with Him in understanding is to submit our wisdom to His wisdom, or, what is the same thing, our prudence to His providence ; and lastly, that to co-operate with him in act is to suffer all our deeds and works to be governed and directed by the same spirit of love and of wisdom, which must be supposed to influence all His deeds and works ; here then we may discover at once, if we will be at the pains of exploring the interiors of our minds, how far we, each of us, are co-operating with our God in promoting the grand and beneficent purposes of our present assembly. For we have only to ask ourselves individually, in the sanctuary of conscience, and in the presence of the God who dwells there, the following short but most momentous questions-Do we find our supreme joy in the devout acknowledgment from penitent hearts, that Jesus Christ, in His Divine HUMANITY, is the GREAT AND ONLY LORD of heaven and earth, being at once the CREATOR, PRESERVER, REDEEMER, REGENERATOR and Saviour of Angels and Men? Do we believe also that this GREAT and HOLY God has been pleased, in these latter days, to make a revelation of the internal spiritual sense of His Most Holy WORD, and this with the mer. ciful intent of establishing here on earth a New Church of true worshippers, in the place of that Old Church, which, through evil of life and error of doctrine, is come to its consummation? Do we further endeavour to confirm this belief in our understandings, by a diligent perusal of the writtings in which that revelation is made, and to manifest it in our lives, by exerting all our powers of mind, of body, and of worldly property, in endeavouring to disseminate those writings amongst our fellow men, and especially by renouncing all evil as sin against that HEAVENLY FATHER, to whose mercy we are indebted for the light and comfort of all his revelations? -The serious answer to these questions will at once determine, how far we are co-operating, or otherwise, with the above GREAT 'and Holy God in the stupendous and blessed work, for the accomplishment of which we are here assembled, and on the success of which will depend the happiness and salvation of myriads yet unborn. Is it necessary to add, or rather, will not every one here present spontaneously exclaim, that blessed are they, who can answer the above questions with satisfaction to themselves, and who in that satisfaction are made sensible of the truth and weight of the divine words of JESUS CHRIST, where he saith, “ I am ALPHA and OMEGA, the BEGINNING and the End, the First and the Last. And the SPIRIT and the BRIDE say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him