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CXXI. The complexity of the human character appears in a very striking light in this respect. We may possess the clearest view of the true character of some particular evil, which we hold in the strongest reprobation, while at the same time the activity in us of some other evil brings with it such an obscuring deceitfulness, that we fall into it without the least idea that we are rendering ourselves objects of pity and contempt to characters very much our inferiors in all essential respects. Hence appears the necessity of an impartial, rigorous, and unreserved self-examination, in order to guard us against self-deception, and make us acquainted with “ the sin that doth most easily beset us.” For want of this, even professed Christians are found (as Hudibras quaintly has it) to
Compound for sins they are inclined to,
By damning those they have no mind to; the prodigal in expenditure railing at covetousness, and the covetous railing at prodigality ; the sullen condemning the irascible, and the angry condemning the sullen, very much after the fashion of the selfish and the worldly.
CXXII. The perfection of both sexes depends upon their individual attainment of the marriage of goodness and truth. The constitutional predominance of affection in the female, and of intelligence in the male, naturally leads to amiability in the former, and respectability in the latter. But neither can be depended upon, not having that fixedness of principle which renders confidence safe. This fixedness is acquired only through the individual union of spiritual affection with the intelligence natural to the male, and of spiritual intelligence with the affection natural to the female. Until this union is accomplished, neither sex can be said to be under the government of principle, or to have acquired a claim to rational confidence. As for masculine women without affectionate amiability, and effeminate men without intellectual respectability, they are exceptions to the order of nature; such persons possess only a claim to compassionate toleration, being incapable of commanding either natural love or respect; still less can they be regarded with that spiritual love and respect united, which each sex effectually commands from the good and the wise, through the individual union of goodness and truth.
CXXIII. He that goes to church to get reputation, goes to worship the idolgoddess, Fame; he that goes to get custom, goes to worship the idol-god, Plutus or Mammon; and he that goes to please some individual, goes to worship that individual; and he that goes merely to please himself, goes to worship himself. In a state of order, the worship of God consists in His being regarded as man's chief end ; and therefore, in every state, a man's chief end, and his Object of worship, is one and the same.
CXXIV. Humility rests on a disposition to take for granted that our own opinion may be defective; and meekness, on a disposition to assume that others may be capable of guiding our judgment. These form the basis of pleasant, and, at the same time, of profitable social intercourse; chiefly because they render us efficient mediums in the Lord's hand, of good to others. In this case, the Divine impulse flows down, as man's occasion providentially demands, and makes use of all that in us which is available for the Divine purpose, without obstruction from the self hood.
CXXV. When a person is in favour with us, we are apt to paint him to our imagination, too white; but should he fall under our displeasure, we are then apt to paint him too black. We need to bear in mind the apostle's advice, “Let your moderation be known unto all men.” In this case it will frequently be discovered, that nearly all the change we think we discern, is not really in the individual subject of our condemnation, but in our own prejudiced judgment of him. The fault here referred to, exists chiefly with those (and a multitudinous host they are) who act upon no higher principle than that condemned by the Lord,—“ Love them that love you!"
CXXVI. How different is the meaning of the term "friend," and " friendship," on the lips of opposite characters ! Infinite Benevolence declares to its objects, “Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you :" while intense selfishness uses the same language, -“Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I desire you." Truly the friendship of the world is enmity with God, for the friends of God are they who obey the law of love; while the friends of the world and the worldly, are they who comply with the demands of selfishness, in order to receive the same again.
CXXVII. It would be a great mistake to suppose that a large sphere of usefulness on earth, is necessarily the best preparation for a large sphere of usefulness in heaven. In all His dispensations, the Lord has eternal ends in view, and therefore his chief end in ordering our place here, is to afford us the best means of preparation for the largest sphere of usefulness, and hence the largest enjoyment of happiness, hereafter. It is possible that sickness, solitude, and inaction, because they are the best means of extensively subduing the selfhood, may be the best means of preparing us for the purest and most vigorous exercise of heavenly love, in a totally opposite condition of existence. If, in any case, Providence appoints individuals to the performance of extensive uses here, which, nevertheless, do not prepare them for usefulness hereafter, it is in cases where they are willing to be useful, but not from pure motives. Divine Providence is too just and good to place any individual in circumstances of outward usefulness here for its own purposes, if those circumstances are incompatible with his most favorable preparation for eternal blessedness, which would be the case, if they necessarily fostered, instead of diminishing, the power of his selfhood. Prosperity in usefulness is as hard to be borne by some, without injury, as worldly prosperity, by others.
CXXVIII. “It is not to my taste."—What is the origin of a person's “ taste ?” In respect to disagreeable objects, it appears to be this. The will is under the influence of the loves which reside therein. Whenever the object presented in the understanding is disagreeable to the loves of the will, it is repelled, and the feeling attendant upon the operation is embodied in the words, “ It is not to my taste.” Thus, when false doctrines are loved by the will, that is, when they correspond with the evil loves there, and truths are presented, a feeling of repugnance arises which is mistaken for an evidence or perception of their untruth, and therefore they are indignantly rejected at once. But the real case is this; the rejection is the act of the will, (not of the reason) which in this form says of the doctrine submitted, “It is not to my taste.” There can be no self-willed rejection of new ideas because they are new, except in minds where true humility and meekness (so little understood in the Christian world) are strangers. These virtues afford an effectual check on the exercise of any undue influence of the will over the understanding
CXXIX. The best security for our doing justly and loving mercy, is found in our walking humbly with our God. He who feels that sackcloth aud ashes best describe his natural state before God, will not be eager to indulge in an unjust expenditure upon the gauds of dress and equipage in order to make an appearance before men ; and he who, in devout adoration of the Divine Goodness, takes his place habitually at the footstool of Divine Mercy, will not be found wanting in mercy to his fellow-creatures.
CXXX. It is possible to mortify the sins of appetite, exhibit outward piety, and conform to moral and civil laws externally, and yet to cherish in full vigour the loves of self and the world, in the form of covetousness, envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness. This it is to have a name to live, where life is dead.
(To be continued.)
DR. BURTON, UPON THE RESURRECTION OF THE
To the Editor of the Intellectual Repository. SIR,
The following remarks, upon the Resurrection of the Body, are taken from the Notes to the Bampton Lectures,* preached before the University of Oxford, by the Rev. Edward Burton, D.D., Regius Professor of Divinity, and Canon of Christ Church ; 1829.
As they offer a valuable testimony to the views of the New Church upon this subject, perhaps you will think them not unworthy of a place in the Intellectual Repository, particularly as the work referred to is now become exceedingly scarce.
“I should rather infer that the persons, whose arguments were combatted by St. Paul, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, denied a Resurrection in any sense of the term; and it would seem from his words, in xv. 29–32, that they did not believe in any future state of the soul at all : at least they did not believe, that a person who met with affliction in this life, could be recompensed by happiness hereafter.t One of their arguments was evidently taken from the impossibility of comprehending with what body the dead shall rise again: (xv. 35.) and this objection, which was likely to be urged by any Grecian philosopher, was advanced also by the Gnostics, who chose to understand the doctrine of the Christians to mean, that the material body will be raised again, and re-united to the soul. It is undeniable that most, if not all, the Fathers, did literally and strenuously maintain, that we shall rise again with our bodies. The Resurrection of the Flesh was asserted by Tertullian in a separate treatise, which bears that title; and there is no point which he and all the Fathers labor more strongly to establish against all the professors of Gnosticism. Accordingly we find every branch of the Gnostics accused of denying the resurrection ; but we must remember that the resurrection of the body was always intended in this expression; and perhaps the ardour of controversy led the Fathers to charge some of their opponents with an incredulity or an impiety of which they were not really guilty. That the Gnostics believed in the immortality of the soul, is certain beyond dispute. Neither does it appear that they supposed each soul, after its separation from the body, to be absorbed in the Pleroma, or in the Deity; they therefore conceived each soul to exist in a distinct state of individuality; and such an existence implies a state of consciousness. The difference, therefore, between the doctrine of the Gnostics, and that preached by the apostles, was not so much concerning the nature of spiritual existence, and the consciousness of the soul after the separation from the body: but the difference consisted in what I have already endeavoured to explain, that the Gnostic believed the soul to enter upon its purified and celestial existence immediately after death, without being exposed to any final judgment or any further change. The Fathers very justly exposed the error of this notion; but I cannot help thinking, that their desire to establish the resurrection led them to hold a language, and to inculcate a doctrine, which is nowhere expressly revealed in Scripture. It is nowhere asserted in the New Testament, that we shall rise again with our bodies.* Unless a man will say, that the stalk, the blade, and the ear of corn are actually the same thing with the single grain which is put into the ground, he cannot quote St. Paul as saying that we shall rise again with the same bodies: or at least he must allow that the future body may only be like to the present one, inasmuch as both come under the same genus: i. e. we speak of human bodies, and we speak of the heavenly bodies; but St. Paul's words do not warrant us in saying that the resemblance between the present and future body will be greater than between a man and a star, or between a bird and a fish.* Nothing can be plainer than the expression which he uses in the first of these two analogies, Thou sowest
* P. 428. Note 59 to Lecture 5.
+ Such appears to have been the opinion of Origen, in Matt. xvii. 29. p. 811.See Vitringa Obs. Sacr. iv. c. 9. 5. Vol. iii. p. 924.