Sivut kuvina

the material body. Man, however, is the sole subject which contiuues to exist in the spiritual world after the death of the external form, because he possesses rational and spiritual forms for the reception of spiritual and rational life from God, which no animal possesses,--he is thereby immortal. The doctrine of Discrete Degrees, alluded to above, shews the laws by which interior or spiritual forms, and exterior or natural forms are connected together, not by continuity, but by correspondence and influx. (See D.L.W. Part iii.)

It was a maxim of ancient wisdom, ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus, that “all things in the spiritual world exist also in the natural world in a natural form ; and that all things in the natural world exist also in the spiritual world in a spiritual form." These forms, says Swedenborg, are, as to their appearance, similar to natural forms, but in every other respect, both as to their origin and the laws by which they are governed, entirely dissimilar. They exist also in the spiritual world in infinitely greater variety than in the natural. The law of their existence is, that they should be the correspondents and exponents of the internal mental states of the inhabitants whom they surround; so that in those objects, as in living emblems, the real states of the spiritual inhabitants may be seen. The frogs, together with the other plagues of Egypt, were correspondences to the infernal states of a degraded Church, and striking exponents of the evil lusts which actuated its perverted members. These dreadful objects, and these horrible scenes are beheld as surrounding the wicked in those nether regions of the spiritual world called hell; and we are instructed, that the same history is still and for ever applicable to a fallen and perverted Church, and to every member who remains unregenerate and wicked. Whereas, the sheep and lambs lying down in green pastures, and feeding beside the still waters, (Psa. xxiii.) is scenery correspending to a heavenly state, and one of the exponents of the peace and happiness of the faithful, who live under the acknowledgment that the Lord is their shepherd. It is plainly evident from the prophets, especially from Ezekiel, Zechariah, and John (in the Revelation), that nearly all the scenery and objects which they beheld and describe were not in the natural but in the spiritual world, for they expressly state that they were “in the spirit," and that they described the things which “ they heard and saw.”

Now, there are two universal principles which characterize nature, and consequently all things in nature. These are space and time; the former is extended, and consequently measurable ; the latter is successive, that is, existing from moment to moment, and consequently determinable. But space and time, as conditions of nature, have no existence in the spiritual world, no more than inches or feet are predicable of mind; and if certain phrases, such as deep thoughts, high ideas, &c. are frequently predicated of mind, yet no one ever thinks of taking them in their literal sense, but merely as corresponding expressions, which emphatically and accurately convey the meaning intended. But although space and time, and their conditions, have no existence in the spiritual world, yet as objects there, for the most part, resemble objects in this world as to appearance, it follows that spiritual objects likewise appear to exist as in space and time. The laws of their proximity and remoteness are not those of mensuration, but those of mental affinity Similitude of affection causes their attraction and proximity, and dissimilitude causes repulsion and distance, corresponding to the laws of attraction and repulsion in nature. Objects in this world proceed from their beginnings, either as seeds or eggs, according to the laws of succession in nature. They successively grow, arrive at maturity, decay, and perish. But this law of succession is peculiar to natural objects only, and does not obtain in respect to spiritual objects, which do not gradually grow from seeds or eggs, but exist instantaneously according to the changes of state in the minds of the inhabitants. Nor does this appear more strange to them, than the succession of growth to maturity in terrestrial objects does to us, because they think not from objects, but from states of mind ; whereas we think from objects and not from states. Objects in nature are at the same time the subjects of our thoughts; whereas with them objects are only the external representatives and exponents of their thoughts; and states of mind are the subjects, in and from which they think. (See A.E. Vol. vi. pp. 396, 397.) To understand this rightly will greatly enable us to see the difference between natural and spiritual objects, the laws by which they are respectively governed, and also the relation which they respectively sustain to the inhabitants of both worlds.

But if spiritual substances and forms are totally exempt from the laws and conditions of space, time, and matter, and if to think of them from those laws is to think materially and erroneously, how much more is this the case in respect to divine substances and forms, which are infinitely exempt from the laws of matter, time, and space! That God is the infinite and self-existing substance and form, from which all finite substances and forms, both spiritual and natural, are derivations and formations, is the primary and fundamental truth, upon which all human and angelic intelligence must be based. Admit this, and you begin to emerge from the darkness of materialism, atheism, naturalism, into the light of genuine intelligence. When the apostle called God a SUBSTANCE, Utosaois,* (Heb. i. 3.) he did not mean to instruct us, that God is a substance such as material substances are, but that there are other substances besides those in nature which are infinitely exempt from the laws of matter, space, and time. And when the Athanasian Creed, employing in Greek the same term as the apostle, calls God a substance, “ being of one substance with the Father," it did not mean to inculcate the gross idea that the substance there meant is similar to natural substances; consequently, both the apostle Paul and the Athanasian creed teach, not only that there are spiritual substances, but also a divine substance. Now, it is impossible to think of a substance without a form, since the former cannot exist without the latter; hence God as a substance must be in a form, which is infinite and divine. The apostle accordingly says that God has a form : “ Jesus Christ being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” (Phil. ii. 6.) Here it is plainly asserted that the Human form in which Jesus appeared, especially after his resurrection, when He was fully glorified, is THE FORM OF GOD; this divine form is also called by the apostle the Lord's glorious body," and he states that“ in Him all the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth BODILY.” Hence it is that“ He is equal with God," that is, God Himself brought forth to the intellectual view of angels and of men in a Divine Human Form, or as a Divine Man, all good, all wise, and everywhere present. The “form of a servant,” which, as the apostle says,

“He also took upon Himself, in which He made Himself of no reputation, and in which he humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” (Phil. ii. 7.) was the Humanity taken from the mother, which was in the “ likeness of sinful flesh.” (Rom. vii. 3.) Hence the apostle teaches that the Lord had the form of God and the form of a servant, both were human; but the form of a servant was the merely human form taken from the mother, which He entirely put off, and the other the Divine Human Form taken from the Father or the essential Divinity, with which form “He ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things,” (Eph. iv. 10.) and in which He is the only Object of worship to angels in heaven, because in that form “He is over all, God blessed for ever;" and the Lord's divine will can only be done upon earth as it is in heaven, and His true Church be established in proportion as He is thus acknowledged and worshiped by mankind, and especially by the professed members of the Church.


* The literal meaning of the term U705Colg is substance, and is so rendered in Heb. xi, 1; and it ought to have been so translated in the above passage.


(From the Newchurchman, page 306.)

THERE surely can be no question more important for a man rightly to determine in this world, than whether or not he is the subject of spiritual life. And we may presume the Lord has not left his willing disciples without a guiding light upon this subject in the teachings of his Church. What tests, then, do the writings of the New Church furnish us, by which we may try in ourselves whether we are seeking and finding spiritual life?

It is clearly manifest that spiritual life is the life of charity. If so, then we shall find the test we want in A.C. 8413:

“When the good of charity, which makes spiritual life, is to be insinuated, then the delight of pleasures, which had made natural life, is removed."

It is abundantly shewn elsewhere, that the good of charity is use done from love to God and the neighbour; that is, from a supreme regard to the good of the whole, whether that be our particular society, country, or some other more complex body. A regard to this use, then, or the doing of uses from the love of use to others, is spiritual life. And natural life is the acting in any thing, and in any relation, from the delight of pleasures, which delight will always be found to be some form or other of self-gratification. The test that we need in selfexamination is, therefore, whether the delight of pleasures is removed. So far as this delight is found to exist, and to be indulged by reasons invented for its indulgence, we cannot be true subjects of spiritual life; and, consequently, cannot be members of the true Church ; and, what is of more consequence, our spirits cannot be members of any society in heaven. For, in A.C. 3470, 3518,4988, 4992, 5032, 6208, 7198, 8002, it is shewn that “they who are in natural good, and not in spiritual good, cannot in any wise be led by influx from heaven.”

Quere : Can those who make money for its own sake, or with a view merely to the estimation in the eyes of the world which wealth gives, be members of the true Church? Can those who engage in businesses which are of questionable utility, and pursue them only until they have made money, which, when made, they appropriate in various subtile ways to the purposes of self-gratification, be subjects of spiritual. life? What matters it that a man can write and talk well upon the things of the Church, if he does not differ from other men in the principles upon which he transacts his daily business—if he is as money-loving, moneyseeking, and money-keeping as any, and as little scrupulous as any in the ways and means by which he gets it ?

Let every man who professes to be a member of the New Church, with his hand on his heart and his eye to the Lord, answer these questions, in the light of the doctrine, that “when the good of charity is to be insinuated, then the delight of pleasures is removed."

The above may be called a simple test, because it is one of feeling common to all. For every one, by proper scrutiny, can know whether he acts from the delight of pleasure.

There is another test which the New Church writings point out, of a more abstract, meditative, and subtile kind, which only intellectual or reflective minds can apply. It may be found in the following passages of Arcana Cælestia :

A man may know whether he is in a state of regeneration by attending to his ENDS."-3570.

“Ends are loves, from which may be known the QUALITY of the man.”—1317, 1568, 1571.

“ It is the part of a wise man to know the ends by which he is governed. Sometimes it appears as if his ends were selfish, when yet they are not so; for man is of such a nature that, in all and singular things, he reflects upon himself, and this from custom and habit. But if any one is desirous to know the ends by which he is influenced, let him attend only to the delight which he perceives in himself, as arising from praise and self-glory, and to the delight which he perceives as arising from use, separate from self; and let him also attend to the various states in which he is, for states themselves, for the most part, vary perceptions. These things man may explore in himself, but in others he cannot, for the ends of every (other) one's affection are known to the Lord alone."--3796.

In A.C. 8995, it is shewn “ that ends constitute the spiritual life of man.” Hence, knowledge of the end is the test of spiritual life. But very few people can or will scrutinize their ends of life. This criterion is possessed solely by the wise or reflective man.

But by either this or the other test all of us may know whether we are seeking and advancing in spiritual life. And if, in the application of these tests, we discover that we are not, it is most weightily incumbent on us, as we value the welfare of our Church, and prize the salvation of our own souls, to compel ourselves to let go our hold on natural life, and constrain ourselves to lay hold on spiritual life : for, in A.C. 1937, 1947, 7914, it is shewn

“ That man ought to compel himself; and where he compels himself it is the effect of freedom--though it is slavery to be compelled by others.” And there surely cannot possibly be a case in which it is more awfully important that a man should compel himself, than in this, in which he finds natural life prevailing to the peril or extinction of spiritual life in his soul. Swedenborg says that, during the whole of man's life on

v.s. NO. 60.--VOL. V.

[ocr errors]
« EdellinenJatka »