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ring Also of your ciples after then the new, is pre indeed
having equal share in founding the Church in England, hear Paul also;—“Be not HIGHMINDED, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them.” The last state of the first Christian Church and the beginning of the new, is predicted by our Lord in the 24th chapter of Matthew throughout. It is indeed said in the 22nd verse, “Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.” Yet, upwards of seventeen centuries elapsed between the prediction, and the last judgment in the spiritual world; on the accomplishment of which, the new heaven was formed by the Lord. But as in the divine idea there is no time,-as “ one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day;" therefore the idea is transfered from time, to state; and the state of that church, with the absolute certainty of its dissolution is involved in the words. And now we “Hear the Church,” Sabbath after Sabbath, unconsciously sounding its own funeral knell:-not indeed by publishing “ that which is noted in the scriptures of truth,” but by sounding in the mind's ear those doctrines and dogmas, as necessary to salvation, which the scriptures disclaim.
Where then it may be asked) is THE Church, i. e. the True Christian Church, or, the Lord's New Church? The earth is its basis :—the whole world, its circumference: its descent, from heaven. It is not therefore confined to one particular country, or kingdom, or empire, or people. The church universal, is, in the sight of the Lord, as one man. That which constitutes heaven, constitutes the church in man; for," the kingdom of God is within you.” Herein is the very internal essence of the church: the church in its vitality, or spiritual life; and how consistent, how harmonious, and attractive, it then appears, when brought forth into the ultimates of order, or established in an external form also.* This has been done in England, Scotland, France, and especially in the western hemisphere, and we have occasionally the glad tidings of its progress wafted across the Atlantic.
*" Those who worship from obedience and faith, constitute the external church. To desire and love truth and goodness, and to act under that influence, is the internal of the church. In order that a man may become a church, bis external must act in unity with his internal." E.S.
But we rejoice to know that the doctrines of the True Christian Religion are received in other countries in Europe as well as in many parts of Great Britain, where the New Church has not, at present, assumed an external form. Nor is the African quarter of the globe to be omitted. Even there, where neither Peter nor Paul had preached, -even there,—not on its shores, but in a more central position, the church exists, in its internal quality. There the new revelation of genuine truth has long been imbibed, and retained, and is preserved, and nourished, by the perpetual descent of genial influences from heaven. The ministring spirit of an Augustine* from the world of departed spirits, as one of the mediums adapted to the peculiar states and genius of that people, has been one of the conveyancers of spiritual influences to them from the angelic heavens, derived through those heavens from the Lord. Of good spirits attendant on man, it is written,“ Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation ?” These heavenly influences, like the rays of heaven's sun, replete with light and life, passing through in. cumbent clouds of mental darkness spread like a veil over this nether world, finds, as it were, its local point where those of Africa's sons are unprejudiced and glad recipients of its spiritual light and heat; and from that point, by continuity, gradually widens its circumference as the wheels of time roll on.
Is not then the church universal? In this sense it is catholic, but not in the now disreputable sense of the word, made so by its misapplication to those churches which are based on truths perverted, and doctrines drawn from thence. And if the term orthodoxy means “soundness in opinion and doctrine,” then is the New Church orthodox also. The whole world is its locality,-yea, worlds. In reference to this earth, “Its sound is gone forth into all lands, and its words unto the end of the world.” It has described a wider circle than did the first christian church in the same given period of time. Who shall then calculate its numbers? Its true members are known only to the Lord. Or who can say what its numbers may be in the year 3618, i. e. in the same length of time from the present, as the time that has elapsed since Peter preached his first sermon. (A.D. 33. Acts, chap. 2nd.) But it is not a subject which is to be estimated by numerical strength. It is not a question of physical force. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood.” Let hostile armies calculate their numbers, in which consists their power. There, we should probably find in the maximum of numbers, the minimum of intellect. So, in the religious world, with its numerous sects, its multifarious divisions and subdivisions; its pecuniary and other adventitious aids which it has at command, to swell its numbers, and present a formidable exterior; yet, “one thing is needful:" one thing is lacking:-and they have yet " to learn what that meaneth.” “One man of you shall chase a thousand; and a thousand shall put ten thousand to flight.”. Their numbers by no means prove that the truth, and nothing but the truth untarnished, exists among them, but rather the reverse (for under what dispensation has it been otherwise at its end?). Divine truth is, intrinsically, one and the same, in all ages :-its outer garments men may divide among them, but its vesture ever remains whole. That which has been said of the Church of England, will, with greater propriety apply to the New Church, viz. “It is holy in doctrine, and true by descent."* “I saw (says the apostle John) the holy city, new Je. rusalem, coming down from God out of heaven.” Thus the doctrines of the New Jerusalem must be holy, true, and heavenly in their origin, or “ descent." Its doctrines are not therefore less true, because the church is new. For we read not only of a New Church, but of a s new heaven; and “heavens;" and a “new song;'ť and, “Behold, I make all things new.”
* Augustine, Bishop of Hippoo in Africa, embraced Christianity when in the thirtythird year of his age, or in the sixty-second year after the council of Nice, when by endeavouring to steer clear of the Scylla-rock of Arianism, they fell into the Charybdis-gulph of Tri-personalism. Thus he embraced Christianity as he found it, viz., in its corrupted form; after which he lived forty-three years. He wrote in defence of the doctrine of predestination, drawn from a few passages of Paul's Epistles misunderstood. But after his decease (A.D. 430), it would appear from the manner in which he is mentioned by E. S., that, like Luther and others, he had abandoned these errors of the understanding; and as good in the will had the ascendency over the mind, he ultimately received the essential truths and doctrines of the New Dispens&tion of Christianity.
New indeed is the song, relatively so, in which those of the new heaven composed of christians, join; for it could not be sung by such of the former Christian Church as were confirmed in the false notions of a solifidian and tri-personal faith, and who had so completely closed the rational and spiritual faculties of the mind, that they could not see, and would not "learn.” Nevertheless, this is a faith which is embraced and adopted, with servile acquiescence, by the multitude. Nor is there any thing very startling in the idea of a plurality of heavens. Solomon, in dedicating the temple, speaks of “ heaven, and the heaven of heavens.” Paul informs us that he was “caught up into the third heaven.” And our enlightened author treats of the celestial, the spiritual, and the spiritual-natural heaven, distinct from each other
* Dr. Hook on the Athanasian Creed
+ Rev. chap. 5, ver. 9; chap. 14, ver.3; chap. 15, ver. 3. N. S. No. 34.-VOL. 3
by discrete degrees, yet conjoined and forming one, by immediate influx from the Lord, and mediate influx from one heaven into another. Yea, and two christian heavens are treated of, as distinct from each other in their nature, as are the doctrines of the New Church from the Old. Nor did these exist at one and the same time, yet both were formed after the ancient heavens, or heavens of the ancient and most ancient churches.* The former christian heavens, by the abuse of correspondences and mere phantasies, were (like their doctrines) self-fabricated, and hence called "imaginary heavens,” formed in the world of spirits by those of the first Christian Church, who are called Dragon. ists, or dragonistic spirits. But those heavens were totally dispersed; and afterwards, the New christian heaven, or heaven of Christians, was formed by the Lord, composed principally of infants who had died since the Lord's first advent, out of every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people; also, of such Christians and Gentiles, as had in this world repented of their sins, and who lived a life of faith and charity, which is spiritual love. They were “redeemed from among men.” Incalculable numbers from the first Christian church,-a church which retained its name after its glory had departed, and charity, or spiritual love, which should be an essential principle, and doctrine of the church, had expired. As to externals, they were identified with the general mass;-as to internals, they had come out from among them, and were separate.” The scrutinizing eye of Omniscience saw the precise state, the intrinsic quality of their minds. They were such as are in a state to realize here, and in more complete fruition hereafter, the divine declaration," I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord God Almighty.” They acknowledge the Lord as the Redeemer and only God, and that his humanity is divine. And this acknowledgment, issuing from the supreme affection of love to him above all things, is consequently accompanied with heavenly delight from him, and holy joy of heart. This unfeigned, this heartfelt acknowledgment of the Lord, must henceforth be made by all, whether of the New Church, or of the Old, who, after death, enter the new christian heaven,” or supernal Jerusalem, of which is free, and is the mother of us all.” And here we are met with the charge of bigotry; as if we meant to arrogate to ourselves something like infallibility, and set up the untenable position, that it is
** These are the superior, or highest expanses; the new heaven forms the expanse below.” E. S. [Whenever passages are adduced from Swedenborg, we beg that our correspondents will always state the work and the number where they may be found.-EDITOR.]
their marth, yet faith alomozity of
absolutely necessary to enter the list of some New Church society, and become at least a nominal member of the church, in order that our salvation may be secured. Not so. We have seen its fallacy. For, as the good of every country and clime, of every complexion, of every grade in life, and of every religion, will, after death, be willingly divested of errors and false notions, because not grounded in evil, but in ignorance; and thus, after receiving instruction in heavenly truths, and these united with their kindred good, be prepared for the abodes of the blessed, in the new Christian heaven: so, on the other hand, those who profess to be New Church Christians, merely because they know its doctrines, and who do belong to it externally; who, from a zeal excited by the mere natural principles of the mind, extol to the skies the doctrine of charity, yet seek every clandestine means to injure their neighbour; who acknowledge the Lord as the only God of heaven and earth, yet, “ in works deny him;" these, being in the faith of the church only, faith alone, and departing this life in an unrepentant state, we have the authority of scripture to say, “It were better for them if they had not known the way of righteousness;" for verily, the untaught gentile who is in simple good, “ will go into the kingdom of God before them.” Doctrine alone, however true, without love to the Lord, and love to the neighbour, can avail them nothing in the end. In the words of “ An Old Member,” it is evident “ There can be no true church, nor any real heaven, except in those in whom these loves are predominant."* This is also in perfect accordance with the words of our author : “ The church, as well as heaven, exists in man; and thus the church in general consists of men in whom it exists.”-A. C. 3884. Thus, as the New Church is not a sect, it is unsectarian in its doctrine. Its doctrines are impartial in their character and tendency. The expansive principle of charity is inculcated as an essential doctrine, which is to be united with a true faith, even the faith of God. Its doctrines resemble their divine source; for “God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of him.” That God is the Lord; and the Lord Jesus Christ is the only God. “Happy is that people whose God is the Lord.” Dalton, near Huddersfield,
J. C. July 15, 1842. * See the excellent article, Int. Rep. p. 256, in which the writer has been more explicit on many points than in his former communication.