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to virtue, order, goodness ;-existence instead of being probationary to a future and eternally progressive life, would be but a short and bopless delirium of sensuality, and our inevitable, unalterable end, a state of everlasting darkness, despair, and death. O that we were wise and perceived those things which belonged to our peace, we should then no longer shrink affrighted from the combat so necessary to be waged against our corruptions and defilements! While we have the power,

let us arouse, at the call of our divine Leader, every faculty and energy we possess; let us press forward, confident of the divine protection ; let us no more boast in “our own swords,"nor, trust in “our own bows" of self-dependence and self-derived doctrine, but look to the Lord's sword, the righteous stvord of holy truth alone, as able to save us from our enemies, lest it should “come forth against us and cut us asunder," and appoint us an eternal portion of unmitigated fear and sorrow. Blessed is that man, blessed, beyond all expression, who, through the tribulations and temptations consequent upon a victory over self, and to which he is for a few moments exposed, can still

press onward to the mark of his high calling," can support them with fortitude, and endure them with resignation, for “how can the Lord's sword be quiet," seeing that " he hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea-shore ? There hath he appointed it.” No charge was ever given by the Lord, which was not intended for universal good; and hence it is surely of the utmost consequence that we should regard each command with the closest attention, and endeavour to perceive its operation in the clearest light. How harsh soever a precept may at first appear, yet originating with him whose name is love and whose nature is goodness itself, we shall, on reflection, see, that any appearance of wrath, cruelty, or anger, in our merciful and divine Father, must arise from the opposing malignant principles of our own unregenerate states. For though it is an undeniable truth that “fury is not in him," yet “to the froward the Lord appears froward,” to the "slothful servant," "a hard master," while, to the rebellious mind, the sword of divine truth is clothed with terror and wears a vengeful aspect. The solemn charge of Jehovah in the text is, the appointment of his sword “ against Ashkelon and the sea-shore."

Let us, then, seriously inquire into the spiritual meaning of these expressions; for, it is certain, that unless they have an internal signification, we can be but little interested in them, and still less as Christians profited, by considering their import. The names of places, cities, and countries, with their respective inhabitants, are introduced into the “ Book of Life," as representatives of states and principles, their qualities and operations, in relation to the Lord's Church generally, and specifically to each individual mind. Thus, when the dispensation from heaven, as to doctrine, is the subject of inspired prophecy, it is spoken of as “the Holy City Jerusalem.” But the previously consummated church, brought to desolation by the admission of falsehood and iniquity, is represented by “the unclean city, the city of lies.” So Ashkelon and the sea-shore, must signify what is opposed to heaven and the God of heaven, against which his sword of truth is to be directed with persevering hostility. No other events among men, could so forcibly represent the combat of truth and goodness with evil and error, as those constantly recurring figures, drawn from actual scenes of warfare and strife, which Jehovah is said, in their spiritual import, to approve and direct. Who that reads with inward discernment what is recorded of the Philistines, but must be led at once to the conclusion, that they are introduced into Holy Revelation as significative of those foes which obstruct our regeneration and plot our eternal ruin : the implacable enemies of the Lord's spiritual Israel. Their gigantic stature, their boastful and contemptuous defiance of “the armies of the living God," and their characteristic description, as “the uncircumcised," serve clearly to point them and their cities out, as representatives of those arrogant and haughty persuasions of the natural man, which spring from self-derived knowledge; those destructive doctrines of faith alone, destitute of the heavenly and life-giving virtues of love and charity, which impiously lead men to defy Jehovah of hosts, and set up a standard of rebellion in opposition to his righteous laws. Against these destructive adversaries of the Christian, which have slain their thousands, the sword of JeLovah bas received an eternal charge; nor while any of them remain, can it rest or be quiet. Easily may we discover, my brethren, if these Philisiines are descriptive of principles and persuasions which have obtained ascendancy over us. An overweening self-confidence, an imaginary self-importance, a want of love to the Lord, an unwillingness to comply with the great duties of charity, an undue attachment to selfish enjoyments and worldly pleasures; are all marks of the existence and operation of those unclean and uncircumcised principles and dispositions. They will often excite that insufferable arrogance of the heart, which leads us fatally to conclude that because of our receptivity of

66 the sea

knowledge and doctrine in the memory and understanding merely, we are prepared for heaven. Let us rejoice, therefore, that against these sensual, dangerous, and gigantic dwellers in Ashkelon, (that “strong hold,” of our native corruptions,) "the Lord's sword” has “a charge;" but, let us rejoice with trembling, for, however painful, that sword can never be withdrawn, so long as a Philistine principle is cherished within us. Faith and knowledge are of themselves vain and empty dependencies, when separated from inward good and outward charity. And even the very name Ashkelon, when translated from the Hebrew into the English language, means “the fire of infamy,” and what expression could bave been selected, so truly descriptive of the sensual mind in its vain reliance upon faith alone, while the secret fires of unholy propensities and unclean lusts are permitted still to burn within. But the charge of Jehovah extended to “ shore,” there also, says the inspired prophet, has he appointed it. By the sea here and elsewhere in the sacred Word, is denoted the external mind before regeneration, and also the infernal kingdom itself; this we may fully confirm by attending to those passages where the unregenerate are described; hence we read of "the floods of the ungodly,” of the tempestuous swellings and troubled waters of this angry sea. How truly descriptive is this of the external mind before regeneration, and also of the kingdom of darkness. But after the new birth, these proud waves subside ; peace is proclaimed by the Lord Jesus, and throughout the man all is calm and serene. “The sea-shore,” then, is a term evidently used to signify, the outward boundaries of the natural mind; the confines of eternal desolation; the borders of our external character, our thoughts, our words, and our works; these latter are indeed “the inbabitants of the sea-shore,” while these are evil “ how can the Lord's sword rest or be quiet?” They must be all conquered and destroyed : and their places must be supplied by new and heavenly thoughts and activities. Thus beautifully and powerfully does our adorable Lord press our duties and our privileges upon our attention. May our reflections serve, not only to stimulate a desire for intellectual acquirement, that we may become wise, but that our affections may be purified, our tempers subdued, our hearts changed, our lives made useful and orderly. Divine truths are imparted to us, that they may be loved ardently and practised faithfully; then they bring with them an all-conquering energy, as swords to slay our ungodly persuasions and evils, and thus open the paths to eternal security and peace. Let every man "sell his garment” of self-righteousness and buy the sword of truth ; let us no longer remain careless of our best interests. The time to insure them is rapidly passing by. We see our enemies surrounding us on every side, with thickening ranks : let us “beat our ploughshares into swords and our pruning-hooks into spears," " let the weak say I am strong,” let us put on “ the whole armour of God,” and gird ourselves for the coming warfare. The sword of Holy Truth, the charge engraven on which is as legible as it is easy of interpretation, is drawn for our defence. “He that overcomes shall inherit all things.” And 0, what unspeakable delight will it afford us, to behold these our spiritual adversaries “ dead upon the sea-shore”; every evil desire and thought deprived of existence; every corrupt principle and passion exterminated or subdued ; and all the mind brought under the righteous dominion of goodness—the peaceful sceptre of wisdom. These are the high rewards of the conquering Christian, who “goes forth in the Lord's name." Let us labour to attain them, they are within our reach, then, when this short probationary state is completed, we shall, in the boundless heavens of peace and joy, join that “innumerable multitude of the heavenly host," who with triumphant celebrations “cast their crowns and palms” of victory before “the throne” of Jehovah Jesus, saying, “Blessing and glory and honour and power be ascribed unto our God, for ever and ever." Amen and Amen.

SERMON XII.

ON THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICATION OF THE

SERPENT.

BY REV. W. WOODMAN,

Gen. iii. 1. "Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field

which the Lord God had made.That the objects of nature form a mirror in which the love and wisdom of their author are reflected, is a truth which enlightened reason bas discovered. It is indeed so generally admitted, that the denial of it is regarded as little short of insanity. But the doctrines of the New Church have thrown additional light on the subject. They teach, that whilst the divine attributes may be seen in creation in general, every particular object is a type or representative of some specific principle in the divine nature ; and in a subordinate degree, of some one of the innumerable principles that enter into the composition of the human mind. Of this relationship between natural and spiritual things, the Word bears ample testimony. The Lord not only sanctions it by referring his hearers to it, but his parables are obviously founded on the analogy which exists between visible objects, and the invisible things of heaven and the church. Indeed their great beauty and force consists chiefly in the peculiar aptitude of the similitudes by which spiritual things are conveyed and illustrated. No one who acknowledges the Lord's true character, can suppose that he spake as man speaks. The human mind indeed, sometimes avails itself of comparisons to convey a more perfect idea of its own thoughts and perceptions; but they may be of a temporary kind, and must necessarily be imperfect: whereas the Lord's words are eternal; in them there can be nothing temporary or imperfect, they are designed for every age of the church, and, though adapted to its ever-varying states and degrees of perception, are in themselves as unchangeable as their author. If, then, the Lord ever sees good to express himself by similitudes, it must be by such as are founded in the nature of things—as rest on an immutable basis. The similitudes we meet with in the Word

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