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thing that she relinquishes for His sake. Therefore the exhortation goes on to say, “Forget also thine own people and thy father's house.” In natural marriages this is by no means requisite. We are to remember that this command is addressed to all the Lord's disciples, who, both male and female, are equally parts of His church: but it certainly is not necessary that either the bride or bridegroom should, on marriage, dissolve all connexion with their relations and disown their parents. Though the partner of their choice is certainly now to become the object of their most tender love, yet this by no means involves the withdrawal, or even diminution, of their regard for worthy members of their family. This precept, however, spiritually understood, is absolutely necessary to be obeyed by all who would be members of the Bride the Lamb's wife. They are to own no kindred with any principle within themselves which is not derived from Him; all their own people, and their father's house, they must utterly renounce and forget. For by the bride's “own people" are meant all the principles of doctrine or persuasion that are the offspring of the natural mind alone, which are all such principles and persuasions as are founded in error, and especially such as fortify the natural mind in any of its perverse inclinations : and by her “father's house” are meant all such principles of love or affection as tend to alienate the mind from heavenly and divine things, especially such as lead one to regard onesself alone and to make every thing bend to one's own indulgence. The father of our natural man is properly the love of self; and his house or household denotes all such derivative loves and affections as own this for their chief, and are ever officiously engaged in ministering to its gratification. Whilst then we suffer these to exercise a paramount influence within us, how plain it is that we have not that gift to offer which is necessary to a real union in natural marriages,-the gift of a devoted heart. Yet how can we suppose that any thing less than such a heart,-an undivided heart, wholly offered to its legitimate Lord,—can satisfy his requirements, or constitute us members of the Church as his lawful bride? But when this is sincerely given, the blessing pronounced in our text will inevitably follow : “So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty; for He is thy Lord, and worship thou Him." There can be no beauty in the Church but in proportion as she is formed anew into the image and likeness of her Lord; nor is there any thing that He can desire, or regard with love, but what is grounded in genuine goodness, thus, what is from Himself. This beauty, this goodness, this divine form, it seems, the Church will attain, in proportion as she forgets her own people and her father's house, or relinquishes all proud thoughts and self-seeking; and in proportion to this, too, will sbe in sincerity acknowledge the Lord, and worship Him in truth.
We have been led to make these reflections on the marriage of the church with her Lord, in consequence of several of our friends having lately entered, or being about to enter, into the marriage state. Our design herein is, not to compare the husband in ordinary marriages to the Lord, and the wife to the church, because there is no room for such a comparison, since the husband and wife together form a part of the Church, and do, as such, equally constitute members,-or rather, if they are interiorly united, a member,--of the Bride of the Lamb : But my design has been, by dwelling upon this subject, to shew how boly the state of marriage must be in itself, since it is taken as the appropriate emblem of the highest degree of relationship between the Lord and man. The marriage of the male and female properly derives its origin from the marriage of goodness and truth; and it brings blessings to those who enter into it in proportion as they are respectively principled, and continue to advance, in this heavenly marriage. There can then, be no true marriage, and of course no lasting happiness, between partners who are not sincerely desirous, both of them, to become living parts of the Church the wife of the Lord. In proportion as they really enter into this marriage, their minds will also be more and more entirely united to each other, and the blessedness of such union become more full and perceptible, filled with an inward peace which none but the Lord can impart, and which He can impart to none but those who are inwardly united to Himself. May this be the happy experience of those who have lately entered, or who are preparing to enter, into the divinely appointed state of marriage! And may all the rest of us endeavour to qualify ourselves for true felicity, by entering into that marriage which is the true origin of the other,—even a union of heart with the Lord !
FOREKNOWLEDGE OF FUTURE EVENTS, INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE ORDER OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE.
BY MR. A. MAXWELL.
Rev. xix. 10. “ For the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy." One of the most remarkable features of the present day, is, the peculiar attention which is paid to the language of prophecy, with a view to discover some foreknowledge of future events, with the particular circumstances embracing events of a civil and a political kind. Not satisfied with a general view of the scheme of prophecy in relation to the state of the Church and the world; something more is sought for, to gratify a specious and boundless curiosity, ever desirous of penetrating that veil which the goodness and wisdom of divine providence has cautiously drawn over the affairs of the present life, and this without any practical use or benefit, as it respects the past, the present, or more remote generations hereafter. This taste for predictions has been a vice more or less patronized and cultivated by the professors of religion in every age of the Christian church, while the events of every successive period have demonstrated the folly of such idle conjectures, and the gratification has increased in exact proportion as the passions have been warmed and animated with the theme, until a superior degree of knowledge has been supposed to be the result, and the evil has sometimes terminated in the wildest fanaticism, superstition, and folly. To what a monstrous degree of infatuation, men have been thus led astray in former uges, by supposed discoveries of this kind, may be easily traced from the page of ecclesiastical history. The melancholy records of the past, however, seems to make no just impression upon the present generation, who are guided by notions equally wild, irrational, extravagant, and absurd. It may not be amiss, therefore if in this discourse, we endeavour to shew the absurdity of such speculations, and how inconsistent they are with the genuine spirit and tendency of the true Christian religion, as taught in the doctrines of the New Church. For this purpose we know of no sentence in the Word of God, more adapted as a motto or text, than the one selected, as the foundation of this discourse. That the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
It will be our endeavour to illustrate the following proposition. That the foreknowledge of future events is wisely concealed, and inconsistent with the constitution of the human mind, and the practical use or end, that we should make of our knowledge of the laws of divine providence. From which proposition we shall deduce a corollary: that scripture prophecy, is chiefly designed to open the human mind to some clear perceptions of the love and wisdom of God, or to things celestial, spiritual, and divine.
The discovery of future events is wisely concealed from man, in his state of trial and probation for the future; this would seem almost as a fundamental proposition to any sober-minded and reflecting person. Many of the best expositors on Scripture prophecy, who have illustrated the sacred text with great care and accuracy, have disclaimed all such idle pretences as the discovery of future events, and as unbecoming the duties of an expositor. The celebrated Sir Isaac Newton, in a work on prophecy, makes these just and suitable reflections:
“ The folly of interpreters has been,” says he, “to fortel times and things by prophecy, as if God designed to make them prophets. By this rashness, they have not only exposed themselves, but brought the prophecy also into contempt. The design of God was much otherwise ; he gave the Apocalypse and the prophecies of the Old Testament not to gratify men's curiosity by enabling them to foreknow things, but after they were fulfilled they might be interpreted by the event, and bis own providence, and not the interpreter be then manifested to the world.” In addition to these judicious remarks of the learned writer, we may further observe, that the materials of ancient prophecy had a nobler end in view, as forming a part of the Word of God, and the development of that truth in the world which it contains, for the regeneration and salvation of mankind. For the light which this truth throws on future and distant events or particular states of the world, is rather an incidental and correlative effect of the divine illumination ; because the knowledge of future events as to particulars is wisely concealed, and the chief end of prophecy is sufficiently elucidated in the words of our text,--that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
The study of past events is the province and duty of man ; it is from materials so collected and arranged, that he can rationally judge of the future ; so the prudent man forseeth the evil and hideth himself, while the simple pass on and are punished. From stores of facts thus collected and arranged, like experiments in the reasonings of the natural philosopher, he may obtain some convincing proofs of the regularity and order of the established laws of divine providence, and many striking proofs of God's moral government of the world as the God of order. It is from deductions like these that all just knowledge of future events may be anticipated, by an accurate scrutiny of the past, aided by the light of revelation and of their moral aspects and probabilities on futurity.
As man is a rational being, his reasoning powers are to be cultivated and improved, prepared by a gradual development for the most important uses and duties of human life; and the history of mankind is sufficient to confirm and establish this remark. If we look into the history of the world, we must observe that the human mind, in past ages, has been gradually opening, by a train of successive events connecting the past, the present, and the future as links in a chain ; still improving upon and adding new light to each other, like the progress of a single individual proceeding from the first elements of science, until he arrives at more enlarged views, and to principles of a still higher growth. The growth of the acorn is not more certain in its development than the principles and properties of mind, through the living power by which its organized forms are actuated. A little reflection is sufficient to render this a self-evident truth, confirmed by fact and experience. Every thing in the process is gradual and successive, in the order of the human mind, in the exercise of its reasoning powers, and in the laws by which it is regulated. It is not in the constitution of man, as now formed, to be capable of entering into the depths of knowledge all at once ; he must make his advances slowly and cautiously, step by step, for he is liable to mistake and error, if not even to self-deception. He cannot receive a whole system, either of natural or moral truths together, they should be orderly placed in the mind like the trees in a field. The mind is a receptacle which admits the communication of each truth separately, by little and little according to the quality of the cultivation of