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the soil and its ability for that reception. That this is the case with respect to human science is a fact that cannot be doubted, and there is no room to doubt it in relation to religious knowledge, and the progressions of the regenerate life ; first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.
Man is not only a rational and intelligent being, but a being at perfect liberty, and his rationality is to aid him in his choice in all the duties and engagements of life. Without such liberty he could not be the subject of trial and probation, or of responsibility as to the future ; he would be the child of necessity; he would be the creature of circumstances, and not the subject of reward or punishment. The argument, if adapted to man at all, is equally so, in every relation of life-it meets all his arrangements, either in his individual or social capacity; for if it applies to the state of one man, as the subject of the divine government, it equally applies to the whole -to societies or nations—to the world at large, or to all the intelligent beings in the universe. In this respect there can be no exception. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. Whatever clouds or darkness may surround his pavilion, yet justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne, and righteousness and truth goeth before his face. And such is the clear and profound statement of our enlightened author, Emanuel Swedenborg, as to the nature and operation of divine providence; which he has more critically and fully elucidated in his treatise on that subject. To have some just and accurate perception of this doctrine, as thus explained by our author, is a privilege of no mean importance, from the superior light which it imparts to the human mind. He thus illustrates one of the deepest and most intricate points of controversial theology, for he distinctly observes—that if it were possible for man to perceive, or, as he emphatically expresses it,-if it were possible for man to feel the operation of divine providence-that is, to have a sensible perception of it and of the laws by which it is regulated, as clearly as we have of the objects of sight, and of the touch, or of sensation in general; that, in such a case, he would then not act from liberty or freedom, or according to reason and intelligence, but from necessity. All the argument of the philosophical necessitarian would then be just and conclusive, whereas, at present, they are contradictory and absurd. Such a perception of the laws of divine providence, would render man passive, and consequently indifferent; it would destroy the noblest energies of his soul, by which he is prepared by reformation, repentance, and regeneration, to become an image and
likeness of Deity, and co-operate in the order of his administration; and thus the distinctive features and qualities of his being would be totally abandoned, if not utterly destroyed. If he did not continually will, and think, and speak, and act as of, and from himself ;-if this power did not actually appear so to himself, if it was not communicated to him by a divine operation in every moment, he would then cease to be man, for he would be deprived of his rationality and freedom, and of all the wonders of his existence. As the subject of reason and intelligence he is equally the subject of choice and liberty, because he thinks in a state of freedom, for liberty and reason are intimately blended together in the human constitution--they must act and co-operate ;-remove the one and you destroy the other. By the constant efforts of the will, thought and reason, are so united together in the constitution of the human mind, that they mutually aid and strengthen each other. By the constant efforts of the will, thought and reason are elicited, because every one thinks from liberty, and liberty is the essence of reason, and gives birth to all its forms and qualities for which mind is distinguished. The fore-knowledge of future events is, therefore, incompatible with the laws of divine providence, and the constitution of the human mind.
There is a peculiar law of divine providence, as explained by our respected author, which is directly opposed to all such foreknowledge, as being inconsistent with the laws of established order in the proper trial of man, in his probationary state; it is not only improper and inconsistent with that state, but equally dangerous and delusive, as being detrimental to his final end. To promote final use and blessedness is the general end of all the laws of the divine administration, such is the application of the greatest, as well the minutest things in the arrangement of divine providence. Guided by an unerring hand, every thing is adjusted with a mathematical order and precision. With the Lord there is no error or mistake-the obliquity or disorder is in man, and not in the laws and constitution of the divine government. Whatever is permitted is ever conducive to that end, although sometimes dark and mysterious, and even painful, to the lower apprehensions of the natural mind; but to the spiritual mind, instructed by the genuine truth derived from the Word, this will appear rational and salutary, if correctly viewed. It is not, says our author, permitted man in this life to see the divine providence before, but only from behind; to see it from a higher, but not from a lower state, and therefore it must be seen from a spiritual, and not from a natural principle. So by an inspection of the past, as in a mirror, we may judge of the future, and draw correct and accurate conclusions. In proportion, therefore, as the mind opens, or progresses, and is regenerated, and so divinely illuminated by a reception of the divine truth ; in the same proportion do we discover the traces or footsteps of the divine providence; still it is a looking down, from a higher to a lower state, from the mountain, or the hill, and not from the valley. We see it from behind and not from before, as the heavenly influx descends, flowing from a higher to a lower region, from the celestial into the spiritual, and so from the spiritual into the natural degree. As the mind, therefore, advances in divine knowledge, or in spiritual attainment, if the receptive powers of the soul be thus opened, and are resolved into life by use and action ; we derive experience from our past knowledge, and the trials to which it has been submitted; the works of God, and the providence of God, with the dictates of his holy Word, thus mutually correspond to illustrate each other, by new and increasing discoveries of the love, and the wisdom, in which they originate. New stores of divine knowledge are thus continually imparted to aid our improvement; and as we ascend the holy mountain, or advance in the grace of charity, the prospect widens, improves, and opens before us; the surrounding scenery is more beautiful and engaging; in every step we advance, new objects awaken the attention, and call forth the energies of the soul in grateful recollections of past mercies, and in cheerful and delightful anticipations of the future (Arcana Cælestia, n. 2572).Our past experience being designed to furnish the mind with new motives and principles—to bring it into a state of perfect resignation and acquiescence, of willing obedience and submission, not from necessity and compulsion, but from choice and approbation. Like that of an affectionate and obedient child, whose mind is enlightened to perceive and to enjoy the kindness and tenderness of a parent interested in its welfare. The true Christian recognises the parental government, in the adıninistration of his heavenly father; he considers it as wise, and holy, and just, and good; sensible of the divine care and protection, by the analysis of the past, he is not solicitous about the future; he makes no anxious enquiries about it; he records past favours, by grateful recollections and acknowledgments; with the submission of a child, he is calm, placid, and serene. The perfection and order, the wisdom and goodness of divine providence is ever present to his mind-it meets his eye in every direction; it affords satisfaction, it silences every murmur, and it creates delight. All desires after the foreknowledge of future events, he feels persuaded, can only exist in a morbid or sickly state of mind, for they are removed in exact proportion as the mind is spiritually enlightened from above, by the influence and affection of charity-or as we return to a sound and healthy state.
Our experience of the past, not only affords fresh accessions to our knowledge, but forms and adapts the mind, and moulds the affections to every new state through which we are permitted to pass ; it gives birth to new delights also, which bring inward peace and rational pleasures. Such is the proper effect of every step of our progress in the regenerate life, if the tempers of the heart are influenced by the principles of goodness and truth, derived from the Word of God. And such happy effects will result from being safely landed on the shores of the heavenly Canaan. Our knowledge and experience of the past, even as states of trial and probation, may be supposed to have this delightful consequence. Like some skilful traveller, or the sailor who has traversed the globe, and who has finally arrived in safety at his destined place after numerous and diversified trials and dangers, and even hazardous escapes and shipwrecks, who should then delight to survey the dangers of his voyage, or the intricacies of the road, the rocks and the quicksands by which he had been beset, or the storm, or the tempest to which he had been exposed. In such a peaceful state he is enabled to draw some accurate conclusions as to the past. It is exactly similar with the true christian as he advances in knowledge and experience ; by passing through different states of probation, he is thus prepared to survey the wonders of divine providence in every trial or change of state, and in every new developement of the love and wisdom of his heavenly Father. As the Israelites, when conducted in safety to the land of promise, collected their little households around them to tell the wondrous tale, or to discourse together on the miracles wrought in Egypt, or to narrate the perils of the wilderness, or their various encampments in a desert land, with the victories they had obtained, and the cities they had destroyed. As these were subjects of delightful recollection to the natural mind, and prepared suitable materials, for the communication of divine knowledge, so the true Christian hereafter will have similar wonders to record, after his probationary states of trial in this world, and his final exit into the spiritual world. What themes of wonder will then open to the mind after passing through the valley of the shadow of death--from the process of the resurrection, and from his ascension and glorification, to the beatitudes of the heavenly
state: such changes of state, and their opening wonders will undoubtedly furnish new themes of intellectual delight, new sources for gratitude, new uses to be performed, and new graces to be imparted.
To produce effects of this kind, we inay rationally conclude, is one general design of the Word of God, and of the prophetic style of it in particular, when rightly understood, by its spiritual interpretation as fixed by the law of correspondence and compared with its divine promises and precepts. All these discoveries appear to have a similar tendency, as being adapted to instruct the highest orders of created beings in new and progressive states of intelligence and wisdom: to instruct man not only while an inhabitant of the natural world, but as equally adapted to the opening prospects of the eternal state. The truths of divine wisdom have eternal ends in view, they tend to elevate the thoughts and affections to principles and objects far more interior and sublime than the prophetical students of the present age, or even of any former age, have vainly imagined. A little reflection on the absurdities of these speculations when compared with the constitution of the human mind, and its future immortality, with the true nature and design of Christ's kingdom and its development in the human mind, will lead to this just conclusion, Jesus said my kingdom is not of this world, it has nobler ends in view. The common view of Scripture prophecy as drawn from its literal sense, carries the thoughts and expectations downwards instead of upwards, to things below instead of to things above,—to the tastes and the pursuits of the selfish ideas of our corrupted nature as opposed to that kingdom which is founded in love to God, and love towards our neighbour - A kingdom which consists not in meats and drinks, but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
It is apparent from the account of the resurrection of the Lord, as recorded in the gospels, that the disciples were extremely deficient as to the interior meaning of the Scripture prophecies, neither could they elevate their thoughts beyond the literal sense, although they had been repeatedly instructed, that his words were spirit and life. After the resurrection it is stated, that he then opened their understandings to understand the sacred Scriptures. And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke xxiv. 27). From which it is clearly evident that the Spirit of prophecy is designed to unfold the wonders of human redemption and the regenerating means to which it is be applied. This de