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as from a central star, the Lord is continually, secretly, and wonderfully arranging and providing for our interior universe, it is analogous to the visible expanse of heaven, the seat of all those unseen forces and activities which are constantly ordering and disposing all things on our planet, whose fertility and beauty arise from the reception of those genial influences. Hence Heaven, or more properly “ the Heavens," signify in the sacred language “the Placers or Disposers. And so, from this inner and spiritual expanse, the Divine principle is
, ever in the benign act of flowing down into our lower and natural mind, to reduce it to order and harmony, and so to endow it with the highest felicity. As the earth in the embraces of the ethereal expanse, such, in some measure, is our near and intimate connection with this heavenly kingdom. And yet into this kingdom, we are assured from the lips of Divine Truth incarnate, we can never enter, unless a great and radical change takes place in us—a change tantamount to a new existence,—“Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. xviii. 3). Whence this conditional language ? why must the process indicated therein take place in our souls ere we can enter that kingdom, in which we are already, in a certain sense, and which is as closely adjoined to our being as the circumambient atmosphere to the earth. The reason is implied in the first requirement of the text just cited : we must be converted, that is, literally, “ turned ;" consequently we are not naturally in our true position. Our present position is inverted, and conversion, therefore, implies the recovery of our true and original position in reference to this blessed kingdom ; otherwise we can derive no benefit from its
1 intimate presence and ceaseless operation. So the earth derives vitality from the heavens, although ever within their sphere, only in proportion as, like one of her fairest flowers, she turns her aspect to that glorious orb which is the source of all their activities. So man, though while on earth he is within the circuit of “the blue heavens which bend over all,” yet if his position is inverted—if, in contradiction alike to the most expressive etymon of his name, and the distinctive characteristic and prerogative of his nature, he should remain prone to earth and averted from the skies, he cannot enjoy the salubrity of their atmosphere or the prospects of their light : he must be converted; he must assume his proper position, and, in accordance with the import of his name already alluded to, be turned upwards ere he can enter the king
* See this admirably treated in the Rev. Mr. Clissold's “ Inspiration and Interpretation,” No. 11.
dom of the outward heavens. The case receives a still more striking illustration by supposing a plant set inversely ; its higher parts in earth, its roots in the air. In vain the sunbeams kiss it and the zephyrs woo it; in vain refreshing rains descend and silent dews distil; the receptive organs are turned away. In vain the Earth too, like a kind mother, is ready to nurse it ; the roots, wherewith it can draw sustenance from her bosom, are averted. Here is another necessity for conversion or turning; the position of the plant must be altered; the relative places of its top and root must be changed; root to earth, top to upper air. So shall it imbibe its proper nutriment from each, and acquire a life which, based on earth, tends upwards to the skies. And thus man, although encircled and impenetrated by the heavenly kingdom, is, by the fall, averted, and thus shut out from it: his higher faculties of will and understanding are averted from it, and turned downward to sensual pleasures and worldly knowledges, thus are impervious to its calm delights and elevated ideas; and his senses, like the root of the plant turned upwards from earth, are regarded as the exclusive source of all knowledge, and capable of conveying even heavenly information. Thus they enjoy a false elevation, and, while employed in such vain ministry, are turned from those external and natural objects which are their proper resting-places, as the earth is to the root of the plant. But when man regains his true spiritual position—when his “ affections begin to be set on things above," and his understanding to be refreshed with heavenly thoughts, then he becomes a true man—he is turned uproards—he is converted, and has entered the Divine kingdom ; his “ citizenship is in heaven." His higher faculties being turned towards his spiritual principle, where heaven is in miniature, and his lower faculties to his scientific or natural principle, where the world is in miniature ; Divine order is restored, and he is like the plant whose root is in the earth, and its finer parts in the free and luminous air, spreading its leaves to the sunshine, and holding its floral chalices to the rains and dews of heaven. But we have to note a special character of this conversion : we must become 66 as little children.” Many, recognising no innate or derivative good in children, regard these words as having an exclusive reference to our intellectual state, as if they inculcated an entire abnegation of all rationality as the first step towards the kingdom of heaven, intimating that we must become little children only in ignorance, mental imbecility, and indiscriminating credulity.
But this is the very reverse of apostolic teaching.“ Brethren, be ye
not children in understanding. Howbeit in malice be ye children ; but understanding be ye men" (1 Cor. xiv. 20). These words express the whole secret of conversion. We must be little children, not intellectually but morally. “In malice or evil be ye children "-literally, “ infants ”—plainly implying that children possess the opposite to evil or malice-namely, innocence. How does this, it may be asked, comport with the natural depravity confessed by the Psalmist? (Ps. li. 5). The answer is plain: The depravity is natural; the innocence is supernatural; the former is a hereditary derivation, the latter a Divine gift. That sublime truth, never lost sight of altogether in the Church, but brought out into meridian light by our great scribe, explains and harmonizes both scriptures. The connection of the kingdom of heaven with the inmost principles of our being, includes in its teaching the fact that the Divine implantation of this kingdom takes place in our earliest childhood-nay, in our very infancy. Indeed, its initiaments may be referred to our ante-natal state, when they are inseminated in the very germ of our being, whose exterior is derived from the mother, its interior from the father, and its internal or inmost from Heaven, the essential principle or element of which is innocence, which may be termed the fountain-head of all good. Now, during the period of infancy and childhood, during which the Lord is carrying on, in secret, the formation of the internal principle by the insemination of innocence, He is at the same time endowing the little subject of His love with external or natural innocence, which is, as it were, the shadow of the internal, portraying and raying it forth as the faint and shadowy twilight, the gold and roseate morn still latent in the chambers of the east. And
as, in the twilight, we may trace the beauties of the yet unrisen morn, so in the external innocence of childhood we may read, as in cipher, somewhat of that higher innocence, which is, as it were, the mid-heaven of the internal region of our minds. And as love divine forms and cherishes the internal innocence, so has Providence wonderfully arranged that the love of the parent shall be the means of evoking and developing infantile innocence; as a certain writer beautifully observes, “ the blue eye of the mother being to the child what the blue circle of heaven is to the mother, the symbol and signature of Deity.” Hence the many endearments of infancy and childhood which throw around them a halo of sacredness, and invest them with the light of poetry, yet a poetry most truthful, because it has its echo in the universal heart of humanity. Such is the innocence which adumbrates the higher innocence which we must attain ere we
can enter the kingdom of heaven. But, alas ! this innocence of our life's happy dawn is, in the striking words of the prophet, morning cloud, and as the early dew, it vanishes away” (Hos. vi. 4). Soon it disappears with most-seldom does it remain with any—and with a great number it can scarcely ever be recognised ; for their early training would seem to have for its object the swift destruction of every trace of the innocence of childhood—the speedy evaporation of the dew from the tender grass. But God lets nothing be lost, either in His natural or spiritual kingdom. Infantile innocence, although supplanted by hereditary evil, is not annihilated; it is withdrawn into that wonderful region of the human mind, the internal man, and there stored up like the manna in its golden urn. “ The dew of our youth," though vanished, is not lost; it is preserved in that bright mysterious realm as in “the womb of the morning,” ready to descend in blessings on our souls. Having noted the departure of innocence, let us now briefly describe the process of its return. When we have acquired pure and luminous truths from the word, and have transferred them from our memory to our intellects and to our affections, our interior principle is opened ; our
remains ” of infantile innocence are brought out from their sacred recesses, and serve as a plane for those truths, and as a medium of conjoining them with higher and more interior innocence, and thus they are progressively rendered more pure and luminous ; and, being united with the good of innocence, constitute wisdom. And thus external innocence becomes one with internal innocence, which is the innocence of wisdom, whose essence is the heartfelt conviction “that we know nothing of truth, and have no power to do good from ourselves, but only from the Lord.” Thus we become little children, “infants” in innocence, but men, or "perfect" (as the original implies) "in understanding;" and joining the innocence of childhood with the intelligence of truth, attain the innocence of wisdom; and thus enter that blessed kingdom where these Divine graces have their eternal source. So may we all be thus converted and become as little children, walking in the peaceful field of truth, crowned with the garland of innocence, and resting on the bosom of love.
J. B. W.
WALT WHITMAN-SWEDENBORG AND LITERATURE.
When the writings of a man who has so strongly impressed the mind of his country as to be by many there declared “the poet of the epoch,”—when the writings of such a man are introduced to another nation, and conspicuous in such a volume, as foremost of the explanatory mottoes, is a sentence from Swedenborg, the man's compositions may interest us a little on the score of curiosity.
This is the case with Walt Whitman's poems, selected and edited by Mr. Rosette. The lengthy sentence taken from Swedenborg refers to angels being of human form: and the correspondence to the first or ultimate heaven of man's body. Walt Whitman is a puzzle to all, and no less to Mr. Rosette than any other man. But in some degree he understands his poet from his knowledge of Swedenborg's writings. We shall state the matter in his own words, which occur in the preface, in continuation, as it were, of the leading idea given in the preliminary sentence from Swedenborg, the bearing of which might escape the observation of casual readers.
“There is a singular and impressive intuition or revelation of Swedenborg's ; that the whole of heaven is in the form of one man, and the separate societies of heaven in the forms of the several parts of man. In a large sense, the general drift of Whitman's writings, even down to the passages which read as most bluntly physical, bear a striking correspondence or analogy to this dogma. He takes man, and every organism and faculty of man, as the unit--the datum—from which all that we know, discern, and speculate, of abstract and supersensual, as well as of concrete and sensual, has to be computed. He knows of nothing nobler than that unit man: but, knowing that, he can use it for any multiple, and for any dynamical extension or recast.
The value of such language as the above consists, not in the use of Swedenborg's writings in interpreting a man's poems, nor in its point. ing to a person as poet-laureate of some of Swedenborg's principles, but in the fact that the truths enunciated by the Stockholm sage are pervading society and literature, however much they may ignore such a circumstance- —are becoming interwoven with the thoughts of men, however little they may avow it.
On reading Whitman's poems we find Mr. Rosette's remarks are quite correct—at the same time it is too evident that Whitman is far from realizing the divine idea which he has made use of. If he had realized it all grossness would have been expurgated from his writings, and we should have witnessed a fuller and purer development of his genius.
We can produce some extracts from his writings corroborating the