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So much, then, for the general uses of this ordinance. Other extracts to the same effect, and in illustration of the points in question, might have been selected, were it not for considerations of space. Moreover, those which have been adduced amply suffice to demonstrate that Swedenborg affords no countenance to the idea of the Sacraments not being equally institutions of the New Dispensation as of the Old. They likewise prove that the benefits conferred by the Lord's Supper in particular are enhanced in the New by reason of the minds of its members being in a condition to enter more fully into its uses, and that hence the obligation to partake of it is in the same degree increased.
Another feature to which we may advert, although the notice of it is slightly digressive from the principal object of this paper, is the light which the preceding extracts throw on the subject of the “real presence." Like all Swedenborg's expositions, they unite simplicity with fulness. Thus, while they remove unintelligible intricacies and inconsistencies, they demonstrate the divine presence to be far more real than were the bread transmuted into, and thus rendered a fragment of, the divine substance, or the divine substance incorporated with it. For what presence can be so real as that within the spiritual part of man? Were it possible that the Lord could be substantially present in the sacramental elements, which it is not, such presence could not bring the whole of His redemption, as is the case with His presence in the soul; neither could it bring all things of Heaven, and the Church with it; neither, again, could it open Heaven to the soul. Two fundamental vices lie at the basis of this view: First, it involves physical influx, which is as impossible as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle; and, secondly, it makes the effect greater than the cause which produced it, since it assumes that finite man can make that which is infinite. It is thus the inversion of all true order.
To return, however, to our specific object, one more extract demands our attention, as it involves the rationale of the important uses of this Sacrament. It is, that
“The holy supper is, to the worthy receivers, as a signature and seal that they are the sons of God.” (T. C. R. 728.)
This he explains by adding
“The true ground and reason why the holy supper, to the worthy receivers, is a signature and seal that they are the sons of God, as was said above, is because the Lord is then present, and introduces into heaven those who are born of Him, thus who are regenerate. The holy supper effects this, in consequence of the Lord's being then present even as to His Humanity; for it was shown above that the Lord with the whole of His redemption is entirely present in the holy supper; therefore He says of the bread, “This is my body,' and of the wine, “This is my blood;' He consequently, at such times, admits the worthy receivers into His body, which consists of, and is formed by, heaven and the church. While man is regenerating, the Lord is indeed present with him, and preparing him by His divine operation for heaven; but that he may be actually admitted he must actually present himself to the Lord; and as the Lord does actually present Himself to man, man must actually receive Him, not indeed as He hung on the cross, but as He is now in His glorified Humanity, in which He is present: the body of this Humanity is divine good, and its blood is divine truth which are given to man, and by which he is regenerated, and is in the Lord, and the Lord in him ; for, as was shown above, eating and drinking, as acts performed at the holy supper, are of a spiritual nature. From a right perception of these truths it is very apparent that the holy supper is a signature and seal that the worthy receivers are the sons of God.” (Ib.)
After illustrating the subject by reference to the signing, sealing, and witnessing of a covenant, he concludes
" These instances are adduced only for illustration, and that simple minds may comprehend how the holy supper is a signing, sealing, certifying, and witnessing, even before the angels, that the worthy receivers are the sons of God, and moreover as a key to a house in heaven, where they are to dwell to eternity.” (T. C. R. 730.)
After this evidence it may be a matter of surprise, how any one accepting the testimony of Swedenborg could fall into the views combated in this article. By some; the effort to correct it may appear almost as a work of supererogation. By what process of reasoning such conclusions have been arrived at, in the face of the palpable evidence to the contrary, does not fall within the province of this paper; it is sufficient to recognise the fact, and to endeavour to remove it. In doing so, it has been endeavoured to avoid any disparaging reflections on the conduct of those who entertain the views in question; and it may be hoped that they will be led to the reconsideration of the subject, since to hold them in contravention of the positive testimony of Swedenborg to the contrary, would imply either a strange inconsistency or a secret assumption of the superiority of their own judgment over his. If it is true that the Holy Supper is one of the holiest solemnities of worship, and that it brings the Lord and His redemption more immediately present to the spirit, involving likewise all things of Heaven and the Church, and serving as a medium of conjunction with the Lord, those who reject it incur a most serious responsibility.
But there is another and more numerous class, who, whilst admitting the importance attaching to the ordinance and its observance, yet absent themselves from the table where it is dispensed. Many con
siderations, doubtless, operate to deter them; but if they live in the constant effort of shunning the evils of their nature, and cultivate faith in the Lord, and charity towards their neighbour, their scruples are entirely groundless, and they debar themselves from privileges provided for the advancement of their state, and hinder their own progress, and, indirectly, the progress of the Church. It has long been my conviction that the general neglect of this duty is one of the greatest defects under which the Church labours, and a serious obstacle to the growth of spiritual mindedness in its members. I have therefore ventured a brief word of exhortation to these; and if the remarks I have penned are, under the divine blessing, the means of correcting this practical anomaly, my object will have been realized. In the next paper, the subject of Ordination will be reviewed.
A DAY—A LIFETIME.
I love at noon, in the bright sunlight,
I love, when the splendour of sun declines,
I love, in the peacefnl, quiet night
The morn, the morn, the joyous morn,
The noon, the noon, the labouring noon
The eve, the eve, the resting eve
The night, the night, the darksome night
ATTENDANCE AT PUBLIC WORSHIP.
(A Paper read at the Quarterly Meeting of the Lancashire Ministers, held at
Radcliffe, January 27, 1869).
The universality of the existence of external worship amongst all classes of religious thinkers, suggests to us the extreme likelihood that it owes its origin to the Great Being from whom man derives his existence, and “ every good and perfect gift” which he enjoys. History does not reach back to a time when external worship was not practised ; and if we are to believe the testimony of Swedenborg, it cannot, for external worship was regarded as a Divine institution even in the most ancient church.
Its universality and antiquity are, therefore, beyond dispute; and though its form has constantly changed, and now varies with the beliefs of the different sections of professed religionists, its necessity never seems to have been seriously questioned by believers in the existence of God.
Man is essentially a worshipping being; to him alone, in this world, has been granted the ability to fix his affections upon an Object whom his natural eyes have never beheld; and we can only account for the universal tendency on the part of man to engage in the acts of external worship, by regarding it as the response to the longings of his heart, and the divinely appointed medium for giving expression to those longings.
True worship has an internal origin, it consists in the surrender of the heart, and mind, and life, to the guidance of the Lord; and external worship is only real in the degree that it is vivified by the internal. Fictitious, or merely external worship, does indeed frequently exist apart from its internal ; men adopt the form without imbibing the essence, and cling to the shadow without heeding the substance; but this is by no means an argument against the use and necessity of external worship, it only shows the desirability of having it of the right kind. ·
External worship must be regarded as the orderly outgrowth of the internal, as the natural basis upon which the mind rests, and by which its workings are manifested to the world. It possesses many advantages, and is capable of becoming of great service in the promotion of individual regeneration.
Swedenborg, indeed, speaks of it as a necessity during man's life in the world :—“Man, during his abode in the world, should not omit the practice of external worship; for by external worship things internal are excited ; and by external worship things external are kept in a state of sanctity, so that internal things can enter by influx. Moreover, man is hereby initiated into knowledges, and prepared to receive things internal. He, also, is gifted with states of sanctity, though he be ignorant thereof; which states are preserved by the Lord for his use in eternal life ; for in the other life all men's states of life return." A. C. 1618.
Testimony like this ought to be regarded as conclusive by those who profess to hold Swedenborg as an authority, and should be the means of inducing those who, feeling their sinfulness and weakness, desire to be led by the Lord towards higher and more interior states, better fitted to participate in the felicities of the eternal world, to examine carefully their conduct respecting the duty of “attendance at public worship.”
The uses which it may serve are of the highest importance to our eternal wellbeing
1st, As an expression of the feelings of the mind.
2dly, As a means whereby we may be instructed in the truths of the Lord's Kingdom.
3rdly, As a season of devotion, in which we may unitedly humble ourselves before the Lord, and praise Him for the countless blessings which we daily receive at His hands.