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But other prophecies respecting Jerusalem point onward to the future glories of the Church. The sixty-fifth chapter of Isaiah contains a prophecy, which is repeated in the concluding portion of the Apocalypse—“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth : and the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create ; for behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy.” The new heavens and the new earth is an entirely renovated state of the Church, both as to its internal qualities of faith and love and its external excellences of righteousness and truth. The Jerusalem which is thence created as a scene of rejoicing and joy, is the Church established to bring peace upon earth and to promote the spiritual improvement and religious progress of mankind. Another similar and similarly suggestive prophecy is contai ned in the fourteenth chapter of the prophecy by Zechariah. “It shall be in that day that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem, half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea, in summer and in winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be King over all the earth ; in that day shall there be one Lord and His name one.” This prophecy clearly points to a condition of fertility and glory, which cannot be interpreted of earthly things. No unusual flow of waters has gone out from the natural Jerusalem. No such flow is expected by any thoughtful interpreter of holy writ. It is the outflow of the precious truths of “the glorious gospel of the blessed God” which is manifestly intended ; and it is the adaptation of these truths to every condition of mankind, and to every circumstance of the Church, which is denoted by their going forth to the former and hinder sea, and their constant flow both in summer and in winter.
Now this prophecy respecting the Church is repeated in the New Testament, and forms the concluding portion of the canon of inspired truth. Here, however, it is a “new Jerusalem” which is seen descending from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. This Jerusalem is a scene of supernal beauty and glory. Its gates are pearls, its walls jasper, its foundations all manner of precious stones. It combines the perfections and excellences of the former dispensations with the surpassing glory of the age to come. At the gates are twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. And the wall had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." It is a city of pure gold, like unto clear glass. It
lacks the earthly temple, but its crowning eminence is the living Temple of the Divine Humanity of the Christian Saviour—"the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the Temple of it.” Its light is the unclouded glory of that endless day in which there is “no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” “And the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honour into it.” It is this better and holier Jerusalem which is denoted by our text. It is not the Jerusalem of the past—the Jerusalem whose streets and habitations, whose palaces and temple are being slowly disentombed from the accumulated dust of centuries—but the Jerusalem whose builder and founder is God, whose palaces are the habitations of His regenerate children ; and whose temple is the transcendent glory of His risen and glorified body. It is this Jerusalem, of which it is said, “Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together.”
There are two general descriptions of the Church when represented by Jerusalem. It is described as “a woman,” “the bride," " the Lamb's wife,” “the mother of us all;" and as a city, whose “foundations are in the holy mountain,” and whose towers, and palaces are the objects of admiration to the ends of the earth. As a woman, the Church is represented as to the chastity and strength of her affections, and the embodiment of these affections and their corresponding sentiments in all the forms of beauty and loveliness which distinguish her spiritual offspring. As a city, she is “the city of God,” and “the city of truth.” The city represents the Church, therefore, in her intellectual character, and thus in respect to her doctrines and teachings. In this character she is compactly builded together.
The text presents the Church as a source of spiritual gladness and of intellectual beauty. We shall briefly consider each of these distinguishing features.
It is admitted on all hands that the true religion is a source of internal peace and of pure and abiding delight. The Lord has given His law of truth for the promotion of our true happiness and lasting good. This law enters the soul that it may restore it to true order and fill it with genuine delight. Religion, however, to be a source of truly human delight, must take hold of the entire nature of man. It must chasten the feelings, enlighten the intellect, guide the reason, strengthen the judgment, control the imagination, and fill the entire life with usefulness and good. Such a religion finds an ever-increas
The Intellectual Repository, Oct. 1, 1869."
ing delight in the love and worship of the Lord. The text is an expression, therefore, of its deep and ardent desire—“I was glad when : they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”
The house of the Lord is His dwelling-place, His habitation. He dwells in the souls of His children. Specifically the house of the Lord is the renovated will. Here is the seat of the most cherished and purified affections, the closest association of the Lord with His rational creatures. To go into the house of the Lord, therefore, is to enter into all the purities, and thence into all the delights of a renewed will and renovated intellect. It is to enter into communion with God and fellowship with the angels. Such a communion is an unquestionable source of interior delight and joy. All true delight has its seat in the will. All abiding joy springs from an activity of love to God, manifesting itself in love and goodwill to man. Gladness, therefore, to be soulsatisfying and abiding, must be pure. It must enter the deepest recesses of our affections, penetrate our thoughts with light, and fill our lives with usefulness and goodwill to men.
The pursuit of happiness for the sake of happiness is a certain means of failure. All true joy is unselfish joy; all true felicity is builded on the foundation of self-forgetfulness. The joy of the angels springs from their love of the Lord, as manifested in the love of their neighbour, and exercised in the constant ministrations of usefulness and goodwill. And the joy of the true member of the Church must spring from the same source, and find its felicity in the same exalted employment. And this law of felicity applies to all the exercises of devotion, and to all communion with the Lord as perfectly as to the daily walk of the Christian, and to the ceaseless fervour of the angel. Devotion, communion with God, whether in the closet or in the great congregation, is not the end of the Christian life, but a means to an end. We seek the Lord in the sanctuary, we hold secret and sweet communion with Him in the closet, that by such communion we may imbibe the excellences of His moral character; may take hold of His strength to resist the evil; and may be restored to His image and likeness. We enter upon His worship, therefore, that by our communion with Him we may become like Him; may be sustained by His power, and experience somewhat of His joy in the exercise of loving duty and earnest service towards His creatures.
And to a rightly constituted mind how delightful and how happy is this service! In it we enter into fellowship with the angels, and
The Intellectual Repository, Oct. 1, 1869.
join our praises with theirs. We worship the same God, and are fellow-workers in the same service of faith and love.
Now, as members of the New Church, we are especially called to maintain the duty, the usefulness, and the delight of the public worship of the Lord. This worship is presented in the prophecy of Zechariah (viii. 20-22), as one of the marked peculiarities and most powerful attractions to the Church in her latter-day glory. “ Thus saith the Lord of hosts, It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people and the inhabitants of many cities : and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts ; I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord.” The members of the New Church, to fulfil this prophecy, must be a praying people. It is not sufficient for them merely to cultivate the knowledge of her doctrines, their spiritual beauty should be the expression of their fervent charity and deep devotion. Nor is the perception of the great truth that we serve God in every orderly service of His children to interrupt this service of Him in the great congregation. In the public worship of the Lord, kindred hearts and minds unite in a common service of prayer and praise, and the Church is builded up in unity of faith and oneness of life. In this worship the devout worshipper gains strength to go forward in the duties of a holy and useful life; and in its exercises is disclosed to his soul the joys of the angels and the glad thoughts of the children of God.
Another feature of the Church is her intellectual beauty—the beauty which appears in the consistency and harmony of her doctrines, and in the light which shines in all their teaching.
The nature of man is a rational and intellectual nature. No system of religious faith can retain permanent hold upon his nature which is not also rational and intellectual. True religion is the perfection of reason. The highest reason is spiritual ; and the spiritual faculties always recognise the existence and certainty of spiritual things. It is not religion, it is irreligion which is irrational. It is irrational to deny the Being of God, the spirituality and immortality of the soul of man, and the existence of worlds beyond the grave. All churches enshrine these great elements of spiritual truth in their systems of faith, and by them retain their hold upon the minds of their members. But when the churches come to work out in detail the particulars of their faith, how rarely do they manifest that consistency and harmony which gives
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intellectual beauty, and gladdens the minds of thoughtful and intelligent men. The great and leading feature of Scripture doctrine is the personal oneness of God, and the manifestation of this one God in the Divine Humanity of the Christian Saviour. It is this doctrine of the oneness of God which, as a central sun, sheds light on every department of Christian doctrine, and gives unity, consistency, and harmony, to all Christian thought. Divide the Godhead into separate Persons, and the attributes of these Persons are regarded as various, and the mind in their contemplation sinks into mere naturalism of thought. Steadily look upon God as personally one, and as manifested in the Person of Christ, and all the Divine attributes appear in perfect harmony, and shed the lustre of their transcendent glory on every relation of God to man. But the maintenance of the personal oneness of God is only possible by the acknowledgment of the Divinity of the Humanity of the Lord. The fulness of the Godhead cannot dwell in a finite body. A Divine Humanity—i. e. a Divine Human Saviour—is the highest form of intellectual thought and the perfection of spiritual wisdom. Such a Saviour is the personification of all that is attractive to human affections, satisfying to human thought, and alluring to human hope. His love is a constant flame. His mercy, which is ceaselessly active, is full of tenderness and compassion. His justice is the justice of a Divine parent, who has stretched out His hands all the day to a rebellious people. His omnipotence is the power of His truth acting from love-His omnipresence the presence of His love to aid and to bless-His omniscience the presence of His wisdom to anticipate and provide for all the spiritual wants of His children. All His attributes have their root in His benevolence and love, and reveal Him as the altogether lovely and loveable. The mind of the worshipper rests therefore on this Divine Human as on a centre of spiritual repose. The highest demands of the intellect are anticipated, the best feelings of the heart satisfied. He is a God at hand and not a God afar off. He is present to every active exercise of the intellect, and to every outgoing of the will. His redemption fills the mind with wonder and admiration. His salvation is the ceaseless effort of His love to draw the rebellious to Himself, and to bless with all the fruition of His love. These Divine works rightly interpreted are perpetual evidences of His oneness, and of His sympathy with His children. He said, " Surely they are My children, so He became their Saviour. In all their afflictions He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them, In His love and in His pity He redeemed them, and He bare them and carried them all the days of old.”