Page images
PDF
EPUB

have said, of the infinite and the eternal, of the good, the true, and the
beautiful; and we may add, above all, of innocence-present to all
souls, but at best dimly perceived, and perceived only at certain times-
“seasons of calm weather,” as the poet sings, when the outward senses
are quiescent, the “thoughts called home,” and even “imagination's
airy wing repressed,” we may catch a transient glimpse of our higher
and better nature, and hear, like “the whispering of a gentle air,” its
still small voice

“Murmur of Being's wave that still,
Unheeded as the gentle rill,
In the world's noise makes music only

’Mid the hush of deserts lonely.” But the light of nature, although paling in recognition of these superior lights, cannot shew us their origin. Revelation must henceforth be our guide; and traces them to a higher spiritual and Divine life bestowed on man at creation—forfeited by sin, and restored by redemption, which constitutes at once the ideal and the reality of his humanity. And this is no distant ideal : it is in fallen humanity, yet perfectly distinct from it. To bring it into humanity in its lapsed condition consisted the work of atonement. In the eternal Word was life, and the life was the light of man, and the Word was made flesh and dwelt in us; thus His life and light dwelt and dwells in us, for His work regards all time. Hence, as by our natural life, we are connected with earth, so by this higher and spiritual life, we are connected with Heaven. But inasmuch as our flesh into which this life has been brought is altogether opposed to it, another wonder arises, for the Lord forms in the inmost of our being a region where this life remains pure and uncontaminated. This is what is termed the Kingdom of God and of Heaven come upon us and within us (Luke x. 9, 11, xvii. 21).

This is our real humanity, and is hence called the inner or internal man (Rom. vii. 22; 2 Cor. iv. 16). Here we have arrived at the summit of being—at the plain or meadow of truth in the dialect of primeval wisdom, or to vary the similitude, at the very presence chamber of Deity.

It is (in man) the very first form by virtue of which he becomes, and is, a man. By this internal the Lord is united to man. The Heaven nearest to the Lord consists of these human internals; this, however, is above the inmost angelic heaven; wherefore these internals are the habitations of the Lord Himself. The whole human race is thus most intimately present under the eyes of the Lord” (A. C. 1999). What a magnificent enunciation ! and what a universe of ideas is comprised in these few simple words !

Surely, if in our external structure so marvellously connecting us with the outward universe, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” how much more have we reason to join in the exclamation of the Psalmist in reference to our internal and spiritual structure, so mysteriously connecting us with the highest heavens. It is to be feared that this blessed truth is too much lost sight of, or rather not sufficiently kept in view. If it were more dwelt on, not merely as a general truth, but having a special and individual bearing, we should experience a practical and happy result—we should learn, according to the admirable counsel of the excellent Clowes, to regard all good thoughts, affections, and works, as just the extension of the Heavenly kingdom within us. We should be filled with joy and sacred awe akin to joy-joy at the discovery of life among the extinguished embers, and awe at its high and heaven-born nature—we should like the disciples of old be “walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost." And, in conclusion, we should, agreeably to the advice of the apostle, which is most apposite to the words of the psalmist, and indeed naturally arises out of them, “work out our salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God that worketh in us to will and to do” (Philip. ii. 13).

Among the multifarious questions debated on the polemical arena in the seventeenth century, it was maintained by the Legalists, on the one hand, that the Christian works for life, and by the Puritans, on the other, that he works not for life but from life. The real truth embraces both views. The Christian works at once from life and for life. He works not to get a life which he has not, but to preserve and develop a life which he already has. And so in the text, “work out your salvation,” it refers to the working out or working up of a material already supplied, as gold or silver, into various forms of use and beauty. “For it is God that worketh in you.” The great encouragement and stimulus to work is the sense of God continually operating in us by His influent life. This is at once a subject of joy and wonder; and here we see how we are fearfully and wonderfully made, which is just what is meant by “fear and trembling.” The greatest joy experienced by Newton was, when the demonstration of the truth of his hypothesis began to dawn on his mind; and yet he was seized with such a trembling that he was unable to finish his calculations, for he found himself coming in contact with the world of causes. And so the Christian “ rejcices with trembling" at finding himself face to face with the region of spiritual causes of the Divine ideas. In the following verses

the apostle beautifully shews how we work out our salvation by a variation of the similitude.—“Do all things without murmurings and disputings, that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, in which you shine as lights to the world, holding fast the word of life.” Now, the word rendered “lights” is more properly “windows” or transmitters of light. Christ is the word or light of life, and the Christian's great business is to keep himself pure, and as it were transparent, that he may be ever receptive and transmissive of this heavenly light whose essence is love.

ORDINATION BY THE LAYING ON OF HANDS NEITHER

AUTHORIZED BY SWEDENBORG NOR SCRIPTURE.

MR EDITOR,—Sir,—As I presume the subject now under investigation deserves the two-sided consideration of every thoughtful New Churchman, I again ask for a few pages in your valuable Magazine. .

First, allow me to assure Mr. Woodman that I did not wish to be personal, and regret if anything I have written has given offence from its personality.

There are two ways of judging the value of written or spoken thoughts : the one is, to take them in connection with him who wrote them; the other is to take them on their own merits--as we take our adages—not being cognizant of their author. The first way was the one adopted in my former article, the second way shall be adopted in this.

In the paper against which I now write the main subject, viz., that of ordination by the laying on of hands, is nearly forgotten, only once being referred to on" page 407. Indeed the object seems to be, to show that I have been personal; and yet personalities are by no means unfrequent, and I am made to say and grant things which I neither granted nor said.

Those who read my former paper will know what I did say and grant, and how far the arguments there advanced fell short of disproving the necessity for ordination by imposition of hands. I never undertook to “prove” anything. All I wrote for was to disprove, and to show that by the laying on of hands special graces were not conferred, and that Swedenborg nowhere says they are. All I write for now is the same object. If I saw for a moment, either from Swedenborg or Scripture, that the laying on of hands did confer

special races, I believe I am selfish enough to go through the "holy press* to obtain them. But, at the back of that ecclesiastical assumption I see Rome stand, and under that aceursed hierarchy, against which I am proud to believe Swedenborg wrote, I can see a shocking catalogue of wrongs inflicted upon a powerless laity,innorance, superstition, terrors, mortifications, and every other fcrm of tyranny from robbery to legalized murder. And all this came out of granting that the priesthood possessed virtues and graces which the laity did not. If it be granted that the priesthood of the Sew Church possesses special virtues and graces from ordination by the laying on of hands, then the clergy are a superior race, and the laity have no right to question what they do; they at once become a caste, like the Brahmins, their voice is law, and against it there can be no appeal, because they are gifted with graces superior to those possessed by the laity; but the assumption, sir-I am sanguine enough to believe—is gross enough to condemn itself. I am unwilling to believe that the “proprium" has had an unfair share of interest in New Church ordinations, but if this superiority be the secret of them, it has had far more than I had supposed. On page 398 it is said, that I do “not deny the fact of Swedenborg having declared that ordination to the ministerial office conveys the graces of illustration and instruction.” Vor do I. But although I do not deny that those words appear in T. C. R. 146. yet I do most emphatically deny that Swedenborg says “that ordination in the New Church means the laying on of hands, and also that the laying on of hands conveys those graces to any gentleman applying for priestly functions."

That Swedenborg says “ inaugurations into the priesthood are at this day effected by the laying on of hands," I do not deny. Were he to say otherwise, I should deny, because I know they are ; but that he says, “ inauguration by the laying on of hands at this day, August 9, 1869, confers the graces of illustration and instruction," I do deny. This may seem a contradiction. But, for a ceremony to convey graces, it must be “ changed in heaven into corresponding representatives,” and I confidently affirm that Swedenborg nowhere says that mere correspondential ceremonies are so changed. If, however, he does, I shall be glad to acknowledge my mistake when the passage is forthcoming. That my opponent says they are I am quite aware. As on page 359 it reads—“ The mode in which ordination conveys the graces peculiar to the ministerial office is, by bringing the party into a peculiar relationship to those spirits who are the media of conveying illustration

and illumination;" for the authority of this statement we are referred to A. C. 10,023; and having read the whole passage, I am forced to say that there is no ground for such an inference. Not a word is said in the passage about ordination, or of "spirits who are the media of conveying illustration and illumination,” and I confidently affirm that whoever will read that passage, and at the same time the inference drawn from it on page 359, will be shocked at the glaring misrepresentation of Swedenborg. I ask for a refutation of these statements, and if it be not given, let each one draw the only inference. The text of Scripture at the head of this number is, “And Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock.” Now, from the premises laid down by my opponent, viz., that the laying on of hands constitutes ordination, this bullock must have been ordained. And as certain graces are said to be conferred by ordination, what were the effects upon this animal ?

Swedenborg emphatically affirms that at the coming of our Lord rituals ceased, “ to be changed in heaven into corresponding representatives," and as the laying on of hands was a Jewish ritual, therefore at our Lord's coming it ceased. I quoted the passage in my former paper, page 366. It has been treated with dead silence, and the fallacy that “ correspondential ceremonies” are perceived in heaven is still harped upon. But, again, I ask for the statement to be answered, and if it be not, I shall feel justified in concluding that it is unanswerable. The passage runs thus—“After the coming of the Lord, when external rites were abolished, and representatives consequently ceased, these were no longer changed in heaven into corresponding representatives, &c.” (A. C. 1003). I presume nobody denies the correspondence of walking, washing, or anointing with oil, or kissing, but nobody is reckless enough to say that these acts are perceived in heaven and confer certain graces on the mind; but if the correspondential ceremony of laying on hands is perceived in heaven and confers graces, so do these, for they are all extensively performed. All that is needed to insure my belief is proof, and again I ask it. If my opponent would only be as candid as the Rev. Mr. Noble; we should get along much better. Most are aware that Mr. Noble was quite in favour of ordination by the laying on of hands; but although this was the case, in a paper which he read before Conference in the year 1830, “Respecting the office of Ministers,” he was candid enough to say these words“With respect to how ministers are to be appointed, Swedenborg has not given any instruction in a direct form.” So in like manner, in

« PreviousContinue »