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If this great
These are hints only, faint outlines only, of that grand figure which we have been contemplating. I ask you only to take them as positive expressions of what Jesus is and may be to us, not as controverting or explaining away any other theory you may have learnt. These illustrations from the commonest but strongest human ties, may help some of you to a closer, more living relation with him ; and if so, scruple not to rejoice therein. presence, dimly figured to your eyes in colours drawn from your daily life, be indeed more real, more authoritative than any other, then, bear in mind, that the way to know as much as may be known of Jesus, is to fix the picture anew every day by fresh study,-free, reverent, laborious effort to get nearer to him. It may be that you will still hold by old metaphysical, expressions, or adopt new ones; or it may be, that when the professional expounders of truth approach you, you will say, like that poor woman at the well—“Now we believe, not because of thy saying, but because we have heard him ourselves." I sometimes think of that glorious living body of truth which JESUS brought, as of some Lazarus whom he loved, mysteriously allowed to die and be interred in sepulchral church and chapel vaults, while he seems to keep aloof. Not dead, however, in reality ; for that truth is yet precious to many a humble, loving heart, in England and elsewhere, inspiring to earnest thought and noble work; and I look for the time when he will come and claim his own again, and when the universal moan of Christendom shall echo through those vaults, “See the place where they have laid him!” Nay, even now I think I hear a voice of power, summoning that glorious form to come forth ; that in these very days it is emerging into the sunlight, though bound as yet in grave-clothes and that you, and I, and all earnest workers, leaving our farms and our merchandise if needs be, will put forth glad hands to obey the command, “Loose him, and let him
REV. G. B. PORTEOUS.
[Concluded from p. 55.] ANIFEST and philosophic proof of a spiritual body-
to which the external body is simply an appendage and of a spiritual world everywhere underlying this material world, is quite as plentiful and cogent as that there is a natural body and a material world, if we would only open our eyes to see it, and our hearts to receive it. The great truths of the spirituał body and spiritual world are best demonstrated by consciousness and intuition. We feet them to be true. What to us is a matter chiefly of feeling and consciousness, was to Swedenborg a matter of fact- of sight and philosophy. We may, for lack of the possession of exacter terms to express our meaning, call Swedenborg the anatomist and physiologist of the spiritual body. He describes the articulations of its parts—the structure of its fabric, and states the laws by which it grows into virginal beauty and heavenly health, in the ever-increasing fulness of eternal life. He passes inward from the vestibule of the senses, and walks serenely through the chambers of the mind and crypts of the spirit, solemnly intent upon discovery and classification. He is a mental geologist, delightedly labelling favourite specimens of metaphysical and spiritual strata. A mental astronomer, in wrapt vision, standing on the external plane of the mind, and gazing upward into the soul's heaven, and watching the nebulous thoughts in their earliest gyrations, he beholds formations and organisations of which others never dreamed. On the polished disc of his cultured and purified perception, the spiritual realities of the soul and the spiritual world revealed themselves. He has succeeded in transcribing from his intromitted state admirable photographs of those who, though dead to us, are alive in the spiritual world. His “Memorable Relations” are metaphysical albums of spirit-portraits in an endlessly varied descriptiveness. As he passed down the eternal galleries of the second life, he transferred to the walls of his mental tabernacle the pictures of supernal realities, and heard things lawful to be spoken.
His writings are a stage, whereon, in splendid and masterly pictorial grandeur, the glory and pomp, the misery and doom, the health and bloom, the disease and death of the inhabitants of the spiritual world are set forth with metapl.ysical, spiritual, and dramatic accuracy.
It is difficult to over-estimate the value and peculiarity of this power of insight which Swedenborg had into the spirits domains. The singular and startling memorabilia of clairvoyance are as nothing, and valueless, in contrast with Sweden. borg's narrations of the inner spiritual being. If you will, Swedenborg is the philosophical and metaphysical thoughtreader—the perfect and orderly clairvoyant. Whether he acquired this faculty by Divine illumination, is not now our subject of inquiry : yet it is not difficult to account for this peculiarity of Swedenborg's mental constitution, by reference to the Scripture testimony of spirit-vision, and to historic data.* There are certain individuals gifted with the faculty of taking on the states — mental, spiritual, and physical of those with whom they come in contact, ideally, historically, and personally. They enter at once into the peculiarities and the soul - states of others with wonderful familiarity and far-sightedness. Swedenborg was eminently a man of this faculty-plastic and absorbtive of the states of every type and degree of mental character and cultus. There is no phase of spiritual character-diseased or healthy, happy or miserable, elevated or debased, awfully dark or profoundly bright, serenely calm or terrifically disturbed, ascending in virtue or descending in vice—but he presents in his marvellous expositions of the other life. Every picture, he assures us, is taken from life—from the life of the spirit. Herein, at least, he excels all metaphysicians, for he speaks of the spiritual life and of the soul with confidence and clearness, having, as he declares, been permitted of the Divine Mercy, for useful ends, to hear and see the language and life of the inhabitants of the inner and to-come world.
With this hasty glance at Swedenborg as a metaphysician, I'hasten to acquaint you with him as a theologian.
Theology is not religion, though often confounded with it. Theology ought to be in harmony with religion, which is the highest life of God in the soul. It needs no profound vision to see that what men call theology, and what the Bible declares to be religion, are two essentially opposite things. Religion is a life; theology an opinion about that life. Religion is the unveiling of God
the unveiling of His Person and operation
*"Autobiography of Henrich Zschokke," author of "Meditations on Timo
and Eternity," printed by special request of the Queen,
in all His relations with man. It is not an argument, but a sentiment; not a dissertation, but an affection.
A genuine religion implies an affection or life, and a sentiment of intelligence. Theology should show man how both may be cultured and expressed. But popular theology is hostile to God and man. It is full of confusion. It has departed from God. It is separated from good, and divorced from truth. It is a deserted shrine, and the glory of the LORD has departed from it. Alas! theology has described man, not by what is proper to him, but by what is impossible. It teaches very gravely the doctrine of a divided, distant God; and for all theological purposes God is only an abstraction : it teaches very dimly that man is connected with God; but of the nature of this connection theology has no idea : it teaches that certain thoughts save a man, and certain other thoughts damn him : that there is a Bible which is inspired, and profitable for doctrine and faith; but on the nature and extent of its inspiration, and of the spirit and life of its teachings, it knows less than nothing. The theology of the churches is not Divine, but dwarfed and spurious. We stand in need of a clear, comprehensive, and rational theology-of a practical faith, and quickened apprehension of the relation existing between God and us. A humane and rational theology is at this moment the world's greatest need.
What spiritual poverty in our literature, in our worship, in our politics! The great questions of Deity, Human Nature, the Inspiration of the Word, Regeneration, and the problem of a Future Life, theology blinks. Must these vital questions never be solved, and that, too, from a Divine standpoint? Yes, help is at hand; God is with His creatures, and light from on high is shining into the hearts and intellects of men, giving them the knowledge of God and themselves in increasing fulness.
The glory and value of religion, as taught and expressed by Swedenborg's theology, consists in this that it contains not a solitary principle that is not designed to be understood, and thence outwrought into human character in all its planes and possibilities. However lofty the ideal which religion presents for man's imitation-the ideal of character and Heaven---the theology of the great Swedish philosopher makes it plain all religion has relation to life, and the life of religion is to do good." His doctrines teach man that he is gifted with wonderful faculties, and reveal to him how he may attain to excellent heights of piety and peace by the orderly and regenerated development of his nature. The Divine Word points out an ideal good and truth to be loved and thought; Swedenborg's theology reveals the method by which the ideal may become the actual in thought, word, and work. There is one sentiment or doctrine
of Swedenborg's theology to which we may for one moment advert--that is, that all truth has relation to man in his various conditions, wants, and circumstances; and hence it has to be viewed in its uses. What a wonderful revolution would spring up in all our churches were this an accepted axiom of orthodox belief ! Swedenborg commences his theology with the central truth that JESUS CHRIST is God. Mark the train of truths which legitimately grow out of this premiss. It brings Him into personal nearness ; He is the vine, and we are the branches; the Inspirer of every good thought, and every truly human virtue; He is the root from which our real life is un. folded ; without Him we can do nothing. There is thus an organic connection existing between God and us—a connection as truly real as that by which the branch is connected with the tree by virtue of the sap that flows into it, and which, if interrupted for one moment, would cause it to wither and die. We are human branches, organically bound to the Divine Vine ; we are supported and nourished by the living forces of love and wisdom from God. The love-forms in our affections, and the thought-forms in our understandings, are the receiving vessels of that life by means of which we become possessors of the Divine Nature. We become good when we open our affections to the good of love flowing down from God; and true, by openness in our understandings for the influx of truth from the Divine. We are saved by obedience in the will, truth in the intelligence, and charity and virtue in the life. By eating the LORD's flesh and drinking His blood, we have life abiding
Swedenborg proceeds to the doctrine of Regeneration from the above premiss. Every man has evil forms and diseased tendencies in his humanity.
-that is, in our self hood - dwelleth no good thing. The process of regeneration consists in shutting out the inspiration and influx of evil affection and false thought, and by becoming obedient receptacles of good and truth. But this necessarily involves a struggle, prolonged and sanguinary, fierce and fiery. There is an antagony between the “new man” and the "old man” which can only be reduced by the soul fighting the good fight of faith, and shunning all evils as sins against God. For the establishinent of the man in principles of truth and goodness, and for the perfecting of character in the Divine beauty, the LORD has given a written testimony of His will, which makes wise unto salvation, and a chartered programme of our duty, in the fulfilment of which we have eternal life. “He that keepeth My commandments hath eternal life.” The Bible is God's Book, written out of His deep
heart, and it answers the deep questions in man's heart. Deep answereth unto deep.” Swedenborg's “Doctrine of the Holy Scriptures" is a most splendid
" In us