« 上一頁繼續 »
means his own Divine Love, and by himself as the Son his Divine Truth; when, therefore, He says of the man who loves His Word or Truth by keeping or doing it, "My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him," He teaches, that such a faithful disciple shall enjoy conjunction with Himself, both as to His Divine Love and His Divine Truth; or, what amounts to the same, both as to His Essential Divinity and His Divine Humanity. By His Divine Truth, which, as proceeding from Him and received in man, is called the Holy Spirit, the Lord immediately dwells with him who obeys it. But the Holy Spirit is not Divine Truth alone, but Divine Truth in indissoluble union with Divine Good or Love, which dwells in Divine Truth as the soul in its body. He therefore who receives the Lord by keeping His Word, or obeying His Truth, has communication with His Divine Good also; and thus the whole Divine Nature, both as to the Divine Love or Good and the Divine Wisdom or Truth, comes unto such a person as the Holy Spirit, and makes abode with him. What a blessed result of keeping the Lord's Word or Commandments by obeying them, or keeping the truth in love! And where the Lord, both as to His Divine Truth and His Divine Love, thus has an abode with any individual, that individual cannot but have clear illumination in regard to the truths and doctrines of the Holy Word, both those which relate to the Lord's Nature and Person, to the life of faith and charity, and to the realities of the eternal world; and it is for this reason that the Lord is said to manifest Himself to such a person, but not unto the world; it being abundantly certain that the world at large is not thus receptive of the Lord's love and truth.
Do we, then, brethren, wish to be thus acquainted with divine and spiritual things, those things upon which the eternal well-being of our souls depends? Do we wish to be enabled to discern them clearly when perusing the Holy Word, to distinguish them when presented in writings or other modes of instruction professing to deliver the truths of that Word? Do we desire to perceive them with such clearness and certainty as to deserve to be regarded as a manifestation of the Lord Himself? Then the way is very plainly set before us in the text. Having the Lord's Word and Commandments, do we keep and do them? The book called the Bible contains the Lord's Holy Word, which is the store-house of all divine and spiritual wisdom. Whatever divine truths are found in other writings are only developments from this inexhaustible treasury: the grand fountain of all is here. Do we diligently and frequently read and study that Word? If we do not, we do not wish to possess the knowledge of spiritual things. We may think we do; but
we deceive ourselves. And this is a reason why the Lord does not manifest Himself to the world. The world, or the mere people of it, do not, will not, read and study His Word and will; but, as already noticed, great numbers treat it with absolute contempt. And though many belonging to what is called the religious world do treat it with more apparent respect, and read it diligently, still they read it so much under the influence of previously received opinions, only seeking to find in it confirmations of the doctrine of their sect, that few read it in a state to see the Lord in it, manifesting Himself to their mental eye in His true person and character. Never can any truly know the Lord, themselves, the world to come, nor the things that belong to their peace, so long as they do not read and study the Book of God in a teachable frame of mind, and with a sincere desire to know the Lord's will in order that they may unreservedly do it. How lamentable it is to behold the blessed volume of truth so neglected and despised, on the one hand, and so falsified and perverted, on the other! How must those who neglect or despise the Holy Volume feel and look when they appear for judgment in the other world, which judgment will be pronounced by that Word; according to the Lord's saying, "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge them in the last day!"-How will they feel when, haply, these words from it are produced or read before them :"As thou hast cast my word behind thy back, and wouldest none of my reproof, I will mock when thy fear cometh, and laugh at thy calamity"? This does not mean that the Lord really mocks at the terrors and laughs at the calamities of His perishing creatures; but that their state is so opposite to His love, so incapable of being savingly benefitted by His exhaustless pity and compassion, that they regard Him as their enemy, and view Him through the mists of their own perverse state of mind, as if He took pleasure in their misery.
They who have the Lord's commandments and keep them, are they who love the Lord; and they who love the Lord and keep His Word, are they to whom He promises to manifest Himself. We all, it is to be presumed, "have" the Lord's Word as a book in our houses: have we it also in our minds? Do we treasure up its commandments in our affections? Do we look to the Lord Jesus Christ to enlighten our understandings with the knowledge of His will, and with a just apprehension of the genuine truths of His Word? Do we keep His Word by obeying it? Do we keep His commandments by making them the regulators of our life? Do we thus, in the way that He directs, and according to His own explanation of the phrase, love Him? If so, He will assuredly manifest Himself unto us. We shall have a perception
of His nature and Person, and of the genuine truths of His Word and kingdom, amounting to actual mental sight. Or do our consciences tell us, that though we have His commandments in a book, and some of them perhaps in our memory, we do not keep them? If so, the Lord cannot manifest Himself to our souls. He cannot communicate to us, in a way to satisfy and convince us, the knowledge of those spiritual and divine subjects which would make us wise and happy for ever. For we have not a will and understanding prepared to receive such things: we do not love them.
But why should any abide in so lost, so disgraceful a state? Are we only animals? or are we human beings? Have we the rationality proper to human beings? Are we only capable of natural knowledge, and natural enjoyments? Or are we capable of spiritual knowledge and spiritual enjoyments? If we are human beings, we are capable of these. Shall we then rise no higher than nature, the body, and time can carry us? Shall we confine our attachments, our knowledge, and our pleasures, to what will last but a few days or years, and then is lost for ever? And this, notwithstanding our beneficent Creator, our Divine Father, is ready to open to us the eternal subjects of the world to come, to manifest Himself to our souls in His love and goodness, in His faithfulness and truth; to make us wise with spiritual and divine science, to elevate our affections to the heaven of heavens, and to qualify us for all the felicities and honours of His eternal and ever happy kingdom!
We have observed before, that the grand cause why men are not wise and good, or that the Lord does not manifest Himself unto them, is that they do not love the Lord. And why do they not love Him? Because they do not truly know Him. And why do they not truly know Him? Because they will not turn their minds to the unbiassed study of His Word, and especially to the keeping of His commandments. Yet the generality profess to be Christians: they believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord and Saviour, and that He came into the world to die for them and redeem them. We believe this, and more, namely, that He is the Only God of heaven and earth in His Divine Humanity; or that he is God and Man in one truly Divine Person, the Only Source of all wisdom, goodness, and felicity; that His Word is Divine Truth itself; and that the Lord will manifest Himself, the glories of His heavenly kingdom, and all spiritual subjects, to that man who loves Him and keeps His commandments; but that He cannot manifest Himself other persons-consequently, none others can obtain the bles
I think, brethren, we now cannot but admit, that the question why
the Lord will manifest Himself, and the truths of His Word and kingdom, to certain characters but not to the world, is fully answered in the words of our text. It is, therefore, for every one to consider, whether it is best for him to live and die without any clear and assured knowledge respecting spiritual and eternal things, or to have them manifested to him by the Lord. They who think the former state to be preferred, may consistently turn from the Lord, reject His Word, determine to have none of His reproof, and confine their affections, thoughts, and studies to the world, the body, and natural things, whatever may be the consequences hereafter; only let them be assured that they miserably deceive themselves, when they dream that the worst consequence will only be annihilation. But let those who deem the latter state the preferable one, that is, to know the Lord and the momentous things of eternity and to enjoy them—(and this, brethren, I trust, is the conviction of all here present)—then let them turn from and hate all evil, study the Holy Word, elevate their affections to the one Only Lord, our God and Saviour, and keep His commandments, so as to come truly to love Him. So will our understanding and will be admissive of His wisdom and love,-the whole Godhead-the Father as well as the Son,the Lord as Divine Love as well as Divine Truth, will manifest Himself to us. We shall know with an assurance equivalent to actual sight, the nature of our God and of our own souls, and of the spiritual world for which they are destined: we shall be prepared for solid and eternal happiness; and, when called from this sublunary scene, we shall be invited to enter into the joy of our Lord.
THE CORRESPONDENCE OF DISEASES.
THE secret of true life is vigorous health,-the delicious spring of all animal enjoyment, and the finest light whereby both to think and to love. Without health, the larger part of our time is at once wretched and unprofitable. Sickness, which, in its intenser degree, is disease, turns existence from a blessing into misery; it makes us 'go mourning all the day long,' and if not checked in its inroads, soon issues in the death which it foretells. True of the body, it is even more true of the soul, which has likewise its health and its ailments; and in no less intimate connection with its vitality, and happiness, and death. Far more emphatically does the ancient proverb apply to the soul than to the body,
Non est vivere, sed valere, vita.
[Enl. Series.-No. 13, vol. ii.]
It is easy to know wherein spiritual disease consists, -as easy as to know when we are distempered physically. We are well when we feel ourselves diligent in the pursuit of intelligence, and have a conscience void of offence toward God and man,' when we are earnest to keep God's law, and thence tranquil, and sensitive to whatever is beautiful; we are sick when these conditions are absent or reversed. What sickness can be more miserable, and subversive of true enjoyment and peace, than to have a mind preyed upon by superstitions? This is why Solomon says that 'whoso findeth wisdom, findeth life;' that 'she is a tree of life to them that lay hold of her, and happy is every one who retaineth her.' It is because of the spiritual diseases that the physical ones exist; or rather, they are both of them outbirths of the same infernal cause. Whatever is good, beautiful, and enjoyable on earth and in human nature, comes of the Divine life operating primarily through heaven, or the bright and angelic part of the spiritual world; whatever is evil, offensive, and ugly, comes of the perversion of that life by the inhabitants of hell, and their malignant influences and assaults. For, that man is continually exposed to the secret and silent action of evil spirits, is no less certain than that he is blessed by the ministration of angels. It is acknowledged by all theologies; the instigation of the devil,' which is only a conciser way of expressing it, is a phrase of every court of justice in the land. The degree in which a man becomes a victim to these influences, is of course determined by his reliance or otherwise on the Divine aid, which alone can repel them. Under the law of correspondence, the principles and circumstances of the infernal regions are played forth even objectively, or in visible shapes and phenomena. Earth holds not only the dim shadows of things celestial; there are pictures of infernal ones as well. In nature,' says a great and religious writer, 'the existence of Hell seems to me as highly declared as that of Heaven. It is well for us to dwell with thankfulness on the unfolding of the flower, and the falling of the dew, and the sleep of the green fields in the sunshine but the blasted heath, the barren rock, the moaning of the bleak winds, the roar of the black, perilous, merciless whirlpools, the solemn solitudes of moors and seas, the continual fading of all beauty into darkness, and of all strength into weakness,-have these no language for us?'* Disease belongs to the same dark catalogue. In its moral forms, it is directly inseminated and sustained by evil spirits,-the door to their agency being the 'fallen nature' inherited from our parents and ancestors its physical forms appear among us, because of the universal and immutable ordinance that all things and conditions spiritual, shall result *Ruskin, Stones of Venice, vol. iii. p. 138.