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speech being the manifestation of His life, must partake of its every quality, thus of infinity and of independence of time, and consequently of adaptation to every possible condition of mind, for infinity includes all. Bearing these facts in mind, we can easily perceive how true it is that the Word is the Lord Himself.
But while the Word in its inmost is the Lord, and is thus infinite, yet as apprehended by man, who is finite, it necessarily wears a finite aspect. It is plain that as man's ideas become sensualized and bound down to matter, his view of the Divine Truth, or Word, must involve many illusions; true, certainly, in relation to him, but very far removed from the absolute Divine Truth. Now the literal sense of the Word, as we read it in our Bibles, is the presentation, if we may so phrase it, of the aspect of the Lord to the natural man, whose senses constitute his court of appeal. The Jews, to whom the Word in its literal sense was delivered, were just such men.
Above this natural state of mind, there are two marked grades of intelligence—the spiritual and celestial. To these, the Lord's words bear a far wider meaning, and are more fully instinct with the glory of the Divine Wisdom, and the warmth of the Divine Love.
It is thus said that the Word of God has three senses-the natural, the spiritual, and the celestial. We attribute these senses to the Word : more correctly we should charge them to the universal human mind, whose capacity of reception they express. To no two men, or angels, does the Lord, --or in fact anything, -bear precisely the same appearance, or suggest the same meaning.
These three grades, separated by discrete degrees, make up the universe of humanity; and the enlightened eye of the true philosopher may trace in every object of external creation an image and representation of them. But space forbids further explanation on this head ; our author's reasoning is, moreover, so closely linked as to admit of no curtailment. Suffice it to say, that after demonstrating the existence of an internal sense of Scripture, he proceeds to show the many uses of the literal sense, and, at the same time, the manifold abuses to which it is liable, when the laws by which it is written are not understood.
Accepting the sublime philosophy of this treatise, we find a perfect refuge from the attacks of the sceptic, and discover a thousand reasons for one we had before, for loving God's Holy Book, trusting in its wisdom, and committing our lives to its guidance.
3. The Doctrine of Faith of the New Jerusalem, may be best anderstood by a few extracts from the treatise itself. Swedenborg writes, “ The idea attached to the term faith at the present day is this, that it consists in thinking a thing to be so, because it is taught by the church, and because it does not fall within the scope of the understanding For it is usual with those who inculcate it, to say, * You must believe, and not doubt.' If you answer, “I do not comprehend it,' it is replied, “that is the very circumstance which makes a doctrine an object of faith. Thus the faith of the present day is a faith in what is not known, and may be called a blind faith : and as being the dictate of one person abiding in the mind of another, it is an historical faith. But this is not spiritual faith.
“Genuine faith is an acknowledgment that a thing is so, because it is true. For he who is in genuine faith thinks and speaks to this effect :- This is true; and therefore I believe it.' For faith is the assurance with which we embrace that which is true; and that which is true is the proper object of faith. A person of this character, also, if he does not comprehend a sentiment, and see its truth, will say, “I do not know whether this is true or not; therefore I do not yet believe it. How can I believe what I do not comprehend. Perhaps it may be false.
“But the common language is, that nobody can comprehend things of a spiritual or theological nature, because they transcend our natural faculties. Spiritual truths, however, are as capable of being comprehended as natural truths. The reason that spiritual things admit of being comprehended, is, because man, as to his understanding, is capable of being elevated into the light of heaven, in which light no other objects appear than such as are spiritual.
Hence now it is that those who are in the spiritual affection of truth, enjoy an internal acknowledgment of it. As the angels are in that affection, they utterly reject the tenet that the understanding ought to be kept in subjection to faith : for they say, “How can you believe a thing, when you do not see whether it is true or not?' And should anyone affirm that what he advances must nevertheless be believed, they reply, ‘Do you think yourself a God, that I am to believe you ? or that I am mad, that I should believe an assertion in which I do not see any truth? If I must believe it, cause me to see it.' The dogmatizer is thus constrained to retire. Indeed, the wisdom of the angels consists solely in this, that they see and comprehend what they think.
* There is a spiritual idea of which few have any knowledge, which enters by influx into the minds of those who are in the affection of truth, and dictates interiorly whether the thing which they are hearing or reading is true or not. In this idea are those who read the Word in illumination from the Lord. To be in illumination is to be in perception. Those who are in this illumination are said to be taught of Jehovah, and of them it is said in Jeremiah, ‘Behold, the days come that I will make new covenant:-this shall be the covenant, --I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know ye the Lord; for they shall all kuow me;'-31. 31, 33, 31.
“ From these considerations it is plain that faith and truth are a
This also is the reason that the ancients, who were more accustomed to think of truth from affection than the moderns, instead of faith used the word truth: and for the same reason, in the Hebrew language, truth and faith are expressed by one and the same word, Amuna, or Amen.
* If anyone thinks with himself, or says to another, 'Who can have that internal acknowledgment of truth which is faith? 1 cannot.' I will tell him how he may: shun evils as sins, and apply to the Lord; then you will have as much as you desire."
Such then is the New Church doctrine of faith. Faith is the perception and acknowledgment of truth from a right understanding of it. True faith is a faculty that grows. It is not the gift of a moment. It is attained through leading a good life, and from obedience to the truth so far as we know it. In the course of time we find that a pure life is clearing our spiritual vision, and extending its range. Spiritual facts which we had laid up in our memories, and perhaps fancied we had believed, are brought forth, are seen in new and striking light, are elevated into the understanding, and are in reality believed. Thus a living faith is attained. This doctrine finds a Divine seal in these words of the Lord, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.”—John 7. 17.
The remainder of this little treatise is taken up with an exposure of the fallacies involved in the common doctrines of faith prevailing in the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. Faith separated from charity, is proved to have no existence, because evil can by no possibility love truth. Spiritual and Divine Truth may, it is true, be reasoned upon, defended, and expounded, by wicked men, for the promotion of their own selfish ends, but internally they are in deep hatred and denial of them, and in the other life their detestation of them causes them to cast them forth even from the memory. Thus the wicked have no faith and no truth.
4. The treatise on the Doctrine of Life is a brief and compendious exposition of the nature of that life which leads to happiness and heaven. It, in the first place, asserts that all religion has relation to life, and that the life of religion is to do good, agreeably to the Lord's saying, “ He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.”—John 13. 17. It is then shown that no one can do good, which is really good, from himself, as is taught in John, where we read, “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven,”—3. 27; and again, “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringetb forth much fruit, for without me ye can do nothing; "_“ He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit,” signifies that all good is from the Lord ; fruit signifying good : without me ye can do nothing,” signifies that no one can do good from himself.
Now it may be asked why can a man not do good of himself. For this simple reason, that as there is no goodness out of the Lord, if man does good, it must, in all certainty, be derived from the Lord alone. Man, in his highest state, is but a medium for the manifestation of the Divine Life Goodness. Yet while thus only a medium, man must act in freedom, as of himself. The appearance is that the good he does is self-originated, and born of his own will ; and this appearance can never be removed, because on it depends mau's freedom of action. Man must subdue all tendencies to spiritual pride arising therefrom, by habitual reference to the truth that the Lord is all in all; and that if he has done good, or been useful, he has been indebted for the motive as well as for the wisdom, to the Divine Mercy alone; as Paul said to the Philippians, “ for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure,”-2. 15. While thus saved by the divine mercy, through a good life, and brought into spiritual health by obedience to divine laws, man has no reason whatever to boast, or to take credit to himself for his bliss and sal. vation. The advocates of justification and salvation by faith alone, charge spiritual pride and merit, as a necessity, upon all who believe that heaven and its happiness are attained through the regenerative influence of a good life ; but this accusation falls to the ground when it is acknowledged that the power to lead a good life is the continual gift and inspiration of God. If man would only think trnly, he would see that humility is the acknowledgment of the grand primal truth of existence, that nothing we have or can do that is good, is of ourselves, but solely of the Lord; and that just as we are left to ourselves, our own wisdom and devices, we work evil, and perpetrate folly and mischief. Salvation through a good life, when thus rightly stated and understood, is seen to involve nothing of merit, but only the strongest reasons for gratitude, humility, and worship.
The Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom. The Continua
tion of the Last Judgment.
The treatise on the Divine Love and Wisdom, is a book which, when mastered, affords a key to the whole philosophy of the New Church, and to a rational understanding of all the writings of Swe. denborg. When we say this, it will be easily understood that it is not a book to be read in a few hours, or bastily glanced over. Every page is pregnant with thought, and many of its paragraphs might be expanded into volumes. It is a book which, full of thought on the deepest subjects, demands an exercise of like thought on the part of its reader ; and if he has but patience, and a simple love of truth for its own sake, happy will he be when he has made himself familiar with the divine thoughts which, like stars, gem every page of this matchless treatise.
The book is divided into five Parts. The First Part sets forth, in the simplest language, the doctrine of the Divine Nature. The Lord's essence is shown to be Infinite Love, and its manifestation to be Infinite Wisdom. The Divine Love is proved to be the only life in the universe, and that in God “all things live, move, and have their being.” The Lord is also proved to be very and essential Man, yet above and independent of all space and time, filling all spaces of the universe without space, and all time without time; and being in the greatest and the least things evermore the same. These statements may appear inconsequential, but in our limited space, we cannot explain more fully : we could not give the proofs satisfactorily, without quoting the volume itself: argument is so linked to argument, that they hardly admit of separation.
The Second Part of the work treats concerning the sun of heaven, and the sun of our world. It is shown that from the Lord flows a Divine Sphere, which appears in the spiritual world as a sun. From its heat, angels and man have their love, and froin its light their wisdom, thus their life. This sun is not God, but it is the first proceeding from the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom of God-Man. By means of this sun the Lord created the universe and all things in it. The sun of the natural world is pure fire, and therefore dead; and since nature derives its origin from that sun, it also is dead. Without two suns, the one living and the other dead, there can be no creation. The end of creation is, that all things may return to the Creator, and conjunction may exist in its ultimates.
Part III. declares that in the spiritual world there are atmospheres, waters, and earths, as in the natural world ; but that the former are spiritual, whereas the latter are natural. We are then introduced to a definition of the doctrine of degrees; a doctrine which must be studied and understood, before anyone can with justice speak of Swedenborg, for it is a doctrine which lies at the basis of that peerless spiritual philosophy of which he was the promulgator. All that we can do here in the way of exposition, is to quote the heads of his articles which express the truth far more lucidly than we could do.
“ There are three degrees of love and wisdom, and thence degrees of heat and light, and degrees of atmosphere. Degrees are of two kinds, degrees of altitude and degrees of latitude. The degrees of altitude are homogeneous, and one derived from the other in a series, like end, canse, and effect. The first degree is in all the subsequent