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become intelligent in the doctrines and truths into the faith of which you have been baptized. This is required of you not only by the church of which you are members ; but the world around you will look upon you as uneducated and uninformed unless you can “ give a reason for the hope that is in you.” The duty, therefore, which you owe to your God, to your neighbour, and to your own personal and legitimate self-regard, requires that you should instruct your minds in the great principles of Doctrine and of Life in which your parents were exhorted at the Font to instruct and train you.
And in the New Church this process of instruction is truly delightful to such as have any love or desire for Truth ; because in the theology of the New Church there is, as to every subject, a most luminous rationale, which brings everything home to the inquiring mind with the clearest evidence and satisfaction and with interior conviction. This is not the case, as is universally admitted, in the various denominations of the old theology; for mystery and unintelligibleness are deeply engraven upon every dogma of its creeds. They are so many dry husks, which afford no medullary substance, and which, however the understanding may endeavour to grind them into substantial nutriment, can supply no nourishment—no edification to the mind. But it is far otherwise with the Scriptural and rational Truths of the New Church. Every truth is a living seed, full of spirit and life from the Word, and carries with it a living-principle to the mind. It is also easily understood and easily digested, provided there be an appetite or desire to receive it. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Thus this love of Truth is the source of all blessedness to man, for it is the essential means of his regeneration, and the universal element of his salvation. Hence the apostle says, “The wicked receive not the love of the Truth that they may be saved.” (2 Thess. ii. 10.)
We may, my young Friends, easily see this to be the fact, when we consider that without a knowledge of Truth there can be nothing truly spiritual and nothing truly rational in man. For everything that constitutes us truly men, and gives us an elevation above animals, is the knowledge and the love of Truth. Animals have not this capacity, and therefore they are not human, nor can they even rise to the threshold of humanity, because they are in a discreet or separate degree below it. If, then, you desire to rise above merely animal nature, and above the gratification of merely bodily and sensual desires, and thus to become truly men, that is, rational and humane, remember that the love of Truth is the only medium, and especially is this the only medium by which we can become regenerate and spiritual.
It has become fashionable at the present time to speak much of a certain kind of mental philosophy, designated as transcendentalism, the knowledge of the Absolute ; Idealism, the Identity of the Subjective and Objective, in one Being, who is the absolutely Perfect; together with various other designations, which have taken the place of what was formerly called Metaphysics. Now, all this, which is much cultivated among the Germans, has of late awakened great mental activity in this country, and young men of any intellectual pretensions are expected to know something about these new fields of thought and of mental activity. Much of the German thinking has been transferred into the writings of Coleridge, Carlysle, Emerson, and others. But all this new field of mental inquiry has been previously cultivated by Swedenborg, and it is in his works alone that the inquiring mind can find satisfaction and repose in the solution of these great problems of intellectual thinking ; for the theology of the New Church is connected, as all genuine theology should be, with an intellectual philosophy, which can meet and solve rational inquiries of which the thinking mind naturally and reasonably desires a solution. You are, therefore, very much mistaken if you imagine that the writings of Swedenborg, like theological works in general, consist of merely dry dogmatic teachings, which belong only to a class called the clergy, or ministers of religion, and not to the entire community of thinking and truth-seeking minds. Thus these works commend themselves to your attention on the ground of intellectual philosophy, solving all the great problems of mental life and intelligence.
It will be readily seen how necessary a knowledge of spiritual Truth is, as derived from a proper interpretation of God's Word, to affect our truly-rational and spiritual nature. The truths of science, as deductions and conclusions from the knowledge of physical facts and phenomena, can only affect our merely natural life, and by a right application, afford us the advantages of a widely.extended civilization. But these lower, or merely natural truths cannot affect our higher or truly-rational or spiritual life. They, therefore, cannot raise us above the world to any consideration and perception of the things which relate to heaven and to the eternal life of our souls. These truths are excellent in their place, but they ought never to absorb the entire attention of the immortal mind of man. As water cannot rise above its level, so these truths, derived from merely natural things, cannot rise above the objects and the degree of creation in which they are found,—they, consequently, cannot rise above their level. But man has an immortal spirit within him, or an “inward man,” as the apostle calls it; this inward man is destined to live for ever, and death is the gate through which he passez into his [Enl. Series.—No. 19, vol. ii.]
proper world, to continue his existence throughout the countless ages of eternity. Now, spiritual Truth, revealed in God's Word, is absolutely indispensable to man's regeneration, or to his preparation for a happy state in the spiritual or eternal world. Thus a fountain of living waters must be opened from a higher source than the world, and this water, like earthly water, will also rise to its own level, or rather, have a strong tendency to rise to that level ; but as this, in its Divine source, or the Lord, is infinite, it can only raise man as near to its level as he, by obedience, faith, and love, can come. Thus he can rise to eternity in wisdom and happiness, provided he has commenced in this life, where the foundation must be laid.
What I have here said, my young Friends, about water as illustrating the operation of Truth upon the mind, is confirmed by what the Lord says about the water at Jacob's well. (John iv.) The water in the well, of which the woman only thought, was representative of merely natural Truth, or of that truth which can affect the natural mind only, and “of which if a man drink he will thirst again;" but the water which the Lord gives “He calls living water, of which if a man drink, he shall never thirst.” This living water is the higher or spiritual Truth of which we have been speaking, and which is so essentially necessary to our true happiness here, and to our eternal salvation hereafter.
It is, consequently, this living water to which, in these letters, we so ardently invite your attention. For it is this water which can purify us, and raise us above the low state of our unregenerate nature, in which nothing but selfish and worldly considerations occupy the mind, and form the great objects of life. It is this water which can so purify us as to make us the abode even of the Lord Himself, and thus form our minds into a magnificent palace of intelligence and happiness, and our hearts into a temple of holiness and wisdom. It is from this that we must expect all true refinement and elevation of character, or real dignity, glory, and happiness.
The first thing, then, my dear young Friends, in which you should endeavour to instruct your minds, is the TRUE IDEA of God. This true idea is the great principle of all religious and spiritual instruction. If this principle is erroneous, or fallacious, or false, it will imbue every idea and every doctrine with its own erroneous and fallacious character. You are aware that if the heart in the body is discased, the entire system will partake of the disease, and will languish and die. But the true idea of God is the heart and soul not only of a genuine religious system, but also of a true mental philosophy, and universally of all genuine intelligence and wisdom. The doctrine of three Persons in the
Godhead, as constituting the Trinity, whereof each Person by himself is represented in the Athanasian Creed as being “Lord and God,” gives a most erroneous idea of God; inasmuch as nearly all who think and worship according to the idea of three Persons in the Godhead, cannot avoid in their interior mind (howsoever they may say that they believe in one God), thinking of three ; and this most erroneous idea is destructive of all genuine knowledge and intelligence as to every thing spiritual and heavenly from the Word of God. All other doctrines, such as that of Redemption, Atonement, &c., necessarily partake of the falsity, and the consequence is, that the prevailing theology is a mass of incomprehensible mystery and confusion, which no rational investigation can penetrate. Hence it is that so many young and thinking minds, desiring the truth, but finding no satisfaction in the prevailing systems of theology, are passing over to the side of scepticism, and seeking in German transcendentalism what they ought to find in an enlightened system of Christianity; whereas, if they had the true idea of God, which is that of One Person in the Godhead, “ in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," (Col. ii. 9.) that is, the divine Trinity, not of Persons but of Essentials in One God, answering to the three essentials in the one person of a man, created in the “image and likeness of God,” which essentials are his soul, his body, and his operation, or activity in life,—they would with this idea have the key to a right understanding of God's Word, and would enjoy free access to all spiritual knowledge and intelligence.
This true idea of One Divine Person in the Godhead, the Lord also clearly taught us, when He showed Himself transfigured or glorified on the mount. (Mat. xvii.) Here is the true idea of God, as of an infinitely glorious divine Person, “ whose face shineth as the sun, and whose garments are white as the light.” It is this divine Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom, as the apostle says, “ dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” and who is, consequently, the only true Object of Christian worship; for “whoso seeth Him seeth the Father.”
When, therefore, my dear young Friends, you are engaged in prayer or worship, or in your interior thought and supplication,—when engaged in worldly avocations, think of the Lord your Saviour God in the manner he has presented Himself to be seen in “His glorious Body," or Divine Humanity, and you will have harmony, and clearness, and satisfaction, and blessedness in your mental states, just in proportion as this idea becomes a living and actuating principle in your daily life. To this end let me advise you to read Swedenborg's small work on the “Doctrine of the Lord.”
Next to the true idea of God is the true idea of life, or how we are to live so as to become the subject of God's goodness, wisdom, and happiness, and thus to be good and happy here and to eternity. The true idea of life, of course, resolves itself into the keeping of the divine precepts, without which there can be no regeneration, and consequently no salvation for man. Thus the Lord says,—" If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Let me then recommend you, my young Friends, also to read Swedenborg's small work on the “Doctrine of Life.” This work, although very small, is a development from Scripture, of that moral and spiritual mode of life which secures a man's happiness, both for the world and for eternity. For without this life there can be no faith, no love, and no holiness, such as can be recognized in heaven, or as can contribute to the salvation of man. In my next letter I shall speak to you of things equally important to your welfare in this world, and to your happiness in eternity. I am, your sincere friend,
THE HEAVENLY MARRIAGE, OR THE PROCESS OF
In the last Number of this Periodical we alluded at p. 269 to the process, signified by the marriage of what is good and true, or of charity and faith in the mind, by which regeneration is carried on. It was there observed, “ that the spiritual marriage between what is Good and True in the mind, is not formed between goods and truths of the same degree, but between the good of a superior degree and the truth of an inferior degree.” A correspondent has kindly reminded us that, according to the number from the Arcana Coelestia then adduced, viz., 3952, it should be the Truth (and not, as there stated, the Good of a superior degree) with the Good of an inferior degree.
The passage from the Arcana is important, and we here quote it for the benefit of our readers :
“The heavenly marriage, as was said, is that of good with truth and of truth with good, yet not between good and truth of one and the same degree, but between good and truth of an inferior degree and of a superior, that is, not between the good of the external man and the truth of the same, but between the good of the external man and the truth of the internal; or, what is the same thing, not between the good of the natural man and the truth thereof, but between the good of the natural man and the truth of the spiritual man; it is this conjunction