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the power of man to write such a book, and hence its divine origin and inspiration will take a rational and firm hold on our minds.
“ In the second place, the revelation of this great fact has the effect to turn our minds in the right direction. It points us the way in which all new and true light is to come. It withdraws our minds from the worldly modes of regarding and reading the Scripture, and elevates them towards the light that comes down from above. It enables men to begin and think a little as the angels do, and enables the angels to come nearer to men and assist them, as far as they are able, to understand the Word better. Thus it makes it possible for men here, though at the very foot of the ladder, to commence their heavenly education, and thereby go into the other world so much the better prepared to make rapid advances there.
". Thirdly, The spiritual sense throws a genuine light over the literal sense, and enables us to understand that better. This is the first great use which it performs for the church. The great need of the world, at the present moment, is to understand the meaning of the literal sense. This is the very sense which puzzles all the commentators. It is the sense about the meaning of which all the controversies and divisions in the Christian world occur. Instead of being every where plain and obvious, it is the very thing which, in innumerable instances, is neither plain nor obvious. How many passages there are occurring in every part of the Scriptures upon which hardly any two commentators agree; how many that are made to mean one thing by Catholics and another thing by Protestants; one thing by High Churchmen, another by Con. gregationalists; one thing by Baptists, another by Pedo-Baptists! Do not Trinitarians and Unitarians, Calvinists and Arminians, Supernaturalists and Rationalists, continually read their different and contradictory interpretations into the same texts ? Who, now, in the Christian world can tell with any certainty the meaning of one half of the literal sense of the Bible? Where can be found a fixed, reliable, and satisfactory interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis, of the prophetical books of the Old Testament, of the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, and of the whole book of Revelation ? Who in the Christian world can tell any thing (otherwise than by conjecture) concerning the meaning of what is said in the literal sense of the Scriptures about the last things—about the resurrection, the end of the world, the millennium, the second coming of the Lord, The Last Judg. ment, the descent of the New Jerusalem ?
We see, then, that it is precisely the literal or natural sense of the Scriptures which at this day needs to be made plain. And this is one
office which the New Jerusalem revelation performs. The light of the spiritual sense serves to fix and determine the meaning of doubtful or obscure passages of the natural sense. It is, in reality, the understanding of the Word from the spiritnal sense, that is alone definite and fixed, while it is the understanding of the merely literal sense that is variable, floating, indefinite, and unfixed.
“ As an illustration of this, take, for instance, the first clause of our text,— For ever, O Jehovah, thy Word is established in heaven.' What meaning do these words convey to the ordinary understandings of men ? What definite fact do they describe to the mind of one who reads them in the light of the common modes of interpretation ? Take down the volumes of twenty commentators, and you shall find as many different views or suggestions thrown out, and not one of them the right one. As a general thing the phrase will be considered as conveying a poetical figure, or an oriental hyperbole ; and the farther you proceed in your investigations the more indefinite will the meaning of the passage become. To the mind of the New Churchman it describes a definite fact—one already referred to, namely, that the divine Word, which men call the sacred Scripture, exists also in the heavens, and is in continual use there
among the angels. This is the plain, natural sense of that passage. The words simply and directly assert a definite fact, and by the light of the revelation of the spiritual sense we are enabled to point out distinctly what that fact is; without that light we could not so point it out. We have not here attempted to open to you the internal or angelic sense of this passage, but have only explained it according to its genuine literal sense. Take, as another illustration, the twentyfirst chapter of Revelation, where the descent of the New Jerusalem is described. We say that by the New Jerusalem is meant a New Church; that by its descent out of heaven is meant that this church, as to its doctrines, is revealed from heaven; and that when it is said the tabernacle of God shall be with men, it is meant that this New Church from the Lord is to be established among men on earth.
“ This we give as the plain natural sense of these things. We do not here attempt to open the internal or true angelic sense of this vision—the sense in which what is here written applies to the regeneration of man; we only point out the real, external, objective facts to which these passages refer in their genuine earthly or human sense. We simply tell you what the literal sense means; which we should not be able to do if it were not for the light which the spiritual sense of the Word affords.
“ The same is true of the second coming of the Lord, the Last
Judgment, and all the other events predicted in the Apocalypse. The revelations of this church give the angelic sense of these various chapters, but they give also, what the churches at present first need, the genuine meaning of the natural sense.
"We might go through the Scriptures in this way, and from almost every chapter select something that would illustrate these views, some passage which would show how the light of the spiritual sense everywhere illuminates the letter, making it clear, and how much this light is needed in order that the letter may be correctly understood.
“In order to be a New Churchman, therefore, in reading the Scriptures, it is not necessary for a man to attempt to climb up to something which he cannot understand. It is not necessary that he should at once enter into the spiritual sense as the angels do; but only that he should read them in the light of the spiritual sense, and thus come to a correct understanding of their genuine meaning in their external or literal sense.
The real strength and power of the Word is in its literal sense ; without it there could be no spiritual sense; it is the very foundation or base upon which the other is built. Thus, in a manner which we can but very faintly attempt to describe, does the New Church revelation grow, by a most vital and organic continuity, directly out of the divine Revelation which has come before.
“ And not only does it proceed forth from it in a natural and orderly continuity, but the fundamental principles and doctrines upon which it is based are clearly taught in, and can be plainly and abundantly confirmed from, the literal sense of the Scriptures. The announcement of this fact we consider of sufficient importance at least to invite inquiry, and those who candidly investigate the claim, find that it is so. They find that all the great leading doctrines of the New Church can be proven from the sacred Scriptures; that they a: 2 indeed the real and only doctrines of the Scriptures; and that in their light they can more plainly and clearly perceive the actual meaning of what they read in the Word of God, than they ever could before.
"Hence, as the sacred Scriptures are already an acknowledged authority to a large majority of minds in all Christian countries, this circumstance of itself affords another sufficient reason why we should repose with confidence on the truth of these revelations."*
* In respect to the term Revelation, we beg the reader to observe that there are two kinds of Revelation-one immediate, by which the Word is inspired and dictated immediately from the Lord, and written by the Prophets and Evangelists, who were the only subjects of this inspiration. Thus the Word written by them, as mere instruments in the Lord's hands, is plenarily inspired, that is, divine as
ON THE DIVERSITY IN THE DURATION OF LIFE.
(Continued from page 304.)
To obtain clear and comprehensive ideas respecting the duration of life, requires necessarily that a tolerable acquaintance should be formed with its particular circumstances and phenomena. These, accordingly, it is important to consider at the very outset, and primarily, those offered by the Vegetable Kingdom, seeing that this is essentially the outline and prefigurement of the Animal, and thus the natural starting point of all high physiological inquiry.
No one has entered Nature through its 'gate Beautiful,' the world of plants, without soon discovering that the duration of life is here of three general denominations. Some species are annual, or rather semi-annual, living from spring only to the close of the autumn of the same year; others are biennial, living to the close of the second autumn, but never beyond it; the greater part are perennial, or competent to live for a long series of years. Annuals include many of the commoner garden flowers and culinary vegetables, as marigolds and lupines, peas and beans, which require accordingly, to be freshly raised from seed every season ; biennials are likewise common in gardens ; perennials comprise all those plants which form the staple vegetation of a country, withering to a certain extent in the winter, and even dying down to the roots, but sprouting afresh with the return of spring, also the countless varieties of trees and shrubs, whether deciduous or everto every expression and every word, containing in itself “spirit and life,” (John vi. 63.) or a divine spiritual and celestial sense, as well as a divine natural sense. The other kind of inspiration and revelation is mediate, which arises from an internal perception of the Truth when the Word is read, which is as a kind of tacit dictate into the thought that the thing is so as perceived. This is called mediate revelation, because a man derives it mediately from the Lord through angels and spirits, with whom, especially when devoutly reading the Word, he is interiorly and closely associated. All good minds are more or less the subjects of this mediate inspiration and consequent revelation ; but, as said above, only the Prophets and Evangelists were the subjects of immediate inspiration, and consequent revelation.
When, therefore, Swedenborg's writings are called revelations, it is meant that he was, in a high degree, a subject of mediate revelation, and consequently of spiritual illumination as to the true meaning of God's Word; but by no means the subject of immediate revelation. Hence we see how erroneous it is to conclude, as many have done, who did not consider the difference between immediate and mediate revelations, that Swedenborg's writings, because they are sometimes called revelations, are to be placed on an equality with the Word itself.--See A. C. 5121, 6597.-EDITOR.
green. These latter, the perennials, exhibit as great diversity in lease of life as the different species of animals. Some decay in as few as four or five years ; others, often remarkable for their odoriferous and balsamic qualities, as sage, balm, and lavender, endure for ten or more ; next come the larger and robuster kinds of shrubs, as rhododendrons and azaleas; then such trees as are of rapid growth, and the substance of which is soft, as the poplar and willow; and lastly, those mighty, slow-growing, solid-wooded pillars of the forest, as the cedar and oak, at whose feet whole nations rise and fall. How vast are the periods of life allotted to the longæval trees may be judged from the following list of ages known to have been reached by patriarchs of the respective kinds : Elm
(at Hedsor, Bucks). Four and five thousand years are assigned to the Taxodium and the Adansonia, and Von Martius describes Locust-trees in the South American forests which he believes to have begun their quasi-immortality in the days of Homer. Whether or no, it may safely be asserted that the world possesses at this moment living memorials of antiquity at least as old as the most ancient monuments of human art. How grand and solemn is even the thought of a tree coeval with the pyramids of Egypt and the sculptures of Nineveh, yet still putting forth leaves, and inviting the birds to come and sing among the branches'! Well might the old preacher of Alexandria discern in a tree the terrestrial image of heavenly truth.
The way in which the ages of these vegetable Nestors have been ascertained leaves no doubt of their correctness. In some few cases the data have been furnished by historical records, and by tradition ; but the botanical archæologist has a resource independent of either, and when carefully used, infallible. The whole subject of the signs and testimonies of particular age is interesting, and deserves to be here dealt with, but unfortunately scarcely anything is yet known about it.
* There are olive-trees in the supposed garden of Gethsemane which have been estimated at 2000 years; but these are probably mere descendants of those which are connected with the narratives of the Gospels, put forth originally as suckers from their roots, and thus to be regarded rather as restorations than as identically the same.