Page images
PDF
EPUB

Thus the six days of Creation are supposed by very many not to mean literal days of twelve hours according to the Jewish, or of twenty four hours according to our present computation, but to indicate either a much longer period of time, or when seen with "spiritual discernment,” to imply a spiritual idea of the state of the subject mentioned.

The natural man, whose heart is bent on the acquisition of wealth, power, fame, and pleasure, exhibits an example of the great value of time to him. He rises early, and appoints to every hour its allotted employment. If he is a manufacturer employing several hundreds of people, he reckons the minutes which are neglected either by late coming, or by some accident to his machinery, as a serious loss to him. self, and he calculates that if 500 men lose each a minute, 500 minutes, or more than eight hours are lost, which in the course of a month makes a serious defect in his profits. Now the natural man, in this respect, acts wisely in his generation, and if, at the same time, he “number his days, and apply his heart unto wisdom,” his spiritual states of life will be paramount in his estimation, and the careful employment of his time in respect to natural things will conduce both to his earthly and spiritual prosperity. Time is thus truly bis estate.

But in a much higher sense is time the estate of the spiritual man, or of the man who wishes, during his sojourn upon earth, to lay the broadest and the deepest foundation for a state of happiness in eternity. That this broad and deep foundation for a state of eternal happiness must be laid in time, we are assured both by the Word of God, and by the perception of our rational mind. This world being the ultimate of creation, in which man first appears, the substantial basis of every thing intended for his eternal good must be formed and laid whilst here. Hence the Lord commands us to “dig deep" and “to build upon a rock," and not upon sand. We now know that there is no angel in heaven who was not once a man upon either this or some earth in the universe. The reason is, because every building must have a foundation which is fixed and unmoveable, and this fixed basis must be in the ultimate or lowest degree of divine order in God's creation, which is the material world or the terraqueous globe. In order, then, to have “a house eternal in the heavens,” (2 Cor. v. 42.) which is the designation the apostle gives to the spiritual body of an angel, it is indispensable that that house be built upon the basis of the material body, or formed within it, as a diamond in its matrix, as a pearl in its shell, as a kernel in the nut, as a fruit in its covering, or its rind, as a seed in its capsule, or as a metal in its ore. For no product in nature can be formed without its external; and no spiritual body, which, properly

regarded, is the organism of mind, and the substantial man himself who lives after death, can be formed but in a material body. To imagine, therefore, that angels could have been created as such, without baving been men upon some planet, is as absurd as it is to imagine that “castles can be built in the air,” without a solid foundation upon which they can rest.

From this it will be seen that every thing spiritual and heavenly must have its foundation in something natural corresponding to it, in which it can be substantially formed, and thus have an existence in itself independently of the material or outermost form in which it was formed. This is not only true of the spirit of man, but also of every thing in the spirit, of every principle of its life, of every affection, every thought; in short, of its love, intelligence, and wisdom. Now as all these things which constitute the heavenly life of the spirit can only, as to their principles, be formed whilst man is in ultimates, that is, connected with a material body, and living in time, we may plainly see how important our time-life is, and how necessary it is to employ the hours, and the months, and the years, in procuring and substantiating heavenly principles in our external man during the short period of our sojourn upon earth. For after death, having left the ultimates of creation, no new principle of what is good and true can be planted and adopted, because the proper ground will be wanted upon which it can rest. Let us, then,“ seek the Lord while He may be found ; let us call upon Him while He is near ; let the wicked man forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, for He will have mercy upon us, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Most true then it is, that a man will reap hereafter according as he shall have sown here. “If a man sow to the flesh, he shall of the flesh reap corruption; if he sow to the spirit, he shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.” To sow to the flesh is to live for mere earthly ends, which have relation to the love of self and of the world ; but to sow to the spirit is to have heavenly ends in view, or the " kingdom of God and His righteousness.” It would then appear, that whatever truth, or principle, or doctrine we have known and professed in time which has not been ultimated in a good life, and which has consequently no foundation to stand upon, or in which it is rooted, cannot even exist in the eternal world, and of course cannot contribute to the salvation of man. This, indeed, shews us the very great importance of our life in time, because it is only in this life that truths from the Lord, that is, from His Word, can be enrooted so as to flourish like trees of righteousness in the Paradise of God. All truths which

If

have not thus been ultimated during our life in time, are, when the process of judgment begins, immediately after death, scattered like the "untimely figs by a mighty wind;" (Rev. vi. 13.) or like " chaff by the winnowers' fan;" (Matt. iii. 12.) and all such nominal members of the church are rejected, like the foolish virgins who had no oil in their lamps.

Now every day in time is valuable to us just in proportion as some new perception of Truth has, through loving and doing it, struck its roots in our external man. ye know these things, happy are ye if

ye do them.” For when its roots are thus struck, there will be a tendency to bear fruit upwards, and “the plant thus planted by our Heavenly Father” (Matt. xv. 13.) will grow and flourish in eternity. But not so the plant which has not during our life in time struck its roots in the ground of a good life. The universal means of cultivating this good ground is the faithful performance of our duty to our God and to our neighbour, by shunning and abhorring all evils as sinful in His sight, and as offensive and injurious to our fellow-man. The primary and paramount duty of man is consequently to acquire Truths from the Word, and to ultimate them in his life by living according to them. This is the true merchandize, this is the true treasure! So long as we possess these truths in the memory only, and not in the life, they are to us the “ Mammon, or riches, of unrighteousness," that is, they are unjustly possessed, because not applied to the purpose for which the Lord has given them. But when “we make friends of them” by loving and doing them, “they will receive us, at length, into the everlasting mansions of the blest.” (Luke vi. 9.) For Truth either becomes our greatest friend or our greatest enemy. If we, during our life in time, make it our friend by loving and doing it, it becomes our friend indeed. But if we do not, whilst here, thus love and do it, hereafter it becomes our greatest enemy, from which we shall flee as from the point of a sword ready to pierce and destroy us. For Truth separate from Good, is, as Swedenborg says, like a sharp-pointed weapon, from which the wicked flee as from impending destruction. (See also Heb. iv. 12.) He who acquires Truths from spiritual affection, acquires the "good seed which he casts into his field," and in the language of the apostle we may say, “He that soweth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly; and he who soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully;" (2 Cor. ix. 6.) shewing that as we employ our time here, with a view to our eternal interests, such shall be the harvest of love, wisdom, and happiness, either sparing or bountiful, which shall await us in eternity.

That time has relation, when viewed with "spiritual disce moment,” to

states of mind and of life, is an important truth which enables us to understand many things in Scripture in a most profitable manner. That the human mind, especially in its higher activities and meditations, rises above the conditions of time, and disdains its periods and restraints, is known to all men. The electric telegraph is a means devised by the mind to disembarrass itself from the shackles of Time. The steam-ship that speeds its way over the Atlantic in the quickest time is most admired, because it enables us to transcend more completely the periods of time. In short, the mind loves to be delivered from time, and to rise above its restraints. The mind in pleasant and peaceful states thinks little of time, but in unpleasant and anxious states it thinks much of time. Time, theu, bears a certain relation to the mind, and signifies something in respect to its states. Time and its periods of months, days, &c. has a relation to the intellectual states of the mind, and describes its states of perception and affection for Truth, whereas Space has a relation to the states of the will, and describes its relation as to Love.

The year, which is one of the most common divisions of time, is often employed in the Word to denote a completion and fulness of state, either of the church itself, or of the individual mind. This fulness or com. pletion of state arises, in a good sense, when the Truth which a man has received from the Lord through His Word is not only united with Good, but is the form of Good, springing from it, and actuated by it in every respect, as the body is actuated by the soul. Thus the “ faith which worketh by love" (Gal. v. 6.) is a complete or perfect Faith, because Love is all in all in its composition. Faith is then in its fulness, and like the full-orbed splendour of the moon, reflects, as fully as possible, the light of the sun. But when this full state of Truth or of Faith has, during the process of regeneration, arrived, we must by no means conclude that the entire work of regeneration and salvation is accomplished. A new moon commences,

,-a new state of Faith is opened, which, like the moon at the autumnal equinox, rises to a higher altitude in the heavens, and sheds a longer and a more brilliant light over the dark and wintry states of man's natural mind.

We read of the “acceptable year of the Lord," and also of the day of vengeance of our God;” (Isaiah lxi. 2.) because the "acceptable year" signifies the state when the regenerate can, at the period of judgment, be separated from the wicked and raised up into heaven. And the “day of vengeance” is that state when the wicked have filled

up

their measure of wickedness, and of their own accord betake themselves to their dark abodes. (Rev. vi. 15, 16.) Thus the “acceptable year" and the “day of vengeance," do not imply any specific times, but a state of the church, and of the individual member of the church at the time of the Lord's coming to judgment, and especially when He came in the flesh.

The month Abib was the first month of the year with the Jews, because on the tenth day of this month they were commanded to institute the Passover, (Exodus xii. 2, 3.) which commemorated their deliverance from Egypt.

Hence it is, that the first year of the church is the year of its Redemption, and the first year of the regenerate mind is the time of its conversion and the commencement of its regeneration. The inauguration of this year is commemorated by the sacrifice of a lamb, “ in every house;" this lamb was to be sacrificed as a perpetual token of remembrance of the state thus represented. This lamıb typified the Lord as the “ Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” Hence as to His Humanity He is called the Pascal Lamb, (1 Cor. v. 7.) because it is by the Lord in His Humanity that all redemption and regeneration are accomplished. The lamb signifies the good of innocence from the Lord, which is that which delivers us from all sin. Thus the new year in time, cannot be better inaugurated by us, than by considering the new year of Redemption, in which we can, through the Lord's mercy, enter upon a new state of regeneration, and thus commence a new and an acceptable year to the Lord.” The particulars as to the sacrifice of the lamb, and of the manner in which it should be cooked and eaten, will teach us, if “spiritually discerned,” what our duty is as to the inauguration of a new year, as commemorative of the period of our Redemption and Regeneration.

First,—The " Lamb was to be without blemish," to teach us that we must enter upon this new state in sincerity of purpose, without mingling our acts of worship or our duties of life with any selfish or worldly object. It was solemnly commanded that the sacrifices should be all without spot or blemish, and especially the lamb of the Passover. All these solemn duties should be performed from considerations which originate in the internal or spiritual mind only; for in the degree that the motive or object in the doing of these things partakes of the selfish and worldly states of the natural man, the sacrifice will have a blemish —will be unfit as an offering to the Lord and will consequently by no means serve to deliver us from states of sin and bondage.

Secondly,—It should be "a male of the first year," to teach us that it should be a state of Truth entirely derived from Good. This blessed state arises when the mind is governed only by the spiritual affection of Truth. " It was to be taken from the sheep and from the goats," to

66

« PreviousContinue »