« AnteriorContinua »
Christian life most effectively illustrated a warm interest in its assemblies and usei
fulness. She passed early to her home in the heavens, leaving behind a widowed mother to lament her loss, but sustained in her sorrow by the recollection of the virtues and hopes of her departed child.
in the growth of fruit-bearing trees. The evening subject, "Cords and Cartropes," from Isaiah v. 18, was also made very instructive and interesting, the preacher showing what a great variety of cords of false reasoning operate to Exchanged worlds at Liverpool, on the draw us after vanity and sin. The 12th of September, aged 74 years, Mr. whole of the above discourses were very Ralph Garnett Sheldon, who for the attentively listened to by a number past half century had been closely of strangers, many of whom expressed connected with the New Church. Fiftygreat satisfaction and pleasure with what two years ago he was leader of the they had heard. The Society has there- Society in this town, and from that time fore reason to hope good will result to the close of his life his heart and from these visits, and tenders its best soul were bound up in the good and thanks to the National Missionary holy cause of the Lord's kingdom. Society for aid, and hopes the time will Amidst those who have fought and not be long before again favoured with worked for the New Church, very few similar visits. have equalled our departed friend in either extent or earnestness of worth. To give anything like his full biography would be to give the history of the church in this town; though his energies were by no means thus confined, for in various parts of the kingdom, in many, we might say in all parts of Lancashire, has his voice been heard. As a preacher he was very effective, but the living ser mon of his life told more effectively and more eloquently than all else the worth of the heavenly doctrines. For some years past he had been incapacitated from any active service, but the quiet loving earnestness of his soul, and the unchanging regard he had for the Church and its services, told how truly he had made "Jerusalem" his home. Nothing could be more beautiful than the serenity and peacefulness of his last few hours on earth. In the full assurance of trust and hopefulness, he expressed nothing but satisfaction at his approaching departure. His reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ as His Saviour and Redeemer was unclouded and unshaken, and he listened with delight as the 91st Psalm was read to him. His last words were about the Church on earth and in heaven, and he clasped with fervour the new liturgy, about which he had for years been solicitous. Singularly, his was perhaps the first occasion of its funeral use, for a day or two after he had it he passed quietly away, truly falling
SWEDENBORG SOCIETY.-The Secretary of this Society has received a letter from the Rev. Mr. Clissold, enclosing a cheque for £200, one half for the second volume of The Documents, and the other half for the edition of The Apocalypse Revealed, about to be circulated by the Committee, as stated in the Repository. An offer of the works has also been again made to the Leamington Free Library, and is under the consideration of its Committee. As on a former occasion, the question has appeared in the local papers, and not improbably the new Committee may treat the question more liberally than their predecessors.
On September 16th, at the New Jerusalem Temple, Toronto, Ontario, by Rev. G. Field, R. Banks Barber, of Stratford, Ontario, and Miss Jennie, youngest daughter of J. Webster Hancock, LL.B., Barrister, Brighton-lesands, Liverpool, England, late of Toronto.-From the New Jerusalem Messenger.
At Accrington, on September 22nd, Mr. William Henry Dixon to Miss Janet Hartley, by the Rev. Dr. Bayley.
Departed this life at Headingley, near Leeds, March 27th, Miss Margaret Deans, aged 23 years. The deceased was the last surviving daughter of New Church parents. She had been trained from childhood in the doctrines and life of the New Church, and always manifested
asleep in Jesus," and the new service was used over the interment of his remains, Mr. Goldsack, the minister of the Liverpool Society, conducting, while the Rev. Dr. Bayley offered up the con cluding prayers at the grave.
In the tenth chapter of Luke, verse 29, occurs the question, "And who is my neighbour?" The parable of the Good Samaritan is the Lord's answer to that question. If, however, we consult only the letter of the Gospel, we shall conclude that when the lawyer came to the Lord, tempting, testing and trying Him, with no kind of good intent, and saying, "And who is my neighbour?" no direct reply was given. For, instead of telling the lawyer who was his neighbour, the Lord. seems to describe to him instead the man who was neighbour to quite another person; and in the injunction, "Go thou and do likewise," to inform him not who was his neighbour, but that he himself ought to be a neighbour to one who had fallen among thieves. This peculiarity, often met with when we seek in the four Gospels answers to questions addressed to the Lord Jesus, is due to the fact, that every word said to Him by any man was always looked at by the Lord much more as to its spiritual than as to its literal meaning; much more as to what, therefore, the angels would see that it might and ought to mean, than according to what the man who said the word had intended that it should mean. In asking who was his neighbour, the lawyer meant, whom ought he to love as he loved himself? But the Lord Jesus saw that the question was unwittingly couched in language which to angelic intelligences would have far other and profounder meanings; and it was to those meanings, rather than to
the literal sense of the question, that the reply was adapted. And this was so, for the sufficient reason that, if the response to the interrogatory had been merely fitted to the literal sense, it would have been an answer mainly to one man alone and to one question, instead of replying to a hundred questions and to countless generations of men and angels. If, then, we would see what the Lord really intended in His reply to the question, "Who is my neighbour?" we must discern what the query itself would mean, not to the lawyer who proposed it, but to the angels, if they heard it, and to the Lord whilst thinking according to the intelligence of angels. In other words, we must lift it up into its spiritual sense, since otherwise we shall never attain to the understanding of the answer given to it by the Lord.
The spiritual sense, as we know, always tends to merge the personal in the impersonal, and the concrete into the abstract. Instead, thus, of the personal pronoun "who," it gives us the impersonal "what ;" and it substitutes for the personal possessive "my" the possessive of the state of mind giving utterance to the question. Lastly, instead of "neighbour," it reads "the essential principle of neighbourliness," which, of course, is goodness; for to the man whom the truth enlightens nothing appears to be true neighbourliness except true goodness. And if we have that light, we count him not our neighbour merely who lives in the next street to us, or at the next door; but he is our neighbour in whom we recognize the noble form of rectitude and benevolence. To such a one we turn with joy, as to a neighbour indeed; and that equally whether his goodness benefits ourselves or others, and alike whether he lives in the next street or world. Such, then, is the spiritual sense of the inquiry. "Who is my neighbour?" whereby we may understand, "What is my goodness?" or "What is my state as to goodness of life?" And since all goodness is of love-being, in fact, love in use, the question means also, "What is my love?" or "What is the state of the affections, or the will, of all who intrinsically resemble me ?" It is, in short, a question of self-examination of most momentous importance, and having most intimate involvement with the lawyer's previous question, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" So viewed, we shall find in the parable of the Good Samaritan, as its solution, first of all, a description of the questioner's spiritual condition; and, secondly, practical directions for its amelioration and cure.
With regard then, firstly, to the lawyer's mental state, we observe that to the previous question, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" the reply was drawn by the Lord out of the lawyer's own mouth, as from one abundantly competent to supply it.
lawyer represents a large class of persons, such as are brought up in the church, well versed in the science of the Holy Word, and not needing in the least to be informed what the law of the Lord requires. Hence to their query, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" the fitting response is, "What is written in the law? How readest thou?" And no better abstract of the law can be given than they can furnish promptly in the words, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God from thy whole heart, and from thy whole soul, and from thy whole strength, and from thy thought, and thy neighbour as thyself." To this the Lord replies emphatically, "Thou hast answered aright. This do, and thou shalt live." For their mere knowledge, as such, is complete enough; but the command, "This do," implies that the doing is as yet to a large extent unattempted; that they have not been earnestly practising the law, but have contented themselves with learning and knowing it. Willing, however, to justify themselves in the face of this serious accusation and condemnation, they ask, "And who is my neighbour?"-in other words, "What is the goodness that is to be sought by me in my present condition?" or, "What love is there in me, or attainable by me, whereby I may inherit eternal life?" To this inquiry the Lord replies in the parable of the Good Samaritan; a parable at once telling a tale and drawing a picture; giving at once a diagnosis of a certain spiritual malady and a prescription for its cure.
A certain man, we are told, went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. It will clear up the matter very much if we can see who, in the highest sense, is this certain man. This man is, in fact, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; not indeed as He is in Himself, but as He is in the Word in its existence in the minds of such as resemble the lawyer. In such minds the Lord, or the Word, is found in the form of knowledge of the Word, technical acquaintance with religion or spiritual law and duty. Such knowledge, as far as it has any real life in them, is the higher and nobler part of them what we commonly call their better selves. In reality, however, it is not their selves, but the Lord in them; and what is done to it is done unto the Lord. This man, then-the Holy Word-goes down in the lawyer from Jerusalem to Jericho. To go down will here mean to descend from internals to externals from the ideal to its realization, from thought and contemplation to fulfilment in the outward life in word. and in deed. Jerusalem, in the hill country and central, is the Church and the religious instruction given therein; and Jericho, near Jordan, and down towards the extremity and threshold of the Holy Land, is the good of truth, or truth put to its use the doctrine of
the Church put into practice.
Easy, indeed, is it to acquire the knowledge imparted by the Church; but to put it into practice, that is the difficult thing
"In that the task and mighty labour lies."
It was in this going down, this putting, or rather not putting into practice, that the Divine Word in the lawyer is said to have fallen among thieves. For what are evil and false spirits from the hells but thieves, depriving the mind of spiritual life, and robbing at once it and the Lord? These have not only stripped the Traveller, depriving Him of the precious comfort and comely ornament of His own truth, but they have wounded Him, maiming His active powers by their false persuasions and self-excuses, and they have, in fact, left Him half dead; that He is not wholly dead-altogether and finally killed out of the minds of persons resembling the lawyer, is indeed due solely to the mercy of the Lord.
The Lord's answer to the question, "And who is my neighbour?" introduces next upon the scene two characters, a certain priest and a Levite. By the priests, whose office it was to offer the sacrifices and conduct the worship of the Lord, we understand that love to the Lord without which no true worship of Him is possible, and in which it inwardly consists. And by the Levites, whose business it was to wait upon the priests, to do the humbler duties of the temple service, and to attend upon the people who brought their offerings, we understand that inferior love which, rightly subordinate and adjuvant to love of the Lord, is called charity or love of the neighbour. The lawyer, in answering his own question, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" had epitomized the whole law of the Lord as meaning in fact simply these two loves-the priest and the Levite-love of the Lord and love of the neighbour. In what sad condition these two essential loves were in the lawyer himself is shown by the account given of them in the parable. The priest-love to the Lord-comes down the same way as the Divine Traveller had come, and although seeing Him, discerning what the case requires, yet coolly and wickedly passes Him by. The Levite-love to the neighbour-being also at the place, or in the same state, comes and looks at the halfdead Wayfarer, and passes Him by in like manner. That is to say,
both love to the Lord and love to the neighbour are mere inefficiencies, sheer unrealities, absolute phantasms, in the lawyer's heart; unable to fulfil even the simplest duties of life, or to take any care of the half-murdered Truth in the mind of the lawyer. Like phantoms, unsubstantial ghosts, they glide; unable to put forth one finger of