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this idea is no longer the creed of all Christendom, it still meets with qualified reception among religious people generally.
It is only necessary to say that it proceeds on an entirely mistaken view of the nature of self-denial. This duty does not require us to deprive any one of the appetites and passions of its claims to satisfaction, but it requires us to deny them all of unlawful and excessive indulgence. So far from it being right and beneficial to deny the natural affections and senses of their gratifications, it is wrong and injurious. The mind is not perfected without the body, nor are the spiritual affections perfected without the agency of the natural. This subject, like others relating to the Christian life, is placed in a clear light in the Writings of the Church
"Some suppose, that whosoever wishes to be happy in the other world must in nowise enjoy the pleasures of the body and of sense, but refuse all such delights, urging in favour of this notion, that corporeal and worldly pleasures abstract and detain the mind from spiritual and celestial life. Those, however, who thus think, and in consequence voluntarily give up themselves to wretchedness whilst living in the world, are not aware of the real truth. It is by no means forbidden any one to enjoy corporeal and sensual pleasures, or those arising from the possession of lands, money, honours and public appointments—those of conjugal love and love towards infants and children, of friendship, and of social intercourse—the pleasures of listening to singing and music, or of regarding beauties of various kinds, -as handsome raiment, well-furnished houses, magnificent gardens, and the like, all of which are delightful from harmony ;-or. the pleasure of smelling agreeable odours ;--of tasting delicacies and useful meats and drinks; and the pleasure of touch; for all these are, as was observed, the lowest or corporeal affections, which have their origin from those which are interior. Interior affections, which are living, all derive their delight from good and truth, and good and truth derive theirs from charity and faith, and these come from the Lord, consequently from the very essential Life ; wherefore affections and pleasures which have this origin are alive, and if genuine, or from this source, are never denied to any one. When pleasures are thus derived, their delight indefinitely exceeds that from every other origin, which is indeed comparatively defiled ; thus, for example, when conjugal pleasure originates in true conjugal love, it infinitely exceeds that derived from any other source, yea, to such an extent, that those who are in true conjugal love are in some degree in the enjoyment of heavenly delight and happiness, inasmuch as this delight descends out of heaven. This truth was acknowledged by those who constituted the Most Ancient Church; for the delight arising from adulteries, and felt by adulterers, was to them so abominable that they expressed horror at the very thought of it; and hence may be discovered the nature of delight which does not descend from the true fountain of life, or from the Lord. That the pleasures above mentioned are by no means denied to man, yea, that so far from being denied, they first become real pleasures when connected with their true source, may further appear from this consideration, that very many who have lived in the world, in power, dignity and opulence, and enjoyed abundantly all the pleasures both of the body and of sense, are amongst the blessed and happy in heaven; for with them interior delights and happiness are now alive, because they originated in the goods of charity and the truths of faith towards the Lord. All their pleasures being thence derived, were regarded by them with a view to use, this being their end in the enjoyment of them; for use itself was to them most delightful, and hence came the delight of their pleasures.”
While pleasures of the body and the world are thus admitted to be not only allowable, but orderly and beneficial, no severer censure could be pronounced against pleasure as the pursuit and enjoyment of life than the Writings contain :
“ Those who in the life of that body have made pleasure their end and aim, loving nothing so much as to indulge their natural propensities, and live in luxury and festivity, caring only for themselves and the world, without any regard to things Divine, and who are devoid of faith and charity, are after death first introduced into a life similar to that passed in the world. There is a place where all is pleasure, frolic, dancing, feasting and light conversation. Hither such spirits are conveyed, and there they know no other than that they are still in the world. After a short time, however, the scene is changed, and then they are carried down to hell."
The use and the abuse of pleasure are presented in a very clear light, and in a very interesting and instructive way, in an incident in the history of the representative people during their journey in the wilderness. Soon after their passage through the Red Sea, they found themselves deprived of the abundance they had enjoyed in Egypt, and they murmured for want of bread. In answer to their complaint, the Lord said to them through Moses, " At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread." The provision
thus made for the people represented the food which the Lord provides for His spiritual Israel-manna in the morning for support of the inner life of the spiritual mind, and quails in the evening for supporting the outer life of the natural mind. On this double and alternate feeding of the inner and outer man we read, “ Manna signifies the good of the internal or spiritual man, and a quail the good of the external or natural man, which is called delight. That these things are signified is manifest from the consideration that manna was given in the morning, but quails in the evening; and that which is given in the morning signifies spiritual good, and that which is given in the evening signifies natural good or delight; for the state of morning in the other life is when spiritual good, or the good of the external man, is in its clearness, and natural good, or the good of the internal man, is in obscurity; but the state of the evening is when natural good, or the good of the external man, is in clearness, and spiritual good, or the good of the internal man, is in obscurity. Changes also thus succeed each other, that man may be perfected, especially that he may appropriate good with delight, which is done in a state of evening by delight.” “In the other life, when there is a state which corresponds to evening, then good spirits, and also the angels, are let into such a state of the natural affections as they were when in the world, consequently into the delights of their natural man; the reason of which is, that hence they may be perfected.”
While we are thus instructed that the alternations of state, in which the activity and the gratification of the spiritual and of the natural succeed each other for the perfecting of the mind and life, we find the terrible consequences of the natural being indulged at the expense and to the destruction of the spiritual. In the Book of Numbers (chap. xi.) we read that the mixed multitude among them fell a lusting; and the children of Israel wept, and said, “Who shall give us flesh to eat? But now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all, besides this manna, before our eyes.” On this occasion also quails were given them, but with the threat that they should eat till the flesh was loathsome unto them, and while the flesh was yet between their teeth, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against them, and the Lord smote them with a very great plague.
While, therefore, the Lord provides food both for the spiritual and the natural mind, and makes even external delights the means of perfecting the life of His children both on earth and heaven, this is only the case with those who keep the natural in subordinance to the spiritual. Whenever the soul loathes the manna, and desires the flesh instead—when one lusts after the natural, not as an addition to the spiritual, but as a substitute for it, wrath is kindled, and death is experienced. In reference to this lusting of the multitude for flesh, and their loathing of the manna, we read, “ It is called the delight of lust, when the delight of any corporeal or worldly love has dominion, and occupies the whole man, so as to extinguish the good and truth of his faith. This delight is what is described as causing their being smitten with a great plague; but the natural delight which is signified by the quails (in Exodus), which were given to the people in the evening, is not the delight of lust, but the delight of the natural or external man corresponding to the good of the spiritual or internal man. This delight has in it spiritual good, whereas the delight of lust, spoken of in Numbers, has in it infernal evil. Each is called delight. There is the greatest difference between them, for one has heaven, the other has hell, within it; one also becomes heaven to man, and the other becomes hell to him, when the external is put off.”
Such is the difference between the orderly delights of the natural man and those which are contrary to order. Natural delight is orderly when it is a means to a higher end, and when it is subordinate to that end. When our ends are in heaven, earth with its bounties may be made to minister to our perfection as well as to our pleasure.
The beginning of a year seems opportune for considering the position of our Church as an organized Christian community. In its outward relationships and constituents, it is passing through changes apparent to all-feared by some, and which may well claim a short review.
One serious point is the withdrawal to the other world and life of some of its most gifted and devoted servants. But this must affect the Church on earth beneficially only. We are expressly assured that “The new church on earth increases according to its increase in the world of spirits ” (A. E. 732).
Measuring the means of progress and extension by this, it cannot be otherwise than that, as those pass on who have laboured here for it in sincerity and truth, able to do more there, working in the world of causes rather than in this of effects, their power is increased, their
efforts extended, and for good, not for evil, are they called to the other world.
It has ever been so in the history of any good and noble cause. As its worthy servants have gone forward to the bright hereafter, the movement has been strengthened, not weakened, by the departure ; their life and labours on earth have blessed and prospered it, and their removal paves
for increased ability. Especially is this true of the Lord's Church. For the Church in heaven and on earth make one. And the Church where the Word is is like the heart and lungs to the whole human race. By the Word the two are intimately connected, and through it the one acts on the other.
The love that laboured here, the mind that here served to enlighten and instruct, will be able to achieve more for the cause common to all angels and good men.
Thus we do not lose the service of our ministers and friends. If we on earth are true, we gain by their removal. Could they speak to us, they would still say, “I am thy fellow servant," clothed with the radiance of glory of the angelic state; that would be their word to us, encouraging us to increased exertion for the Lord and His Kingdom.
We say this to meet views we have heard expressed which regard recent transfers as disastrous. There may be a personal deprivation, which for the time all feel and grieve at, but surely there can be no real loss to the Church.
Take we rather the higher ground, that in the order of the Lord's good and wise Providence there will be a gain, and look we how best to work to make it such.
Think we of our friends there and we co-workers with them. Now that they can do so much more, cannot we also ? We have richer, stronger aids ; let us redouble our own exertions.
This brings us at once to the practical work before us, and while much might be said of varied character, we would call attention to one special portion of our earthly organization—the ministry.
This is perhaps our weakest part, and that not owing to the fault of the ministers themselves.
The publication of New Church literature is on a most respectable footing
Our churches are by no means unworthy, and could accommodate many more than at present attend them, but there is a weakness in the ministry, one which could be largely remedied by the laity, and which must be strengthened if the cause is to prosper. It is not from want of talent. True there
brilliant minds or many highly-endowed intellects to dazzle and attract, but