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piety. The Lord Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, rises on the soul that turns to Him and pours out His light and His truth.
We must live much in the sunshine, in aspiration and in prayer, that our souls' trees may grow well. Poor years make lean marks as they do in timber, and they will tell of us in years to come.
“I have set the Lord always before me,” should be the Christian's motto. The warm atmosphere of Divine love will give strength and growth, and turn the chilled and barren soul into a garden of the Lord.
There must also be a fair supply of rain. The purifying and refreshing waters of Divine truth must be sought in diligent attendance on the opening of the Word.
A true minister in Divine things, while seeking the means of illustrating and encouraging the regenerate life, must yearn to be like Moses and say, “My doctrine shall distil like the dew, like the gentle showers upon the grass.”
One who desires to grow in the things of heaven must take care he does not neglect those refreshing showers, else leanness of soul will come in, and panting for thirst as the hart panteth for the waterbrooks. Only with a copious supply of the showers of blessing can the wilderness become like Eden, and the desert like the garden of God.
When these means have been faithfully used, then will provision have been made for a full harvest, and it will certainly come. pear
the leaves, then the bloom, and at length the fruit. Leaves are the lungs of the plant, blossoms are leaves more delicate, refined, and heavenly.
The leaves of trees are the lungs of trees. They purify the circulating juices (as the lungs in a human being purify the blood), and they assimilate what the plants require for strength and growth.
How beautiful are the trees when the foliage is full! How pleasant they are to the eye, how grateful to the mind! They speak of health, of grace, of future plenty.
They are the first responses of the trees to the sun's constant and unceasing supply of light and heat. This supply comes in PRAYER
Devotion must never be neglected. Leaves are like the early thoughts of the mind on subjects of life; when the dawning reason has begun to apply itself and clothe itself with reflections not very profound, but evincing information, thought, and rational effort. Leaves represent thoughts from the LETTER of the Word. When trees make a poor show of leaves either for want of strength or from destructive blights, there cannot be much fruit; so with young minds, if there be no study, no fresh thoughts or vigorous learning, it is vain to expect much fruit of good works. By their fruits
shall know them." After the green leaves come the flower leaves, the blossoms; and how lovely is the season of bloom! How delicate are the petals ! The beautiful aloe, the representative of early piety, leads the way; then comes the whole series of blossoming, filling the air with fragrance and the eye with beauty.
The blossoms represent spiritual heavenly thoughts, such as come from the SPIRITUAL SENSE of the Word. Hence their more delicate loveliness.
Lastly, if all has gone on well, come the fruits, the crowning of the series, the blessing of the world. How splendid is the view of trees laden with fruit! How the possessor rejoices that the harvest is abundant! Every stage has been worthily passed through, and here is the orderly result.
So is it with the good man. “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season ; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Ps. i. 3).
The flavour of fruit in its early condition is not so rich and mellow as it becomes when it is fully ripe. In this too it resembles the young Christian. Sometimes a little vanity, a little self-regard, will intrude into the early doings of the good man, and on that account some have decried good works altogether as having nothing to do with religion. But this is as extravagant as it would be to knock the young apples from the tree because they had not yet become mellow and mature. Let them grow, still receiving the ripening influences of the Sun of Righteousness, and in due time good works will become full of humility, and of every blessing, a heavenly nourishment, and the possessors be accounted trees of righteousness, branches of the planting of Jehovah, that He might be glorified (Isa. lxi. 3). The grain crops, the valleys and plains covered with their rich and abundant supplies, " the full corn in the ear,” represent the details and minor actions of a good man filled with the just and kindly conduct of a heavenly daily life. His career is a long succession of good harvests. Our Lord said, “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself ; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the
(Mark iv. 26-28). The object of this paper will be obtained if the young reader shall be led to be convinced that he must sow well if he would reap well. When the seed of Divine Truth is properly sown in his best affections, the good ground of an honest heart, Divine Providence will continue and favour the operation day and night, sleeping and waking. When he is awake with spiritual vigour, and when he seems left to himself. He must still bring forth fruit of himself, Divine mercy is secretly providing him with power, and in due time his trees will be crowned with goodness, his pastures clothed with flocks, the valleys covered
All things within him will shout for joy; they will sing. And this will be the burden of their song, “Bless the Lord, O my soul : and all that is within me, bless His holy name.”
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said, “Our most holy religion is founded upon faith, not on reason, and this is a sure method of exposing it to such a trial as it is by no means fitted to endure. The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one.” Substitute science for reason, and remove the bit of hypocritical cant, which is not needed nowadays, and we have the view of the sceptical scientist of the present time. Hume considered our religion to be founded upon faith, and faith to be founded upon miracles. Therefore if you can show that miracles are impossible, you prove religion to be a baseless fabric. Miracles, according to him, are subversions of the laws of nature. But the laws of nature are fixed and unalterable, so there can be no such thing as a miracle. Sceptical scientists do not all go quite so far as this. Professor Huxley, in speaking of miracles, says, "No event is too extraordinary to be impossible, and therefore, if by the term miracles we mean only extremely wonderful events, there can be no just ground for denying the possibility of their occurrence, and anything can be believed on sufficient evidence. If a dead man did come to life, the fact would be evidence, not that any law of nature has been violated, but that those laws, even when they express the results of a very long and uniform experience, are necessarily based on incomplete knowledge, and are to be held only as grounds of more or less justifiable expectation. But when we turn from the question of the possibility of miracles, however they may be defined, in the abstract, to that respecting the grounds upon which they are justified in believing any particular miracle,
the more a statement of facts conflicts with previous experience, the more complete must be the evidence which is to justify us in believing it.” Hume was mistaken in supposing that our religion is founded on faith, and that faith is founded on miracles. Our religion is founded on truth, and the truths of religion are the objects of reason. Miracles were never intended to produce faith. A miracle cannot convince any one of the truth of a doctrine which he does not see to be
Truth carries its own evidence with it; and it neither needs nor admits of any other proof. If we believe not Moses and the prophets and the evangelists on their own testimony, neither will we be persuaded though one rose from the dead.
The efforts of the philosophical sceptics of the eighteenth century -called forth some excellent works in defence of natural and revealed religion ; and the efforts of the scientific sceptics of the nineteenth century have given a stimulus to literary efforts in vindication of religion. Our leading reviews and magazines are seldom without some reference to the subject, and works of some value have recently appeared. One of these, “Extra Physics," a work of considerable talent, we may claim as a defence of religion upon New Church principles. Another, named at the head of this article, we propose to pass under review. We cannot promise our readers any satisfactory demonstration truth of the title of the book, that miracles are no mystery. Many of the miracles of the Old Testament, to which the author confines his attention, he leaves without
any attempt to explain, and the explanations which he offers of others takes away their miraculous character. In treating of the turning of the water of Egypt into blood, after speaking of the formation of blood in the animal body, the writer says, “In whatever the life of the animal body may consist, there was no such element in the waters of Egypt when they became blood. Nor are we called upon to suppose that it resembled human blood, or that of any animal in particular. All that it is necessary to admit is, that some extraneous matter was infused into the waters of Egypt, so as to make them resemble blood, and become as loathsome as it was wonderful.” Is there not, in passing from the miracle to the explanation, something like passing from the sublime to the ridiculous ? How, in another miracle, the light of the sun blotted out for three days over the land of Egypt? If means were employed, we may imagine various ways: a veil of dust so deep that no ray could penetrate it; a cloud of volcanic dust (though no volcano was near); or the mere cessation, throughout Egypt, of the ethereal medium which constitutes light.” The miracle at the Red Sea was effected in this wise : “He who, in the ordinary way, by the action of gravity upon the fluid, preserves it at a general level, now so changed that action, in that particular locality, that the waters flowed to north and south, leaving a wide space dry.” The miracle of the manna and the quails is thus accounted for: “The manna was the product in a few hours of a process that is constantly but slowly going on in nature ; but whether the quails were created for the occasion, or only collected together and made to fall upon the camp, is immaterial.” In bringing water from the rock in Horeb:
we are not compelled here to suppose a new creation of water for this purpose. The compound of oxygen and hydrogen we call water is actually known to us in five different states, and all these are constantly passing into each other by slow or rapid changes, every one of which is an instance of superhuman power, though they have no other characteristic of a miracle. What then is there incredible in the assertion that either a reservoir of water was previously provided for the foreseen requirement, and the rock cleft to reach it, or that a portion of the very rock itself was converted into water ?”
These instances are perhaps sufficient to show, the character of the work as a vindication of the miracles of Scripture. We do not say that the book is a failure. We esteem its purpose, and we agree
with some of its explanations. But we feel that, as in most other attempts to vindicate miracles from the denial of them on scientific principles, the author is unequal to the task he undertakes. It is not indeed to be expected that any explanation of the subject will satisfy all scientific objectors to miracles. Those who study nature, and whose philosophy takes in nothing beyond it, are not to be convinced by anything Divine or supernatural, the presence and operation of which in nature a miracle implies. But there are other minds whose decisions are influenced by those who engage in the discu ion of questions of this kind ; and it is for the sake of such that discussion is useful,
No philosophy but that of the New Church can satisfactorily account for miracles. Yet it is not simply a philosophy, but a science, and not merely a science, but a revelation. It includes a knowledge of the spiritual as well as of the natural world, and of God as the Author of both. Let us briefly state it. God, out of His infinite love, by His infinite wisdom, created the universe, not out of nothing, but out of His own infinite fulness. Creation, as an outbirth from Himself, consists of two worlds, a spiritual world as a habitation for angels, and a natural world as a habitation for men. The work of creation proceeded by successive degrees, one degree being created from another. Thus the natural world was created from the spiritual world, the spiritual world being thus the proximate cause of the natural. And as preservation is perpetual creation, the spiritual world is the proximate cause of the natural world as it exists and subsists now.
Everything in the natural has therefore its proximate cause in the spiritual, so that the spiritual world is the world of causes, and the natural world is the world of effects. In virtue of the creation of the natural world from the spiritual, there is a correspondence between them, so that everything in and belonging to the natural world has something answering to it in the spiritual world. In fact, the spiritual world is as a soul to the natural world, and the natural world is as a body to the spiritual. As the ordinary operations of nature have their proximate cause in the spiritual world, so have its extraordinary operations, therefore miraculous events as well as natural occurrences. According to the order of creation spiritual essences clothe themselves with natural forms, and spiritual principles clothe themselves with natural laws. Ordinary causes in the spiritual world produce ordinary effects in the natural world; and extraordinary causes in the higher world produce corresponding effects in the lower.
These are the principles on which we explain miracles. And when we see that these extraordinary events have their proximate cause in the spiritual world, we can understand how miracles could be performed by evil as well as by good agencies, by the magicians as well as by Moses, and why power to perform them is ascribed to devils. God is, of course, the First Cause of all effects, but ultimate effects take their form and character from the mediums, or secondary causes, through which the first cause acts. The Divine influx into the world comes through both good and evil angels, and may therefore .produce effects in the ultimates of nature through both good and evil
These last, however, are cases of permission, and are connected with particular circumstances. True miracles are effected through heaven by the power of correspondences, but magical miracles were effected by the abuse of correspondences. These, therefore, are limited in their scope, as abuse is bounded by a law of order, which decrees, “ Thus far shalt thou go, and no further.” The manner in which these secondary causes operate to produce extraordinary or miraculous effects is too long a subject for us to enter on at present, but we may find occasion to take it up at some future time.