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is it folly, not to say crime, to condemn or despise a fellow-creature, or deem his salvation less secure than our own, simply because he accepts not our doctrinal standard. Yet for all this, forms and doctrines have a use and importance of their own. The true use and importance of doctrine is, to place clearly within the grasp of the intellect, as guiding and supporting truth, to regulate every thought and action, that which the heart accepts and loves as good, -as harmonizing, that is, with God's love, which is Divine Goodness. The true use of forms of worship is, to give such expression, in prayer and praise, to the joint love and faith of the adoring will and intellect, that these may come forth in their ultimate manifestation in fulness and in power, just as the soul comes forth into full power and activity in its external world, by means of the body, which is its instrument and medium of communication with other souls. Just, then, as the value and perfection of the human body consists in its perfect adaptation to, and expression of, the character, needs, and activities of the soul within, so does and must the worth and value of all religious forms and professions consist in their true and faithful embodiment of the affections and faith of the worshipper. How then can it be matter of indifference what forms a man may observe, what faith he may profess? If any forms, any profession be needful, then surely those alone which embody his true and sincere convictions can afford a fitting and legitimate medium of expression. In any other body than its own, how can the soul but be cramped and fettered, disguised if not distorted, as, in fables of old, by enchantments and transmigrations? Why then should a man voluntarily thus cramp and imprison his living and sincere, albeit newly-accepted faith? If he have indeed found new wine, why hesitate to bestow it in new bottles ? We have at least divine authority for urging him not to doubt that this latter will be his wisest course.
So much for the importance of forms and doctrines in regard to the individual. But they have a further us in ard to his association with his fellow-men. The true ground of all union is love. Love in the spiritual, or attraction in the natural world, it is all one; there is no cohesion without them. But without something further, we should have but an agglomeration of substance; and truth, the form-element, it is, which alone renders discriminate orderly arrangement, and consequent harmonious activity, possible or conceivable. On this account, it is of the Divine Truth, or Word, we find it said, that “all things were made by Him;" (John i. 3.) and if we trace this law downwards, we shall find similarly, that without doctrines and forms, defining and embodying the various religious affections and perceptions of infinitely various human minds, no active, consistent religious life or worship could exist. Public worship, especially, is only constituted by the gathering together of those
whose convictions harmonize; and unless those withdraw who disagree, orderly arrangement is impeded; some other gathering of worshippers must be stinted of its just tributaries, and the result of such disorder must be analogous to that which takes place in the human frame, when one organ retains within its vessels that which is suited to the needs and nutrition of another. This result is disease, and ultimately, unless the cause be removed, disorganization. For, let it not be doubted that every religious community, small or great, has its own especial use and functions to subserve, in the religious economy of the universe. All are of providential appointment and permission; and it is with them as with the different members of the body, of which, as the apostle observes, no one can say to the other—“I have no need of you." (1 Cor. xii. 21.) Let, therefore, the most perfect charity reign among all; but this can only be effected by aid of that very process of secernment or separation, which it is our present object to rescue from the prejudices which oppose its free and healthful operation. For, not only is orderly division not dissension; it is the appointed providential means of ensuring harmony. Therefore, also, is it said that the Lord, the Word made flesh, came “not to send peace on earth, but a sword.” (Matt. xi. 34.) “On earth,” be it observed, that is in externals, because the effect of the external separation of incongruous elements, is interior freedom and harmony. For this, every member and organ in the human frame is provided with its skin, or covering membranes, which, while in a healthy state, not only secure the cohesion and consistence of its own interior parts, but possess and exercise the power of selecting from the general circulation that which is, and rejecting that which is not, susceptible of assimilation to its own substance; and precisely such should be the use and function of those special creeds and forms of worship which distinguish different religious societies ; constituting a general bond of union among their respective members, but never acting as a barrier to prevent the free circulation, throughout the universal church, of those whose sincere convictions, if dissentient in some one sphere, may assuredly find freer and more harmonious play in some other, to which their spiritual vocation assimilates them.
It is not, then, a narrower, but a wider and more spiritual basis of union which we have in view, in thus deprecating the prevalent tendency to disregard distinctions of doctrine and form; which, in our opinion, can lead only to confusion and not to true harmony. The practice of such forms of worship, be these what they may, as most truly embody his sincere convictions, can alone bring a man into the true order of worship, which requires that head and heart, word and deed, should all be at one in the outward act; and inasmuch as worship according to order brings man into conjunction with heaven and the Lord, so also must it bring him into far truer and closer conjunction with all of his brethren who, by similar orderly worship, are similarly conjoined with the Fountain of all order, than could ever be effected by his continuing to kneel at the same altar, or to practise the same forms of worship, with those whose interior convictions are not at one with his own.
One word in reference to the New Church more particularly. “Why," we hear it asked, “ should the New Church affect any new or separate organization? Swedenborg enjoined none, founded none." True: neither did Christ; who up to the very eve of His crucifixion observed all Jewish rites, and crowned the active ministry of His life on earth by celebrating the Passover with His disciples. Was it therefore wrong or needless for the Christian to separate itself from the Jewish church, and frame a new organization for itself? Certainly not. It is the law of order, in all departments of creation, that the new should be conceived, and up to a certain point matured, in the womb of the old.
The more perfect the individuality, the more independent the young existence is to be, the more carefully is its development secured before separation is effected; but effected it must be,--the seed must leave the sheltering pod, the young bird the parent egg, the young mammal the womb of its mother-and most assuredly the New Church must go forth from the fold of the Old Church—before one or any can attain its true and full proportions and maturity, and fulfil the especial uses and functions it was designed by creation to subserve. If therefore, on the one hand, we must not seek to hasten prematurely, we must, on the other, not blind ourselves to the inevitable, orderly character of such a separation. If the New Church be a church, then, even as every new-born soul its body, must it of necessity have its own fresh and separate organization; organization, indeed, infinitely plastic, free, and various, we would hope, corresponding to the spiritual wealth and freedom of its affections and doctrines; but, for that very reason, incapable of imprisonment within the pale of older ecclesiastical institutions, whose own merit and mission in former days it was, similarly to shake off the trammels of the past, and open a new field of life and light to mankind.
The law of Divine Order, in a word, is a law of perpetual progress; and external must keep pace with internal change and development, if we would that such order descend to harmonise the discords that distract us here, and to fulfil the prayerful longing of all good men that the will of our Father be done “ on earth, as it is in heaven." M. C. H.
[We beg to remind our readers that this article is intended as a defence, and not an attack-being designed to meet arguments and counteract tendencies which the writer considers unsound and dangerous. Having accepted the article as it is, there is one remark we wish to make, which we consider due to the clergymen of the Church of England. The writer admits that a dissenting minister, whose views have undergone an important and even an essential change, may yet honourably retain his charge with the consent of his congregation. There are but very few cases where, among dissenting bodies, such an ultimatum rests with the congregation. Almost all ministers are accountable to a Synod or Conference. But to take the case as stated by the writer. It appears to us that if a minister, who has altered his views, may consistently retain his office with the consent of his congregation, a clergyman may consistently retain his with the consent of his bishop, who is his appointed overseer. Nay, we consider that if a clergyman, accused of heresy, passes scathless through the Court of Arches, he has the highest ecclesiastical authority for teaching and preaching his opinions as not inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church of England. On this ground, therefore, we think that the clergy man and the minister stand on a level.--Ed.]
ATTENDANT SPIRITS AND ANGELS.-INQUIRY AND
ANSWER. To the Editor.
Dear Sir,- We read in the A.C. 50, that with every man there are at least two spirits and two angels, by whom he is governed by the Lord,—the evil spirits ruling him while unregenerate, and the angels guiding him when he becomes regenerate; as also at Nos. 227 and 228, and at No. 784, we are informed that the attendant spirits and angels “observe and perceive what he (the man) thinks, intends, and devises, as clearly and openly as if it were exposed to the view of the whole world.” From which it would appear, that however ignorant man may be of the presence of spiritual attendants, they must be perfectly conscious of their presence with man. But this view of the matter appears to be contradicted by what we find in the Heaven and Hell, 292, where it is said that “spirits are not at all aware that they are present with the man,” &c.; and again, No. 249, that “most spirits do not know that there is any other world than the one inhabited by them, nor consequently that there are men elsewhere,” although just before it is said that "they regard man with deadly hatred, and desire nothing more than to destroy him both soul and body.”
Similar statements occur in the same volume, and if you would kindly throw a little light, or refer me to anything that may have previously been written, on the subject, you would very much oblige,
The writer's difficulty admits, we believe, of a very easy and satisfactory solution ; but as his difficulty is not an uncommon one, and the subject is both interesting and instructive, a few remarks upon it may not be without their use.
It is a general truth, the result of a general law, that
"The angels of heaven, and also spirits under the heavens, know nothing of man, as neither does man know anything of them, because the state of angels and spirits is spiritual, and the state of man is natural; which two states are connected solely by correspondence, and connection by correspondence does indeed cause them to be united in affection but not in thought; therefore one does not know the other, that is, man does not know anything of the spirits with whom he is united as to his affection, nor do spirits know anything of man.” (A.R. 943.)
That which is here spoken of is however sensible, not rational, knowledge; for we on earth know by revelation that there are angels and spirits, and they can by information know that there are earths and men upon them. Yet the general fact, no doubt, is, that “most spirits do not know that there is any other world than the one they inhabit, nor, consequently, that there are men elsewhere.” The reason of this is, that the external memory, which is the depository of natural facts acquired in the natural world, is with spirits quiescent, so that in their ordinary state they have no active knowledge of terrestrial things. Yet, spirits may become fully aware of the existence of the natural world and its inhabitants, either by the opening of their natural memory, which they retain though they are not allowed to use, or, as we have remarked, by information acquired in the spiritual world itself. Such information is more especially attainable in the world of spirits, which is in immediate connection with the natural world, and where all spirits have their temporary abode while they are attendant upon men. (A.C. 5852.) This knowledge may be general, or it may be specific. Spirits may merely know that there are men and that there are spirits attendant upon them, or they may know the persons on whom they are attendant. The first is the rule, the second is the exception. Cases of both kinds are mentioned in the writings. Yet, the exceptional cases seem, except in exceptional conditions of the race or states of the church, to be exceedingly rare, and only occur when the Lord sees good to grant or permit their occurrence, and has some special use to answer by it. The general rule is that spirits, even when they know that there are men in existence, have no knowledge of the particular individuals on whom they may be attendant, nor even of the fact that they are attendant on them at all. The author's statement of this fact is so frequent and emphatic, that there is no room for the least doubt respecting it.
It is found in several parts of his writings, and sometimes in terms still more emphatic than those of the passages quoted by our correspondent. In the A. C. 5864, he says :
“As spirits have heard that there are spirits attendant on man, they have supposed that they might meet with those spirits and with man