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That Swedenborg's inspiration was similar in kind to that enjoyed by the prophets, he states in what follows:
“Some who were raised into heaven saw particularly that the things written in God's Word are inspired; for there appeared to them the manner and also the great abundance of what flowed into the things that were written by me; yea, not only what flowed into the meaning, but even into the particular words, and into the ideas of the words. It seemed to them also as if some were holding my hand, as it were, and were writing, and they thought that it was they who wrote. This also it was granted to me forinerly to perceive by a spiritual idea, yea, even to feel, as it were,—viz., that [there is such an influx] into every smallest thing of each little letter that I wrote. Hence it appears in clear light that the Lord's Word is inspired as to each letter" (S. D. 2270).
SWEDENBORG NOT ONLY INTERNALLY BUT ALSO EXTERNALLY INSPIRED.
Again, in the passage from T. C. R. 779, to which the writer subscribes, we read that the Lord's Second Coming was effected by “a man who was able, not only to receive the doctrines of the New Church into his understanding, but also to make them known through the press.” From this it follows that Swedenborg was “filled with the Spirit of the Lord,” not only while he “received the doctrines of the New Church into his understanding," but also while “he made them known through the press," and thus, while he prepared his MSS. for the printer; and it follows further, as we have already seen, that the Lord effected His Second Coming by the very books which Swedenborg wrote, and saw through the press. That this is involved in the above statement is proved by the following corroborating expressions in the writings of the New Church :
66And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse ; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True . . . and His Name is called the Word of God.' By these words is signified that the spiritual sense of the Word has been revealed by the Lord, and that thereby an interior understanding of the Word has been discovered, which is the Lord's Advent, ... That the spiritual sense of the Word has been revealed this day may be seen in the Arcana Cælestia, where the two books of Moses, Genesis and Exodus, have been explained according to that sense ; also in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture, Nos. 5-26 ; in the little work on The White Horse, from beginning to end, and in the passages collected there from the sacred Scripture ; and moreover, in the present explanations of the Apocalypse, where not a single verse can be understood without the spiritual sense” (A. R. 820).
"Upon all my books in the spiritual world, was written The Lord's Advent (Adventus Domini). The same I also inscribed, by command, on two copies in Holland” (“Sketch of an Ecclesiastical History of the New Church, see Documents,” vol. ii. p. 757).
One of these volumes has lately been found, and is in the hands of Mr. James Speirs, 36 Bloomsbury Street, London, bearing the inscription : “Hic Liber est Adventus Domini, scriptum ex mandato" (This Book is the Lord's Advent, written by command).
That the writings of the New Church are the Lord's works written through the instrumentality of Swedenborg is stated in what follows:
“ The bishop was told that this (the treatise on Heaven and Hell] was not my work, but the Lord's work, who desired to reveal the nature of Heaven and Hell, and of man's life after death, and to teach the things respecting the last judg. ment, and likewise that theological subjects do not transcend the human understanding" (S. D. vol. iii. Part 2, p. 205).
“Those books are to be enumerated which were written by the Lord through me (a Domino per me) from the beginning to the present day" (“Sketch of an Ecclesiastical History," etc. in Document, 301).
All these passages, I hold, come to us as additional confirmations and elucidations of the statements made by Swedenborg in T. C. R. 779, and which statements are accepted by the writer of the article referred to without reserve.
This view of Swedenborg's relation to the Lord's Second Coming is also contained in the statement he made on p. 242, where he stated that Swedenborg wrote from “internal dictation," and indeed " by immediate influx from the Lord." But in order that any one may write “by immediate influx from the Lord," and thus by “internal dictation," he must be “ filled by the Spirit of God," and hence : inspired; and what he writes must bear the stamp and imprint of the Divine Spirit, and hence be free from human imperfections.
In my next I shall show the difference between the external inspiration of Swedenborg and that enjoyed by the prophets, and afterwards proceed with my review.
A WASTED LIFE. Among the speculations of modern science we find one that attempts to prove the ultimate destruction of the solar system. The force generated by the sun is not wholly directed to any immediate purpose; it is only a fraction of it that is apparently operative. This so-called waste of energy will, it is said, through the ages yet to come, tend to the consumption of the substance of the sun, and hence to the disintegration of the order of the universe. Centripetal and centrifugal forces having lost their equilibrium, the reign of chaos will reappear. I know not how this speculation can be reconciled with the conservation of force; to me it seems inexplicable; but I willingly turn to the sphere of daily life, where the waste of energy is more apparent, and comes home to most of us with a feeling of regret.
Have you ever taken the measure of your life? You may do it by length of years, and taken at the best it is but a poor span ; you may do it by the scope and power of your intellect and find that you have only groped a little way into the dim profound; you may do it morally and find that you are not true to the heart's core; or you may do it spiritually to find that your faith is wavering, your love apt to grow cool, or your activity bounded by the love of pleasure. Is life a dream? If so, there will come the awakening; but our consciousness tells us that life here is a foregleam of the life to come, and that every day of our life here we are building up the character that will influence us for ever.
Look around you at the wasted lives that pass ghostlike across
your path. How many who began life's morning bathed in sunlight of happy promise have reached manhood or old age surrounded with gloom! How many whose talents seemed to prophesy intellectual eminence have wrecked their hopes and stranded like waifs on the seashore! How many who in youth were full of the sweet love that sheds its aroma of blessing wherever it is found have turned from the loveliness of their youth to selfishness in manhood or misery in age ! And how many who were once active in usefulness have been charmed by the syren indolence till the voice of duty is no longer a clarion-call! There are many, but not all. Our lives are far from perfect, yet to most there has come partial success. When the thunder, the whirlwind, and the fire are present with us, we are full of anxiety ; it is only afterwards that we know God has passed by.
With this partial success there has been partial waste, in some cases almost utter waste. There are philosophers who will tell you that waste is an indispensable condition of life. Yes; when the organism has ceased to live. When it becomes effete it needs renovation. When the fig-tree is barren let it wither and be cut down. But if it be good, let it increase and multiply; if it be fruitful, nurture it with tender care.
What is the nature of your life? On the answer to this question depends to a great extent whether it is a wasted life or not. There can be no full development of manhood without the contemporaneous activity of the physical, mental, moral, and spiritual faculties. You may simplify them into earthly and spiritual ; and then you have the distinction of those who care only for the pleasures or desires of this world, and those who, recognizing the claims of their higher nature, seek in the development of that the sphere of their duty and the source of their joy.
Life for this earth only—what does it mean? That for a few years wealth and power and influence shall make you one of the bright lights of society, the possessor of luxuries which may make existence pleasant, the caressed and flattered of your fellow-men. Valuable as adjuncts, they dwarf the soul that is engrossed by them. So patent is it, that in many respects
“ Earth has its price for what Earth gives us.” How often is it true in our own experience that
" Each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold ;
For a cap and bells our lives we pay;
Bubbles we earn with a whole soul's tasking.” Need it be wondered at, then, if at times there comes the feeling of disappointment, making earth’s votary say,
“My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense." You cannot eliminate the spiritual element from your life here, without wasting your life to all eternity. It is sometimes asked how to make the best of both worlds, but it seems to me that this question
resolves itself into how to make the best of the present life, for if the life on earth determines the life hereafter, the best life now will be the best life then. There is no life so wasted as that in which the soul is blighted or stunted in its growth
It is not necessary to specify any particular forms of wasted life; there are examples crossing every one's path ; each one feels that some part of his life has been wasted so far as the object of his life has not been attained, or so far as the wisdom of after years has shown his object to have been a foolish one. Summarily, however, it may be said that the waste of life proceeds either from the waste of purpose or the waste of opportunity.
Waste of purpose resolves itself into either wrong choice or lack of perseverance. It may be safely said that no purpose in life is wisely chosen which does not embrace the development of man's highest capabilities. But as perfection is not possible to a finite being, we must be content with partial development if, as far as we know, that development has been the best possible. Each one of us, having his own idiosyncrasy, will estimate life somewhat differently from others; yet, if with an unswerving love of the truth we have attempted to follow the path of wisdom, life for us will have been no dream. Erring and stumbling, our path may have been beset with danger; but it is the struggle, not the outward conquest, that determines the virtue of the career. Like Solon, we may say, “No man is to be accounted happy till his death;" for it is only in the revelation afterwards that his consciousness will test bis inherent worth.
However wise the choice may be, the purpose may fail to be realized through want of perseverance. Half of the lives that are wasted spring from the lack of this quality. The record of success is the testimony to its value. As Fowell Buxton' said, “The longer I live the more I am certain that the great difference between menbetween the feeble and the powerful, the great and the insignificant is energy, invincible determination ; a purpose once fixed, and then death or victory. That quality will do anything that can be done in the world ; and no talents, no circumstances, no opportunities, will make a two-legged creature a man without it.” The expression of this opinion is exaggerated, yet it is substantially correct. There are too many difficulties in life for aught but perseverance to conquer them. .
While purpose and perseverance will do much, and are the main requisites, there is need of the golden opportunity. But opportunities, if they come at all, generally come either unforeseen or in a way different from that anticipated. The readiness to avail ourselves of them is one of the effects of decision of character, influenced also by
the clearness and quickness of our perception. He who waits supinely for an opportunity to realize the object he desires will frequently let the favourable time escape him from lack of inherent power to grasp the opportunity. It is only by the development of character that successful life may be acquired, since what we call luck or chance supplies only the material, which is real or fictitious to us, as it becomes a plasmic force.
The waste of opportunity, occurring even with a definite purpose, may be said to arise either from indolence or from want of perception. If from indolence we let pass by the opportunity, it may occasion regret, but there is no remedy save in the conviction that life essentially consists in activity. Want of perception may be the result of ignorance, and that is remediable only by the acquisition of knowledge; but it may, and often does, proceed from a disregard of minor opportunities which would tend, though slowly, to the attainment of the end in view. Considering the infrequency of great opportunities, it is unwise to dream of their advent while the little opportunities of every day are neglected.
Assuming that there is neither waste of purpose nor waste of upportunity, there remains a consideration of life that bears directly on the question. A positive and a negative aspect of life have their correlates in moral good or evil and indifference. The positive life is either good or evil in activity, but the negative is in the sphere of indifference. Negation of evil is only passive good. The goodness of the negative life is merely a thought or an emotion unembodied. Yet to rightly conceive life is to see that no permanent change of character is effected without active contact with the world. It is the Laodicean spirit, neither hot nor cold, that makes life a partial waste.
In estimating the lives of others we are apt to misconstrue their value. What appears to us as waste may have been reconstruction —the failure of the earthly for the sake of the heavenly. In any case, however, it is well to remember that the great rule for estimating character is : to ourselves, strictness; to others, charity.
Does it appear to you that your life has been wasted ? Take heart, for from the lowest depth of moral weakness there is a pathway to safety. It is for each one of us more or less to seek for a brighter · hope, not to be baffled by failure,
“ Nor deem the irrevocable past
As wholly wasted, wholly vain,
To something nobler we attain.”