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This we say
Notwithstanding the discoveries of modern science, tens of thousands see not the things created visible in the perfection and splendour from their Maker's hand. All are unperceived and blotted out. to show what spiritual blindness is. If want of natural sight be so great a loss, what must they miss whose eyes are closed to the higher beauties of truth and love which form the landscape and brightness of the celestial state ? Yet spiritually blind we all are by birth, and in this condition
remain. Of this sad blindness it is that the Holy Word has reference. The varieties of spiritual blindness are instructively shown by the Saviour in the diverse methods He adopted for the cure. One may be like that of “Bartimæus, sitting by the wayside begging." This poor soul was conscious of his wants, and seeking to have them supplied. When Jesus of Nazareth passeth by, and His saving presence is felt, nothing can restrain the prayer of faith. “ Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me,” is that prayer. Jesus signifies the Lord as to His Divine Love, and Christ the Lord as to His Truth Divine expiating our profanation of the celestial and spiritual things of His Word. After such interior communion even a touch is not needed for restoration. The word goes forth, “ Thy faith hath made thee whole." With enlightened perception and joyous heart he“ follows Jesus in the way.” Other cases may be like that of the two blind men who were going after the Lord as well as they could, representing all those striving hard to do their duty under very imperfect knowledges. Of them the Lord apparently takes no notice till they enter the house. Then He appeals to their faith, and with a touch heals them; or they may resemble the man born blind. In that case the Saviour had to spit on the ground. “He made clay of the spittle, and anointed his eyes with the clay,” in working its cure. He sent him to the Pool of Siloam because the waters in which he was to wash, that is, to undergo purification, signified truths from a celestial origin. This man afterward beat the Jewish Sanhedrim in argument. So true is it
" When self-derived intelligence
Interior things would view
The false appears the true.' Beloved brethren, may we reflect on the great, the happy change from blindness to perfect sight, not as affecting the body only, but the soul. Consider, too, the love and power that produce it, gradually but surely, by necessary stages, yet certainly to the soul's salvation. For the Saviour's words to the man as He sends him home are His message to all of us, if we are thus blessed, “Go not into the town, neither tell it to any in the town." Return not to that evil state.
Have no connection with any persons or principles belonging to it. They must be left for ever! Such is His advice, such His warning, and they should come home with especial force and pertinence to us, my brethren.
In the Lord's mercy and goodness we have surely seen Him in some degree. Surely we have been led out of the town ;” that is, delivered from a state of evil and condemnation in some measure : for without presuming to think ourselves“ good,” or better than others who are not so rich in truths as we may be, if we cannot feel for others, and do not show something of the regenerate life now, it will be hard for us, and our hopes of heaven hereafter are false. If we have had our eyes opened, and if we have been enabled to see and to know the treasures of eternal wisdom as revealed in the glories of the Holy Word, to us things spiritual are more substantial and real and worthy of us than things natural. These must soon pass away, but those endure for ever. Nor is our vision of futurity of that imperfect and doubtful character which the man's first sight bespeaks. Clear, full, bright will be our view at last on all the great matters of faith and life. To us then, with this enlightenment and knowledge, the Lord speaks,
Neither into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.” Having forsaken the evils of a dark, ignorant, and sinful state, press on from Bethsaida, with its overhanging woe, to the bright and holy city, New Jerusalem. Enter through its pearly gates. Abide within its jewelled walls, and walk upon its pure and golden streets. There is Truth Divine to lead you ; there is beauty and glory to surround and protect you; there is love to animate you and a home of peace and joy to dwell in for evermore.
Would we return? Would we change our light for darkness, our good for evil, our joy for sorrow? No, the city of destruction that has been left shall never be again sought; but, keeping a firm hold of the strong and loving hand that has led us thus far, we shall go on and on, till through the clouds above our heads burst the light of the perfect day. Then our best sight now will be but as blindness; and, in our voice of praise, we will join the countless throng who give all honour, thanksgiving, and glory to our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.
THE RECENT SCRIPTURAL EXAMINATIONS.
The local examinations in Scripture knowledge, recently held under the management of the New Church Sunday-School Union, appear to me worthy of some special notice, as marking what I hope may become a new era in our efforts for the education of the young in New Church doctrines. It is certainly a new departure for us, the beginning of what may be, if our active ministers and our Conference will so have it, a distinct advance in the work of impressing New Church ideas on the rising generation. We have had the ordinary benefits of Sunday-schools, ministers' classes, and catechisms for nearly a century; we have had special religious instruction in day schools, paid for by Conference grants for nearly half a century; but we have never before had so broad, well-devised, and excellent a plan for instructing our children as this recent one. A certain definite Scriptural subject is given as the one for special instruction during a limited period of time; after which examinations are held by means of printed questions to receive written answers. Upon the careful comparison of these replies, prizes and honorary distinctions are awarded. The questions are arranged in grades of more or less difficulty according to the groups of ages in the scholars, thus, from eight years old to fourteen, from fourteen to twenty, and twenty or upwards.
Although this was the first such examination, and only experimental, yet twenty Sunday-schools accepted the plan, and three hundred and seventeen written papers of replies were sent up to the examiners for awards. This is itself no small success, but if three hundred and seventeen of the scholars voluntarily sat for examination, we may safely assume that a thousand children received more less systematic instruction in the subject, yet not enough perhaps to give them confidence enough to present themselves for examination. Taking the Sunday-schools generally, only about one-third of the scholars would come up for the test. Of the three hundred and seventeen papers sent in, two hundred and twelve were from the scholars aged eight to fourteen, and the rest from scholars over fourteen. This shows that it is a method well adapted to those ages ; and this is further evident from the fact that of these two hundred and fourteen papers, twenty are marked "excellent” and sixty-six "good.” In the two higher grades the number of papers was total one hundred and five, and the awards made in three classes, viz. “excellent” eight, “good” twenty-seven, and “honourable mention” nine, total forty-five; being the same percentage of meritorious papers as in the lower grade. Such was the interest excited in the schools with which I have the pleasure to be connected that for nearly three months every class steadily pursued the subject; addresses were regularly given by superintendents and teachers, and two test examinations were held with written answers. No weariness showed itself, but rather an increase of delight as their growing knowledge was proved.
In the details of the experiment just tried some improvements suggest themselves which will doubtless receive attention on the next occasion. The chief mistake was making the examination of the highest grade (twenty years of age and upwards) rather a test of literary ability than of a full and satisfactory knowledge of the topics included in the Scripture selection.
But one object I have in drawing attention to this new scheme is to invite those who may feel disposed, to think on the question whether some such plan as this would not be an improvement upon our Conference plan of educating poor children in the doctrines of the Church, and whether much larger results could not be gained through Sunday-schools than are through day-schools as these latter are now circumstanced.
Possibly some legal difficulties may present themselves, but if a good case were shown, perhaps those difficulties would not be insurmountable. The changes which English legislation has effected in the conditions of day-school instruction since the benevolent testators left money to the care of Conference for these
of religious education are so great that it is more and more difficult to carry out the original plans. Nor indeed has the working of those plans at any time been quite so satisfactory as might be desired. Some changes seem needful, and it appears to some friends who have watched this new effort that the changes should be in the direction of Sunday-schools rather than of day-schools. It is in respect to this suggestion that I remarked above, “ if our ministers and our Conference will so have it, we may in this way see a distinct advance in the work of impressing New Church ideas on the rising generation."
JOHN BRAGG. BIRMINGHAM, May 12, 1880.
COLBURN's new monthly magazine for May contains an article entitled “Swedenborg," signed Launcelot Cross, a former contributor to the Repository. The writer begins with a preliminary inquiry respecting the origin, nature, purpose, and destiny of man.
After speaking of the answers given to the inquiry by the scientist, the materialist, and even the theologian, he concludes by saying, “Such views as we have mentioned are presented daily; the doubts, as well as the aspirations, are not to be denied, and unless a man satisfies himself in regard to
them, it is impossible for him to render a reason for the faith that is in him. That we ourselves have had obstinate questionings it were unworthy to conceal ; that they have been as dark as many we have stated it would be bravado to allege; but we believe the whole case has been covered by the latest apostolic teaching. Swedenborg has come with science to the heart of all things; this at least is claimed, that to him, or to his views, will the Church and man finally refer and find rest for the soul.” The next section of the article is biographical. It gives a succinct account of Swedenborg's parentage, his education, his acquirements, his appointment at the age of twenty-eight to the office of Assessor-Extraordinary of the Board of Mines, his travels, during which he visited the chief seats of learning in Europe, his philosophical works, his intercourse with royalty and the noblest minds. 6 If the world's grandeur could have sufficed, Swedenborg now had had his heart's content. Philosophy ranks in the spiritual hierarchies, and he was one of its brightest stars. But at this period, at the age of fifty-four, ten years after he had reached the zenith of his fame, a change comes over him. The note was given in the 'Regnum Animale.' He longed to behold the soul. To do this he proposed to investigate the whole animal kingdom; to explore every corner of the temple before proceeding to the altar; to run seven times round the goal; to unfold in order all the coverings with which she is enveloped, hoping by Divine favour to be at length admitted to the view of contemplation of herself, sitting like a queen in her throne of state, the body, dispensing laws and governing all things by her good pleasure, but yet by order and by truth.'” Swedenborg pursued his investigations in an entirely different frame of mind from that negative spirit which declares that anatomy gives no intimation of a soul. Yet the result was
Not the dead but the living body bears testimony to the soul's existence. But although science cannot by searching find out either soul or God, it can, in pious hands, lead to that humility and teachableness of spirit which is admissive of light from above, whence only light can come. And when the light comes, science, which could not discover, helps abundantly to confirm. When the light came to him, as it did, not from science, but from God out of heaven, this was one great advantage Swedenborg derived from his scientific labours and philosophical investigations. “He came to his last great research rich with the spoils of science, after a long and deep inquisition into all the principalities of Nature, with a mind acute and analytic, yet quick to discern suggestions of spiritual truth in all her forms and workings.” When he received his call and his spiritual sight was opened, he relinquished philosophy, and devoted himself to disclosing