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genuine womanhood its strength. Rough, naked strength
has no comeliness, and weakness no beauty. But com-
bined in due proportion and modified by each other, they
become the charm of character and the cause of that
attraction which draws human beings together and makes
them a delight to each other.

These two primary qualities of all human excellence,
strength and beauty, are in the Lord's sanctuary. His
sanctuary is in man's will and understanding, and deriva-
tively in his affections and thoughts. The will and the
understanding are the grand temple in which the Lord
dwells ; the affections and thoughts the chapels of various
form and use in which the precious gifts of strength and
beauty are received from Him and appropriated by man.

When the sanctuary is pure, free from evil lusts and
false principles, life from the Lord is received in its own
perfect forms, in all its purity, sweetness, and harmony,



and then it becomes ''the beauty of hoHness," in which
we are to praise and worship the Lord. This beauty of
holiness becomes "the dew of youth," an influence
which gives the freshness, the innocence, and the beauty
of youth to all the faculties of the mind, and to the forms
of that body which we are to inhabit forever. Zion,
which is called by the Lord Himself ' ' the perfection of
beauty, ' ' represents in general the same principles in man
as "sanctuary." Zion is man's heart, Jerusalem his
understanding ; and it is this Zion, the perfection of
beauty, which the Lord exhorts to awake, to shake her-
self from the dust, and to put on her beautiful garments.
Here, then, we have the source of human beauty re-
vealed to us, and the way of access to it pointed out.
Its well-spring is in the heart, in the affections. It takes
on its forms and colors in the understanding, and comes
out in substantial reality in bodily forms and actions.
Beauty in its highest qualities is represented as attainable,
and we are exhorted to make it our own, to put it on as
a garment, to pray that ' ' the beauty of the Lord our
God" may be upon us.

The beauty of the Lord, the supreme and infinite type
of all beauty, has its origin in His Divine love, and its
form and qualities in the Divine wisdom. Man was
created in the image and likeness of God. He was made
to be a sharer of the supreme beauty. The Lord is in
the constant effort to endow us with this beauty, and we
are clothed with it in the degree that we become par-
takers of those Divine qualities which are the essence
and cause of beauty.

Regard beauty, of which we propose to speak at the



present time, in any sense you please, in its lowest and
most sensuous, or its highest and most interior qualities ;
beauty of form, or color, or motion, — in all cases it is the
expression of some affection or interior grace. All
beauty is spiritual in its origin. The beauty of a ma-
terial object consists in its meaning, in what it says to us
of something more excellent than itself. The beauty of
a flower, of a tree, of a winding stream, or of a landscape
consists in what it suggests to us of something higher
than itself, because it is the form of that higher quality.
The beauty of the material world is an effect which ex-
presses the excellence of its spiritual cause.

This must be so from the very nature of the relation
between cause and effect. Every cause seeks to repro-
duce and express itself, in all its qualities, in lower forms.
Innocence, purity, and loveliness of character must tend
to express themselves in lovely forms. When we reflect
that the material universe is the embodiment of the
Divine love and wisdom in material substances, we can
see why it is that there is so much beauty in the world.
Every material object and living thing has a beauty of
some kind. Even the weeds that cumber the fields,
the thorn and the thistle, which men regard as a curse
for sin, the insect which stings and poisons us, the de-
graded reptile, and the wild beast which tears and devours,
have some beauty of form or structure or color or motion.
Perverted forms as they are of the Divine loveliness, they
•still bear some trace of its impress.

If we find traces of the beauty of the Lord in the
lowest things, we may expect to find it more fully em-
bodied in the highest, and our expectations will not be



disappointed. We shall find it in its perfection in the
human face and form. Here also we can see how the
outward beauty is the effect and expression of inward and
spiritual beauty. This would follow as a necessary result
from the fact that the material body is cast into the
mould of the spirit. The spirit has fashioned it. The
spirit is the potter, and the body is clay in its hands, which
it is constantly acting upon to mould into its own like-
ness. This is true of the material body in the first years
of our existence, and of the spiritual body in every stage
of our being. There are, in general, two kinds of
human beauty : beauty in its essence or cause, and
beauty in its expression. All beauty has its origin in
love and its expression in truth. A pure and innocent
affection in the will, united with genuine truth in the
understanding, cannot fail of producing beautiful effects.
We must not forget that love and truth are not ab-
stractions. They are the most potent forces that act
upon the spiritual or the material body. We are pene-
trated by them ; we live and move and have our being in
them. The material body is constantly subject to their
action, has its life from them. There is a force constantly
present in water, and in all matter, which forms it into
spheres when the matter assumes a fluid state and is left
free to move. So there is in the very nature and activi-
ties of the Divine love and the Divine truth, from which
we receive all our life, a tendency to the human form and
an active influence to make that form as noble and beau-
tiful as possible. Thus those very forces and principles
which are the essence and cause of all beauty are con-
stantly acting upon us to make our faces and forms and


motions the complete correspondents and embodiments
of their nature. Thus the Divine forces which give us
Hfe tend to mould us into every form of beauty, in the
same way and according to the same immutable law by
which the Divine forces in nature tend to make material
forms beautiful. All that we have to do to become more
and more beautiful is to co-operate with these forces, to
let them have free play through us, and to supply them
with the right kind of materials for their workmanship.

The first thing we are to do is to exercise pure, inno-
cent, heavenly affections. Without this it is impossible
to become more beautiful than we are, or to retain what
we may have received from hereditary influences. The
beauty of youth, of mere surface and complexion, will
fade like a flower. There must be some inherent, vital,
and unfailing source which supplies natural wastes with
finer and more substantial substances, and replenishes
them with perennial freshness and moulds them into a
lovelier beauty. The quality and degree of our beauty
and nobleness of form will be determined by the quality
and degree of our spiritual affections. There is no pos-
sibility of failure in this respect. They are orderly results
of normal causes. Every affection you cherish leaves its
impress upon you. It tends to fashion the external form
into its likeness, and there is no escape from its effect.

This is a truth of common observation and experience.
We see it in its accumulated and large results, in the
faces and forms of every man and woman we meet.
Every disposition habitually indulged forms its image in
the features of the face, in the motions of the body, and
in every fibre and muscle of its form. Its first effect is



upon the brain, and through that upon every part of the
whole organization. The face is the index of the mind,
because the mind forms it and makes it the theatre on
which it enacts all its passions. Every face is a history,
and in its small compass are recorded the sins and sor-
rows, the joys and fears, the malignities, the lusts, the
cunning, the ferocity, the hope and trust, the struggles
with evil passions, the integrity, the innocence and peace
of many generations. We can only read some of the
most prominent and boldest characters. But the history,
of all the influences, large and small, which have com-
bined to form the character of your ancestry from its
beginning is embodied in your own person. We talk of
fleeting influences. There are no fleeting influences.
Every influence is eternal. The Lord does not write
human history in fading colors and on perishable leaves.
You think you can be false or cunning, that you can in-
dulge in malignities and lusts, and no one will know it,
and that you can escape all lasting eflects of it. How
much, how terribly much, you are mistaken ! You
cannot sulk in the corner ; you cannot indulge in an
unkind thought ; you cannot say a sharp word ; you
cannot indulge in a revengeful feeling ; no, you cannot
think a false thought, or do an evil deed, and escape the
record of its shame in the book of your own life. The
Lord has made the mind self-registering. Every falsity
leaves a shadow upon it, every evil a stain.

I know the influence of one evil once indulged may
be small ; its consequences may seem as fleeting as the
act itself. But it is not so. The brutality and ferocity
and stolidity and meanness, the low cunning and worldly


shrewdness, the stony selfishness and cruel malignities,
the pride and vanities and contempt which we see in the
forms and faces of men and women are the recorded
results of the indulgence of evils which were momentary
and casual in their inception.

My young friends, will you not remember this when
you are tempted to think falsely, to feel wickedly, or to
act sinfully ? The wicked feeling has its sharp graver in
its cunning hands, and while you indulge the feeling it is
etching its ugly lines in your face and twisting your feat-
ures into its own form. The impure thought is photo-
graphing itself upon the delicate but tenacious forms of
your whole nature, and leaving its foul stains indelibly
impressed upon you. If every time you told or looked
a falsehood, or indulged a hate, the name of the evil
should come out in distinct and black lines upon your
forehead and repeat itself in ugly characters in your
whole face, with what horror you would shun it ! It is
so written, in very faint lines at first, it may be, but every
repetition of the evil increases their distinctness. The
angels can read the whole history in the hand ; they can
tell the quality of the mind by the tone of the voice.

According to the same law, every good affection and
true thought registers itself in its own proper characters.
Every heavenly affection leaves its impress upon you and,
to the extent of its influence, moulds you into its own
image. Every element of the noblest and purest beauty
is contained in the principles of goodness and truth. As
these principles are brought into act and become sub-
stantiated in the form and features, they change them into
their own likeness. And they do it by imperceptible but



constantly acting influences. When you think kindly of
others and your heart goes out to them in desires for
their good, the beauty of kindness is winning its way
through the labyrinth of many organic forms, leaving its
smile and its impress upon them all as it passes, until it
comes out in open expression upon the face.

Some faces are like landscapes in a day of broken
clouds. Sometimes the shadows lie dark and heavy
upon them. When the features are in repose you can
see the history of former generations which has been
stereotyped upon them ; the weariness of protracted
labor, shadows of disappointed hopes, and the sadness
of many sorrows. But when the light of an awakened
heavenly affection breaks through their parting folds the
face becomes illuminated, transfigured with the glory of
the inward light. You can look away into its serene
deeps and see in every feature a beauty born of heavenly

Patience in duty and trust in the Lord contain impor-
tant elements of beauty, which they impart to the face
and to the whole form. They give quietness and com-
posure to the features and to the actions. Through the
face, as through a transparent veil, you can look down
into the serene depths of being, where no storms can
reach, where all is stable and in repose, and see the foun-
dations on which the natural life rests and the perennial
springs from which its thoughts and affections flow.
Every time you repress an impatient desire, every time
you restrain an impatient word or act, every time you
take up the burden of duty cheerfully, every time you
meet the conflicts and the vicissitudes of life in patient


confidence in the infinite goodness which makes all things
work together for good for those who trust in the Lord,
you make some progress in bringing your whole form
into the image of that repose and quietude which impart
a charm to every feature and every action.

But the supreme beauty which charms all hearts is in-
nocence, purity. This is the charm of the beauty of
infancy and childhood. It is not beauty of form ; it is
not grace of motion. It is the purity and sweetness of
heaven which shine through a little child. The material
body is, as it were, transparent. It is like the charm of
flowers, which is not so much in their forms as in their
delicacy of texture and purity of color and sweetness of
fragrance. They awaken the perception that they are
offering up themselves for our delight.

Innocence combines all the Christian graces, — unsel-
fishness, trust, repose, unconscious action, which is al-
ways beautiful, gentleness, devotion to others, and devout
adoration of the Lord ; that worship of the heart which
surrenders itself to the Divine will, to be guided by its
wisdom and to be moulded into its likeness. Innocence
is not weakness or ignorance. It is wisdom and power
itself It is power without noise. It is the power which
makes the grass grow, and planets fly through the silent
spaces with ceaseless motion. It is the wisdom which uses
the mightiest forces for human help and culture. It is
supreme order, which is always beautiful. Feebleness is
not beauty. Strength and beauty must go hand in hand,
as they always do when the strength is used for benefi-
cent purposes.

While you are in the effort to keep the great com-


mandment of love to the Lord, and just to the extent
that you keep it, you will be gaining the heavenly
beauty. You open your heart to the Lord, and to the
living springs of all grace and comeliness. You put
yourself into His hands who has the perfect ideal of
nobleness and beauty, and perfect skill to fashion every
feature and form according to it. The Divine truth,
which is the Holy Spirit, contains in its substance and in
all its forces and forms and influence a tendency to ulti-
mate itself in the perfection of beauty. As you open
your affections to the influence of these Divine forces
they will flow in and do their work. They will efface the
lines of deformity which sin has engraved ; they will har-
monize discordant proportions ; they will round into ful-
ness imperfect forms ; they will reduce to order conflicting
motions, and bring the whole person into unity.

Every effort you make to learn the truths which con-
stitute the Divine wisdom, and to incorporate them into
your nature, will have its effect. While you are reflecting
upon them they are imbuing your understanding with
their sweet and lovely spirit, softening its hardness,
quickening its perceptions, harmonizing its activities.
The soft and lambent light of truth is flowing down with
more fulness and clearness into the eyes, and a power
which attracts and makes the heart glad begins to beam
forth from them. As you go on with the work and
receive more largely of this informing life and beautifying
spirit, it softens the hardness and smooths the roughness
of the voice, and imbues it with those qualities which touch
the sympathies and win the heart ; it penetrates every
feature, remoulds the face after the heavenly pattern,



rounds the limbs, gives nobleness and comely dignity to
the whole form, and sways every motion to harmony
born of an inward grace, and expressing it. As the life
of the Divine love becomes fuller and purer the whole
person will become the very form of heavenly love ; it
will become the embodiment of Zion, the perfection of

- This is no fancy. Your own observation can teach
you that it is not. You know how fierce passions in-
flame and distort the face, and how heavenly affections
fill it with a serene light and a most winning loveliness.
You have seen faces that were not regular and cleanly cut
in particular features, but which had an inward beauty
that charmed every beholder. All that is necessary to
render any form of the face fixed and permanent is to
cherish the affections which express themselves in that

It may be replied that, if this principle is true, the good
must be the most beautiful. Yet some of the worst men
and women have been famous for their beauty. There is
a kind of external beauty, regularity of features, sym-
metry of form, delicacy of complexion, which is due to
inheritance and to causes not within one's self; but if the
soul is deformed with evil this superficial beauty is but a
veil which ill conceals the ugliness within. Without the
beauty of expression which shines forth from the soul the
most that the body can attain is the lifeless beauty of the
statue or the painted mask.

Again, while it is true that the material body is so inti-
mately allied to the spiritual that it becomes changed by
it, making the face the index of the mind, the physical



form may respond but slowly to the changes of the spirit ;
so much so that a face that is outwardly fair may conceal
an infernal character ; and again a plain and unattractive
face may clothe a heavenly spirit. Our spiritual bodies,
the bodies in which we are to live and by which we are to
be identified forever, are the exact forms of our affections.
They change easily, and become the perfect exponent
and image of the affections we habitually cherish. The
purer and more interior the affection, and the more fully
it becomes united with genuine truths, the more beautiful
we shall become. It is, therefore, in the power of every
one to become as beautiful and noble in form as he
chooses ; and the way to do it is to cultivate those heav-
enly affections which mould the face and limbs and every
part of the body into forms corresponding to their quality.
Such is the nature of the affections that there is no
assignable limit to their strength and excellence, beyond
which they cannot pass. You see what a prospect this
holds out for our attainment in personal beauty and noble-
ness of form. You can see that what Swedenborg says
of the beauty of the angels must be true, because it
follows from causes which we see in operation here. He
says their beauty surpasses the power of words to de-
scribe or of any human art to portray. Their faces are
so glorious and lovely, and shine with such a heavenly
light, that they penetrate the hearts of those who behold
them, with enchanting power. They are the very forms
of loveliness. They are purity and innocence itself The
eyes of the angels are aflame with heavenly love ; their
faces are all aglow with its warmth ; their features are
moulded into its nobleness and rounded into its harmo-


nies ; its dignity is enthroned in their foreheads ; its
sweetness is folded in their Hps, and its gracefulness sways
every motion. The voice is so modulated by heavenly
affections that it is felt to be the sweetness and power of
love itself speaking. The whole form is the embodiment
of a benign power, and radiant with the very life of

All the faculties are in the freshness and vigor and re-
splendent comeliness of their spring-time ; they grow as
the lily and blossom as the rose. All these elements of
loveliness continue to unfold into more excellent forms.
It is not the glorious beauty of a fading flower. It con-
tinues to increase ; it glows with a serener light ; it be-
comes the more complete and varied embodiment of a
holier joy, a purer love, and a sweeter peace. Its per-
fections must continue to increase to eternity.

All the qualities and forms of beauty are in heavenly
love, as all germs are in their seed. You have only to
cherish and cultivate them, which is to exercise them in
love towards the Lord and towards man. You have only
to live the life of them, and you will grow into their ap-
propriate forms, with more certainty than the seed grows
into the loveliness of the lily, or the acorn into the gran-
deur of the oak.

Why is not this an excellence and a glory worthy of
our thought and effort ? If physical beauty, which fades
and perishes so soon, lay within as easy reach as heavenly
beauty, which is fresh, perennial, and which will continue
to increase in perfection forever, we should all strive for
it ; multitudes would think no price too great to pay
for it.


We are becoming forms of heavenly beauty or of in-
fernal deformity every day. Whether we seek it or not,
every affection we exercise has its influence in moulding
our form ; every truth we learn enters into its composi-
tion ; every thought we think and every good deed we
do is the graver's tool which gives a new line of beauty,
or the painter's brush which adds a lovelier tint. Yes,
every gentle act leaves its gentleness in the hand that
performs it ; every noble deed leaves the imprint of its
nobility ; every heavenly purpose carried into effect com-
municates its fragrance and beauty as a Divine benediction
to the soul. Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.


** The serpent beguiled me, and I did eaty — Genesis iii. 13.

T^HE problem to which I invite your attention has
excited the interest and baffled the ingenuity and
wisdom of the best men and the most profound thinkers
in past generations. From the point of view of the
Christian Church, its solution has been impossible without
involving the Divine character and purposes in many con-
tradictions and absurdities. I believe that the doctrines
of the New Church give us the principles necessary to
its solution, and teach us how to use them to attain the
result. I can hope, however, to do but little more than
to state the fundamental conditions of the problem, and
point out the direction in which we must look for its

First, it is essential to have a precise and clear idea of
what evil essentially is, for, if we have no exact knowl-
edge of the problem, we certainly cannot solve it. We
shall be working with materials which we do not under-
stand to produce an unknown result. Is evil a distinct
substance, form, or power in itself, acting in opposition to
good and tending to pervert and destroy it ? If so, it
must either be self-existent and eternal, or it must have
been created. If it was created, it must have been
created by the Lord, and then He must be the author of
both evil and good. This is the opinion held by many,
and the logic by which they are brought to this condu-
it 14* 161


sion seems clear and irrefragable, if you admit the defi-
nition and the premises.

But we cannot admit that there are two self-existent
and independent forces or substances or creators, for that
would be the admission that there are two Gods. Nor,
on the other hand, can we admit that the Lord created
evil, for that would be acting contrary to Himself. A
Being of infinite love and wisdom seeks to accomplish
certain ends, and for that purpose He creates the universe
and peoples it with intelligent human beings. Can we
suppose that at the same time and running all along-
parallel with it He creates a discordant power, that
tends to oppose and thwart His purposes of infinite love ;

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Online LibraryChauncey GilesProgress in spiritual knowledge → online text (page 11 of 26)