Chauncey Giles.

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It can gain the strength or acquire the skill to do it in no
other way than by walking. The wisest teachers cannot



force the mind beyond its own capacity. The attempt to
do it often injures its delicate organization. The Lord
has all knowledge and all power, but the human mind
can only receive according to its capacity and. the laws
which the Lord has implanted within it. No, every fact
of human experience, every natural, spiritual, and Di-
vine law, leads to the conclusion, that by coming in per-
son with display of power and glory the Lord would
defeat the very ends for which He created and sustains

Suppose, on the other hand, that the Lord has given to
man a Book embodying His will, the principles of His own
being, the modes of His life, the existence and nature of
the spiritual world, the joys of heaven and the sorrows
of hell, and pointing out clearly the way in which man
may escape the one and attain the other. These Divine
laws and principles of human life are so expressed that
they are adapted to every state and condition of society,
giving natural truth to the natural mind, and rising and
opening as man advances, supplying milk for babes and
meat for men. When at length man is prepared for it,
the Lord gives him a key which opens a distinct plane of
spiritual truths that satisfy the reason, illuminate the
understanding, and feed with the bread of heaven every
want of the heart. Has He not embodied His power
and glory in the most benignant, the wisest and most
efficacious form ?

According to our belief, there are signs in that Book
which represent every principle in the Divine being, and
every mode of Divine and human operation. As educa-
tion and civilization advance, the Book can be multiplied


and introduced into every home and imbue the Hfe of every
inmate within. The traveller can take it on his journey ;
the lonely prisoner in his cell can learn the way to gain
true spiritual freedom ; the sick man in his chamber can
find in it a physician which will cure every spiritual dis-
ease. As its true principles become known, and the
lives of men are formed after their laws, these principles
will rule in the marts of commerce and in the halls of
legislation ; they will guide the hands of civil rulers, and
human laws will be the outward and natural expression
of Divine laws. The graceful courtesies and sweet
charities which they inculcate will rule in social life, and
every home will be modelled after the heavenly home
which they reveal. By means of these spiritual truths
the Lord will come to every understanding, illuminate it
with the light of heaven, and guide it in perfect freedom
according to the laws of His own life. He sits upon
His throne and establishes His kingdom, not in one
place alone, but in every heart. And there He dwells in
all the fulness of the heart's capacity to receive Him,
constantly expanding every faculty and making more
room for Himself He takes the helm of every indi-
vidual life in His own hand, and steers its course towards

As men yield more implicitly to the Divine guidance,
and come more fully under these principles, the heavens
open, the spiritual world becomes the great reality. In
their clear vision men see it shining through every
natural form and human use. They know that they are
already in it, and while they do their duties with cheer-
ful hearts and willing feet, they look forward to the time



when the Lord shall call them home, with subdued
patience but unspeakable joy.

This is the New-Church doctrine of the Second
Coming. True or not, can you conceive of any other
form in which the Lord could come with so much power
that reaches to the centre of human life and places
humanity so fully under its beneficent control, and with
so great glory to Himself and blessing to His chil-
dren ?


'''■ I pray not that thou shoiildest take them out of the world,
but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.'' — ^John xvii. 15.

DELIGION has generally been regarded as something
■*• ^ foreign to man' s nature and hostile to this world, as
something to be superinduced upon him or added to him
to supply a want which is not inherent in his nature. It
is not regarded as an outgrowth and normal develop-
ment of his faculties as he was created in the image of
God, but rather as something to get, as a criminal obtains
a pardon and a release from the penalty of crime, or a
favor which he receives as a gift. It is regarded as some-
thing distinct from his daily life. It is a sentiment, or a
creed. Religion is not infrequently spoken of as es-
pecially useful to woman and adapted to her nature and
wants, while men have not so much need of it, implying
that it is not an essential factor of human nature. Its
essential use is supposed to consist in obtaining a remis-
sion of the punishment of our sins and securing our
happiness in the future life. It looks more to the future
than the present, mainly to the spiritual world rather
than to this world. Its exercises and duties have only a
remote connection with the common labors, duties, and
enjoyments of this life.

What help does religion give to the great majority of



Christian people in their daily labor? Does it sustain
them in it? Does it make useful labor honorable? Do
its doctrines, as they are generally understood and
taught, tend to make the ordinary duties of life pleasant
and a means of expressing our love for others ?

On the contrary, is it not true that useful labor is gen-
erally regarded as a curse ? that there is thought to be
something ignoble and degrading in it ? and that those
who are able to live without it are the favorites of for-
tune ? How is a woman regarded who is compelled to
support herself by sewing or teaching or domestic ser-
vice ? Compare her lot with the lot of one who is under
no necessity of doing useful work ; whose delicate hands
are never soiled and hardened by contact with the imple-
ments of domestic service, and whose face is never ex-
posed to the sun unless in travel, or lawn tennis, or some
form of amusement ; who spends her time in reading
novels, or embroidery, or chatting with companions
about the last party or the next one. How fortunate
and enviable is the position of such a one compared with
her poor sister ! She has escaped the primal curse.
Like the lilies of the field, she toils not neither does she
spin, but is delicately dressed.

How often we hear it said of a young man who has
money, that he is independent! He is not laid under
the necessity of doing any useful work. He is in perfect
freedom to go where he pleases. He can travel ; he can
amuse himself He has no exacting necessities, no hard
taskmaster to call him up early and compel him to work
late. He, too, has escaped the curse of useful and regu-
lar labor with his hands. This is the verdict of the


world, of the poor as well as the rich, of the saint as
well as the sinner. A laborer spoke the general senti-
ment when asked what he would do if a fortune were
left him, when he said, '* I would throw down my spade
and never do another stroke of work." Consider the
meaning of the word " fortune." One man has lost his
fortune ; another has become heir to a fortune. Does it
not mean riches, freedom from the necessity of daily
labor for a living, freedom from obligation to perform any
use to others except it may be some polite social service ?
The church is in a great measure responsible for this
mistake and its unhappy consequences. It teaches that
labor is a curse. The error originated in part in an
entire misunderstanding of the curse pronounced upon
man, ''In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,"
and of the meaning of labor and rest in the Scriptures.
Labor is supposed to mean useful work, and rest cessation
from it. But this is not their meaning. If it were, could
our Lord have said, " My Father worketh hitherto and I
work' ' ? By labor is meant conflict between good and
evil in our minds, and by rest the cessation of the con-
flict. But the Christian world has understood rest to
mean cessation from all useful service. Consequently
heaven is regarded as a state of eternal idleness, only
relieved by the diversion of song, and possibly by some
social intercourse between the shadows of human beings
in the shadow of a world. This freedom from the neces-
sity of all useful action is regarded as the highest ideal
of happiness. One of the common and absurd miscon-
ceptions of the doctrines of the New Church is, that
they teach that we shall pursue the same employments in


the other Hfe that we do in this world. That would be
impossible in the nature of things. But we do believe
that the widest field will be opened for the exercise of
every good affection and orderly intellectual faculty ; that
every one will have some employment in which he can
perform some use to others and make it the means of
expressing his affection and of communicating and
receiving delight. I can conceive of no more terrible
fate than to be compelled to eternal idleness, or to feel
the stirring and impulse of immortal affections with no
power of expressing them in useful service. All delight,
all happiness consists in some form of action. The
reverse of conscious action is death.

The same fatal error has been made in religious teach-
ing concerning the material world as in respect to labor.
It has been regarded as a poor, mean, bad world, hostile
to man's highest interests, a world to be despised and
rejected and trampled under foot. Yet the very act of
departure from it, which men call death, is thought to be
the greatest curse and the severest punishment ; there
are few who are eager to leave the world. But there is
no imperfection in the world. When the Lord created
it He pronounced it very good. It is perfectly adapted
to the purpose for which it was created. It is not the
world that is at fault, but the people who dwell in it, and
the misuse they make of it. Religious teachers have
mistaken the material world for the supreme love of it,
the Lord's hostility to error and sin for hatred of the sin-
ner, and the immutable principles and methods of the
Divine wisdom for an arbitrary and almighty wilfulnesss.
The Lord is represented as being above law, which


is impossible in the nature of things, because He is law
in its origin, and to act contrary to it would be to act
contrary to Himself.

These mistaken views of the Lord's character and
relations to men, and the purpose of man's life in this
world, have cast a gloom over human minds. They
have filled the heart with groundless fears. They have
reversed the true order of all man's relations to the world
and to the Lord. They have robbed man of his best
Friend and the most powerful means of gaining his
highest good. They have mixed bitterness in the cup of
all natural delights, turned light into darkness, confi-
dence into distrust, hope into doubt and despair.

The New Church entirely reverses this mistaken view
of life in this world. It corrects groundless misappre-
hensions and places them where they belong ; it dispels
baseless fears and reveals the true cause for real ones ; it
shows man his true relation to the Lord and the Lord's
aspect to man. It dispels the appearances and illusions
of the senses, and shows man how to get the greatest
good out of this life and at the same time prepare for
future happiness. It gives him the knowledge and
power to get rest out of labor, comfort out of suffering,
joy out of sorrow, a substantial and permanent good out
of transitory possessions, help even from his' enemies,
success from his failures, — in a word, to make all things
and all beings work together for his highest good. Let
us see in some particulars how the New Church helps us
to find light in darkness, blessings in curses, friends in
enemies, and good in everything.

First let us look at labor, which is generally regarded


as the primal and bitter curse. By labor I mean every form
of it, from work with the hands to work with brain and
heart. How much of it is basely servile ! How much of
it is done from compulsion ! How much of it is repulsive
to natural taste and feeling ! The limbs are weary, the heart
faints, the brain aches, and body and mind pray for rest.
The cliief attraction of heaven is its promised rest.

How can the curse of labor be escaped? Not by
abolishing labor. The most miserable beings in the
world are those who have no useful and steady employ-
ment. They lose their health for the want of regular
exercise, or from dissipation and excesses into which
they plunge to find relief from the monotony and weari-
ness of an idle life. The mind becomes weak, the pur-
pose aimless, the thoughts confused, and all the faculties
of mind and body become so relaxed and weak that a
grasshopper is a burden. It requires then more effort
to step into a carriage than it would for a person in
robust health to walk a mile. So essential is physical
labor in some form to health and happiness, that when
men and women are not compelled by necessity to
engage in useful labor they will seek exercise in sports,
in travel, in hunting and fishing, in playing ball or tennis,
or in other ways which they tax their ingenuity to invent.
The history of the world shows that no human being can
be happy without labor in some form, whether it is from
the necessity to gain a subsistence, or an effort to escape
from monotony and find pleasure. Action is a law of
life and the essential means of happiness. Idleness is a
curse from which every one seeks to escape.

Useful labor is more conducive to happiness than that


which is sought merely to escape from e7tnui or in the
pursuit of pleasure. To carry stones from one pile to
another and then carry them back again would weary
one more than to build them into a useful wall. To
water a garden and see the freshness and beauty of the
growing plants would give one more pleasure than to
draw water from a well and pour it back again. Exer-
cise for the sake of exercise, without the stimulus of
some delight and the reward of something accomplished,
is dreary work. It is better than inertness, but it lacks
the present pleasure, which is a great stimulus to action.
The pleasure which labor gains from the enjoyment of
some present or future good, however, only in part re-
lieves the burden. The pleasure is not so much in the
labor as in the reward we hope to gain. Most persons
would prefer the reward without the labor.

But the way to take the whole curse out of labor and
to make it an unmixed blessing, is to perform it from
love to the Lord and man. We must put a spiritual and
heavenly love into it. The desire to do good to others,
to be useful to them and to contribute to their comfort
and happiness, must be the primary and central motive
of our action. This does not mean that we are to have
no regard for ourselves, and are not to receive a just
compensation for our work, but it does mean that the
supreme and governing motive and aim that enters into
all our employments must be the desire of being useful to
others ; and they must be so conducted, as far as possible,
that there will be use in the performance of them as well
as in their results. Let us look at some of the common
and useful employments as illustrations of this principle.



Take agricultural pursuits of every kind as an ex-
ample. The farmer can till his ground and raise his
crops from love to the Lord and the neighbor. He can
plough and reap and gather his harvests with the distinct
purpose of co-operating with the Lord in carrying His
purposes of love to man into effect. The Lord has so
constituted man's material body that it must be con-
stantly supplied with food, and He has provided the
means of supplying it. He has created ground com-
posed of elements suited to this purpose ; He has pro-
vided the seed, and the sun to quicken it into growth
with its heat and light ; He sends the rain to dissolve
these material substances and present them in a proper
form to feed the hungry plant and quench its thirst. He
causes it to grow, " first the blade, then the ear, after that
the full corn in the ear." But He needs the co-opera-
tion of man to prepare the ground, to plant the seed,
to cultivate the soil, to gather the harvest and prepare it
for the market.

Suppose the farmer, while he is engaged in his work,
keeps this fact in his mind. The Lord has honored me, he
says, by taking me into His counsels, by permitting me
to assist Him in carrying His purposes of love into effect.
Would not this elevate his labor from the exercise of mere
animal strength, like that of the horse and the ox, to a
spiritual and human plane of life and make it honorable ?
He is co-operating with the King of kings and Lord
of lords, in building up His kingdom on the earth, and
forming His heaven in the spiritual world. Can you call
the labor of this use a curse ?

While the farmer sees his corn and wheat and fruit


growing in the sunshine and the rain which the Lord
sends, suppose he thinks of the use to his fellow-men
which this food will render. How much hunger it will
appease ! How much physical strength it will give to men
and women to render a service to the Lord in some other
form ! It will satisfy the keen appetites of the children,
whose cheeks will grow rosy and whose limbs will grow
strong with the nourishment which he has been an essen-
tial factor in providing. Would not his own heart grow
warm with this love of the neighbor? Would not his
brown face grow bright with the thought that the currents
of the Lord's love had flowed through his heart, softening,
enlarging, and enriching it, and that he had been an instru-
ment in the Lord's hands of distributing His bounty to
men, women, and children ? Is such a position mean,
degrading ? Is such labor a curse ? If it is a curse for
man to render this service, must it not be a curse for the
Lord to do His part of the work ? If it is love, mercy,
grace, and kindness in the Lord to provide food to supply
human wants, does not man partake of the same nature
by freely co-operating with Him ?

As another example, take mechanical employments of
all kinds. What does the mechanic do ? He takes the
woods and metals and earths, which the Lord has created
for human use, and builds houses to give shelter from
cold and storm, and to be a home for infancy and child-
hood, for the culture of domestic affections, and to be the
theatre of quiet and exquisite joys. He constructs im-
plements for his neighbor to use in cultivating the ground ;
he weaves his cloth and makes his garments. He con-
structs engines to carry men and the products of their


labor over land and sea and bring the wealth of all climes
to every door. If the miner in the dark chambers of the
earth, the smith and tailor and shoemaker in their shops,
the merchant in his store, the sailor on the sea, and the
cook in the kitchen, could know and acknowledge the
grand truth that they are helping the Lord to carry out
His purposes of love and mercy and tender regard for
men, would it not lighten their labor and make it a joy
rather than a task ? They are doing a work which the
Lord cannot do directly with His own hands. He can
create the wood and the iron, but He cannot build the
houseand construct the engine. He can create the corn,
but He cannot grind it and make it into bread. He can
cause the flax and cotton to grow and the silkworm to spin
its fine thread, but He needs our help to prepare the fibre,
to weave the cloth, and to make the garment. He has
given to man the ability to do this work, and made it the
means of the development of his intellectual and spiritual
faculties, and of filling his heart with delight. He has
placed us in the midst of these manifold uses, given us
the ability to perform them, and rewards us in doing
them, with health and strength and increase of capacity to
receive more life from Him, and crowns us with honor for
doing them. Here, as in the work of the husbandman,
every one can gain the comfort and receive the delight
of knowing that he is rendering a service to the Lord and
to man. He is clothing the naked, he is feeding the
hungry, he is healing the sick, he is carrying the weary
on his journey, he is providing homes for the homeless,
he is instructing the ignorant, he is contributing to the
common good according to the kind and measure of his


use, and the knowledge of this fact will strengthen his
arm and encourage his heart.

Take the employments of woman as another illustration
of the principle. Many of her employments are monoto-
nous and in themselves contain but Htde to awaken inter-
est or call forth intelligence. Her work is perpetually
recurring. When one meal has been prepared and the
wants of nature supplied, another must be provided.
The cook and the chamber-maid and the mistress go the
daily round with little variety and apparently with Hide
permanent result. Wants perpetually recur and must be
perpetually supplied. What does the labor amount to if
it is performed from necessity ? What permanent reward
is gained for the care, the weariness, the anxiety, the fre-
quent failure, if there is no purpose but simply to do
what necessity compels ? I am not surprised that women
grow weary and feel life to be a burden. Many of them
are loyal to duty and natural affections. But what help
do they get from their religion ? Do Christian women
bear these burdens more cheerfully and find more comfort
and delight in their work than others ? On the contrary,
are they not taught that their labor and care and sorrow
are a curse which they inherit from the first mother ?

Now, suppose they grew up under the influence of the
truth that all their employments and relations are forms
of use and are means of calling spiritual affections, love
to the Lord and man, into exercise. Suppose the mother
and the nurse and the cook and the teacher and the
seamstress thought and felt that they are working for the
Lord and co-operating with Him in accomplishing His
purpose in creating the human race, would not that
X 30*


thought fill their hearts with a peaceful and heavenly-
pleasure ? Would not they see that every word spoken,
every meal prepared, every garment made, every pro-
vision for health and comfort and the development of the
physical, intellectual, and moral nature has a permanent
value ? The deed is ended, but the effect remains. The
burden of life is lifted, and the sense that some perma-
nent good is accomplished fills the heart with satisfaction
and delight. Working so, we are not working merely
for to-day. We are laying up treasure in our own minds
which neither moth nor rust can corrupt. We are doing
a permanent good to every one to whom we minister in
these natural things. If we put love to the Lord and
man into our work, if it be no more than giving a cup of
cold water to one of the little ones, we cannot lose our
reward. The heavenly motive glorifies the work. The
heavenly worker glorifies the Lord. "Herein is my
Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." The Lord
glorifies us. We are working for the Lord and with the
Lord. We are doing His work here in this world ; but
it is the same in final purpose that He and the angels are
doing in the spiritual world. We are working for
humanity and placing ourselves in such relations to the
Lord and the angels and all good men that they can work
for us. There is unity of purpose and unity of interest
which draws us together, which ennobles the most trivial
deed, and sanctifies the heart.

All the principles and doctrines and the whole spirit
of the New Church tend to this result. It is a maxim
of the New Church, that all religion has relation to life,
and that the life of religion consists in doing good. We


do not mean by this that we are rewarded for our good
works with heavenly joys, as men receive money for

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Online LibraryChauncey GilesProgress in spiritual knowledge → online text (page 24 of 26)