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science, because it is itself the embodiment of it. But
especially the rational faculties of the mind demand
rational knowledge as the eye demands light, the fin
water, the wing air, and the body food ; and whatever
the Lord has given man the power to want. He has pro-
vided the means to supply. The existence of a Divine
order in spiritual growth and attainment is certain, and
the ability of man to receive and understand the knowl-
edge of it and come into the Hfe and joy of it is as sure
as that plants will blossom and bear fruit, and that seed-
time and harvest will continue.

Let us then notice some of the effects which a rational
knowledge of spiritual truth and "a life conformable to that ,
knowledge must legitimately and certainly produce. For-
tunately we are not left to conjecture concerning these


results. We have a complete demonstration of the power
of rational knowledge in the miracles which science has
wrought on the natural plane of life. If a true knowledge
of the forms, forces, and qualities of nature can change
the face of the world, modify all human conditions, and
bring into the service of man a multitude of powerful,
tireless forces to bear his burdens, run upon his errands,
and in manifold ways minister to his wants, what limits
can we assign to the power of a rational knowledge of
spiritual substances and the laws of their activities and
relations? The results of such knowledge must be as
much greater and more beneficent in the spiritual realm
of life as the knowledge itself is higher in degree and
more excellent in its forms. It is not possible to over-
estimate its beneficent effects, for it is a knowledge of
causes, of vital forces ; it deals with the sources of power ;
it is the true knowledge of God and of man and of their
relations to each other.

The effects of a rational knowledge of spiritual truth
will be both negative and positive. The truth not only
gives man power and light, but it frees him from many
obstacles to his progress. The truth makes him free.

It frees him from groundless fears. When we do not
know the way we fear that every step may lead to danger.
It is natural for us to fill the unknown with terrors. Be-
fore the light of science had dawned upon the earth, any
deviation from the accustomed order of nature, as an
eclipse of the sun or moon, filled the minds of men with
superstitious fears. They trembled at the dire calamities
which they supposed such phenomena to forebode. The
same occurrence now gives pleasure to millions, and is


the means of much useful knowledge. In spiritual life
men are tormented and held in cruel bondage by ground-
less fears. There is the fear of coming evils which never
come and have no existence ; the fear that the Lord is
our enemy when He is our infinite and unchangeable
Friend ; the fear of death as the most terrible calamity,
when it is an orderly step in life ; and a multitude of other
fears, wholly groundless, which destroy man's peace and
paralyze his power. A knowledge of spiritual truth will
disperse the darkness of ignorance in which these spiritual
fears are bred, chase them away as the coming sun dispels
the night and all its hideous forms.

Again, genuine spiritual knowledge will free the mind
from doubt. Man's progress in spiritual life is constantly
retarded by doubts. He goes to and fro instead of mov-
ing on to new attainments ; he stands still instead of
advancing ; he rejects the truth when offered to him ; his
steps are halting, his courage weak ; he hesitates and
lingers and is distracted by conflicting influences, misses
the chances of life, and fails of any great attainment in
spiritual development, because he is not sure of the path
which leads to it. The misgivings, the fears and tor-
ments which the noblest minds have suffered from this
cause are one of the most mournful phases in the sad his-
tory of humanity. Men do not doubt about what they
know ; it is when they do not know, or when they see in
the twilight only the flitting forms of appearances that
they doubt. Genuine knowledge carries the conviction
of certainty with it. This is the eflect of the doctrines
of the New Church upon those who know them. This
benign power will increase until all doubts are dispelled.


and man will walk in the freedom and joy of the new
light, with firm and sure steps, in a straight path to the
attainment of the highest ends.

A result of rational knowledge is constant increase of
light. Every new truth verifies the principle to which it
relates. Every new truth is a new star in the firmament
of the mind. All progress in knowledge, natural as well
as spiritual, is from evening to morning, and from morn-
ing to bright day. Many have accepted the doctrines of
the New Church, at first with a hope tremulous with fear
that they might come to a point where they would find
their way obstructed with insoluble problems and dark-
ness again gathering over them. But it has been their
blessed experience to find the way becoming clearer ;
difficulties vanish, problems which were supposed to be
beyond human skill to solve yield readily to the new
power, paths open into broad spaces which seemed closed
to human approach, mysteries are understood, and light
increases at every step. When we come into the harmo-
nies of the Divine order we begin to see truth in the light
of truth. Genuine truth is its own witness ; it shines with
its own light, it reveals its own nature, and it fills the
mind with light. This is the history of science, and it
accords with the experience of every man and woman
who has come into the light of the new age.

This gradual and constant increase of light also pro-
duces a conviction, which finally amounts to a certainty,
that we are on the right road to the attainment of the
end we are seeking. When we discover new truths in
harmony with those already known, we get new and
stronger confirmations of what we have already learned ;


we are attracted by the new beauty, we are stimulated
to new activity, we are always attaining ; new gates open
into broader fields of truth, and the' certainty of convic-
tion that we are on the right path which leads to the ever-
receding goal of perfection fills the mind with a sweet and
profound peace. We are coming into the order of the
Divine wisdom ; we see the way to make ourselves a part
of the Divine harmony.

It is a remarkable fact in the history of humanity that
men have regarded those who were the most friendly to
them as their direst enemies, and those steps in life which
have been provided by infinite love and wisdom for their
highest good as the most terrible calamities. They have
fled from their friends, they have been blind to the richest
treasures of truth which lay before them, they have been
tormented with groundless fears, have wandered in dark-
ness when the light was shining all around them, and
have been crushed with self-imposed burdens when al-
mighty power was offered to lift them from their shoulders.
The rational knowledge of the new age clears away all
these shadows, dispels the appearances which have sur-
rounded human life with illusions, and places man in the
midst of forces of omnipotent power friendly to every
human interest, and teaches him how to use them for the
development of the highest plane of his being. It gives
him definite, practical knowledge. It reveals to him the
true ends of life, puts the means of attaining them into
his hand, and shows him how to use them. It must,
therefore, render him the same service as a spiritual being,
as a citizen of a spiritual world in which he is to find his
home and to dwell forever, that a knowledge of the finer


substances and forces of nature has rendered him as a
material being- and son of earth and time. It must change
the whole aspect of human life ; it must give an immense
impulse to progress in spiritual knowledge ; it must give
fulness, clearness, directness, and precision to every effort
for spiritual culture ; it must bring man into such relations
to the Lord that he will know what to do and how to do
it to come into orderly relations with Plim, and to open
every faculty of the soul to Divine influence, to be with
the Lord where He is, and thus to dwell in the centres
of life and move in the peaceful currents of the Divine
order to the attainment of new joys and the rest of an
ever-deepening peace. It must make all things new.

We stand in the morning of this new day ; its privi-
leges and its responsibilities rest upon us. No men ever
had greater interests committed to them ; no men ever
possessed larger means and grander opportunities for
their own spiritual attainment and to make themselves a
blessing to humanity. Much has been given to us ; much
will be required of us. Let us be faithful to our trusts ;
let us counsel wisely and labor diligently to make known
to men those spiritual and Divine truths in which the
Lord is making His second coming to men, and by which
He will subdue all things unto Himself


" So God created man in his own image ^ in the image of God
created he him.'" — Genesis i. 27.

T^HERE are two vital questions which lie at the founda-
' tion of every religion and give quality to it. These
questions are, first, Who is God, and how shall we
think of Him ? Second, What is man, and how are God
and man related to each other ? Neither of these ques-
tions can be understood without some knowledge of the
other. They are reciprocally and intimately related. It
is impossible to gain a true idea of God without some
true knowledge of man, and it is impossible to gain an
adequate conception of man's nature without some cor-
rect knowledge of God. Man was created in the image
of God. We must, therefore, look to man to get our first
hints of the form and nature of God. I propose to state,
as far as I can in limited space, what the New Church
teaches upon this subject.

The doctrines of the New Church are Unitarian in the
assertion that there is one and only one Supreme Being.
They are Trinitarian in teaching the Divinity of Jesus
Christ. They differ essentially from both in showing that
the whole Trinity is embodied in the one person of our
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and that these three
essentials of His nature constitute His Divine personality.
This is in accordance with all that He says about Himself
in the whole of Scripture when rightly understood. The


apostle declares it in the plainest manner when he says,
" In him," that is in Jesus Christ, "dwelleth all the ful-
ness of the Godhead bodily." The Lord Jesus Christ
affirms it when He says, " The Father dwelleth in me."
' * He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. " " The
Father is in me, and I in him." By this He means that
there is a reciprocal and organic union between them,
like that which exists between man's soul or mind and his
body. The Father is the Divine nature as it is in its un-
created and infinite essence ; the Son is the human nature,
glorified and made Divine, both united in one person,
one being, and making one God, as man's spiritual nature
and his physical are united in one human being and make
one man. The Father, called in the Old Testament
Jehovah and God, is within the Son, as man's mind is in
his body. The Divine and the human natures are distinct
and yet so closely knit together that they form one person,
one being. This union is not one of sentiment, or agree-
ment in character or purpose, like that which may exist
between two men who desire to accomplish the same pur-
pose and agree in the means of doing it. It is an organic
union ; it is of the same nature as that which exists be-
tween the mind and the body, between will and act. Such
being the intimate, organic, perfect union between the
Father and the Son, we do not divide them in thought or
affection. When we think of the Son we think of the
Father, as we think of the whole man when we think of
his body. We think of Him in the human form, and we
have a distinct object of thought. When we love the
Son we love the Father, and we have a distinct object in
our minds for our affections to rest upon. They are not


divided between two. They are centred in one. Only-
one person can be supremely loved.

Having gained a distinct conception of the personal
unity of God, we can see that the Divine attributes can-
not be divided between two persons. They must all be
combined in one person, in the one person of our Lord
Jesus Christ. Mercy and truth meet together in Him.
Righteousness and peace kiss each other in Him. Mercy
and justice join hearts and hands in His Divine person.
This new doctrine solves the problem of the unity of per-
son and the trinity in the Divine Being. It harmonizes
all the Divine attributes, and presents to us one Divine
Being in the human form, animated with human love and
doing all things for human good. We may no longer
pray to one Divine person to grant us favors for the sake
of another, for there is only one Divine person. We no
longer fear the wrath of an angry God, for there is no
angry God. Jesus Christ is Immanuel, God manifest in
the flesh, and He is not angry. His infinite heart is full
of love for men. We only fear to sin against such infinite
wisdom and unchanging love. Every one must be able
to see that such a clear, distinct, harmonious, rational
knowledge of God and His Divine attributes must clear
the mind of its doubts and conflicting opinions, must
■quiet its groundless fears, and tend to bring it into har-
monious, orderly, and more intimate relations with Him
whom to know aright is life everlasting.

The New Church gives us new, rational, and satisfac-
tory knowledge concerning man as a spiritual being and
his relations to the Lord, who is his Creator, Redeemer,
Saviour, and the constant source of all his power and life.



The human spirit has generally been regarded in the
Christian world as a force, as an unorganized, unsubstan-
tial, formless essence, as a breath, an influence, bearing
somewhat the same relation to the man himself that steam
bears to the engine. All conceptions of it have been
vague and unsatisfactory. There has been but little ad-
vance beyond the mere affirmation of its existence. Con-
sequently all ideas about its nature and modes of operation
have been vague, indistinct, and unreal.

The New Church regards the spirit in an entirely new
way. According to its doctrines the spirit is the man
himself in the human form, and the seat of all his power
and life. It is organized of spiritual substances, as the
material body is organized of material substances, and
possesses all the organs, external and internal, in general
and particular, that compose the material body. It has
a head, trunk, and limbs. It has eyes and ears, brain
and face and vocal organs, heart and lungs, arteries and
veins and nerves. The spiritual organs perform relatively
the same functions that the material organs perform.
Spiritual lungs breathe a spiritual atmosphere ; the heart
propels a spiritual blood through arteries and veins ; the
nerves give sensation and power ; the hands can grasp
spiritual objects, and the feet can walk upon a spiritual
earth ; the eye opens to the light which flows from the
spiritual sun, and the ear vibrates in harmony with the
modulations of the spiritual atmosphere.

As a whole and in each least part the spirit is in the
human form. The common idea has been that the body
was first formed and then the spirit was breathed into it,
as men make an engine and then set it in motion by


steam. The new doctrine teaches that the spirit itself
moulds the body into its own form, weaves its fine and
delicate textures in its own loom, and clothes itself in
every least part with it, making it a medium of communi-
cation with the material world, the house in which it
dwells, a complicated and miraculous instrument adjusted
with infinite precision to all the forms and forces of mat-
ter, for the purpose of gaining natural ideas and delights
to serve as materials for the development of the affections
and the intellectual faculties.

But this is merely a temporary service. The material
body renders the same service to the spirit that the husk
does to the corn, the chaff" to the wheat. The spirit is
immortal. It was made, and by its very nature ordained,
to dwell in a spiritual world corresponding to its own
nature. But it must have a basis to rest upon. It must
have vessels to hold its fine and fluent substances while
they are being prepared for distinct and permanent exist-

According to this idea the spirit is the real, substan-
tial man and the seat of all human power. It is the
spiritual eye that sees. The material eye only serves as
an optical instrument to bring it into such relations to
material light that images of material things can be
formed on its delicate canvas. The material ear cannot
hear. It is the spiritual ear within that becomes moved
by its vibrations and perceives harmonious or discordant
sounds. The same is true of all the senses. They are
simply the material instruments which the spiritual senses
use to gain entrance into the material world and accom-
modate themselves to its substances and forces.



Men have so long been accustomed to regard the spirit
as a formless essence, a merely abstract entity, that it is
difficult to disabuse their minds of the error and convince
them that the spirit is organic and substantial. It is gen-
erally supposed that the way to gain any true conception
of spirit is to deny it all the qualities of matter. It seems
to be taken for granted that only matter possesses sub-
stance and form, and that when we attribute these prop-
erties to spirit we materialize it. But this is not so.
There are some attributes that are essential to existence.
It is impossible to conceive of the existence of any object
that is destitute of substance and form. The essential
idea of existence is that of standing forth in substance
and form. Every one will acknowledge that God is the
most real and substantial being in the universe^ He must
be substance and form in their origin and essential qual-
ities. There can be no power without some substance
that embodies it. It inheres in the nature of things and
in the nature of human conceptions, that if there is a
Divine Being, there must be Divine substances ; if there
are spiritual beings and a spiritual world, there must be
spiritual substances and spiritual forms. To deny their
existence is denial of God and of everything that is not

But we have ocular demonstration that spirit is sub-
stance and form and possesses power. This is a kind of
testimony that men have often demanded. ' ' Show me
a spirit," they say ; "let me feel it. Let me see spirit
exert itself and produce some sensible effect." The truth
is, all that is done by the body is done by the spirit's
power. There is no power in the material substances


that compose the. material body to organize themselves
into the human form and acquire the faculty of seeing,
or hearing, or feeling. Do oxygen and hydrogen and
carbon and the insensate, inorganic mould possess any
such power in themselves ? The material body is con-
tinually wasting away, and if it were not supplied with
new substances, it would soon become dissipated. What
power and miraculous skill weaves the new substances
into the old forms without any mistake, and preserves
the body from annihilation ? Can the food we eat do it
of itself?

But this is not all. When the spirit leaves the body,
all power and consciousness cease. The eye may be as
perfect in its organization as ever, but it cannot see. The
ear and the other senses have lost all power of conscious-
ness. Have lost it, do I say ? No, they have not lost it,
for they never possessed it. The material eye never
saw ; the material ear never heard ; the material hand
never felt ; the material heart never beat, of themselves.
If you were in a factory where all the wheels were hum-
ming with motion, would you not know that some power
not in themselves was driving them ? And if they stopped,
would you not know that the power had been withdrawn
from them? Have we not just as certain evidence that
the organs of the material body have no inherent, self-
derived power in themselves to act ; that they must be
moved by some spiritual force ; and when that force is
withdrawn they must return to dust ? It seems strange
that rational men will ask for evidence of the existence
of spiritual substances and forces when they perceive
them in constant operation within and around them.


We have the evidence of our own consciousness also
of the substantial and permanent nature of the spirit. It
is now a generally-accepted fact that thought and affec-
tion are indestructible. No one can divest himself of
ideas or truths he has once gained. They may be for-
gotten, as we say, but they remain in the mind and can
be recalled. If the mind or spirit were a mist or a form-
less essence, it could be dispersed like a vapor, and all
the ideas and affections that were embodied in it would
be dissipated. But they are not, and never can be.
Amputate a limb and it ceases to be a part of the human
body. But a thought or an affection cannot be ampu-
tated. Destroy the body and the spirit is not injured.
The material body is evanescent ; it is constantly passing
away like a flowing stream ; but the spirit remains un-
touched, substantial, immortal.

If the relation of the spirit to the body is such as I
have represented it to be, the spirit must be the man
himself. It must be in the human form, because the
material body is cast into its mould. All the organs are
woven into a garment to clothe the organs of the spirit.
The spirit must therefore be composed of a series of
organic forms or organs, which, combined into one, be-
come the human form. What, then, is the spirit? It is
a human being in a human form as a whole and in its
least particulars. It is substantial, and the substances
of which it is composed are untouched by the dissolution
of the material body ; the human spirit endures forever.

Having gained a clear and true idea of what the human
spirit is, and of the distinction between the spiritual body
and the material body, we have gained the point of view



from which we can see the trinity and unity in man which
are essential to personal beings, and from this we may see
more clearly the nature of the Divine trinity in the one
person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have good grounds for looking to man to find the
trinity in God, because man was created in the image
of God and after His likeness. If man was made in the
image of God, we must find in him a likeness of God.
God must be in the human form. The Divine nature
must be composed of attributes corresponding to those
which compose man. The Divine faculties must sustain
the same relations to one another which human faculties
sustain. If there is a trinity in God, there must be a
trinity in man. If there is a trinity in man, there must
be a trinity in God. If the trinity in man makes one
person, one human being, the trinity in God must make
one Divine Person, one Divine Being. If this trinity in
God makes three persons, each composed of the same
substance and possessing the same attributes, the trinity
in man must make three persons, each composed of the
same substance and possessing the same qualities. An
image must have the same form as the original, and so
far as it is an image it must be like it.

What are the three essential factors of a human being ?
Are they not the soul or spirit, the body, and the power
of the man reaching forth to affect objects and beings
outside himself? These three are perfectly distinct.
The spirit is not the body, and the body is not the spirit,
and the influence or operation of the man is not the spirit
or the body. But the three make one person, one man.
If either were absent the other two would not be a man.



We may regard the subject in another way. Man is
essentially composed of love, intelligence, and the union
of these factors in thought or deed. The love or will is

Online LibraryChauncey GilesProgress in spiritual knowledge → online text (page 7 of 26)