THE CHURCH OF CHRIST NOT AN      ECCLESIASTICISM.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST NOT AN      ECCLESIASTICISM.       A LETTER OF REMONSTRANCE.SIR,    You and I are equally persuaded, ...
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST by a church which may truly be styled the crownand consummation of all past churches; or whatis the s...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.been, to serve as a witness merely to the invisibleDivine, whom the heaven of heavens canoot con-ta...
THE CHURCH OF ClIRISTthe vegetable form to whose development all itsuses ale tributary. And so in like manner thecrown and...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.we are not to look for a new and competitive priest-hood, nor for a new and competitive baptism, no...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTa more acceptable baptism and eucharist than you," the true churchman taking counsel of the divinelove...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.of the honor of the letter as I can claim to be.But even if it were otherwise, even if the commondo...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTsuch a man, than the attempt to separate himfrom others, or give him an ecclesiastical elevationabove ...
NOT AN ECCLESIASlICISM. what is spiritual and eternal. Hence he remamsin ecclesiastical unity with the people around him,b...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTa remedy for so grave a disease, as the creation ofa new ecclesiastical organization. How should anew ...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.than any other church, provided it would rectifyits administmtion of the eucharist, and dismiss the...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTcomplaint, as to its destitution of charity. Thushe says the existing array of divided churches, asCat...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.  CHRISTIAN WHO LIVES AS A CHRISTIAN, that is, as  the Lord teaches. Thus one church would be f01"Y...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTthemselves, whence arose schisms and heresies.These would never have existed, if charity hadcontinued ...
NOT AN   ECCLESIASTICISM.faith are not faith but only appurtenances of it.-A. 0.2116.   " Love to the Lord cannot possibly...
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST    "The church is one, notwithstanding its diversi- ties of doctrine, when all acknowledge charity as...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.  an ecclesiastical constitution, and utterly forbids  the conception of the new church, therefore,...
THE CHURCH OF CHlUSlchurch primarily regards is the life of charity, or aspiritual new birth in man, and the ordinances of...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.the true Christian church, the all of its life and theall of its doctrine-and I defy anyone rationa...
THE CHURCH OF        ~LqTanxious to know and do the will of God-tothe reception of new-church light, as that lightstands d...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM:.worship, claiming a new clerical order, and a morevirtuous or valid administration of the Christia...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTnearness to God, as the sect in question does. Ihave no fault to find with my ecclesiastical con-necti...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.8pirit, by a spirit of universal charity-a charitywhich shall loathe to be preeminent even overPaga...
·THE CHURCH OF CHRISTor what is the same thing, a nearer access to Himthan my neighbours enjoy; whenever, lookingupon Dr. ...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.towards all other assemblies. Jt would neverdream of impugning the truth of their worshipby publish...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTpublic or social worship. But what every one hasa right to complain of as an unsuitable and inde-corou...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.heart-no longer in the deep and cordial andoverwhelming sense of our own deficiencies, of ourown re...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTworship before God 1 If I have no right in myprivate devotions to stigmatize my neighbors de-votions a...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM. salem," as the grand end and achievement of all divine promise and prophecy, gives you the slighte...
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST    The explanation is to be sought in the prevalenceof totally erroneous or sectarian views of the ch...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.church of Rome is the only logical exponent of hisidea of the church,-when he finds that all logica...
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST companies, make them to consist wholly of captains, lieutenants, and corporals. We may smile at this ...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.of a very remarkable man, combine by mutuallybaptising each other, to establish a new ecclesias-tic...
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST limited movement exhibits no spiritual advance upon the older Protestant sects, but only a highly rat...
NOT AN ECCLESlASTICISM.necessary germ or egg of the true idea of the church.We could never have conceived in that case of ...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTIt is identical with what the mystical scriptures callthe New Jerusalem, meaning by that carnal symbol...
NOT AN   ~IASTICISlLvidual soul. The existing ecclesiaBtical politiell,both Catholic and Protesta.n~ stand between Godand ...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTtheir servile heads before the true divine presencein the soul of the humblest of men, confessing thei...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.only falsely profess to be so; if it teach him toacknowledge the divine life only in those whoenter...
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST   In short, the true or final church is not in theleast degree an ecclesiasticism, is not in any out-...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISlLclerical function in the past! What fortitude, whatself-denial, what patience, what labor in season...
THE CHURCH OF CHRlST    All the world will bid God-speed to the new3.lpirantB, provided they will honestly and modestlyapp...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.what sentiment of the human soul it takes its rise,and to what rational issues it inevitably points...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTcondemn him, obeys his ideas, acts from within,from the impulse of taste, from the inspimtion ofGoodne...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.subject, depending upon no outward circumstances         "whatever, controlling a.ll outward circum...
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST,   connected with Him. They ~l affirm the necessity    of regeneration. They all say, of course not i...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.   You have heard, no doubt, of the famous ring ofPolycrates, king of Samos, which being thrown byh...
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST very highly into the sea, and when Amasis learned that it had been restored to him by It fish, he at ...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.Protestant Mcetic differ very widely from the Paganworshipper. But they are all very closely allied...
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST more obstinate Baptifilt and Methodist. It is a. good profeBSion for those in whom culture andprosper...
NOT AN ECCL»lIASTICISM:.life, for any life which shall confess the operationof its own peculiar spirit, it consistently re...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTindeed, a much more substantial or real existencethan the body, because its substance is the DivineLov...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.which proceeds upon the liberation under suitableconditions of an invisible spiritual germ, and its...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTright conception on the subject of the Divineexistence and character. This is not the place totrace th...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM:.,occupy all time and all space, and so be avouched eternal and infinite.    Of co~e, then, in the ...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTtowards God, it is very easy to see how the peculiarecclesiastical development of humanity comes about...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.as in the lnost pointed private antagonism andquarrel, with the very people upon whom Hisname is pu...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTin its purely insubstantial or promissory character,--stands in it3 being a figure or emblem of divine...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.place without a previous natural germination; so,consequently, had it not been fDr this provisional...
THE CHURCH OF CHRISTobedience to merely prudential motives, motives ofoutward profit and 10llll, but all this does not inv...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.living in the habitual acknowledgment of the Divine _name, or putting away their native evils from ...
THE CHunCH OF CHRISTnatura.l evils requiElite in spiritual regeneration;and the eucharist, or the mystical feeding on theb...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.authentic hold upon the symbol, than they whodeny the Lords second or spiritual advent, andwho, the...
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST invested the church from the time of the apostles to the splendid Pentecost of the last century; for ...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.exclude them all alike from the new heavens. Theonly spirit which qualifies one for admission to th...
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST        .seem destined to reap some of the fruits of thisreaction. Multit.udes annually resort to thes...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.    Religious wars are over, doubtless-at least inthis land. For where no special ecclesiasticism i...
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST   Thus, infidelity will not be able to assail religionitself, without infinitely discrediting its own...
NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM:.  permanent charm. So, when we convince the eccle-  siastic that he has paid too much deference "t...
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The Swedenborg moment and movement in America. Henry James 1811-1882. Religion and Philosophy united.
Full title : The Church of Christ not an ecclesiasticism. A letter of remonstrance to a member of the SOI-DISANT New Church.
This is the second half (pp.108-197) of the book : The Old and the New Theology, 1861.
(source : google + OCR)

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Henry james-the-church-of-christ-not-an-ecclesiasticism-london-and-new-york-1861

  1. 1. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.
  2. 2. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM. A LETTER OF REMONSTRANCE.SIR, You and I are equally persuaded, doubtless,that a new church, which according to the tenor ofancient promise, is destined to be the crown andconsummation of all past churches, is now formingin the earth; and if we have equally reflected uponthe characteristic scope and genius of this church,as depicted·in the almost transparent language ofprophecy, we must be equally convinced that it isfull both of sympathy towards every existing formof use or goodness; and of mercy, gentleness, pa-tience, towards every form of ignorance and un-conscious error. For, what is meant by a church, to which thevoice of inspiration does not hesitate to apply the my~tic name of New Jerusalem 1 What is meant [ III ]
  3. 3. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST by a church which may truly be styled the crownand consummation of all past churches; or whatis the same thing, which shall express Gods full pleasure in humanity 1 Clearly it is not meant tobe a mere rival or competitor to any other church.Clearly it is not meant to be a better church of thesame kind as already exists. Churches of theexisting sort have only dwindled ever since thestately days of Moses and Aaron. Starting fromthat gorgeous prime, they have descended throughthe diminished pomp of the Romish ritual, andthe Anglican attenuation of that, until the acmeof desquamation seems at length attained in thepinched and wintry ceremonial of our own Con-gregationalism. And even if this sort of churchshould be revived, and redintegrated in its fullMosaic splendor, would it be a work worthy of God 1Will the divine name be written as legibly underthese skies on stone and mortar, on ephod andbreastplate, as on the fleshly tablets of the busyhuman heart 1 I think not. I think indeed thata church which by dint of holding its breath, orarresting the transit of the divine influx, shouldswell itself to more than Papal or even Mosaicresonance, would only swell itself away from thewhole divine meaning it ever contained For .thetrue meaning of every visible divine institution has [ 112 ]
  4. 4. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.been, to serve as a witness merely to the invisibleDivine, whom the heaven of heavens canoot con-tain, much less therefore any house or polity ofmans invention. Consequently any visible church,technically either "old" or "new," which shouldprofess to constitute Gods true abode on earth,would only repeat the Jewish mistake, and incurthe like public contempt. Besides, when we talk of the crown and consum-mation of a thing, we do not mean any rival orhostile thing on the same plane with itself; wemean some discretely higher thing, say its facultyof use or action. Thus when we talk of the crownand consummation of a plant, we mean its floweror fruit, assuredly not some other and hostile plant.In like manner the crown and consummation ofan animal body is its will or faculty of voluntarymotion, not some new and rival form of animation.And the crown and consummation of the humanorganization is not any new and superior organiza-tion which is to supersede the old, but its facultyof virtuous activity, or the fruit of a holy life. Infact, the crown and consummation of any naturalthing, is always the use it effects, is always thesuperb fruit it bears. Thus the crown and con-lmmmation of the mineral kingdom is not somenew and precious form of mineral existence, but [ 113 ] Q
  5. 5. THE CHURCH OF ClIRISTthe vegetable form to whose development all itsuses ale tributary. And so in like manner thecrown and consummation of the vegetable kingdomis not some rare and splendid form of vegetation.but on the contrary the animal form, to the devf-lopment of which the vegetable kingdom is whollysubservient. And so again the crown and consum-mation of the animal kingdom is not some newand glorious form of animality, but the humanform, to which all the realm of animal existence istributary or subordinate. In all these cases we seeprogressive development to be the intention andmethod of nature. We never see her returningupon herself, or stopping short in her career toamend the work she has made, and bring out asecond edition of the same performance. We seeher going straight onward from the foundation ofher edifice, through all its successive grades orstories to its roof and skylight, and stopping onl)when the faultless house stands before you radiantin beauty, and inexpugnable in strength. Analogically therefore, when we look for a newchurch in the earth which is to be the crown andconsummation of all past churches, we are not wlook for a mere second edition of the existing ecclf-siasticiRm: we are not to look for a new and rivalecclesiastical organization to that of the old church: [ 114 ]
  6. 6. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.we are not to look for a new and competitive priest-hood, nor for a new and competitive baptism, norfor a new and competitive eucharist. This sort ofnewness the church experiences usque ad nauseamevery few yeal8, upon the occasion of the outbirthof every new sect. No, in looking f9r that newchurch which is to be the crown and consummati~nof all past churches, we are to look for the incor-ruptible spirit of which these past churches havebeen only the preparatory and perishable letter, forthe ripe and perfect fruit of which they have beenthe temporary and unconscious husks. In shortwe are to look for a spiritual church, which beingidentical with the broadest charity in the life ofman, must alwaYl:! refuse to become identified withparticular persons, particular places, or particularrituals of worship. Such of necessity is the character of the churchof Ohrist. It is a spiritual economy, and is there-fore identical with all that is humble and tenderand easy to be entreated in the soul of man.Heaven is not more distant from earth, than issectarianism, or the desire to separate oneself fromothers, distant from the mind of the true church-man. Instead of saying to Oalvinist or Oatholic,to Methodist or Episcopalian, "Stand aside, wepossess a holier priesthood than you, and put forth [ 115 ]
  7. 7. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTa more acceptable baptism and eucharist than you," the true churchman taking counsel of the divinelove in his heart, says, "Draw near, my brother,and let us worship together. There is but one priesthood known on high, the priesthood of good-ness, and one baptism and communion, that which~tes instead of dividing the household of faith.The two outward ordinances which we have receivedfrom the Lords hand are uniting, not dividingordinances j they are 80 divinely large IlB to accom-modate all heavenly truth, and hence to unite intheir equal embrace every true worshipper of God,in every clime, and of every name under heaven.He consequently who claims that they are adaptedto symbolize only the truth he professes, or thatthey lend themselves more willingly to his worshipthan to that of other and less instructed men, vir-tually claims to possess all truth, and in so doingproves that he is himself an alien from the entirespirit of truth. No, my friend, let us worship to-gether, calling upon one and the same blessed Lorda.nd Redeemer. You possibly do not know manyof the spiritual things contain~d within the ob.scurity of the literal scriptures j but all savingklWWledge is amply contained in the letter ofsacred scripture, and is to be drawn exclUBivelyfrMn it,. and you doubtless are IlB sincerely zealous [ 116 ]
  8. 8. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.of the honor of the letter as I can claim to be.But even if it were otherwise, even if the commondoctrine of the church were not deducible fromthe letter of scripture, but only from its spiritualcontents, I yet know so little of those contentscompared with what is to be known, that the dif-ference between my knowledge and your ignorancein this respect sinks into absolute nought. Andyet on the other hand I know so well the mag- nanimous and divine spirit of all that truth, thus contained invisibly to natural sight within the literal page,-I know so well the boundless love and charity with which it is all aglow, that I could never think of making any amount of superior information I possessed, a ground of glorying over others, or a warrant for expecting a greater com- placency on Gods part to my worship than yours. On the contrary, the spirit of all truth is goodness, the substance of all faith is charity, and hence the more I feel the spirit of truth, the less I value all merely external and intellectual differences among men, and the more I value all cordial and vital agreement.". Now no one can doubt that this is the attitude of the true churchman. Every one in whom the church truly exists is a regenerate man, is a form of charity, and nothing can be more intolerable to [ 117 ]
  9. 9. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTsuch a man, than the attempt to separate himfrom others, or give him an ecclesiastical elevationabove others. He cannot be persuaded by anyamount of sophistry, or any force of clerical domi-nation, long to falsify his fundamental instincts inthis particular. He will go on to suffocate andsuffer, until at length he throws off the incumbentmass of ecclesiastical pride and dotage, and emergesfor ever into the lustrous air and warm sunshine ofGods boundless love. The true Christian allowsothers to separate from him as much as they please,as much as their unfortunate narrowness makes itinevitable to them; but he feels it nece88arJ toseparate himself from no one. His mission is oneof love, and therefore of fusion and unity, insteadof separation or disunity. Hence although heclaims the right to worship on Sundays withwhomsoever he pleases, and to employ for thatpurpose any improved form of worship, he yettakes care to deny all ecclesiastical separation onthat account from those around him, professing hissteadfast allegiance to the same Lord whom theyequally profess to obey. He does not attempt toconstrue his arrangements for an improved socialworship, into a fact of public significance, nor doeshe claim for what is purely conventional and tran-sitory that public importance which is due only to [ ll8 ]
  10. 10. NOT AN ECCLESIASlICISM. what is spiritual and eternal. Hence he remamsin ecclesiastical unity with the people around him,being content to enjoy unimpaired his spiritualfreedom, and the freedom of external worship withwhomsoever and wheresoever he pleases. The only legitimate newness of the Christianchurch consists in a newness of spirit among itsmembers, not a newness of letter. The letter ofthe church consists unalterably in its two ordi-nances of baptism and the Lords supper. A newliteral church therefore must disown these ordi-nances, must exhibit new ordinances, instinct withnew meaning. Clearly Swedenborg never contem-plated such a church. Never once in the wholecourse of his writings, has he criticized the admini-stration of the Christian ordinances, or declared itdefective, save in respect to the withholding thecup from the laity in the Roman church. Hewaged no war whatever with the church as anecclesiasticism, though I doubt not he had his justProtestant predilections, but only as a corruptspiritual economy. He complained of it only inthat respect wherein the Lord complains of it,namely, as being destitute of the life of charity,and being therefore to all heavenly intents andpurposes dead or inactive. Accordingly you nevPf.find him proposing so cheap and superficial a [ 119 ]
  11. 11. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTa remedy for so grave a disease, as the creation ofa new ecclesiastical organization. How should anew ecclesiastical hierarchy mend matters 1 Thecomplaint was not against a particular set of per-sons, as contrasted with another set. The Glomplaintwas not that certain persons called Gods churchwere worse men spiritually than certain other per-Rons; which other persons must therefore be formedinto a new ecclesiastical body, and made to super-sede the old one. By no means. The complaintwas that the entire mind of man, as ecclesiasticallyexhibited, was in spiritual ignorance or darkness,and hence the remedy befitting this condition couldnot be a change in the personal administration ofthe church, or a change in the persons composingit, but an entire renewal of its spirit. What thechurch wanted was not a new body, or a new literalconstitution, but exclusively a new spirit, the spiritof unfeigned love. Hence you never find Swedenborg discussingany questions of ecclesiastical polity, or urging anymeasures of ecclesiastical reform, except that ofthe administration of the eucharist in the Romanchurch. He thought, indeed, that from the cir-cumstance of that church exalting a life of charityin its doctrines more than the reformed churchesdo, it would more easily receive the new truths [ 120 ]
  12. 12. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.than any other church, provided it would rectifyits administmtion of the eucharist, and dismiss theworship of saints. But all this of course was matter .of private opinion. You always find him treatingall questions of ritual or exte~al difference betweenchurches as of no spiritual significance, save ascontributing indeed to the greater unity of thechurch, when charity was its spiritual bond. Heinvariably represents the true Christian, or theman in whom charity dwells, as gratefully andreverently observing the institutions of public wor-ship established in his nation, and on no occasionwhatever does he represent him as finding theseinstitutions inadequate to his need So also when-ever he talks of the external of the church, he doesnot represent it as consisting in a Sunday ritual,or a correct liturgical form, but exclusively ingoodness of life. " The church of the Lord," says hein 403 of .A. rcana Explained, "is both internaland external: the internal of thechurch consists ofcharity and faith thence derived, but the externalof the church IS THE GOOD OF LIFE, or the WORKSof charity and faith j" that is, all those thingswhich charity and faith opemte in our social re-lation!. Consistently with this definition, you findhim throughout his writings making no ecclesiasti-cal complaint of the church, but only a spiritual [ 121 ]
  13. 13. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTcomplaint, as to its destitution of charity. Thushe says the existing array of divided churches, asCatholic and Protestant, and the various subdivi-sions of the~ again, would be perfectly conformableto the divine mind, were they only animated bymutual love or charity. "THE THINGS OF DOC-TRINE," he says in his Oelestial .A. rcana, 1790,"DO NOT DISTINGUISH CHURCHES BEFORE THELORD,"-that is to say, the Lord knows no differ-ence between a church professing true doctrineand one professing false-" but this distinction iseffected BY A LIFE ACCORDING TO THE THINGS OFDOCTRINE, all of which, if they are true, regardcharity as their fundamental, for what is the endand design of doctrine but to teach how man shouldlive? The several churches in the Christian worldare doctrinally distinguished into Roman Catholics,Lutherans, and Calvinists. This diversity of namearises solely from the things of doctrine, and wouldnever have had place if the members of the churchhad made love to the Lord, and charity towardstheir neighbor, the principal point of faith. Thingsof doctrine would then be only varieties of opinionconcerning the mysteries of faith, which THEY WHOARE TRUE CHRISTIANS would leave to every one tobelieve according to his conscience, whilst it wouldbe the language of their hearts THAT HE IS A TRUE [ 122 ]
  14. 14. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM. CHRISTIAN WHO LIVES AS A CHRISTIAN, that is, as the Lord teaches. Thus one church would be f01"YMd out of all these diverse ones, and all dis- agreements arising from mere forms of doctrine would vanish ; yea, all the animosities of one against another would be dissipated, and THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD WOULD BE ESTABLISHED ON THE EARTH." Think of that, my sectarian friend. These old Christian sects whom you propose to supersede, Catholic, Calvinist, and Lutheran, with all their subdivisions, were they only enlivened by charity or mutual love, would present no ecclesiastical ob- stacle to the divine truth, but would really consti- tute the Lords kingdom on earth, would constitute the true and spiritual church which is identical with that kingdom. How much wider the sym-pathies of this great man were, than they arerepresented to have been by those who make use of his name to originate a new ecclesiasticism !Let us sing a few more brief hymns to the sameblessed tune, from the same general repository. "Allthe members of the primitive Christian church,"he says, A. a. 1834, -<, lived one amongst anotheras brethren, and mutually loved each other. Butin process of time charity diminished, and at lengthvanished away; and as charity vanished, evils suc-ceeded; and with evils falsities also insinuated [ 123 ]
  15. 15. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTthemselves, whence arose schisms and heresies.These would never have existed, if charity hadcontinued to live and rule : JOT in BUch ca8e theywould not have called 8chism by the name of8chism, nOT heresy by the name oj heresy, butthey would have called them doctrines a.greeableto each persons particular opinion, or wa.y of think-ing, which they would have left to every onesconscience, not judging or condemning any fortheir opinions, provided they did not deny funda-mental principles, that is, the Lord, eternal life,and the Word, and maintained nothing contraryto divine order, that is, to the commandments ofthe decalogue." "The false principle within thechurch," he says, A. O. 2351, "which favors evilsof life, is that goodneBB or charity doth not con-stitute a man of the church, but that churchmembership is effected by truth or faith." .ABman becomes internal and instructed in internalthings, externals are as nothing to him, for hethen knows what is sacred, namely, charity, andfaith grounded therein." Again he says in A. O.3122, "The regenerate man makes no account ofthe things of faith or truth;" that is, of course,holds them to be wholly subordinate to a life ofcharity. " Faith, in the Word, means nothing butlove and charity: hence doctrines and tenets of [ 124 ]
  16. 16. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.faith are not faith but only appurtenances of it.-A. 0.2116. " Love to the Lord cannot possibly be separatedfrmn love to the neighbor, for the Lords love istowards the whole human race, which he desiresto save eternally, and to adjoin entirely to himself,so as for none of them to perish: wherefore WHO-SOEVER HAS LOVE TO THE LORD, HAS THE LORDSLOVE, and cannot h.elp loving his neighbor."-A. a. 2023. "When it is said there is no salvation in anyname but that of the Lord, it means that there issalvation in no other doctrine; that is, IN NOOTHER THING THAN MUTUAL LOVE, which is thetme doctrine of faith."-A. a. 2009. " The essential of worship is hearty adoration ofthe Lord, which does not exist save in so far as theheart be principled in charity or neighborly love..All true worship is adoration of the Lord, for theLord is never present in external worship unleBBinternal worship be contained in it."-A. a. 1150. "Many say that there is. no internal worship without external, when yet the truth of the case is, that there is no external without internal.- A. a. 1175. " The new church is to be established only among those who are in a life of good."-A. a. 3898. [ 125 ]
  17. 17. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST "The church is one, notwithstanding its diversi- ties of doctrine, when all acknowledge charity as the eB8ential of the church, or, what is the same thing, when they have respect to life as the end of doctrine, that is, when they inquire HOW A MAN OF THE CHURCH LIVES, and not 80 much what are his 8entiment8."-.A. O. 3341. ., The church must needs vary as to doctrine,one society or one man profe!lSing one opinion, andanother, another. But as long as each liveB i11charity, HE IS IN THE CHURCH AS TO LIFE, whethe1he be as to doctrine or not, and consequently, theLords church or kingdom is in him." -.A. O. 3451. "Doctrinals are not designed to direct thethoughts so much as the life, for what is theirend but that a man may become what they teachhim to be 1"-...1.. O. 2982. Again, in his latest work, entitled "The-.rrueChristian Religion," 784, when expressly describingthe formation of the church, he says, "that thiscannot be effected in a moment, but in proportionas the false8 of the fornwr church are removed;and this must first take place among the clergy,and by their means among the laity." Now, surely, this whole strain of observation isinconsistent with the notion of any just stigmaattaching to the Christian church, considered as [ 126 ]
  18. 18. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM. an ecclesiastical constitution, and utterly forbids the conception of the new church, therefore, as a new and militant ecclesiastical polity. Noone, indeed, can read Swedenborg at all intelligently, without being convinced that the Christian ordi- nances of Baptism and the Holy Supper were never given by the Lord for the purpose of sym- bolizing a particular creed, or celebrating a certain doctrinal consensus on the part of his professed followers. They were given to be a sign or memo- rial of the universal spirit which, under all varieties of doctrinal and ritual observance, reigns among his followers, namely, a regenerative spirit, a spirit which proceeds upon the putting away the evils of the natural heart as sins against God, typified by baptism, and tlie consequent reception of goods and truths from the Lord, typified by the eucharist. These ordinances have thus a most universal scope, being addressed solely to the foreshadowing of the great facts of life in which all Gods children are, one, and not in the slightest degree to the fore- shadowing of those minor facts of doctrine, as to which all Gods children, simply because they are his children, must eternally differ. It is this universality of scope in the Christian ordinancelii which fits them to symbolize the new or spiritual and universal Christian church; because what this [ 127 ]
  19. 19. THE CHURCH OF CHlUSlchurch primarily regards is the life of charity, or aspiritual new birth in man, and the ordinances ofbaptism and the supper are the express imagesand types, are the divinely appointed signs :andseals of this regenerate life. No matter how mucha man may misconceive the literal text of scripture,no matter how full of absurd traditions or super-stitions his ecclesiastical memory may be, so longas he professes to believe in the Lord, and avoidsevils as sins, he is a perfectly proper recipient ofthe Christian ordinances, let them be administeredwhere or by whom they may; as proper a recipient,let me add, and one as precious in the Lords sight,as if, instead of his own native ignorance on thesesubjects, he possessed the angel Gabriels plenaryillumination. We may well fee~ therefore, howmerited a scorn shall one day betide any commu-nion which excludes such a man from it in theLords name. We may well feel what scorn shallespecially betide any corporation, which, assumingthe sacred name of New Jerusalem, yet seeks todivert these divinely appointed vessels of the Lordshouse aside from their benign and universal uses,to the service of its own ecclesiastical pomp andvanity. Now, my friend, if the spirit of the new economybe as I have described it, if charity be the all of [ 128 ]
  20. 20. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.the true Christian church, the all of its life and theall of its doctrine-and I defy anyone rationallyto gainsay this-then it is highly incumbent onthose who profess to be devoted to the interestsof true Christianity, to inquire what hinders thespread of it among men. Let us proceed brieflyto do this. Now, mark! the inquiry we propose to make isnot as to the obstacles which defeat the spread oftrue religion in the world generally. Undoubtedlythe main obstacle to the spread of true religion inthe world, is a very prevalent indifference to theconcerns of mans spiritual history and destiny,growing out of the unsanctified lusts of self-loveand the love of the world. This obstacle you andI, in common with all the rest of the world, expe-rience to the life of true religion in our souls. Truereligion is of so heavenly a genius, its temper is sohumane, so instinct with the vital breath of charity,that it necessarily encounters the stupid antagonismof the natural heart in all of us, and is alwaysobliged to conquer, therefore, wherever it takespossession. But this is not the point we are nowto consider. It is a most interesting point, doubt-less; but we have one still more interesting beforeus, which is this: what obstacles exist in the mindsof religious people-people who are sincerely [ 129 ) 10
  21. 21. THE CHURCH OF ~LqTanxious to know and do the will of God-tothe reception of new-church light, as that lightstands diiiclosed in the remarkable writings ofSwedenborg 1 This is our question. We findmultitudes of tender, generous, and profoundlyreligious minds in all the divided Christian sect.B,who are consciously starving and perishing uponthe slender fare which is hebdomadally served outto them; and we ask what is it which hindersthese persons immediately receiving the stupen-dous consolations of the new and spiritual church 1 Now, my friend, permit me to say that I thinkthere can be but one answer to this enquiry, andit is, that these personl are continually taught tolook upon the new church, not as a spiritual andtherefore universal church, but simply as a newChristian sect, and upon the writings of Sweden-borg, consequently, as tbe ravings of a fanatical ordisordered brain. I say, these persons are taughtto take this view of the new church pretensions.And if you ask me how they are thus taught, Ianswer, by the purely ecclesiastical aspect which isgiven to the new church idea, by so many sincerebut inconsiderate admirers of Swedenborg. The technical or self-styled new church assumes before the world simply the attitude of a new ecclesiasti- cal organization, or a new organization for external [ 130 ]
  22. 22. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM:.worship, claiming a new clerical order, and a morevirtuous or valid administration of the Christianordinances than pertains to any other sect. Thusthe world is led to consider the new church, not asa new and regenerate life of man, not as a life ofspiritual conformity to the divine will, to be exem-plified only in the broadest charity, or in everyform of domestic, social, civil and religious use, butonly as a new visible sect, having a local habitationand a name, and capable, therefore, of being geo-metrically de£ned and demonstrated. And, accord-ingly, when you go to a person whose thoughts areexercised about in£nite truth and goodness, or whoBuffers in soul from the violence which is done tothese interests by the spirit of sect-when you goto such a person and set before him the claims ofthe new church to his regard, be replies at once,-" Do you mean by the new church the sect thatworships in such or such a place, and seeks toprocure itself a name by outwardly separatingitself from all other worship 1 Because if youmean that, 1 really do not see that you promiseme any improvement. The persO,llS who composemy present ecclesiastical connection are very goodpersons generally, very good neighbors, very goodcitizens; and besides all that are too niodest toclaim before the world any peculiar ecclesiastical [ 131 1
  23. 23. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTnearness to God, as the sect in question does. Ihave no fault to find with my ecclesiastical con-nection, consequently, at least, no such fault aspromises to be remedied by °a mere change ofconnection. In short, my troubles are not at allecclesiastical, but spiritual. One ecclesiasticism isquite as good as another to me, were the vital spiritof it only divine. What I lack in them all is thatclose internal fusion or sympathy of the members,which could not fail to be felt in them all if charitywere their life and not an unchastised ambition formutual preeminence. How should I be helped,then, by going among the people in question 1Do they not pretend to offer God a more accept-able worship than the Presbyterians or Catholicsor Episco.palians? Do they not claim a newministry? Do they accept Presbyterian or Metho-dist baptism? Will they allow Bishop Wainwrightor Dr. Dewey to administer the Lords supper tothem? If all these things are so, will you tell mewherein this self-styled new church differs in spiritfrom all the older sects, unless, perhaps, in beingrather more sectarian? And if it do not differ inspirit from the older sects, why then, of course itis nothing new under the sun, but something onthe contrary-very stale, flat, and unprofitable. Anew church must prove itself such by ne1cmesS of [ 132 ]
  24. 24. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.8pirit, by a spirit of universal charity-a charitywhich shall loathe to be preeminent even overPagam and Turks, let alone its fellow-Ohristiana.Any spirit short of this, any spirit which virtuallysays to sincere Christian worshippers of whatevername,- Stand aside! we claim to offer a moreacceptable worship than you! is an extremelyancient spirit, is as ancient at least as that unhappyPharisee we read of in holy writ, who approachedthe temple of divine worship, saying, Father, ITHA.NK THEE that I am not as other men, &c.,and who therefore went down to his house con-siderably disadvantaged from other men." I say therefore, because if a man so mistakes thedivine character as to suppose Him a respecter ofpersons, and to give Him thanks accordingly forprivate or personal favors, it is manifest that themans worship is animated by self-love, and thedivine name consequently grossly profaned. Ofcourse it is the dictate of true religion to refer allgood. to the Lord, and all evil to the devil: buttrue religion dictates no comparisons or contrastsbetween ourselves and others, nor indeed does shetolerate any such comparisons, declaring them, onthe contrary, utterly incompatible with her heavenlytemper. When. I feel disposed to thank God forgreater ecclesiastical privileges than my neighbors, [ 133 ]
  25. 25. ·THE CHURCH OF CHRISTor what is the same thing, a nearer access to Himthan my neighbours enjoy; whenever, lookingupon Dr. Potts or Dr. Hawks, I felicitate myselfupon the knowledge of a rival priesthood superiorto theirs;. or whenever, looking upon the ordi-nances of the universal church as administered bytheir hands, I congratulate myself that they aremore efficaciously administered elsewhere-it is nolonger religion which animates me-it is no longerthe blessed spirit of charity, but the accursed spiritof sect, or a temper of genuine self-love, which, ifleft unchecked, must issue in confirmed diabolism. Do not misunderstand me. It is very far frommy intention, because it is very far from my desire,to cast disparagement upon any institutions ofsocial worship. It seems to me entirely properand inevitable that those who sympathize witheach others views of Christian doctrine, shouldcome together at suitable times and places forsocial worship. Nothing could be more delightfulthan an assembly of this sort, when animated solelyby a spirit of charity towards all other assemblies,and having nothing to gain by disparaging themin public estimation. An assembly like this, unitedin cordial adoration of the Divine Love, and intentonly on celebrating His ineffable perfection, wouldIlf,and in an attitude of the tenderest sympathy [ 134 ]
  26. 26. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.towards all other assemblies. Jt would neverdream of impugning the truth of their worshipby publishing itself as the only true church of Godin New York; but it would strive on the contraryto shew them the riches of spiritual consolationwhich are embodied in the Christian ordinanceswherever administered, and prove how every par-ticular of their own worship is fragrant with theinward acknowledgment of divine mercy and peace.No, let us worship together in this spirit to ourhearts content, and under whatever orderly routinebefits our taste. Let us have architecture, let ushave music, let us have singing, let us have preach-ing, and the concerted voice of prayer; let us have,in short, whatever graceful and glowing forms maybe deemed suitable to express a worship so cordialand therefore so cheerful, so rational and thereforeso profoundly reverential, as that which is inspiredby the new truths must necessarily be. All thisis right and sweet and beautiful; and I cantimagine anyone but a sour and surly sectarianobjecting to it. No one, indeed, can object to it,unless he be disposed to deny freedom of worshipaltogether. Every one, on the contrary, must seethat it is a suitable and decorous thing for personswhose intellects are forming upon the same generalclass of truths, to seek each others sympathy in [ 135 ]
  27. 27. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTpublic or social worship. But what every one hasa right to complain of as an unsuitable and inde-corous thing, is for this company thus comingtogether for worship to arrogate to themselves thename and authority of the Lord, in any such senseas prejudices the equal right of any other worship-ping assembly to do the same thing. I believevery truly in the interior truths of the Scriptureas they .are unfolded by Swedenborg, and I instructmy family in the knowledge of those truth~ so faras their tender understandings are capable of re-ceiving them. Have I thereupon the right to saythat my family worship is one whit truer or moreacceptable in a heavenward way than that of mynext door neighbor, who never heard of any inte-rior sense in the Scripture, or if he h~ deemsit a very great snare and delusion, and steadilyworships, notwithstanding, according to the plenaryPresbyterian platform 1 Assuredly not. Shall thetruth of any mans reverence and worship of thegreat Being who creates and redeems and preserveshim, hinge upon his possessing adequate conceptionsof the divine perfection~ and offering a homagetherefore which shall be worthy of those perfections 1God help the best of us in that case! say I. Forthis is to place worship in a new ground entirely-no longer in a sense of the profound wants of the [ 136 ]
  28. 28. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.heart-no longer in the deep and cordial andoverwhelming sense of our own deficiencies, of ourown relative nothingness and vanity, and of Godsboundless sufficiency-but rather in ones intellec-tual acquisitions, in the sentiment of possessing asuperior illumination to other people. But if I have no right to defame my neighborsfamily worship on the ground of its utter uncon-sciousness of the new truths, if I have no right tosuppose that the Lord views my family worshipwith more complacency than he does that of myPresbyterian neighbor; what right have I andthose who socially worship with me, to supposethat He views our social worship with any morecomplacency than He does that of the Baptists,Catholics, Unitarians, Presbyterians, or Mahome-dans 1 What right have we to claim in our socialcapacity, a comparative nearness t.o God over othersocieties, which we have no right to claim in ourfamily capacities! If I myself, with all my heartydelight in the new truths,. do not contribute anyelement to my family worship which makes itcapable of disparaging my neighbors family wor-ship before God, do pray tell me how any fifty orfive hundred of us assembling for social worship,shall contribute any element to that worship whichshall have the effect to disparage any other sincere [ 137 ]
  29. 29. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTworship before God 1 If I have no right in myprivate devotions to stigmatize my neighbors de-votions as old and worthless and dead, what righthave I to do so in my public worship 1 Whatright have I to advertise my public devotions asnew and living and valid, and his by implication,as old, spiritless, and unprofitable? Of course it is perfectly proper for people whosympathize in any particular views of divine truth,and who desire to express that sympathy in formsof social worship, to advertise their place of meeting,for the benefit of all persons interested. Or if wewish to assail the popular doctrines by means oflectures, sermons, and so forth, let us clearly ad-vertise our intention. But let us not put forthimmodest hand-bills, informing the world that herethe true church is to be found, and inferentiallytherefore not anywhere else in the city, underpenalty of affronting the most intimate spirit ofthat church. You may very properly say to the world, if youplease, that you are about establishing, or havealready established, external Christian worship insuch a place on an improved basis, or with a spiritmodified by new church light. Bnt to say thatany amount of such worship gives you the slightestclaim to the worlds recognition as the" new Jeru- [ 138 I
  30. 30. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM. salem," as the grand end and achievement of all divine promise and prophecy, gives you the slightest right to arrogate to yourselves one particle of the consideration which belongs to that divine and im- maculate economy, is to say what only a complete ignorance of the spirit of that economy prompts. The new church in man, is a regenerate life, a life of brotherly love or charity, a life which is no more consistent with the claim of superior ecclesiastical merit before God, than it is with that of superior moral or physical merit. I am ashamed to go before God saying that I am a better man morally than John Smith, and that I should like therefore a superior celestial position to his. Why am I thus ashamed 1 Because the plea insultingly im- plies that God is a respecter of persons, thus, that one of His creatures is less dependent upon Himthan another. By what infatuation is it, then, that one is not ashamed to do ecclesiastically, thatwhich he is thus ashamed to do personally 1 Oneis not ashamed every Sunday to claim before theworld, and challenge the worlds recognition of thefact, that he is ecclesiastically much nearer to Godthan the Catholic bishop Hughes, the Presbyterianbishop Phillips, or the Unitarian bishop Bellows.What, I ask, is the explanation of this scandalousincongruity 1 [ 139 ]
  31. 31. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST The explanation is to be sought in the prevalenceof totally erroneous or sectarian views of the church.The sectarian idea of the church is, that it is pri-marily a visible corporation, hierarchically consti-tuted, whose life lies in Sunday worship, and whoseproper activity consists accordingly in promotingall the resources and interests of that worship.According to this conception of the church, a manis what he is, chiefly by virtue of his connnectionwith that visible body; that visible body standsbetween him and God, and is the medium of thedivine blessing to him, so that he may be calledupon to honor it as his spiritual mother, with pre-cisely the same propriety that he may be calledupon to honor God as his spiritual Father. Wefind the conception everywhere diffused, and hearit expounded and enforced from all sorts of pulpits ;but the only consistent and worthy representativeof it is the Roman Catholic church. No personwho holds this theory of the church, who holds theecclesiastical conception of it, and maintains it ea;0JIIJimw, has any logical right to disclaim the pater-nal authority of bishop Hughes, and must eitherin this world or the next filially submit himself toit. He may call himself a Protestant against thechurch of Rome, and may protest till he is blackIn the face; but when he at last finds that the [ 140 ]
  32. 32. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.church of Rome is the only logical exponent of hisidea of the church,-when he finds that all logicand all experience and all testimony go to substan-tiate her sole claim to the name of church in thisview,-when, in short, it comes to the choice ofthe church of Rome or no church at all of thatsame general type or pattern; he will infalliblyswallow the nauseous medicine, I havent a doubt. I cannot, indeed, understand how anyone whoholds to the ecclesiastical conception of the church,can for an instant deny the paramount claims ofthe Romish hierarchy upon his allegiance. If thechurch of Christ possesses of necessity an ecclesias-tical constitution, or, what is the same thing, aninseparable external organization, based upon the distinction of clergy and laity, then the Romanchurch is the only true church, because it alonepermanently secures such an organization. Hadthe Protestant been as stoutly pushed a tergo as the Catholic has been pushed by him, and as he himself bids fair to be pushed in the future, he must long ere this have acknowledged that the only consistent ecclesiasticism is that of Rome. The Roman Catholic makes the church to consist wholly in the pope and his inferior clergy, just as the old theories of the State left out the people, or as the little boys when they form amateur military [ 141 ]
  33. 33. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST companies, make them to consist wholly of captains, lieutenants, and corporals. We may smile at this infantine simplicity on the part of the church, or weep over its boundless spiritual arrogance, as we please, but it affords nevertheless the only i¢allible recipe for the churchs perpetuity, considered as an ecclesiastical institution. If we want conviction on this point, we have only to refer to the utter disorganization which the hierarchical idea, or thechurch considered as having an inseparable ecclesi-astical organization, encounters at Protestant hands.The Protestant democratizes the idea of the church,making it to consist not of one power alone, not ofthe clergy simply, but of the clergy and peoplejointly. But this theory by commixing the twoorders, and leaving their respective parts whollyundefined, like a military company whose officersand privates should possess a joint authority, isdestructive of all discipline, and has actually endedin the complete disorganization of the church, asan ecclesiasticism. What is your own ecclesiasticalpretension in fact but a proof of this 1 Your ownsect is a striking fruit and exemplification of thepurely disorganizing tendencies of Protestantism.In the first place, a handful of laymen reared inthe bosom of Protestantism, and united in nothingbut a profession of faith in the remarkable writings [ 142 ]
  34. 34. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.of a very remarkable man, combine by mutuallybaptising each other, to establish a new ecclesias-tical organization which shall have the effect tosupersede all the older organizations, and vacatealike t~e authority of their priesthoods and thesanctity of their sacraments. But as these personscan legitimately claim no other warrant for thisnew organization than their own wills; as theyexhibit no diviDe sanctions for it in the shapE ofnew baptisms or other sacraments distinguishingthem from the old organizations; as, in short, theyare only a new Christian sect to all the recognizedintents and purposes of a sect, they cannot of coursepropagate any but sectarian offspring, and musttolerate every schism and division and heresy whichmay subsequently arise to rend their own bowels,and deliver them in their turn an easy prey todissolution. Accordingly I know no sect so young that gives such unequivocal proofs of senility asyour own; I know no sect so inconsiderable inpoint of numbers, which has already bred so many "doting questions and strifes of words." For this result I say you are indebted only to your inherent Protestantism, or the mother that bore you. :For as Protestantism was not a new church, spiritually considered, but only a new form or modification of one and the same ecclesiastical spirit, so your more [ 143 ]
  35. 35. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST limited movement exhibits no spiritual advance upon the older Protestant sects, but only a highly rational and comfortable modification of their ritual observances. Thus you have no right to glory over the Protestant sects, through which ~ your own ecclesiastical validity is derived; just as they have no right to glory over the Catholic church,seeing that whatsoever hierarchical virtue theypossess, is but a puny rill of that once affluent butnow moss-grown and dishonored fountain. Neitherof you has the slightest reason for boasting overthe other, save on the ground of a spiritual supe-riority, or a more eminent life of charity; andeminence in that life is scarcely consistent withecclesiastical or any other sort of boasting, beingidentical in fact with the greatest personal humility. Do I- complain of these unhandsome quarrels,however 1 Do I regret the grand original fact ofProtestantism 1 Do I regret the great subsequentfacts which have marked her history, and developedher true or characteristic tendencies 1 God forbid !I look upon them all as facts full of blessed signifi-cance for the true church of God, for the true lifeof God in the soul of man. Had we not hadCatholicism in the first place, or an ecclesiasticaleconomy paramount to the civil and politicalregime, the human mind must have lacked the [ 144 ]
  36. 36. NOT AN ECCLESlASTICISM.necessary germ or egg of the true idea of the church.We could never have conceived in that case of thedivine life in man, as destined eventually to controland sanctify his civil and natural life. Had wenot haQ Protestantism again, we should have hadno disorganization of this primary and beneficentgenu, nor consequently any development of themiraculous spirit which infonus it. I have indeedno doubt that the Providence which governs humanaffairs is altogether divine, for I see throughout allhistory the unswerving march of a great spiritualend or purpose, which is so high above mansthought as to find its stepping-stones alternatelyin his wisdom and his folly, and so high above hisbest affections, as to make his very vices contributean equal furtherance with his virtues, to itB finalevolution.. f I need not say to you that I look upon this endor purpose of the Divine Providence, as identicalwith that new church of which the world has solong and so reverently read in ancient prophecy,and of whose advent the roseate dawn is at lengthflushing the entire mental horizon of humanity;that new and everlasting church, the crown andconsummation of all past churches, which is consti~tuted solely by a regenerate life in all her members,or a heart full of love to God and love to man. [ 145 ] 11
  37. 37. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTIt is identical with what the mystical scriptures callthe New Jerusalem, meaning by that carnal symbolnothing indeed appreciable to the carnal eye, "norat all germane to the carnal heart, but a trulydivine life in the soul of man. " It is also called anew church, both because it is the crown and ful-filment of all past churches, and because a churchin the spiritual idea invariably signiiies a regeneratelife in man, or the life of charity. This church isnot aristocratically constituted like the RomishChurch, nor yet democratically like the Protestantchurches. It is not made up of clergy alone, norof clellq and people jointly; but simply of goodnessand truth in the soul of every individual member.It is not made a church by any amount or anyexactitude of ritual worship, any more than I ammade aather by the number of kisses I give mychildren. No man can say of it 10 here! or 10there! any more than he can limit the path ofthe lightning which now shin:es in one part of theheavens and now in the opposite. For as all her "members are born of God, they can only be spi-ritually discerned, and hence the new church mustpeIlistently disclaim all identification with parti-cular persons, particular times, or particular places. Unlike the typical "churches, this perfect church finds its t.mest abode and expression in the indi- [ 146 ]
  38. 38. NOT AN ~IASTICISlLvidual soul. The existing ecclesiaBtical politiell,both Catholic and Protesta.n~ stand between Godand the individual man, claiming to be the mediumto him of the divine blessing. The true church,on the contrary, derives its most general or aBBO-ciated form from the individual life of which it iscomposed, only from the purer individual fibres ofwhich it is the gross aggregation. It consequentlyconfesses a total inability to confer life, or do any-thing else but receive it. There is no stone so dead,no dolt so absolute, in respect to whom this newchurch claims or is conscious of one jot of supe-riority. Because her first, second, and third estate,or her beginning, middle, and end, are unmixeltdependence, and beget nothing accordingly batunmixed humility. She is only what her individus:lmembers make her; and as they are all regeneratemen, or men in whom charity rules, and self-seekU::gis dead, so she of course can only be a stupendousform of charity, whose life lies not in receiving,but only in communicating. No baptisms and no sacraments give admissionto this church, but only those things which allbaptisms and sacraments do but typify, namely,charity and a faith which itself is charity. All thebaptisms and sacraments that ever were adminis-tered, and all the priesthoods ever consecrated, veil [ 147 ]
  39. 39. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTtheir servile heads before the true divine presencein the soul of the humblest of men, confessing theirutter impotence to approxima.te their subject: tothat suprema bliss. Nay, more j were the Lordhimself once again in finite form upon the earth,and the actual administrator of the Christian ordi-nances, they would still remain utterly inoperativeto give the slightest. approximation to his spiritualpresence. For all true approximation in thatdirection is spiritual, depending upon the existenceof neighborly love in our hea.rt:.l, and a new andtrue church therefo~e will place her distinctivemarks, not in the possession of any baptisms orsacraments or other ca.rnal observances of any BOrt,but only in the sincere and saintly life of hervotaries. It is totally impossible, if she be a truechurch, if she be anything else than a spuriouschurch, or a mere representative economy, that shecan have any manifestation apart from the manifes-tations of charity in the daily life of her members.If charity teaches her subject to blow trumpetsbefore him in the public streets, proclaiming thathe is a regenerate man j if it teach him to invitepublic attention by printed handbills, whenever heseeks to celebrate the Divine Perfection by praiseand prayer j if it teach him to advertise himself asGods true child, in contradistinction to others who [ 148 ]
  40. 40. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.only falsely profess to be so; if it teach him toacknowledge the divine life only in those whoentertain the same theological opinions 88 himself,or read the same theological books: why then, ofcourse, the greater church will do the same things,that is to say, will soon render the name of "newchurch" the synonyme of whatsoever is sectarianin temper, or vulgar and disreputable in manners.But if charity prescribe no such behavior to hervotaries; if the truly regenerate man, or the manin whom charity rules, be, from the very nature ofthe case, the least conscious of the difference be-tween himself and other men, and the least disposedto magnify such difference; if he be disposed tohide the shortcomings of his brother, and discoveronly the things that make for peace and universal unity; if he perceive in the law of God a heightand depth, a length and breadth of spiritual perfec-tion, which laughs to scorn the bare thought of meritin Gods sight, and makes our truest wealth to lie inthe unaffected consciousness of our utter want: whythen, of course, the new church will everywhere inten-sify these individual characteristics until she utterly sink from all identification with persons or places or rituals, and stamp herself 88 one only with what- soever is pure and unsullied in human inspiration, and manly, just, and generous in human conduct. [ 149 ]
  41. 41. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST In short, the true or final church is not in theleast degree an ecclesiasticism, is not in any out-ward sense a hierarchical institution. Were it so,it would have existed from the beginning of theworld, for the world h8.8 never been without authen..tic hierarchies, or true ecclesiastical institutioIl&I do not see what rea.sonable fault is to be foundwith either the Jewish worship, or with that of theCh.zmian church, if they are to be replaced onlyby other external worship. The Jewish priestsreflected, no doubt, the prevalent arrogance andselfishness of the national hope, but, I presume,were otherwise a superior class of men. And theChristian priesthood, although the temptations in-cident to their conventional elevation have servedto devel~pe among them many of the subtler formsof evil latent in the undisciplined human heart,have yet, on the whole, been lustrous with manyvirtues. You will occasionally find one amongthem with a conscience like the hide of a rhino-ceros, and a lust of dominion able to surmount thetallest star, and annex it to the bishopric of hisconceit. And, what is remarkable, the smaller thesect, the plentier you find this sort of men, 8.8 ifthe divine Providence purposely limited a stomachso gigantic.to the meagerest possible pasture. But,on the whole, what sweetness h8.8 baptized the [ lliO I
  42. 42. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISlLclerical function in the past! What fortitude, whatself-denial, what patience, what labor in seasonand out of season, have been the heritage of thegreat ma.es of these men! What stores of learningthey have accumulated; what splendid additionsthey have made to the best literature of every land;how they have enriched the sciences by their ob-servation and studious enquiries; how they havekept the flame of patriotism aglow; how they haveencouraged the generous ambition of youth, anddirected it to worthy and useful ends; how theyhave dignified the family altar, and cherished thepurity of woman, and diffused through society thecharm of honest and gentle manners: all thesethings must be cordially acknowledged by everyone competent to speak on the question. Wherewould be the sense of ousting such a body of men,native, as it were, and to the manor born, inherit-ing a grace and dignity from their time-honoredplaces, embalmed in the kindly reverence andgood-will of the community, only for the purposeof introducing a new and undisciplined body, honestand well-intentioned, no doubt, and in many re-spects intellectually well qualified; but aggreBBiveby the very nece88ity of their birth, contemptuousand insulting by the inseparable theory of theiroffice 1 [ lIH ]
  43. 43. THE CHURCH OF CHRlST All the world will bid God-speed to the new3.lpirantB, provided they will honestly and modestlyapply such teaching-faculty 88 they posseBB to thedissemination of original truths on the su~ject ofmans relations to God and his fellow-man. Butif they are not content with this-if they immo-destly claim to be a newer and more authenticpriesthood as well; if, instead of simply sheddingnew and grateful light on previously insolubleproblems, they 8eek a private end also, which isthe exaltation of their oum order in public regard,and to this end represent baptism and the Lord88upper to P088es8 a different virtue, a divinerunction, under their administration than underthat of the existing priesthood: then the insultedcommon sense of the public will conclude thattruth informed and urged by such a temper canhardly be worth a reasonable mans attention; andthat if we can never attain t<> a newne88 of 8pih-itin religious matteI"B without necessitating a >corres-ponding newne88 of letter also, the sooner we aban-don all hope of spiritual progreBB the better, and BOget well rid for ever of the interminable quarreland fatigue. But let us go a little deeper int<> the problem.Let us inquire the meaning of th~ great phenome-non which we call THE CHURCH; let us inquire in [ 162 ]
  44. 44. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.what sentiment of the human soul it takes its rise,and to what rational issues it inevitably points. Ifwe thoroughly master these inquiries, we shall haveno remaining doubt as to the genius of the truechurch of God in heaven and on earth. The vis formativa in the church, the foundationstone of all religion, is a certain sentiment in thebreast of man of disproportion or disunion betweenhim and God, between him and the Infinite. Thissentiment underlies every church in history, under-lies the entire religious life of the world. It hasgiven shape to all mans distinctive hope, to all hisaspiration, to all his best activity. He has the ideaor inward sense of infinitude, of perfection, of a lifewhich is not derived from without, and which isconsequently above all vicissitude or perturbation,and he feels in all his bones that this is not thelife which nature gives him. Hence a conflictbetween him and nature, between the ideal withinhim, and the actual without him. For man alwaysfeels himself bound to realize his ideas. To makethe ideal actual, to bring forth the dim and nebu-lous radiance of the soul into clear bodily shapeand act, is the very distinction of human life. Thebrute obeys only the life of the senses. Man, whenhe is truly man, when he is emancipated from thepurely animal life to which his inherited tendencies .[ 153 ]
  45. 45. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTcondemn him, obeys his ideas, acts from within,from the impulse of taste, from the inspimtion ofGoodness. His life lies in clothing the outer worldwith the glory which he brings from the inner, orin making his ideal actual. Hence, when hecherishes the idea of So life higher than he yet ex-periences, he inevitably aspires, aims, and hopes tomake it actual. Did he not 80 aim, aspire, andhope, he would perish. For the idea is there tobe realized. It is not there merely to mock himwith its stem impo88ibilities; it is not there simplyto taunt him with his hopele88 infirmities; but, onthe contrary, to educate his. nascent and UDBU8-pected powers, to stimulate his hopes, and leavehim no rest until he has amply actualized it. Man, then, has the idea of infinitude, of perfeo-tion, of a life infinitely superior to that whichnature gives him. And hence, the beginnings ofthe church in him, the beginnings of his religiouslife, or of his attempts to conciliate the Infinite,involve a. conflict between him and nature. Naturegives him So life underived from within, derivedfrom past ancestry,-a life depending on a. myriadexternal things, and hence subject to a myriadpains, disquiets, and disappointments. His soulwhispers to him of a. hi~her life than this, the life of God, a life which flows wholly from within the [ 154 ]
  46. 46. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.subject, depending upon no outward circumstances "whatever, controlling a.ll outward circumstances infac1; and subject therefore to no pain, no disquiet,and 00 meanness for ever. By all the attraction ofthe latter life over the former, he aspires to placateit, to draw it nearer to him, to win its blessedness.And he knows no way so direct, so full of influencetowards this end, as the denial of the natural life,or the persistent mortification of its desires, ambi-tions, and splendors. This life, he says practically,which I derive from nature, shall not be my life.I hate it, I abhor it, I banish it. I know of aserener, of a freer, of a higher life than this, andall my instincts bid me crave it. Hence I will killthis mortal natural life within me. It ma.y forlong years yet invest my body, but my soul shallhave no participation with it. My soul 8hall mournin itsjoys and rejoice in its sorrows, if so be thatI may thus get deliverance from it. Hence it is that you see the church throughouthistory disclaiming any natural basis, built uponthe practical denial of nature. Hence it is thatyou see the religious life, under whatever skies itmay flower, involve more or less of asceticism.This makes the unity of all churches, Pagan andChristian, Jew and Gentile, that they all declareman to be separated from God by nature, and not [ 155 ]
  47. 47. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, connected with Him. They ~l affirm the necessity of regeneration. They all say, of course not in the same, but equivalent terms, Ye must be bom again before ye shall see the kingdom of God. Accord- ingly, in the earlier and ruder stages of human history, you find the eminent parts of divine wor- ship to consist in sacrifices and offerings, the sacri- fice or offering up t<l the Deity of some natural possession greatly prized by the worshipper. The dumb instinct of a paramount spiTit/.l..al unity be- tween God and man, led the latter to cast incessant dishonor upon his natural affections, which were felt somehow to obscure tha.t higher bond. Hence it was common, in some regions, for the parent to sacrifice his child as his dearest natural possession. In others, the most shocking mutilations and lace- rations of the body have been practised. In others, the most beautiful virgins in the community were sacrificed. In others again, the lower sacrifices of animals t<lok place, and, as it was believed that the costlier the sacrifice the more grateful it was to the gods, 80 hecat<lmbs, or an offering of a hundred bulls at once, came into vogue. On all sides the Deity was felt to antagonize the merely natural man, and every curious and cunning effort was made, therefore, to anticipate his will by the volun- .tary mortification of natural desire. [ 156 ]
  48. 48. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM. You have heard, no doubt, of the famous ring ofPolycrates, king of Samos, which being thrown byhim into the sea with a view to propitiate thedivine friendship, came back to him in the bellyof a fish. The letter of his friend Amasis, king ofEgypt, which had induced him to sacrifice the ring,is worth quoting. "Amasis says thus to Polycrates :It is pleasant to hear that ones friend prospers,yet your exceeding good fortune pleases me not,knowing as I do that the Deity is a jealous being;and I could wish that both myself and those I loveshould be fortunate in some of their doings, and inothers miscarry, and so pass their lives in changes of fortune, rather thap be always fortunate; for I never yet heard talk of anyone who with good fortune in everything, did not come to his end miserably with an utter downfall. . Do you there- fore follow my advice, and in respect of your happy chances do as I tell you. Look out well for the most precious thing you have, and that which you would most take to heart the loss of; and then away with it in such sort that it shall never more come before the eyes of men. And if after this, your success should not take turns, and go evenly with your mishaps, still remedy the matter in the way here proposed." Herodotu8, iii. 40. Her~ upon Polycrates threw his ring which he valued [ 167 ]
  49. 49. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST very highly into the sea, and when Amasis learned that it had been restored to him by It fish, he at once renounced the friendship of a man so clearly marked out for misfortune. In reading this touching letter of Amasis, king of Egypt, one fancies that he is listening to a stmm of modem piety, so exactly akin is the true reli- gious instinct in all time and all space. It wasnever better illustrated than in thi~ document of long mummied royalty. Its starting point or in-spiration is the conviction of Gods dissatisfaction with the merely natural life, and its method ofconciliation is as Amasis describes it, assiduously " to seek out the most precious thing one has, thepossession dearest to ones heart, and then awaywith it in such sort that it shall never come beforethe eyes of men." Thus the Roman Catholicascetic under the fervent inspiration of this temperbetakes himself to convents and nunneries, andunder its ordinary exhibitions to fasting and pen·ance. And the Protestant ascetic under the sameinfluence devotes himself to the ministry or themissionary enterprise, and persistently denies him-.self the delights of music and the dance. Theopera is a snare to him, and the theatre little shortof certain destruction. Ritually of COUI"l!le or intheir ecclesiastic practice, both the Catholic and [ 158 ]
  50. 50. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.Protestant Mcetic differ very widely from the Paganworshipper. But they are all very closely allied inspirit, since they all alike aim to please God by anincessant depletion of the flesh, or an incessantmortification of natural desire. Such then is the universal attitude of the churchof God throughout the past, an attitude of aversiontowards the joys of the merely natural life. Suchis the invariable aspect of the religious sentiment,ere it has degenerated M among us into sentimen-tality and cant, an aspect of patient and profoundself-sacrifice as to all the things men naturallycovet. Churches may exhibit inter 8e the greatestpoBBible ritual and political diversity, but none ofthem has any claim to be considered a churchunleBB it be baptized with this spirit. This is thereason, independently of its denial of the Lordsdivinity, why the Unitarian church gets so littleuncultivated recognition, and impresses so slightlythe popular imagination. Its theory of Christianitysoftens the depravity of human nature~ which de-pravity to the popular mind is the neceBBary anti-thesis of the divine magnanimity, and .the verynucleus therefore of gospel consolation. Hence Unitarianism never gets beyond the respectableclasses. Even where it conquers the bedroom andparlor floors, it leaves the attics and kitchen all the [ 169 ]
  51. 51. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST more obstinate Baptifilt and Methodist. It is a. good profeBSion for those in whom culture andprosperous circumstances have somewhat overlaidthe natural discrepancy between flesh and spirit,or self-love and brotherly love, so enforcing a milderand more decorous doctrine upon that subject.But evidently the chief historic praise of U nitarian-ism is negative, consisting in its destructive criti-cism of some Calvinistic errors, and in its stillfarther toning-dmvn the prevalent ecclesiasticalidea of the church, and so preparing the way forthe recognition of the Lords spiritual advent. From this survey, then, it is evident that the-constituent principle of the church is the convictionof the inadequacy of the merely natural life of manto attract the divine complacency.· The obvioussentiment which underlies all mans religious life,is that of a total disproportion between God andhimselfconsidered as the subject of nature. Humannature universally confesses a conscience of sin, andhence regeneration becomes the prime necessityand aspiration of the religious profeBBion. Thesetwo words, a conscience of sin, and an ardent desirefor a new birth-Bu~ up the entire ecclesiasticaldevelopment of the race. The church has begottenand maintained only these connected convictions,and consequently when you ask it for any distillctive [ 160 1
  52. 52. NOT AN ECCL»lIASTICISM:.life, for any life which shall confess the operationof its own peculiar spirit, it consistently refers youon the one hand to the tears of humble penitence,and on the other to the anticipations of cheerfulfaith. It disclaims all present vital satisfactions.I t is content to transact a ritual or forensic approxi-mation to God through the periodical ministrationsof its clergy, and patiently postpones the directrealization of its faith and hope to a post-1n<Yrtemexistence, or the dawn of the souls to-mOITOW. Now, the great service which Swedenborg hasrendered the intellect, is in brief this: that he haspenetrated the darkness which overlays the originof the religious instinct, and proved that all itscroppings out, so to speak, in the forms of peni-tential wo.rship, are so many effects of strictly in-telligible spiritual causes. That is to say, he hasproved that all the facts of mans ascetic experience,all the facts of his properly ecclesiastical conscience,all those facts which imply Gods physical exteriorar-tion to man, belong to the infancy of the souls life,and bear therefore the same relation to its maturity,as the rude and gnarled trunk of a tree bears to itsexquisite bloBBOm and tender fruit. Let me makethis clear. The soul, according to Swedenborg, is an organic or ilUbstantial existence in human form. I t is, [ 161 ] lZ
  53. 53. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTindeed, a much more substantial or real existencethan the body, because its substance is the DivineLove which alone is creative. The Divine Love isnot the attribute or quality of a material subject.God is not a finite, physical subject, of whom weproperly say, as we say of ourselves, that He feelsan emotion of love. He IS Love. His existenceis not first given, and then His character or per-sonality. He is not first a passive existence, aswe are, and only afterwards and upon occasion acharacteristic and active subject of that existence.He has no nature apart from His personality, asyou and I have. His personality absorbs his nature.He is personality itself, thus essen~ially active, oractive in Be, instead of obeying an outward motive.In short, the Divine Love is not emotional, butcreative, and hence His operation, or going forth,is not arbitrary, wilful, irrational, but on the con-trary strictly rational and formative, proceedingfrom ends by means to effects. It is exerted onlyin creating subjects or forms receptive of itself, andhence its procession is invariably from within to without, and not the contrary: it is not like thepower of a carpenter or sculptor modifying pre- existing materials, and proceeding therefore from the circumference to the centre of his work: it re- sembles rather the phenomenon of natural growth, [ 162 ]
  54. 54. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.which proceeds upon the liberation under suitableconditions of an invisible spiritual germ, and itssubsequent orderly expansion into root and stem,branch and leaf, flower and fruit. In short, thedivine power is the power primarily of an inwardand spiritual life, and only in strict subordina-tion to this the power of an outward and naturalone. God is a spirit, and his creation therefore mustbe primarily spiritual. He is essential Love andWisdom, and His creatures therefore must be as totheir essence, derivative forms of love and wisdom.But one cannot be born spiritual: he can onlybooOme so. I am not made loving and wise byvirtue of my natural generation, but by virtue ofculture, or the patient subjection of my outwardlife to the inspirations of interior goodness and truth. Hence time and space become necessaryelements of the creatures self-consciousness. Hisspiritual evolution exacts ~ external or inferiorfield of existence, by means of which this culture ~r self-discipline may take place; and Nature, orthe world of time and space, is the fruit of this exaction. Accordingly while the mind is under the dominion of Nature, and supposes the laws of time and space to be absolute, man is in a state of spiritual infancy, incapable of forming a single [ 163 ]
  55. 55. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTright conception on the subject of the Divineexistence and character. This is not the place totrace the historic steps by which the mind of man,through the grad~l preponderance of self-loveover charity, lapses under this dominion of nature.Weare here only concerned with the fact of thelapse, in order to show how neceBBarily all thesubsequent judgments of the mind, in regard toGod and Ris relations to us, become colored by it.I flimply take the fact of such lapse, then, as in-dubitable by every one who has duly estimated thesubject, and I say that so long as it remains fullypronounced, that is, 80 long as the mind looks uponthe laws of physical existence, or the laws of timeand space, -as absolute, it neceBBarily regards themas essential to all existence, and consequently tothe Divine. Conceiving of himself as a purelyphysical existence, and at the same time perceivinga life or being superior to, and creative of, himself, man instinctively inve~,> this superior being with all excess of physical attributes, by intensifying in its favor the only elements of existence known to himself under the names of time and space. Man himself occupies seventy years more or less of time, and six feet more or less of space; his Creator, therefore, being so superior, must occupy a great deal more of both: yea, being perfect, He must [ 164 ]
  56. 56. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM:.,occupy all time and all space, and so be avouched eternal and infinite. Of co~e, then, in the souls infancy, the Divine Perfection is exclusively material, being identical with the utmost possible amount of time and space. And equally, of course, therefore, in this state of things, when spiritual love and light in the soul are so completely overlaid by natural love and light, the more devout one is, or the more he acknowledges the Divine, the greater must be his conviction of the disproportion between God and himself. Mans affections and intelligence are completely domi- nated by the things of space and time, turning him in fact into a mere form of self-love; but as, in this state of ignorance, he necessarily attributes to God an infinitely greater subjectiqn to the same laws, so consequently God becomes to the carnal imagi- nation a huge overshadowing form of self-seeking, intent upon His creatures incessant diminution. Hence, I repeat, the profounder ones conviction of the Divine existence is at this period, and the pm- founder his conviction of his own dependence, the deeper will be his sense of their irreconcilable antagonism, and the more he will strive to hide the implacable enmity of his heart under the proffer of a servile and interested devotion. Such being the attitude of a purely natural mind [ 165 ]
  57. 57. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTtowards God, it is very easy to see how the peculiarecclesiastical development of humanity comes about. Man looks upon God only as a larger self, or as a great corporeal existence, full of superfluous and ebullient self-love, and capable, therefore, of very mischievous determinations towards His insignifi- cant creatures. It necessarily follows from this that every true revelation of God to the natural mind, every revelation of Himself at all adapted to popular credence, must consult these carnal concep- tions, and wear an extremely accommodated aspect. The final elevation of the mind out of nature de- pends upon this merciful descent and accommoda- tion of Divine Truth to carnal conditions. Hence you find Gods name or glory in the earlier stages of history associated with some exclusive people,,and His worship made purely sensuous, or at best,merely representative of spiritual things. This.people may be a capital type or figure of the true or spiritual people; but if they pretend to be any- thing more, if they pretend to fulfil the spirit as well as the letter of the Divine promise, they be- come an insufferable stench in the nostrilB, com- pared with which Gentiledom were sweet andvernal. A spiritual tie with minds so carnal mustof course be preposterous, and hence the Deity isalways revealed as in eminent spiritual hostility, [ 166 ]
  58. 58. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.as in the lnost pointed private antagonism andquarrel, with the very people upon whom Hisname is publicly written. God is exclusivelyspiritual, being essential Love and Wisdom, andtherefore He incessantly repugns physical attri-butes, seeking to elevate His creature to morespiritual conceptions. But this can be done onlyin the most gradual manner, only in so far as thecreature himself, by virtue of the discipline to whichhe subje~ts the principle of self-love in his bosom,regains his primal status, or becomes spiritua.llypronounced by becoming a form of brotherly love,or charity, and thus learns to conceive of God nolonger as a huge physical and passive existence,but as the sum of spiritual and active perfection,as the perfection of character or personality, inshort, as perfect Man. Meanwhile, therefore, Godcan consent to place His name upon any specialpeople only with a view to the utter abasement ofits pride or carnal righteousness, only with a viewto demonstrate, by the contrast of its proper vileness,the character of the true and spiritual worship Hecraves. Hence, I repeat that you will always findGod revealed as in intimate spiritual hostility toevery church or people with whom his name isoutwardly identified. The total pith and authen-ticity of every divine institution upon earth, stands [ 167 ]
  59. 59. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTin its purely insubstantial or promissory character,--stands in it3 being a figure or emblem of divinerthings to come. For abundant illustration on thispoint read the history of Gods" chosen people"in the Old Testament, and observe how, whenJesus came offering a full and direct revelation ofthe Divine Spirit, he provoked the measurelessscorn of that deluded and self-righteous people.In fact, as we very well know, he was obliged tohide the pure spirituality of his mission even fromhis own kindly but unintelligent followers, wasobliged to wrap it up in apologue and parableand mystic action, and finally bequeath it to theworlds memory in the disguise of two ceremonialrites, baptism and the eucharist, under penalty ofhaving it utterly obliterated and forgotten. Had it not been accordingly for these two carna.lordinances, snatched by the Lords hand from thewreck of the Jewish worship, and modified intosymbols or memorials of His own blessed spirit,the church of Christ, that great multitude in earthand heaven ransomed from sin and death by hismajestic suffering, could have had no embodimentin nature, no material basis of existence, and hencecould never have come to spiritual consciousness.For as nature is the seminary of the spiritualworld; as no conscious spiritual existence takes [ 168 ]
  60. 60. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.place without a previous natural germination; so,consequently, had it not been fDr this provisionaland symbolical embodiment of the church affordedby the two rites in question, it must have utterlylacked all natural body or germ, must have re-mained for ever unincarnate, for the simple reasonthat the spirit of Christ was so infinitely above thatof his followers, that its only true incarnation inthe fruits of a regenerate life, or the works ofcharity, was absolutely impossible. Such is theentire philosophy of religion considered as a CUltU8,and not as a life; such the sole justification of thechurch regarded as an ecclesiasticism, and not as aliving society or fellowship. Swedenborgs whole labour, accordingly, is vir-tually given to the extrication of the Divine spirit,which is latent in these carnal ordinances of theChristian church. He shews that they are utterlyworthless save for their spiritual contents, andvindicates their existence and use only on theground of this mystic significance. The spirit ofChrist was Divine and Infinite Love. Now thisspirit becQmes possible to finite man only throughthe hu~iliation of his natural lusts, only in so faras he puts away evils of life from a sentiment ofreverence towards God or Infinite Goodness. Hemay put away these evils apparently, that is, in [ 169 ]
  61. 61. THE CHURCH OF CHRISTobedience to merely prudential motives, motives ofoutward profit and 10llll, but all this does not invitethe Divine Spirit. To put away ones evils truly,one must put them away from an interior motive,or a sentiment of their contrariety to Supreme andInfinite Goodness; and just in proportion as onedoes this, the Divine spirit, the spirit of InfiniteLove, flows into him interiorly, and builds him upinto a living and miraculous tabernacle; immortallyadequate and pliant to the Divine inhabitation. But who was there at Christs day to comprehendor receive these truths 1 How totally averse werethey to the entire strain of the Jewish mind! Andhow little prepared the Gentile mind also was fortheir entertainment, may be augured from the factthat Christs professed followers had scarcely gotstanding-room in Gentile tolerance, before theybegan to give his mission a palpably secular de-termination, and merged the glimmer of spiritualpromise it exerted in the lust of a mere earthlydominion. Indeed, for that matter, we may say,how few minds are even now prepared to receivethese high spiritual verities! You will doubtlessfind numbers of very amiable people professing tobe "converted," and able, moreover, to put theirfingers on the time and place of its transaction;but how rarely do we find our men of intellect [ 170 ]
  62. 62. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.living in the habitual acknowledgment of the Divine _name, or putting away their native evils from anyother than worldly ends! The pride of intellectsays, "Be ye yourselves as gods, determining goodand evil;" and in missing humility consequentlywe miss all true exaltation. The house that towershighest towards the skies must first go down thedeepest in the earth; and the life that lays thesurest hold on heaven, is that which has the mosthonestly subjugated hell. If, therefore, the mind of man be still so carnaland stupid, how was it possible for the Lord tohave communicated the grand mystery of the spiri-tual birth, at that early day, in any other than afigurative or symbolic manner 1 Clearly the thingwas impossible, without fatally disgusting even themost adhesive of his few and perplexed disciples.Either the great arcanum must have remainedwholly untaught, the very effort being abandoned;or else it must be taught in accommodation to themental stature of the race, that is, carnally orfiguratively. Accordingly, Christ instituted the tworites of baptism and the supper, one symbolizingthe negative or initiatory side of the regenerativeprocess, the other the positive and consummateside of it. Baptism was designed as a sign ormemorial of the elimination or putting away of [ 171 ]
  63. 63. THE CHunCH OF CHRISTnatura.l evils requiElite in spiritual regeneration;and the eucharist, or the mystical feeding on thebody and blood of the Lord, as a sign or memorialof the influx of Divine goodness and truth conS&-quent upon such elimination. They were bothalike mere signs of this regenerative process, merememorials of it, destined to survive until hi1!mystical second coming; that is, until he shouldcome in the power of his Spirit, to claim the spiri-tual allegiance of his worshipper, or, what is thesame thing, take possession of his heart and under-standing. Now, what must we say of a self-styled newchurch which, in face of all these palpable facts,and while avowedly acknowledging the spiritualadvent of the Christ, does not hesit2l.te to graspthese literal symbols or memorials of his truth,and convert them into its inseparable and eternalsubstance 1 Why, we can only say with the Apostle,"that he is not a Jew who is so outwardly, andthat circumcision is truly nQt of the letter, but ofthe spirit." The sole glory of the Christian sacra-ments lies not in themselves, but in their spiritualsignificance. When, therefore, that thing whichthese sacraments signify is, by your own avowal,come, why seek to re-enact the accomplished sym-bol1 Especially, why should you claim a more [ 172 ]
  64. 64. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.authentic hold upon the symbol, than they whodeny the Lords second or spiritual advent, andwho, therefore, very pertinently cherish his ap-pointed memorials 1 If your hold upon these ordi-nan~s be really more authentic than that of theEpiscopalian and Baptist, it can only be becauseyour relation to Christ is more carnal and sensuousthan theirs. These ordinances were intended onlyfor the carnal mind, or those who had no spiritual-apprehension of the Divine Truth; and if, therefore,your administration of them exhibit any specialfitness, it must lie wholly in your spiritual inferi-ority to the older sects. But the whole pretension is unfounded. A me-morial is of value only during the absence of thememorialist. When he returns to us, and exhibitsevery day and hour the love of his llllveiled heart,the memorial grows instantly wan and faded, andfalls of necessity into disuse. How sinister a com-pliment should we seem to pay to his friendship,if we persisted in cherishing a gift after the giverhad made himself wholly ours! He would say, " Clearly, the gift has been prized not for my sake purely, but for some private en,d; otherwise its value would cease by my re-appearance." It was so with the Christian ordinances. Their worth was inestimable during the long spiritual night which [ 173 ]
  65. 65. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST invested the church from the time of the apostles to the splendid Pentecost of the last century; for they served, as Swedenborg says, to secure anorderly spiritual connection for their subject, and protect him from the incursion of heterogeneousinfluences. But since that great Pentecost, sincethe passing away of these old heavens and theformation of new, and the consequent immediateintercourse of the Lord with man in nature, to whatecclesiastical end can these ordinancesminister1The truths of the new heaven are internal anduniversal truths, as intelligible and acceptable tothe Turk as to the Englishman; they are spiritualtruths, as applicable, therefore, to the conscience ofthe Hot1{lntot and Laplander as to the Frenchmanor American. Accordingly, the new heavens, asSwedenborg reports them, are made up of Gentilesand Christians alike ; and hence mere ecclesiasticalChristianity, Christianity which stands in ortho-dox ritual observances, has utterly lost all celestialvalidity. A man may be, as to his ecclesiastjcalmerits, a stanch Roman Catholic, or a stanch Pres-byterian, or a stanch" New-Churchman," and bearevery infallible ear-mark of these several persua-sions; but, however various the form of these men,it is evident that their spirit is one, the spirit ofseparatism or sect, and this spirit must necessarily [ 174 ]
  66. 66. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.exclude them all alike from the new heavens. Theonly spirit which qualifies one for admission to thatharmonious company, is the spirit of mutual loveor charity; and where this spirit does not exist,the new heavens are not only invisible, they arealso incredible. If you doubt this, go and intro-duce the subject of the new heavens, the heavensto which charity alone gives admission, to thelearned attention of anyone in whom the ecclesi-astical spirit prevails, and you will infallibly "hearthings easy to be understood." No doubt, secta-rians of every complexion will always find falseheavens of every name, new and old, suita,ble totheir exact temper; but the truth of the angelicheavens is no more prejudiced by the number ofspurious ones, than is the worth of bullion prejudicedby the existence of any amount of brass and tinsel But I must draw to a close. No observantperson can doubt that what is ordinarily calledInfidelity is rapidly on the increase in this country,and that it is chiefly fed by the immigration fromContinental Europe. Religio~ bas been so muchidentified with the secular power in Europeancountries, the churcb has been so pliant a tool ofthe state, that the popular mind, in reacting againstthe tyranny of the one, unhappily finds itself ar-rnyed in equal hostility also to the other. We [ 175 ]
  67. 67. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST .seem destined to reap some of the fruits of thisreaction. Multit.udes annually resort to these hos-pitable shores for a livelihood, who cherish a reso-lute contempt for the name of religion, and willnaturally do all in their power, legally, to diffusesuch contempt. In this state of things, what is theremedy 1 We have no political remedy, of course,since our Constitution allows the utmost freedomof opinion and speech. Indeed, the separation~tween the civil and ecclesiastical power is ournational distinction. It constitutes the legitimateboast of the American church, that it disclaims thealliance of the secular power, or refuses to protectitself by civil penalties. Hence our only relianceagainst the encroachments of infidelity, must ne-cessarily be in the divine truth of our religion itself,and the clearer exhibition of its spirit in our ownlives. Religion is the affirmation of a higher lifefor man than that derived from nature-a life ofgrowing conformity to infinite goodness and truth.All good men necessarily therefore enrol themselveson ita side, as feeling the very life of their soulsbound up with its prosperity. The effect of everyconflict, accordingly, between religion and infi-delity, must be to bring good men of every nameinto clearly pronounced union, and reciprocal know-ledge, and appreciation. [ 176 ]
  68. 68. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM. Religious wars are over, doubtless-at least inthis land. For where no special ecclesiasticism istolerated by the state, every possible casus belliis averted by anticipation. The only warfare herelegitimated is that of opinion, which sheds no blood,and leaves no scars save upon the intolerant, orthose who deserve to bear them. A mans opinions,when they are freely formed, are expressive of hiswill or his vital attitude towards eternal Goodness.If, accordingly, he cherish an opposite opinion tomine in regard to, religion or any other interest,it does not become me to blame him for so doing,but on the contrary, to insist upon his entire free-dom in the premises. Blame is called for onlywhen his action grows disorderly and hostile tospciety. The best definition of religion ever given,is that which makes it to consist in loving Godsupremely and o~ neighbor as ourselves. I amsure that no man fit for the society of men, canseriously quarrel with religion thus avouched. Ifhe does, it must be at the deliberate compromise ofhis own character, in confessing himself indifferentto every humane aspiration. Would anyone feeldisposed to resort to legal penalties against such aperson 1 On the contrary, would not one feel the sincerest pity for him, and cheerfully do his best to soothe and placate him 1 [ 177 ] 13
  69. 69. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST Thus, infidelity will not be able to assail religionitself, without infinitely discrediting its own aims.What Will it be compelled to do, therefore, by wayof keeping itself alive 1 It will assail certain acci-dental peculiarities now attaching to the religiousprofession, certain Romish, Presbyterian, or Episco-palian, or Methodistic features, nowise belongingto the divine form itself, yet able, very often, to doher discredit in the eyes of the thoughtless. .Aninsincere profession, a worldly temper, Pharisaicscrupulosity, superstitious regard for ceremonialobservance~ unreasonable dogmas, and what not,are sure to show themselvetl wherever a sectarianspirit eXists, and it is a blessed infidelity whichshall help us to correct such abuses. The moreyou strip religion of its purely ecclesiastjcal 8.lddeciduous features, or, what is the same thing, themore you identify her with t~e spirit of mutualand universal love which unites the men of all sects together, the more you bring her essential and eternal beauty into relief When I am assured that my looks are not so captivating as my neigh- bors, and my manners not near so graceful as they might be, I then identify myself all the more gladly with the harmless spirit within both looks and manners--a spirit which gives to looks and manners in any case, indeed, all their honest and [ 178 ]
  70. 70. NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM:. permanent charm. So, when we convince the eccle- siastic that he has paid too much deference "to the mint, anise, and cummin" interest of religion, he will be sure, out of pure contrition for his folly, tQ cling all the more resolutely to the weightier , interests of judgment and mercy which are its vital self. Here, then, we discover the remedy against infidelity, and perceive it to consist in the revival of pure and undefiled religion. We shall stop the IJlouth of the infidel, not by argument, but by exhibiting more and more of the spirit of true, religion, and less and less of the spirit of Roman- ism, Episcopaey, Presbyterianism, Methodism, and New-churchism. There is no sadder sight to every goo<! man than a mere Romanist, or a mere Epis- copalian, or a mere ecclesiastic of any name. One feels how hard it must be for the poor human soul that deliberately buries itself under that rubbish, ever again to reach the upper air, and breathe the heavenly breath of charity. Every truly religious man in every sect feels alike on this point. Every instructed person perceives that the ecclesiastical, temper is totally out of place in this country, be- cause our polity resolutely ignores all ecclesiastical form, committing this subject to the purely private judgment of the people. Hence it is that a man [ 179 ]

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