תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

the power to think and perceive, but the memory can do nothing. It is like the paper on which I am now writing, it is susceptible of the writing, but can neither write nor resist the writing, nor can it alter what is written; it is altogether passive; where, then, is its power? At birth the subject of the memory is also like ground in which no seed has been sown, but which is susceptible of any kind which may be placed in it. On which account the external character will largely depend upon those who have the training of children. But as the real character is not from without, but from man's own powers of willing and thinking, it may be seen, that whatever advantage there may be in receiving a good education and being well cultivated during adolescence, every man forms his own real character, and on that account all are equally responsible; not for external habits and demeanour merely, but for the state of mind which they themselves have formed, and which is the ground of their actions, and will remain with them for ever.

There are two sides to the human mind, an inside and an outside; both of which are susceptible of writing, and both are written on; the outside from the world through the senses, the inside from man's freewill. What is written inside is a faithful register of what man has willed, thought, and done; and what is written outside is a faithful portrayal of the things and circumstances which have come under the cognizance of the five senses. Both writings are registered with unerring certainty by orders over which man has no control. For instance, man intends to perform an action good or bad, quality no matter, and without his aid or concurrence it is written and fixed on the inside of his mind, which is his Book of Life, and he sees and knows it ever after as a true record of that intention.

As there is an inward and an outward writing, so there is an inward and an outward process by which those writings are effected. The inward process, or that by which the writing is effected on the outside, terminates in the memory; but the outward process, or that by which the writing is effected on the inside, as a writing process, terminates in the rational mind, but as a proceeding it is continued into bodily actions and words. And as the works are the outbirth of a motive and state of mind, they indicate that state; and, in the Scriptures, works are named to signify that state, or the motive which gave them birth; hence man is said to be judged according to his works.

In a general sense the rational mind and the memory comprehend the whole of man's acquisition, both that which has entered involun

If not,

[ocr errors]

tarily through the medium of the senses, and that which has been acquired by man's will and thought. The latter, viz., the rational mind, was no doubt that which was exhibited to Swedenborg in the spiritual world, and called by him the internal memory. This is evident from the fact, that it contained quality, which the memory does not, it not being the result of human powers, but of an external involuntary process (A. C. 2492).

There is a strong prejudice existing in the minds of some against the idea that man wills and thinks in his brains; yet it would be exceedingly difficult to point out any other organ in the human constitution which is the subject of those sublime powers. It is said that he wills and thinks in his spirit, thinking that this at once relieves them from the difficulty of finding a subject for those capabilities. But when it is seen that man's spirit is man in the spiritual world, and that the spirit is in the human form just as man in this world is, the difficulty still remains ; for if he wills in his spirit, in what part does he do that? Does not a spirit, who is in the human form, will and think in his head, or in his brains? where then?

When it is affirmed that the will, understanding, and memory, are in the brains, we would be understood to mean the interior degrees of the brains, which, although natural, are nevertheless not material. The human brain consists of three degrees; the outermost is visible and material, but the interior degrees are not material, nor are they cognizable by any of the senses; and, not being material, they may become subject to spiritual laws, as they do when by death they are separated from what is material; they then recede from what is material, and accede to what is spiritual, forming the outward covering of the spiritual body; at the same time becoming compliant with the laws of the spiritual world, and are also rendered visible. The human spirit being in the human form, it possesses a mind and a body, and every other part constituent of that form ; it has all the organs of sensation, which are inlets to the mind, just as that form has here; it also possesses a will and an understanding, a rational mind and a memory, also brains as the subjects of them.

Wherever man may exist the brains are his inmost and supreme parts; they are, therefore, the subjects of his most exalted powers, and every other conscious organ possesses its own peculiar property; his eyes see, his ears hear, etc., and his brains will and think. Whether we say the brains will and think, or man wills and thinks in his brains, it amounts to the

same thing. When it is affirmed that man wills and thinks in his brains, the meaning is, the brains, which are an important part of man, will and think, or perform their functions. Man is in his brains as he is in every other part of his form, but not in the sense of one thing being in another, but being in as to his consciousness. To be in his brains in any other sense, inasmuch as his brains are a part of himself, would be for him to be in himself, which is, of course, an absurdity. When man becomes an inhabitant of the spiritual world he will exist as he does here; he will will and think, and act and speak, each property having its own subject; and, as the brains will be his highest and most exalted organ, he will possess nothing superior thereto, as the subject of his highest and inmost powers. The angels of the highest heaven, inasmuch as they inhabit the highest degree of the created universe, and the brains being the most superior organ of their constitutions, if they do not will and think in them, it is difficult to see where they do will and think, or how they will and think at all. They must will and think in themselves, and it is most reasonable to believe that their most superior organs are the subjects of their most exalted powers.

We therefore conclude that the subjects of man's will and understanding are his brains; that they are also the subject of his memory; the natural brain is the subject of the natural memory, and the spiritual brain is the subject of his spiritual or internal memory, that the natural memory consists of all the forms which have been received from without, and the spiritual memory consists of what is thence derived in the spirit of man. Thus the brains are the subjects of both his active powers and his passive forms; that they are therefore the subjects of the whole human mind.

S. S.

HUMAN AUTHORITY IN THE STATE, IN SOCIETY, AND

IN THE CHURCH.

III. IN THE CHURCH.

Human authority in church matters is a most delicate subject. The very mention of it makes some men indignant, sets them in an attitude of defiance, and barbs the tongue with sarcasm and caustic ridicule. But all this, and much more to the same effect, is even as. the sparkling waters of yonder stream, rushing noisily by homestead and town, but working no mill and grinding no corn. After the rough

U

[ocr errors]

March winds have died away, the trees and flowers still remain; and after the last argument of the iconoclast has died

upon

the
ear,

human authority in the Church still flourishes, and lives a charmed life. Government in the Church, like authority in the State and in society, may not be of Divine appointment; so far indeed as I know, it is not; but if I mistake not, it is as essential to the natural existence of the Church as it is to the natural existence of the State.

I shall not occupy space in proving that authority far other than Divine has existed and still exists in the Church, at the same time it may be well to take a few notes from ecclesiastical history, to show how instinctively men adopted rules and regulations of their own making, as helps to an orderly and well-conducted life. Up to the year 313 A.D. the submission of Christians to their own laws was purely voluntary. Before this they had no legal standing in society; but by the edict of Milan, issued by Constantine, the decisions of the Church meetings were recognized and carried out by the State. Henceforth, even down to our own times, Church and State were under equal protection. In 1688 a step was taken in this country by which, if Church and State were not separated, at least religious people could worship in their own way without persecution. From that date nonconformity has steadily extended, and while the State recognizes every sect and gives it a legal footing as a corporate body, yet each sect governs itself, authority is self-imposed, and obedience is purely voluntary. But be the authority of whatever character it may, as an outward organisation, the Church has been and still is governed by human agency.

One of the essayists on “The Church and the Age” wisely says, “ The least superiority above the state of savages places men in the midst of a polity, a complicated system of mutual understandings and laws, for the defence of mutual well-being.” And this polity extends and relates to man as a moral and spiritual being, not less than to man as a civilian. The authority of man in church matters is not of Divine appointment, but it is none the less a necessity because of that. Rituals are like clothes, and are not more and not less sacred. We dress variously in different ages and at different periods of our own life, but we never dispense with clothes altogether. And it is much the same in the discipline and rituals of the Church. Rituals and church government are subject to modification according to age, and state, and fashion ; they may take local colourings, and change from age to age, but man can never outlive them altogether, any more than he can wholly dispense with the use of clothes.

Speaking of the form of authority in the past, W. J. Irons tells us that it was invested in synods. But he adds, "Strictly speaking, no synod from the beginning has had any power to do anything concerning the faith itself, but to testify to it."! This is a most important truth. Church authority is vested in the synod, or conference; but the synod has no power whatever to do more than confirm and make into a law that which the members of the Church hold to be true. If the laws of the synod are not the formulated faith of the great majority of the Church, they are not binding upon the conscience; indeed, laws voluntarily imposed cannot be other than representative in the

fullest sense.

The fact that in church matters we are ruled by a voluntary government, does not relieve any one from a submission as entire as if it were compulsory. Unfortunately for all religious bodies, however, this is neither believed nor practised. The result is, all Church organisations, save the Catholic, are far inferior to those existing in the State, in society, and in business. The Church cannot compete with the world, because love is weaker as a motive force than worldy interest. In the State and in society it does not pay to smile at men's weaknesses, to pooh pooh conventionalities, to defy taste, fashion, etiquette, manners, the ritual of good society, the wishes of customers, the prejudices of visitors, the fashions of the day, and take huff at Government for raising the income-tax, or for abolishing purchase in the army;

and where defiance does not pay, the obsequiousness of man to human authority is not only complete, but given with quite a grace. Nor can the cynic, in fairness, curl his lip at this deferential and courteous considerateness. It is an unavoidable condition of life, of order, of social intercourse, of trade transaction, and of secular success. Even the cynic can only afford to sneer when he does not endanger the rate of discount. Necessity knows no law but necessity; and while we may fairly impale the man on his own confession, who defies human authority when it entails no pecuniary or other secular loss, but who yields it a graceful submission where it involves a money consideration, yet we are bound in fairness to defend the business man, the family man, and the citizen for their courteous deference to laws, customs, and manners, even though such deference is paid from the principle of the “ breeches' pocket.” Conformity or submission to State authority, social etiquette, and the wishes of others, is the simple and F? We think Mr. Irons' meaning is, that no synol has had any authority in matters of faith, but only in matters of discipline.-ED.

« הקודםהמשך »