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can have no power to remove from us our evils. For example, take the precept “ Thou shalt not steal”; this has a spiritual as well as a literal sense. But until man keeps this precept literally, the Lord cannot remove from his mind the evil which is condemned by its spiritual sense.
Moreover by means of the literal sense of the Word, divine truth can descend to men, and affect them in their lowest states. Through this medium, the Lord hath power or "strength” to reach and save, if they are willing to be saved, even the most abandoned and profligate of our race; and thus He hath all power on earth as well as in heaven. Hence we may see why it is said that “God's strength is in the clouds."
But Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord, cannot descend lower than the state of the natural man, or than the literal sense of the Word which is adapted to this state. It terminates in the literal sense, and rests upon it like a house upon its foundation. Accordingly it is said in Psalms, “For thy mercy is great above the heavens, and thy Truth [reacheth) unto the clouds ; (cviii. 4 :) and the same words occur again in chapter Ivii. v. 10. Who does not perceive how absurd it would be to speak of Divine Truth extending to the literal clouds ? But, by means of the immutable law of correspondence, it does reach even to the letter of the Word, which is signified by clouds in their spiritual sense.
Moreover we find that, on various important occasions, when divine truths of an exalted character were to be announced, the revelation, according to the Sacred Record, was made from the clouds. And this was done to represent, as it does by correspondence, the manner in which all divine truth is communicated to
It is uttered from the clouds. The Lord, who is the inmost, the soul and life of all Scripture—the very Truth itself-addresses man through the medium of the literal sense of the Word, thus from the clouds. Hence when the Decalogue was given on mount Sinai, we read that “the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud :" and so “it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunderings
and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount,” &c. (Ex. xix. 9, 25.) Now if we regard the thick cloud here mentioned as the symbol of the Word in its literal sense, from, or through the medium of which the Lord comes to us, and communicates to our minds pure spiritual truth, how beautiful and expressive does this language become.
Again : when Moses was called up into the mount to receive the tables of the law, it is written that “a cloud covered the mount. And the glory of Jehovah abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day He called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud." (Ex. xxiv. 15, 16.)
Again : when the children of Israel were journeying through the wilderness, we are told that "Jehovah went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way.” (Ex. xiii. 21.) By these words is denoted the comparative cloudiness or obscurity of truth, previous to our regeneration, or while the Lord is leading us through the wilderness of sin and error, and conducting us to that heavenly state of mind which is denoted by the land of Canaan. He does not let his truth shine upon us with noon-day splendor, for He sees that we could not bear it. It would reveal such a mountain of evil within us, that we should be disheartened and crushed beneath the load. He therefore mercifully tempers his truth to our state-veils and softens its effulgence with a cloud. And throughout our regeneration we must look continually to Him in the cloud ; we must keep the Lord as manifested in the flesh, or his truth as revealed through the letter of Scripture continually before us. Thus the literal sense of the word, irradiated by the genuine divine truth within, is the pillar of a cloud, in which by day, i. e., in our most lucid states of mind, the Lord goeth before to lead us on our heavenly way.
Many more passages might be adduced in confirmation of the true Scripture signification of clouds. But it is unnecessary. Every candid mind will perceive from what has been said, that this word when used in Scripture, has a spiritual meaning; and moreover that
its meaning, as revealed in the works of Swedenborg, finds ample support in the word of God.
The argument which has been offered in this lecture, is brief and simple. It was shown:
1. That the prevailing modes of interpreting those passages in the Word which foretell a second coming of the Lord, will none of them stand the test of a severe criticism ; and that the common idea upon this subject in the Old Church, is not supported by, and cannot be reconciled with the positive teachings of Scripture when fairly and consistently interpreted. Hence we infer that the common idea upon this subject, hitherto entertained, has not been in agreement with the truth ; and that the most prevalent interpretations of passages which relate to it, have been unauthorized and false.
2. That Divine Truth is one of the essential principles in the Lord; and the Son of Man, as appears from many passages in the Word, clearly denotes the Lord in respect to this principle of Divine Truth. And wherever the Lord's second coming is spoken of, He is called the Son of Man, except in Rev. xix. 13, where “his name is called the Word of God." From this we infer that the predicted coming of the Lord is not to be a personal but a spiritual coming : a coming to his church of the Word ; i. e., of the genuine spiritual truth, which is contained within the letter of the Sacred Scriptures.
3. That it is abundantly manifest from many texts of Scripture, that clouds, when mentioned there, are not to be understood in their literal sense, but as denoting the apparent truths in the letter of the Word; which letter softens, tempers, and veils the resplendent truth of the internal or spiritual sense, as natural clouds do the light of the sun. And this is why the Lord's coming is said to be in the clouds of heaven.
I have thus endeavored to present the doctrine of the New Jerusalem Church concerning the Lord's second appearing, together with some of the immutable testimony on which it rests. A doctrine at once beautiful, intelligible, rational, scriptural, and in harmony .with
all we know of the order of Providence, and of the operations of the Divine Love. It is a coming of the Lord to human minds in the power and glory of his own Divine Truth; so that man, by means of greater light, may attain to higher degrees of purity and love, and to a more intimate consociation with the angels and conjunction with the Lord. It is such a coming as to reveal, in an eminent degree, the 'love and glory of God; for it is such as to lay low the mountains of human pride and selfishness, and to show the exalted character of true humility and neighborly love.
Sublimely beautiful and interesting is this second appearing of the Son of Man! Powerful and glorious are the truths of the internal sense of the Word now revealed! For they show us that the Lord's words are indeed spirit and life; that the Sacred Scriptures are not dead, but have a living Divine Soul, and, when rightly understood, are in perfect agreement with themselves, with right reason, and with all true science. This spiritual sense or soul of the Divine Word, is the central principle--the life and soul of all true knowledge. It is the great sun at the centre of the intellectual and moral world, from which all enduring systems of government, philosophy, morals and religion, must receive their light and warmth, and according to whose guiding wisdom they must proceed if they continue to revolve. It comes too--this glorious truth—with mighty power; with
power to save men's souls from the infernal dominion of evil loves and false persuasions; with power to renovate the desert church, and make her rejoice and blossom as the rose. Already the mountain mists are beginning to break away and disappear before the rising Sun. Already have science, philosophy, government, art, felt the power of the second coming : and more and more are the healing influences of the New Dispensation to be seen and felt in the spiritual renovation of the church. Well then may “the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth
Come. And let him that is athirst, Come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. He that testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly; Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
THE NECESSITY OF ADMITTING AN INTERNAL SENSE
TO THE WORD SHOWN FROM THE SCRIPTURES THEMSELVES.
"A BOOK WRITTEN WITHIN AND ON THE BACKSIDE-SEALED WITH SEVEN SEALS."-Rev. V. I.
In the last lecture we presented the doctrine of the New Jerusalem Church concerning the Lord's second coming, and some of the Scripture testimony whereon this doctrine rests. And I think it must be obvious to all, from the passages of the Word therein adduced, that this coming, according to the Sacred Oracles themselves, is not to be in person, nor on the natural clouds, as is commonly supposed, but in the power and glory of spiritual truth, or of the internal sense of God's Holy Word. I think it must have been made abundantly evident that clouds, when mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, do not signify the watery particles in our atmosphere, but the apparent truths in the literal sense of the Word; which truths, to the understanding of the natural man, obscure the truth of the spiritual sense, as natural clouds obscure the brightness of the sun. Hence the reason why it is said in the Word, that clouds are round about Jehovah," and that “upon all the glory there shall be a covering.” And hence the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven, denotes a more clear and luminous exhibition of Divine Truth; or a revelation of the internal sense of the Word through the clouds of the letter, as we are taught in the writings of the New Church.
But some are perhaps ready to ask, “Why should