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FOR JOINING THE
NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH.
BY LOUISA W. OGDEN,
A FORMER MEMBER OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
JOHN DOUGLAS, SS ANN ST.
1550, Feb. 7.
HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
THE circumstance of joining the New Jerusalem Church having been the cause of more animadversion among some of the writer's friends than was expected by so humble an individual, an explanation of the motives which induced her to take this step may not be inappropriate. For silence might be prejudicial to the cause, and might imply disrespect for those who entertain different opinions. They might suspect her of that unamiable pride which, wrapping itself up in silent self-satisfaction, disdains any attempt at justification. But by this expression of her views some minds may perhaps be disabused of errors of which they are unconscious—and their thoughts may haply be directed to that clear and bright light of Truth which it should be the desire of all to contemplate. If when she has ended her task she is still censured, she must console herself with the reflection that she has humbly attempted to be useful, and has vindicated herself solely through this motive.
L. W. 0.
FOR JOINING THE NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH.
The advantages of acquiring spiritual knowledge-Its influence upon a future state of existence-The Heaven of the New Church compared with the Heaven of the Old Church-Incidents which induced the writer to feel the necessity of Religion -Motives for joining the Episcopal Church.
I AM frequently asked why I ever joined the Episcopal Church, why I afterwards forsook it, and why I have become a member of the New Christian Church, called the New Jerusalem.
To answer these questions, it will be necessary to enter into narrations which may be considered egotistical. But as the process by which my mind has arrived at its present state, cannot otherwise be explained-the charitable will believe that I am prompted by a higher motive, than the gratification of that poor vanity which takes an inordinate delight in human praise or notoriety.
A love of the wonderful, unconnected with an affection for truth, is childish. But to feel no interest in the novelties of science, in the strange developments of nature, the phenomena of the starry heavens, the mysteries of thought, and the workings of the human intellect-to feel no interest in these wonders which are true, and which draw us finite nearer to the Infinite, is surely most unworthy that intelligence which was given us for our spiritual advancement--is to be like the "wicked servant, who buried his talent in the ground."
It was this love of truth, for the sake of Truth, which induced me to investigate a subject which appeared so wonderful as the revelations of Swedenborg. And I am impressed with the belief, that it is a prejudice against every
thing wonderful which prevents many from making the same examination. But are we not bound to neglect no opportunity of acquiring knowledge upon those subjects which tend to our spiritual improvement? When those who have taken no advantage of these opportunities leave this world, will they not perceive their loss by the difference of their condition from what it might have been? I do not mean to suggest that their neglect of this knowledge must inevitably close heaven against them; not so, for we are taught that all who conscientiously endeavour to fulfil the two great commands, viz: to live a life of love or obedience to God, and a life of love or benevolence to their neighbor or fellow-creatures, all such will eventually be admitted into heaven, even though, while in this world they should remain quite ignorant of spiritual mysteries. But will not their progress to that heavenly state be slower? Will it not be delayed, after they leave the natural world, until they have gone through a certain ordeal in the world of spirits, and acquired the knowledge which they have neglected here? For, though Goodness is the most essential -Wisdom is also necessary to appreciate the enjoyments of Heaven.
There cannot be supreme happiness where there is no congeniality. The angels who are in the presence of God, and enjoy His presence, must partake somewhat of his character, therefore they must be good and wise, or they could have no sweet communion with Him. The society of the holy, pure and good, is not relished by those who delight in impiety, corruption and wickedness. So also the grossly ignorant enjoy not the society of the wise; nor the sensual the society of the spiritual. Therefore, Heaven could not be fully appreciated by those who are in total ignorance of such things as are well known there. The angels then must be good and wise to commune with God. And we, too, must be good and wise to enjoy the society of the angels. And in exact proportion as our characters assimilate to theirs, so we become angels, and become capable of enjoying the happiness of Heaven. These are New Church views. Do they strike the reflecting mind as irrational?
Let us draw a comparison between the opinions entertained in the Old Church, and those in the New, with regard to the enjoyments of Heaven, and see which are most
likely to confer real happiness? Which seem most consistent with our susceptibility of enjoyment? If we reflect, we may perceive that our real being does not consist of the natural particles which form our external persons. These are merely the temporal clothing of something living, and should not even be called substantial; for that which is transitory is not so really substantial as that which is eternal; we all feel that what is everlasting is more real than what is momentary. Our fleshly covering, then, is no more our real self, than our garments are our bodies. Our real being is that which inhabits and animates the natural body -and that is our spirit. And what is this spirit, but our affections, our feelings and our intellect; they then form our character or mind, and that is our real being. We are, then, susceptible of enjoying only such things as are suitable to our characters; and that which has no part in our affections and desires can afford us no happiness. He who likes nothing can have no happiness-and he who enjoys nothing is more like a dead man than a living one. He who loves most, provided his love be of the right kind, lives most. Our being, our life, then, is our love, and in the gratifications of that must consist our happiness. But where do we find any thing of this kind in the opinions of Heaven commonly entertained in the Old Church?
Many think that, after we die, our spirit becomes a formless floating vapor, divested of all those faculties which were sources of so much enjoyment to us while we lived in this natural world. How can any rational mind realize the possibility of such a being enjoying supreme happiness? Some think that the happiness of Heaven consists in everlasting rest. How can the benevolent active man, whose greatest enjoyment here consists in a life of useful activity, how can such an one imagine himself enjoying an eternal idleness? Some think that the happiness of Heaven consists in eternally praying and singing the praise of God. How can even the most devout, think of such an eternal occupation, and have no fear of weariness? Besides, those who have not been blessed with a faculty for music, nor a love for it, how could such employment be happiness to them? Is it not unworthy the Christian to attribute to the God he adores a character so vain-glorious, as to require of his creatures to devote eternity to praising him? Is not