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And the thought that there resides within each of us an immortal soul, a spiritual body, of which the material body with all its organs is the expression and counterpart, and that this hidden soul, while dwelling in companionship with the body, has also part and lot in a mysterious unseen world, in which dwells the great Lord of all, of things visible and invisible, in which, too, abide the souls of all the righteous men of old,-the thought that the Lord of the spiritual world has access to our souls, to nourish their inner life, and that the Divine influence proceeding from Him has ever been conceived of, and spoken of as the Breath of the Lord, these momentous thoughts enable us, in connection with all we have now been considering, to accept with increasing welcome the long-treasured idea of our forefathers, that advance in spiritual wisdom and in heavenly love is furthered by a Divine inspiration, which has its counterpart in the daily inbreathings which are the rhythmic accompaniments of the growth of our minds in knowledge, which, though we may speak of it as earthly, has nevertheless its very source, and its corresponding spiritual wisdom, in the celestial world.
THE BIAS OF NATURAL DELIGHT.
IF, as Emerson assures us, "the word of ambition at the present day is Culture," we may say with even more certainty that the word of aspiration is Delight. It may take the form of Cæsarism, and touch the heart as the love of rule, or it may come forth in the craven language of Caliban to a drunken sailor
"That's a brave god, and bears celestial liquor:
But whoever is free, aspires to live in his own particular delight.
Naturally speaking, delights are exterior goods, and whatever is sweet in the natural world corresponds to delight and pleasantness in the spiritual.2 Temptation is caused when the delights of the natural man are opposed by the delights of the spiritual. According to our delights, we think, and will, and love, and act, and character and opinion dip on this side or on that as the affections find gratification. Because our natural delights are usually rooted in self-interest, our exterior good too often taking the form of exclusive right or privilege, -they thereby become most subtle and dangerous foes to the spiritual man, and often imperil the formation of broad and liberal opinions,
1 Arcana Calestia, 7356.
2 Ibid. 5620.
3 Ibid. 3928.
4 Ibid. 5620.
and the exercise of charity one towards another. Passion, we know, perverts judgment, but when we remember that delight is the master of every feast, that it is our very life, it will not be difficult to account for the antipathies with which society everywhere swarms.
But for all that might be truly said of the evils of natural delight, yet the various delights of the body and of sensual things are not therefore wrong. Our care is, that in the pursuit of some natural gratification, we do not close our eyes to the great world of truth about us, nor shut out of our thoughts the consideration of duties and obligations far more important than the immediate enjoyment of pleasure. In short, our care is that we give each thing in life due importance. What does not favour our gratification is apt to be either violently opposed, quietly ignored, or blindly shut out from consideration. In all such cases, delight is most insidious; bars the way of truth and right opinion, and all solid moral progress.
Prejudice, intolerance, dislike to change, inertia, and much ungracious exclusiveness would disappear, but that their removal interferes with the delights of life. None so blind as those who will not Natural delights are quite right so far as they have in them a soul of goodness,1 but even the acutest men are liable to become bad logicians, and unconscious dupes under the absorbing fascinations of natural pleasures and gratifications.
F. Max Müller has recently exhumed a parable from the works of Joannes Damascenus, which may find a place here for several reasons. It runs as follows:
"A man was pursued by a unicorn, and while he tried to flee from it, he fell into a pit. In falling he stretched out both his arms, and laid hold of a small tree that was growing on one side of the pit. Having gained a firm footing, and holding on to the tree, he fancied he was safe, when he saw two mice, a black and a white one, busy gnawing at the root of the tree to which he was clinging. Looking down into the pit, he perceived a horrid dragon with his mouth wide open, ready to devour him, and when examining the place on which his feet rested, the heads of four serpents glared at him. Then he looked up, and observed drops of honey falling down from the tree to which he clung. Suddenly the unicorn, the dragon, the mice, and the serpents were all forgotten, and his mind was intent only on catching the drops of sweet honey trickling down from the tree."
As Max Müller says, "an explanation is hardly required. The 1 Arcana Cœlestia, 995.
unicorn here is a symbol of falsity in its power. The dragon is an emblem of reasoning from evil love; the serpent stands for reasoning from false persuasion; mice represent the lusts of avarice. In trying to escape from the unicorn of error and falsity, it not unfrequently happens that we fall by the way. We know that dragons of evil, serpents of falsity, and the mice of avarice are ever besetting us; but like true children of our earliest ancestors we forget them all to pursue some pet fancy, some all-absorbing delight, or to think only of the pleasures of life, which, like a few drops of honey, fall into our mouths from the tree of life."
In whatever we consider there is the possibility of losing our point by the seductions of "blind delight." The prodigal wandered from home merely because his eyes were closed to its blessings; the sheep was lost in the wilderness because appetite lured it beyond the safety of the fold; and the Hindoo story says that a pilgrim watched at the gate of paradise a thousand years, and while he took one little nap, the gate opened and closed. As Johnson observes, "Men are not blindly betrayed into corruption, but abandon themselves to their passions with open eyes; and lose the direction of truth, because they do not attend to her voice, not because they do not understand it."
R. R. R.
ON THE POSITION AND DUTIES OF REPRESENTATIVES IN CONFERENCE.
THE writer of the article with the above title in the October issue of the Intellectual may be partly right as to the advantages which would result from ventilating beforehand questions likely to be considered by Conference, but I think his reasoning as to the position and duties of representatives is altogether wrong.
If the question is asked, What is a Conference? the answer would be, a meeting where parties confer together, exchange views, and arrive at decisions. If the duty of a representative was merely to vote according to his Society's orders, he might be dispensed with, and Conference need not meet. The officers of Conference would only have to send a list of motions to each Society, and its Secretary could write its decision, pro or con, against each motion, and the counting of these votes given by the Societies for and against would decide the questions. If the duties of a representative are those laid down in the article referred to, a representative might have to say, "After hearing all the
speeches that have been made in Conference on this subject, I am convinced that the motion now before us is most unwise, and will do great harm, but I must vote for it, or be unfaithful to my Society."
Speeches in such a Conference of representatives would be a waste of time, because the representatives would be simple "stocks," and they could not vote contrary to their Societies' orders without being traitors.
A true representative ought, if required, to give his opinions, and should be informed of those of his Society, but he ought not to be pledged, but at perfect liberty; and if his opinions were altered by what he heard, he ought to act and vote according to the best of his judgment, otherwise such meetings would not deserve the name of deliberative assemblages. No honourable man having any self-respect (and Societies should elect none other) ought to accept the post of representative to Conference without full liberty of action, according to the best of his judgment. Much controversy is unfavourable to true and charitable judgment, as such frequently degenerate into combats to decide which opinion shall triumph over the other, and representatives, after a lengthy controversy, would be most likely to enter Conference as mere partisans. There is enough and too much of this in politics; in religion it would be hateful.
It is a great pity the world has not arrived at the yea, yea, and the nay, nay, stage of existence. P. J. L.
MANCHESTER, October 3rd, 1876.
DEPARTURE OF MR. BROADFIELD.1
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and He delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand."-Ps. xxxvii. 23, 24.
THE long, active, and intimate connection of our beloved friend, Mr. Broadfield, with this Society, with the Church in Lancashire, and throughout the United Kingdom, makes it impossible to allow his departure from amongst us with the silence his modesty would doubtless have suggested. We shall speak, however, not to magnify him,
1 A sermon preached in the New Jerusalem Church, Peter Street, Manchester, Sunday Morning, Oct. 16, 1876, by the Rev. Dr. Bayley, with some revision and an addition from the evening discourse.
but to make his career helpful to us all, a use to which he would not have objected.
For more than fifty years he has been a loving and consistent member of the Society; for more than twenty years since his retirement from business his time has chiefly been devoted to promote active goodness in all its varied departments. He has been on the Committee very many years, a Trustee of this Church for many years, a Trustee of Conference, and represented the Society in Conference twenty-nine times. He believed the Church was indeed a golden candlestick, and he strove to let its loving light appear in the multiplied phases of Christian usefulness.
He was among the continued supporters of the Day-school, and, from its beginning, on the Committee. He was the constant helper of the Sunday-school and all its departments of use. He was the special active manager about the Provident Saving Society, the leader of the Band of Hope. He was ever ready to promote with purse and influence every needful improvement in either school or church; and even to the last, though he could hardly hope to enjoy the strains of the magnificent instrument by which your service has so recently been enriched, he largely assisted to procure that pleasure for others, and was delighted to know that all rejoiced in its possession.
He was the general peacemaker. In the conduct of affairs, even in a religious society, differences will sometimes arise. Zeal for the opinions we regard as correct, and are persuaded are important, will sometimes be pushed to angularity, and a disregard of the equally cherished opinions of others; in all such cases within his sphere he was ever ready with the sweet persuasiveness of charity, allaying feeling, and inducing consideration and peace. He was especially the comforter of the Society. If any one were sick or in trouble and he heard of it, he would not be long before he was there. With words of sympathy, consolation, and aid so far as might be, he was sure to do his best to cheer and to lead the sufferer to his Heavenly Father, the Saviour, and thus aid to bind up the broken-hearted, and to comfort those who mourned. Indeed, standing among you this morning, surrounded by this great audience, consisting of acquaintances and friends in the Church who have come to evince their esteem and admiration for his virtues, and having known him intimately for almost fifty years, without one unkind expression or one shadow having come over our friendship in all that time, I cannot but look around and feel as if from every man, woman, and child of this Society, from