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NEW JERUSALEM MAGAZINE.
Vol. XLIV. - OCTOBER, 1871.- No. 4.
THE SPIRITUAL BODY, AND THE SPIRITUAL
MANY instances are recorded in the Scriptures, in which the Lord, angels, and spirits have appeared to men on earth. Abraham had several visions of the Lord, some in sleep; and it is recorded that the Lord appeared to him in full wakefulness, as three men. He also appeared on the same evening to Lot in the form of two angels : for in both these cases they are sometimes called Jehovah, sometimes angels, and sometimes men, in the course of the narrative. The Lord also appeared many times to Moses; but generally in some other form than the human, as in the "burning bush”: yet once, at least, in the human form, when Moses was placed in the cleft of a rock, and saw the Lord on the back, after He had passed by. An angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, and also to Manoah and his wife. Joshua, Balaam, and others had supernatural visions. Most of the prophets also experienced the direct vision of the Lord or of angels.. Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom the Lord was born, had visions of an angel. The apostles, after they commenced their mission, had similar visions. Paul had a like experience, not only at his conversion, but several times subsequently; as appears from his own statements in his epistles. And the whole book of the Revelation, or Apocalypse, is nothing else but a record of the visions showed to John in
the spiritual world. After the Lord's temptations, also, it is said that "angels came and ministered unto Him." His own several appearances after His resurrection—as to His disciples when assembled in a chamber, "the doors being shut”; to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus; to several of them when fishing; to Mary and other women-must all be regarded in the same light.
The question, how these supernatural manifestations these visible appearances of the Lord, angels, and spirits were effected, is not only very interesting, but highly important, if we would know anything of the nature of spiritual existence, or of our own spiritual constitution. Nothing is revealed directly on this subject in the Scriptures, and all the views that have been entertained in regard to it in the Christian world have been merely conjectural. All the cases have been regarded as strictly miraculous, and a miracle has been understood to be a transaction in contravention of the proper laws of Divine order. Some have supposed that spiritual beings have, by the Lord's miraculous power, been presented visible to material eyes. But this is evidently impossible ; for, so complete and entire is the distinction between spiritual substance and material substance, spiritual beings and material beings, that material eyes cannot see spirits, neither can spiritual eyes see matter. If this were possible, we could, with our material eyes, look into the spiritual world at will, and see whomsoever we pleased there; nay, we could see not only one another's bodies, as we now do, but our own souls or spirits also.
Some have supposed that the Lord miraculously clothed Himself, the angels, and the spirits, who appeared, with material bodies, merely for the time. This would be a true miracle, would meet some of the exigencies, and is not impossible ; but it will not apply to all the cases, and has always been seen to be inapplicable to the things shown to Johu in the Revelation. In his case, it has always been regarded as manifest, that instead of the spiritual world being brought into the natural, and exhibited before him, he was introduced into the spiritual world, and saw what transpired there, but by what means, few have ever attempted to define.
But it has not been according to the genius of the Christian dispensation, that these things should be understood : if so, the Lord would have shown His disciples by what means they saw Him after His resurrection. He had the most perfect opportunity conceivable, to demonstrate and illustrate the matter to them most perfectly; for there was Himself, a purely spiritual being, presenting Himself to His disciples when the doors were shut, and making Himself visible to them as they were in their material bodies. If He had seen that it would have been useful to the Christian world to know and understand this, He unquestionably would have explained it to them.
But we are living under a new dispensation - not under the Christian, but under the New Jerusalem dispensation ; and in the latter, all these things have been fully revealed.
A new dispensation is not merely an outward revolution in the affairs or religions of men; nor is it merely a new revelation of truth to men outwardly; but it is a change in the spiritual influences which operate internally and unconsciously upon men from the spiritual world. The essence of the Christian dispensation did not consist merely in a change from a worship of sacrifices, ceremonies, and outward rituals, to a more spiritual worship, and to the simple sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Supper, but it consisted in the gift of the Holy Spirit, which was an entirely new and more heartfelt spiritual influence flowing into men from that time onward. Nor did this new influence, the Holy Spirit from the Lord's Divine Humanity, affect the apostles alone, nor those only who listened to the Gospel, and believed in the Lord: but it was a spiritual influence, an influence from the Lord Himself, flowing into all men throughout the earth, so far as they were capable of receiving it; and not merely into all men on this earth, but into all men on all the inhabitable orbs in the universe; and its unconscious, silent effect
was to make them better, more kindly, more neighborloving.
Nor was it confined to men in the material worlds merely: on the contrary, its influence was far more immediate, and far more distinct and perceptible, in the heavens, and throughout the spiritual world; not the heavens and spiritual world from our earth merely, but from all worlds. This new influence, the Holy Spirit, did not flow into those only who had a knowledge of it, and who asked for it: this is not the law of the Lord's operation into men. But it flowed into all who, from the affections they cultivated and the life they lived towards others, had any capacity in their hearts for receiving it. This Divine influence was the essence of the Christian dispensation, though it has not been so regarded ; and it has done its work.
But we are living under a new dispensation — the New Jerusalem dispensation. This new dispensation consists essentially in a new and more powerful spiritual influence operating upon men from the spiritual world ; though the Lord has, at the same time, given new and higher revelations of truth, which are a most important and essential aid to the efficiency of that new spiritual influence. His spiritual influences upon men are mostly transmitted to them through the agency of angels and spirits; and in the year 1757-one hundred years ago and more — He passed a judgment in the spiritual world, by which He removed a vast body of spirits, who obstructed and perverted His Divine and heavenly influences flowing down towards men. All men receive more or less of this new, elevating influence, who have such hearts and live such lives as open them interiorly to its reception; and in order to give it full efficiency among men, the Lord has at the same time made a full revelation of His own Divine nature, of the spiritual sense of His Word, and of the constitution, order, laws and life of the spiritual world.
These new revelations give us a perfectly clear understanding of all the visions, and all the miraculous appearances of the Lord, angels and spirits, which are recorded in
the Scriptures. Indeed, if the men of the Christian world had been able to comprehend and make use of what is contained in the Scriptures on this subject, they would have had little difficulty in understanding. those visions; but they were, and are still, too deeply sunk in naturalism - in merely natural feelings, and thoughts, and reasonings — to see the instruction contained in the Scriptures.
It is now revealed that angels and spirits, and the spirits of men also our spirits or minds are in the human form. This might have been learned from the declaration in Genesis, that God, who is a spirit, made man in His image ; for, as He is a spirit, it was evidently man's spirit which He made in His image ; and his spirit gives form to his body. The same might have been gathered also from all these recorded visions and spiritual appearances; for all that were seen, whether the Lord, angels, or spirits, were in the human form ; and sober, rational reflection will come to the conclusion that this must have been from a law of Divine order.
It is also revealed that all spirits, not only angels and spirits in the other world, but our spirits while in this world, are clothed with a spiritual body. There are different degrees of refinement, interiorness, sublimation, exaltation, purity and perfection, in spiritual substances, and even in the Lord Himself. In Him is an inmost, a middle, and an outmost; for it is evidently in His outmost alone, that He manifests and reveals Himself to men. His inmost essence is invisible, unperceivable, unapproachable, and inscrutable to men, and even to the angels. Our souls, or spirits, are composed of the more elevated and purer degrees of spiritual substances; and our spiritual bodies, of the less pure and less refined. Our spiritual bodies are perfectly organized, with all the human organs and senses, which are far more perfect and exquisite than those of our material bodies. It is our spiritual body that gives form to our natural body. It is the organs of the former that we actually exert; the organs