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He gave man His own form, in order that he might be a perpetual recipient of the life that exists in Him, and might live that life towards others : that regeneration consists in becoming assimilated to Him,- in receiving this life from Him, and thus becoming like Him : that the only way in in which man can become regenerated, can receive this life internally from the Lord, is by living the life of love to others in obedience to the truths of His Word, in His fear, in looking to Him, and by the help of His Spirit. He has taught us that it is His love that is doing all the good and performing all the useful works that are done in the world : and that all His creatures are but instruments in His hands, to these ends; that a good life, a truly religious life, a spiritual life, consists in doing good to others from love to them : that doing good to others consists, not in almsgiving merely, or in relieving the wants of the needy,— not in these primarily, but only in a very subordinate degree, but that doing good, or the life of love to the neighbor, consists in doing the common works of one's business, occupation, employment, or labor, from love to those for whom they are done; as He Himself does all good from love to all. There is no work, business, employment, or labor, in which a man, a woman, or a child, may legitimately engage, or in which they are ordinarily engaged, that is not a work of good and of use to some other person. The Lord is doing all these works of good and of use to others; and He does them through us and others. He does them from love, and He wishes us to receive the same love into our hearts from Him while we are doing them, and to do them from that love. He gave us the truths of His Word, to teach us these things, to teach us how we may receive this love from Him, how we may come to Him for it, may open our hearts to Him for it, may see what there is in our hearts that is an obstacle to its reception, how we may put this away, and, in short, how our hearts may become purified from what is selfish and evil, and may be filled from Him with the life that He wishes to give us,– that life of
love to others according to His commandments, which is regeneration. He has thus taught us that regeneration and life are one, and cannot be separated.
We are thus taught that, as regeneration consists in living a life of doing good and performing uses to others from love to them, in obedience to the Lord's commandments, and in His fear, no one can be regenerated who lives for himself, for his own ease, and who is not engaged in some regular employment of use to others. He that would be great among you, let him be your servant; even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” — Matt. xx. 27–28.
T. B. H.
WHAT CAN I DO FOR THE CHURCH?
A TRAVELLER pitched his tent by the dry bed of an Egyptian stream. Although during one portion of the year he would have found a strong river, now there was but a pool, round which had gathered the inhabitants of the surrounding region, both human and brute, to endure till the coming again of the water.
Suddenly a great cry was raised at night, and the traveller rushed from his tent, startled by a thundering sound which came from afar. "The water! the water !” cried the natives. Yes, it was the water. And soon the tumult sounded nearer, and then a majestic river came rushing by, bearing in its bosom great rocks, and trees, and all that had come in its way.
The pool which had been the traveller's dependence, and likewise his hunting-ground, disappeared in a moment, and the mighty animals which had been pent up in it were free.
The plain was still dry, but the rain had come upon the hills, and the "thirsty land had become springs of water."
This is, figuratively speaking, what has taken place with many of us. As Martin Luther, when the Church was dead
about him, took refuge in a castle with his Bible, so have many of us, from the barrenness of irreligion, taken refuge in the Ten Commandments, or in the Lord's Prayer, like the impotent folk at Bethesda, to wait for the moving of the water. . We have waited while the water lessened and the famine increased, till despair was upon us, and the voice we liave lifted up was, like Hagar's, one of weeping.
But there was life for us. Upon the mountains of heaven the blessed rain of truth was falling, and soon a voice came crying in the wilderness, and we went down where there was much water, and were at rest.
The feeling which arises in us when we become aware of the truths of the New Church, is surely not less joyful than was that of the traveller when the river came. We are too full of joy for words, yet, if we say anything, we are apt
What can I do? All around me there is waste and arid land; what can I do to make others rejoice with me ?”
To answer this question by another illustration : the Egyptian farmer makes the river useful to him, by fixing an apparatus to the bank and hoisting the water upon his land.
By a set of revolving buckets he transfers the water from the river below to his field above, having already prepared little channels for facilitating the irrigation.
How can we do better than that? What can we do better than taking pains that the water of truth flows through the channels of our own hearts? Indeed this is all we can attend to. The man who makes up his mind to let his light shine will find he has quite enough to do to keep it burning. And the man who makes up his mind that all that is required of him is to keep the stream of truth running in his heart, will find that this labor is sufficient to keep him busy.
In the first place he must remain near the river; and must, by daily prayer and constant effort, become accustomed tɔ look to the Lord for guidance, and to know no other law
than the Divine commandments. For unless he does this, if he, as soon as a bucketful be obtained, runs off to rest awhile, his work must all be done again.
And he must be willing to let the water flow in the right channels, or it will do no good either to him or his neighbors. It is easy, in becoming acquainted with New Church doctrine, to think that the wider one scatters his knowledge the better. But this is a mistake. Give an Egyptian a machine that will scatter the water over a great space, and his labors are fruitless. The ground is too dry for this. Only a steady stream, poured on day after day, will answer.
It will not be difficult for the reader to call up, as examples of this error, some who have been most widely known as propagators of the New Church, who have to all appearance made very little progress themselves in charity and faith. The reason is that they have not brought the water through their own gardens first, but have dissipated it in the air, in the hope that it would do somebody good. And it may have done good, but not nearly as much good as if they had poured out the truth through the channel of their own lives. This is as evident from the history of societies, as from that of individuals.
I do not understand that this discourages the distribution of tracts, but I do understand it to say that one good man's life is worth all the tracts he can distribute.
Swedenborg, in his writings, tells us what he " heard and saw," and his direct and simple way of stating his experience is much better, because more angelic, than any more argumentative way.
Tracts may be of great value if of a certain kind. It is written that Andrew found his brother Simon, and said to him, " We have found the Messiah. And he brought him to Jesus.” The tract which a man writes out of his own experience in finding the Lord Jesus, is water poured through the right channel ; but the tract which attempts argument only, is not calculated to bring a man to the Saviour, because it does not reach the heart.
When a man begins operations in the New Church, he is likely to draw up a good deal which comes down with the current, but is not pure water. To recur to the old illustration, Sir Samuel Baker says that the water of the Altara, in its first flowing, was of a brown color from alluvium and debris. While the stream has been dry many a thing has grown up in the channel. This must be carried out first, and years may be required to do it. . But the stream will do it. And when we are irrigating the land, we have only to see that we do not pour false ideas into the channel of the truth. .
For this reason it seems well that a person who has just become acquainted with the New Church should not begin to act publicly as a teacher of others until time has been given to enable the current to clear itself of rubbish. Many a marr who would have been a faithful and valuable worker has been rendered useless by an undue haste on the part of his friends, who, as soon as the first drops of pure water began to be visible in his preaching or conversation, have set him at work for a society. Many an "ism” will come out with the truth, and, for a time, there is great danger of his being completely clogged ; in which case we call it his fault, but it was a thing out of his control.
What can we do? We can go quietly to work to learn all we can, and to be as Christian as possible in our lives, and if, in this 'way, a good stream of living water flows through us, can there be a doubt that, under Divine care, it will flow somewhere? This is not a selfish view, for we must engage in unselfish uses in order to spread the truth through our own hearts. If we learn and practise merely for our own sakes, we are like him who had kept all the conmandments from his youth up, yet lacked the one important thing.
We are not called upon to make great sacrifices, nor to talk a great deal, but only to go honestly about our daily duties, and leave the rest to Him whose is the living water which springeth up to everlasting life. Though a man's