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occupation, pursuit, and interest. And, not as a “ church” merely, but as a church and world united, will
hallowed and divine thing, every production of exalted art, every science of the now opened and forever opening universe, every beauty, every use, which it is possible to conceive of in that orderly and thronging population, enter into and compose the business of the City of God.
“Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God!” and though we may err in striving too closely to conceive of particulars, yet, more than the imagination can conceive, may we build in assurance upon these foundation principles, which are correct, and scientific, and true in every particular.*
We may thus comprehend the value and significance of earth. This world is but the birthplace - the
introduction to a state of immortal felicity in active uses. As before said, it was not possible to form an angelic heaven without an ultimate foundation or basis in the natural mind, secured by this life in the world of nature. And it is here that Divine Providence so leads and disciplines us, that in the preservation of our utmost freedom, we may have that plane in the mind so formed and established, that the heavenly and more spiritual life may be everlastingly grounded in it. This is the meaning of the inspired passage, “ Where the tree falleth, there it shall lie.” That is, as the external life in the world, or the plane of mind in which the experience and memory of that life is fixed, becomes formed and characterized, so will the interior life and experience in the future world become conformed to this first foundation existence. The one rests upon the other. Not arbitrarily, but by divine and necessary order. But of this more will be said in the next chapter.
Thus, then, we see the uses of the world. It is the whole object of this world — it is why the planets were first struck out of the eternal substance, to people the immortal spheres
* The reader who would see this subject pursued in full, may consult Swedenborg's “Heaven and Hell.”
with undying beauty, intelligence, and happiness in use. To this end are all the labors and reforms of the world chiefly subservient. It is a low view of them to consider them chiefly with reference to earth. They are mainly valuable for the production of a better heaven.
To view the world from this point of view is to remove the causes of much complaint for the thick-crowding calamities and disappointments of life. The success of life is nothing without the success of eternity. And it can be afforded that many a splendid plan of apparent usefulness be thwarted
many an enterprise overthrown many an honest and virtuous purpose frustrated, if it is seen by the overruling Intelligence, that this is not, on the whole, so well calculated to secure the eternal good.
We frequently complain of our lot when no very visible wrong, certainly no sinfulness, entered into our calculations, but where we were only providing for our own necessities, and the necessities of those depending on us, and where no imprudence, no miscalculation of means to ends, were at all to be discovered by the keenest eye.
be that nothing of this kind existed. It may be that we had made right calculations — that wisdom and sagacity were conspicuous in all our plans; and if there were no other end in view by the Divine Providence, we could have been suffered to have gone on with that to a most sure and speedy success. But God saw differently. And think you He had no means to thwart that plan of ours ? We may talk of the laws of nature and of human life as much and as long as we please; and I do not mean to deny, on the universal scale of infinite being, a certain law, a certain necessity, by which even the Divine Being is in some sense limited to his own order,— by which his Love is controlled by his own Wisdom ; but with the most rigid views of necessity and fate, what an infinity of truth is there in his personal Will and particular agency! Be sure the Lord can put forth his arm of power can come by mediate or immediate influx. can send forth a thousand angels to do his purposes, and crush all the
thoughts of man in a moment. And we can make no doubt that whole armies, in the clash and noise of contending arms, are thus influenced and controlled, and the battle turned to victory, on the one side or the other, by this powerful influx from the spiritual world. “It all flows in, from heaven or from hell; from hell from permission, from heaven from Providence.” It is often called the fortune of war, and the fortune of this thing, and that, and the other. Men greatly overlook the surrounding influences of the spiritual world; it is but a thin partition that divides us ; in fact, man already, as to his spirit, is in the spiritual world, and in company with spiritual beings.
Here, then, is a ground for resignation to the Divine Will. Complaints, and heart-sickness, and a multitude of anxieties, enter into our mortal life with the very necessity of being. But if we could only see how many of those disappointments which cause such feelings, were expressly effected by the superior providence to favor the grand end of our eternal destinyhow our purposes were thwarted to make room for the Divine purpose, there would arise from this view a deeper resignation to the infinite Wisdom. It is not in the common cant of religion that we.speak these things. We can make no doubt of a plan, and a purpose, and a vigilant action on the part of heaven, more deep and real than our utmost imaginations. Indeed, in the spirit of a saying of Christ with regard to little children “ Their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven”- may we not conceive how from very infancy a child is watched and guided to his future mission ? and when youth and early manhood come, then the commission is renewedly and imperiously given to the guiding angels - “See, now, faithfully to this your charge. See here, in this peculiarly constituted being, what he is fitted for, and what only he can best do. This is a work that was planned from eternity. He must perform it, for without him it cannot be done. Watch him now, through all his devious ways on earth. He knows
not himself, what is his work, or what is his mission. It is not yet best that he should know. It would interfere with his freedom. He is, therefore, seeking another end, and marking out another course for himself. But see faithfully that it shall not take effect. Note all his hereditary tendencies; let him pursue this or that for a time; but rather than fail of the eternal purpose, which is for the good of earth, and for the good of heaven, and for his own good through time and eternity, cut him off in every direction. Disappoint him, if necessary, times without number. Strip him of all his worldly possessions, for he is one who needs to be tried in the furnace of affliction. His will must be bent; his nature softened; and these are the means, which, in his case, are most effectual for the purpose. He will call it calamitous. He will think it a hard lot. He will sigh and weep in despondency. But see that it is a work of love. It must be done. Count not upon earthly moments, but upon eternal realities. Through him shall come blessings to a multitude connected with him; and when he has accomplished this work to which he is appointed on earth, you shall still be with him, in his last hours, and welcome him then to these heavenly mansions, where he himself shall see and adore the Divine Providence, and be full of thankfulness that all things were so accomplished.”
Yes, there can be no doubt that a very similar commission is given to many an angel who is appointed to watch over our earthly existence. Instead, however, of one particular angel for the whole life, our heavenly society is changed according to our changing states.
“Such spirits are adjoined to man as he himself is as to affection, or as to love; but good spirits are adjoined to him by the Lord, whereas evil spririts are invited by the man himself: but the spirits with man are changed according to the changes of his affections; thence some spirits are with him in infancy, others in childhood, others in youth and manhood, and others in old age. In infancy spirits are present who are in innocence, thus who communicate with the heaven of innocence, which is
the inmost or third heaven; in childhood are present spirits who are in the affection of knowing, thus who communicate with the ultimate or first heaven; in youth and manhood are present spirits who are in the affection of truth and good, and thence in intelligence, thus who communicate with the second or middle heaven; but in old age, spirits are present who are in wisdom and innocence, thus who communicate with the inmost or third heaven. But this adjunction is effected by the Lord with those who can be reformed and regenerated. The case is otherwise with those who cannot be reformed and regenerated ; to these also good spirits are adjoined, that by them they may be withheld from evil as much as possible ; but their immediate conjunction is with evil spirits, who communi cate with hell, whence they have such spirits as the men them selves are.
The angels, indeed, guide man, but herein they only minister to the Lord, who alone governs him by angels and spirits." H. H. 295; A. C. 50.
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Thus it is, we have every reason to believe, with our attendant spirits. But how many lack this faith! The belief even in angelic guidance has almost died out of the heart of Christendom, or became so faint as to be ineffectual, where but an indistinct impression of the Divine Providence is left to cheer and to animate us.
In conclusion, let it ever be remembered that it is our eternal use and happiness in heaven that Providence invariably consults ; and though there be a million of occurrences that tend to throw doubt upon the plan and purpose of this life, yet if we could see the whole of it, we might find that every thread in the great web of human destiny was woven by a divine hand for infinite purposes. And thus it is, spiritually speaking, that the very hairs of our heads are all numbered ; that is, every least state of our spiritual life is pre-arranged and provided for.
But when we once give up special and personal agencies, and see nothing but the iron working of mechanical law, then woe to our faith. It is no faith, sufficient for a man. Often, very often, does the great universe bear witness to God's