« PreviousContinue »
is, “ Who is the adversary [Matt. v. 25,] here spoken of?” Not having had the pleasure to see a reply to this important question in your work, and thinking it to be, like every other question arising out of the Divine Word, of special moment to the well-being of man, the following brief remarks thereon, are submitted to your judgment; not without a wish, however, that some abler pen had been devoted to the same subject.
The whole of the verse above adverted to, is couched in the following words;—“Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him ; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.” From these words it appears, I. That man has an adversary. 2. That there is necessity to agree with that adversary. 3. That improper conduct on the part of man towards such adversary leads unerringly to spiritual imprisonment,
1. That man has a spiritual (Aytıdıxos) Adversary or opponent, so called in Matt. v. 25., and in i. Pet. v. 8., we have recorded in the Holy Word. In the latter of which places it is said ; “ Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” By the devil, however, we do not understand, some one supreme wicked spirit, but that hell itself is symbolized by this expression, as to its direful principles of evil, and though represented under one name, yet it must consist of many, whose activities will be directed toward the accomplishment of evil and diabolical purposes, hence they are said to go about seeking the destruction of others. In the book of Revelation our spiritual adversary is called (xatnyopos Apoc. xii. 10) "the Accuser of our brethren, which accuseth them before God day and night.” But it is said, “ They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb." By accuser, then, is pointed out those spirits which “ assault, chide, and rebuke” those who are of the church, and live in the affection of divine things.
2. Seeing then, that man has such an adversary or accuser, it appears from the words of the Lord, that there is necessity to agree with that adversary. Man in times of conflict and temptation experiences many accusations in his mind and conscience, which sometimes come with bitterness and much force, and give special uneasiness and disquietude during the time of the continuance. And we cannot for a moment doubt that the enemy of souls, is at these times busy in exciting all such states of christian suffering, and besetting man with the alarming charges of guilt, and involving him in the mazes of spiritual darkness. In the Apocalypse Explained it is said, " by an accuser is signified one who assaults, chides, and rebukes, for he who accuses also assaults, chides, and rebukes; the same expression also in the original tongue, signifying an adversary and rebuker; and what is wonderful, they who are dragons, although they make no account of the life [of faith, which is charity,] yet accuse the faithful, if they observe in them any evil of ignorance, for they inquire into their life in order that they may reproach and condemn, and hence they are called accusers; but by the brethren whom they accuse, are understood all who are in the heavens, likewise all in the earths who are in the good of charity.” n. 746.
As man, in order to his purification, is necessarily liable to experience the above states of accusation, it may be remarked that the best way to pass or get through these states must also be the best way to agree with our respective spiritual adversaries. And it is easy to discover, that the most proper and christian-like way to pass through all the trials and temptations we have to experience in the course of regeneration, is, to exercise a lowly and patient frame of mind, and when principles of accusation are in a state of besetting activity, on our part we must be as calm in our mind, and as gentle in the exercise of our affections as we possibly can, at all times manisesting a spirit of forbearance towards the principles of accusation, and especially towards those spirits who excite th ; ever being aware that we are in close consociation with them, and that, though they may thus oppressively beset us, it is ultimately intended for our good, as contributing to, and promoting our purification, and consequently our eternal happi
To agree then, with our adversary, is not to be irritable in mind and affections towards those spirits which induce temptation, but to meet their accusations with that self-possession, calmness and christian temper, which will most abundantly contribute to the implantation and growth of heavenly principles in the mind.
3. But as man has this opposing adversay, it may now be observed, that improper conduct on his part towards such adversary leads unerringly to spiritual imprisonment. For if man in his spiritual trials and accusations do not maintain that self-possession, calmness, and christian temper above adverted to, then a spirit of fretfulness will be excited in the mind, and repining and dissatisfaction will produce improper deportment, by separating man from the Lord, who is the only source of strength, thus he will be delivered over to the judge, or in other words, will come under the condemnation of divine truth, and if such a course be persisted in, then by the effective process of divine order, the officer, as it is said, will cast man into bondage and spiritual imprison
ment, whence he will be under the slayish dominion of a violent, bitter and fretful spirit, from which direful prison it is further stated, he can never come out till he has paid the uttermost or last farthing ; for it is evident that such individual can never be brought back to a state of liberty, freedom, love to God, and charity towards his neighbour, until every such evil principle and affection, by which he has been overcome, is seen in its true light, till it be sincerely repented of, and till it be really loathed and abhorred.
Hence we discover the great necessity there is, that every christian investigate the principles of bis own mind, and especially the state of his own affections in all times of conflict and trial, lest he fall under the influence and power of his spiritual enemy. We also may hence learn the further necessity there is of looking to the Lord in all the course of our christian life, he alone being the sure source of guidance and deliverance. For he says, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in me should not abide in darkness ;"_" Abide in me, and I in you ;-if a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch and is withered.”? John xii. 46. xv. 4, 6.
T. P. H.
RETROSPECTIVE DISCRIMINATIONS : OR, REMNANTS OF TRUTH AND FRAGMENTS OF COMMON PERCEPTION, EXTRACTED FROM VARIOUS AUTHORS, WITH ILLUSTRATIVE
REMARKS. On the renewal of Virtuous Connexions. Many have been the opinions of different individuals, as well as of various bodies of men, concerning the circumstances of spiritual existence hereafter, especially as it regards the renewal of virtuous connexions, with those whom we once esteemed or have affectionately loved. This is a topic of much interest to the pious and feeling mind, and the idea that parted friends and relatives shall at some subsequent period, renew the bonds of affection and experience the joys of mental intercourse, carries in it something congenial to our feelings and highly agreeable to the principles of human constitution. And I think we may safely infer, that this feeling, which so universally pervades the minds of men, must be an effect resulting from some incessant sphere of operation, acting upon the soul, and impressing it with the sensibilities of common perceptions. Agreeably to the above ideas I may here introduce a passage from the writings of the noted Dr. Blair, which is uninfluenced by his religious prejudices and untinctured by his peculiar doctrinal sentiments.
Speaking of the regenerate christian after he has departed this life and consociated with the host above, he says,
« United to this high assembly, the blessed, at the same time, renew those ancient connexions with virtuous friends, which had been dissolved by death. The prospect of this awakens in the heart, the most pleasing and tender sentiment that perhaps can fill it in this mortal state; for of all the sorrows which we are here doomed to endure, none is so bitter as that occasioned by the fatal stroke which separates us, in appearance for ever, from those to whom either nature or friendship had intimately joined our hearts. Memory, from time to time, renews the anguish; opens the wounds which seemed once to have been closed; and, by recalling joys that are past and gone, touches every spring of painful sensibility. In these agonizing moments, how relieving the thought, that the separation is only temporary, not eternal; that there is a time to come of reunion with those with whom our happiest days were spent; whoše joys and sorrows once were ours; whose piety and virtue cheered and encouraged us; and from whom, after we shall have landed on the peaceful shore when they dwell, no revolutions of nature shall ever be able to part us more. Such is the society of the blessed above. Of such are the multitude composed who stand before the throne.” But it
may be remarked that consociation hereafter can only have place where similarity of love and affection reign in the soul, for on this depends consociation or dissociation in the spiritual state of existence. In the spiritual world, it is true, men all meet and for some time must, in the nature of things, retain a similarity of state, to that in which they were, when removed from this world; and while the states of development and the manifestation of the true character of men are being effected, we may conclude, there will be much intercourse with those with whom they have been conversant: but such intercourse can in no case be lasting except there be a unity of affection, delight and life. Whatever intercourse may have before existed in this world, none can exist hereafter, but in cases where like affections and delights are associated with their like, for this is agreeable to the freedom, nature, and fitness of things : were it otherwise, the happiness of heaveu would be disturbed by discordancy of minds. If we wish, then, to join the “general assembly and church of the first-born, and an innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect,” we can only expect to do it in proportion as we imbibe the spirit of juştness and of perfectness, by the approbation of goodness and truth in the inmost principles of the mind.
As further illustrative of this subject, we may notice what & pious and most intelligent author says in reference to departed spirits. “ As soon as they arrive in the world of spirits, they are all classed by the Lord according to their several qualities and dispositions, the evil with such infernal societies as they had communication with in this world in the ruling passion; and the good with such of the heavenly societies as they had communication with in love, charity and faith : but however they are thus diversely classed, yet all meet and converse together in that world, when they have a desire so to do, who have been friends and acquaintances in this life, more especially husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, kindred and friends; but as most of them are of different inclinations and habits of mind, according to their different ways of life here, they are soon parted ; but it must be noted both concerning those that go to heaven, and those that go to hell, that after their arrival in those two different kingdoms, they no more see or know one another, unless they are of like minds and affections. The reason why they meet and know one another in the world of spirits, and not in heaven or hell, is, because in the first of these worlds they pass through the same states they were in, in this life, and so from one to another; but afterwards all are fixed in one permanent state respectively, according to the state of that love which prevails in them, in which one knows another from similarity of condition ; for similitude joins and dissimilitude separates.” H. H. 427.
These ideas cannot fail to convey a great degree of satisfaction to the humble, devout and enquiring christian. They are calculated to remove his fears and calm his solicitude, pointing out the certainty and happiness of virtuous connexions hereafter, but at the same time declaring that permarent connexion depends upon the congeniality of minds, in regard to their states, delights and affections.
SPIRITUAL REFLECTIONS. The human mind is, in the Holy Word compared to, and cal. led a house, in this house are contained a vast variety of affections and thoughts, and these are the household. When these of the household are in proper order, loving the Lord and what is good and true above all other things, then they are a man's best frimds: but when they are in disorder, loving self and the world in preference to God and the neighbour, and evil and falsehood in preference to good and truth, they are, in this state, a man's