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could not be, for it is written: “He knew all things." And again, “He knew what was in man." Again, when he said, According to your faith be it unto you :" are we to suppose, that the individual to whom these words were addressed, could possibly doubt of the power and ability of Jesus Christ, to heal him of his malady; after he had witnessed so many wonderful proofs of that same power in other cases : no, he would be forced to believe, or otherwise, he must also doubt the evidence of his own senses. But, to what an edifying conclusion are we now arrived ; To what A grand distinction are we thus conducted ! we are well aware however, that it will be insinuated by some, that we are endeavouring to make more of the affair than the circumstances recorded will warrant; or than was ever intended to be understood. While it will be stoutly maintained by others, that a mere external conviction is all that is here implied. But to such persons we reply “Ye do greatly err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.”
If a mere external conviction or are assent of the understanding, in the miraculous power assumed by our blessed Lord, constituted the essence of faith or belief, and was the sole criterion of com. petency on the part of the applicant who wished to experience the great benefit of his wonderful operations upon himself; then, how are we to reconcile our Lord's conduct, admitting, for the sake of argument, that his character for universal benevolence is unimpeachable, when he entered into a certain place, where the inhabitants unwillingly received him; and it is added, he did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Strange that he should accuse any of unbelief, when by a single effort of his own omnipotence he could have compelled them all to believe.
Again we find on another occasion, when our Lord was surrounded by a great multitude, and much pressed on every side, a certain woman who was diseased, came behind him in the crowd, and said within herself, “if I may but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be healed :" the wished for moment arrived; when Jesus suddenly turning round said, “who touched me?” The disciples probably thought it a very silly question, for they said, thou seest the multitude throng about thee, and sayest thou, “who touched me?" but without seeming to notice the remarks of those about him, the Lord continues, "somebody has touched me, for I perceive that virtue has gone out of me.”
These examples may serve to show, the striking difference between external conviction, and internal acknowledgment; or, between the faith of the understanding, when unattended by holy love and confidence in the heart; and the faith which is united
to these heavenly principles. Hence too, we may now understand why our Lord, before he fully manifests his saving and healing power to any one, first says, “ According to your faith be it unto you."
If the paralytic before mentioned, had understood by the term faith, what usually passes current in the world at this day for that heaven-born grace; it is more than probable, he would have remained a paralytic to his dying day: at least, he could not have experienced any vital energy as flowing from the Divine Body of the great Saviour. So in like manner with regard to the poor woman; if she had beheld Jesus Christ in any other light, than
very and eternal God, veiled indeed with mortal flesh; and if she had not felt at the same time the most profound humiliation and prostration of spirit, when she came trembling into his presence, acknowledging what she had done; under the impression no doubt, that she would yet meet with a gracious reception, would she, we ask, if her faith had not been thus grounded in self-abasement and in the sole exaltation of her omnipotent Saviour, have approached the Lord for the purpose of touching his garment ? Certainly not; for this was the faith that drew virtue from the glorious body of the Redeemer ! this is the touch that imparts life and salvation to the true believer !
That faith in the sole supreme, and exclusive divinity of Jesus Christ is the only solid basis of rational, pure, and exalted piety ; and that there can be no genuine faith, but what is grounded in, and hath its origin from love, we trust will be made more evident in what now remains to be said on this important subject.
Faith, when properly understood, consists in the internal acknowledgment of the one supreme and only Lord, as we have already seen and is moreover attended with a sort of interior perception of the Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord, as soon as ever it is presented to the mind. It is mánifest, therefore, that in whatsoever person, such an internal acknowledgment of the exclusive divinity of Jesus Christ, has not as yet been wrought, he must, on that very account, be altogether incapacitated for the reception of any genuine truth; that is, of truth, which is of a spiritual and divine origin. Jesus Christ is emphatically styled, "the chief corner stone:” he is the foundation of heaven above, and of the church below : now, if you undermine the foundation of a magnificent temple, will not the whole superstructure be entirely demolished ? Jesus Christ, is the root of every virtye, both in angels and men : but if you injure or destroy the root of a tree, will not the branches also speedily perish.
But here a most important question arises, which well demands the most profound attention of every humble and sincere christian. We
may indeed believe and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the only God of heaven and earth; that he is the alone source and origin both of life and light, or of love and wisdom; that without him we can do nothing; we may be enabled to discern, that in his WORD there is an internal or spiritual sense, separate and distinct from the letter; in such a way, that by a sort of interior perception, we may feel the force of our Lord's declaration, where he says, “My words are spirit and they are life.” But the grand question to which we allude is, Is this all that is implied in the signifi. cative language of the Redeemer, when he says, “ According to your faith be it unto you p Is this that vital touch which even extracts virtue from the glorified body of Jesus Christ? Assuredly not! because this may only be the faith of the understanding after all, and consequently may still be an external and dead faith ; for faith in the understanding is then first animated and becomes alive when it receives its impulses and its energies from the Lord's life, flowing through the heart. Accordingly, the Lord declares, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." To eat the Lord's flesh, is to be re-animated and re-created by the reception of the Divine Love into the heart or will principle of man; and to drink his blood, is to receive the --Divine Truth or wisdom of the Lord into the understanding, or in,
tellectual principle; and this latter principle then only becomes truly alive, as before said, when it participates in, and is sanctified by, those good things deposited in the heart, through the instrumentality of the Lord's divine mercy alone. In this manner, the Lord breathes into man the breath of lives, and man becomes a living soul.
From what we have above premised, it will now be seen, that two things are necessary, in order to the regeneration of man; namely, to believe in the Lord, and to live in the Lord; and consequently, we concļude, that neither faith nor piety, nor yet both together, will be at all available to salvation, unless they lead us to a closer communion and conjunction with the great Author of our being, Alas! are we really so simple as to imagine we are pleasing God, and that he looks down upon us from his lofty throne with the gracious smile of approbation because we are muffled up, and well nigh choked with our severe piety, and the mere externals of religion ? because we neglect our employments to attend churches and chapels; or are found upon our knees, when we should be attending to our families ? It is truly astonishing and much to be lamented how some persons do bring disgrace upon religion, at the very time they themselves are plunged, as it were, over head and ears in it. But the true cause is, they entertain very mean and low notions of the Supreme Being, and a very high conceit of themselves ; and this is the reason that their piety is irrational; being founded neither in reason nor in revelation. It is impure, because it is cemented by spiritual pride, hypocrisy, and deceit. It is mean and despicable, because they have pictured to their imaginations some haughty, morose,' and selfish being, as the object of their worship and adoration; and who, in some sort, resembles themselves. How different from the portrait, delineated by the prophet :-"He hath showed thee, O man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee; but to do justly, to love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.”
To the Editors of the New Jerusalem Magazine.
The following query has lately been submitted to the members of the New Church for their consideration : “Whe ther would it be better that devout recipients should be deprived of the benefit of the Lord's Supper because of the rion-residence of an ordained minister, or that they should be allowed to receive it from a leader of a society, who has of course not been ordained ?"
It is a thing very desirable that all societies of devout recipients' of the doctrines of the true Christian religion should participate of the benefit of the Lord's Supper; but it must be evident to all, that order is preferable to disorder. Hence where there are devout recipients, desirous of partaking of this rite, inquiry should be made amongst them whether they cannot so arrange matters as to receive it in an orderly, just and christian-like manner, without breaking in upon the sanctions of the Word and of doctrine, and the usages of christendom. It is presumed that such arrangement is possible, especially in Lancashire, where there is such facility in travelling. The same may be said of other parts of the kingdom that lie in the vicinity of any of our orderly constituted churches. And it is further presumed, that our Missionary İnstitutions would not hesitate, in cases of this sort, to afford any pecuniary assistance that might be necessary. We have the satisfaction also to observe, that in proportion as more orderly constituted churches arise, the distances between such churches and our númerous small societies scattered around them will become less, and the means of ministerial visitation so much the more easy and practicable. In proportion as our ministers and regular churches
increase in number, complaints that that very important rite, the holy Sacrament is not regularly and orderly administered, will become few. It is, however, good not to be over hasty, either in increasing our ministers before societies are sufficiently settled, or in prematurely introducing the Lord's Supper.
Nor does it appear, either from the Scriptures, the proceedings of the apostles, or from the writings of our scribe, that irregularity in this respect is sanctionable. At least a general church, assuming to be scriptural and orderly in its functionaries and constitutions, has no power or authority to dispense irregular administrations ; for so to do, would be to acknowledge order and disorder in one light, and to act contrary to the ecclesiastical nature of things, and its own economy. If others, in the administration of the holy sacrament, disregard orlightly esteem what is just, according to the orderly economy of things, as pointed out in the sacred scriptures and epistles, it does not appear that the general church can interfere, since those who act thus, cannot be said to regard its order, constitution or economy, nor effect to be guideď by any other than their own measures. One thing, however, seems to be a necessary duty in these cases, viz. that a spirit of charity be exercised by the church, as well as a continual and circumspect endeavour to establish and preserve order in all our churches and small societies. But if any church must be orderly, it cannot be supposed to acknowledge what is disorderly, or allow, that is, order its practice.
It would appear, that the general church has hitherto observed such a degree of forbearance from meddling, as seems to be grounded in the true principles of charity, in the hope, that disorder, in this respect, will of itself subside, in proportion as the general church gains strength. We had better bear some privations for a time, than introduce disorder by our hasty or premature measures. It is good to be cool and cautious in the discipline and affairs of the church, in order that an abundant harvest of good may result from the performance of judicious uses. But, to conclude these brief remarks, I may observe, that whatever opinions we may have in regard to external things, but one opinion can prevail on this ; That it is individually our duty to love God with all our hearts, and our neighbour as ourselves. Praying that this spirit may for ever reign in the Lord's true church, I subscribe myself,