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ceive such grace, also was, to enable us so to live, by being zealous of good works.
This, then, is the doctrine of the New Church respecting the way of admission into heaven : and this, we see, according to the Scriptures throughout, is the only way thither. A good life, or a life of righteousness, seriously commenced in this world, is the only life that can endure the sphere of heaven, and the presence of the Divine Judge. On this account, a life accord. ing to the Ten Commandments is one of the two essentials, to which the doctrines of the New Church reduce the whole of religion: the other is, the acknowledgment of the Lord. these two are completely incapable of being separated in act, though they may be thought of separately in idea. For no one can live a life of obedience to the commandments, from an in. ternal ground, as well as in outward form, from himself: it is only possible by and from the Lord, and by power communi. cated from him ; let none therefore suppose, that, when insisting upon a life of righteousness, we go about to establish our own righteousness. It being only possible by power commu. nicated from the Lord, all the merit of it belongs, not to man, but to the Lord alone. And this power can be imparted to none but those who acknowledge the Lord, and look to him to impart it. In like manner, no one in heart acknowledge the Lord, but in proportion as he is grounded in the desire of obeying his commandments; without which, whatever, he may say with the lips, he cherishes the denial of the Lord in his heart, whether he may be aware of it or not; and the loudest profession of faith is but an empty sound. Faith and life invariably go to. gether, and such as the one is, such is the other.
Such being the fact, and such the doctrine of the New Church on the absolute necessity of a life of righteousness, most cordially does she accept the divine declaration which says, “ Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the king. dom of heaven.” What is the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees here spoken of, and rejected, by the Lord ? Its character is abundantly delineated in other parts of the New Testament. It was the righteousness of those who formed the most strict professors of the church at that time existing in the world, but which was in a state of utter decline and corruption. It was a righteousness which was rigid in outward observances, espe, cially in little matters, but which quite overlooked and disregarded the true end and design of the divine commandments, and, while it kept them in the letter, entirely omitted them in the spirit. it was a righteousness which did its works to be seen of men.
It was a righteousness which made great pretensions
to more religion than others, and which announced its claims by its outward appearance and the form of its dress : for we read, of the Scribes and Pharisees, that they made broad their phylacteries, and enlarged the borders of their garments. It was a righteousness which in the language of the prophet, continually said in its heart, “ Stand away, and come not near, for I am holier than thou ;” and the professors of which, in the language of the gospel,“ trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.” It was a righteousness which made clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, while within they were full of extortion and excess. It was a righteousness which paid tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and ommitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith or fidelity. It was a righteousness which, not finding the precepts of the divine Word numerous and minute enough to give sufficient opportunity for its love of display and pretence, added many others to it, about which the divine law is silent and indifferent; such as the washing of cups and pots, brazen vessels and tables, and of the hands before meat. In short, it was a righteousness which affected the external man, only, and did not reach within ; a righteousness which delighted more in performance of its own invention, than in any that the law of God enjoined ; and which in the performance of the latter, even when it kept the moral law or that of the Ten Commandments, only kept it in external form, and merely as a civil and moral
thus from outward motives, such as only looked to wellbeing in this world, - without regarding it at the same time as a spiritual law, whose precepts are to form the law of the mind as well as the law of the body.
What, then, is the righteousness which the Lord alludes to, when he declares that it is a righteousness which must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees? Does he mean that we must be still more scrupulous than they in matters purely indifferent? Does he mean that, whatever they do, we must go father in the same line ? that as they make sad their faces that they may appear unto men to fast, we must make ours sadder ? that as they so arrange the form of their garments as to announce their pretensions to holiness to all beholders, we must still more distinguish ourselves by the singularity of our appearance ? Nothing, surely, nothing of the kind. He does not mean that we are to exceed them in that in which they are superabundant, but in that in which they are deficient; by keeping the divine commandments in our hearts as well as in our actions; by supplying to the observance the inward principle, without which the outward forin is an idle mockery, a dead letter. This is evident from the comment which the Divine Speaker makes upon his own
very act :
text. The scribes and Pharsees thought that they sufficiently obeyed the coinmandment which says, 66 Thou shalt not kill," if they did not carry their enmities into the outward act of mur der; the Divine Author and Expositor of the commandment declares, that he is guilty of a breach of it, and liable to divino judgment accordingly, “ who is angry with his brother without cause." The Scribes and Pharisees thought that they sufficiently obeyed the commandment which says, “ Thou shalt not commit adultery,” if they did not carry the concupiscence into the
“ But I say unto you,” says the Divine Author and Expositor of this commandment, “That whosoever look. eth on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”** And from these two instances, the Saviour plainly intimates the extent of all the other precepts of the Decalogue, and clearly shows in which direction the righteousness of his disciples must exceed that of those who acted in that day as the teachers of righteousness. He calls not upon us to be more sanctimonious than they were, but more sincere; not to shelter ourselves behind the mere letter of a precept, but to take in with it its whole spirit and design; and not to be content only to shun evils as they appear before the world, but so to shun them as to avoid them also in the sight of God,
This, then, is the species of righteousness which the Lord Jesus Christ prescribes to his disciples, and without which he declares that they shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven ; and this, accordingly, is the life which is insisted upon in the doctrines of the New Church. The ten commandments, those doctrines affirm, understood both naturally and spiritually, are the rule of life for Christians. Let any one who wishes to see this clearly proved, consult that work of Swedenborg's, which treats expressly and solely on this subject : it is called, The Doctrine of Life for the New Jerusalem, from the Commandments of the Decalogue. It consists of fourteen chapters, in which the same number of leading propositions is stated and proved ; and as they are all most profoundly important, and show in the strong. est light what our doctrines are upon this truly vital subject, I will here repeat them.
The first — the sentiment with which the work opens, and which it lays down as the fundamental of all, is one which ought to be written in letters of gold in every church and in every house, and, most indispensably, on every heart: It is, That all Religion has relation to life ; and that the life of Religion is to do good. The next affirms, That no one can do good which is really good from himself. The third declares, That so far as man shuns evil as sins, so far he does good, not
* Matt. y. 21
from himself, but from the Lord. The fourth states, That so. far as any one shuns evils as sins, so far he loves truths. The fifth pronounces, That so far as any one shuns evils as sins, so far he hath faith, and is a spiritual man. The sixth observes, That the decalogue points out what evils are sins. The seventh explains, That murders, adulteries, thefts, and false witnesses, of every kind, are the evils which are to be shunned as sins. The four next evince, That so far as any one shuns these evils as sins, he is in the opposite good ; that so far as any one thus shuns murder of every kind, he loves his neighbor; so far as any one thus shuns adultery, he loves chastity; so far as any one thus shuns theft, he loves honesty; and so far as any one thus shuns false witness, or lying, he loves truth. The twelfth demstrates, That no one can shun evils as sins, so as to hold them in aversion, but by combatting against them. The thirteenth assures us, That man ought to shun evils as sins, and to fight against them, as if he could do it from himself (because the Lord is present with every one that strives, and gives him the power)." The fourteenth discloses, That if any one shuns evils from any other motive than because they are sins, he in reality does not shun them, but only prevents them from showing themselves before the world. — This, my Candid Readers, is our doctrine on the life that leads to heaven: I appeal to you whether any doctrine can go more completely to the root of all evil. Is it not evident, that when this doctrine affirms respecting each of the evils prohibited in the Decalogue, that every kind of such evil is to be shunned as sin, it goes to the full extent of the Lord's requirement, that the righteousness of his disciples should exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees ?
To show what is meant by shunning all the kinds of each general evil, I will mention how this is explained in the chapter on the precept respecting shunning adultery; and I select that subject, because it is one respecting which the most atrocious calumnies have been circulated against the doctrines of the New Church and the writings of Swedenborg : “ By committing adultery is meant,” says the enlightened author, " in the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, in a natural sense, not only the external crime, but also all obscene practices, wanton discourse, and filthy thoughts : but, in a spiritual sense, by committing adultery is meant to adulterate the good things taught in the Word, and to falsify its truths: and in the supreme sense, by committing adultery is meant to deny the Lord's Djvinity, and to profane the Word : And they are guilty of all these kinds of adultery together, who do not, both in faith and life, hold adulteries to be sins.” After showing ho'v diametri. cally opposite the uncleanness of adultery is to the chastity
of marriage, he presently adds, “ Hence it may plainly be con. cluded and seen, whether a man is a Christian or not, — yea, whether a man has any religion or not. He who does not, both in faith and life, hold adulteries as sins, is not a Christian, and has no religion. On the other hand, he who shuns adulteries as sins; and still more, he who on that account holds them in aversion; and still more, he who on that account abominates them; has religion, and is a Christian.” Does not this come up to the full doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it not his d'etrine in all its integrity and purity? And as all the other evils prohibited by the Decalogue are laid open in the same searching manner, — I will not say, what a want of integrity, but what ignorance of the subject, is displayed by those, who can reproach the doctrine of the New Church for its “ loose principles !” All principles that are commandments of God they enforce in all their fullness: they are only indifferent about such matters as are Pharisaical additions to the laws of God, — the mere commandments of men, vain traditions, the tendency of which is, to withdraw attention from the commandments of God, and to make them of none effect.
We have now seen, from the most authentic source, what the Doctrine of Life promulgated by Swedenborg, and held hy those who believe that a New Church is meant by the New Je. rusalem, truly is; and we appeal to all the Candid to say, whether it is not, in the strictest sense of the words, a doctrine of genuine holiness?
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.
Holiness, not Laxity, encouraged by the Sentiment, That it is not so Difficult to live the Life that leads to Heav
· en as some suppose. In the preceding Part of this Section I have offered a general vindication of the doctrines of the New Church upon the subject of the Christian Life; I will here reply to the specific charges made against us, on this head, by my usual guide.