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THE NEW YEAR; TIME AND ITS CORRESPONDENCE TO SPIRITUAL STATES.
TIME, it is said, is man's estate, which he has to cultivate as he would his farm, or his garden, or his business. In proportion to his industry and his prudence will be his reward. The fruits he gathers will, under the Lord's Providence and Mercy, be in proportion to his labour, his watchfulness, and his care. There is a perfect correspondence between natural things and spiritual. The Lord "spake nothing without a parable," (Mark iv. 34.) and every thing that He said has a relation to His kingdom. The "Sower who went forth to sow," (Matt. xiii.) and the "Merchantman" and the "Fisherman," and the "Housewife" and the "Potter," (Isaiah Ixiv. 8.) and the "Carpenter," (Zechariah i. 20.) all teach us something about heaven, how it is formed, and how we must live and act, that the kingdom of heaven may be established within us. (Luke xvii. 20.) By knowing the uses of the various emblems which the Lord employs in His divine Parables (and they are nearly all taken from every-day life, as it was among the Jewish people), we may easily rise to a spiritual perception, aud see our great duties in the regenerate and spiritual life. Time and all its periods of years, months, weeks, days and hours, are often mentioned in God's Word. In many cases they are so named as to involve, even to the commonest perception, the idea of something which relates to the state of the thing mentioned. Enl. Series.-No. 25, vol. iii.]
Thus the six days of Creation are supposed by very many not to mean literal days of twelve hours according to the Jewish, or of twenty four hours according to our present computation, but to indicate either a much longer period of time, or when seen with "spiritual discernment," to imply a spiritual idea of the state of the subject mentioned.
The natural man, whose heart is bent on the acquisition of wealth, power, fame, and pleasure, exhibits an example of the great value of time to him. He rises early, and appoints to every hour its allotted employment. If he is a manufacturer employing several hundreds of people, he reckons the minutes which are neglected either by late coming, or by some accident to his machinery, as a serious loss to himself, and he calculates that if 500 men lose each a minute, 500 minutes, or more than eight hours are lost, which in the course of a month makes a serious defect in his profits. Now the natural man, in this respect, acts wisely in his generation, and if, at the same time, he "number his days, and apply his heart unto wisdom," his spiritual states of life will be paramount in his estimation, and the careful employment of his time in respect to natural things will conduce both to his earthly and spiritual prosperity. Time is thus truly his estate.
But in a much higher sense is time the estate of the spiritual man, or of the man who wishes, during his sojourn upon earth, to lay the broadest and the deepest foundation for a state of happiness in eternity. That this broad and deep foundation for a state of eternal happiness must be laid in time, we are assured both by the Word of God, and by the perception of our rational mind. This world being the ultimate of creation, in which man first appears, the substantial basis of every thing intended for his eternal good must be formed and laid whilst here. Hence the Lord commands us to "dig deep" and "to build upon a rock," and not upon sand. We now know that there is no angel in heaven who was not once a man upon either this or some earth in the universe. The reason is, because every building must have a foundation which is fixed and unmoveable, and this fixed basis must be in the ultimate or lowest degree of divine order in God's creation, which is the material world or the terraqueous globe. In order, then, to have “a house eternal in the heavens," (2 Cor. v. 42.) which is the designation the apostle gives to the spiritual body of an angel, it is indispensable that that house be built upon the basis of the material body, or formed within it, as a diamond in its matrix, as a pearl in its shell, as a kernel in the nut, as a fruit in its covering, or its rind, as a seed in its capsule, or as a metal in its ore. For no product in nature can be formed without its external; and no spiritual body, which, properly
regarded, is the organism of mind, and the substantial man himself who lives after death, can be formed but in a material body. To imagine, therefore, that angels could have been created as such, without having been men upon some planet, is as absurd as it is to imagine that "castles can be built in the air," without a solid foundation upon which they can rest.
From this it will be seen that every thing spiritual and heavenly must have its foundation in something natural corresponding to it, in which it can be substantially formed, and thus have an existence in itself independently of the material or outermost form in which it was formed. This is not only true of the spirit of man, but also of every thing in the spirit,-of every principle of its life, of every affection, every thought; in short, of its love, intelligence, and wisdom. Now as all these things which constitute the heavenly life of the spirit can only, as to their principles, be formed whilst man is in ultimates, that is, connected with a material body, and living in time, we may plainly see how important our time-life is, and how necessary it is to employ the hours, and the months, and the years, in procuring and substantiating heavenly principles in our external man during the short period of our sojourn upon earth. For after death, having left the ultimates of creation, no new principle of what is good and true can be planted and adopted, because the proper ground will be wanted upon which it can rest. Let us, then, "seek the Lord while He may be found; let us call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked man forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, for He will have mercy upon us, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." Most true then it is, that a man will reap hereafter according as he shall have sown here. "If a man sow to the flesh, he shall of the flesh reap corruption; if he sow to the spirit, he shall of the spirit reap life everlasting." To sow to the flesh is to live for mere earthly ends, which have relation to the love of self and of the world; but to sow to the spirit is to have heavenly ends in view, or the "kingdom of God and His righteousness." It would then appear, that whatever truth, or principle, or doctrine we have known and professed in time which has not been ultimated in a good life, and which has consequently no foundation to stand upon, or in which it is rooted, cannot even exist in the eternal world, and of course cannot contribute to the salvation of man. This, indeed, shews us the very great importance of our life in time, because it is only in this life that truths from the Lord, that is, from His Word, can be enrooted so as to flourish like trees of righteousness in the Paradise of God. All truths which
have not thus been ultimated during our life in time, are, when the process of judgment begins, immediately after death, scattered like the "untimely figs by a mighty wind;" (Rev. vi. 13.) or like "chaff by the winnowers' fan;" (Matt. iii. 12.) and all such nominal members of the church are rejected, like the foolish virgins who had no oil in their lamps.
Now every day in time is valuable to us just in proportion as some new perception of Truth has, through loving and doing it, struck its roots in our external man. "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." For when its roots are thus struck, there will be a tendency to bear fruit upwards, and "the plant thus planted by our Heavenly Father" (Matt. xv. 13.) will grow and flourish in eternity. But not so the plant which has not during our life in time struck its roots in the ground of a good life. The universal means of cultivating this good ground is the faithful performance of our duty to our God and to our neighbour, by shunning and abhorring all evils as sinful in His sight, and as offensive and injurious to our fellow-man. The primary and paramount duty of man is consequently to acquire Truths from the Word, and to ultimate them in his life by living according to them. This is the true merchandize, this is the true treasure! So long as we possess these truths in the memory only, and not in the life, they are to us the "Mammon, or riches, of unrighteousness," that is, they are unjustly possessed, because not applied to the purpose for which the Lord has given them. But when "we make friends of them" by loving and doing them, "they will receive us, at length, into the everlasting mansions of the blest." (Luke vi. 9.) For Truth either becomes our greatest friend or our greatest enemy. If we, during our life in time, make it our friend by loving and doing it, it becomes our friend indeed. But if we do not, whilst here, thus love and do it, hereafter it becomes our greatest enemy, from which we shall flee as from the point of a sword ready to pierce and destroy us. For Truth separate from Good, is, as Swedenborg says, like a sharp-pointed weapon, from which the wicked flee as from impending destruction. (See also Heb. iv. 12.) He who acquires Truths from spiritual affection, acquires the "good seed which he casts into his field," and in the language of the apostle we may say, "He that soweth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly; and he who soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully;" (2 Cor. ix. 6.) shewing that as we employ our time here, with a view to our eternal interests, such shall be the harvest of love, wisdom, and happiness, either sparing or bountiful, which shall await us in eternity.
That time has relation, when viewed with "spiritual discernment," to