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From the General Conference to the Members of the New Church
throughout the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
The return of the period when the Conference usually addresses you, is calculated to awaken feelings of deep thankfulness to the Divine Giver of all good, for his manifold and unspeakable mercies. Another year has been “crowned with his goodness ;" for another year we have been the subjects of that tender Providence which “ numbers even the hairs of our heads;" another sum of blessings, more in number than the sand upon the sea shore,” has been added to the countless store previously vouchsafed : and besides those we have received in common with the great human family, and with our Christian brethren, we are indebted to the Divine Goodness in a still deeper degree, for the peculiar privileges we have enjoyed as members of the Lord's New Church. Permit us, then, while we congratulate you, beloved brethren, that the Lord in his infinite goodness and wisdom has prolonged the period of your usefulness here, to remind you, with all earnestness and affection, of the deep responsibilities that rest on you in the high position wherein you are placed.
To belong to the Lord's New Jerusalem, and behold the glories of his Second Advent, is the highest privilege man can receive here. To you, then, may be applied what the Lord said to the disciples of his First Advent,—“Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for
N. S. NO. 85.-VOL. VIII.
they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them;
and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” (Matt. xiii. 16, 17.) We are partakers of the blessings of the age when the Lord is building up his tabernacle with men, to dwell with them; and it is intended that we should be instruments in the Divine hand to impart those blessings to others. We are to be, not only disciples, but apostles also; and we, like the former disciples, are commissioned to preach the gospel of peace.
In carrying out this great duty it will be well for us to guard against the fallacies that beset us, owing to our imperfect states. When the Lord, after his resurrection, communicated to his disciples the great design of the gospel dispensation,—" that repentance and the remission of sins should be preached to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem,” he gave them an injunction to which it would be well that the disciples of the New Dispensation should attend :—“Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until
be endued with power from on high.” (Luke xxiv. 49.) Permit us, then, to impress on you the importance of " tarrying in Jerusalem,"—of abiding in the interior principles and truths of the church, until you receive that " power from on high,” by which you can most effectually accomplish the beneficent object of your mission. If we may be allowed to expatiate a little on this injunction, we would remark, that although in the letter it no doubt refers to the disciples remaining in Jerusalem until they should receive the gift of the Spirit; in the internal sense, Jerusalem there specifically refers to the spiritual church and principles of the spiritual church (as distinguished from those of the celestial church) in which man is enjoined to remain until, by power imparted from the Lord, he is elevated into the affections and principles of celestial love.
It follows, then, that so long as we remain members of the spiritual church, we can only fill the high destination of being “a blessing in the midst of the land, as our feet stand within the gates of Jerusalem." (Psalm cxxii. 2.)
We know, beloved brethren, that you are not insensible to the glories of our heavenly city. We trust you duly prize the privileges you enjoy; and would freely share them with others. We fully sympathise in the ardent desire you feel, to bring the world within the light of our heavenly Jerusalem, and to receive all who are willing to come, as fellow-citizens.
Whilst, however, we prize the harmony of our own doctrines, we should cultivate the spirit of harmony among ourselves; not only as
the bond of union within, but as the most effectual means of extending the influence of the church around us. The apostle, speaking of the church, and the harmonious union of the members, under the similitude of a temple, says (1 Cor. iii. 16.) “ Know ye not that ye are the temple of the living God ?" Again, “ Ye also, as lively stones, are built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God.” (1 Pet. ii. 5 ; Eph. ii. 20—22.) The harmony of our doctrines can have no actual existence, except in their recipient subjects. The members of the church must be builded into “a city that is compact together," that, cemented together by genuine love, they may realise that unity of sentiment, feeling, and action, involved in the declaration of the Lord, -" The glory which thou gavest me, I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one : I in them, and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one." (John xvii. 22, 23.)
Pardon us, brethren, if we use "plainness of speech" in addressing you. Pardon us if we remind you, that this “oneness” has not been so fully realised among us as might have been hoped, from the character of our doctrines. Far be it from us to speak in the spirit of censure,—we speak of what most of you deplore; and we remind you of it, not to condemn you, but, in sincere affection, to urge on you the great importance of becoming more fully embued with that love which is both the source and the bond of union in the church. Doubtless, imperfections are incident to our state here. " It must needs be that offences come;" and it will be long ere that perfect oneness, summation so devoutly to be wished"-shall be so fully realised in the church, as to preclude the possibility of dissension. We have all more or less of the old leaven within us; and we are liable to have excited the workings of the “old man." Let us watch over our weak points. Let each of us set a guard over himself, lest the offence should come through his individual negligence. We have only to carry out our doctrines, and harmonize them in ourselves, especially remembering that the distinguishing and characteristic mark of the Lord's disciples is, that we “have love one to another.” So shall we “grow up into him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ: from whom the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." (Eph. iv. 15, 16.) In all our intercourse with each other,--in
our church meetings, and in the activities of our institutions, let us exercise that “charity which suffereth long and is kind, which envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; but beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, and endureth all things :" (1 Cor. xiii.) then will the time arrive, when the language of the Psalmist will be applicable to the church,
• Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm cxxxiii. 1.)
Our time and energies are too valuable to be wasted in striving with each other. We have a work before us that will demand our concentrated and unan mous efforts. We have a high destination to fill. The aspect of the religious world indicates that a wide field is gradually opening for the operations of the New Church. She will have to “ lengthen her cords and strengthen her stakes ;" and she will need new accessions of life to animate and sustain her extended activities. We shall require all the strength of Zion," to sustain us in the great work of subjugating the world to the power of truth and love. How can we become “ the salt of the earth,” unless we “have salt in ourselves" ? How can we be the messengers of peace, unless we are "at peace one with another"? How can we impress on the world a sense of the beauty of holiness in Jerusalem, unless we become living exemplars of it? Let us, then, prefer the good of Jerusalem above our chief joy. Let us build up her walls from within. Let us direct all our activities to bring "peace within her walls, and prosperity within her palaces.” “Let your light, beloved brethren, so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven;" then shall the church answer the description of the Psalmist—“Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.” (Psalm i. 2.)
In proportion as these principles and states are embodied in the members of the church, and realised by them, she will be endued with a power from on high which nothing can withstand. Every obstacle and all opposition will gradually disappear at her presence. The
great mountain before Zerubbabel shall become a plain.” Truth, like the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, shall take possession of the whole earth. The temple of God shall be built; and the great
head-stone thereof shall be brought forth with shoutings, cryingGrace, grace unto it.” (Zech. iv. 2 ; Dan. ii. 34.)
I am, beloved Brethren, in behalf of the General