Графични страници
PDF файл

cessive advancement even to fructification; in like manner, by the growth of every tree, shrub, and flower, from the first month of warm weather to the last it is represented also by the gradual progress of all fruits towards maturity, from the time of their setting till they attain their perfect ripeness it is represented at the same time by morning and evening showers, and by dews, on the fall of which the flowers unfold their beauties, whilst they close them up at the approach of night: it is represented too by the fragrances arising from gardens and fields, and also by the rainbow in the clouds, Gen. ix. 14 to 17, and by the splendid colours of an eastern sky at sun-rise; and in general by the continual renovation of all the parts of animal bodies by the chyle and the animal spirit, and the blood thence produced, the purification of which from its useless and obsolete parts, together with its renovation, and as it were regeneration, is perpetual. If we attend to the lowest creatures that creep on the earth, there too shall we behold an image of regeneration presented to our view in the wonderful transformation of silk-worms and other caterpillars into nymphs and butterflies, and in the changes experienced by other insects, which in their season are adorned with wings: add to these some particulars of a more trivial nature, as the fondness of certain birds to dip themselves in water, for the sake of washing and cleansing themselves, after which they return like the nightingales to their songs. In a word, the whole world from first to the last, is full of representations and types of regeneration.



688. It is written in Malachi, "Behold I send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me; and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple, even the

Messenger of the Covenant whom ye desire; but who may abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when He appeareth 2" chap. ii. 1, 2; and again, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Jehovah, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse," chap. iv. 5, 6: and Zacharias, prophesying of his son John, saith to him, "Thou child shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord, to prepare His way," Luke i. 76: and the Lord Himself saith of John, "This is he of whom it is written, Behold I send My messenger before My face, who shall prepare thy way before thee," Luke vii. 27. From these passages it is evident, that John was that prophet who was sent to prepare a way for Jehovah God about to descend into the world, and accomplish the work of redemption; and that he prepared that way by baptism, and at the same time, by proclaiming the Lord's advent: for without such preparation all who were then living would have been smitten with a curse, and would have perished.

689. The reason why a way was prepared by the baptism of John, was, because, as was shewn above, it served to introduce mankind into the future church of the Lord, and to insert them in heaven amongst those who expected and desired the Messiah, so that they could be guarded by the angels, that the devils might not break forth from hell and destroy them; in reference to which it is written in Malachi, "Who shall abide the day of His coming?" and "I will send Elijah the prophet, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse," chap. iii. and iv. in like manner in Isaiah: "Behold, the day of Jehovah cometh, a cruel [day, a day] of indignation and wrath and anger; therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the day of the wrath of His anger," chap. xiii. 9, 13, chap. xxii. · 5, 12: in Jeremiah, likewise, that day is called "a day of wasting, of vengeance, and of destruction," chap. iv. 9, chap.

vii. 32, chap. xlvi. 10, 11, chap. xlvii. 4, chap. xlix. 8, 26: and in Ezekiel, "a day of anger, of cloud, and darkness," chap. vii. 5, chap. xxx. 2, 3, 9, chap. xxxiv. 11, 12, chap. xxxviii. 14, 16, 18, 19; as also in Amos, chap v. 13, 18, 20, chap. viii. 3, 9, 11: in Joel: "The great day of Jehovah, and terrible, and who can bear it?" chap. ii, 1, 2, 11, chap. iii. 2, 4: and in Zephaniah: "In that day there shall be a noise of a cry, the great day of Jehovah is near, that day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasting and devastation, a day of darkness and gloominess, &c." chap. i. 10 to 18; not to mention several other passages to the same purport: from which it is evident, that unless a way had been prepared for Jehovah, when descending into the world, by baptism, the effect of which in heaven was such as to occasion the closing up the hells, and so to guard the Jews from total destruction, they must have perished before Him: Jehovah also saith to Moses, "Ye are a stiff-necked people, I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee," Exod. xxxiii. 5. That this would have been the consequence of the Lord's coming without preparation, is clear from the words of John to the multitude which came to be baptized by him, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Matt. iii. 7, Luke iii. 7. That John also preached Christ and His coming, when he baptized, may be seen, Luke iii. 16, John i. 25, 26, 31, 32, 33, chap. iii. 26. Hence it is plain, how John pre

pared the way.

690. As to what concerns the baptism of John, it represented the cleansing of the external man, whereas the baptism at this day administered amongst Christians represents the cleansing of the internal man, which is regeneration; it is therefore written, that John baptized with water, but that the Lord baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire, and hence the baptism of John is called the baptism of repentance, Matt. iii. 2, Mark i. 4, Luke iii. 3, 16, John i.

25, 26, 33, Acts i. 22, chap. x. 37, chap. xviii. 25. The Jews who were baptized were mere external men, and the external man cannot become internal without faith in Christ that they who were baptized with the baptism oft John became internal men by receiving faith in Christ, and were then baptized in the name of Jesus, may be seen in the Acts of the Apostles, chap. xix. 3 to 6.

691. Moses said to Jehovah, "Shew me Thy glory: and Jehovah said, thou canst not see My face, for there shall no man see Me and live: and He said, Behold, there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock; and it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand whilst 1 pass by, and I will take away My hand, and thou shalt see My back parts, but My face shall not be seen," Exod. xxxiii. 18 to 23. The reason why man cannot see God and live, is, because God is Love Itself, and Love Itself, or the Divine Love, in the spiritual world, appears before the angels as a sun, distant from them as the sun of our world is distant from men; wherefore if God, who is in the midst of that sun, should approach near the angels, they would perish, just as men would in case this world's sun should approach near them, for it is equally hot and fiery: for this reason there are perpetual temperatures to modify and moderate the burning heat of that love, lest it flow into heaven as it is in itself, for in such case the angels would instantly be consumed: from the same cause, when the Lord manifesteth His more immediate presence in heaven, the wicked who are under heaven begin to mourn, to be in torment, and to feel the symptoms of death, so that they flee away into dens and clefts of the rocks, crying out, fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, Rev. vi. 16, Isaiah ii. 19, 21. The Lord Himself does not descend, but an angel encompassed with a sphere of love from the Lord. I have sometimes seen the wicked ter

rified by such descent, as if they had seen death itself before their eyes, some of them in their fright plunging headlong deeper and deeper into hell, and some driven to fury and madness. Hence it was that the children of Israel prepared themselves for three days previous to the descent of Jehovah the Lord on mount Sinai, and that the mount was hedged about, lest any one should approach and die, Exod. xix. The case was the same with respect to the holiness of Jehovah the Lord in the decalogue promulgated at that time, and written on two tables with the finger of God, and afterwards deposited in the ark, over which in the tabernacle the mercy-seat was placed, and over that the cherubs, to prevent any one from immediately touching that holiness with his hand or eye; nor could Aaron himself approach it except once in a year, nor then, until he had expiated himself by sacrifices and incense. Hence it was that the inhabitants of Ekron and Bethshemesh, to the number of several thousands, died merely because they saw the ark, 1 Sam. v. 11, 12, chap. vi. 19; as did also Uzzah, because he touched it, 2 Sam. vi. 6, 7. From these few instances it may easily be conceived, with what a curse and destruction the Jews would have been smitten, had they not been prepared, by the baptism of John, to receive the Messiah, who was Jehovah God in human form; and had He not assumed the Humanity, and so revealed Himself: their preparation consisted in this, that in heaven they were enrolled and numbered amongst those, who in heart expected and desired the Messiah, in consequence of which, angels were sent and made their guardians.

692. To the above I shall subjoin the following MEMORABLE RELATIONS.-FIRST. On a time as I was returning home from a school of wisdom, [ludus sapientiæ,]* I

* See above, n. 48.

« ПредишнаНапред »