« ПредишнаНапред »
I. THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ANY ONE, WITHOUT
THIS was in part unfolded in the chapter on BAP
699. What true Christian does not acknowledge the sanctity of the two sacraments of baptism and the holy supper? yea, further, that they are the most holy institutions of
worship in the Christian church? but yet who has heretofore known in what their peculiar sanctity consists, or whence it is derived? In the institution of the holy supper, according to the natural sense, we learn nothing more than that the flesh of Christ is given us to eat, and His blood to drink, and that the bread and wine are taken in lieu of them : but who from this can frame any other idea of the sanctity of this sacrament, but that it consists solely in having been commanded by the Lord? Accordingly, some very learned writers in the Christian church have maintained, that it is made a sacrament, and acquireth its sanctity, by the form of words used in the consecration of the elements. But as this origin of its sanctity does not fall within the scope of the understanding, nor appear in the elements or symbols used in the sacrament, but only enters the memory, therefore many people frequent this ordinance with no other notion about it, but that it tends to the forgiveness or remission of their sins; some again, that it is a means of sanctification; some, that it strengthens their faith, and thus also promotes their salvation: but they who think lightly of this ordinance, frequent it merely in compliance with custom, and because they have been taught to do so from their early years; others again, because they can discern no reason or meaning in it, never frequent it; while persons of a profane turn reject it entirely, saying within themselves, "What is it but a mere form and ceremony, which hath acquired a sanctity from the authority of the clergy? for what is there to be received, except common bread and wine? and what a strange fiction is it to suppose that the body of Christ which hung upon the cross, and His blood which was then shed, are distributed along with the bread and wine to the communicants?" Not to mention other scandalous suggestions.
700. Such ideas of this most holy sacrament are at this day generally entertained throughout all Christendom,
solely because they coincide with the literal sense of the Word, and the spiritual sense, by which alone the uses and benefits of the holy supper can be truly discerned, has hitherto remained unknown, for until now it has never been revealed. The reason why this spiritual sense is now first revealed, is, because prior to this, Christianity existed but in name, and at best but as a kind of shadow in certain individuals; for mankind have not heretofore approached and worshipped the Saviour Himself, as the only God, in whom is the Divine Trinity, immediately, but only mediately, which is, in fact, not to approach and worship, but only to honour and respect as a cause for whose sake salvation is given to man; and this is not making Him the essential cause, but the mediatory cause, which is below the essential cause, and extrinsic to it. But as true Christianity is now first beginning to dawn, and a new church, which is meant by the New Jerusalem in the Revelation, is now being instituted by the Lord, in which God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are acknowledged as One, because they are in One Person, it has therefore pleased the Lord to reveal the spiritual sense of the Word, to the intent that this church may be admitted into the real use and benefit of the two sacraments, baptism and the holy supper; which intent is fulfilled, when the members of this church perceive with their spiritual eyes, that is, with their understandings, the sanctity concealed in it, and apply it to themselves by those means which the Lord has taught in His Word.
701. The sanctity of the sacrament, of which we are now speaking, without an opening of the spiritual sense of the Word, or what is the same thing, without a revelation of the correspondences of natural things with spiritul, can no more be inwardly known and acknowledged, than a treasure can be known whilst it lies hid in a field; for then the field is held in no higher estimation than any common field; but when it is discovered that there is a treasure there, then it
is esteemed of great value, and the owner begins to reckon much upon the riches that he shall draw from it, especially when he learns that the treasure concealed in it is of a price infinitely exceeding that of gold. Abstracted from the spiritual sense, this sacrament is like a house that is shut up, but full of cabinets and caskets of valuable treasures, which is passed by like any other house in the street; and yet, as it was built by the clergy, with walls of marble, and its roof is covered with plates of gold, the eyes of all passensengers are attracted to behold it, and they pass much praise and commendation on its beauty; the case however is altered when this house is opened, and every person is permitted to enter, and the keeper of the treasures freely distributes them, imparting them to some as a loan, to others as a gift, to each according to his worth: we speak of the treasures being imparted as a gift, because they are inexhaustible, and are continually renewed; even so it is with the Word as to its spiritual riches, and with the sacraments as to their celestial contents. The sacrament of which we are now speaking, without a revelation of the inward sanctity concealed in it, appears like common river sand, in which there is a great abundance of gold dust that escapeth common observation; but when the inward sanctity is revealed, it is then like the gold when collected and melted down into a mass, and cast into divers beautiful forms. This sacrament, whilst its sanctity is undiscovered and unseen, may be compared also with a box or chest, made of beech or poplar wood, in which are contained diamonds, rubies, and many other precious stones, arranged in exact order; who does not hold that box or chest in estimation, when he is informed of the valuable things which it contains, and especially when he has a sight of them, and when they are distributed freely as gifts? This sacrament, whilst its correspondences with heaven are unrevealed, and the heavenly things wherewith it correspondeth are unseen, may
be compared to an angel appearing in the world amongst men in a common garb, who would only be respected according to his dress; but how would the case be changed when he was discovered to be an angel, and when angelic wisdom was heard to flow from his tongue, and wonderful effects were seen to flow from his actions! The difference between the mere affirmation of sanctity and its demonstration to the sight, may be illustrated by the following case, which happened in the spiritual world: There was read an epistle written by Paul, whilst he sojourned here on earth, but of which he was never publicly known to be the author; this epistle was, at first, held cheap and disregarded by the hearers, but when it was discovered that it was one of Paul's epistles, it was received with joy, and its contents were adored. Hence it appeared plain to me, that the mere affirmation of sanctity respecting the Word and the sacraments, when made by clergymen of rank and dignity in the church, impresseth indeed an idea of sanctity, but far different from what is impressed when the real sanctity itself is discovered, and made manifest to the sight, as in the revelation of its spiritual sense; for thus external sanctity is rendered internal, and what was only assertion becomes acknowledgment. This is the case too with the sanctity of the sacrament of the holy supper.
II. THAT AN ACQUAINTANCE WITH CORRESPONDENCES SERVES TO DISCOVER WHAT IS MEANT BY THE FLESH AND BLOOD OF THE LORD, AND THAT THE SAME IS SIGNIFIED BY THE BREAD AND WINE; NAMELY, THAT BY THE FLESH OF THE LORD, AND BY THE BREAD, IS UNDERSTOOD THE DIVINE GOOD OF HIS LOVE, AND LIKEWISE ALL THE GOOD OF CHARITY, AND THAT BY THE BLOOD OF THE LORD, AND BY THE WINE, IS UNDERSTOOD THE DIVINE TRUTH OF HIS WISDOM, AND LIKEWISE ALL THE TRUTH OF FAITH; AND THAT BY EATING IS SIGNIFIED APPRO