First Published by the Shakers in 1823, then this Second Edition in 1848
THE SECOND APPEARING OF CHRIST.
1. IT has long been maintained that Christ is to come in the clouds of heaven, and that all shall see him. In a spiritual sense, this is true, and accords with his own testimony: "They shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of Heaven, with power and great glory." Again, when questioned before the Jewish council, he said, "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of Power, and coming in the clouds of Heaven." And again: "Behold he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him." These and other similar passages are often advanced as evidences that Christ is not only to come openly, in the clouds, but that he will suddenly appear in the most public manner, so as to be seen at once, by all mankind, the wicked as well as the righteous, who have lived in all ages, and in all quarters of the world.
2. But it ought to be considered in the first place, that these clouds are not the common clouds of the atmosphere, but the clouds of Heaven; therefore they must be heavenly clouds; clouds of faithful witnesses of God, who are ready and willing to embrace the testimony of Christ, whenever and wherever it shall appear; and to declare it to the world without restraint and without disguise. "Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows? Seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses." Thus cloud is used in scripture as a figure to express a multitude; and in this sense it was often used by ancient writers, both sacred and profane.
3. Secondly. As Christ, the anointed of God, is a Spirit, and can only be seen and known in the spirit; therefore his Kingdom must be spiritual and divine; not natural and sensual. Hence, as before stated, his appearance must be in the spirit; and the clouds in which he appears must be spiritual clouds, pertaining to the spiritual heavens; and these things must be discerned by spiritual light; for, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Yet the natural man looks for Christ to come in a bodily appearance, through the clouds of the natural heavens, and expects, with his natural eyes, to behold in them a supernatural being, magnificently great and transcendently glorious; and supposes that his appearance will be universally visible that every eye in heaven, earth and hell shall see him at once.
4. But a little reflection will show the inconsistency of this opinion. For if Christ should descend in person, from the starry regions to this earth, and appear in our hemisphere, though in ever so great splendor, he could not be seen at the same time, by those who live on the opposite side of the globe. But in order to be seen by them, in the same manner, he must descend in their hemisphere. And to be seen in both hemispheres at once, he must descend in two opposite directions at the same time. But if Christ is to make a bodily appearance, as a personal or material being, as many suppose, it must be impossible for him to descend in this manner. For it is a self-evident truth, as every person of sense will acknowledge, that no material substance or local being, can descend from two opposite directions in the heavens, and appear in two opposite hemispheres, and on two opposite sides of the earth, at one and the same time. Thus the natural man's plan destroys itself. But if we consider Christ as the elemental spirit of eternal life, the difficulty is at once removed; because upon this principle, that Spirit can appear in many places at the same time, however distant or differently situated.
5. Thirdly. It appears evident, not only from the testimony of the scriptures, but from the very nature of God, who is Spirit, that the work of Christ in the new creation, pertaining to the salvation and redemption of man, is a spiritual work. This none can deny. Therefore the things relating to Christ's second coming, and the finishing of the mystery of God, must be of a spiritual nature. How then should the natural man be able to conceive of these things in their true light, seeing he receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God?
6. The ideas formed in the mind of man, concerning the coming of Christ in the natural clouds, and appearing visible to the natural eye, are merely natural conceptions; natural enough indeed to the natural man, and, therefore, if the forecited testimony of the apostle be true, they must be false conceptions. It is true that, in the progress of his work, "every eye shall see him;" for he will be made manifest to all, either to their everlasting joy or sorrow; but they will see him with the eyes of the soul, not of the body. Those who accept the invitation, and come when called, and faithfully obey the testimony of the gospel, will see him to their joy and salvation; but those who reject it, to their condemnation and sorrow. To the former it will prove "the savor of life unto life;" but to the latter, " the savor of death unto death."
7. But it may be objected that Jesus Christ himself has said, "As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the "west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." This passage of scripture is generally quoted as an evidence of the instantaneous and universal manifestation of Christ in his second appearing. But we apprehend that when the passage is duly considered, and its real import rightly understood, the objection founded upon it will appear groundless. It is well known that our Savior often made use of natural things, and natural occurrences, as similitudes to represent and illustrate things of a spiritual nature. In the above quoted passage, he alluded to the dawning of the day, and the breaking forth of the morning light in the east, as a clear and striking similitude of the commencement of that period, so often represented in scripture, as the day of gospel light and liberty, or thousand years of Christ's reign upon earth. This appears evident from the following considerations:
8. It is not the peculiar nature of lightning "to come out of the east and shine even unto the west;" its flashes, though often seen in every direction, are known, in this country, to come out of the west much oftener than out of the east; and they never extend so as to be seen but a few miles distant, in any direction. If therefore Christ intended, by the similitude of lightning, to represent an instantaneous and universal display of his second appearance, the similitude is quite imperfect; the comparison falls very short.
9. The Greek word for light though sometimes properly translated lightning, signifies any vivid brightness or shining light, as that of the sun, or of a star, a lamp or candle, as the same word is used in other places. It is sometimes used to signify the breaking forth of light, as the dawning of the day, or the rising of the sun, which is evidently the meaning in the text quoted above. The light breaks forth in the east, "and shineth even unto the west," still progressing on in its western direction, till it enlightens the whole earth; and this it will effectually do in the space of twenty-four hours, so that all nations, even every eye, may see the light thereof; unless it be those who through blindness or some other cause, are deprived of that privilege.
10. We also find the same testimony in Luke, but a little differently expressed: "As the lightning that lighteneth," or more properly, "As the shining light that shineth forth from the one part under heaven, and giveth light unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day." This plainly implies that, as the light of the natural day (alluding to the sun as before) proceeds in its course, enlightening the earth from place to place, so in the progressive increase of divine light, in the millennial day, it will continue to shine from one place to another, until all the earth or every part under heaven, shall be fully illuminated. Not that all will receive the light and profit by it; for many will undoubtedly hate and shun it to their condemnation; according to the testimony of our Savior: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."
11. The same ideas concerning an instantaneously universal display of the coming of Christ, in the clouds of the sky, which so generally prevail at the present day, were doubtless entertained by the translators of the Bible. Hence it is easy to account for the translation of so many passages in a manner most favorable to their preconceived notions; and especially where the words in the original would admit of such a translation.
12. As to the expressions, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump," and such like, nothing can be proved from them to confirm the opinion of an instantaneous and, at the same time, a universal display of Christ's second coming to judge the world. Nor are those expressions, even in the most literal sense, by any means inconsistent with the idea of the events having begun to take place in this country more than sixty years ago; but is perfectly consistent with the belief of its having taken place suddenly, with respect to thousands, during that period of time; and also with the belief that it may take place as suddenly, with respect to many thousands more, within forty years to come. For although the increase of the light of the gospel in the soul, is gradual and progressive, from its dawn to the perfect day; yet the conviction of sin, and also the first rays of light, are often sudden and instantaneous; and so also are the judgments of God on the wicked, and many other changes which both the righteous and the wicked will find to pass through, before God shall have finished his work in them, and with them.
13. But it will be necessary to illustrate, more particularly, the progress of the work of God, in Christ's second coming, by the similitude of the breaking forth of light in the east: for as before observed, our Savior, in this similitude, evidently alluded to the sun, the light of the natural day, and not to the lightning. It is well known that the day first commences by the dawning of light in the east. The twilight succeeds; and the morning light gradually increases till the rising of the sun. The sun however, does not shine over the face of the whole earth at one and the same time; but appears rising from one degree of longitude to another still farther west, until, in the space of twenty-four hours, it is seen rising and enlightening the whole habitable globe. So that it necessarily happens, that while the eastern nations are enjoying the cheering rays of the morning sun, the western world is wrapped in midnight darkness.
14. Agreeable to this comparison, if we consider the great length of the millennial day, we may readily perceive that, in its progress through its whole course, there must be a great difference in the period of its commencement, in different parts of the world. The labors and employments of the natural day are as various as the times of their commencement. The act of waking from sleep, of rising, dressing, and performing the duties of the morning, or of making preparation for the more important work of the day, is very different from the general labors of the day; yet this morning labor is really necessary, and preparatory to that which appears more important. But it must be considered that this preparatory or morning labor cannot take place all over the earth at once; and so it is also with regard to the general labors of the day. For while the labors of the morning are going on in one part of the earth, the midday labors are progressing in another part, and the evening labors in another. Thus the morning, midday, afternoon and evening labors are all in actual operation at one and the same time, but in different and distant parts of the earth.
15. "So also shall the coming of the Son of man be." The light of the millennial day is as gradual and various, in its commencement and progress, as the light of the natural day; and, like this, cannot possibly take place throughout the world at once, any more than the light of the sun can be seen at once over the face of the whole earth. It appears to be the prevailing opinion among those who are looking for the millennium, that the preparation for that day is to be finished over the whole world first; and that the second coming of Christ is to take place in a similar manner, and become at once universal. This idea is wholly inconsistent with reason, and has no foundation in truth.
16. Among the many providential events which are evidently preparatory to the introduction of this new era to the world, we may remark:
17. A. The extensive and increasing prevalence of the spirit of religious toleration among mankind. This is absolutely necessary in order to check and bind the spirit of persecution, which would otherwise rage beyond control, at the introduction of a new religion which must and will be contrary to every feeling of the carnal nature of man.
18. B. The increasing sense of the importance of peace and good will among mankind, as absolutely essential to Christianity; and the many exertions in various places to promote this desirable object by means of peace societies and peace publications. These are essentially necessary, in order to curb those Cain-like passions of man, which would otherwise defeat if possible, every attempt to propagate a peaceful and sinless gospel among the inhabitants of a contentious and sinful world.
19. C. The many exertions which are made through the influence of benevolent and humane societies, and other liberal means for the abolition of slavery, and the amelioration of mankind. This is an important object: for unless every nation, class and color of people, can enjoy free, just and equitable rights, they cannot be made the partakers of a free, just and equitable religion, the benevolent and impartial gift of Him who "hath made of one blood all nations of men."
20. D. The increasing attention to the important concerns of religion, and the many religious revivals which are continually springing up in various places, attended with manifestations of peculiar light and power. These are the most effectual operations of Divine Providence to excite mankind to see and feel the necessity of finding some way of deliverance from the bondage of sin, and to call them to that genuine repentance which leads to a life of righteousness and true holiness, " without which no man shall see the Lord."
21. Some seem to be aware that these events are preparatory to the millennium, and view them as evident signs of the coming of Christ, while they are utterly unconscious that the preparation and the real work of the day are both in actual progression, at the same time, agreeable to the similitude already noticed. The work of rising from spiritual sleep, of being convinced of the need of a Savior, and of lifting up the head and looking for redemption in Christ's second coming, are all very different from receiving and walking in him, and being in the real work of his Kingdom; yet all these are necessary, and pertain to the work of the millennial day. The aforementioned providential events are evident preparations, and actual signs of the approach of that day to an extensive increase, which, in a limited decree, has already commenced.
22. Many, seeing these signs, are looking for the appearance of the Son of man, not knowing that he is already come, or where to look for him. The reflecting rays of the Sun of righteousness wake souls from the sleep of a fallen, sinful nature, and afford them light to see their lost and deplorable state, and their absolute need of a Savior. Hence they sigh and groan for deliverance, and hence they pray and wrestle in spirit, for that redemption which is promised in the day of Christ's second appearing. And all who continue honest and faithful to the preparatory light, looking and waiting for his coming, are noticed of God, and will be in readiness to receive and enter into the perfect work of the day, whenever it shall be manifested to them.
23. Various are the opinions respecting the Millennium, or thousand years' reign of the saints. This reign must be on earth, in union with the saints in Heaven: for the whole scene is laid on earth. We consider the millennial day and the reign of Christ on earth, one and the same in substance. But the millennium points out the period of time and the order of the work, progressively extending through all nations, in which, by a great chain of providential events, the rights of man and the liberty of conscience will be established. By this chain Satan will be bound, so that he cannot deceive the nations with his ecclesiastical and persecuting power, as he has done during the long and extensive reign of Antichrist, and by this means prevent the preaching of the true gospel of Christ, and obstruct the growth and extension of the Kingdom of the saints of the Most high. But individuals will still be left to their free choice, to choose or refuse the different degrees of the work of God.
24. During this period the everlasting gospel will be preached to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. But the principles of infidelity will be growing and extending in the world, wherever the gospel shall come. And when all people have learned its requirements, and the willing and honest-hearted shall have received and obeyed its calls, and gathered into the camp of the saints; and the unwilling and disaffected shall have refused and rejected it; then these infidel principles, which make war with the Lamb, will in the end, produce the final struggle of those of all nations who are led by Satan, in the spirit of infidelity, against the camp of the saints. But they will be overcome by the divine fire of Heaven. And this display will prove the camp of the saints to be the everlasting Kingdom of Christ, in triumphant glory, which can never be made fully manifest until this event shall take place.
25. It is evident that the work predicted to succeed the loosing of Satan for a little season, could not take place until the everlasting gospel should be "preached in all the world for a witness to all nations." For how could the camp of the saints be compassed by the nations, until it should be first extended through all nations? And how could the nations in the four quarters of the earth be gathered by Satan, and go up on the breadth of the earth, against the camp of the saints, until they had all heard the testimony of the gospel from the saints of the Most High and rebelled against it?
- End of Part VI, Chapter 3 -
The Manifestation of Christ in the Female.
1. MANY objections have been raised against the doctrine of the appearance of Christ in the female, the principal ground of which seems to be, that it is not warranted by scripture, nor consistent with reason. To obviate these objections and confirm the doctrine, both by scripture and reason, is the design of this chapter.
2. In searching the records of scripture we find that, on many extraordinary occasions, in past ages, there were females, as well as males, raised up and qualified to do the will of God and to accomplish his work. There were prophetesses, as well as prophets, in those days; which evidently shows that women, as well as men, were not only designed to enjoy the special favor of God; but also that they were originally designed to have a correspondent share in teaching and guiding the human race, in directing the destinies of nations and governing the world, which is composed of females as well as of males, who certainly stand in need of instruction, direction and government.
3. It appears evident that Miriam the prophetess had a share with Moses and Aaron, in delivering the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, and in leading them through the wilderness: for thus saith the Lord; "I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam." Esther was also raised up as an instrument in the hands of God, to deliver the Jews from destruction, when no man was found able to do it.
4. Deborah the prophetess, was also raised up, in the days of the Judges, and set over Israel; and, through her instrumentality, a very great deliverance was wrought for that nation. This appears the more extraordinary, as being a deliverance from their bondage to the original inhabitants of the land of Canaan, whom they had been commanded to cast out and destroy; and it appears to be the only time that they, as a nation, were ever brought into bondage to these natives of the land. "And the hand of the children of Israel prospered and prevailed," under the ministration of Deborah, until they destroyed the power of the Canaanites, so that they never obtained any dominion over Israel afterwards. Thus the work which had been begun by Joshua, (who was a type of Jesus,) was at length completed by a female.
5. Herein was typified the work of God in Christ's first and second appearance, as it respected the warfare of Christians against their spiritual enemies. The Canaanites prefigured the carnal passions of human nature, which God had commanded his people to cast out, and against which Jesus Christ began the warfare. But by leaguing with them, as the Israelites did with the Canaanites, the primitive Christians, in process of time, lost their power and their order, and were overcome and held in bondage by these carnal passions, until the way was opened for a final deliverance, through the instrumentality of a female.
6. The song of Deborah, after this extraordinary victory, is worthy of remark. "They ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel." If then a mother was raised up in Israel to deliver that nation from their bondage to the Canaanites, and to destroy their power and dominion over Israel, why should it be thought inconsistent for God to raise up a mother in spiritual Israel, to deliver them from their bondage to the spiritual Canaanites, and to destroy their power and dominion, and thus to complete the work which Jesus began?
7. The many instances recorded in the sacred writings, prove beyond dispute, that in past ages, God did condescend to reveal his mind and will to females, who were then commissioned, by Divine Authority, to bear testimony thereof to man. And the two signal instances of deliverance effected through the instrumentality of Deborah and Esther, are sufficient to show that God did, on each of these extraordinary occasions, raise up and empower a female to accomplish an extraordinary deliverance, which was beyond the power of man to effect without their assistance.
8. If then, God has, in these last days, raised up a female to reveal the true testimony and Spirit of Christ, and endowed her with power to effect the deliverance of lost man from the bondage of sin, and to usher in the latter day of glory, shall man reject the work on that account? Is it too debasing to the pride and haughtiness of fallen man? If so, let it be remembered that, "The Lord of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low, and the lord alone shall be exalted in that day."
9. It is well known that when souls come to be awakened to a feeling sense of their need of salvation, their general cry is, "What shall we do to be saved? Lord, send by whom thou wilt send; Work by means of thy own choosing; only show us thy will; bring us salvation from the bondage of sin." It is on these conditions we are willing to receive Christ, though revealed in a manner contrary to every feeling of a fallen nature. We are determined to exalt the Lord alone; to know none but Christ, wherever manifested and in whomsoever found, and to bear the cross, though it crucify us to the world, and the world to us.
10. Although it was necessary that the spirit of Christ should be manifested in both male and female; yet no man nor woman that ever appeared on earth, could ever be a proper object of divine worship. God is Spirit; and they that worship him, must worship in spirit and in truth." God is therefore the only proper object of divine worship; and no one can ever worship in the spiritual work of God, unless called and directed by the Spirit of Christ: for according to his own testimony, "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." Therefore no man can worship God, but through Christ; and the only true worship that we can render to God, is to honor and glorify him by yielding obedience to his will. And though a portion of the Spirit of Christ must be in every soul, in order to unite them to his body; yet the manifestation of the will of God for the guide and direction of souls, in his true spiritual work, must be revealed in the order of God's appointment, through those witnesses whom he sends for that purpose.
11. As the divine Spirit and will of God, in these last days, has been manifested in Christ, through the two first messengers of salvation: so the same spirit continues to manifest his will, through the same line and order, in the Church of Christ, and will ever continue so to do, as long as Christ shall continue to have a true church on earth. Therefore, as the ancients worshipped the God of their fathers; so worship we that God who has been revealed to us by our spiritual parents in the gospel, whom God hath raised up and sent to open the way of salvation to us. We worship neither man nor woman; but we honor and obey the Spirit of Christ, whether revealed in man, woman or child.
12. The natural creation, and the things therein contained, are figurative representations of the spiritual creation which is to supersede it, as we have already shown. The first parents of the natural world were created male and female. The man was first in his creation, and the woman was afterwards taken from his substance, and placed in her proper order to be the second in the government and dominion of the natural world; and the order of man's creation was not complete till this was done. For it must be acknowledged by all, that without male and female, the perfection of man, in his natural creation, must have been less complete than that of the inferior part of the creation, which was evidently created male and female. Hence it must appear obvious, that in the spiritual creation, man and woman, when raised from a natural to a spiritual state, must still be male and female: for the spiritual state of man, which is substantial and eternal, cannot be less perfect in its order, than his natural state, which is but temporal, and figurative of the spiritual.
13. As the true Church of Christ which is his body is composed of male and female, as its members; and as there must be a correspondent spiritual union between the male and female, to render the Church complete, as a spiritual body; so it is essentially necessary that such a spiritual union should exist in the head of that body, which is Christ; otherwise there could be no source from which such a correspondent, spiritual union could flow to the body. It must be admitted by every reasonable person, that the order of man cannot be complete without the woman. If so, then the Church cannot exist, in its proper order, without male and female members: for "neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord." And it would be very unreasonable to suppose that the body of Christ should be more complete and perfect in its order, than the head. This would give the body a superiority over the head.
14. This spiritual union between the male and female, in the body and in the head of the Church, is that which the apostle calls a great mystery. And indeed it is a great mystery to the lost children of men, who seem to have no conception of any other union between the male and female, than that which is natural, according to the order of the flesh. Nor do they seem to know any other design in the creation of the female, nor any other essential use for her than that of carnal enjoyment in a sexual union, and the production of offspring through that medium. But the work of Christ, being a spiritual work, the union must therefore be spiritual; and it is impossible for souls to come into this work, and enjoy this union, unless the Spirit of Christ becomes their life.
15. Since, then, Christ must appear in every female, as well as in every male, before they can be saved; and since that Divine Spirit has appeared in one man, whom God hath chosen as the Captain of our salvation, and an example of righteousness to all men; is it not reasonable and consistent that the same anointing Power, (which is Christ) should also appear in a woman, and distinguish her as a leader, and an example of righteousness to all women?
16. It may be asked, How can Christ appear in a woman? With the same propriety we might ask, How can Christ appear in a man? Christ is a Spirit: "The Lord is that Spirit." In that Spirit is contained the only power of salvation. If Christ could not appear in a man, then no man could be saved; so also, if Christ could not appear in a woman, then no woman could be saved. Christ first appeared in Jesus of Nazareth, as the Bridegroom, by which he was constituted the head and Father of the new and spiritual creation of God. The Spirit of Christ was in the primitive Church; and the Spirit of Christ is also in every one of his true and faithful followers. The Spirit of Christ is the same, in substance, whether revealed in man, woman or child, but in different orders.
17. It may perhaps be urged, by way of objection, that if a female was to be raised up, to stand in a correspondent connection with the firstborn Son of God, in order to usher in the latter day of glory, and bring about the regeneration of a lost world, it would appear reasonable that she also, as well as he, should have been brought forth by a miraculous birth. But a little reflection will show the impropriety of this. Such a birth would not have corresponded with the figure given in the creation of the first man and woman. Adam was called "the figure of him that was to come." He had a miraculous creation, being formed out of the dust of the earth, and was the son of God in the natural and figurative creation. (See Luke 3:38.) Jesus had also a miraculous birth, being born of a virgin, without the cooperation of man, and being the agent of the Divine Intelligence, became the Son of God in the Divine order. (See John 1:14.) But this virgin, being a natural woman, a daughter of Adam, her body was of the earth; and in this sense, she was as the dust of the earth, though in its highest state of natural perfection under the fall, as was needful it should be, when designed for such an extraordinary purpose.
18. Eve, who was "the figure of her that was to come," was not created out of the dust of the earth, as Adam was, but was formed of his substance, and taken from his body; therefore she was dependent on him, and it was her duty to be subject to him as her head and lord. Had the woman been created in the same manner that the man was, there would have been two separate heads of the creation; and as neither of them could have had the preeminence, as to the origin of their creation; so neither of them could thereby have been placed in a state of subordination to the other. So also, agreeable to this figure, the second Eve was not brought forth in the same manner that the second Adam was; but, as to her person, she came into the world as all women do. But as the substance of the first woman was taken from the body of the first man, so that Divine Spirit with which the second woman was endowed, and which constituted her the second Eve, and the Mother of the new creation, was taken from the Divine Spirit of the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ; therefore she was necessarily dependent on him, was subject to him, and always acknowledged him as her head and lord.
19. It was absolutely necessary that the human tabernacle, soul and body, of Jesus Christ, should not only be created in a supernatural manner, by the Divine agency of the Eternal FATHER and MOTHER; but also in a state superior to that of the first Adam; otherwise he could never have had the preeminence, as to the superiority of his origin. As no stream can rise higher than its fountain, so no being could proceed by natural generation, from the loins of Adam, with a life superior to that which he possessed; for he was formed of the elements of temporal life, and not of the elements of eternal life. Therefore, had Jesus been begotten of the seed of Adam, his life could not have been superior to the life of Adam; nor could he have been the medium of superior power; hence he could not have been the first to possess eternal life; and therefore the source of eternal life could not have been in him; consequently it could not have been brought to light by him.
20. But Jesus being created in an order superior to that of the first Adam, he was the first who received the elements of eternal life from his Eternal Parents. His divine creation and superior order was announced by the message of the angel to Mary: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. Here was plainly manifested the operation of the ETERNAL TWO, the HIGHEST and the HOLY SPIRIT, by whom the Holy Child Jesus was created, in whom the Son of God was revealed, and eternal life was brought to light. He was doubtless the superior production of human nature, and possessed the greatest natural powers. How else could he have been the head of the human race? This is evident from his temptations on the mount, for the temptation could not have been disproportioned to the capacities of his creation. It is further evidenced by his own words: "Behold a greater than Solomon is here." He was created in a manner and order which showed that in him the works and order of natural generation ceased, and a new and spiritual creation, not "according to the will of the flesh, nor the will of man," should begin.
21. Let it be here understood that Christ is a Divine Spirit, and the man Jesus was not constituted the Christ, or the real Messiah, until anointed of God, and put in full possession of that Spirit which, at his baptism, descended upon and abode with him, in form of a Dove. This heavenly DOVE was the real Christ, the Son of God. And as the human race, in their fallen and lost state, are composed of male and female; so it is necessary that the Spirit of Christ, in which is the only power of salvation, should be manifested in both male and female, in order to complete the work of regeneration and salvation.
22. But it may still be urged, that if it was necessary for GOD to endow a female with the spirit of eternal life, to make her a partaker with Jesus Christ in the power of salvation, and to cooperate with him in the work of regeneration, it would at least have been more reasonable and consistent, had she been a virgin character. But it ought to be considered that mankind are lost in the works of generation; and that it was therefore necessary that one who was actually under that loss, should first set the example and take the lead in coming out of it. Therefore, had a virgin character been chosen, though she might have been a pattern of righteousness; yet she could not have set the example of coming out of a state into which she had never entered. Jesus Christ himself never went into the work of generation; therefore he could not set the example of coming out of it; but he could, and did set the example of abstaining from it, as well as from all manner of evil.
23. As the first Eve, through the deceitful influence of the power of evil; was the first to violate the temple of chastity, and to lead mankind into the work of generation, in actual disobedience to the positive command of God, and by this means corrupted the work at the very fountain; so a female, who was the natural offspring of the first Eve, and under the same loss, was the proper character to be empowered to break the charm which binds mankind under that loss, and to take the lead in coming out of it.
24. Ann Lee was the distinguished female who was chosen for that purpose; and being wrought upon by the power of God, she actually took up a final cross against that nature, and against all those propensities which lead to the gratification of it. And having received the spirit of Christ, by the operation of which her soul was purified from the fallen nature of the flesh, she rose superior to it, and by her example and testimony, she actually led the way out of that nature and all its works, and was prepared to stand in a proper order to manifest the Spirit of Christ in the female line. Hence the image and likeness of the Eternal Mother was formed in her, as the first born Daughter, as really as the image and likeness of the Eternal Father was formed in the Lord Jesus, the first born Son. Thus was she constituted the second heir in the covenant of promise, and was placed in a correspondent connection with Jesus Christ, as the second pillar of the church of God in the new creation.
25. We would by no means be understood to apply this character to the human tabernacle of Ann Lee; that tabernacle was but flesh and blood, like those of all other women; but it was a chosen vessel, occupied as an instrument, by the Spirit of Christ, the Lord from Heaven, in which the second appearance of that Divine Spirit was ushered into the world, in order to complete his manhood. It is this spirit which has constituted her immortal part the second pillar in the new and spiritual creation; it is this spirit which is the image and likeness of the Eternal Mother and which is in reality the true bride of the Lamb and the first Mother of all the children of Christ. The apostle saith, "We preach Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God." But the Spirit of Wisdom in Christ, could not be manifested in her true character on earth, as the Mother Spirit in the work of regeneration, until she was revealed in the female, as a Mother in Christ.
26. It may perhaps be further objected that, according to the testimony of the apostle, Jesus is "the author and finisher of faith;" that his mission into the world was to "save his people from their sins;" to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself; and that "there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved;" and therefore we must be saved by his power alone if saved at all. But as we have already said, Christ is a Spirit, or Divine Intelligence; and it is by this Spirit only that salvation is wrought. It is this Spirit in the male and female, by which souls are begotten and born in the regeneration. And as this Spirit is Christ, and whether it be revealed in male or female for salvation, it can never be separated from Christ; therefore it is by this Spirit of Christ only, that salvation and final redemption can be wrought in any soul.
27. Though the day of redemption was predicted in early ages, and the period alluded to, when a new order of things was to take place; and though the nature of these things was often pointed out by types and shadows, and the certainty of the event declared by the spirit of prophecy, under the law, and afterwards more fully illustrated and confirmed by Jesus Christ and his apostles; yet a full revelation of the fallen nature of the flesh, and of that power which was to accomplish its destruction, and usher in the real work of the latter day of glory, could not take place until the time arrived for the manifestation of Christ in the female, in whom the second appearance of Christ commenced. This is the reason why even those who have been most highly favored of God, under former dispensations, have never been able to discover the nature of man's loss, and the real foundation of iniquity. Consequently a true spiritual union between the sexes, could never be fully maintained: for a union between the sexes naturally inclines to the flesh. Therefore, until the female was brought into her proper order, in the spiritual work of God, a union between the sexes, though begun in the spirit, generally ended in the flesh. And this has been the effectual cause of a declension from the spiritual work of God, in all religious revivals, from the falling away of the primitive church even to this day.
28. Though thousands in past ages, who conscientiously lived up to the best light they were able to obtain, are so far enlightened by the Spirit of God, as to see the natural tendency of indulging those inordinate desires which led to these baleful corruptions, and honestly took up their crosses, and, for a season, maintained a principle of continence; yet the fountain of iniquity was not discovered; the veil of the flesh, which is the covering that darkened the sight, was not yet removed. So great indeed has been the darkness which has covered the earth, and so benighted were the minds of the great mass of the professors of Christianity, that those souls who were thus partially enlightened, have generally been stigmatized as heretics, and have suffered great persecutions on account of their faith. And though such souls, like stars in the night, might shine in the midst of surrounding darkness; yet they could not dispel the darkness, nor enlighten the earth. This remained to be accomplished by the Spirit of Christ in the female. The dawning of the millennial day, and the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, having now commenced, will gradually disperse these clouds of darkness, and open the eyes of a benighted world; and then will the lost state of man be fully displayed in its true colors.
29. In those parts of the sacred scriptures which relate to the work of the latter day, we find many figurative and prophetic allusions to two correspondent powers which are united to accomplish the same purpose; and the number two is represented in various figures which evidently point to the two first pillars of the church of Christ, and to the united influence of the male and female in the work of redemption. Such are the two cherubims, whose wings covered the mercy-seat above the ark; the two tables of the covenant; the two silver trumpets; the two olive-trees; the two olive branches; the two golden pipes through which the two olive-branches emptied the golden oil out of themselves, and "the two Anointed Ones which stand by the Lord of the whole earth;" and many others which might be mentioned.
30. The two cherubims placed over the ark that contained the two tables of the covenant, were very remarkable types of "the two Anointed Ones," the male and the female, who were both united in the work of redemption; "and the council of peace is between them both." Over the ark was placed the mercy-seat of pure gold; and the two cherubims of gold, of beaten work, were placed on the ends of the mercy-seat; and their wings were extended on high, so that they covered the mercy-seat with their wings; and their faces looked towards each other, and towards the mercy-seat. These figures are so plain and obvious that it seems as though they could not be misunderstood. And the Lord said unto Moses, "Thou shalt put the mercy-seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel."
31. Here God manifested his mind and will to the people of Israel, from above the mercy-seat, and from between the two cherubims; and here they were to look for the work of God in that dispensation; and hence their addresses to that God who dwelt between the cherubims. A striking figure of the true order of the work of God through the male and female in Christ! Between the two cherubims, was the mercy-seat from whence the law of God was declared; which not only pointed out two gospel dispensations, but also showed, in a figure, that the merciful displays of God's grace, in the last dispensation, would proceed from between the two. And here also was the ark of the testimony, showing that between the two would be found the everlasting testimony of truth, in the day of Christ's second appearing. The pure gold evidently pointed to the purity of the gospel; and the beaten work alluded to the mortification and sufferings, by which the two Anointed Ones were to be prepared for that important work which was to redeem and regenerate a lost world. The two silver trumpets were typical of the heralds of Christ, in the male and female, who were to be sent forth to preach the everlasting gospel, which proceeds from the two Anointed Ones, and which will yet be proclaimed to all nations.
32. The golden candlestick, in the vision of the prophet Zechariah, represented the revelation of God, in Christ, upon which his church or spiritual house is built. The golden bowl upon the top of the candlestick, with its seven lamps, was an emblem of the true church of Christ, which was to be formed of purified souls, who were purified by the refining work of the gospel, as gold is purified in the furnace. Its being represented by a golden bowl, signified that its formation was to be according to the perfect order of God's workmanship; and it also prefigured the compact and pure union of its members. The two olive-trees, with their two branches, one on each side of it, which supplied the golden bowl with oil, represented the same work and order of God as did the two cherubims, and were declared by the angel to be "the two Anointed Ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth."
33. As the golden bowl received the golden oil from the two olive trees; so the church of Christ receives the pure oil of light and life from the trees of life, which are "the two Anointed Ones." These are the male and female in Christ, who are anointed with the Divine Spirit of God, and between whom the gifts and graces of the Spirit flow to the church. And the seven pipes to the seven lamps, by which they were supplied with the oil of light from the two olive trees, represented the manifestations of the seven Spirits of God, through Christ, to the church. The seven lamps signified the operations of these seven Spirits in the church, by which the church is enlightened with the true light, and by which it becomes the light of the world. These types and figures are plain and significant, and the objects to which they allude are so evident, that they cannot, with any consistency, be any otherwise applied, nor be fulfilled in any other manner than according to the preceding illustration.
34. As a further evidence in favor of the manifestation of Christ in the female, we find in the prophet Jeremiah, this testimony: "The Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man." Many suppose that this alluded to the virgin Mary, as encompassing the man Jesus, who was born of her. But in this sense every woman who conceives and brings forth a man child, may be said to compass a man; and therefore that is not "a new thing in the earth;" of course it cannot be the meaning of the prophecy. This prophecy evidently alluded to the female in whom the second appearance of Christ was to commence: for being endowed with such an extraordinary measure of the Spirit of Christ, she was able to compass and surpass the natural man, with all his wisdom, and all his knowledge and understanding of divine things, and did, in truth, effectually do it.
35. We have also further evidence from the parables and testimony of Jesus Christ himself, that his second coming would be manifested by the female. "The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a certain king, who made a marriage for his son." This parable is so plain and pointed that it cannot be mistaken, nor misapplied without the grossest perversion of language. There can be no marriage without a bridegroom and a bride. In this parable it is generally admitted that Jesus Christ alluded to himself as the Bridegroom; but who is the Bride? It has generally been supposed that the church was alluded to as the Bride; indeed this seems to be the general opinion of expositors.
36. But if the church is to be considered as the Bride, then who are the guests? They must certainly be an assembly of people, male and female, who are invited to the marriage, and have the honor of sitting down to the marriage supper with the Bridegroom and Bride. These evidently constitute the church which is made up of the faithful, who are called to attend the marriage of the Lamb and Bride. It would be a singular sort of marriage for the bridegroom, instead of taking a chosen female for his bride, to take all his guests, both male and female, and call them the bride. If this be the true meaning of the parable, then the figure, by which Jesus Christ chose to represent his marriage, does not agree with the substance, and was therefore very improperly chosen. The figure, in this sense would be much more complete in its order, than the substance which it was chosen to represent.
37. The parable of the wise and foolish virgins, which also alludes to the same subject, is very plain and pointed. No one can reasonably dispute that these virgins were designed to represent the wise and foolish professors of Christianity. Nor will any one be at a loss to know who is meant by the Bridegroom. But where is the Bride? She must evidently be a distinct character from the ten virgins. Who then is she? A bridegroom necessarily supposes a bride also, whether she be mentioned or not; it would therefore be very inconsistent to call the Lord Jesus a Bridegroom, without admitting him to have a Bride: "For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." But if the church is to be considered as the Bride, then who are the great multitude that rejoice because the marriage of the Lamb is come? Again: "Blessed are they who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb." These are they that rejoice; and these are evidently the church, distinct from the Bride.
38. It is not to be denied that the prophets and apostles often spoke of the church in the feminine gender, and they sometimes spoke of the church as being married to Christ. Thus saith the apostle Paul to the Corinthians: "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." But the time for the Bride to be revealed had not then arrived; and therefore she was often spoken of in a figurative sense. The church was the body of Christ: and as Adam had a body containing the substance of male and female, before Eve was taken from it; so had Christ. Therefore as Christ had then been manifested in the male only, and not in the female, the apostles were under the necessity of speaking as they did, and they could not in truth speak otherwise; till the female was taken from his spiritual body, and placed in her proper order, as a distinct character. But the time is now arrived, and the female is made manifest; therefore it is no longer necessary to use figurative language in speaking of these things: for we can now plainly declare the Spirit and the Bride.
39. "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come; and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." Here the Spirit and the Bride are first distinctly mentioned as inviting souls to come to the fountain of life, and partake of its waters. Should it still be contended that by the Bride, is here meant the church, we would ask, who then are those that hear? "Let him that heareth say, Come." This alludes to a character of people already called, expressly distinct from the Spirit and the Bride, and who are called upon to invite souls to come, and evidently applies to the church. The voice of the Spirit and the Bride is to the church. The church heareth, and having received the Spirit of the "Two Anointed Ones," is therefore ready to declare the same call of the gospel to other souls, who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness. "Let him that is athirst, come; and whosoever will;" let all the lost children of men, who feel their loss, and are willing to accept the offers of the gospel, come and take the water of life freely."
- End of Part VI, Chapter 4 -
Spiritual Regeneration and the New Birth.
1. REGENERATION, in its general sense, signifies a renovation or forming anew that which had been previously formed. Sometimes it is used merely to imply the restoration of anything to a state from which it had fallen by corruption, decay or some other means; sometimes it signifies a renewing of the original principles of the old, and establishing them upon a different foundation. And it is generally expected that the new, being built upon the improvements of time and experience, will be superior to the old. But when we speak of spiritual regeneration, as applied to mankind, we mean, not merely a restoration to the state of innocence in which man was first created; but a renovation of the whole soul and life of the man, in such a manner as to raise him, not only from the state into which he has fallen, but into a life of righteousness and true holiness, far superior to his primitive state, even into a state of eternal life, from which he never can fall.
2. As the act of generation, and the bringing forth of a natural offspring, are two different and distinct operations, and the former necessarily precedes the latter; so it is in spiritual regeneration and the new birth. The child of God must be begotten in the spirit, by the word of life, and travel in the spiritual regeneration, till he comes to the new birth, before he can be born into the real nature and life of Christ. This work first began in Jesus Christ; and no one was ever born out of the flesh, into the Kingdom of Heaven before him.
3. The patriarchs and prophets, previous to the coming of Christ, were moved by the Holy Spirit, as a spirit of prophecy, which testified of the coming of Christ in the flesh, in a future day, to raise man out of the nature of the flesh, into the nature of the Spirit. But this Spirit did not take up its abode in any; so as to become the divine life of the soul, and direct all its faculties; therefore none of them were raised out of the nature of the flesh, but they all still remained natural people. Nevertheless, they were accepted of God, according to the work of that day, in living up to their best light; and when they had done with time, they slept with their fathers, were gathered to their own people, and rested in peace. Thus they were "taken away from the evil to come." Or as the apostle expresses it, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them." And again: "These all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect."
4. It appears to be a prevailing opinion, that those who died in faith, before the coming of Christ, were immediately received into Heaven. If this be so, they must have received the promise, which is contrary to the express declaration of the apostle, just quoted. And Jesus himself hath also declared that, "No man hath ascended up to Heaven, but he that came down from Heaven, even the Son of man which is in Heaven." Whatever doctrines may be taught to the contrary, it appears evident from the preceding testimonies, that all who lived before the coming of Christ, were waiting for the fulfillment of the promises, and expected the way into Heaven to be opened by Christ, and that none of all the human race could enter there, until he had first opened the way. The apostle understood this: speaking of the entrance of the high priest, once a year, into the most holy place, he saith: "The Holy Spirit this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all, was not yet made manifest." if, therefore, the way into the holy place was not then made manifest, it is certain that no one could have entered into it.
5. Here the question will probably be asked, What then became of those who died in faith, if they did not go to Heaven? Surely you will not say, they went to hell? By no means. As before observed, they were gathered to their people, and rested in peace; "each one walking in his uprightness." But where was their resting place? and where did they walk in their uprightness? If they neither went to heaven nor hell, and yet walked in their uprightness, they must have been somewhere.
6. The opinion which generally prevails, concerning the spiritual world, even among those who call themselves Christians, seems to be confined to a heaven and a hell, both of which they imagine to be materiate places, fixed at an immense distance from this world, and from each other. They also suppose that when a soul leaves the body, it goes immediately to heaven or hell; and that there is no other place for the habitation of souls: consequently, that immense space between them must be a perfect void. These erroneous ideas evidently proceed from the want of spiritual light, and the prejudice of education. "Thus saith the Lord, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool." Hence the space between them cannot be a void.
7. The connection between the temporal and spiritual world, is like that of soul and body. Man, being composed of the natural elements, is the offspring of the world in its highest degree of perfection; the spiritual and temporal parts being united in him, he comes forth with a soul and body, and thereby shows the order from whence he proceeded. When a soul leaves the body, being still a living and conscious being, it moves in the elements of the spiritual world, while the body, being dead, soon dissolves and mingles again with the elements of the temporal world.
8. The distance between God and man, and between heaven and hell, is not measured by space, as we may measure distances on earth. The fullness of Heaven itself, is a state of perfect separation from all evil, and contains the highest perfection of order, glory and happiness. Hell, in its fullness, is a state of entire separation from all good, and the source of all evil, disorder and confusion; and hence it forms a situation of the most awful and excessive horror and misery. Between these two, there is an infinity of different states and situations of souls, both in the body and out of it, each containing different degrees of good or evil, according to their good or evil works. And hence it is, that as the soul is the real acting principle in man; so when souls leave the body, and are waked up to see and feel their real situation in the world of spirits, they find their reward to be according as their works have been in this world. Man in his natural state, is under the veil of the flesh, which shuts him from a real view of either heaven or hell. His nearness to hell is measured by the proportion of evil which exists and reigns in him; his nearness to heaven, by the proportion of good which he has attained, and which has become a ruling principle in his soul.
9. Hence those who were faithful to the light of God before Christ appeared, in whatever degree that light was given them, were accounted righteous, and were so far governed by heavenly influences; and hence they felt peace; and when they left this world, they rested in that peace which they had obtained by their obedience. But they could not enter into the heavenly state; because the way was not then opened by which they could travel out of the life of nature, by regeneration, and be born into a heavenly and eternal life. And the way could not be opened until sufficient power was manifested in fallen nature, to raise souls out of the life of that nature, into a heavenly life. This never took place until it was manifested in the person of Jesus.
10. A man must be born into this natural world, of the substance of natural life, before he can become a living being in this world; and being so born, he becomes a natural man, soul and body, and must forever remain in a state of nature, unless he can be born again: for unless his soul can be born into the heavenly world, of the substance of eternal life, he never can become a living being in that world. Mankind being in a natural state, and being lost from God, it is evident that they had not eternal life in them. Christ was therefore sent as a Redeemer, to redeem them from their lost state, and fit them for the "new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness," which God had promised by the mouth of the prophet Isaiah. This work is to be effected by regeneration, and by this means eternal life is administered to man; and it is impossible that the work should ever be effected, or that eternal life should ever be obtained in any other way.
11. Though Jesus Christ had a miraculous birth, yet "he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren." Hence it appears that nothing was excepted, not even the death of the fall. It is therefore evident that he was born into a fallen nature, with all its propensities. This nature he received, through the medium of his natural birth, of the Virgin Mary, who was but a natural woman; therefore he necessarily had a progressive travel out of it. And by yielding obedience to the will of his heavenly Parents, he overcame the power of that death which reigned in the fallen nature of man, and rose triumphant out of it; and was thus formed into the very nature of eternal life, the elements of which he had received from his Eternal Parents. Thus he was the "first begotten from the dead, and the firstborn among many brethren."
12. Hence it is evident that the work of regeneration first commenced in him: for if anyone had ever been born into eternal life before Jesus Christ came into the world, and passed through the new birth, he could not have been the firstborn. Therefore he was evidently the beginning of the new and eternal creation of God. Having gained eternal life in himself, he could, through a proper medium, transmit that life to Adam's posterity. "For as the Father hath life in himself, so he hath given to the Son to have life in himself."
13. The new birth was not even taught before Christ was manifested in the flesh, in the person of Jesus; and Jesus having been the first who traveled in the regeneration and received the spiritual birth, he was the first to teach it to others. He was the first who said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." This was a matter of great wonder to Nicodemus; and this spiritual birth hath always been a mystery to the natural man, and must always remain so, until be becomes enlightened, by the true light, to see the operations of the Spirit of God: for as his sense is natural, he may hear of such a work as being born again; but it is to him like the sound of the wind, "he cannot tell whence it cometh nor whither it goeth." And though modern Christians profess full faith in it, yet it appears that even their most learned divines, so called, are as insensible of the nature of it, and the manner in which it is to be effected, as Nicodemus was. Hence it is that they consider the work of generation and regeneration as by no means inconsistent with each other; or in other words, that a man may be regenerated and born of God, and yet be as actively concerned in the work of natural generation afterwards as before.
14. They seem to be ignorant that those who are born by the Spirit of Christ, through the process of regeneration, are born out of the nature of the flesh, and therefore become entirely dead to generation; and hence also it is, that they blend the regeneration and the new birth into one and the same thing, and call it an instantaneous work. But we would ask, Where, then, is the resemblance between this kind of spiritual conception and birth, and that which is natural, and which is a figure of it? We might, with equal propriety, suppose the natural conception, travail and birth, to be one and the same thing, and call that an instantaneous work, while all the productions of the natural world teach us the contrary. But as the natural conception, or planting the seed of natural life, and the birth of natural offspring, are operations entirely distinct from each other; and as the travail of generation commences with the former, and is completed in the latter; so is the planting of the seed of eternal life in the soul; and so is the travail of the regeneration and the spiritual birth, which are truly prefigured by the natural.
15. According to the testimony of St. John, "Whosoever is born of God, sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. Hence it appears evident that, in the regeneration, a man must be both begotten and born: of course there must necessarily be a spiritual father and mother in the work of regeneration, as really as a natural father and mother in the work of generation. And as it is by natural generation that the kingdoms of this world have been peopled by a race of natural men and women; so it is by spiritual regeneration that the Kingdom of Heaven must be peopled by a race of spiritual men and women. And as the natural offspring of the first Adam and Eve have received the nature of the wicked one, through the corporal union of their earthly parents, in the work of generation; so the spiritual offspring of the second Adam and Eve must receive the nature of the Holy One, through the spiritual union of their heavenly parents, in the work of regeneration.
16. But the work of generation, being corrupted by the fall, must be put away, and cease in man, before the work of regeneration can have any salutary effect upon the soul: for souls must be born out of the nature of the flesh, in order to be born into the nature of the Spirit. "That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit." That which is born of the flesh, is subject to death and all the deplorable effects of the fall; but that which is born of the Spirit, is born into eternal life, and can neither die nor fall. Therefore, when souls are really born of God, they become the offspring of eternal life; and it is then impossible that they should ever beget a natural posterity: for being in eternal life, and having the power of eternal life in themselves, their offspring, if they ever have any, must also be born into eternal life, and therefore can never die nor fall. If, therefore, those who profess to be born of God, do beget a natural offspring, subject to death and the fall, it is a decisive proof that they are not born of God, but are still a natural people, their life is still in the flesh, and under the fall, notwithstanding all their professions.
17. It is a truth generally acknowledged, that the secret influence of the serpent, which first occasioned man's fall, found its entrance into human nature, through the female. And it is equally true, that the very foundation of man's loss centers in the work of carnal coition. Hence all mankind are brought into the world in a fallen state, by the female, through the agency of this work. It was therefore indispensably necessary, for the final restoration of man and raising him to eternal life, that the Spirit of Christ should be revealed in that sex where sin first began; and there destroy that enchanting influence which the woman received from the serpent, that alluring power by which the natural man is led, and through which the fall of man was first produced.
18. By thus raising the female from the lowest state of the fall, and purifying her from all its baleful corruptions, she is made a fit temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in. And being divested of that enchanting power, so alluring to the carnal lover, she becomes an amiable pattern of Divine love, unmixed with the deceitful blandishments of sensual desire, and is able to bring forth the true spiritual seed of the new and spiritual creation. Thus a foundation is laid to undermine the power and influence of the serpent in the human race; and thereby the true seed is brought forth which raises man from the union and relation of a carnal nature, into the very nature and spiritual union of Christ.
19. By this means the root of human depravity is destroyed and rooted out of the very soil where it was first planted; and this could never have been done without the manifestation of Christ in the female, where the evil seed was first sown. For if the Spirit of Christ could not have descended to the lowest depth of man's loss, even to the depth of Satan's power and influence in mankind, then the evil seed must still have been below the reach of Christ; and therefore it could never be eradicated, and consequently the redemption of mankind could never be accomplished.
20. Again; it must appear obvious, that if Divine Wisdom had designed that Christ should ever be manifested in the female sex, for the purpose of raising them to their proper order in the work of redemption, (which none can reasonably dispute) there must be a beginning; and this manifestation must first commence in one woman, and from her be extended to others; and it must necessarily appear and be confirmed to others, by the fruits and works brought forth by her. As the true character of Christ in the male, was first manifested in Jesus, so the true character of Christ in the female, must first be manifested in that female who first received the fullness of the same Spirit. And as this correspondent character was never displayed in any woman, until it was manifested in Ann Lee; therefore she must be that distinguished female who was selected by Divine Wisdom for that very purpose.
21. The true foundation being thus laid, in both the male and the female, the work of God proceeds by a corresponding spiritual union and relation between them, through which souls are regenerated, and born into the everlasting Kingdom of Christ. And without this correspondence, the work of the new creation could not proceed, any more than the work of the old creation could go on without a natural correspondence between the male and female. Hence it appears evident, that the work of regeneration and the new birth could not be accomplished until the second appearing of Christ.
22. But so far as the apostles and primitive Christians, who received the testimony of Christ, were separated from the course of the world, they were gathered, by his Spirit, into a work of renovation, and were formed into a united body, in which the Holy Spirit dwelt, as " the Comforter," to lead and guide them in the truth, agreeable to the promise of Christ to his disciples. As Christ, in the dispensation of the Almighty, was revealed as the mediatorial Spirit; but was not revealed in his true order, as the Son and head of the new creation, until he was manifested in Jesus; so the Comforter operated in the dispensation of the Son, as a mediatorial and bearing Spirit, in the line of the female; but was not revealed in her true order, as the Daughter of God, in correspondence with the Son. Nor was the Eternal Mother revealed, until revealed by the Daughter.
23. Therefore no member of that body was really born into the elements of eternal life, so as to become a being with eternal life in himself. Hence the primitive Christians were moved by the Holy Spirit, as an abiding Spirit of promise, and an earnest of the new birth, to be accomplished in a future day. If this were not the case, why did the apostle say, "The earnest expectation of the creature, waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God: and not only they, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves, groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
24. By the expression, our body, he alluded to the body of the faithful, of which the apostles were members. Again he saith, "We are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." Thus it appears that none, in that day, had attained to the fullness of redemption and the new birth; but they were waiting with patience for its accomplishment. For had they received it, they would not have been waiting in hope, for that which they did not see. Hence it is evident that the apostle did not expect the accomplishment of it in that day.
25. The work of Christ's first appearing, was to establish the principles of the new and spiritual creation; to separate between the true spiritual light, and spiritual darkness; and between the spiritual and natural elements; to form the ground or soil, for the growth of the spiritual seed. By this he laid the foundation of the "new heavens and the new earth," which are the principles of righteousness, and in which is the seed of eternal life, by which souls are to be created anew, through Christ, into an eternal and immortal state. Thus he prepared, and set in order, eternal mansions, where souls could be gathered and placed in their proper order, in his everlasting Kingdom. For he saith, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." Here he evidently alluded to the time of his second coming.
26. The operation produced by seed sown in the earth, and the change effected, before ripe fruit can be brought forth, is a figure of the work of regeneration. Seed sown in the earth, must die before it can bring forth fruit; but being quickened, and properly nourished by the natural elements, it springs up, grows and produces fruit, which, when ripe, is gathered; but the stalk that bore it is left in the earth: hence it is only the life of the seed which is brought forth in the fruit.
27. So the natural man, when sown in the gospel field, must die to that which is natural and earthly, before he can rise into the life of Christ. This death is effected by the operation of the seed of eternal life, by which his soul is begotten in the work of the regeneration. And this seed of eternal life, being properly nourished by the spiritual elements, springs up and grows, and gathers the spiritual part of the man, which is the life of his soul, into its own nature, and changes the life of the soul from that which is natural and earthly, to that which is spiritual and heavenly. Thus it raises the soul out of the elements of an earthly nature, and leaves them behind, like the withered and dead stalk and root. And thus ripe fruit is brought forth, which is not natural and earthly, but spiritual, heavenly and eternal. And herein are Christ's words fulfilled; "Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it."
28. Though the primitive Christians received the faith of Christ, and were gathered into the principles of the spiritual work of God; yet they were not brought forth as ripe fruit in that day. They were figuratively like seed sown in autumn, which, though it springs up, and gives an earnest of future fruit; yet it cannot bring forth ripe grain in that season; but during the winter, it lies hid in the earth, and appears as though it were dead. But when returning spring appears, the living plant, being quickened by the enlivening rays of the sun, and properly nourished by the natural elements, and the refreshing showers and dews of the natural heavens, it springs up again and grows; and after passing through the various operations of vegetation, it brings forth ripe grain.
29. Thus it was with those who were planted in the gospel field, in the first appearing of Christ. A long and dreary spiritual winter ensued, and according to the prediction of Jesus Christ, "iniquity abounded, and the love of many waxed cold." This was the effect of the long, gloomy and deplorable reign of Antichrist, which naturally produced a spiritual winter. In consequence of this, the spiritual seed, which had sprung up in the primitive church, was hid in the earth and could not grow. But when the second appearing of Christ commenced, it was like returning spring. The spiritual seed, being quickened by the divine influences of the Sun of Righteousness, and nourished by the refreshing showers and dews of the "new heavens," began to spring up and grow, and bring forth fruit.
30. It appears evident from the uniform tenor of the discourses of Jesus and his apostles on this subject that they did not expect the work of full redemption to be accomplished until Christ's second appearing: for they frequently exhorted the people to look and wait for the coming of the Lord. Jesus himself, when speaking to his disciples of the signs that should precede the coming of the Son of man, said, "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." This is not only a proof that their redemption had not been before obtained, but that all those extraordinary signs, of which he had spoken, must appear before they could even look for its near approach.
31. It is not disputed that the apostles sometimes spoke of the new birth, and of being born of God, and described the character of such as receive this birth. But it ought to be considered, in the first place, that it is usual in the language of revelation, to speak of future events as though they were present. And secondly, that the apostles spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, which they had received as a spirit of promise, and which bore witness, in them, of its future work, of bringing forth souls to God, in the very essence of eternal life. And it is evident from the testimony of St. John, who spoke more concerning the new birth than the other apostles, that they did not receive the accomplishment of it in that day; but considered it a work to be fulfilled in them in a future day. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." But if they had been born of God, this matter would have appeared very plain to them. Hence it also appears that he did not expect the full manifestation of this work, until the second appearing of Christ. But he evidently shows, as did St. Paul also, that they "knew in part, and "prophesied in part." Consequently they could but in part see the work of regeneration.
32. But it may be asked, How then were they the sons of God? We answer; by adoption. "Ye have received the spirit of adoption." And again: "That we might receive the adoption of sons." But if they were the real sons of God, where was the necessity of adoption? The reality was evidently designed to take place in a future day, when the manifestation of Christ should appear in the order of the female, as the Mother Spirit, to bear souls to God; and being already the sons of God by adoption, they would then be brought forth as the real children of God. And this was the Work for which they were waiting.
33. It may be proper to remark here, that if souls can be regenerated and born of God, agreeable to the common opinion of modern Christians, without a complete renovation of the whole soul, from the life of Adam to the life of Christ, and without the united influence of spiritual parents, in the order of male and female; then the laws of regeneration must not only be at variance with all the rest of God's works, but they must also be very deficient and imperfect in their order, having no relative connection with the order of the natural creation in any of its productions. In this case, the productions of the natural creation, and the birth of natural offspring, which are but merely temporal, must be more perfect, in their order, than those of heavenly birth, which are spiritual and eternal. This is making the figure more perfect than the substance: for natural generation, which is but a figure of spiritual regeneration, is effected by the united operations of male and female.
34. But if spiritual regeneration and the new birth, is the work of a father only, then the female is entirely excluded from any part in it; if so, then no woman can ever enter the Kingdom of Heaven. How then is the regeneration to be perfected? And how are souls to be brought to the birth? According to this doctrine the natural birth, as a figure of the spiritual, is very improperly chosen; in truth it can be no figure at all. Therefore admitting the common opinion of the new birth, it must be a mere speculative and imaginary thing, and can have no foundation in the established order of God's works.
35. But we admit that there is this difference between the work of generation and regeneration: as the former is natural in all its operations; so the latter, in all its operations, is spiritual. By the former, a conscious being is brought into natural existence, who had no agency or will in the work; by the latter, this conscious being is brought into a spiritual and eternal state of existence. And as the work is wrought upon the soul of a conscious being, it cannot be accomplished without the free agency and willing obedience of that soul.
36. The primitive Christians who were faithful according to the work of their day, and gave up their lives for their testimony, "rested in peace, and walked in their uprightness," and were sheltered from the corruptions, storms and distresses which prevailed in Antichrist's kingdom. But they were placed "under the altar;" which showed that they had a further work to do, and a further sacrifice to make; otherwise they would not have been seen under the altar. And though "white robes were given them;" yet they had still to rest until the time of that dispensation was ended. But when the time arrived for the Bride to be declared and the marriage of the Lamb took place, then they rose with that great multitude, that rejoiced and praised God; because the day of redemption had fully arrived, and that spiritual union, by which the new birth could be fully effected, was now made manifest. Therefore they could now be brought forth, each one, as it were, a ripe grain, endowed with the very life of Christ. And now they were able to come into their proper lot and order, in the everlasting Kingdom of Christ.
37. This great spiritual work has now commenced. And as grain that is sown in the spring, if properly nourished by the natural elements, springs up, grows and brings forth fruit in the same season, without passing through the chilling blasts of winter so all souls, who are partakers of the work of this great day, will be nourished by the spiritual elements of eternal life, and will grow into the very nature of Christ, and bring forth the precious fruits of the gospel, without being exposed to those chilling blasts of ecclesiastical tyranny which once bound the heavens and earth in a spiritual winter. Those gloomy clouds of religious intolerance, and pelting storms of persecution, which once deformed the heavenly atmosphere, and deluged the earth with blood, are now blown away; and the cheering spring of Christ's second appearance is now made manifest, and will extend from clime to clime, and from shore to shore, until "all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of the Lord;" and all shall have an opportunity to come into its work, and enjoy its blessings, to their eternal glory; or to reject it to their everlasting destruction.
- End of Part VI, Chapter 5 -
Concerning Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
1. BAPTISM and the Lord's Supper have, for many ages, been considered by the great body of professing Christians, as institutions of Divine appointment, and necessary to be observed as distinguishing ceremonies of the Christian religion. They are denominated "Christian Sacraments," and are esteemed by many as essential to salvation. We have therefore thought proper to treat of them in a separate chapter, and to make such remarks upon them as we trust will lead the candid and unbiased mind to view them in their true light.
2. The many different opinions and jarring contentions that have long existed among the professors of Christianity, concerning these two ceremonies, are so many evidences that their most strenuous votaries have fixed their views on mere shadows and signs, instead of embracing the real spirit and substance of Divine life to which they alluded. The great importance which has long been attached to the external performance of these ceremonies, and the ages of contention which have darkened and bewildered the world on these subjects, first originated in antichristian darkness, after the Church had lost the real knowledge of the true spiritual work of God. We shall therefore proceed to speak of these two subjects separately.
3. FIRST. Concerning Baptism. That the true principle of baptism is a divine institution, and essentially necessary to salvation, is indisputable: for, according to the express declaration of Jesus Christ, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Yet a man may believe that Jesus Christ came into the world, and was crucified and died on Mount Calvary for sinners, and may also be baptized with water, and still be utterly destitute of the true faith and principles of the gospel; and therefore be as far from following Christ in a life of righteousness, as those who never heard his name. And as such a one gives no evidence of his having received the promise of salvation, it must appear obvious that, notwithstanding his water-baptism, he has not received the true baptism of Christ.
4. It is worthy of remark, that in all the instructions of Jesus to his disciples, he never once directed them to baptize with water: hence it is evident that he did not require it of them. The baptism of Christ is not the baptism of water, but of the Holy Spirit. And does it appear reasonable to suppose that he would send his disciples to baptize with John's baptism, and not with his own? "Ye shall indeed drink of my cup," said he, "and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with." Surely he could have no reference to water-baptism; for these disciples had doubtless been baptized with water already. Again he said, "John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
5. Thus it appears evident that the true baptism of Christ, is a spiritual work, of which John's baptism was but a figure. As water washes and cleanses the body from outward pollutions, so the true baptism of the water of life washes and cleanses the soul from all the pollutions of sin. It is a purifying operation of the elements of the Holy Spirit, which must run through the whole travel of the believer, unto perfect sanctification, cleansing the soul from an evil conscience, and from all corrupt propensities: "Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water;" even the water of life.
6. By this washing and cleansing, faithful believers are gradually baptized into the one body of Christ, where the Spirit of Christ becomes their life, and rules and reigns in them: for there is "One Lord, one faith, and one baptism." If there is but one baptism pertaining to the true Christian faith, there certainly cannot be two. Which then is it? Is it the baptism of natural water, or of the water of life from the Holy Spirit? The apostle has clearly decided this question: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free, and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. Now the Lord is that Spirit." The testimony of John the Baptist is also plain and decisive: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me, is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Thus it appears that the baptism of Christ is the baptism of the Spirit, and not of water.
7. But it may be urged, that Jesus himself went down into the water and was baptized of John. This is true; and it is equally true that he was circumcised, that he offered sacrifices and kept the law. John came under the law, and the baptism of water was instituted under the law; and as the law was a shadow of good things to come, and not the substance, so John's baptism was a shadow of that baptism which was to be manifested through Christ. Therefore Jesus Christ, previous to the commencement of his ministry, kept the law, and passed through John's baptism; and thereby acknowledged and fulfilled the work of God in the preceding dispensations. This is agreeable to his own testimony: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. He was indeed the first that ever perfectly kept the law of God. When therefore he had perfectly fulfilled the law, he put an end to all its figurative ceremonies. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
8. As John's baptism was under the dispensation of the law, and was, at most, but a figure or shadow of the true baptism of Christ; therefore, when the baptism of the Holy Spirit was introduced, which was the real baptism of Christ, there could be no further need of the shadow; nor could it be of any possible use to those who understood the substance.
9. It is not to be denied that the apostles and primitive Christians did, in some instances, use water baptism; but it is equally true that they also used circumcision and other Jewish ceremonies. Paul circumcised Timothy; yet he declared that circumcision was nothing: nay, more, "I, Paul, say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law." That is, if he choose to depend on the law, he must keep every part of it; but even then, he cannot be benefited by the privileges of the gospel of Christ; because he has chosen the law and placed his trust in that, and not in the gospel of Christ.
10. Paul circumcised Timothy to prevent occasion of reproach from the Jews, that his doctrine might thereby be accessible to them. For the same cause he was counseled by the elders at Jerusalem, to purify himself after the manner of the law, and make an offering in the temple. He also baptized a few at Corinth, and thanked God that he had baptized no more, declaring at the same time, that Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach the gospel. But if water-baptism was really an institution of the gospel, it must have been connected with the preaching of the gospel; why then was he not sent to administer it? But it is clearly evident that he performed these ceremonies to accommodate himself to the state of the people; to "become all things to all men, that he might save some."
11. We are, however, very far from condemning water-baptism, or any other religious ceremony which is conscientiously performed, as a religious duty; especially if attended with any beneficial effects in reforming the lives of the persons concerned, and keeping them from the snares of sin. But it often happens that people, under the conviction of sin, will resort to water-baptism and other religious ceremonies, to ease the reproaches of conscience, and then settle down under the cover of some established religious denomination, and soon leaven into the same lifeless state, with a full persuasion that they are now become Christians, while the real principles and practice of their lives continue the same as before. Thus they grasp at the shadow, but lose the substance. In such cases, their water-baptism serves only to extinguish the fire of the Spirit, which had been burning in their consciences and produced conviction of sin, and which ought to burn till sin is consumed out of the soul. But water-baptism never can wash away sin, nor justify the soul.
12. But the only true baptism which can profit the soul, is that of "the Holy Spirit and fire." This baptism will burn up and destroy the base and unclean passions and propensities of man's fallen nature, and thus effectually consume all the dross of the soul; and in this operation it will prepare the soul for the refreshing streams of the waters of life, which will cleanse, purify and invigorate every faculty, and eventually raise the soul into the very nature and heavenly life of Christ. This is the true baptism of Christ; and this baptism renders all shadows and figures entirely useless. When souls partake of this baptism, then they know in truth, what is meant by "the Holy Spirit and fire;" because they experience its salutary and blessed effects.
13. SECOND, Concerning the Lord's Supper. As baptism, or the washing with water, was a figure of the true baptism of the Holy Spirit: so that institution which is commonly called, The Lord's supper, was also designed as a figure. But what was the import of this figure? As water is used to cleanse and refresh the body; so the water of life will cleanse and refresh the soul: and as bread is used to nourish and strengthen the body; so the bread of life will nourish and strengthen the soul. Those outward ceremonies called baptism and the Lord's supper, which were sometimes used in the days of the apostles, were in substance, practiced under the law. Hence they must be considered as figures or symbols of spiritual substances, which were to take place in a future day.
14. When Jesus Christ kept the Jewish Passover for the last time, he is supposed to have instituted what is called, "the Lord's supper." But it ought to be considered that, in the performance of this ceremony, he officiated in a manner similar to that practiced by the head of the Jewish family; and the only alteration that he introduced and directed his disciples to observe, with regard to this feast of the Passover, was, that they should do it in remembrance of him. That is, instead of doing it as they had done, in remembrance of their deliverance from their Egyptian bondage; they should do it in remembrance of him who came to deliver them from the bondage of sin, of which their deliverance from Egypt was but a figure. But it appears very evident in each place where this transaction of our Savior is recorded, that it was designed as a figure of a spiritual work to come. The circumstances are particularly stated by Luke. "And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God."
15. The church, or assembly of the faithful, established by the apostles at Jerusalem, "were of one heart and one soul;" and we have no account that they ever kept any external sacrament, as the Lord's supper, in any other manner than by eating and drinking together, daily, as Jesus Christ set them the example while he was with them. "And all that believed were together, and had all things common: and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." It is true that when the gospel was preached to the Gentiles, those who believed did not generally come into a united interest; and therefore could not eat and drink together, daily; hence they came together at appointed times, and held their love feasts, and eat and drank together, in remembrance of the last supper of the Lord Jesus with his disciples. But as they soon fell into disorder in these things, the apostle Paul interfered, and set proper regulations among them, and said, "As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come."
16. Hence it appears that, though it might be done to commemorate the Lord's death; yet after the second coming of Christ, it could no longer be necessary; because the reality must then be made manifest. But where can we find any evidence to show, that the apostles and primitive Christians ever pretended to a ceremonious consecration of a little bread and wine, and to make a formal distribution of it among the members of the church, and call it the sacrament of the Lord's Supper? This practice was first introduced into the church by Gentile philosophers, who professed the Christian faith, and whose object was, (as Dr. Mosheim says,) "to give their religion a mystic air, in order to put it upon an equal footing, in point of dignity, with that of the pagans." This was undoubtedly the origin of all those ideas of the mysterious virtues which have ever been attached to that ceremony.
17. It is however certain, that if the bread and wine in this ceremony, are to be considered as symbols of the body and blood of a dying Savior, they must be symbols of an absent Savior for there can be no kind of use in representing the Savior by signs and symbols, when he is really present. Wherever Christ has a true church, there he abides, and there is his body and blood. The church of Christ is fed with the bread of life, and refreshed with the water of life; and this is the body and blood of Christ, and these united, become the life of his true followers, and of which they all partake by their union to the body. "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another; and the blood of Jesus Christ (that is, his Spirit and life) cleanseth us from all sin.
18. Thus the true sacrament of the Lord's supper is found in the spiritual union of the saints, who have fellowship one with another, by walking in the true light which is in Christ; and thus they partake of his spirit and life, according to his own testimony: "I am the bread of life; I am the living bread which came down from Heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever. Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him." This is partaking of the Lord's supper in very deed; and they who truly do this, have the promise of eternal life; and none can ever possess eternal life, unless they enjoy this holy communion, and really partake of this food, in its true spiritual sense.
19. No person can reasonably suppose that Jesus meant that we must literally eat his flesh and drink his blood, in order to obtain eternal life. His language on this occasion, as on many others, was used figuratively, to imply his life and Spirit. His meaning was, that those who partake of his life and Spirit, will live as he lived, and walk as he walked; that is, in perfect obedience to the will of God. "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me," said he; and that which was his meat, became also the meat of his true followers, who thereby became the members of his body, and were made partakers with him, of the bread of life which was manifested in him. This is the food of heavenly minded souls, and this is the true sacrament, and there is no other. "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna." And again; "I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's Kingdom. This remained to be accomplished at the period of his second coming.
20. Hence we may see what the true supper of the Lord is; and what his supper with his disciples was designed to typify; and when souls really come to partake of this bread, and drink this wine, they will no longer contend about shadows and signs. Jesus Christ did not say, "Except ye eat that bread and drink that wine," which is called the Lord's supper, "ye have no life in you." Yet the professors of Christianity, who have been so solicitous about the performance of this outward ceremony, instead of commemorating the dying love of the Divine Redeemer, by partaking of his Divine Spirit, and exercising it in love one to another, have manifested the most bitter animosities towards each other.
21. The violent contentions among Christian professors of former ages; upon this subject, instead of promoting brotherly kindness, Christian charity and heavenly love, often led to cruel hatred, blood and slaughter. No rational Christian can suppose that Christ would establish an institution calculated to produce wrath and strife, and that too among Christians. And yet the great body of Christian professors of the present day, differ very little, in their views of the subject, from their antichristian fathers, who contended with such violence about the shadow, while the real substance was wholly out of their sight. Thus, while those who call themselves Christians, still continue to contend about the signs of the body and blood of a Savior, who was crucified on Mount Calvary nearly eighteen hundred years ago, they are witnesses against themselves, that the body and blood of a present Savior is not with them.
22. But we would ask those who are so tenacious of the ceremony of the bread and wine, why they have neglected another, which was far more positively enjoined, both by the precept and example of our Savior? While a pompous display is made of the ceremony of the bread and wine, the command to wash one another's feet seems to be wholly disregarded. "Supper being ended, Jesus rose from the table, and laid aside his garments, and took a towel and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and begun to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done unto you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet: for I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you."
23. What rule of action was ever more positively enjoined upon Christians? No exception was made to its literal requirement; and Jesus was evidently the first who introduced it as a Divine command. Nothing was ever so positively enjoined by him, in favor of partaking bread and wine as a sacrament. Jesus said to Peter, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." But he never said, If ye do not partake of this bread and wine, ye have no part with me; nor was he the first who introduced it; but as it had been practiced among the Jews, at the feast of the Passover, in commemoration of their deliverance from Egypt, he directed his disciples to do it for a different purpose: "This do in remembrance of me." But his command to wash one another's feet, was a new and more particular injunction. Why then is the practice neglected by those who so earnestly contend for the ceremony of the bread and wine? The answer is obvious: The former is too humiliating an exercise, and one in which they cannot display so much pomp and parade, as in eating bread and drinking wine.
24. The requirements of our Savior were just and reasonable. He did not come to teach mere lessons of theory; but to inculcate the principles and practice of virtue. His washing the feet of his disciples, was an example of his humility, kindness and love; and where is the real Christian who could follow this example, without possessing a measure of the same virtues?
25. But we are told by some great and learned expositors, that our Savior did not mean to enjoin a literal performance of this ceremony; and that the disciples knew better than to practice it literally: that is, according to the opinion of these expositors, they knew better than to obey the positive command, or to follow the example of their Lord and Master. But they evidently did practice it; and it was one of those essential virtuous practices which the apostle Paul required of widows, to entitle them to admittance into the joint communion of the church; "If she have washed the saints' feet;" not "if she have partaken of the bread and wine;" this was not essential: for this might be done without giving the least proof of virtuous sincerity. But if the former is not to be literally practiced, why should the latter? It is certain that the washing of one another's feet was literally practiced among the primitive Christians; and it was evidently designed, not only as an outward token of the inward principle of humility, kindness and charity, but as a figure of the washing of regeneration, which cleanses the soul from the pollutions of an earthly nature, in which the feet of all natural men walk, before they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
26. "A new commandment I give unto you," said Jesus "That ye love one another, as I have loved you. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Here is a plain and positive command given; and those who faithfully obey this command, cannot live in contention and strife; but will love one another, not in profession and word; but in practical deeds of kindness and charity. This is a plain and visible criterion by which all men may see and know who are the true disciples of Christ. But a great profession of religious love, with all the ceremonies of consecrated bread and wine added to it, without a corresponding practice, is no evidence of discipleship; for such are often as full of contention and strife, as those who make no profession at all.
27. But the greatest practical evidence of genuine love and disinterested benevolence that can be manifested on earth, is found where all are of one heart and one soul; where the rich and the poor can meet together, and eat and drink at one table, and cheerfully partake of one common blessing and interest, and mutually share in each other's comforts and afflictions, both in things spiritual and temporal. Here souls, by eating and drinking together, in Christian love and harmony, may daily partake of the Lord's supper, according to the manner in which the primitive church partook of it. Here they may show forth the Lord's death, in very deed, by their own example, in showing that he died to a selfish, partial nature; and that they have become partakers of that death, and have consequently risen with him, into that life which the world, with all its professions of religion have never obtained.
28. Herein they plainly show to all men, that they are partakers of that real body and blood which is the true life of Christ; and are fed and nourished by the true bread and wine of his spiritual Kingdom. And in them is truly fulfilled the prayer of the Lord Jesus to his heavenly Father; "that they may be one, even as we are one."
- End of Part VI, Chapter 6 -
More Excerpts from the "Millennial Church"
Index of More "Shaker Manuscripts On-Line "