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THE ELEMENTS AND CONDITIONS OF HEALTH,
NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL.
“A SOUND mind in a sound body” is a maxim of vital importance and of universal application. The mind acts through the body and the body acts from the mind; and just so far as both are in a healthy condition is the action right and the result useful. A healthy mind may dwell in a diseased body, and a diseased mind may dwell in a healthy frame; and yet they may manifest excellent qualities and perform acts that contribute largely to the common good. When the moral and intellectual faculties are sound the state of the body may limit but will not pervert their action; and when the physical powers are sound the circumstances and necessities of life may direct their activities, to a greater or less extent, into the channel of usefulness. It is true, nevertheless, that it is a duty which everyone owes to himself and to society to study and obey the laws of health, both of mind and body, that he may, as far as possible, have a sound mind in a sound body.
Worldly wisdom alone teaches this view of the subject. But there are other and higher views that present themselves to those who are in any degree possessed of the wisdom that is from above. The spiritual man does not despise the lessons of worldly prudence, or neglect the duties which they teach, “Be ye wise as serpents," is the exhortation of Divine wisdom itself. And this wisdom of the world is necessary, not only to afford a means of protection against that wisdom in the evil and designing, but to enable the spiritual man so to direct his energies as to do the greatest possible amount of good to those whom he might injure by an unsuspecting and indiscriminating benevolence. To be a means of protection and blessing the wisdom of the serpent must, however, be accompanied with the harmlessness of the dove, that worldly wisdom may be influenced by heavenly ends. By these ends the serpent is lifted up, even as our Lord, as to His sensuous nature, was lifted up, as by the wings of the dove that descended on Him at His baptism, that the virtue of the sensuous nature glorified might be an antidote to the bite of the fiéry flying serpent of worldly wisdom inflamed by evil love. In the Lord are united what we should ever strive to unite in ourselves, the sound mind and the sound body, in our inner and outer nature, both diseased by hereditary and acquired evil, and both requiring to be restored to health, and brought into harmony of state and action. This we should endeavour to effect and exemplify in our civil, moral, and religious Jife.
Law and justice are to each other as body and mind. In regard to communities, which are the images as well as the aggregates of those who compose them, it will be found that in all existing nations both law and justice are more or less unsound, and that they are seldom both corrupt or pure alike. In decaying nations law will be found to be sounder than justice, while in advancing nations justice will be found to be sounder than law. And in their case the remark will be seen exemplified, that defective laws well administered work better than more perfect laws badly administered. The letter of the law may be better than the spirit; the spirit may be better than the letter. It is only so far as each of these is sound and both are united that the community that possesses them can be called a righteous nation. So it is with the individual as a member of the community. It is his duty to obey the law even when he thinks it unwise and oppressive. And he should obey it as a civil duty from a religious principle. For however defective and unwise particular laws may be, law itself, and the laws of a community, taken as a whole, are necessary for the preservation of order, and for the security of life and property. It is different, indeed, when obedience to civil law involves a violation of religious principle, as in times and cases of legalized religious persecution. Then it is but right to suffer for conscience' sake. But in ordinary cases and circumstances it is the duty of the Christian to obey for conscience' sake, therefore both in the letter and in the spirit. He should cheerfully and faithfully bear his share of the burdens and duties which his country imposes upon him, that he and his country, so far as depends on him, may have a sound mind in a sound body. Consequently, with a faithful obedience to existing law, he may as faithfully endeavour to procure the redress of grievances and the enactment of more perfect statutes. In this he shows a true love of country, by striving to exalt her among the nations in the truest and
In his moral capacity the Christian should aim at realizing the state and character of the upright man. In all his dealings with his neighbours he should have, as the statutes of the Jewish law required, a just weight, a just balance, a just measure. Nor is this law to be observed only in buying and selling; but in all the transactions of life, and with all persons, whatever relation we bear to them; husband and wife, parent and child, master and servant, friend and friend, neighbour and neighbour, each and all are to be and do to each other all that the moral law, the law of equity, requires. We speak not here of the law of love, or of love itself, against which there is no law, and which is the fulfilling of all law, but of the moral law which teaches us how to act towards each other in the moral sphere of life. We must weigh our motives, thoughts, and actions. We must endeavour to hold the balance even between ourselves and others, whether in matters of opinion or of conduct. We must not have in our bag divers weights, a stone and a stone-a heavy one to buy and a light one to sell. We must have but one measure for ourselves and for others, judging and doing to them as we would they should judge and do to
This is the moral law, which even the moral sense alone, without a religious principle, can perceive; for everyone possessed of sound reason can be made to understand that what he demands for himself he should render to others, and that the standard by which he judges others is that by which he should judge himself.
Just and easily recognizable as the moral law of equity is, the moral principle is, of itself, a too feeble and variable power to enforce a faithful fulfilment of the obligations which the moral law imposes. Even with the aid of self-interest, which teaches that honesty is the best policy; that temperance is favourable to wealth, and frugality to comfort; that it is unreasonable to be elated by success or depressed by adversity; that vice is its own punishment and virtue its own
reward ;—with these and other excellent maxims,—there is too much of the natural will underlying all the perceptions of the natural understanding to make the moral law a safe or certain guide to right action. The law, which forms the body, may be sound, but the mind which animates it is diseased; and the consequence must be frequent and sometimes flagrant transgression. Nothing can be a certain guide but the law of God as we find it in revealed religion, and enduing an all-pervading and unswerving motive with religious principle. Religion inculcates not justice merely, but love. And it inculcates love to the neighbour in obedience to the law of God and from the motive power of love to God. It is the high sanction and the high motive which give the religious law its power. The ten commandments were known to the nations and embodied by them in their civil and moral codes long before the time of Moses; but they were proclaimed by the Lord from Sinai, engraved on tables of stone by the finger of God himself, to make them religious laws-laws having a spiritual character because a Divine sanctity. The recognition of a Divine law-giver, who is to be the Judge of those to whom the law is given, is that which raises the moral law out of the sphere of merely human and temporal ends, I mean into the sphere of Divine and eternal ends and purposes. Evil thus becomes sin against God; good becomes righteousness in His sight. And while religion teaches us that evil is deadly to the soul as well as injurious to the body, and good is profitable for time and for eternity, it tells us that He who revealed the law is ever with us, to inspire us with the motive, and give us the power which will enable us to fulfil it. Without this motive and the power which is given in it, the law, when perfectly understood, is a sound body, having, so far as regards us individually, an unsound mind. On the other hand, the Divine law, which in its widest sense includes the whole Word, may be greatly misunderstood, and yet the motive may be good, in which case there is a sound mind in an unsound body. This view of the subject is capable of being taken of the Church collectively as well as of the Church individually. When the truths of the Word are corrupted, and the Church teaches for doctrine the commandments of men, the body is unsound. And as error must have had its origin in evil, so has it a tendency to lead to it. We do not mean to say that every error in doctrine has originated in a direct intention to corrupt or depart from the truth ; but the loves of self and the world, that lurk in the secret place of every human heart, are ever ready to mould the thoughts to their own image, and thus lead them to frame
deceits that may conceal their evil nature and excuse or even justify their aims and actions. Into this view of the subject we do not now intend to enter. We, who claim to belong to the New Church, have the confidence of assured belief that we possess in the heavenly doctrines of the New Jerusalem the truth without any admixture of
Let it be our constant desire to preserve them in their purity. Let no self-will or self-intelligence mar their Divine beauty and simplicity. Let them be the unerring guides of our life and conversation. But let us remember also that, beautiful and simple as they are in themselves, they are to us and in us as only a body of sound doctrine until they are filled with and animated by love to the Lord and to the neighbour. When this is our happy state, then indeed have we, in the best sense and in the highest degree, a sound mind in a sound body. These are the elements and conditions of health in all its aspects, and therefore of happiness in all the spheres and relations of life, both in this world and in the world to come.
ADDRESS FROM THE GENERAL CONFERENCE, AS
SEMBLED AT BIRMINGHAM, TO THE MEMBERS OF
The possession of those priceless treasures, the heavenly doctrines of the New Jerusalem, and the blessing they are to us and to our children, as they are destined to be to the whole human family, afford a reason for devout thankfulness, while they impose-upon us weighty obligations. The words of comfort and admonition which the Lord addressed to His disciples at His First Advent come with increased force to those who receive Him at His Second Coming. “Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” And, on the other hand, “To whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required : and to whom men have committed much, of him will they ask the more.”
How precious is the grand doctrine which places before us the Lord Jesus Christ as the sole object of our worship, our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier in one glorious Divine Person ! Around this central truth of the Christian system all other truths range themselves and