The New Age: Its
cause; The signs of its coming
It was the purpose of the last chapter to state where the final Judgment was held, upon whom it was executed, and how it was effected. If the doctrine upon this subject there set forth be true, the effects of so great a change in such a vast community, holding the most intimate relations to the inhabitants of the material world must, sooner or later, become clearly manifest in human society upon the earth. That great multitude of people, organized into societies and creating an earth and heavens in the intermediate state, according to spiritual laws, was interposed between people upon the earth and the Divine source of all their power and life. They surrounded those people on the spiritual side of their natures and stood between them and the Lord. They obstructed the light of truth which comes from Him from flowing into the understanding, as a dense cloud obstructs the light of the sun from flowing into the material eye; they perverted and poisoned the life which issues in an ever-flowing current from the Fountain of Life so that it only reached the human heart in diminished power and impaired quality. All man's spiritual affections were like seeds and plants in the winter: They were torpid and dormant. As a spiritual being, people dwelt in winter and night.
When these obstructions to the inflowing of the forces of the Divine life were removed, and people were brought into more direct and orderly communication with the sources of power, human society must have felt and manifested their effects. Every human faculty - especially the higher faculties - must have been quickened by this new influx of power. The human race’s affections would arouse from torpor; their intellectual faculties would awaken from sleep, and there would be a general vivification and stir in all the elements of human society. Humanity would be like the ground in the spring, when the earth turns herself more directly to the sun and receives, in larger measure, those forces of heat which penetrate her substance and move every organic form to action. If this great event took place, as we have said, more than two centuries ago, there must be manifest evidences of it in the world. It is as impossible for the human mind, which was made to be the reception of the Divine life, and to move in harmony with the flow. of its forces, to remain inactive under their influence, as it would be for the living seeds of plants to remain dormant when sown in good ground and exposed to the genial warmth of the sun. It is just as impossible that there should be any new or more accelerated movement in human progress without the influx of new power. We have, therefore, in the history of the last two centuries the means of determining with absolute certainty whether or not the human mind has become subject to any new and more powerful influences. If it has, it must be due to the removal of obstacles which choked the current of those Divine forces which give people all their power and life. For we cannot for a moment admit that the Lord withholds His life. Like the sun, He sends forth the warmth of His love and the light of His truth with unchanging fidelity to all who will receive it. "He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Let us, therefore, glance - and we can do no more than glance - at the present state of human society in the world, and note some of its most marked characteristics. We shall find all the testimony a truly rational mind can demand for the fact that some new and more benign power is operating upon the human mind.
Every thoughtful observer, whose mind is not darkened by error and held in bondage by inveterate prejudices, is conscious that we live in a remarkable age. The student of history knows that man has made more progress during the last century in knowledge, in the application of physical forces to human use, and in organizing societies to help the sick and suffering, and to improve the condition of the race, than was done before during the whole period of human existence upon the earth. There must be an adequate cause for these wonderful effects, and that cause must be a spiritual one. As all power comes from the Lord, and is constantly given, every healthful increase of activity in the movements of human society must be due to the nearer approach of the Lord, and to a more direct application of the Divine life to human minds. The forces which are now quickening humanity and stimulating the human race to larger efforts are constantly given. People, viewed as an individual or a race, are not wound up like a clock with sufficient force to run a certain time and then left to themselves. There is no more power in one generation to communicate its life to another than there is in one machine to create another machine; than there was in the teakettle, which suggested the power of steam, to develop itself into the miracle of the modern steam engine. All power is constantly given. Steam must be constantly created or the engine would soon cease to move; the stream must constantly flow or the wheels will cease to revolve; the forces of the sun must constantly quicken the plant or its growth will be arrested; the Divine life must continue to operate upon. the forms of the human mind; a moment's withholding of its power would cause a total suspension of human consciousness. Any increase in human activity must, therefore, be due to an increase in man's capacity for the reception of power from the Lord. In natural things we need no other evidence than the effects to prove the increase or diminution of the acting force. If the engine moves faster or with more vigorous strokes, we conclude with infallible certainty that more steam is exerting its power; if the trees begin to put forth leaves and clothe themselves with the glory of blossoms, we say the light and heat of the sun are acting with more energy upon them. So we may conclude with infallible certainty that Divine forces are acting with more power upon the human race when we see new and more vigorous movements in society, especially if they tend to enlighten, to elevate, and to bless.
This is the force of the parable of the fig-tree. In it we see a picture of the effects of the Second Coming portrayed by the Lord Himself. He selects from the material world one of His common works with which we all are familiar, and presents it to us as a perfect embodiment of the principle and method of his Second Coming. It is more than a comparison: it is the problem solved before our eyes at every returning summer. In this beautiful and simple way the Lord demonstrates to us that His Second Coming is not any intervention of His established order, or subversion of universal methods; but, on the contrary, is carrying them into fuller and larger effect. Humanity is beginning to turn to the Lord from the long night of error and from the winter of evil, and we know that a more vigorous and excellent life must be the result. The Lord is coming, not by personal and outward presence, but in the power and glory of new truth, as the sun comes in spring and summer, not by bodily approach, but in the power of his light and heat.
Such is the principle arid method of the Lord's coming to us, as stated by Himself. We may see the subject more clearly, perhaps, by looking at the signs of His coming as they appear in the movements of the times. But in doing this, we must take some Divine purpose, and some method of Divine operation to be a measure of effects, or we cannot come to a logical conclusion.
It must be the purpose of a Being of infinite love and wisdom to give to us the largest amount and the highest degree of good possible. The Lord Himself reiterates this purpose in various forms and in the most emphatic manner. He declares His purpose to establish His kingdom on the earth; to have His will done on the earth as it is in heaven. To this end He declares that a true knowledge of God shall prevail, and that people shall come into union with one another and with Him. It is to accomplish these purposes that He lives, and works, and comes to us. Let us examine some of the signs of the times by these simple tests.
All progress in every form and degree of human activity and attainment is made by means of truth. There is no exception to this law, and there can be none. The miraculous progress which has been made during the last two centuries in bringing material forces into the service of humankind has been effected by science, by an accurate knowledge of the laws, qualities, and relations of matter. Enlightened people have ceased to judge of material things by appearances. They look within. They decompose the crude substances of nature, and analyze them; they penetrate their secrets, and try to discover their likes and dislikes; they watch their forms and motions, to discover what they can do and how they behave when introduced to one another; what paths they love to follow; what alliances they form; what co-partnerships they reject; what conditions the Divine forces in nature demand to bear people’s burdens, to do their work, to run on their errands, to be light and warmth in their dwelling, to bring the products of all climes to their door, and to be a help and comfort to them in attaining the ends of life.
This knowledge has extended through the whole realm of nature, from the smallest microscopic forms to the remote stars; from the most subtle substances to the solid crust of the earth. Humankind has armed its senses with the most powerful artificial aids to bring the remote near, to magnify the forms and to scrutinize the processes of nature, invisible to the naked eye. Fired with such zeal, assisted with such skill, and with the help of true methods, the human race has made the most surprising progress. It has extended the domain of knowledge in every direction. The universe is immensely larger today to the intelligent mind than it was two centuries ago, and the horizon is constantly extending. More truth is discovered in a lump of coal, or a grain of earth, in an insect, or the smallest plant, than was formerly known to exist in the whole world. Every new truth discovered is used as a light to penetrate farther into the darkness of the unknown, and to form the way in which people can pass on to new fields of knowledge and new acquisitions of power.
Whence comes this miraculous awakening of the human intellect? From what source do people derive this new power? Where do they get this vast increase in the love of knowledge? It does not come by chance. It does not come from any unused reservoir of intellectual life stored up in the human mind. It does not come from the past, for the past did not possess it. It can come only from the one source of power, the Lord. He must be drawing nearer to us, and we must be coming into such orderly relations with Him that He can quicken our intellectual faculties, and inspire us with a greater desire to learn and understand the laws and methods of creation.
But there is stronger evidence than the increase of knowledge that people are operated on by new forces. They are imbued with a new spirit. They view truth in a new way. They no longer regard truths as isolated and unrelated facts. They have discovered that the universe is a cosmos, a harmony. They know that all things are related. The universe, though composed of a countless number of particular forms and forces, is a unit. They have learned to see the whole in the part, and to judge of the part from the whole. They have learned that all nature is governed according to immutable laws, and, imbued with a true scientific spirit, they come with the most childlike simplicity to learn from nature, from her own lips, what those laws are, that they may obey those laws, that they may put themselves into such relations to her forms and forces, and come into such sympathy with her attractions and repulsions, that they can win her inmost secrets and understand her ways. There is much boastfully said about our control over nature; about forcing her into our service, and compelling her to do our will. But this is an entire mistake. People have no power to change a law of nature, or to make her turn aside from her paths. We "cannot make one hair white or black" of her least important law. We must adjust ourselves to nature, and then she will work for us with tireless energy. We must fashion our keels to the nature of water, if we wish our ship to float; we must adjust our sails to the wind, if we desire to have it put its shoulder to our canvas and push our vessel round the world. But it will not turn a hair from its course to please us. The stream will turn our wheels, and saw our lumber, and drive our planes, and weave our cloth if we will adjust ourselves to its laws, but on no other condition will it lift a finger for our help. This is an immutable law.
I have spoken of nature, but I mean the Lord. Nature has no powers of her own. The laws of nature are only the Lord's methods of working on the material plane of the creation. The forces of nature are the Lord's power working in and by material agencies. When people bring themselves into friendly relations with any Divine force, natural or spiritual, it will work for them. This is the sole, but immutable condition. The Lord will come to us with all knowledge, with all power, with all blessedness, when we open our understanding to receive them.
The knowledge of this truth is an immense step in the right direction. It offers to us a most powerful incentive to investigate the forms and forces of the material world. The moment we see clearly that all their relations to the material world are governed by immutable law, and that there is no limit to the service the Lord will render to us through nature, if we will only put ourselves in a right position to receive His aid, it becomes a most powerful incentive to discover the hiding-places of His power, and learn what we must do to gain possession of it. This puts us on the constant watch to discover the conditions in which the Lord will come to us and work for us in the realms of nature, and it fills us with hope that we may find them.
But it renders us a more important service than this, it leads us into the true position to watch for the Lord's coming in the power and glory of new spiritual truth. It teaches us that He will come, and can only come, to us as a spiritual being, according to the laws of spiritual life, and that the only way of watching for His coming is to awake from the sleep of ignorance and indifference and learn those laws which, in one form, are the paths that lead from Him to us; and in another, are the garment of light in which He clothes Himself. Truth is the only highway from the Lord to the soul, and the only form in which He can manifest Himself so clearly that every eye can see Him.
How has humankind come into this new method of learning truth? How has it risen from regarding nature as so many isolated forms and facts, to the discovery that there is no isolation in the universe, that all things are related and connected? How has it passed from the old, heterogeneous world in which everything was dislocated and adrift upon the ocean of chance, into the new world of order, harmony, and law? How happens it that the human race has lived thousands of years in the presence of this order and environed by these awful forces, and has only, in these latter times, waked up to the consciousness that it is penetrated by immutable laws; that people, also, are a part of this grand cosmos whose fine principles center in them, and come with helpful power when they will open the doors to welcome those principles? It must be because we have come into conditions more favorable to be acted upon by the Divine forces in nature. Some of the obstructions which obscured the mind have been removed; the clouds of sense have parted, or they have become translucent to the light of truth. The Lord has gained a freer access to his understanding, and is quickening his heart with a new life.
This awaking of the human mind to search for truth is not confined to the material plane of the creation; it extends to every domain of human thought and life. There has never been a time in the history of humanity when there was so much interest in all questions relating to peoples’ spiritual nature and destiny as there is now. People are awakening to the significance of the great fact that they are spiritual and immortal beings. The desire to know the truth concerning God and humanity is constantly increasing in strength and sincerity. Papers are scattered broadcast over the world thick as the leaves of autumn; pamphlets and magazines and books are published without number setting forth new theories, assaulting and defending old dogmas, and proclaiming new ones. People are looking for the Lord. Some think they have found Him in the desert of material laws; some look to the pages of history; some gaze into the material heavens and expect to see the signs of His coming in the ruins of the material universe, forgetting that He has declared He will not come with outward show; that the kingdom of God is within us, and that it is there, and only there we can find Him. The whole mind of the Christian world is moved as never before.
The idea of law, order, and unity, which people have discovered in every province of the material world, from the least to the greatest, has led them to look for it in the spiritual realm of their being. People are not content to take dogmas upon historic faith or personal authority. They have discovered that all natural things are related, and that these
relations are governed by immutable laws, and they pertinently ask why the reign of law should cease when we come into the finer world of the spirit? They see that for thousands of years, even from the beginning, we have been tempted by the serpent senses to take the appearance for the . reality, and they begin, at least, to surmise that they may have been subject to the same illusions in their conclusions concerning spiritual things. They, therefore, demand a faith concerning the nature of the Lord and His relations to humankind which will satisfy the reason, and which will grow brighter the more it is investigated. Consequently there is a sifting of evidence, a searching scrutiny into the grounds of belief. People ask for the fish of spiritual science, and they cannot be content with the serpent of appearances; they ask for the bread of rational knowledge, and they will never be satisfied with the stones of isolated facts in spiritual, any more than in natural, things. What is the cause of this new state of the human mind? of this quickening of every intellectual faculty? It must have a cause. Is it the perversity of human nature? That cannot be, because, at bottom, it is the love of truth. It is in the direction of all human progress, both in the individual and in the race. Can it be due to any other cause than the nearer approach of Him who "is the way, the truth, and the life," and in whose vivifying presence every human faculty is quickened with new energy? Every faculty of human nature is becoming tender and pliant with the inflow of new forces; it is putting forth the leaves of a new hope, and giving the promise of a new fruitfulness. We know, therefore, that the summer of a new age of spiritual knowledge and fruitfulness is near. The Lord is coming to create a new day. We are yet in the gray of the morning. The awaking from the sleep of ages, the stir which is becoming manifest, the appearance of a multitude of forms, which come out of the darkness, whose existence was unknown to us before, are the signs of His coming.
This coming of the Lord in the power and glory of new truth produces various and apparently opposite effects. Every new truth executes a judgment; it displaces the old to make room for the new. Every mechanical invention, every new application of physical force, has pronounced and executed judgment upon some implement of human labor. The railroad and steamboat passed judgment upon the stagecoach, the produce wagons, and the flat-boats; the sewing-machine has condemned the needle to a most subordinate position in human industry; gas condemned the tallow dip and put out the lamp, to be relighted and to shine with greater clearness by the discovery of coal-oil; and then electricity extinguishes the gaslight. The discovery of a new law of God in nature, a new Divine force in matter, reverses many forms of human industry, opens new fields for human effort, and adds new comforts and new joys to human life.
So it must be in the spiritual plane of life. An error can never be seen except in the light of a new truth. Darkness does not comprehend the light; but light reveals and disperses the darkness. Truth pronounces and executes judgment upon error. There is abundant and incontrovertible evidence that the so-called evangelican doctrines of Christianity are losing their hold upon the minds of honest and thinking men and women, in the special form they have been stated and accepted. The religious literature of the day shows this beyond a doubt. Many of the most far-seeing and honest minds confess it, and loudly deplore it. The doctrines of the trinity, of the atonement, of the inspiration of the Bible, of the resurrection, of the judgment, of heaven and hell, as they have been understood and taught, are passing away. Even when they are held in name, they are differently understood. The kingdom of the Church is divided against itself, and it cannot stand.
Those who believe that the Westminster Catechism, or the Thirty-nine Articles, or the faith of the Roman Catholic Church are true, and that any departure from these symbols of doctrine imperils man's salvation, cannot but regard this condition of the Church with alarm. A judgment is being executed; there are wars of opinion, and dogma, and rumors of wars; there are earthquakes in the Church, the sun of their faith is growing dark, the stars of their knowledge which have given them light are falling from their places, and the heaven of their hope is passing away. Those who have believed that their doctrines were the ultimate possibility of human knowledge upon spiritual subjects are filled with fear. They see that they can go no farther; they can do nothing but reiterate the old doctrines, and they see no hope for humankind but in an interposition by the Lord which will sweep away all former things and make a new beginning.
These effects must have a cause. They cannot be due to an increase of iniquity, because society is constantly improving. There is this remarkable state in the Churches of every name: While their members believe less, and their ministers teach less of their distinctive doctrines, they all believe more than ever before in doing good and in living heavenly lives; and they are more active than the members of the Church have even been in relieving human necessities and ministering to human sorrow. While the Churches are doctrinally deteriorating, when measured by evangelical standards, they are practically improving. They are becoming more lax in faith and more vigorous in good works. Many of those who nominally reject the common faith are among the most active in doing good. The Lord is coming in a truer and nobler life. People feel His quickening power before the corresponding light reaches them. They express the truth in their deeds before they can formulate it in speech and doctrine.
Time will not permit me to dwell longer upon this part of my subject. But enough has been said, I trust, to show that there is a wide and powerful awakening of the human faculties to learn new truths upon all subjects, natural and spiritual, and this fact is sufficient evidence that He who is the true Light itself is coming nearer to man. The sun of righteousness is rising upon the world, and He is coming with healing in His wings.
Another effect of the Lord's coming is seen in the increase of human freedom. This is a necessary result, if He comes as the truth, for all freedom is gained by means of truth. The Lord's promise is, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." With every new scientific truth people discover they gain a larger freedom. What freedom the new methods of locomotion give him to travel over the earth, to see its beauty and grandeur, to stand in the presence of old civilizations, to associate with people in all planes! Steam is the fairy wishing-hat which annihilates time and space, and brings all climes to every door. Our physical freedom has been enlarged beyond the conception of what seemed possible a few years ago. And it is constantly extending in every direction. The telephone enables us to speak with people who dwell at remote distances. Modern inventions give us the free use of a multitude of substances which contribute to our comfort and happiness. They give us access to the treasure in the depths of the earth. The day laborer has more freedom in many respects than the most powerful king of a few centuries ago could command. This is only a type of the freedom people have gained, and is gaining in all other respects. Think of the freedom of access to the minds of the wise and good of all nations and ages which the printing press gives us. We can sit in our homes and converse with the poets and philosophers, the scientists, and theologians of all ages and climes. The morning paper brings us the world's history of yesterday, and while we are eating our breakfast we can see pass before us the panorama of human life as it was acted upon the stage of the round globe. Thus we can range over the whole world, and hold communion with many minds, before engaging in the duties of the day.
People are also coming into a freer state of civil life. Old institutions and arbitrary restrictions are growing weaker and becoming abolished, and all people are freer to act, and to speak, and to engage in pursuits congenial to them. They are gaining the freedom to make their own laws, to choose their own rulers, impose their own taxes, and to govern themselves in all their civil relations. But this freedom is not license. It is the freedom which is acquired and maintained bylaw, by self-imposed law. "True freedom consists in people compelling themselves." In the exercise of this liberty they gains more freedom and becomes more human.
But the most important liberty is freedom to think concerning spiritual things. This freedom is of two kinds or degrees. The first, is freedom from fear and the constraining influence of others. There has not been much of this freedom in past ages. The whole power of the Church in some of its branches - and to a great extent in all of them - has tended to suppress free thought. People have been persecuted and afflicted, and their property has been confiscated; they have been banished from home and country; they have been imprisoned and tortured, burnt alive and threatened with everlasting torments, as penalties for daring to differ in opinion from others. Words cannot express the terror of the spiritual bondage in which people have been held. Even the mild form of servitude which still prevails to some extent, which consists in the belief that an intellectual and formal assent to certain doctrines is essential to salvation, has produced a mental paralysis which has, first, prevented thought on the most important subjects of human interest, and then, incapacitated the mind for it. Under such conditions spiritual progress is as impossible as natural progress would be, if people were not allowed to study science, to invent new methods of doing their work, or in any way to depart from the old beaten paths. Happily, humanity is becoming freed from this servile state of mind. The Lord is coming; and as He comes the chains of spiritual bondage fall from the mind. He encourages us to think, to think freely - and He helps us to do it. He guards our freedom as the essential human principle. He gave it to us, and He will never take it from us. He desires children whose faculties have free play in the warmth of that love which casteth out fear, and not cringing and fawning slaves. For this reason He veils his power and glory, and comes to us in a form adapted to our capacity to receive Him. If He were to come in person, in the resistless power and flaming splendors of His Divine glory, no human being could act or think in any freedom, even if they could live in His presence.
But there is another and more important kind of freedom, and far more difficult to obtain, and that is, the freedom we gain by coming into the laws of the Divine order, and thinking according to the truth. The mind has its laws and sustains relations as well as the body. It is subject to the action of spiritual forces, as the body to the action of physical forces. We know that the body is free only when it is in true order, and when its relations to the soul and to the material universe are properly adjusted. Inflame the eye, or pour too great a flood of light into it, and it has no freedom to see. Paralyze the arm and the hand has no power and no freedom to move. So mental freedom is restricted or destroyed by falsity: by getting out of the true order of its nature. The understanding was made to see truth as the eye, light. There is no difficulty in seeing natural objects when the eye is sound and the objects are in clear light. There would be no more difficulty in seeing the truth, if the under standing were not perverted and the Divine truths obscured by falsity. When the understanding comes into the order of its nature, and all its faculties have free play, and move in harmony with the Divine forces which flow into them, it will be lifted up into clear light; it will be carried along in the currents of the Divine order; it will be quick to perceive, prompt to act, and powerful to comprehend. And it will gain a freedom of which we now have but the faintest conception.
We see evidences of this power and freedom in the facility with which some people gain natural knowledge. The people of science are free to think because they have the means of thinking, and can think truly; because they follow in the paths of the Divine order. The same result is beginning to be seen in spiritual things, and it will constantly increase. The human race is coming into that kind of freedom which it gets from the truth. The Lord is coming as the truth; and according to the measure of the truth received, we become free; free to learn, free to think, free to act. We become free from the bondage of error, free from the illusions of the senses, free from physical restraints, free from fear, and above all, free from false methods and the misleadings of ignorant guides. We are coming more under the influence of Divine truth, and, by means of it, the Lord will lead us in all freedom to the highest possible good.
Finally, the surest, the most striking and incontestable sign of the Lord's coming is the new purpose and direction of human effort. In this respect there has been the most remarkable change during the last century, we may say, within the last fifty years. There has indeed been an almost total reversal of the ends of human thought and action. Nearly all the benevolent institutions which now exist have been established during the present generation. The orphans, the insane, the imbecile, the poor, the disabled, and the infirm from sickness and age, are provided for in a way unknown to former ages. Care facilities for all classes of the unfortunate are scattered over the civilized world. Human effort is rising to a higher plane. Compare the provisions now made for education with those which existed two hundred years ago. The public school and the academy are modern institutions. The methods and the means of instruction have been as greatly improved as instruction itself has been widely diffused. Besides these, there are provisions made for instruction in every special art and form of use. Books are multiplied, and the facilities for gaining useful knowledge and the stimulus for seeking it are constantly increasing.
The common employments of people are more than ever directed to lift human burdens, to multiply conveniences, to protect us from cold and heat and hunger and danger, to gratify our tastes, increase our comforts, to embellish our home and our person, and to make us happy. In the largest and most varied ways, the thought and the power of men, among the most advanced nations, is directed to human use. Even the love of self and the world see this. The most favorable and certain conditions
of success in all inventions and enterprises are usefulness. Every intelligent person knows that they will gain money if he can invent some better and cheaper way of making a shoe or a pin, or if they can discover some new substance or force in nature which can be made available for human comfort and help. The ingenuity and intellect of the world are directed to discover better and easier methods of supplying human wants, and multiplying human conveniences and comforts; to prevent human suffering, and to ameliorate it when it exists; to devise better methods of instruction, more certain and humane methods of curing diseases; to give, not merely to the few, but to all people, a better knowledge of the world, of their own natures, physical, mental, and spiritual, and to help them to do that which wisdom teaches is the best method to secure their present and future happiness. All trades, all arts, all professions, all human industries are directed, more than ever before, to some form of human improvement and use. Humanity is alive with the purpose of perfecting its condition and increasing its happiness.
These are indubitable proofs that more potent and benign influences have become operative in the minds of human beings. They show that people have taken a new and higher step in natural knowledge, and, by means of it, that they have come, and are constantly advancing, into a new world of industrial, social, and civil life. In this way they demonstrate the nature of the step he must take to come into a corresponding spiritual condition. They must have the same kind of knowledge of spiritual truth that they have gained of natural truth. They must rise above the clouds of sense; they must advance from the narrow and obscure region of faith in mysteries which cannot be understood into rational truth. They must gain a knowledge of spiritual laws, as they exist and operate in the spiritual realm of the creation, as they have gained a knowledge of natural laws as they exist and operate in the realm of matter. In this way only can they come into such relation to those forces "which make for righteousness" that they will introduce us into a new world of spiritual light and life.
This knowledge has been disclosed to us, and presented in a form accessible to all who desire it. It is contained in the Word of God, as all natural science is embodied in the works of God. The Word is not a heterogeneous collection human writings, containing the ideas of Moses, David, the prophets and evangelists. The Lord is the Author of it, and it is homogeneous and connected throughout from the beginning to the end - it is a unit. It is the repository of Divine and spiritual laws. It embodies, in the form of history and natural symbols, a full, clear, and specific revelation of the Divine nature, purposes, and methods of carrying them into effect; a precise and ordered statement of human nature, of our relation to the Lord, and the true and certain methods of cultivating our faculties and attaining the highest good possible. It contains all the knowledge necessary for our guidance and help in every phase and condition
of our existence throughout our endless future. It can give us the means - and the only means - of extricating ourselves from the darkness and perplexities of the past and present, and of lifting us into the pure air and clear light of specific and systematized spiritual truth. The Word is a Divine Book, has a Divine Author, and it contains infinite truth. It is written in a Divine style, according to the inherent and essential relations between spiritual and natural things; and it is by a knowledge of this connection between the natural symbol and the spiritual law that the Spirit of Truth will fulfill the promise of the Lord by leading us into all truth. When the real nature of the Word is understood, we are led to the fountain of all truth, and we have gained the true position to be led into all truth.
But we are not merely taught the fact that the Word is the embodiment of all Divine and spiritual truth, and left to stand before its gates, or to wander without a guide through its infinite labyrinths. A perfect key to its interpretation has been given by Swedenborg and the most specific directions for its use. With this key we can unlock all its doors, and, under the guidance of the Spirit of Truth, we can be led into all truth as fast as we can receive it. We are better equipped for gaining exact and related spiritual truth than the most learned scientist for gaining a knowledge of the substances, forms, and laws of the material world. The scientist is left to him or herself and to fallible human guides. But in gaining spiritual knowledge we have infinite Wisdom for our Teacher and Guide. We need have no fear of being deluded by the fallacies of the senses. We will be led into all truth concerning ourselves, concerning the Lord, and the path which leads to Him who is the source of life and the goal of all attainment.
Here, then, people are fully equipped with all the means necessary to their endless progress. They have the means for the creation of a New Age. They can take a new step from faith to a rational knowledge of the laws and forms of spiritual life. They pass from a world "without form, and void," in which all the elements are in commotion and wild conflict, into an Age of light, harmony, and order - they emerge from a chaos and rises into a cosmos.
The New Age will not only be free from the defects of the one it succeeds, but it will be a grand step in advance of it in every respect. The Lord will come nearer to us, and we will rise to a higher level of life to meet the Lord. We will come more directly and fully under Divine influence. Every Divine truth is a path between humankind and the Lord. By means of these genuine truths broad and manifold ways will be opened between the human understanding and the source of power and life, and our nature will be penetrated and imbued with a heavenly spirit, and our spiritual faculties will be molded into a heavenly beauty. The Divine love will clasp its tendrils around our affections, and, by its sweet attractions, lift us up into a purer atmosphere and clearer light. Our horizon will enlarge - we will see farther, as well as clearer. In this light we will discover new degrees of faculties in our own nature as much superior to our natural faculties as they are more excellent than our physical powers, and with the discovery we will find the most ample means for their development.
I know there are but few who believe that such knowledge is attainable. But every step in human progress has been impossible until the way and the means to take it were discovered. But it will hardly be denied, however, that a true and rational knowledge of the laws of spiritual life is essential to any distinct step in spiritual progress and the fulfillment of the oft-repeated and the most explicit declarations of the Lord's purposes concerning the establishment of His kingdom on the earth. It is also in perfect accord with the means by which the first Christian Age was formed, and by which every step of progress in every form of human activity has been taken. Even if the Lord were to come in person, He could only build up His kingdom on the earth by forming it in peoples’ minds; and this can only be done by means of the truth. We have, therefore, the clearest rational grounds for the belief that the Lord will make His Second Coming by a clearer revelation of Divine truth in His Word. The means and the method are adequate to the result.
We have no reason to expect any sudden and miraculous exertion of Divine power. This is not the Lord's method of accomplishing His purposes. He will " not come to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfill." He will not come to interrupt or set aside what He has done before, but to use it in carrying on His work. When the laws of progress which we see in operation in social, civil, and industrial life are carried into the spiritual plane of our being, as there is abundant evidence that they are being done, they will have the same transforming power upon the religious life of the world that they have exerted upon the natural plane of human activity.
Let these tendencies go on with constantly-increasing effect for a thousand years to come, as they have done during the last two centuries, and the earth will be a very comfortable home. Society will be intelligent, pure, and lovely. Extend the time to millions of years, and this will be a new earth. The great increase in knowledge on all subjects - natural, spiritual, and Divine; the civil, intellectual, and spiritual freedom into which people have come, and are coming, and the general direction of human strength, knowledge, and purpose to human good, are clear signs that the Son of Man is coming, in the power and glory of His truth, to reign upon the earth, and to subdue all things and all minds unto Himself. They are the effects of His coming, the fore-shining of the splendors of that sun of truth which every eye will see, and which is to dispel the darkness of human ignorance, and bring all men into the light, the freedom, the joy, and the peace of heaven. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."