Imagens da página

times a day, and we never confound them together. We do not say hot ideas, but hot passions; we do not compare a man's thoughts to a rock, but his firmness of purpose we say is like a rock. Thus the visible heaven and earth around us are types of the invisible world within us. I do not see the value of all of Swedenborg's correspondences. When he says that a cloud means divine truth in the ultimates, or that a horse means meditation on the word, I am not able to understand him. But I can easily believe that the whole outward universe is the expression of God's thoughts, and can say with Milton,

“ What if earth Be but the shadow of heaven, and things therein Each to the other like, more than below is thought ?”

One of these analogues is the human body as a type of that social body which we call the State. The human body is composed of little cells; and so society is composed of families. The family is to the State what the cell is to the body. And then as each type may suggest again another and higher resemblance, the human family becomes the type of the religious communion of souls.

“The whole family in heaven and earth.” When the Apostle Paul said that, he had a wonderful vision of the future. That all this earth should be

one, human nature one, mankind one family, that was a new idea, and a vast one.

Christianity came to make mankind one. At the very first we notice this approaching unity. "The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither said they that anything they possessed was their own, but they had all things common.” There were men of many races, “ Parthians, Medes, Elamites, dwellers in Mesopotamia, in Pontus and Phrygia, Greeks, and Romans. But the power of divine and human love had made of them a family. The partition walls of race, nation, color, fell down, and they became in spirit


But Paul's wonderful vision did not stop there. It was not only a family on earth, created by Christ, but also a family in heaven; one and the same; a vast family of the redeemed above and below.

But to have one family we must have many fami- . lies. As the life of the tree consists of life in innumerable buds, as the life of the body is made up of innumerable living cells, so the family on earth is made up of innumerable families. The family in heaven, according to this law, must also be made up of innumerable families. Earthly life is the type of heavenly life. If we would know what the life is there, we must look at the best life here. A true, ideal family on earth is the type of heaven. Let us, then, ask what is the highest form of family life below. What is an ideal family ?

The ideal family is one in which there is the father and mother, the brothers and sisters, the aged

grandfather and grandmother, the infant in its cradle, the kind aunts and uncles and cousins. So the family is formed, having a life of its own, - many members, but one body.

This family is full of love. All the members are mutually attached and dependent. Each cares for the other. They have their separate interests and work, but they bring together the results of what they think and do. They go out for their various occupations, but come back to repose and rest in a mutual interest and a mutual trust.

The family also is an ideal one when it is pervaded by ideas. If we enter a home where there are aspirations, hopes, generous thoughts, interest in great themes, care for others, then family life begins to be glorified, and to take on the character of a Christian church.

How happy is the child who grows up in a complete family; who is surrounded by loving care from the beginning; who has not only the father and mother always near, but sees around brothers and sisters and cousins; uncles and aunts; relatives, neighbors, friends! He has already in his soul a type of the true church and the coming heaven.

But more is needed to make a true family. A home is needed. The family in heaven and earth needs a home.

What is a home? It is a place made sacred by happy associations; it is comfort, safety, a retreat from outside trouble; it is the region where peace should always abide. Such a home every family needs.

Three things go to make a home. These three are, first, the roof; second, the table; third, the parlor.

There is the roof — that is, the home as shelter. The first thing which we see around us as children is this shelter. The foxes have holes, and the birds have nests, but man has more; his home is shelter, security, peace, comfort. To a child the house he lives in, from garret to cellar, is interesting. The garret is the child's museum of curiosities, and the cellar is his unexplored region of wonders. At least it used to be so, though I am afraid that modern architectural improvements have banished the genuine old-fashioned garret and cellar by letting order into the one and light into the other. But in my childhood the garret was a great storehouse of curiosities, dusty bundles of newspapers from the last century, the antiquated smokejack which used to turn our meat, helmets and crimson sashes from the Revolution, side-saddles and high-heeled shoes belonging to belles of past times. And the oldfashioned cellar, as I remember it, had its dark recesses and hidden chambers, into the inmost of which the boldest of us dared not venture. Homes in those days seemed solid, and meant to last. They were not bought and sold at every caprice, but were the abiding-place of many generations.

The roof is the shelter of the family. When the

winter storm rages without; when the sleet beats against the window, and the snow lies heavy around; within blazes the cheerful fire, and the family gathers around it in security and peace.

The soul also needs a roof, a shelter; and the Church, in its largest sense, is the shelter of the soul. Jesus gave this large definition of the Church when he said, “If two or three meet together in my name, I am in the midst of them.” A thousand people meeting in the name of fashion, of established usage, of vanity, do not make a church. A creed and liturgy do not make a church. But where two really meet in the spirit of Christ, there is a church. There the soul finds shelter, comfort, peace, a home; and Christ is present to protect and inspire, to uplift and cheer. This is divine overarching roof, the dome of the spiritual heaven.

Another element which unites the family in its home is the table. It is a distinction of civilized man to eat in company. Animals eat alone, when and where they can. Savages often eat alone. But the common table is the fruit of civilization. Twice or three times a day the members of the household collect and sit opposite to each other at a common meal. How much does not this add to the intimacy and union of a household! To break bread together is a sacrament of friendship among all nations. In that family which we call a church is also this meeting together for food. The Church

« AnteriorContinuar »