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“Inasmuch as communications, translations, and receptions, were signified by the imposition of hands in Matthew, “The ruler came to Jesus, and said, My daughter is even now dead, but come and lay Thy hand upon her, and she shall live. Jesus entering in, took hold of her hand, and the damsel arose.' (Matt. ix. 18, 19, 25.)* Also what by the imposition of hands upon boys and infants; upon boys in Matthew,— 'Boys were brought unto Jesus that He should lay His hands upon them ; Jesus said, Suffer the boys and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of the heavens ; and He loid His hands on them' (ch. xix. 13, 15); and on infants in Luke,—' And they brought also unto Him infants that He might touch them.' (Ch. xviii. 15.) By the laying on of hands upon boys and upon infants is also signified the communication and reception of divine virtue, whereby was effected the healing of the interiors, which is salvation. This signification of touching, which is effected by the hands, ori. ginates in representatives in the other life, where those who are in a dissimilar state of life appear removed at a distance; but those who are in a similar state appear consociated, and those in that life who touch each other communicate the state of their life with each other, and if this is done by the hands, the all of his life is communicated, because by the hands, as was said above, from correspondence is signified power, which is the active principle of life, thus whatever appertains to any one ; such representations exist in the world of spirits, but they are effected by influx from heaven, where alone are perceived consociations as to the affections of goodness and truth.”
It may here be remarked in passing that the instances just above adverted to involve two elements mutually dependent—the fact, and its significance. Had there been no actwal laying on of hands, there could have been no basis for its signification; and but for its spiritual import, there would have been no such act; for where there is no act performed, there can be no signification proper to it present, any more than the existence of a thought can be assumed in the absence of any expression of it. The inspired history has recorded the fact, Swedenborg has supplied its meaning, and both are equally recognised by him.
To return, however, to the testimony of Swedenborg, the following remarks on the same subject occur in the “ Apocalypse Revealed,” when treating of the Lord laying His right hand on John mentioned in the first chapter of the Revelation
The reason why the Lord laid His right hand upon him, is because communi. cation is produced by the touch of the hands, for the life of the mind, and thence the body, puts itself forth into the arms, and through them into the hands. On this account the Lord touched with His hand those whom he restored to life and healed. In like manner, ‘After His disciples saw Jesus transfigured, He touched them when they had fallen on their faces.' (Matt. xvii. 6, 7.) The origin of this is, because the presence of the Lord with man is adjunction, and thus conjunction
* The subsequent quotations are here ted, and the references to the texts supplied. They are
e-Mark v, 27-30; vi. 5; vii. 32, 33, 35 ; viii. 25; Luke vi. 19; vii. 14, 15; viii. 44, 46; xiii. 11, 13.
of the man,
by contiguity, and this contiguity is nearer and fuller as man loves the Lord, that is does his commandments” (n. 55).
Such then is the testimony of Swedenborg on the rationale on which the ancient practice of the imposition of hands is based. From the extracts about to be adduced, it will appear that the uses of this ceremonial continue in force to this day. Having explained (see Div. L. and W. n. 219) that in the actions
the interiors of the will and understanding constitute the first degree, the interiors of the body the second, and the whole body, which is their complex, the third, and that these do not act by continuity, but discretely, thus by correspondence,” he proceeds,
“Since the whole, or the body, has determined its powers principally to the arms and the hands, which are ultimates, therefore arms and hands, in the Word, signify power. Since the evolution and exertion of degrees into power is such, therefore the angels who are with a man, and who are in the correspondence of all things belonging to him, know from action alone, which is effected by the hands, the state of a man as to his understanding and will, likewise as to charity and faith, and consequently as to the internal life of his mind, and as to the external life which is thence in the body. I have often wondered that the angels have such knowledge from the mere action of the body by the hands; but occasionally it has been made manifest by lively experience, and it has been told me that this is the reason why inauguration into the ministry is performed by the imposition of hands, and why touching with the hand signifies communication, besides other things of a like nature.” (Div. L. and W. n. 220.)
When explaining, in the “Conjugial Love,” how the innocence, where it exists in the parent, is affected by the innocence insinuated into infants by the celestial angels of the third heaven, he adds that this is effected through the instrumentality of the senses, and especially by that of touch, as is evidenced by the pleasure felt by a mother in fondling and kissing her infant, and in the various blandishments and caresses she bestows on it, and goes on to say:
“The reason why communications of the mind are effected by the sense of touch is, because the hands are a man's ultimates, whereby all things of the body and of the mind are kept in inseparable connection. Hence it is that Jesus touched infants, and that He healed the sick by the touch, and that those who touched Him were healed. Hence, also, it is that inaugurations into the priesthood are AT THIS DAY effected by the laying on of hands." (N. 396.)
Once more :
"The circumstance of putting the hand on the head, when blessing was given, was derived from a ritual received by the ancients; for in the head is the very intellectual principle and the very will principle of man, but in the body are the acts according to those principles, and compliance ; thus, to put the hand upon the head was representative that blessing was communicated to the intellectual
and will principle, thus to the man himself. From that ancient time the same ritual remains even to this day, and is in use in inaugurations, and also in benedictions.” (A. C. n. 6292.)
It may here be mentioned incidentally, that by the ancients are meant the Ancient Church, to which the New Church is, we are told, in its leading features, to be similar. The circumstance, then, of the inaugural rite of the imposition of hands having been transmitted. successively from one, through the intermediate dispensations, to the other affords indirectly a support to the views advocated in this paper. The evidence, however is sufficiently conclusive independently of that, as must be evident.
Apropos to the remarks in the preceding extracts to the hands forming the ultimate where the mental and physical powers terminate, an important paragraph occurs in the "Apocalypse Explained," showing that, in consequence of all power being together in ultimates, even “ the Lord has infinite power from first principles by ultimates.” After explaining that first principles are those things which are in the Lord with those which proceed proximately from Him, whilst ultimates are those which are most remote from Him, he continues,
“The reason why all power is in ultimates, is because prior things are together in them, for they co-exist therein in order which is called simultaneous order ; for there is a connection of all things from the Lord Himself through the things which are of heaven, and which are of the world, even to those ultimates; and whereas prior things are in ultimates, as was said, which successively proceed, it follows that in ultimates from first principles resides essential power ; howbeit the divine power is power by the Divine Proceeding, which is called divine truth. Hence it is that the human race, with respect to the heavens, is as the basis to a column, or the foundation to a palace ; consequently, the heavens subsist in order upon those things of the Church which are with men in the world, thus upon divine truths in ultimates, such as are the divine truths in the literal sense of the Word. They are the ultimates with man into which the Lord flows in from Himself, thus from first principles, and rules, and contains in order and connection all things which are in the spiritual world.” (N. 726.)
Hence we may learn how indispensable to the divine economy is the existence of a Church in the earths with those ordinances which can form a proper ultimate basis for divine operations in the various orders of created intelligences. Should any one regard the principles here laid down as affording an indirect sanction to ritualism, which assumes to be based on the correspondence of the acts performed with certain spiritual facts and doctrines, it will suffice to remark that, in addition to the misapplication of the principle of correspondence, the tendency of the genuflexions, crossings, and other observances, which are avowedly intended to dramatize the services of the Church, is to draw the mind from interior worship to the senses, a process necessarily unfavourable to the spirituality of true devotion described by the Lord as retiring into one's closet—the interior recesses of one's mind—and closing the door against extraneous and disturbing influences, to pray to our Father in secret ; that is, approach the Lord from the internal man, or from states of inward faith and love. Whatever interferes with this serves as an impediment rather than as an aid to genuine worship.
The rites which have formed the subject of consideration in these papers are not, as contended by the ritualists, dramatic, but the media of special spiritual blessings to those who participate in them. That they may, nevertheless, be highly edifying, is quite true. Thus, that of ordination, whilst it imparts distinctive gifts to the subject of it, the public spectacle of one solemnly and sincerely devoting himself to the most sacred of callings, professing his unfeigned faith in the great truths which it will be his duty to teach, and engaging faithfully to discharge the functions of his office, cannot be otherwise than impressively edifying to those possessing any spiritual sentiment who witness it.
It is evident, then, that, so far as the authority of Swedenborg is concerned, it is most decisive both on the necessity of ordination, and likewise as to the imposition of hands forming an indispensable portion of the service by which it is conferred. It is, therefore, not a mere ceremonial, but a real correspondent observance introductory to certain results, and has been observed, not only in ancient times and under the Jewish economy, but in the Christian Church from the days of our Lord to the present time. The question has been raised as to what practical result can follow from the practice. It is, however, a sufficient answer to this, that the Lord Himself, to Whom to attribute a superfluous act would be to impugn His divine wisdom, employed it in healing diseases, and in blessing the infants and children brought to Him. Besides which, two remarkable instances are recorded in the Acts bearing on the same subject : the first, where Philip, after preaching to the Samaritans, Peter and John, going down, laid their hands on the converts, who received the Holy Spirit (ch. viii. 4–17); the other is the case of the Ephesians who, “when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came on them, and they spake with tongues and prophesied” (ch. xix. 6). How is it possible to accept these records, and deny the facts ?
If it be asked, why the same results do not follow now the answer is not far to seek. The gifts and operation of the Spirit are modified according to the state of the recipient. The external miracles of the apostolic age were suited to the simple character of the first Christians, and it is no argument against such operation at this day, that its results are not so prominently manifested on the surface, neither does it furnish any proof against these being equally actual; on the contrary, it implies that they are more interior, and consequently more real. Thus, in regard to the divine virtue and operation which is signified by the mission of the Holy Spirit with the clergy, instead of conveying to them the miraculous gift of healing, it communicates the far higher endowment of “illustration and instruction.” (T. C. R. 146.) And "the reasons why the clergy are particularly gifted with the graces of illustration and instruction are, because those graces have particular relation to their ministerial office, and their ordination to the ministry conveys those graces.” (16.)
It is, however, to be borne in mind that there must be a state of preparedness to receive, and a reciprocity grounded in a sincere love of truth, otherwise these gifts cannot be conveyed. Neither are they to be understood as being transmitted from the one person to the other, since that would be physical influx, which is an impossibility. The influx comes, not through the hands of the other, “ but from heaven, where alone are perceived consociations as to the affections of goodness and truth.” (See A. C. n. 10,023.)
When, therefore, any one is sincerely desirous of entering into the ministry from a spiritual love of its use, and the Church accepts him, there is, in the ordination service and the imposition of hands, a completeness which serves as a fuller basis, where the angels can be present, and, as ministers in the Lord's hands, convey those graces which are suited to the requirements of the priestly office.
In the further development of the gifts peculiar to the ministerial office, Swedenborg remarks,
“It was shown above, that that divine virtue which, among the clergy, is meant by the operation of the Holy Spirit, is, in particular, illustration and instruction ; but to these may be added two intermediate virtues, which are perception and disposition : there are, therefore, among the clergy, four successive operations,-illustration, perception, disposition, and instruction. ILLUSTRATION is from the Lord alone. PERCEPTION has place with man according to the state of his mind, as formed by doctrines ; and where those doctrines are true, the per