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Church, which is given by the Lord, when a former church has lost its power of promoting the regeneration of man.
It appeared in heaven, because the things which make a church and give it all its power and usefulness, that is, its goods and its truths, come down from heaven. They come from the Lord, and they come from Him through the heavens to the earth. The church is called a "woman;" in other parts of the Word she is spoken of as a bride, as a wife, and as a mother. The reason of this is, that the church is as a mother to our souls. You know how your mothers love you; how tenderly they take care of you; how carefully they provide the clothing and the food you require, and how they watch over you. And so it is with the church. It loves you, and would provide for you, and watch over you; but the food and clothing it seeks to provide for you are things good and true for your souls; and it watches over you carefully and tenderly, and earnestly endeavors to do everything it can to help you to grow in goodness. The sun and the moon and the stars belong to her, because she has
a law, which men are commanded to obey. Thus you may understand that the Lord gives to men truth, because He seeks to save them from their sins. But as an example may make this clearer, perhaps we had better consider one.
It is very sinful and wicked to hate any one. If we indulge such feelings they will make us steal from them, lie about them, covet every good thing they have, and perhaps wish to kill them, or commit murder. Now all these things make us very miserable.
And therefore the Lord commanded Moses, on Mount Sinai, to write upon stone tables the ten commandments, which forbid all these things, and give them to the Israelitish nation for a perpetual law. You read of this in Exodus and Deuteronomy; and in the same books, and in the next three books of the Bible, you read of many other things which the Lord commanded Moses to tell the Jews. Some of these were laws requiring them to do certain good things, or not to do certain evil things, and some of them told the consequence of obedience or disobedience; that is, told the Jews that if they obeyed these
laws, they would be very prosperous, and live in peace, and lead happy lives, while, if they did not obey these laws, they should suffer grievous things, and be miserably cut off. And all these things which Moses told them were truths, revealed to Moses by the Lord, in order that he might tell them to the Jews, so that they might be led, if possible, to escape the unhappiness of being wicked.
Now, a church is a society of men, who are in possession of truths which may lead them from evil, and who obey and practise these truths. This society may be greater or smaller; it may be the whole world, or a nation, or a few persons. And when the Lord, at some particular time, gives to men a number of new truths, arranged together in order, He gives them for the purpose of creating or establishing a church among men. And thus, when He gave to Moses the truths and laws contained in the five first books of the Bible, He created or established the Jewish or Israelitish church; which was, nevertheless, not a true church, but only the representative of a church. I suppose you hardly know what I mean, when I say it was not
charity and faith, and the knowledges of truth. There are particular reasons why she is here said to be "clothed with the sun," and why the moon is said to be under her feet,” and why there is said to be “a crown of twelve stars upon her head,” which I think you can learn to more advantage at some other time.
Before we consider other instances of correspondence, there is something more I wish to say to you about the desolation and end of a church, and about the establishment of a new one.
If you have understood the former lessons, you know that the Lord continually seeks to save men from wickedness. He seeks to save all men from doing wicked things, but especially does He desire to save them from loving what is evil and wicked; for they cannot love what is evil, without being miserable.
You know, too, that the Lord gives men truth for this purpose; and truth is useful in this way, because it tells men what things are wicked, so that they may know what things they should avoid; it also tells men how they may avoid these things; it also tells men what sorrows and troubles will fall upon them if they do not avoid these things; and thus it disposes men to avoid them. The truth given for this purpose is sometimes given as