DELIGHTS Rev. L. H. TAFEL 1981
NEW CHURCH LIFE
Vol. CI January, 1981 No. 1 (Reprinted from New Church Life-February 1883.)
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness: came before His faces with singing.-Psalm c.
Delight is the all of life with every angel in heaven, with every man on earth, and the all of life with every spirit in hell. All delight is of love and springs from its free activity, but it is of one nature in heaven and of the opposite nature in hell. In heaven delight springs from good and its truth, but in hell from evil and its false. Delights in heaven are varied according to the different varieties of good and truth, but in hell according to the varieties of evil and the false. As there are no two spirits who are in the same good and truth, so there are no two spirits in the same kind and degree of delight, and as there is a continued progress in good and truth, so there is a continual variation and progression of delights, so that to all eternity there will never be a return of states or of delights altogether the same. The will is not moved to anything except by delight, for the will is nothing but the affection and the effect of some love, and thus of some delight, for there is always something desirable, pleasant, or delightful which causes man to will; and since it is the will that causes man to think, there is not the least of thought but what springs from the inflowing delight of the will; and as there is nothing of affection and thought, so there is also nothing of the consequent speech and action but finds its cause in some delight.
The reason of this is that the Lord through His influx and presence actuates everything in the soul and mind of angel, spirit, and man. But as the Lord is Peace Itself, He is also all of blessedness and happiness and all of what is delightful, gladsome, and pleasant thence.
Just as all of the activity of life flows from the Lord alone, so also all delight flows from His influx of love and wisdom. Not only does all the delight with the good spring from this influx, but even the wicked derive all their delight from the inflow of good and truth from the Lord. They indeed pervert the good into evil and the truth into the false, but the delight nevertheless remains, perverted indeed into evil delight, but yet without this evil delight they would have neither will nor sensation nor life.
Since delights are in their first origin Divine, it is a gross error to think that we ought not to enjoy any delights here if we would enter heaven. Heaven is a state of unending delights, and the best way to prepare for heaven is not by living in self-elected misery, but by rightly enjoying the delights mercifully granted us by our heavenly Father, rejecting delights which are perverted and therefore infernal in their nature, and rising continually to such as are more interior and heavenly, and enjoying also the pleasures of the senses with a thankful upward look to the LORD, thus making even external pleasures the receptacles open for the reception of heavenly delights and the means of consociation with angels and of conjunction with the Lord.
A man who would aspire to enter heaven need not therefore to reject delights, nor the pleasures arising from honors and fame in the Commonwealth, nor the pleasures of conjugial love nor of friendship, nor the pleasures of music nor the delight in beauty of any kind, nor those arising from fragrance or sweetness, for all such external and corporeal delights with the good are derived from interior affections and, lastly, from the Lord. When these delights are open even to the Lord then their sweetness immeasurably exceeds the delight as perceived by the merely sensual man.
Whatever man does with delight comes from the man himself, for it proceeds from his love, and love is the real interior life with man. The Lord is not pleased with worship or with obedience that is merely external or compulsory. He desires to be worshiped and obeyed with delight, for then worship and obedience come from the heart, and thus from the whole man, therefore we are so frequently exhorted in the Word to "make a joyful noise unto the Lord, to serve Him with gladness, and to sing aloud to His name." And yet there is perhaps no exhortation and command in the Sacred Scriptures which is more frequently forgotten, even with such as are commonly regarded as obedient, God-fearing men.
One reason, perhaps, which leads many to neglect this exhortation is because they do not see how they can influence their heart so as to love and to take delight in that which seems opposed to the desires of the natural man. They think that when they shall have become regenerate all these things will, as it were, come of themselves, but that until this is the case they can do nothing to follow this injunction.
But our text is directed to all and especially to the natural man, for we read: "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth." Thus it is not only the heavenly minded in their interior mind, which in the Word is called Heaven, who are to praise the Lord with gladness, but the naturally minded, or man as to his natural mind, which in the Word is called "Earth." Many a one thinks, "I will leave such joy to others who have more reason for it, or to others who are in a more heavenly state; I cannot elevate myself from my anxieties and cares." Every man in such a state views his own cares and troubles as a high mountain, while those of others (because he knows little of them) seem to him to be few and insignificant. And yet everyone who considers his case a little more rationally will soon see that the load of care and anxiety that he shoulders every morning is in great part, if not altogether an uncalled-for and needless burden, for the Lord saith: "Take no thought for the morrow for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof;" and again, "Cast thy burden on the Lord and He will sustain thee. He will never suffer the just to be moved." It is usually not the care for today, but the care for the morrow that causes anxiety and trouble; not so much the doubt whether our strength and our means suffice for the morrow. If we will only trust in the Lord, cast our burdens upon Him, our mind will be relieved of its weary load, and we will then be able with heart and voice "to make a joyful noise unto the Lord."
If man will only take to heart the truth that the Lord in His indefatigable love and all-seeing wisdom guides his every footstep, so that nothing either in the spiritual or the natural life of man happens by accident, but everything is ordered by the fatherly love of the Lord, and if rightly used will contribute to his regeneration and thus to his eternal welfare-if man will take to heart these truths, he can easily put to night his enemies that oppress and harass him, and emerge from his dark and cloudy state into the serene sunshine of his Father's presence and joyfully glorify the Lord.
There are some, indeed, who know these truths, but yet do not act in accordance with them. They do not see how matters can go right without someone's having care and anxiety about them, and if others do not bear the anxiety they think they ought to do it. They cannot see that all that is required of man is to do his part, his duty, fully, and then to leave the rest to "itself," as they would say, but, more truly, to leave it to the Lord. They do not see that it is of no good to anyone, least of all to themselves, to take upon themselves this burden of anxiety. The Lord saith to them as to all: "Cast thy burden on the Lord and He will sustain thee." If man can gain this victory over his natural loves and cupidities which cause his anxieties, he will emerge again into the trusting, peaceful state of his childhood, and can then thankfully and confidingly "make a joyful noise unto the Lord, serve Him with gladness, and come before His faces with singing."
The Lord, or Jehovah, to whom he then makes a joyful noise is the Divine Love, the presence of which he sees and acknowledges in everything of his life. In so far as man sees the omnipresence of the Divine Love he will also take part in the Lord's love toward all, and in serving and administering to the necessities of the neighbor he looks up through him to the Lord and cooperates with Him, and he does so thankfully and gladly from the acknowledgment of His infinite love and mercy. Then he not only "makes a joyful noise unto the Lord," but he also "serves the Lord with gladness and comes before His faces with singing." The faces of the Lord signify love, mercy, peace, and all good, for He can never look at anyone but with mercy and love, nor can He ever avert His face, for His mercy is everlasting and unchangeable: it is man who, when he is in evil, averts himself from the Lord. We come before His faces with singing when we acknowledge humbly and thankfully His unending love and mercy.
Man, however, far more frequently turns to the Lord with a downcast, sorrowful face, than in gladness. For when all is going well, man too often ascribes it to his own wisdom, or is careless and forgetful, loath to acknowledge that he owes everything to the Lord. Far more frequently is it the case that man turns to the Lord when misfortune threatens or has overtaken him. Then, indeed, man remembers the Lord and comes to Him, not, however, with gladness and thanksgiving, but with sorrow and lamentation. Because we are so apt to forget the Lord, or to come to Him in a merely half-hearted and mechanical way, so long as everything goes well with us externally, therefore, no doubt, it is so frequently permitted by the Lord that misfortune should overtake us, so that we may thereby turn to Him and provide for our eternal welfare. It is also owing to our forgetfulness of the Lord, when surrounded by joy and happiness, that our states of happiness are so short-lived and so imperfect. Every joy and delight, in order to be living and lasting, must have within it the presence of the Lord. Man must look up through it to the Giver and Cause. Then it will have life and strength, and will also endure. But in so far as in our joys we forget the Lord, they are of necessity merely external, and therefore also short-lived; in so far as man thanks the Lord for all His goodness and mercy, he is apt to be contented, and therefore happy; but if he ascribes his good fortune to himself, he will evermore be dissatisfied, continually striving for more, and will be ungrateful, and even forgetful, of the many things granted him by the Lord.
If we would live in contentment and peace, we should never forget to come day by day "before His faces with singing," thankfully acknowledging His mercy and our unworthiness to receive His many gracious gifts. As we thus come before His faces, the heart and soul expand and open to the Lord, and He can flow in and impart new life and new strength.
The Lord can infuse into man internal joy and peace, which will add new life and luster to his happiness, and at the same time form remains with him to comfort him in trouble and to strengthen him in trials and temptations.
Man's acknowledgment of the Lord and his conjunction with Him on the Sabbath is ever in exact proportion with his faithfulness during the week in doing his work and in bravely shunning evil as sin against God. In proportion as man shuns evil the Lord can elevate him toward Himself and All him with His life; in the same proportion, also, will man feel and acknowledge the ever-present Divine Love and delight in thanking and glorifying the Lord. In proportion as man delights in thanksgiving, in the same proportion will the Lord be pleased with man's glorification.
Everyone knows how the human father delights in the happiness of his children, and how the lover delights in the happiness of his beloved; and yet all such happiness in the heavens and on the earths springs from the Lord alone, and is but a feeble and imperfect reflex of the infinite joy of the Lord over the happiness and delight of His children; over the happiness of the Church, which is the bride, the Lamb's Wife. The unselfish, Divine Love of the Lord finds its chief satisfaction and joy in the happiness, delight, and peace of His beloved Church and in conj unction therewith, whereby He ran give to her ever greater love, wisdom, and peace. In order that He may fill the thankful heart with His overflowing love and light and life, the Lord exhorts His Church:
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness:
Come before His faces with singing.