A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinNovember 6, 1994


And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!’ Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!’ (Mt 20:30 & 31)

Everyone is created to be wise. All of us have the capabilities to be a wise person. Being wise goes far deeper than having an abundance of knowledge of certain subjects. A practice of study and an accumulation of knowledges or facts do have a proper role in becoming a wise person. But the Writings of the New Church go far deeper than obtaining knowledges to become wise. It is what we do with those knowledges, and how we apply them in life that determines if we are wise. The Writings are straightforward that humility must be present if there is to be wisdom. When there is the simple willingness and desire to be led by the Lord along with the knowledge of how we should live, we are wise.

One way we can regard wisdom is having a clear picture of what we want to accomplish in life. It is having a true and clear picture of what we want in life. Being wise does not necessarily remove all doubts or questions. Despite the questions and the uncertainties, we can still have a clear sight of what we would like to do in life. And we are wise if this clear vision is such that it honors and glorifies the Lord and gives benefits towards others. Being wise is not exclusively in obtaining knowledges. It is being humble whereby we can consistently have a firmer conviction that all good comes from the Lord, and not from ourselves. This confession is the basis of all genuine wisdom. (Ref)

Nevertheless, there are times that we will enter into states of ignorance. In certain ways, ignorance can be a positive or helpful state for us to go through. It can protect us from doing spiritual harm to the truths that are from the Lord, and it can also encourage us and make it easier for us to confess that all good is from the Lord. Ignorance, when used properly, can prevent us from believing that we know from ourselves what is good and true. Ignorance can be helpful in not fixing ourselves in a state of self-intelligence. Self-intelligence is the main barrier that can prevent us from being in a state of true wisdom. And when we are let into times of confusion or obscurity of how to accomplish our ideals in life, we can be in a stronger recognition that we are dependant upon the Lord to provide us with the life that can manifest the spiritual principles that are revealed in the Lord’s Word. Simply put, we can not be wise without going through times of ignorance. Even the angels in heaven are let into states of obscurity from time because they too are susceptible in believing the love they have and the wisdom they are in are from themselves. There is a certain ignorance in wisdom in that we sincerely recognize and confess that from ourselves, spiritual wisdom would be impossible to achieve.

Specifically, the Writings speak of three causes of ignorance. The first is a blatant life of selfishness. The life that is only concerned with one’s self interest will be in total ignorance regarding spiritual life. Sadly, such a person does not concern himself or herself with their ignorance. They just want to drift alone with the type of life that they are living. This cause of ignorance is deliberate and formed by choice of a person who disregards the consequences upon others.

Second is an innocent cause of ignorance that actually can still lead to good. This is spoken of specifically with those who do not have the Word or have never heard of the Lord. The Gentiles are not at fault, nor did they make an actual choice to reject the Lord and a life according to His commandments. The Writings assure us that if they live according to what they regard as true as sincerely as they can, the Lord can lead them to heaven when they enter the spiritual world. In fact, the Writings state that despite the fallacies that they believe to be true, the Lord can bend these fallacies towards good. This is because they still want to do what is right and good. This desire will allow the Lord to be conjoined with them and bring out the maximum good that their beliefs can produce.

The third cause is between the deliberate rejection of the Lord with those who are only concerned about themselves, and the good of those who are good despite the fallacies they believe to be true because they never heard of the Lord or the Word. This ignorance is the result of putting external things above internal things. Such a person can know the truths but they are only in the memory, not in his or her life. Such a person puts so much attention upon enjoying worldly things that he or she lose sight of spiritual things and how they can effect life. As a result, they do not know truth in life, only intellectually. They do now know the true impact or relevance of truth by not living according to it fully in their lives.

This is why the belief that if we just confess that the Lord died on the cross we are saved, regardless of what we may do or the type of life we may live is so dangerous. This type of belief makes living or focusing strictly on externals very enticing. This belief does not encourage one to concentrate on internal loves and thoughts. It creates a very strong tendency to put externals over internals.

When external things dominate our lives, the light from heaven is not received in as openly or fully. The Writings explain that the truths that we do know are known only in generalities. We only have an obscure understanding of their relevance in our lives. They are like a person who only knows the general and basic rules of a game or sport. As long as only there is only a basic understanding about the game, it will not be as stimulating until the sport is known in greater detail. Such is the understanding of truth. It will not be fully appreciated so long as we have an obscure understanding of their impact in our lives. Only when we have a dedication to fully submit ourselves to the Lord’s commandments will we have a deeper appreciation of their importance and power in our lives. Along with this deeper appreciation will come a greater insight and clarity of how we are to live that will truly bring honor to the Lord and perform meaningful uses towards those we come in contact with.

We can emerge from a state of ignorance to a state of wisdom. The crucial step is to sincerely confess that all good comes from the Lord and that there be a dedication to obey His commandments in all aspects of our lives. The emergence from a state of ignorance is treated of by the story of two blind men at the road to Jericho. The blind men cried to the Lord to heal them of their blindness when they heard that the Lord was passing by them. The crowd around them told them to be quiet. But the response of the blind men was that they cried the more, they became louder. The Lord stopped and touched their eyes, whereby they could see.

The crowd around the blind men pictures the world’s philosophy and trends which entice us to be quiet and remain in our blindness. It tries to tell us that we should not concern ourselves with spiritual matters. Why should we be concerned about the quality of our relationship with the Lord? Why should we be concerned about the impact our actions and words will have upon others? We are just to live from day to day, not fully knowing where we are or what direction our lives are heading. So long as we are in ignorance, which blindness represents, the world will have control or power over us.

Strangely enough, there will be something in us that wants to remain in ignorance. So long as we do not know an alternative to external delights, we can enjoy them. Why bother in having a clearer light that comes from heaven that can effect our lives? Just remain in the life we are living now and do not do anything that could make such a life no longer pleasant. Our proprial desires will be enticed to follow such a philosophy of life. It will not bother us that we are under control of others and not truly free. We are heavily concerned if we are living in the current trends of worldly behavior and standards. But we accept being under their control, for we can enjoy sensual delights.

In history, the Church prevented the laity from reading the Word by reading the Word in Latin, which only the priests could understand. Yet, most of the laity did not mind being completely dependant upon others for direction. By being in ignorance, they could indulge and find an excuse to remain a life of sensual pleasures.

One way that many throughout history have combated influences from the world is to separate themselves from it. They believe that a life that is in total isolation from worldly thought and life will make them pure. The Writings teach that this is not a proper approach. Instead of having purer and more humble thoughts and attitudes, the opposite occurs. They feel superior towards others and feel more deserving of rewards in heaven for their sacrifice upon the earth.

We are not to remove ourselves from a life in the world to combat worldly tendencies and enticements. Instead, we are to do what the blind men did, cry out the more. We are to have a greater and stronger commitment to compliance with the Lord’s Word. This even stronger commitment will overcome the noise that the world will direct to us, whereby the Lord may touch the eyes of our understanding and give us sight of a clear knowledge of how we are to live and what we can offer to the Lord’s creation.