The Centre of Christian Theology (Continued)

Common observation and universal experience justify these conclusions. We are all naturally inclined to imitate those to whom we look up with feelings of respect and veneration. We fall unconsciously into their habits of thought, feeling, speech and action. We adopt their sentiments; we assume their tones; we imitate their manners; we copy even their follies and weaknesses—sometimes also their vices. The love and veneration we feel for them, blind us to their faults and foibles, or give to these an air of comeliness, and create in us a desire to be like them; and this desire is perpetually stimulating our growth in that direction.

Now since the tendency of all worship is to bring the soul of the worshiper into sympathy and likeness with the Being or his conception of the Being worshiped, therefore it is of primary importance that we have a correct idea of that Being’s character. No other idea exerts so tremendous an influence on our own character as the idea we habitually cherish of the supreme Object of our worship. People do not, as many imagine, worship the same Being merely because they call Him by the same name. In reality each one worships the God that he inwardly looks up to or thinks of. A thousand persons may agree in calling the Object of their worship Jehovah, God or Lord; yet their conceptions of his character may differ so widely that it may with truth be said that each of them worships a different God. The same name may be, to each of these different minds, the sign of widely different qualities; for the kind of God one thinks of, is the kind he worships.

It becomes, then, a matter of supreme moment what idea we form and habitually cherish of the Divine Being or his character. If our thought on this central doctrine is wrong, it can hardly be right on any subordinate ones. As the navigator on the pathless ocean determines his geographical position by an observation of the sun, so does each one’s intellectual apprehension or moral observation of God determine his spiritual status.

The Heavenly Doctrine of the Lord: from the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

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