Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33)


EXTRACTS FROM DIARY OF GERTRUDE STARKEY from February 1877 to September 1880. Preface to his children by Theodore Pitcairn

This diary of your Grandmother, expresses the spirit and essence of the early days of the Academy in an intimate and living way scarcely found in any other document.

The essence of the early Academy, like the essence of every living state of the Church, is the affection of truth for its own sake. This spirit of the Academy in its origin is remarkably expressed in the statement of

Bishop W. F. Pendleton, in his address on the Principles of the Academy, as follows: “We have now presented a general statement of the principles known as the principles of the Academy. These principles are one with the Divine doctrine, given by revelation to the New Church. They are largely applications of that doctrine to the life of the church, that the church may be armed to resist positive and actual dangers that threaten its existence; and that it may do positive and actual uses which have been neglected, but which are seen to be essential to the upbuilding of the church. The principles of the Academy, its faith and doctrine, are therefore essential and vital, and must be preserved and perpetuated.

“It is clear, however, that what makes the church is not so much its doctrine as its spirit; for the essential of doctrine, the essential of faith, the essential of law, is the spirit that is in it; and while it may be said that doctrine makes the church, yet it is not the doctrine itself, but the spirit and life within it, that makes the church. It is so with the Academy. The most important principle of all, therefore, has not yet been stated, the principle that is within all, the truth that is within the doctrine of the Academy, the law that is within the law, which is the spirit of the law – this spirit of the Academy, the spirit of its doctrine and law, the spirit of its work from the beginning, is   the love of truth for its own sake. Whatever spirit other than this may have entered – however much individual men may have failed, even though some have stumbled and turned aside, and all have fallen short of the ideal – still, we may speak with a confident faith and say that this spirit, which is the spirit of truth, the spirit which makes the truth the all in all, was present in the initiament of the Academy, and gave character and quality to the teaching and work which followed; and we may speak with the same degree of confidence, that without this spirit, without this principle within the principles of the Academy, its confession of doctrine is a mere form, a mere letter, a mere body of faith without the life of faith.

“The love of the truth for its own sake is the love of truth for the sake of the truth itself, and thus for the sake of the Lord, who is in the truth, and not for the sake of self and the world; a love that will lead a man to sacrifice himself for the sake of the truth, and not the truth for the sake of himself; a love that makes him willing to give up fame, reputation, gain, friends, even his own life, for the sake of the truth; that causes him to be regardless of consequences to himself, where it is necessary to uphold the standard of the truth. This is what is meant by the words of the Lord, ’He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it’ (Matt. 10:39).

If this love he in the church, and continue in it as its ruling principle, as its spirit and life, the church will have a spiritual internal from heaven, by which it will be enlightened and guided in the performance of its uses, and by which it will be protected from the spheres in which the spirit of the world rules; for no man will then come to it, or remain in it, who is not willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of the truth, who is not willing to die that the truth may live and prosper. ‘Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”‘

There is a great difference between the affection of the true and the understanding of the true. Without the affection of the true, the under¬standing of the true is lifeless. This distinction may be realized if you think of the difference between the affection or love of music and the under¬standing of music. A person may have little understanding of the technical things of music and still have a great love or affection of music, or one may have a great knowledge of music and little real love of music.

A young woman represents the affection of truth. It is this affec¬tion which makes the Church to be the Church. But this affection must not only be with women, but also with men. We read? “A woman signified Church from the affection of truth That all they who are in such a church, whether they be virgins or young men, wives or husbands, girls or old women, boys or old men, are meant by virgins”. {A.R. 620)

“For they are virgins signifies that they are in the affection of truth for the sake of truth. This is evident from the signification of virgins the affections of truth are called the spiritual affections of truth. For there are natural affections of truth which exist in almost every one, especi¬ally during childhood and youth. But natural affections of truth have reward as an end … These are not the affections of truth here meant by virgins, but spiritual affections of truth are meant, which are such as have for their end eternal life and uses of that life. «.. These love truths, because they are true apart from the world’s glory, such love the Lord, for the Lord is with man in the truths which are from good.” (A.C. 863)

There are many in the Church who are in “the natural affection of truth”, that is, who are curious about truth, who like to discuss it or argue about it, and therefore think they are in the spiritual affection of truth.

But this is quite different from the affection of truth as described in the Word and in the quotation from W. F. Pendleton. Where there is a genuine spiritual affection of truth it rules in all things of life. The spiritual affection of truth is not a matter of being interested in truth this is common. The spiritual affection of truth is to have the love of truth as ones ruling love, as ones life; this is rare.

The fall of churches occurs, when, instead of the affection of truth ruling, the love of the Church as an institution takes the first place. Men then love the Word because they have a personal love of the Church, instead of loving the true of the Word, and love the Church in so far as it is the Word made flesh, in an image of the Lord.

It is indeed good and important to feel a loyalty to the church, provided ones first loyalty is to the True of the Word. In which case, if the church departs from the loyalty to the true of the Word, ones loyalty to the church, in so far as it has receded, ceases.

The value of the diary of Gertrude Starkey, as she then was, is that it portrays a life centered in the affection of the true of the Word, which she shared with others in the Church, an affection which at this day is very rare, and yet without which the Church is not the Church.

It may be asked why was the emphasis in the early days of the Academy placed on the affection of the true, rather than on the affection of the good which is a higher affection. The affection of spiritual truth for the sake of life, makes the spiritual church. The affection of good makes the celestial church. Unless one is in the affection of truth, which rules in all things of life for a long time, one can never come to the genuine affection of good. In fact this affection of good is arrived at by scarcely any one at this day. To make the affection of good the immediate objective, before any preparation would lead to nothing but spurious good.

It is apt to strike one as strange or curious that those in the early days of the Academy, referred to themselves, as “saints” in quotation marks, while there was nothing in their life which was characteristic of the common connotation of “saintly”.

Concerning saints we read that those in the celestial kingdom are called just while those in the spiritual kingdom are called saints. (A.E.325)

We read: “Saints are those who are in Divine Truths from the Lord through the Word.” (A.R. 586)

“The saints signify those who are in the Lord’s New Church specifi¬cally those who are in Divine Truths therein.” (A.R. 593, 730)

“Saints signify those who are in truths of Doctrine from the Word, and in a life according to them.” (A.E. 695)

The early Academy in calling themselves “saints” meant that they believed the Academy movement, stood for the position expressed above by Bishop W. F. Pendleton, namely that the Academy as distinguished from Con¬vention generally was “in Divine Truths from the Lord through the Word”, and that the Academy in contrast to Convention was in “Truths of Doctrine from the Word,” a position that later was generally abandoned.

When your grandmother wrote this diary she was a young woman between twenty-two and twenty-seven, in reading it you will likely feel how scarcely any of her grandchildren have manifested the affection of truth in the life that characterizes this diary. Some read the Word, and are faithful in attend¬ing the Services and Classes of the Church, and at times speak about the Doctrines, but nearly all are so absorbed in other interests that the meditation on the True of the Word is not the central thing of their life. If on reading this diary you are made sad that there are so few who are in the spirit and life, of the affection of truth, as evidenced in this diary, and are much saddened by this, there is still hope.

Read the full diary of Gertrude Starkey

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