Puslapio vaizdai

sent for a minister of the Swedish church in London, to receive the sacrament at his hands in articulo mortis.

We look upon Swedenborg's illumination, then, as an orderly enlargement of his understanding in spiritual things, growing, doubtless, out of a life of singular virtue, but for that very reason bearing a very encouraging instead of an insulting aspect towards the rest of the race. Any illumination which does not attain this height and claim this basis, makes a very ineffectual appeal to our respect or attention. In this point of view we not only do not deny to Swedenborg's illumination its special providential use and significance, but are disposed, on the contrary, to attribute consequences of incalculable benignity to it, in the future history of humanity upon the earth.

The great declaration of Swedenborg is this: that a New Church is establishing itself on the earth, which shall prove the fulfilment of all divine promise and all human hope. As was natural at the epoch when he wrote, his chief aim was to justify this annunciation by a searching criticism of the evils and falsities of the current Christian life, rather than very clearly to indicate the points of difference which should characterize the new economy. We presume he had himself no adequate foresight of the features of natural order, as they are yet to disclose themselves. Indeed, in a very explicit passage of his latest work, (True Christian Religion, n. 123,) he disclaims a sufficient comprehension of this subject, and refers the curiosity of his reader for satisfaction to some possible future performance. But we are at no loss to understand what he meant by a New Church. Whenever in his survey of the past he describes the rise of a New Church, he describes it as the development of a new mind in man. Thus the earliest church - comprising the foetal or paradisiacal condition of humanity — he declares to have been celestial ; that is to say, the ruling principle in that state was the love of God, or, of unlimited Goodness. To this elevated beginning succeeded a church of an inferior character, as the intellect is inferior to the affections, --in which the love of God sank into the love of the neighbour, or of limited Goodness. The self hood had now become well pronounced in men, producing differences of character among them, and consequently giving rise to the hitherto undeveloped play of personal sympathies and antipathies. Viewed in itself, however, this was still an elevated phase of spiritual life. Whilst the influence of the earlier dispensation lasted; whilst the love of God, or the sentiment of justice, remained unextinct in it, these personal relations were preserved pure and unselfish, and were a blessing and ornament to the earth. But the mind of man tended ever to more external states, until at length the original love of the human bosom dwindled from its universality of scope in the love of mankind, through the love of the neighbour, into the love of self.

This, according to Swedenborg, was the end of the spiritual dispensation, being symbolized in Scripture under the figure of the building of the tower of Babel, which signifies the preposterous attempt on man's part to deify himself, or to place the acceptable worship of God in self-love. Internal worship, which is charity, or love of the neighbour, had now perished, and an external worship, generated of the love of self, and therefore idolatrous, took its place.

But let no one imagine that the divine design towards man was now disconcerted; rather let him acknowledge that this apparent declension of the human mind was in truth in the strictest keeping with its fulfilment. For man, says Swedenborg, was created to love himself as well as his neighbour and the Lord; only this love should be strictly subordinated to the others; that is to say, he should not so love himself as to violate Truth and Goodness. But of course it was impossible that this subordination of self-love should be attained so long as the Divine remained unrevealed in the laws of natural order. And the spiritual world, consequently, must have been in the condition described by Swedenborg; namely, a mixed or disorderly condition, arising from the yet unreconciled extremes of the love of God and the love of self; and hence have offered a very inadequate medium for the Divine influx into nature. Meanwhile, until a new mind in man were formed by the reconciliation of these extremes, and divine worship placed upon a new and indestructible basis, that worship must reflect its temporary disability, and sink from a living reality into a mere representation of future realities. Thus, according to Swedenborg, all that long stage of human history comprised between the Abrahamic period and the middle of the last century, was merely a transition process introductory to “ the new heavens and earth,” or the new internal and external Man who is to constitute the true and universal church. The Jewish economy he declares to have been purely representative of that living worship which is about to supervene upon the earth. Jerusalem itself was but a type of the true divine


polity which is now descending to sanctify the natural life of

And the Christian church, in its internal character, bad as little claim to the name of a positive church, since the temper of mind predominant in it as well as the Jewish church, avouched the still undiminished hostility of self-love and universal love. For although the Christian church confessed the divine incarnation, it ascribed a meaning to it which greatly vitiated its healing influence upon the human mind. Instead of perceiving in the experience of the divine man the actual unition of self-love with universal love, ky means of the orderly subjection of evil to good, or the hells to the heavens, in the spiritual sphere, and the consequent fusion of these hitherto warring extremes in the promotion of a new and infinite good, which is Art, or Social Use; the Christian church has represented that experience as designed purely to aggravate the old hostility of good and evil, and thus fixed upon the Creator the stigma of an eternally impotent relation towards one half of his creatures.

Swedenborg, however, pointedly affirms, that the Christian church in its sublimely prophetic rites of Baptism and the Supper, has always evinced an external correspondence with heaven, inasmuch as all heavenly good is comprised in the things which these rites symbolize ; namely, the shunning of our natural evils, and the imbibition of good and truth from the Lord. These rites, in proclaiming the truth of the Divine Humanity, set forth also the essential constitution of the new heaven in man. The social, or distinctively human principle, is the unity of self-love and universal love. It is the marriage of these two extremes, the point in which they become united. Universal love alone, or self-love alone, would alike defeat society; the one because it would render its subject indifferent to any special fellowship, the other because it would render him averse to all fellowship. Thus the existence of society implies both the heavens and the hells, or the extremes of self-love and of universal love ; while its maturity or perfection implies their actual union in all the varied forms of art or productive wealth. So long as this union remains unactualized in a divine society, or church upon the earth, so long, of course, the earthly society, as Swedenborg shows, must possess only a ritual sanctity, a sanctity confined to its representative ordinances. But when this union has begun to be actualized in nature, as,

for example, in the unprecedented progress the last century bas shown in all the sciences and arts of life, then this mere ritual sancti


ty loses its hold upon men's esteem, and gives place to the deeper, because positive, sanctity of Art, or productive use.

These remarks will have prepared the reader for the recog. nition of the distinctive genius of the new and universal church. Swedenborg does not so much explicitly declare this, as supply us with data for our own independent conclusions on the subject. If we accept his pregnant dogma, that the church is a man, and therefore, like every thing human, involves a social development, we can be at no loss from the data of the distinctive genius of the two earlier churches to infer the relative character of the third and final church. If we take man as the analogon, we shall have the “ most ancient church” swering to the sphere of love or the affections; the “ ancient church” answering to the intellectual sphere, and the “new” or coming church to the practical sphere, or the plane of the activity. If we take universal order as our analogon, we shall have the first church celestial, the second spiritual, the third natural. Thus we have an inexpressibly fertile augury of the developments of the coming church. For as affection and thought are impotent without action; as the head and chest are worthless without the abdomen and extremities, so the natural is the seat of power to the celestial and spiritual, and the coming church which corresponds to it, therefore, and which is the crown and complement of the two bygone churches, is destined to actualize whatsoever they realize of divine good and truth. It will be to them an every way worthy body, while they to it are a soul and intellect. Whatsoever depths of disinterested love, whatsoever splendors of intellectual intuition, have failed of adequate natural ultimation in the past, are the infallible heritage of the coming church, which will reproduce them in scientific and permanent forms, and so achieve the utter extinction of evil and falsity from the earth. For the human mind craves science as the human body craves food; and the church, therefore, which boasts a scientific basis, claims an empire not less universal nor less indestructible than the human mind itself.

The bare assertion of a natural church, even though it be proved to be a divinely natural one, is sure to beget much honest misconception. Nature is so totally without a doctrine to most minds, and is so exquisite an evil to renowned philosophies and theologies, that it requires the support of a very enlightened conscience to give it respectful mention, or postulate for it a really divine destiny. But it is time these mists of ignorance were dispersed, and we know of nothing so effectual to this end as the free diffusion of that great truth which underlies all Swedenborg's disclosures ; namely, the actual humanity of God.

We cannot hope to do any thing like justice to this great truth in our confined space, and would rather refer the reader at once to Swedenborg himself, in whom he will find mines of still unsunned gold soliciting his exploration. And our diffidence is not diminished by the fact that the theme has as yet attracted so little attention. So far as we are aware, none of the professed disciples of Swedenborg, with the exception of Mr. Charles Augustus Tulk, has attempted a rational reproduction of his theology. They have repeated it in every form of fragmentary and wearisome repetition, but have never essayed to give it a unitary and harmonic reproduction. Mr. Tulk has attempted its elucidation on the basis of the Idealistic philosophy. But while we admit the scholastic merits of his attempt, and recognize in its rounded flow the impress of his own beautiful mind, we cannot but feel that it proceeds upon a very partial induction, and utterly fails to represent the grandly affirmative nature of the system it would unfold.

Let us, however, attempt a brief illustration of this doctrine according to our own light. We shall be abundantly satisfied, if, failing ourselves to give a successful exposition of it, we yet succeed in attracting the curiosity of abler minds towards it.

It will be admitted by all reflective persons, that no man is positively or absolutely differenced from another man, by virtue of his nature, or what is the same thing, by virtue of his connection with the race, because this very nature, or connection, being what is common to all men, must entail upon all a uniform development, and thus defeat the possibility of positive differences.

To explain the fact, then, of moral distinctions among men, we must consider man as related to something besides the natural life, or the life which flows from his connection with the race; we must consider him as related, also, to some higher life. But the only conceivable life higher than man's, is the divine life. To attain, then, the ground of moral differences among men, we must consider man as related also to the di. vine life.

But the divine life, considered in itself, considered absolutely, ignores all distinction of good and evil. The differ

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