Obrazy na stronie

He might have added a third rea- f dispensations required the aid and son, of still greater weight. He assistance of miracles, in order to thus states his reasons in his Arca induce mankind to acknowledge na Celestia. In respect to pro- them, this argues at least, that digies and signs, it is to be observ- they did not carry with them that ed, that they were performed a clear and rational evidence of their mongst such persons as were in truth, which was of itself sufficient external worship, and were not de to gain credit among men ; for sirous of knowing any thing about wherever the truth of a thing can, internal worship ; for they who not be established by any other were in such worship, were to be means than by miracles, it plainly compelled by external means ; - implies that it is involved in obhence it was, that miracles were scurity, doubt and uncertainty. performed among the Jewish and Such was the case with all former Israelitish people, who were mere dispensations, which only shadowly in external worship, and none ed forth and represented the last that was spiritual. Hence it was and most magnificent of all, the that so many miracles were per New Jerusalem. This last and formed among that nation. But greatest of dispensations requires with those who are in internal no miracles, because the truths it

worship, that is, in charity and displays are of themselves clear, | faith, miracles are not performed, rational and satisfactory. It is too

being to such persons hurtful: for dignified to stoop down to earth miracles force or compel to be- for any thing that resembles a mirlieve; and whatsoever is of com-acle; for by so doing, its heavenpulsion, doth not remain, but is born glory would be tarnished, dissipated-hence it is that no mir- and a cloud would overspread the acles are performed at this day. sky, so as to interrupt the beams That they are also of a hurtful na of celestial light, proceeding from ture, may appear from the follow- him who is the sun of righteousing considerations: they compel to believe, and fix in the external Rejecting the aid of miracles, man an idea that the thing is so or because out of his power, Sweden so: if the internal man afterwards borg relies wholly upon internal denies what the miracles have con- evidence for the credit of his revfirmed, then there commences an elations. Did I not presume that

opposition and collision between I have already given the reader a | the internal and external man ; sufficiently enlarged selection of

and at length, when the ideas pro- this kind of testimony, it might be duced from miracles are dissipat- indefinitely increased. But there ed, the conjunction of falsehood is one proof of the doctrine of and truth takes place, which is Swedenborgianism, which may be profanation. Hence it is evident, brought forward by the disciples how dangerous and hurtful mira- | of this religion, if it be really true. cles would be at this day in the We have not as yet seen a shadow church.” “ Are not the things of evidence in its favour. If it above mentioned above miracles!" really be what it pretends to be,

The following passage is from we have a right to expect and deHindmarsh, in his defence of Swe- mand the proof now to be mendenborgianism. He is a zealous tioned. It is this. The same redisciple, and seems to have had as velation which declared to Sweclear views as can be possessed on denborg that his doctrines possesà subject so dark. "As former / sed

"As former sed a * superiority in excellence


and dignity above all the know- eternal war with all who would ledges that have heretofore been not receive his doctrines; Swedenpublished in the world,” also re- borg, as we have seen, shuts them vealed to him, that in the interior up in a dungeon and leaves them of Africa, far from the sea-shore, quarreling. Mahommet declared his system of religion had been himself an inspired prophet, rerevealed, and was rapidly spread peatedly went to heaven, conversing through all the region; conse ed with God face to face, and is quently, that there is a large coun- the founder of a new religion ; try, in the centre of Africa, which Swedenborg does all this. The is inhabited by Swedenborgians! one described a sensual and mateNow, if his disciples really believe rial heaven and hell; so does the in these revelations, why do they other. They both saw marriages not send to the interior of Africa, in heaven, and Just in hell. The and afford the world this one proof one saw angels whose heads were of the inspiration of their leader? so large, that it would take a bird It is easy to swallow absurdities a thousand years to fly from one in the gross, but difficult to digest ear to the other; the other never them, when dealt out singly. allows these angels to turn their

Hindmarsh has given several faces from the east. The one gave instances of the prescience of Swe-a religion full of absurdities; the denborg. They are all of the same other does no less. The former character as those with which gave us a revelation utterly unworstraggling fortune-tellers in our thy of God; the latter levels the day, delude the ignorant and su- Deity to a man. Both religions perstitious; and what is remarka- are alike unfitted for man. Yet ble, none of these examples are in some respects these two men recorded till after their fulfilment. were very dissimilar. Mahommet These relations are so puerile, and raised his blood-stained sword, and 80 nearly approximating to foolish-proclaimed it the key of heaven; ness, that I fear the reader would | Swedenborg unlocks the door quite think me imposing upon him, were as effectually by his key of corI to give examples.

respondencies. Mahommet spread The reader has probably, ere his religion by fear and force; Swethis, noticed a resemblance be- denborg relies on the ignorance tween the religion of Mahommet, and credulity of mankind. The and that of Swedenborg. As it

As it one was unquestionably the greatrespects personal character, they est impostor the world ever saw; were certainly unlike; but in oth the other the greatest self-deceiver er respects there is no slight re the world ever pitied. The one semblance. Mahommet professed came like a demon, strewing his

high regard for the scriptures, path with desolation, while he and a high reverence for the char- trampled on the cross of Christ; acter of Jesus Christ; so does Swe- the other clothes himself with denborg. Mahommet believed in clouds and mysteries, while he dethe Unity of God; so does Swe- bases Christianity. The one walkdenborg. Mahommet declared his ed on the wings of destruction; revelations superior to all others; the other comes in the stillness that Swedenborg does the same. Ma- precedes the earthquake. The forhommet rejected the aid of mira mer shocked us by his hardened cles to prove his mission, and treats and bold impiety; the latter esthem with contempt; so does Swe- capes the charge of the most dreaddenborg. Mahommet declared an ful blasphemies, only because we


believe him deranged. Mahom- light on morals already revealed, met fed on ambition and con- and only darkens every point on quest; Swedenborg suffered his which it touches. It fairly “puts reason to be devoured by a disor- out the sun of righteousness, and dered imagination.

brings back darkness visible. It It has been hinted above, that declares that ever since the days Swedenborg was probably deceiv- of Christ, if not since the time of ed by a visionary mania, or enthu- Job, the church has been grovelsiasm. This is all that the ut- ling in darkness and in error. most stretch of charity can admit. These clouds of darkness can be If this was not the case, his is one scattered only by this new Star," of the most daring and impious whose forty volumes of light have forgeries that the world ever saw. for fifty years been shedding their If he was not what we have sup- glories on the world. Now I would posed him

solemnly ask those who are exert*Oh! wben he traced the mazes of his ing themselves to spread the


tem of Swedenborg, if they do reHow did his soul contemn deluded man ally believe in these revelations? Light as the desert sand, on every blast If so, have they any evidence for of passion's burning gale at random cast;

believing, unless it be the asserBut on himself he wreaked his deepest scorn,

tions of a fanatic, or a madman? Who stooped to cheat a creature so for

It is in vain for them to tell us to lorn!"

read and examine his works; we I cannot forbear observing, that have done so; and after wading if this new dipensation” is such through volumes of the greatest that “all former dispensations on

absurdities and nonsense which ly shadowed forth and represented were ever printed, we say that the last and most magnificent of there is nothing in Mather's Magall, the New-Jerusalem,”-if this nalia, or even the “Rain-water last and greatest of dispensations Doctor's” book on diseases, which would have its heaven-born glory we could not as easily believe and tarnished by stooping to earth for digest, as the writings of Swedenany thing that resembles a mira-borg. If his disciples do not becle," to prove its truth, then it lieve in these marvellous revelafollows legitimately, that every tions, why are they endeavouring miracle performed by our Saviour to make the ignorant believe them? and his apostles, only proved that O if I had in my heart to war with their dispensation was involved in any class of men, it would be with “ obscurity, doubt and uncertain those who are making exertions to ty;" and that every miracle which impose upon others a system of they performed, was a blemish, a religion so foolish, so pernicious, stain apon their characters and the that they do not, and cannot bereligion which they taught. There | lieve it themselves. is no evading this conclusion. The

0. E***** system under consideration reveals

Christ. Spect. no new morals, throws no new

[ocr errors]


first principle of all religion; so ESSAYS UPON HOPKINSIANISM.

every system of religion must take

its complexion from the views, No. V.

which are entertained of the CharThe Character and Works of God. acter of God. The Character of

As the Existence of God is the God results from his Moral Per


fections. These, according to the eth all things after the counsel of views of Hopkinsians, are all his own will." comprehended in Love, or impar From whence it follows, that tial, disinterested benevolence. - the created universe is, on the

God is love.” His Knowledge, whole, as good, as it is possible it Wisdom and Power are all under should be; i. e. as good as perfect the influence of his impartial, dis- Power, guided by infinite Wisinterested, universal love, or good dom, and prompted by infinite will. God loves himself supreme- Goodness, could make it. Though ly, but not selfishly. He is of in- evil, both natural and moral, ex. finitely more worth, than all his ists in the universe; yet there is screatures, who are before him as no more of either than God saw a drop of the bucket, or the small to be necessary to his own glory dust of the balance. God is, and blessedness. The glory of therefore, under moral obligation God consists in his Perfections; to love himself supremely, and to and in the exercise and display of ainn at his own glory and felicity, these, consists his felicity. It is as his ultimate and chief end in necessary, therefore, to the highest all his works, whether of creation glory and blessedness of God, that or providence. Hence, the Scrip- He should exercise and display all tures teach, that “He hath made his perfections; not only his powall things for himself; and that for er, wisdom and goodness, but his his pleasure they are and were justice also, and his grace. But, created.?

these last can be exercised and As every wise being lays a plan, displayed upon sinful, guilty creabefore he begins to operate; so the tures only. Hence Solomon says, only wise God, before He began “ The Lord hath made all things the work of creation, having a for himself; yea, even the wicked clear and comprehensive view of for the day of evil.” And David all. things possible, designed to says, “Surely the wrath of man bring into existence, such a uni- shall praise thee; the remainder verse, as would be best adapted to of wrath shalt thou restrain." his works. As it is absurd to sup- tions are comprehended in love, or pose, that two schemes of creation disinterested' benevolence, it is and providence, should be exactly manifest, that, in accomplishing alike, or should equally well an his great design in creation, which swer the end of creation; so it is is to advance his own glory and rational to conclude, that God has blessedness to the highest degree, chosen the best possible scheme He must produce the greatest posof things and events. This scheme sible sum of created good; i. e. He carries into effect, by his own the greatest possible quantity of agency, in the natural and moral holiness and happiness in his morworld. He causes such creatures al kingdom. “Whatever God doand things to exist, and so to move eth, it shall be forever; nothing and act, as best to subserve his can be put to it, nor any thing taoriginal design. Hence we read, ken from it.” 6 6 Known unto God are all his The free moral agency of man. works from the beginning of the Probably there is no one, who world-of him, and through him, embraces Christianity, certainly and to him, are all things In him there is no one among the Orthowe live, and move (are moved) dox, who will deny, that man is a and have our being--Who work- | free, moral agent. It is a point,

his ultimate and chief ende til alle since all God's "moral perfec

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

in which all are agreed, that if self-determining power in man, men were not free, moral agents, are excusable for not explaining they would not be accountable it intelligibly; since that, which is creatures, and could not, with pro- absurd, can neither be conceived priety, be rewarded for their good nor described. deeds, or, with justice, be punish In opposition to these notions of ed for their evil ones. Indeed, if moral freedom, it is the sentiment they were not free agents, they of Hopkinsians, that free, moral would not be capable of acting at agency consists, simply, in choosall; and if they were not moral ing or willing. Agency is “the agents, their actions would bave state of being in action." But, no moral quality; and though they men are active in nothing besides might be useful or hurtful, yet choice and volition. In these conthey would be neither good nor sists their agency; and these are, evil.

in their very nature, free. It is But, while all admit, that men absurd to suppose, that choice and are free, moral agents, very differ volition should ever be the subent opinions are entertained of the jects of constraint. To suppose of free, moral agency

that one is constrained or compellSome suppose, that free, moral ed to choose or will, is the same agency consists in doing as one as to suppose, that he chooses chooses to do. But, upon this sup- against his choice, or wills against position, men are free agents, his will. Men may be caused, only when liberated from all re

but can

never be compelled to straint; and in order to be com choose or will. Choice and volipletely free, they must possess

tion are, therefore, in their very unlimited power. Liberty to do nature, free. Every being who as one pleases; is more properly exercises choice and volition, is a called natural than moral freedoni. free agent. The Deity is a free It is the opinion of others, that free, 'agent, because He acts of choice. moral agency consists in men's cau Ii would be as absurd to suppose, sing their own exercises of choice that He causes his own volitions, and volition, or in choosing to as to suppose, that he caused his choose and willing to will. But if own existence. If the supposition, this were correct, it would follow, that He created himself, implies, that men never could have begun that he acted before he existed; to be free, moral agents; because the supposition, that He causes his it is impossible, that they should own volitions, implies, that He have chosen to have their first acted before He began to act. exercise of choice, or have willed Free agency does not consist in to have their first exercise of will; any thing preceding or following as this would imply, that they had choice and vclition, but in choice one act of choice, or one exercise and volition themselves. of will before the first.To avoid But, though all beings, who this absurdity, some run into ano- choose and will, are free agents; ther equally as great; which is yet many of this description, are this

, that men have a self-determin- not moral agents. To constitute ing power, by which they are ena any being a moral agent, it is necbled to begin to choose and will, essary, not only that he should not only without the agency of any choose and will, but that he should other being, but without any pre- be able to perceive the difference vious choice or volition of their between right and wrong. No one own. The advocates of such a can be a proper object of praise or

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »