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death, were a satisfaction of his mercy, and not of his justice. It is well worthy of remark, that the term justice does not occur in one single passage of the New Testament, and it is there, fore difficult to conjecture how the expression has obtained such general currency with those who profess to derive their doctrines chiefly from that book.
Before we conclude, we would respectfully recommend the writer in question to read the work of Emanuel Swedenborg entitled 66 The True Christian Religion," and he will therein find satisfactory explanations of all the contested points in theology, which have so long divided the Christian world. Ep.
FOR THE NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH REPOSITORY.
“ In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Gen. i. 1. Here we find, in the very first verse of the first book of the Sacred Scriptures, the annunciation, under Divine revelation, (for without such a revelation, it is certain man could not have attained the knowledge) of the fiat of the majesty of Heaven, by which creation was called into existence. Here we have, in the oldest work in our possession, the first account of a Supreme Being, all-mighty, omniscient and omnipresent-self-existentfor who is greater than Himself ?-and from whom, therefore, could He derive existence :
It has been attempted to show, by some writers, that the doc- , trine of a Trinity is here established; but the whole tenor of the Old Testament appears adverse to this position. In every passage of the Scriptures of the old covenant, the Almighty invariably speaks of himself, without a reference to another personnor can we well imagine two or more self-created and eternal beings, possessed of the divine attributes we ascribe to God. In all the intercourse which the Almighty has with man, when He personally appears to the worms of his creation, He speaks of Himself as the only God, and whose glory shall not be given to another; and when, amidst the thunderings of Mount Sinai, His Divice commands are promulgated to the Israelites, the first and most important one is, “ Thou shalt have no other Gods but me."
Although the redemption of fallen man is repeatedly adverted tomand the coming of Jehovah, in the character of a Redeemer.
in the person of Jesus Christ, is foretold by the prophets, the characters of the Messiah and of the Mighty Jehovah are too analogous, to admit of doubt that the former is the identical Jehovah, clothed in a human form, in order to accommodate Himself to the state of man : without this medium, the Almighty could not have exhibited Himself to the human race; for we are repeatedly assured that no man could see God and live. Suppose, for a moment, we admit that those prophetic declarations of the coming of the Messiah, are really applicable to a second person of the Divinity ; where shall we perceive any traces in the Old Testament of the third person, denominated the Holy Ghost, or Spirit ? It is believed that none are to be found, that can be regarded as establishing so important a point, as that which would prove the existence of three divine, self-existing, and all-mighty persons in one God! Is it not a little remarkable, that during a period of four thousand years, no absolute revelation was made to man, indicating the existence of such a Divine Trinity in the Godhead ? Was it of less importance to the creature to be then ignorant of the nature of the Deity than it is now ? And why, in the promulgation of the Divine commands, was not the slightest reference made to any such co-existence in the Godhead, when so evident an opening is given ? - Thou shalt have no other Gods but me,” is the ground-work of the Mosaic Dispensation ; and our blessed Saviour asserts the same, in more than one instance. When he is asked what is the chief commandment How readest thou—Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart," &c. &c. “ This is the first and great commandment." Does our Saviour not equally assert, “ I and my father are one ?"_but if one, how do some of our churches make no less than three divine persons, of equal power, authority and existence ?
Admitting, for argument sake, the correctness of the views of such Churches, let me ask, if truth be an unit, must not all these three divine personages, thus united in the Godhead, have had one uniform sentiment and persuasion, in regard to the wicked. ness of mankind, and of the punishment due to his crimes ? and if so, why do we consider God the Father as the person principally offended, and only to be reconciled to fallen man by the penalties assumed by God the Son ? Why was not God the Son (equal in every divine attribute) the party principally aggrieved and offended, and either the Father or the Holy Spirit constituted our Redeemer? How, in short, could any redemption at all ensue, according to the common belief of a Trinity, when all the Persons of the Godhead must undoubtedly be governed by identical motives ? For if they were not, it follows that a diversity of sentiment must have actuated the Divine Counsels;-a supposition not to be admitted.
The difficulties which present themselves to every inquiring mind, in regard to the nature of the Trinity, do however greatly diminish, when we regard our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as the Only and Supreme God, who, in his divine mercy, thought proper to assume the form of Man, and suffer for our transgressions. Here, no apparent collision exists as to the Divine sentiments, the crimes of man demanded retribution; and God himself became, in his own good pleasure, the sacrifice which his justice called for. Inscrutable as are the ways of God to man, it is certainly not necessary to render them still more so, by admitting doctrines that appear subversive of the principles meant to be established.
If the sentiments above expressed, are in unison with those of the New Jerusalem Church, the editors of the Repository are respectfully solicited to give them publicity in their next number.
A FIRM BELIEVER OF THE FIRST COMMANDMENT. Philadelphia, May 11, 1817.
On the Books of the WORD, and the Inspiration by which the
Holy Scriptures were written, It was intended, in this number of the Repository, to have explained fully the sentiments of the New Church, respecting the various Books of the Holy Scriptures, and to have entered at large into a discussion of the difference between the Epistles, or writings of the apostles, and those books which with us are emphatically called the WORD. Other matter has, however, unexpectedly prevented the complete execution of this purpose, and the editors are obliged to content themselves, at present, with the following observations :
The New Church, in fact, believes that the apostles in their writings and preachings were inspired with all that degree of illumination, which was necessary to enable them to teach those VOL. I.
truths, which mankind, in the course of that dispensation, were capable of receiving; and that this inspiration was an illustration of their rational faculties, to receive and communicate all the instruction suited to the Church of that day. This inspiration was given for, and accommodated to the use of, their hearers, and imparted from time to time to the apostles, as it became requisite for those whom they were to teach.—Pretty much as is stated by Dr. Benson,* in his “ Dissertation on Inspiration,” in. cluded in Bishop Watson's collection of tracts. “ The apostles had in their minds the full and complete scheme of whatever they were to preach or write, concerning the Christian doctrine. And according to that model they were to found and erect the Christian church. Not that they had the whole scheme of the Christian revelation, in its utmost extent, fully communicated to them at once. The contrary of this is evident; for on the day of Pentecost, the twelve apostles of the circumcision do not appear to have received any more than the revelation of that gospel, which they were to preach to Jews only. It was some years after, that they had the particular revelation concerning their going to the devout Gentiles, and concerning the gospel they were to preach to theme and it was a long time before the particular revelation was communicated to the apostles of the uncircumcision, concerning their going among the idolatrous Gentiles, or what gospel they were to preach to them. And finally, different apostles of both classes had, besides the general scheme, different revelations communicated to them.”—The Lord himself had said to his disciples, “ I have many things to tell you, but ye cannot bear them now." John xvi. 12.
But after all the outcry, which has been made with respect to the opinion of the New Church on this subject, it is astonishing to see with what little ceremony Doctors of the Old Christian Church have treated the holy scriptures. Luther rejected from the sacred canon the Book of Revelations, and said of the Epistle of James, which inculcated the necessity of good works, that it was a mere book of straw in comparison with the writings of Peter and Paul. (See Roscoe's Leo X. vol. iv. page 105, and the note.) And the following extract, (quoted in the Bible of Adam Clarke,) from the celebrated Dr. Whitby, so highly respected by the Church of England, shows how low is the idea entertained by the Old Church, respecting the inspiration of the apostles, and other wri. ters of the New Testament.
*George Benson, D. D. a dissenting divine, who completed his education for the ministry at the University of Glasgow. The University of Aberdeen, in consideration of his great abilities and learning, conferred on him the degree of Doctor in Divinity. His labours in sacred literature met with a ve. ry favourable reception in foreign countries, as well as in Great Britain and Ireland.
6 I contend only for such an inspiration or divine assistance of the sacred writers of the New Testament, as will assure us of the truth of what they wrote, whether by inspiration of sugges. tion, or direction only; but not for such an inspiration as implies, that even their words were dictated, or their phrases suggested to them by the Holy Ghost: this, in some matters of great moinent, might be so; St. Paul declaring, that they spoke the things which were given them of God, in the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth, 1 Cor. ii. 13. if that relate not to what the Holy Ghost had taught them out of the Old Testament. But that it was not always so, is evident, both from the consideration that they were hagiographers, who are suffered to be left to the use of their own words, and from the variety of the style in which they write, and froin the solecisms, which are sometimes visible in their compositions; and more especially from their own words, which manifestly show, that, in some cases, they had no such suggestion from the Holy Ghost, as doth imply, that he had dictated those words unto them. For instance, when St. Paul declares his will or purpose to do what he was hindered by the providence of God from doing; as when he says to the Romans, When I go into Spain, I will come to you, ch. xv. 24. I will come by you into Spain, ver. 28. For though he might, after his enlargement, go into the west, where St. Clement (Ep. ad. Cor. $ 6) says he preached. And even into Spain, as Cyril (Catechis. 17. p. 204. c.) Epiphanius, (Hær. 27. p. 107. c.) and Theoderet, (in 2 Tim. iv. 17. and Præfat. in Psalm. cxvi.) say he did ; yet it is certain he did not designedly go to Rome, in order to an intended journey into Spain ; and when he says to the Corinthians, I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia, 1 Cor. xvi. 5. and yet confesses in his second epistle, 2 Cor. i. 15, 16, 17, that he did not perform that journey ; for it is not to be thought the Holy Ghost should incite him to promise, or even to purpose, what he knew he would