Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

mounted, in making this interpretation. The design of these remarks is to show, that Swedenborg could not thus have written without supernatural light. We ask the reader's patient attention to what follows, as his estimation of the whole subject may, in a great degree, depend on the present examination. Take any volume of equal magnitude with the books explained by Swedenborg, and try if you can explain it in the same manner.

Give a signification to the first word, distinct from its literal sense, by which you will abide wherever it occurs in the volume, except that it shall admit of the various degrees of the object, action, or quality, which it represents; and also, if this object, action, or quality be even taken in an opposite sense, this term may represent it.

Thus proceed with the second word, and also with all in the first sentence.

Let these definitions concur, to make complete sense.

Proceed with the second sentence in like manner, observing, that if any word be repeated in this sentence which was used in the first, it must retain the same radical signification it had before. Let this sentence, thus produced, be found in agreement, as to sentiment, with the first.

Proceed to the third, and so through the book ; ever retaining the same radical signification to your words, that you first gave; making complete sense of every sentence; and in no case permitting the least contradiction to appear in the sentiments or ideas thus produced.

Let the order, in which every subject is treated, be such, that what is first said shall be of primary importance, and shall reign through all that follows ; let the second idea or sentiment be the second in importance, and reign accordingly; and in like manner every part which follows; so that the whole shall constitute an orderly series of truths or ideas proceeding from one fundamental truth.

Let the whole concur, to teach a certain number of doctrines, all clearly explained, and all having relation to one universal subject.

Let this subject be the same which is treated of in the literal sense.

And, lastly, if there be any digressions, incoherencies, futilities, or obscurities in the literal sense, let them be completely

removed by the adopted sense, so that the whole may constitute one plain, harmonious, and orderly work.

Can you do this ? Can it be done by any human power ? Nay, are there any human compositions extant, which, in any degree, admit of such an interpretation ? We presume that to these questions you will not hesitate to answer in the negative. Again, try if you could thus interpret the Word of God : or, at least, think of the difficulties attending such an interpretation. How could you know, after having given such definitions to the words in the first sentence, as should express a clear sentiment, distinct from the literal sense, that they would, when connected in a thousand different ways with other words, concur, at all times, to express sentiments in agreement with the first; or, indeed, any sense at all ? And not only this would be necessary, but you must see that the distinction between goodness and truth, with a constant reference to their union, would be preserved; and also that every subject would be treated of in the order above described. Until such a view of the whole volume could be taken, as should enable you to determine all these facts, it is evident no further progress could be made.

Now, it is certain that these and all other difficulties were surmounted by Swedenborg. That he had no human aid is equally certain ; and by this time, we believe the reader will add, with us, that it is equally certain no human power could accomplish such a work. After a full examination of the subject, we do not hesitate to say, that, in our opinion, the chance, that such an ex. position of the Scriptures could be effected without supernatural illumination, is not as one to infinity.

We have now done with the inquiries and remarks which were at first proposed. A question may naturally arise, why many intelligent and good men have read some of the writings of Swedenborg, without being convinced of their truth, if they are, in reality, what we have represented them to be. .

The reasons why men reject truths, are almost as numerous as their prejudices, their errors, and their various states of affection. But the great reason why the above arguments have had so little influence, is, that the particular volumes, from which they are deduced, are seldom read by those who reject the author's writings. If you inquire, you will find that they have read only some of the smaller works. Now, few persons will receive truth merely

[ocr errors]

he truth e humble andend." Thentitled

from its own light; and those, who rely on extrinsic evidence, ought by no means to omit reading the works entitled “ Arcana Cælestia, or Heavenly Mysteries,” and “ The Apocalypse Revealed.” From these, the humble and patient reader may obtain full evidence of the truth of all we have asserted.

Let it not, however, be understood, that we recommend the arguments here adduced as the highest evidence we possess of the divine mission of Swedenborg. To us, the truths which he communicates are their own testimony, while we conform our lives to the commandments of God.

Yet the evidence, here given, may have its use. To those who rely on miracles, or any external evidence, we offer the above facts, as proofs incontrovertible.

And to all who desire to know wherein divine truth differs from human, we recommend a strict attention to the characteristics of the Word, which we have given. The laws of correspondence, when applied to the writings of men, will produce such a chaos, that you may well say, “ The hand of the Lord hath not wrought this :" but when applied to the Word of God, new degrees of truth, even those which exist in the heavens, will be opened with infinite variety; through all of which, such order, harmony, and glory will appear, that you cannot but exclaim with rapture, “ This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.”

Let the testimony we have borne you never be forgotten; for the time will soon come, when not only the reader of this, but all who read not, will be convinced, that we have not followed cun. ningly devised fables. If, then, there be one inquiry of more importance than any other-one which more demands the calm, unprejudiced, and persevering attention of every man-and one on which his eternal interest more deeply depends, it is concern. ing the “ REVELATION OF THE INTERNAL SENSE OF THE WORD of God.”

We, therefore, would sound the warning, “ Take heed how ye hear." Be not misled with the popular cry, “he is mad," nor believe ye say well, “ he hath a devil.” Inquire not whether any of the rulers have believed on him, but remember that “every one of us shall give an account of himself to God.” Rely neither on popular nor on long received opinions; for when were ever the majority on the side of truth ? and which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted ? 6 And they have slain them who showed before of the coming of the Just One.”

“ See, therefore, that there be not in any of you an evil heart of unbelief;" for 6 none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand."

REVIEW.

An Interesting Correspondence between the Rev. John Johnson,

Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Newburgh, New York, and Miss Elizabeth Jones, relative to the change in her opinions which occasioned her dismissal from his Church. New York. Charles N. Baldwin. 1817. 43 pp.

FROM THE NEW ENGLAND GALAXY.

( Concluded from page 412.) We now come to the reply of Mr. Johnson, in which he informs Miss Jones, that her letter had been “ read before the Session of his church, and its contents carefully considered; that they are of opinion, that on the doctrine of the Trinity, her sentiments are unscriptural, and in a material manner affect the whole Gospel scheme of salvation.” He then states “ the orthodox doctrine on this subject,” in the words of the Assembly's Catechism :-" That there are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and that those three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory." He makes several observations on this doctrine, as resting on Scripture independent of reason, and expresses his persuasion that she has not compared Scripture with Scripture, but taking a few detached passages, had drawn a conclusion unwarranted by a combined view of the whole Word of God. He presents, for her perusal and acceptance, 66 Jones on the Trinity,” requests her to “study it with an unbiassed mind, and to pray to God to shed light into her mind.” He complains of her not having consulted with him, or some one of the Session, before she adopted the doctrine of the New Jerusalem Church. We shall have occasion to extract a considerable part of this letter, in reviewing the reply to it.

Miss Jones's answer occupies thirty pages, and completes the correspondence. And here we find it difficult to make such se. VOL. I.

30

lections, as shall do justice to the extraordinary ability it discovers. As it will be necessary to make copious extracts, in order that any fair judgment may be formed, we trust that our readers will not be terrified by their number or their length, but will give them an attentive and serious perusal. The letter begins thus :

“Rev. Sir, “ I have received your letter of the first of January; and although you dis. approve of both my faith and conduct, I am happy in knowing your opinion, as it will give me an opportunity, in some measure, of vindicating them ; but not fully, for it cannot be expected that justice can be done to such an extensive subject in a letter. And as you consider my first only to contain a few detached passages, I can expect but little more for this. Yet I shall endeavour to set my mind before you as fully as I can, without being so lengthy as to impose upon your patience. I cannot avail myself of the advantage you did, having in my possession no book that is suitable to send on such an occasion. But previous to my attempting to answer you, give me leave to make one observation, which I wish you as well as myself to keep in view; and that is, that nothing, which shall be said respecting doctrine, shall be considered as a breach of charity or a personal reflection. If there be any thing in this letter that will bear such a construction, I beg that it may be considered as unintentional; for I assure you, sir, that it is far from my desire to offend any one. And I wish to show you all the respect that is due to your dignified station. I am not insensible of the station I fill in the scale of beings, compared with you, sir, being no more than an unlearned female, the best informed of our ses being the weaker vessel. Yet I feel under the necessity of treating the subject before me with plainness; and, while doing this, I must, as it were, forget my own inferiority, since I stand alone, and am called upon to answer concerning my Lord and his Truth: and since I do not speak in my own name, nor undertake in my own strength, nor trust in my own understanding, but look to the Lord for wisdom and strength, I think I have reason to expect assistance, at least to support me under the displeasure of the church, if, by confessing my Lord and Master, I incur it.” Pages 11, 12.

Several general observations then follow respecting Mr. Johnson's letter, and the manner in which it is written; and she then proceeds to a particular consideration of the subject. She quotes the following passage from Mr. J's letter, to which we annex a part of her reply: .

“You say, “We are persuaded, from the tenor of your letter, you have not compared Scripture with Scripture, as you should have done; but taking a few detached passages, as if they contained all that is said upon the subject, a conclusion is drawn unwarranted from a combined view of the whole Word of God. In order that you may have an extensive view of what God has taught on the subject, we have sent you a small treatise on the Trinity

« PoprzedniaDalej »