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We cannot but declare our disapprobation of the course you have taken. You say, these have been my sentiments for two years past,' and yet you have never made them known, nor the state of your mind while in doubt : it was certainly your duty to have consulted with your pastor or some of the Session, before you adopted sentiments so hostile to the profession of your faith made when you connected with this church.
“In the first place, I would inquire, what I am to do, to gain your approbation. It'really appears to me, sir, that you was so determined to blame me, that you entirely forgot to be consistent with yourself. You remonstrate against making use of reason, against looking to men; say I have not compared Scripture with Scripture, as I ought to have done ; then refer me to a book, the product of a man, that I may see what God has taught, and censure me for not consulting with the Session. Now, sir, I leave the world to judge, with what propriety you can censure me in this respect, even on your own principles : for if it was wrong to look to one man, it could not be right to look to another; and if what I am seeking after is of such a nature, that I cannot comprehend it, there is no use in it, should I obtain it. Therefore it can be nothing more than a formal compliment, to direct me to seek infor. mation.” Page 16.
She justifies herself against the charge of not consulting with him or some one of the Session, lest it should be thought that she • wished to claim unlawful liberty, and despised the order which God has established. In this connexion we quote the following:
“I esteem teachers of the Gospel and church government more than ever, but do not think the authority given them in the Word allows them to bind the understanding of their hearers, or, if they should differ from them in opinion, to deny that they have any conscience, and attribute to them a perverse will. The business of the teachers of the Gospel is to instruct the understanding, and comfort the feeble minded, which is to be done by apply. ing the truths of the Word ; they being instruments in the hands of the Lord, to teach his people, should follow his example, and in so doing, they would make faithful and obedient subjects to the truth; for when the understanding is convinced, it has a tendency to subject the will. I know that men of learning, who devote their time to study, have a better opportunity of being well-informed. Still the state of society is such at present, that it is impossible for common people to trust to what men of learning say more than others; for they are constantly contending with each other about truth and falsehood, and if they alone have reason, and consequently conscience, I think it is a great cause of lamentation that they do not make a better use of it."
She then gives a short account of the education she received from her parents, .who were Presbyterians, in whose sentiments she remained till after their death, and thus describes the process of her mind, before becoming acquainted with the writings of Swedenborg
“I thought I believed in what I had been taught, and considered that all others had gone out of the way; consequently, I believed them destitute of true religion, or else ignorant and self-conceited, and thus in error. But when it pleased the Lord to remove me from this church, and I went out in the contending world, I found that there were those who hold opinions opposite to what I did, who had as great advantages from education and parts as their opponents, and whose characters as Christians were not reproached even by them. Although their doctrines were condemned, yet I observed they could bring Scripture to prove them with the same facility as their opponents, and that one passage of Scripture was quoted to prove different doctrines, each contending that his was the true interpretation. In this state of anxiety and uncertainty, I concluded they were all wrong; for I observed that the Scripture varied according to the recipient into which it entered. It did not flow out as it flowed in, but was modified so as to suit the several systems. I therefore determined to take the Word of God as it was handed down to me, without the comments of men for my articles of faith and cate. chism, to trust to his spirit to direct me when I read, and to enable me to understand what I read.” Pages 19, 20:
The expression “ I thought I believed,' deserves attention, as representing the state of many minds, who mistake the prejudices of early education for rational belief. Of those who, in after life, discover and renounce their errors, we have reason to fear, that a large proportion rest in general scepticism, while some rush forward into absolute infidelity. Few retain the docility, after they have passed the years of childhood, and receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save their souls.' The very discovery of those errors, in which we have been educated, is apt to induce an aversion even to divine authority, and to nourish that pride of understanding, which is the most effectual obstacle to the reception of divine truth.
We notice the following, as discovering piety and elevation of mind. In these days, perhaps, the spirit of a martyr is almost as rare as martyrdom itself.
“You put up a prayer for me, that I may be led to consider what a solemn step I am about taking, and pause before I make it. I can assure yon, sir, this is very grateful unto me, and my soul is melted when I reflect on it. Methinks I unite in the petition, and request that your prayers may be heard in your behalf as well as mine, and return unto you with the blessings you invoke for me ; for I think you also are about to take a very solemn step, and may you pause before you make it. As to my considering what I am about, this I have already done. Every step I have taken has been well considered; the cause, effect, and end have been explored and examined ; and I find it to be my duty to confess what I believe to be the truth, when called upon in the manner I have been. This is all that I have done, or am about doing, and I should not dare to do otherwise. No! I feel as if I would not deny this faith, if sentence of death was already pronounced on its professors.” Page 23.
She reasons with much force in opposition to Jones, on the subject of the Divine Humanity, stating the doctrine, as received in the New Church, and thus proceeds :
“It is for thus believing and worshipping that you condemn me, and say that I should worship an invisible God, without any form, and look to a finite man to make atonement for me. For with the pen of the author you sent me, you say, 'The being of God is not an object of sight, but of faith; it enters first into the heart, and if it is wrong there, then the first commandment is broken; and if a figure of it be set up before the eyes, then the second is broken.'” (Jones, p. 16.)
“I would ask, how can the person be faulty, whether it enters right or wrong, since he has no power to prevent its entrance; and if it does not pass through his understanding, and thus into his heart, his intellectual eyes in this case cannot possibly discern any thing of it.” Page 26.
"Now, sir, according to your doctrine, He that is the First and the Last, which liveth and was dead, and which hath the keys of death and hell, and who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, cannot be the God you worship, for he is described to be in the figure of a man. Neither can he be the man Christ, which is your Redeemer; for He that is the First and the Last cannot be a mere man, a creature of yesterday, and you say your Redeemer is a mere man with a human soul and body. He cannot be your God; for you say that the God you worship is three distinct persons, incomprehensibly united, and it is breaking the commandment to ascribe to him any figure. If God had forbid any figure to be ascribed to him, he would not appear to his servants in a human form, and command them to leave it on record. Such a description cannot fail to produce in the mind a figure, if we believe what we read to be true. I appeal to any one who reads the above passages, (Rev. 1 and 12 chap.) if it does not unavoidably produce in the mind the figure of a man.
“You declare you cannot have any fellowship with me, because I believe in the Divinity of Jehovah's Humanity, and worship him in it, the same as I address your soul when I address you ; and say you do not ascribe any figure to the object of your worship, for he is altogether incomprehensible. It fol. lows, of course, that you worship the Unknown God, in three distinct per. sons, each of which is self-existing and destitute of form, and in my opinion your temple should be called by his name.” Pages 27, 28.
This paragraph presents an opinion which may be worthy of very serious consideration. It is asserted by many, that no idea can be formed of the Divine Being, and that we ought not to con
sider Him as existing in any form. We would ask whether that can be an object of faith, of which no idea can be presented to the mind?
“ You say, (Jones, p. 186) “The unity of the Trinity is not figurative, but strict and real, and there can be no real unity in God, but that of his nature, essence or substance, and (p. 180) there are three distinct Agents, yet there is but cne and the same Divine Agency.' Now, how can one of these Divine persons, as they are here called, (for I confess I do not know how to speak of them, they having no figure, and yet I am forced to ascribe to them some personal property, or else forbear to speak of them) intercede with the other in behalf of guilty man, and make atonement for him, by taking his crimes upon himself, and thus again restore man to his divine favour, and then send the third person to administer comfort unto them, when all three of these persons have but one substance, consequently but one source of affection, thought, desire, speech, and action, and therefore if one was angry, the other could not avoid being so too, and what was spoken by the one would at the same moment proceed from the mouth of the other." Page 29.
For ingenuity and acuteness of reasoning, the above passage is pre-eminent. It would be not a little interesting to hear how Mr. Johnson and the Session would answer it. Of a similar character is the following:
“The author you sent me says, (p. 100) “ It is imagined that God cannot intercede with himself, but it is a matter of fact that he has actually done this, therefore it is wicked and false to say that he cannot; for God reconciled the world unto himself. It is also urged that God cannot proceed from or send himself. But here the question is begged that God is but one person; in which case it might be a contradiction. But when it is proved from Scripture that God is three persons, there is no contradiction in any of these things." - Strange reasoning! It is first asserted that God does intercede with himself; and then it is said there must be three persons for this, else it might be deemed a contradiction; while yet these three persons have but one source of life, thought, and action, and where one is, there all are with all the Divinity. What can this be but sending Himself in person as well as in essence? For as they are omnipresent, one cannot go where the other is not. I cannot see, therefore, how the distinction of persons, which is of itself a paradox, reconciles any apparent contradiction.” Pages 30, 31.
The famous passage in St. Paul, which is conceded to be a very difficult one, she thus remarks upon :
“As to Christ the Lord's giving up the kingdom to the Father, that God may be all in all, beyond a doubt you allude to the authority of St. Paul, as does your author, for proof of this opinion. I do not know any other pas. sages, except the one referred to, from which any such idea can be had, and
I think I may with propriety call this a detached one, which should be taken in connexion with the Scriptures, or at least with the rest of St. Paul's writings. I will take a little notice of this, that we may see what St. Paul really teaches. That these words, when taken alone, will bear such a construction, I do not deny. Yet St. Paul himself quotes the words of the Psalmist, to prove the contrary idea, (Heb. chap. 1.) The Father saith unto the son, * Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.' And when speaking of Jesus Christ himself, he says, (Heb. chap. 10.) “This man forever sat down on the right hand of God,' and (chap. 13.) Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day and forever. Consequently, if once a king, he will ever remain so. (1 Tim. vi.) Who is the only Potentate, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords ; and if once entitled to the adoration of angels and men, will ever continue to be. (Heb. i. 6.) When He bringeth the first begotten into the world, he saith, Let all the angels of God worship him; and if once acknowledged to be the supreme Head of the church, He will ever remain such. (Coll. i.) He is the head of the church, who is the beginning, the First-Born from the dead. Now, according to St. Paul's own words, He is, and will ever remain King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and all the angels of God will forever worship Him who is the Head of the church, and by whom all things consist, and who never changes. How then can St. Paul, consistently with his own words, teach such doctrine as you represent ?" Pages 32, 33.
By thus quoting from the other epistles of St. Paul, passages which manifestly contradict this, she has put her author into a difficulty, which it will not be easy to remove. The further remarks on this subject, which are well orthy the attention of the reader, are too long to be inserted here, except the following paragraph, which is too powerful to be omitted.
"Admitting your doctrine to be true, and that the Redeemer will resign his rule, I would ask, after this great event shall have taken place, and God the Father, as you say, shall actually have been hailed and acknowledged by all the human race as their all in all, what is then to become of Jesus Christ? When all his services shall have been performed, when all his sufferings, his merits, his mediation and intercession, shall have been crowned with the long-desired success, in restoring to divine favour the rebellious children of men, what are to be the final honours which will be his reward? Is he at last to mix with the crowd of blessed spirits, undistinguished, unnoticed, and forgotten by those millions of happy souls whose enjoyments now so fill their minds, as to leave no room for any recollection of gratitude and love for their once adored benefactor? In short, is the Saviour of mankind, after having actually saved them, at last to be deprived of the honours and the glory of having effected what, upon your own system, no other being in the universe could have accomplished ? After having been so many years worshipped as a God, is he now to be put upon a level with those that he has saved, and who have worshipped him? Surely this cannot be bettering the Arian scheme. They