« PoprzedniaDalej »
committed this most terrible, because unpardonable sin, the preacher set himself to explain terms, and to shew what he meant to be at.
“I was not sufficiently learned in the principles and philosophy of the New Church, to go along with him in all he said about the “ Son of Man," and the “ Holy Ghost,” on which, by the bye, and greatly to my comfort, he was very brief. But it appeared to me, that by the Son of Man we are to understand the Divine Word, in the external and visible sense, i. e. according to the letter and common appearances.' And by the Holy Ghost, we are to understand the Divine Word in its internal and spiritual character. This definition was short and simple: And so was that word which once said" Let there be light." Their effects also were similar and very striking. The clouds of chaos and old night seemed instantly fled away; the spirit of truth moved on the once dark waters of our minds, and we already anticipated the goodly creation which the Man of God was about to spread before us. Yes, blessed Jesus, "all manner of sin and blasphemy, even against thy Di. vine self, shall be forgiven, when it flows from ignorance-when it flowe.not from any hatred of good or from any love of evil, but merely from mistake, from weakness of intellect, or from prejudice of education." The preacher hastened to ilļustrate this by the strongest texts of holy writ: "There," said he, “in the Institution of the Eucharist, Christ says, “this is my body; and this is my blood.” Well, millions of well meaning souls, taking this in the literal sense, have built on it the doctrine of Transubstantiation ; and hence do actually and sincerely believe that they are then eating the very natural fesh, and drinking the very natural blood of Christ: Yet if they thus believe in the sincerity of their hearts, and if this belief bas a tenden. cy to make such persons more afraid of sinning against God, the merciful Creator and Redeemer of men will not condemn them for their error, but draw over it the veil of his heavenly forgiveness. Again, continued the preacher, millions of well meaning souls there are in the world, who, because they are daily reading in the scriptures concerning the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, have taken it into their heads that these are three distinct persons, or, which is much the same, three distinct Gods; or, in plainer English, that God the Father is one God; God the Son is a second God; and God the Holy Ghost is a third God! and still that these three Gods are not three Gods, but only one God; and yet not one God but three Gods! Now, though all this in the opinion of many other well meaning christians, appears to be in direct opposition to many plain passages of the word, as well as to that common sense and reason which God hath given to man to preserve him from error, and to enable him to perceive that The Lord our God is but one Lord: Yet, continued the preacher, if these persons who thus believe, are nevertheless truly humble and sincere in their faith, and have the image of Christ re-instamped on their hearts, in holiness and love, they will not be excluded from heaven on account of this their hopest prejudice of education, or contracted error; such sin or blasphemy shall be forgiven them.
“From these comparatively innocent souls who have blasphemed only be. cause, like little children, they knew no better, and who shall one day stand as loving and beloved lambs on the Saviour's right hand, the preacher then turned our thoughts to a widely different crew on the left, even the blasphemers against the Holy Ghost. These are they, said he, who hate the in. carnate God; who deny his divinity, and who calumniate his divine religion, from their own voluntary malignity and impenitence. Such, while in this most dreadful, most deplorable state, can never be forgiven; neither in this world, neither in the world to come. The preacher was well aware, he said, that such words would sound dreadfully harsh, in the ears of some people, who cannot bear the idea of any sin being beyond the reach of infinite mercy to forgive. But these persons, as he justly reasoned, should remember that it is not Gon who will not forgive, but the sinner who will not be forgiven. They should remember, too, this same thing declared in those other equally awful words :-“ Exceps a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” It is not, said he, shall not, but far worse, he cannot see the kingdom of God. If it be love, if it be only love that is to enter into, and even make all its own, with respect to the extasies of beatific vision, O! what must become of those wretched souls who are entirely destitute of that blissful preparation ! yea, not only destitute of it, but literally self-condemned? Is there not a gulf between such self-ruined souls and Christ? an awful, unfathomable gulf, of such moral incongruities, aversions, and abhorrences, that can never be passed. For while such blasphemers, by reason of their own horrible deformities, do hate the Lord because of his infinite beautieswhile, from their own diabolical pride, they scorn his divine humility “washing his disciples feet, taking the lowest seat, and making himself the servant of all ;” while from their own depraved hearts they abominate his heavenly love in forgiving enemies, overcoming evil with good, &c. and in the very face of those ten thousand precepts which demonstrated the most public spirited and actively beneficent religion in the universe, can brand it as a mere jargon of barren faith, that tends to no good effects on individual and national welfare-oh! how can such deep-rooted and incurable “blasphemy against the Holy Ghosi,” ever obtain forgiveness in this world, or the world to come ? nay, how can they ever ask it ? and even if the portals of heaven were thrown open, would they not of choice turn away abhorrent, and like the birds of night, from the solar blaze, Ay, screaming, off, with aversion, and in the glooms of hell itself, seek refuge from such insufferable splendor! The preacher then, by way of imprcvement, very earnestly entreated, that we would all examine ourselves, and try the true state and standing of our hearts toward Christ. Not Christ the preacher of Shibboleths and partyisms, but Christ, the preacher of social loves, wherein alone consists fitness for eternal life; not Christ the second Gop in the trinity, but the Great God himself, manifested in the flesh, or clothed in the humanity, that he might thereby gain closer access to the children of men, and in a more familiar and endearing way of precept and example, accomplish his great object, to “ seek and save those that were lost." But above all, the preacher cautioned us against all those delusive confidences, which would make us stop short of that humility and love, which alone can give the high capacity to adore, and to enjoy God, in a blissful eternity; and without which, indeed, the soul can no more enjoy celestial happiness, than the body, without health, can enjoy the dainties of the table here on earth ; or without nice ears, the enchanting strains of a full banded orchestra.
“I hardly need tell the reader that the congregation was all attention, and seemed to drink in those sublime truths with an avidity justly proportioned to their importance. For my own part, I shared largely in the general sentiment, and on going away, could not but reflect what great cause I had to bless God for sending this enlightened man to teach us such rational and exalted ideas of God, and to urge us to the cultivation of those sublime morals, which, if universal, would give immortality to our republic, and render us at once the glory and guardian of the human race. And if, after such weighty reasons for being well pleased with the preacher, I might be so permitted, I would add, though not a disciple of John Wesley, he strict. ly observed one of the best rules of that great man-he circumscribed the whole of his service, hymns, prayers, and sermon, within the limits of an hour: hence all his hearers, like guests from a well ordered feast, rose up refreshed, not surfeited, and with good appetites to return, whenever invited to the same celestial banquet.
“That this reverend gentleman may continue to preach as well, and to as attentive and crowded auditories, is the prayer of one who was there present, and who professes to be a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church."
PROGRESS OF THE RECEPTION OF TRUTH.
(Continued from p. 367.) As we had anticipated, our interesting correspondent has at length, from being an inquirer, become a zealous advocate for the doctrines of the New Jerusalem; and we give, with pleasure, a place to the following animated and affectionate effusions of the delight which he now enjoys in the study of the writings of our Heavenly-gifted scribė.
“When I reflect upon the remissness in writing, and in personal attention, wbich appears to characterize my conduct towards you, I cannot forbear reproaching myself with ingratitude. Under Providence, I owe to you a second life-a more exalted life than I ever conceived to be enjoyed on earth; and yet I can let months pass away without lifting my pen to thank you for your benevolence, and to bid you join me in blessing the FOUNTAIN OF LIFE in rejoicing in the beams of the sun OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
“ My path to glory and to triumph is not smooth. Clouds of mental perplexity hang their gloom around my head. A thousand temptations assail my heart. The asperities of worldly privations and toils lay snares innumerable for my feet. But the Lord is my shepherd and I shall not want: He makes me to lie down in green pastures: He leads me beside the still waters: He restores my soul: He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou Lord art with me, thy rod and thy staff comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the midst of my enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I WILL DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER! Transporting thought! Storms of affliction may shed their horrors round me, the thunder of adversity may 'roll its furies over me, the powers of the world, of the flesh, of hell, may combine against me, but the Lord is my shepherd, he restores my soul, I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
“ The more I read of the works of the New Jerusalem Church, the more I become convinced of their truth and excellence. They draw aside the cloud which veiled the beauties of the Sacred Writings, and present them to the astonished eye, full of life and energy; important beyond conception, and sublime beyond all on which the epithet “ sublimity” was ever bestowed. Compared to the writings of the New Church, the learned comments, the laborious expositions, the mysterious conjectures, and the inexplicable explanations of rabbim, of doctors, of bishops, and of philosophers, intended to unfold the meaning, and reconcile the difficulties of the Sacred Scriptures, appear to me like the puny, playful exertions of a child, opposed to the determined stride and resistless march of a giant.
“ There is nothing that seems a greater trouble to me, than the want of time sufficient to study them systematically. What would I not give, in exchange for time and opportunity to do this, and to acquire an acquaintance with the original languages of the Scriptures ? Let me be as poor as Lazarus, as to the world; but let me be rich in knowledge and in good works! I wish my friends could procure me as many scholars in Philadelphia, or any other situation, as might keep me alive until I should get this great end accomplished. I should then, if the Lord blessed my endeavours, sally forth into the world with the standard of my King and Saviour God; and in His name, and supported by His strength, proclaiin aloud the glad tidings of salvation to my fel. low men :-“But not my will, Lord, but thine be done."
6 I often smile at myself, when I find myself, as if unconsciously, reading every thing that I do read, with a reference to the Doctrines, and considering it more or less interesting, as the sentiments of the author or matter of the piece approximate to, or l'ecede from, the tenor of the Writings: and when I light on any thing which may tend to disperse the cloud of prejudice, that the natural mind is apt to throw over the wonderful truths which these Writings promulgate, I rejoice over it with unaffected joy.
** I have just met with an instance of this, affording strong col· lateral evidence to that of Emauel Swedenborg, respecting the spi
ritual world. I shall only quote a few particulars here, as I have not room for more ; referring you, for the whole of it, to Proud's History of Pennsylvania, Vol. II. pages 320, 325.”
“ In the summer of the year 1760, a number of religious Indians paid a visit to the Quakers in Philadelphia, on a religious account. Their chief man, whom the rest of the company styled their minister, was named Papunehung, or Papounan.
“ The Interpreter gave the following account of Papunehung's change, or conversion, viz.: " He was formerly a drunken man; but the death of bis father bringing sorrow over his mind, he fell into a thoughtful, melancholic state; in which his eyes were turned to behold the earth, and consider the things which are thereon ; from seeing the folly and wickedness which prevailed, his sorrows increased ; and it was given him to believe, there was a great power, which had created all these things. Upon which his mind was turned from beholding this lower world, to look towards him, who had created it; and strong desires were raised in his heart after the further knowledge of his creator; nevertheless the Almighty was not yet pleased to be found, or known, by him. But his desires increasing, he forsook the . town, and went into the woods, in great bitterness of spirit. He was missed by the other Indians, who feared some casualty might have happened to him, but afier searching for him, he was not found. At the end of five days it pleased God to appear to him, to his comfort; and to give him a sight pot only of his own inward state, but also an acquaintance, or knowledge, into the works of nature ; so that he apprehended a sense was given him of the virtues and natures of several herbs, roots, plants, trees, with the different relation they had one to another; and he was made sensible that man stood