A brief discussion of some of the claims of the Hon. E. Swedenborg
OF SOME OF THE
HON. E. SWEDENBORG
TO BE RECEIVED AS THE
HERALD OF THE SECOND ADVENT
Lord Jesus Christ.
BEING A LECTURE, DELIVERED ON THE OCCASION OF A COLLECTION
FOR THE FUNDS Of THE LONDON SOCIETY FOR PRINTING
AND PUBLISHING HIS THEOLOGICAL WRITINGS,
SUNDAY EVENING, THE 31ST OCTOBER, 1841,
The New Jerusalem Temple, Newcastle upon Tyne,
REV. E. D. RENDELL.
PUBLISHED BY REQUEST.
J. S. HODSON, 112, FLEET STREET; AND W. NEWBERY,
6, CHENIES STREET, BEDFORD SQUARE.
This discourse was hastily drawn up at intervals during four days preceding its delivery, and without the least intention of its ever appearing in print. The delivery was attended by a very respectable audience, and I have been given to understand that it was received with very general satisfaction. It was this alone which induced me to consent to its publication. In revising it for the press, three or four short passages have been added, and a few verbal alterations have been made: with these exceptions, it is precisely the same discourse as met the approval of those who heard it read. It has no pretension to any thing new in argument or in facts; it is rather a collection of these, in a condensed form, as they have been urged by various writers of the New Church at different times, set forth in a brief and general manner. I sincerely hope that it will contribute something towards promoting the knowledge of truth, upon what is believed to be an important subject in these times; and thus respond to the expectation of those at whose suggestion the publication was undertaken, and particularly realize the usefulness contemplated by him, who, with so much kindness and liberality, undertook the expense of it.
Blenheim Street, Newcastle, Nov. 24, 1841.
SOME OF THE
CLAIMS OF SWEDENBORG
SET FORTH, &c.
"Beware, therefore, lest that come upon you which is spoken of in the prophets: Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you."
Habakkuk and Isaiah are the prophets referred to; but it is the language of the former which the apostle Paul has most distinctly quoted. It is a sort of climax to a general statement, intended to enforce upon the consideration of unbelievers the extraordinary truths of the Gospel dispensation. The chief designs of the citation are to warn them against the melancholy consequences of obstinate prejudice, and to induce them to remove a perverse faithlessness in the means which Divine Wisdom has employed to communicate spiritual intelligence and eternal virtues to the world. As a prophecy written under the direction of the Divine auspices, it must, of course, have its fulfilment in some specific circumstance. The apostle appears to have regarded that circumstance to be the preaching of the forgiveness of sins through the Lord Jesus Christ, and the obtaining thereby justification, which could not be secured by the law—the ceremonial law—of Moses But still, as a Divine prediction, its signification was not intended to be confined to that circumstance, or its application to be limited to those times: if such were the case, it has now become inutile and forceless. The Lord did not at that time, nor has he at any subsequent period, so shortened his arm as to prevent himself from ever afterwards declaring the wonders of His kingdom, or making known the munificent works of His mercy, through the instrumentality of man. Whenever be may do so, we may rest assured that the condition of mankind will be such as to require it; and it is highly probable that one of the ingredients of that condition will be an inclination to reject the truths which wisdom may reveal. Hence the language of the text may be regarded as an appropriate motto to this discourse, the purpose of which is to set forth some of the claims of the Honourable Emanuel Swedenborg to be received as the Herald of the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It may be proper, at the outset, to state why this subject has been selected for the present exposition. In 1810 a society was instituted in London, for the purpose of printing and publishing the theological writings of that distinguished person. This became requisite in consequence of the very large expense that would necessarily be incurred by the publication of upwards of 30 volumes; particularly as there existed a popular prejudice against the doctrines contained in them, which would operate for a time so as to limit the sale, and thus prevent the return of the outlay in a reasonable period. Previously to this, several of the works had been translated and published by private persons, receivers and admirers of the new doctrines; but private publication afforded no guarantee to the church at large, either for their accuracy, or for their being kept, by renewed editions, permanently in print. Most of the works had also been translated from the Latin language, and published by a society instituted in Manchester; but that society also contemplating the publication of expository writings, was by some thought not sufficiently distinctive. Considerations something like these
originated the London society: since its establishment, the whole of the New Church writings have been published by it: and some of the works have gone through two editions. By these means mankind have been better and more extensively informed of the nature of their contents; and now a period has arrived in which it has become necessary that these extraordinary writings should be printed in a uniform and elegant manner, and be offered to the public at prices exceedingly low. For some years, the London society, formed of members residing in various parts of the kingdom, has been endeavouring to accomplish those purposes; and with the view of increasing the efficiency of its labours, it has appealed for pecuniary assistance to the societies of the New Church throughout the kingdom. We, as one of those societies, are desirous of acting upon one of its suggestions for this purpose, namely, that of making, after a sermon, a collection once a year.
This being the first occasion, we considered it as a suitable opportunity for stating what are the claims of the illustrious Swedenborg upon the attention of mankind: we, also, thought that the public has a right to enquire what the peculiar pretensions of that distinguished individual are, particularly when we were about to solicit its pecuniary assistance for the publication of his writings. To answer this is no inferior inducement. We wish to inform the public correctly concerning a man of whom they have heard but little, and that little either from the tongues of malevolence and slander, or from the pens of ignorance and prejudice.
The pretensions of Swedenborg, as we understand them, are, that he was chosen by the Lord for the purpose of announcing the commencement of his second advent to mankind, and thereby the beginning of a New Church, signified by the New Jerusalem described in the Revelation, xxi. That to this end the Lord opened the eyes of his spirit, and vouchsafed to him a spiritually visible and oral intercourse with the spiritual worlds, so that by information thence de rived and communicated from the Lord, he might be enabled to make known the real nature of the Holy Scriptures, and the true doctrines contained in them.
Now pretensions like these, proclaimed in times when scepticism concerning things of a spiritual nature and the eternal world has paralyzed the faith of millions, and even taken up a visible possession in too many of the minds of professed believers, are not likely to be extensively received or correctly understood at their first promulgation. They do not agree with the desires of mankind, who have descended into states of the plainest naturalism—they coincide not with expectations formed by the influences of error—they are opposed to the common prejudices of the world; but above all, they are associated with intelligence which exposes the popular opinion of Christianity as inexplicable dogmas, and a mass of corruption.
But upon what evidences are pretensions of such an extraordinary nature to be supported? To answer this enquiry many considerations are requisite. Among the first stands the character of the man who announces them, and the manner of his doing it. Swedenborg speaks of his commission and intercourse with the spiritual world with the utmost frankness and modesty, yet with a fervour and earnestness for which nothing but their reality can account. He was the son of a bishop of Sweden, a circumstance which may be regarded as unquestionable evidence of his early initiation into the principles of piety and elementary learning. His education was subsequently carried on at the University of Upsal; and he was distinguished very early for the success with which he cultivated classical literature. He afterwards, studied the sciences with the utmost diligence, and to enlarge his knowledge he travelled into the principal countries of Europe, and opened out correspondence with the most eminent professors. On all hands he is confessed to have been one of the most distinguished philosophers of his time, and a scientific writer of the utmost celebrity. He was a nobleman and one of the legislators of his country, holding in it, at various times, offices of a dignified and responsible nature, enjoying the intimacy and confidence of several of the sovereigns of Sweden, with the esteem and intercourse of the great ones of his nation; a man whose reputation had extended itself to all the colleges and seminaries of learning in the civilized world; a man whose morals were the most exemplary, and whose piety was the most eminent; whose integrity was the most undeviating, and veracity unquestionable; and in whose character the most determined opposers of his theological doctrines have in vain sought for a blot.
This man, then, at the very summit of an unparalleled reputation, in the 56th year of his age, in the vigour of his intellect and the bloom of his health, all at once declines his philosophical studies and scientifical pursuits, retires from court, relinquishes the offices of the state, and serenely passes into a private condition, where, for the remaining 29 years of his life, he assiduously devoted himself to theological enquiries, employing his fortune to the publication of his writings, wherein he has made disclosures of the most extraordinary kind, and declared sentiments which amount to the pretensions we have stated: so that from a philosopher he became a theologian, in like manner as the disciples from fishermen became apostles, namely, by a call from the Lord!
Now is it probable that a man so favourably circumstanced, a man of unblemished reputation and untainted truthfulness, would have made pretensions of so uncommon a nature, and persisted in them with so much candour of expression and consistency of character, for so long a period, if they had not been true? The supposition cannot be made to agree with such facts. They who would assert his statements to be false, must necessarily regard his conduct to be wicked, and they are called upon to reconcile the idea which assumes him to have deliberately concocted, and frequently to have announced, a blasphemous pretension, with the superlative greatness of his mind, the magnanimous goodness of his heart, and the profound and uniform virtues of a life extending over a period of upwards of 80 years. Such a phenomenon could not exist. The elements necessary for its production are incapable of coming into contact. A bad man may knowingly speak the truth; but for a good man to invent a falsehood of such a nature, to utter it with frequency and solemnness, to persist in it with inimitable coolness for nearly 30 years, and to die with declarations of its truth upon his lips, is a thing impossible. The facts of his goodness refute the imagination of his falsehood.
But it may be insinuated that he had recourse to such extraordinary pretensions in order to become the founder of a sect. This, however, is denied by the excellence of his character, and contradicted by the dignified principle of his writings. The idea originates in the presumed falsehood of his assertions, and it imputes to him motives of a diabolical nature. The person who can state a falsehood upon such a subject, and solemnly maintain that it is true, and that, too, merely for the purpose of laying the foundation of a future greatness among his fellow-creatures, is of all others the most to be detested: first for attempting to deceive mankind in matters pertaining to their eternal life and interests; and, second, because the intention for so doing must be infernal, being grounded in the love of self and of the world. The notion of his having been a deliberate impostor is founded in such utter ignorance concerning him, and so truly ridiculous, that it has never yet obtained a serious attention among well-read and sensible men.
The doctrines of the Church, the commencement of which we regard him to have announced, are such as to prevent the possibility of his ever being looked upon as its founder by any of its members. Moreover, this Church has not anything sectarian in its principles; for the good and the true, wheresoever and with whomsoever they may be found, whether professing to be a Jew or a Gentile. Greek or barbarian, are by us regarded as brethren, having in them something belonging to that Church of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the only Head. All the doctrines of this Church tend to promote, in those who receive them, intelligence and virtue: for the precepts of truth are to teach men how to live. These doctrines encourage no one to hope for heaven who has not, in agreement with the opportunities afforded him, lived in conformity with its laws.
They who have classed him with such mean-minded and illiterate enthusiasts as Brothers, Muggleton, Reeve, Southcote, and that tribe of the victims of delusion, know not what they do. The receivers of such fanaticisms as they have propounded, just come into existence as such, exhibit their inconsideration, betray their folly, sink into neglect, and pass away. It is not so with Swedenborg. His writings are to be found in nearly all the civilized countries of the world; in most of the distinguished colleges of Europe and America, and in the libraries of the learned. They are spoken of with respect by the wise, and noticed in the literature of our times as being among the most extraordinary productions of theological erudition. Receivers of the doctrines, which he has been the instrument of announcing, are to be found among statesmen, poets, orators, judges, members of all the learned professions; the nobility, bishops, clergy of the establishment, and of most of the other denominations of Christians: and believers in them are continually enlarging their number, and we sincerely hope increasing their intelligence and piety.
The pretensions of Swedenborg then derive some evidence favourable to their truth from the unsullied excellence of his character, the effects of his writings, and their uniform tendency to make men wise and good.
But it will be said that these circumstances are but small proofs that he was commissioned by the Lord to announce his second advent to the world. But why are they small proofs? If the asseverations of a good and wise man are not to be credited, surely little reliance is to be placed upon the declaration of a bad man and a blockhead. Most commentators of any celebrity admit, that according to the prophecies of Scripture a period is to arrive in the Church when more enlightened views of doctrines and a purer practice of its principles, than at present prevail, are to distinguish it. Does it not follow, then, that some one is to be selected by the Lord, and illuminated by Him, for the purpose of making these known? They cannot be brought into existence, or obtain publicity, but through the instrumentality of man. Surely, then, there is no absurdity in asserting that the time anticipated by them has arrived, or in pointing out the individual whom we consider to have been chosen for the purpose. Goodness and wisdom are qualifications adapted for such selection, and necessary for the faithful execution of such a work: though it does not follow that every good and wise man will be so highly favoured; yet if a good and wise man make such a declaration, certainly his character is some guarantee for the accuracy of his assertion.
But he may have been deceived. Alas! if that were the case, Satan must have been his seducer; and thence arises the enquiry how it happened that the prince of darkness should have conducted him, without deviation in the paths of light and virtue, and induced him to write a series of extensive works, the whole tenor of which is to overthrow his kingdom. The idea that he was imposed on involves the unaccountable notion that Satan was industriously employed for thirty years in endeavouring to effect the downfal of his own horrible dominion.
But such is the naturalism into which the human mind has unhappily descended, that, in order to avoid crediting his assertions, that he had, for a long period, communication with the spiritual worlds, some have said that he must have been mad! Alas! This may be a ready objection, but it is not true. It has been more frequently urged than any other, and consequently subjected to the closest investigation; the result has been the most certain and triumphant refutation of it. His enemies, failing to substantiate the general allegation of insanity, have attempted to fix upon him some shades of that terrible disease, such as idolomania; but nothing in his case has ever been discovered answering to the symptoms which are described as attending it. The charge is the result of inconsideration, having some kindred with the malady itself. It has no foundation in any authentic circumstances or facts. Was Paul mad because Festus said so so? He spoke the words of soberness and truth, though the subject of them was "the heavenly vision" he had experienced. The Jews said of the Lord Jesus Christ that he had a devil and was mad; but this was the sentiment of ignorance and wickedness, the cry of those very persons whom the Saviour described as being of their father the devil, and said that the lusts of their father they would do. Such unfounded charges have too frequently been brought by the thoughtless against those eminent persons whose virtues and talents have placed them in advance of the times in which they lived; and the facts ought to be considered as a salutary admonition against imitating an example so vicious in its origin, and so dangerous in its consequences.
Christians profess to believe in the existence of a spiritual world, and in the immateriality of their own souls; in the existence of angels, and their ministration in the affairs of men; in the existence of wicked spirits, and their continued efforts to deceive mankind. Can they, then, with any consistency or reason, doubt, if the eyes of their spirits were to be opened by the Lord, that they would then be enabled to see the things of the otherwise invisible kingdom? Would such a circumstance afford any evidence of their insanity? Does that privilege, granted, as it undoubtedly was, to many of the prophets and apostles, prove those persons to have been mad? If so, the Bible is, for the most part, the fictions of a disordered intellect, and Christianity itself a fabrication of the insane.
Still, by some it may be said, there can be no doubt concerning his being an enthusiast, fanatic, and visionary. The charges made by such expressions are too vague to be forcible. The signification of the terms have too much latitude for maintaining solidity in argument. If by an enthusiast and fanatic are meant a person who vainly imagines himself to have a supernatural intercourse with the spiritual world, and revelations from the Lord; and thus one who has such conceits without facts for their foundation; then those terms are expressive of a species of insanity, and therefore their application is disposed of by the considerations under that head. If they are intended to indicate some follies, it is necessary, before they can be applied to Swedenborg, to make out some cases of such a nature against him. We confidently await the issue of such an attempt. If any thing else be meant, it must be defined before its refutation can be undertaken. But the terms will not admit of any significations which are applicable to the writings or of the character of this illustrious person. As to his being a visionary, we are not aware that there is anything very odious in the circumstance of seeing a vision. When it was enjoyed by holy men in ancient days, it was regarded as a privilege; and we do not see why it should be considered as a disadvantage in modern times. When the Lord predicted that "young men shall see visions," he surely did not intend that its fulfilment should be understood as a discreditable circumstance: on the contrary, he must have designed it for the information and benefit of mankind. If Swedenborg has seen and heard things in the spiritual world, it must have been a privilege granted him by the Lord with a similar design: We have already, we think, placed the truth of this statement on probability; before we close we expect to fix it upon a certainty.
But being driven from the objections referred to, it may be said that he should have attested his commission by the performance of miracles. In such a requisition we are presented with another evidence of the sensual condition into which the human mind has fallen. The Lord said that it is "an evil and adulterous generation that seeketh after a sign." He also declared that if men "hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead." These statements assure us that miracles are not the proper evidences of truth, and also that they are not adapted to produce that reasonable conviction concerning it, which is to accompany the genuine faith of an enlightened Christian. To suppose that they were ever performed with such a view is a mistake; for the Lord predicted that "false christs and false prophets should rise, and shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, the very elect." Whence we learn, that if we regarded them to be admissible evidence upon the matter in question, there would exist the utmost difficulty in distinguishing the spurious from the genuine. Then if Swedenborg had performed any miracles, in the popular acceptation of the term, there would have been some ground for hesitating to acknowledge the truth of his pretensions; and we suspect that that class of persons, who would now call out for miracles to attest the truth of our author's pretensions, would, if he had actually performed them, have been among the foremost to ascribe them to infernal agency: for naturalism must necessarily be inconsistent in reference to things of a spiritual nature.
Miracles merely awe the understanding, they do not convince the judgment. They may terrify the beholder, but they will not make him wiser. They may induce obedience from fear, but they will not originate virtue from love. Not withstanding the stupendous miracles performed by Moses before Pharaoh and the Israelites, we find that they served to harden the heart of the one, and certainly induced no improvement upon the other. They had not even the effect of preventing their idolatry in the wilderness, softening their obstinacy, or restraining their rebellion. Why was this? Because miracles only became necessary in ages of turpitude and darkness; and, therefore, it is only in such periods that they have been performed. Such phenomena are unsuited to modern times, when reason has obtained a superior developement in humanity; and they are by no means adapted to assist in the promulgation of those spiritual truths of genuine religion, for which we believe the illustrious Swedenborg to have been raised up. But why should miracles be considered necessary to prove the truth of his mission? Many of the prophets performed no miracles, and yet their authority is not doubted on that account. Of John the Baptist is is said that he did no miracle; yet, "Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than he:" nevertheless the declaration of his having seen the heavens opened, and
the Spirit of God descending like a dove, is believed to be true, without the aid of miracles to confirm it. It is evident that a miracle would not prove a falsehood true: it is equally plain that a thousand miracles would not make a truth more true; the reason is, because there is no necessary connexion between the two things. In these days, the chief of all miracles is the promulgation of theological truth; and this we believe the Lord to have put the world in possession of, through the instrumentality of Swedenborg. No one has yet ever doubted this fact after he has thoroughly investigated the matter!
But what authority is there for supposing that the Lord would vouchsafe additional information to his church and people? There is the authority of the Scriptures. It is no unexampled circumstance for the Lord, during the progress and decline of a dispensation, to raise up persons for the purpose of declaring its corruptions, and restoring information which had been thoughtlessly abandoned. The Jewish economy existed only about the same period that the Christian church has already done; yet how numerous were the prophets which were raised up, at various times, with the express design of correcting its abuses. If the Jews had uniformly acted upon the principle of rejecting, after the death of Moses, all the communications made to them by the prophets, on the ground that no further revelations were to be made, what would have become of a very large proportion of the Bible, and thus of the means of Christian edification? The degeneracy predicted of the Christian church is such, that, whensoever it may arrive, it is plain that a divine interference must take place to preserve it from extinction. Delay would be dangerous to its continuation; and a refusal to rescue it from the embraces of perversion would not agree with the unwearied benevolence of God. Moreover, the statement, that false prophets would arise, will allow of the inference, that a genuine teacher would be provided to counteract their influence by the proclamation of truth. The laws of the divine providence do not allow wickedness to have an uninterrupted sway. To refuse the testimony of Swedenborg, on the ground, that no information is to be granted, beyond that which is now possessed by the church, is an act of inconsideration which will be repudiated by intelligent men.
Still it may be urged, that his profession cannot be true; for, if the system of theology, which he has announced, be divine, God would have revealed it long before. An objection of this kind is founded in ignorance concerning the laws of the divine providence. To dwell upon an answer, would be to attach to it much more importance than it deserves. If it had any weight, it would be equally forcible against the establishment of Christianity itself. In that case, the objection would stand thus: Christianity cannot be true; for, if the theological system of the Gospel be divine. God would have revealed it long before he did. On this head, then, more is not necessary to be said.
But we need not enumerate objections. Swedenborg has anticipated all that can be brought against his extraordinary professions; and he has either answered them, or furnished the principles of doing it. That he foresaw the difficulties, which, for a time, would obstruct the reception of his pretensions, is plain, from several passages which may be adduced from his writings. Thus, in his "Arcana Cœlestia," he says, "I am well aware of many objections which will be urged by a variety of persons; some insisting, that it is a thing impossible for any one to converse with spirits and angels during his life in the body; others, that such intercourse must be mere fancy and illusion; others, that I have invented such relations in order to gain credit; whilst others will indulge doubts and scruples of different sorts. All these objections, however, are of no weight with me; having seen, having heard, and having felt what I am about to declare." Now is it probable, that a man, who could so lucidly foresee objections to his claims, and state them with so much perspicuity, would have persisted in a career of falsehood? If his pretensions were not true, he must have known that such objections would be valid; that they would expose him to deserved ridicule and scorn: and would not this have operated so as to deter him from pursuing a course of detestable imposture, particularly as the circumstances associated with it would obviously promote its detection? His case cannot be accounted for upon any other principle than that of allowing his protestations to be true. Speaking of the facts he was about to relate concerning his intercourse with the spiritual world, he said, "Many will believe that they are fictions of the imagination; but I protest in truth that they are not fictions, but were truly done and seen; not seen in any state of the mind asleep, but in a state of full wakefulness; for it hath pleased the Lord to manifest Himself to me, and to send me to teach the things relating to the New Church, which is meant by New Jerusalem in the Revelation." Conjugial Love. No. 1.
This may be received as a bold announcement of his inspiration. If it be true, pious confidence was requisite to make it known. The prophets and others declare similar things of themselves; and their claims to be believed, like his, stand upon the authority of personal assertion. By what rule of criticism, then, are we to be guided in determining our belief or rejection of their respective claims? Certainly by that which directs the investigation of collateral evidence, particularly as it is contained in the documents they have written. We admit that there is one species of evidence proving the truth of the prophets declaration, which is wanting in the case of Swedenborg: that is, that their writings have an internal or spiritual sense, distinct from the letter, though manifested by it. Now this, the writings of Swedenborg have not; but then the want of this kind of testimony is compensated for by the fact, that Swedenborg is the person by whom this spiritual sense of the Word has been discovered, and by whom the laws which regulate that species of composition have been unfolded. He, therefore, on the other hand, has a kind of evidence, favouring the truth of his pretensions, which the prophets had not. He understood, and has revealed, the internal sense of what they wrote, and thus appears to have had an enlightened perception which the prophets did not always enjoy. On all hands it is confessed that they did not invariably comprehend the subject upon which the Divine afflatus impelled them to write. The Lord said to the multitude "that many prophets and righteous men desired to see those things which they saw, and had not seen them;" from which it is plain that they could not have had a perfect personal inspiration. Neither had the apostles, for they saw, but in part, and through a glass darkly. This, then, must be considered as a desideratum in the proceedings of the Divine economy, and which we think the case of Swedenborg sufficiently supplies. The inspiration of the prophets, then, more properly belongs to their writings than to their persons; but the inspiration of Swedenborg belongs more properly to his person than his writings; understanding personal inspiration to mean the opening of the senses of the interior mind or spirit, so as to enable it to acquire an intellectual knowledge of the things pertaining to the other life; and the inspiration of writings to denote that there is a spiritual and celestial signification contained within the letter. Swedenborg, by means of his personal inspiration, was permitted to have sensible experience of a multitude of facts which distinguish the laws and government of the spiritual worlds. Among these, he was given to know in what sense the angels understood the Scriptures—for the word of the Lord is for ever settled in the heavens—and thereby to bring down their intelligence concerning it for the edification of mankind, so that a new epoch might be commenced in the Christian dispensation. The composition in which he has made these communications is human. It does not, like the writings of the prophets and other portions of the Holy Word, contain a spiritual sense; but it reveals what that sense is, and thus brings to view those divine truths which lie concealed beneath the letter, and which constitute the inspiration of the Scriptures. Swedenborg, then, in alleging a personal inspiration in the sense we have stated it, does not claim for his writings any equality with the Word, as some have ignorantly imagined, and others perversely insinuated. No one has succeeded so well in shewing the absolute Divinity of the Scriptures, the immutable nature of their composition, and the unbounded veneration to which they are entitled. The Word, says he, has a spiritual sense in all and every part; and it is owing to this sense that it is divinely inspired and holy in every syllable. The literal sense is the basis of the spiritual and celestial senses, wherein Divine truth is in its fullness, sanctity, and power; and by means of this literal sense, man has conjunction with the Lord and consociation with the angels. See The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scriptures.
It has been said that the claims of Swedenborg cannot be true, because his doctrines are so novel. We can scarcely imagine that any one ever seriously entertained this as an objection. If they are true, and had been known, a revelation of them would not have been required. All Divine communications, on their first promulgation, must necessarily appear novel: it was the case with Christianity itself 1800 years ago. It is folly to urge objections from such a fact; for any one may see that novelty is the very feature by which a revelation must be distinguished. It would be absurd to pretend revelation for that which every person knew. The doctrines made known by Swedenborg are new, because they are the doctrines of the New Jerusalem; and their character is such as to manifest that they could not have originated in any other than special illumination for the purpose. To imagine them to be ingenious and clever speculations is to claim for him what he disowns; and it supposes him to be the greatest genius and most original thinker distinguishing the history of man.
But we will dwell no longer upon the refutation of such objections. All the blessings of spiritual intelligence which have been communicated to the world have been vouchsafed through the instrumentality of man; and no one, who calls himself a Christian, can doubt the power or willingness of the Lord to make known additional information concerning himself, his economy, and kingdom, if the circumstances of man kind should be such as to require it. Now that such circumstances would take place appears very evident from the prophetic contents of the xxiv, chap, of Matthew. Therein the decline of the first Christian church from its primitive holiness and purity of doctrine is most distinctly predicted. This fact is admitted by the best authorities upon all hands. It is too plain to be denied. The point at issue then, between us and them, is as to the time of its accomplishment. The professing church will not acknowledge that it has come, nor is it to be expected that it will at any future period throw off its character as a church, and proclaim its own apostacy. Nay, it will ever be a part of a corrupted church to cling with pertinacity to its perversions. It will indeed confess, because it will read in the Scriptures, that iniquity will abound, the love of many wax cold, and that the day of the Lord will not come unless there come a falling away first; but we may rest assured that a corrupted church will never allow that the period has arrived upon it. It will not believe that it contains within itself the abomination of desolation: so long as a church considers itself such, it will announce itself to be the true church, and its impurities will be dignified by the title of its mysteries. Whatsoever may be its perversities, it will never as a church acknowledge them; it will be too blind to see them, and we cannot expect that it will pronounce its own condemnation. What, then, is to be done in such a case? How is the church, when it has come to an end, to be informed of the fact? and by what means is a system of pure and spiritual theology to be made known among mankind? Doubtless by no other than that of the Lord himself raising up some human instrument properly qualified for the purpose!
Now this instrument Swedenborg alleges himself to have been; and, consequently, one of the legitimate evidences of his pretensions lies in the proof that the professing church has now actually come to its end: the other will depend upon the proof that the doctrines which he has announced are those of the Word of God, genuinely understood. We say that the legitimate evidence of his pretension consists in the proof of these facts: for if the professing church has not come to its end by the corruption of its doctrines, then there has not arrived the necessity for that illumination which he claims. But if it was consummated, as he asserts, then it is manifest that it did not contain within it the means of true spiritual information concerning the Lord's church and kingdom: hence arose the necessity for the raising up of someone, duly qualified by means of an intercourse with the spiritual world, for the purpose of explaining the true nature of the Word. Again, if the doctrines by which such explanations are accompanied, are not true, then the allegation of having derived them by revelation from the Lord must be false. But if they are true, and such as the professing church had not the means of communicating, then the fact of the divine origination which may be claimed for them becomes exceedingly strong.
Now we believe that the professing church has actually come to its end, and that the doctrines announced by Swedenborg to aid in the formation of a New Church are divinely true. We believe them, not merely because that illustrious man has said so, but because they are facts capable of the most extensive and conclusive proof. To complete these proofs would oblige us to pass over very extensive fields of intellectual investigation: we can now only take those parts of the excursion which the remainder of our time will permit. The doctrines of a genuine church are drawn from the Lord's Holy Word, and they are intended to teach mankind how to think wisely of God. His kingdom, and Providence; and also how to live in agreement with His laws, and thus to be virtuous. A church is corrupted in proportion as it is defective in these two essential principles; and it is brought to its end when its doctrines are such as are not contained in the Revelation of God. Let it be observed, that a church is brought to its end as such, that is, as to the essentials of its existence, when it has ceased to teach the doctrines contained in the Holy Word, and substituted false ones in their place. A fallen and consummated church may profess itself to be upright and true—it may retain its ceremonies, bolster up its errors, and gloss its perversions—assert itself a queen—declare itself no widow, although the Lord, its husband, has departed,—and for centuries mistake a languishing existence for a condition of health and vigour; but such professions and external things are no proofs of its having within it the intelligent, living, and acting principle of a pure and imperishable church! Every Christian believes that the Jewish dispensation is at an end—that it was brought to this pass by that people having rendered the Word of God of none effect by their traditions. It is so; nevertheless we find that it has its professors, its synagogues, priests, worship, institutions, and ceremonies; and that it appeareth to live nearly two thousand years after the catastrophe which brought it to a termination. Such external things of a church may exist upon the same principle that sepulchres may be whitened, yet have within them dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Hence we learn that Christianity, though fallen, may profess itself to stand, and, as to externals, continue to exist long after the internal principles of genuine truth have departed from it. Indeed such circumstances are to be expected; they are the concomitants of a corrupted church; for in the progress of its perversions of truth, and recession from holiness, it will so interweave itself with secular interests and worldly institutions, as to render it a kingdom of this world merely. The existence then of Christianity, as it is popularly understood, is not proven to be genuine by the continuance of (illegible text)forms, the observance of its ceremonies, or the number of its adherents. We must look at its internal principles as they are taught in its doctrines and propounded by its accredited authorities, in order to detect its actual quality. That it is influenced by some deleterious maxims is manifest from the facts that it is broken up into nearly a hundred different sects—that in each are to be found as many differing speculations—that most concur in acknowledging its leading doctrines to be inexplicable, and place reason under the subjection of faith—and that while all profess to derive their notions from the Bible as the standard of truth, not one of them has any distinct doctrine which teaches what are the laws of divine composition, or discloses a uniform principle for its interpretation; so that it is destitute of that very knowledge which is essential to the preservation of genuine truth.
Mark also that fearful animosity subsisting between the two general divisions of this professing church—the Catholic and the Protestant. Protestant societies say that the Catholic dispensation is "The Mother of Harlots;" forgetting, perhaps, that they are themselves her daughters. The Catholic, in return, pronounces the Protestant to be Antichrist; and thus, while exchanging the epithets of recrimination, they obliterate the activities of charity, and consign each other to the dwellings of the lost.
But look at what are called the essential doctrines, as they are professed by all. Are they not all asserted to be mysteries, when enlightened reason either ventures to remove the sackcloth in which they are clothed, or to disturb the ashes in which they are imbedded. Every one of them, at certain points of intelligent enquiry, recedes from the light of investigation, and forbids it to approach. The tripersonality of the Godhead is said to be a mystery, so is the atonement and the means of salvation thereby. The communication of grace, the activities of faith, the nature of the resurrection, the principles of judgment, the joys of Heaven, the torments of Hell, and the coming of the Lord, are all pronounced to be mysteries which reason must not dare to handle, or philosophy attempt to touch. Do not these facts prove, most convincingly, that there is no true intelligence upon the most important subjects of revelation in that dispensation of which they are predicable? When mystery begins, there is some reason to suspect that truth has ended: wisdom is one of of the capital attributes of a genuine church; if, then, a church professes to exist, which teaches doctrines that cannot be received among the people as principles of rational intelligence, or be regarded by them as the subjects of wisdom, the conclusion that it has come to its end, is irresistible. Doctrines which cannot be comprehended by man, cannot be of any intellectual or practical use to him.
But why are those doctrines asserted to be mysteries? Because investigation brings to light certain deformities which their espousers deem it desirable to hide. And why is reason forbidden to exercise its functions upon those important subjects? Because the conclusion to which it must necessarily arrive is unfavourable to their truth, and conducive to their rejection. It would be no difficult matter to prove that all the doctrines adverted to, are in the professing church erroneously understood, both by the efforts of reason, and from the testimony of revelation; but our purpose, on this occasion, will be answered by a reference to one, namely, that which relates to the second advent of the Lord.
That the Lord declared he would come again is a truth well known: the event is frequently treated of in the Word; but the manner in which the prediction is to be fulfilled is erroneously understood. The language in which it is most particularly described is the following:—"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." Now this language is commonly interpreted to mean that the Lord Jesus Christ will, at the end of the world, appear in person in those clouds which float in the atmosphere around us. A general objection to this view of the subject is that it is sensual in the extreme. Such an interpretation of the prediction evidences, most plainly, the naturalism of that dispensation which announces it. Moreover, it gives a supposed literal meaning to a certainly symbolical description. It regards the expressions "clouds of heaven" to mean the clouds of the earth, and supposes the Lord's glorified person to be capable of being seen with the natural eyes of men. It is a plain evidence that truth has departed from the church, when we find it understanding literally the figurative language of the Scriptures. Look at the subject with some degree of elevated thought, examine it carefully and with candour, and it must be seen that the professing church has mistaken its way in this very important matter. An error of such a magnitude could not have been unattended with dangers—dangers which nothing but the fulfilment of the prediction in question could have averted. From the 29th verse of the language quoted, we learn that immediately after the tribulation of the days treated of, that certain spiritual calamities are to transpire; and in the 30th we are informed that they would be succeeded by several benedictine phenomena. Now by the tribulation of the days referred to, is clearly meant the disastrous state of the church which is treated of, induced by the perversions of error and the influences of evil. By the sun that is to be darkened, is denoted that love to the Lord would be obscured; by the moon not giving her light is meant, that charity to man would not appear; by the stars falling from heaven, is signified that the knowledge of goodness and truth would depart from the church, and by the powers of the heaven being shaken, is denoted that all the principles of the church would be convulsed. It is when these spiritual calamities transpire, that the sign of the Son of man shall appear in heaven, by which is meant the manifestation of divine truth to the church; and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, that is, all who have any genuine good in the church will grieve on account of the desolations which evils and errors have brought upon it. Then shall they,—they who have any genuine good in the church,—see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven; that is, they shall perceive the revelation of the internal truths of the Lord's most Holy Word, because they will be set forth and confirmed by means of the literal sense of it. The power and great glory by which this is to be accompanied denote the omnipotence of good and the magnificence of truth by which it will be distinguished.
This is a summary of the signification of the Lord's prediction concerning his second coming; and we learn from it that it is not to consist of a personal manifestation. His first advent was in person, and this sufficiently intimates that his second will be of a different nature. The Lord, while he was in the world at his first advent, removed from mankind those states which rendered his personal manifestation requisite; and, at the same time, he provided means by the glorification of his humanity to prevent the possibility of their return: thus the Lord has actually set aside every necessity for another personal appearance in the world; consequently his second coming will be of a different nature. Indeed this fact is plainly stated in the prediction before us, when the Lord appeared at his first advent, it was as the Son of God. The language of the annunciation is, "That which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God;" but he never once said that he would come again under that title; but always and invariably under his designation of "The Son of Man." This circumstance is, of itself, a plain attestation that the nature of his second advent is to be different from his first. The Lord was crucified under the title of the Son of man, and therefore the blessings intended to be communicated by means of it were not vouchsafed—they were crucified. Hence we may learn that the reason of his second coming, and under that title in which he was rejected, is for the purpose of making known the intelligences which were refused at his first. Those intelligences relate to a more full and complete development of the nature and quality of his holy Word: for it is ever to be borne in mind, that all and every manifestation of the Lord have reference to him as the Word, wherefore he is called the Word. At his first advent, the Lord appeared as the word made flesh, and thus as the word humiliated; but his second advent is to be of a different order, it is to be as the word made spirit, and thus as the word glorified. The first advent caused the literal sense of the Word, which had been rendered of none effect by the traditions of men, to be acknowledged as divine truth; but its spiritual sense then remained in obscurity. It was one of those many things which the Lord had to say, but which the world could not bear; wherefore his second coming will be as the word made spirit, and thus cause its spiritual sense also to be received as divine truth in a more interior degree.
While, then, the Lord's first advent consisted of a personal appearance, so that he could be seen in the world like the literal sense of his holy Word, his second coming is to consist in his spiritual appearance, so that he may be seen like the spiritual sense of his holy Word: the former was an appearance to the senses, the later is to be a manifestation to the intellect. This is the order which the fall of man has rendered necessary for his instruction in things pertaining to the Lord, and that whereby he may regain the summit of spiritual excellence from whence he has unhappily descended. The Lord as the Word comes to man by means of it. The internal sense of the Word constitutes that spiritual intelligence which prevails in heaven; for, says the Psalmist, "For ever. O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven." It is the same sense, accommodated to the apprehensions of men, which enables them to become true spiritual members of the church: the external or literal sense is the cloud in which that spiritual intelligence resides, and by means of which it is rendered manifest; and the Lord, who is the Word as to its spirit and life, is said to come in those clouds when he reveals that spirit and life, and confirm the truth of that revelation by means of its letter. Hence the Lord making known the spiritual sense contained in his holy Word, and disclosing what are the heavenly doctrines of his genuine church, is that which constitues the fulfilment of his promise, "I will come again."
Now this being what is meant by the Lord's second advent, it is plain that divine order would require a human instrument to whom the communication of it should be made, who should be duly qualified for its reception, and by whom it should be announced to the world. Why, then, may not Swedenborg be that instrument, distinguished, as he undoubtedly was, by the possession of every conceivable qualification? He openly states that he was chosen for the purpose, and in proof of it offers to the acceptance of the world a series of theological discoveries, unparalleled for their beautiful sublimity, and before unknown. He strips off the cloak of mystery from religion, and clothes it in the mantle of intelligence. He opens out new and brilliant prospects in the region of intellectual enquiry, whence the understanding may become enlightened with the profoundest knowledge. He presents to the imagination scenes of truth, and principles of holiness, which enlarge the soul by their magnificence, and give to its conceptions vigour and delight. Questions of the deepest erudition, connected with mental philosophy and the subjects of the eternal world, are discussed with simplicity and force, and explained with propriety and satisfaction. Order and perspicuity constitute his style, while he invariably ascribes glory of every excellence to the unmerited mercy of the lord.
O, but it will be said that the second advent cannot have taken place, and that therefore Swedenborg's pretensions must be false, because the time of the Resurrection has not arrived, the Last Judgment has not transpired, and the End of the World has not been effected. Alas for the feebleness of such objections! They take for granted that the notions commonly attached to these doctrines are true; whereas we consider them distinctly false—false and, therefore, parts and parcels of those desolating principles which have brought destruction upon the professing church.
The End of the World is no where treated of in the Scriptures. The passages from which that idea has been drawn are purely figurative, and, for the most part, ought to have been translated consummation of the age; a fact open to the inspection of the learned, and admitted by the scholar. They do not relate to the destruction of the universe, but to the end of the church—the termination of that religious dispensation which was planted by the Lord, by the introduction into it of the evils of life and the falses of doctrine. It is written, "One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth for ever: that the Lord "laid the foundations of the earth that it should not be removed for ever." The earth cannot have perpetrated any moral ill: why, then, destroy it? The Lord did not create it to abandon. The earth is His footstool; He will not cast it from Him. It is the seminary of the human race, whence He will continually draw the population of a kingdom, of the increase of which he has declared there shall be no end.
The Resurrection of the material body, whence the objection supposed takes its ground, is a notion at once gross and sensual. The Scriptures teach no such a speculation. They assign no such disorderly work for the execution of Omnipotence, and they are perverted whensoever they are quoted to favour so preposterous a conceit. The Scriptures, indeed, are plentifully stored with declarations proving the Resurrection from the Dead; but this is a very different thing from the resurrection of a carcase. We believe the former with an imperishable faith; but we reject the latter as an unutterable error. To go into this subject at any length would be foreign to our object. The exposition of a leading passage and a single fact will be sufficient for our purpose.
In Isaiah it is written, "Thy dead men shall live; together with my dead body shall they arise." Now this is supposed to be the strongest passage in the Scriptures upon the subject of a material resurrection; but its plausibility is considerably assisted by the interpolations of the translator. Verbal criticism, however, need not be dwelt upon. The context sufficiently proves that the subject of a future resurrection of dead bodies is not the matter in hand. This must be evident from a preceding verse, where it is declared, "They are dead, they shall not live: they 'are deceased, they shall not rise." Now if the former passage be understood to assert the resurrection of the dead body, the latter is equally strong in declaring that no such resurrection shall take place. The passages, if taken in their merely literal sense, appear in opposition to each other; and it is for those who so interpret them to reconcile their seeming disagreement. We do not so understand them: we regard them as revealing certain spiritual circumstances that are to distinguish the progress of the church. The 14th verse treats of the rejection of all those who are in the falses of doctrine and evils of life, and their consequent inability to ascend into heaven: the 19th verse, on the contrary, treats of the spiritual life of goodness and truth, which will be communicated to all those who will receive it, and their consequent preparation for life eternal. Thus the two passages beautifully harmonize with each other, and we are encouraged by the simplicity and instructed by the usefulness of their signification.
The argument for the resurrection of the natural body, attempted to be set up from the circumstance of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ with his whole body complete, cannot be maintained unless it be first shewn that man is equal to God manifest in the flesh, and that he stands upon the same footing in this respect. But who will attempt this? The circumstances which are to mark the resurrection of the creature, cannot be regarded as having any just parallel with the events peculiar to the resurrection which distinguished the Creator. The body with which the Lord Jesus Christ arose must needs be different from that in which man is to rise. He is "The Life," thus life in its first principles; consequently He was capable of becoming life also in its last principles, and this He did by means of the body in which he rose. He, then, is "the First and the Last," possessing a body more in ultimates than it is possible for the resuscitated spirits of men to have.
The apostle says, "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." The former is of dust, and to dust it will return: the spirit only unto God who gave it. The material body is flesh and blood, and this cannot inherit the kingdom of God. It is the soul which constitutes the man; the body is only an instrument annexed to it for a season in the natural world, and intended as the medium of performing the desires and intentions of the soul. When the body dies, it passes into the elements of which it is composed; but the soul does not suffer the extinction of its life. No; it ascends, with all its spiritual faculties and powers, into the world of spirits, as the first common receptacle of all who depart this life; and in that world it awaits its examination and receives its sentence, whence it ascends into the joys of heaven, or passes off to the calamities of hell. The world of spirits then—the great gulph that existed between Dives and Lazarus—and not the world of matter, is the place where the Lord executes His judgment. As the soul or spirit of man is the subject upon which the judgment is to be performed, it is plain that the event must take place in a world of spirits, adapted for its reception and existence after its separation from the natural body.
The doctrines of the resurrection of dead carcases, and the execution of judgment on them in this world of matter, are but additional evidences of the naturalism and sensual imaginations of the fallen Christian church; and they, being founded on misinterpretations of sacred passages of the Word of God, afford not the faintest shadow of an objection to the fact, that the second advent of the Lord has actually taken place.
The purpose of such an advent must be to communicate blessings which the world could not otherwise attain. How numerous are the external evidences which the world could not otherwise attain. How numerous are the external evidences which the world exhibits, in proof that now is the time of it! Look abroad into society, and observe the amazing improvements which have been introduced into the arts of civilization and life;—mark also the astonishing rapidity with which they have advanced, and the degree of perfection to which they have attained, within the last half century. These truths are so manifest that the fact has become a proverb in the world. Such circumstances are most clearly the result of a superior state of the natural mind. Whence has it come? Did it make itself? Has chance created it? Certainly not! Intelligence and piety must acknowledge it to arise from some new activity of the Divine mercy, and thus to a spiritual manifestation of the Lord. But what is the purpose of the superior state which the natural mind has attained to, and in which it is still advancing? Is it merely for transitory purposes, that man may for a few years enjoy natural intelligence in the natural world? Alas! such a conclusion would be pregnant with amazing impiety: The condition of the natural mind is progressing, and successfully preparing to become the appropriate plane into which heavenly intelligence may descend. Superior spiritual truths require superior states of the natural mind for their effective reception. Natural intelligence is a due habitation for spiritual wisdom; and the state of society plainly evinces that it is journeying upon a road which leads to deliverance from error. To this end religion has already made a movement, by the circulation of the Bible in nearly all the languages of the earth, in number and to an extent unparalleled in the history of the human race: will any one pretend that this is merely a human work—a device of political ingenuity? Every fact connected with it would refute such an imagination as preposterous. Nothing but a special interference on the part of the Lord Himself is adequate to account for a proceeding so stupendous, pregnant, as it unquestionably is, with such extensive and favourable consequences to genuine religion. No other cause but that of the fulfilment of the Lord's promise, is sufficient to explain the phenomena adverted to: they are effects commensurate with such a design, and they have come into existence since the period when Swedenborg announced the Lord's second advent to have been begun. Thus he has formally stated a circumstance, which, if true, must have been succeeded by such important facts as those adverted to. As, then, these facts have actually transpired, they certainly afford strong external proofs of the reality of his profession.
But, as it has been said, the internal and most certain evidence of it lies in the profound truth and incontrovertible character of the doctrines he has proclaimed. Upon these doctrines, as being the principles of heaven, because derived from and confirmed by the Holy Scriptures, we permit our minds to rest, as upon a rock of intellectual certainty; and we feel an internal assurance that a faithful discharge of the duties which they inculcate must conduce to eternal felicity.
These doctrines teach us that the Lord Jesus Christ is the exclusive God of heaven and earth, that being the name of Jehovah in His Divine humanity: and they rationally explain to us the nature of the Trinity existing in His glorious Person; illustrating it by means of the soul, body, and proceeding operations in man. They teach us that, as the Redeemer. He assumed a humanity in the world, as the only orderly medium of liberating man from the infernal bondage he had brought upon himself by an evil course, and thereby restored him to a condition of spiritual freedom. They prove to us that the Holy Scriptures have a celestial and spiritual sense, besides the literal: and that they are written according to a peculiar science, which treats of and explains the correspondence subsisting between spiritual causes and natural effects. They instruct us that a saving faith consists in shunning evils as sins against God, and living a life regulated by His holy commandments.
Such are some of the leading and practical features contained in the writings of the celebrated Swedenborg, a few of whose claims to be considered as the messenger of a new and improved dispensation of religion we have been enabled only briefly to detail, and but imperfectly to defend.
In conclusion, and to prevent misapprehension of the general object of this discourse, let it be carefully borne in mind that we believe the second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ is to consist in the revelation of the genuine doctrines contained in His holy Word, and thereby effecting an intellectual and spiritual improvement in the condition of mankind. We believe that the time when this circumstance is to be accomplished is, when there no longer exists pure and spiritual truth in the professing church; and we believe that this state has actually overtaken the church which now popularly prevails. We believe, further, that a human instrument, chosen and commissioned by the Lord, is requisite to make known the Divine excellencies in which the second advent is to consist—that none but a good and wise man could be qualified for such a purpose—and that if such a one solemnly declares that he has been so selected, he is entitled to credit, provided he sustains his profession as Swedenborg has done, by delivering to the world a body of Divine doctrines before unknown, and yet drawn from the Holy Scriptures, and confirmed by the testimony of their literal sense.
These doctrines we venture to recommend to your intellectual study and affectionate acceptance, because we are assured that they are the truest and the best. Allow me also earnestly to solicit your pecuniary assistance in giving them publicity through the medium of the press. In doing this, our only desire is to assist in the promotion of that piety and truth—that sincerity, wisdom, and goodness, which are the inseparable companions of a pure, precious, and imperishable religion—a religion eminently calculated to confer on man the love of God, and which teaches that the true way to heaven is to be unceasingly employed in the endeavour to add something to the wisdom and happiness of our fellow Creatures.
PATTISON AND ROSS, PRINTERS, PILGRIM STREET, NEWCASTLE.
- Hab, i. 5. Isa, xxix. 14.
- Acts xiii. 39.
- These works may be arranged into four distinct classes, which, for the information of those unacquainted with them, are here adverted to, and the prices affixed.
The First Class is composed of those works which specifically treat of and set forth the doctrines of the New Church. They are the following:—
1. On the New Jerusalem, and its Heavenly Doctrine, 1 vol., 1s.
2. The Four Leading Doctrines of the New Church, consisting of Doctrines concerning The Lord, The Scriptures, Faith, and Life, 1 vol., 4s.6d, and 3s.
3. Brief Exposition of the Doctrine of the New Church, 1 vol.. 1s.
4. The True Christian Religion, or Universal Theology of the New Church, signified by the New Jerusalem in the Revelation, 1 large vol., 86.
The Second Class consists of
1. Arcana Celestia, 12 vols, and index, £3, 18s.
2. Apocalypse Revealed, 2 vols., 12s.
3. Apocalypse Explained, 6 vols., £1, 18s.
The first work in this class is an explanation of Genesis and Exodus: the other two, as their titles indicate, are explanations of the Book of the Revelation: all as to their spiritual sense, the principles of which are lucidly explained in his work on the Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture: also in a chapter on the same subject in the Universal Theology. Although these are the leading subjects of the works of this Class, they occasionally treat of others of a most interesting and extraordinary nature, and contain besides, an explanation of nearly the whole of the Word of the Lord; thus forming the only lucid and truly spiritual exposition of the Holy Scripture that is extant!The Third Class is formed of the following works:—
1. Divine Love and Wisdom, 1 vol., 2s. 6d.
2. Divine Providence, 1 vol., 4s.
3. Conjugial Love, 1 vol., 5s.
4. Intercourse between the Soul and Body, a tract, 6d.The titles of these works indicate the general nature of their contents; but the subjects are treated of in a manner entirely new. They impart information upon sacred metaphysics calculated to render their study attractive and practical: they explain the constitution of the human mind upon principles heretofore unknown: they exhibit the character of God, the nature of his creation, the activities of his providence, and the modes of his preservation, in lights at once lovely and profound. In a word, these works contain more knowledge concerning the true philosophy of causes and effects, than has ever before been introduced to the notice and acceptance of mankind!
The Fourth Class is the least, and constituted by the works—
1. Heaven and Hell, 1 vol., 5s.
2. Last Judgment, 1 vol., 1s.The first of these works describes the constitution of the two kingdoms after which it is named; also the nature of life after death, man's eternal state, and a variety of subjects connected therewith. The second treats of the event expressed in its title, the manner in which the Lord effects his judgment, the place where, and the time when; declaring that it has been actually accomplished; not, indeed, in the way in which it has been usual for Christians to interpret it, but yet in the only way in which the prediction of that circumstance was in tended to be fulfilled. These works contain the fullest accounts of their author's experience, and of his alleged intercourse with the spiritual world, though they are incidentally mentioned in each of the other Classes of his writings.
- The Manchester society was instituted in 1782, and it continued in active operation some years after the establishment of that in London. The gratitude of the Church at large is due to it for the very eminent services which it performed for the new dispensation in its early state. It is still in existence, though it has now conditionally relinquished its design of publishing the writings of Swedenborg, from a regard to the present superior usefulness of the London society. No one has any copyright in those writings, consequently they may be published by any one having the means and desire to do it.
- He was ennobled in 1719, when he was 31 years of age, by Queen Ulrica Elenora, and then named Swedenborg. The family name was Swedborg. From that time he took his seat with the nobles of the Equestrian Order in the Triennial Assembly of the States of the Realm.
- For an authentic account of the estimation in which he was held as a philosopher, lists of his philosophical publications, with remarks upon their character, &c., the reader is referred to "An Eulogium to his Memory, pronounced in the Great Hall of the House of Nobles, in the Name of the Royal Academy of Stockholm. October 7th, 1772, by M. Sandel, Counsellor of the Royal Board of Mines. Knight of the Polar Star, and Member of the said Academy." Price 1½d. This Eulogium was pronounced by a man, who was not a receiver of his theological writings, 30 years after he had ceased to write upon philosophical subjects, strictly so called.
- Acts xxvi. 19, 24, 25.
- John x. 20.
- John viii. 44.
- Joel ii. 28.
- Matthew xii. 39.
- Luke xvi. 31.
- Mark xiii. 22.
- If miracles be insisted on as necessary evidence in this case, and defined to be events deviating from the ordinary course of nature, may we not refer to the circumstance of his alleged intercourse with the spiritual world as one in general? The several particular facts which are related of him by others, his cotemporaries and acquaintance, facts not recorded by himself, but authenticated by the most respectable and competent witnesses, may also be adverted to. The quotation of anecdotes of this kind, however, are foreign to our purpose. For an elaborate account of these, and their authenticity, the reader is referred to the Section, "A Human Instrument necessary, and therefore raised up, in a work entitled "An Appeal," &c., by the Rev. S. Noble. We however, attach no importance to the fact of such occurrences; but there are persons, whose minds will be satisfied with nothing else than miraculous testimony, we see no reason why their attention may not be directed to them.
- John x. 41.
- Matthew xi. 11.
- Matt, iii. 16.
- Matt, xiii. 17.
- 1 Cor, xiii. 12.
- For proofs of this the intelligent reader is referred to a large and elaborate work, entitled "Illustrations of the End of the Church," by the Rev. Augustus Clissold. M. A., formerly of Ex. Coll. Oxon, just published, price 12s., in which will also be found a collection of Swedenborg's evidences of the same truth.
- The best testimony this is to be found in the writings of Swedenborg themselves. All of his doctrines are confirmed by the literal sense of the Word; he holds it as a doctrine that this must be the case.
- Matt. xxiv. 29, 30.
- Luke i. 35.
- John i. 1 to 14.
- Psalm cxix. 89.
- John xiv. 3.
- Eccl. i. 4.
- Psalm civ. 5.
- Isaiah lxvi. 1.
- Isaiah ix. 7.
- Isaiah xxvi. 19.
- Ver. 14.
- 1 Cor, xv. 44.
- Ver. 50.
- Luke xvi. 26.