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things, in a systematic work,* with considerable pretensions for accuracy, (which he, no doubt, expects will be received by posterity as a genuine record of the sections of the Christian church,) has undertaken to state the doctrines set forth in the writings of E. Swedenborg, and to give an account of the progress of the society which has received them. Charity, however, whilst it in. structs us to entertain for every one the purest kindness of affection and an unabated desire for his welfare, does not forbid, but requires us to correct his errors, and that in the
best calculated to accomplish the object. In the present instance, therefore, whilst a sincere regard is entertained for the gentleman alluded to, we shall not refrain from those terms of just reprehension which the case justly demands. The author is well known to the writer of this article to be “ in other things intelligent, learned and amiable," and one whose statement of facts and opi. nions would, prima facia, be entitled to full credit. From such an one what should we expect ?-As a man of learning and research, a careful, assiduous endeavour to inform himself fully and accurately upon the subject in which he undertakes to inform his reader; as a minister of the Eternal truth, a deep impression of the importance and solemnity of the task he had taken upon himself, and an unswerving determination to turn neither to the right hand nor to the left in portraying the characters of his fellow Christians; that knowing the perversity of the human judgment, he would suspect rather than indulge his prejudices; and under the influence of a becoming modesty, the genuine mark of a Christian spirit, he would, where he was travelling upon strange ground, carefully inquire his way. He would recollect that his book ought not to contain the mere slanders of street conversation, nor the idle tattle of the tea table. But what shall we say when such a person, with every mean in his power to acquire accurate information, rushes inconsiderately into a subject which he has not taken the least pains to understand, and betrays a want of information, which the most uneducated disciple of the New Church cannot but detect in a moment ? So slight is his acquaintance with the works of Swedenborg, that he knows not how to
• " A Historical Sketch of opinions on the Atonement, interspersed with Biographical Notices of the leading doctrines and outlines of the Sections of the Church, from the incarnation of Conist to the present time. By James R. Wilson, A. M.
spell his name. He speaks of him as the author of a treatise on mineralogy, which, from his manner of introducing it, it is believed he never saw, and which probably he supposes to be the only work of that author, except his late theological productions. Had Mr. W. made the slightest inquiry, or possessed the least knowledge of that extraordinary man, he would have known him to be the author of at least twenty-five volumes of profound works, in theology, metaphysics, mathematics, physics, mineralogy, metallurgy, anatomy and the belles lettres. Most of these are in folio and quarto, and written in the Latin language, and were highly valued by the literati of Europe. We are also told by this gentleman, that Swedenborg's theological works fill twelve large octavo volumes, written in Latin. The fact is, Swedenborg never published an octavo volume, in Latin, on theology, if we except the « Prodromus.” In the New Jerusalem Church Repository, published in this city, there is an accurate statement of Swedenborg's theological and other works, the latter amounting to twentyfour and the former to thirty-four articles, of which two contain twelve quarto volumes in the Latin, and eighteen octavos in the English translation. If all his theological works were collected into an uniform edition they would probably comprehend thirty octavo volumes, of five hundred pages. Not one of these works, in the original language, it is believed, has Mr. W. ever seenalthough, if he had desired it, he might have examined the printcipal part of them, and he well knew where to apply, being intimately acquainted with several of the readers of Swedenborg's writings. That in a state of such indifference to rational inquiry, Mr. W. should be wholly ignorant of the theology of the New Church is not surprising, for he could hardly obtain a knowledge of it by intuition. The only effect, therefore, which his account of the doctrines can have with those who are instructed in them, or may be inclined to read and judge for themselves, is to expose his own rashness.
One who had taken so little pains to inform himself, might very naturally say, “ What Swedenborg thinks to be precisely the intention of Divinity in this assumption of Humanity, it is very difficult to ascertain from his writings and those of his disciples.” There are hundreds with common understandings, though without “classical education,” who would have no difficulty to inform him on this subject.
The whole account detailed in this book, with respect to Swedenborg's notion of “ Faith,” the character of 6 the Old Testament History,” and “the History of the Jews,” is evidently the production of a man wholly unacquainted with the subject which, he undertakes to discuss. To explain these points fully to the reader would take up much time to little purpose, as those who wish it will meet with the most satisfactory information by turning to the writings themselves. A few words, however, for the casual reader, may not be useless. CHARITY, according to Swedenborg, consisteth in willing what is good, Faith consisteth in believing what is true. The first is an act of the will, the latter an act of the understanding. Charity and Faith are mere mental perishable things, unless they be determined to works and coexist therein, whensoever it is practicable.—Charity and Faith united in correspondent acts produce good works.-Charity and Faith when producing good works are said to come into ultimates, an expression which has been termed “ mystical and strange."
With respect to the Old Testament, and the whole Word, Swedenborg teaches, that in general and in its highest sense throughout it treats of the Lord, his temptations and the glorification of his humanity; in an inferior sense, of the regeneration of man.—Hence it is eternal, and truly the WORD OF THE LORD, being limited, in its true meaning, neither to nations or ages, persons or places. It fully opens the various states which man passes through in the progress of his regeneration, with their opposites. “ The regeneration of man is an image of the glorification of the Lord, for the Lord regenerateth man according to the same process whereby he glorified his own humanity.” In particular, the early part of Genesis treats of the most ancient Church, which was in the will principle, or principled in Love, and is called Celestial, and of the consummation or destruction of this Church, by evils of the will. It also treats of the establishment of a second, called the ancient Church, with whom after the will had been destroyed and by the Divine providence the understanding separated therefrom, a new will was to be formed in the understanding. This was a Spiritual Church. There was no Church before Adam. The most ancient Church is called Adam. The History of the Jews does not represent any such Church, but is a matter wholly different.
Swedenborg does not affirm, " That the Son of God is the sun and centre of the spiritual world.”—He says expressly, “Let every one take heed how he thinks that the sun of the spiritual world is God himself. God himself is a man. That which first proceedeth from his love and wisdom appears in the sight of angels as a sun; wherefore, when the Lord' manifests himself to the angels in person, he manifests himself as a man, and this sometimes in the sun, and sometimes out of it.”
“ Swedenborg's descriptions of heaven,” says Mr. W. “ are derived from Mahomet." This is a stale and ridiculous calumny. But if the gentleman would look a little nearer home, he could discover a much closer resemblance to Mahometanism. The Mahometans are rigid PREDESTINARIANS, and confine all salvation to their own sect. These, with them, are the ELECT.
Swedenborg “ makes mysteries tangible.” We should be glad to know in what learned logic this predicate is applied to such a subject.
In relation to the proselytes to the New Jerusalem Church, we are told, “ Few of the poor are led away; as Swedenborg teaches that the enjoyments, employments, and situation of men in heaven resemble those which they have in the present world, people oppressed with poverty have no inducement to embrace such a creed. As in Britain, so in America, few of the poor join their society; they wish to be rich in heaven, though they are poor in this world.” The gentleman is here mistaken, both as to fact and' to principle. In the New Church there are, in England and America, both rich and poor, and much in the same proportion with other religious societies; and so far from Swedenborg declaring that the situation of men is the same in the other world as it is in this, the slightest inspection of his writings will show that the situations of many are lamentably reversed. Of those who filled the world with the renown of their military achievements, many have, in another life, become miserable drudges, without recollection of their former splendour. Of those who were learned in the wisdom of this world, many are spiritually insane, and others, who were considered as wonderfully acute, are become absolutely stupid; whilst some, who in this life were esteemed simple, shine as the stars in heaven. For it is the spiritual and not the natural principle which determines the state of every one hereafter. But that it may be known in what
light the New Jerusalem teaches us to view the splendour and riches of this world, and the happiness of heaven, the following extracts are given :
Arc. Col. 10776. “ Every considerate person may know, that eminence and opulence in the world are not real divine blessings, although man, from his pleasurable principle, calls them so; for they pass away, and likewise seduce many, and avert them from heaven; but that life in heaven and happiness there, are real blessings, which are from the divine.”
D. P. 214. - The Divine Providence hath relation to things eternal, and no otherwise to temporary things than so far as they accord with things eternal. Temporary things relate to dignities and riches in this world. Things eternal relate to spiritual honours and riches, which are of love and wisdom in heaven.”
Ib. 216. “ Forasmuch as the natural man calls the delights of self-love (which are also the delights of the concupiscencies of evil) goods, and also confirms himself in the notion that they are goods, he therefore calls honours and riches divine blessings; but when this natural man sees that the wicked, as well as the good, are advanced to honours and promoted to riches, and still more, when he sees that the good are in contempt and poverty, and the wicked in glory and opulence, he thinks with himself, What is the meaning of this ? it cannot be of the Divine Providence. But the natural man, unless illuminated by the spiritual man, that is, unless he is at the same time spiritual, doth not see that honours and riches may possibly be blessings, and that possibly they may also be curses."
Heaven and Hell, 354. “ The poor are not qualified for heaven by their poverty, but by their principles and life, for these follow every one, be he-rich or poor, nor is there any distinguishing mercy
for the one more than the other; but he is received whose life has been good, and he is rejected whose life has been evil.”
C. L. 6. “ There is a certain latent vein in the will and affection of every angel, which attracteth his mind to the execution of some purpose or other, wherein his mind findeth itself in tranquillity, and is satisfied : this tranquillity and satisfaction form a state of mind capable of receiving the love of uses from the Lord, and it is in the reception of this love that the true heavenly happiness consisteth."