Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

effectual method of disseminating the truth in this kingdom will be by the press, and not so much by the pulpit, especially by breaking the bread of life into small pieces, by which I would be understood to mean, publishing the truth in small tracts, explanatory of the internal spiritual sense of the WORD, and adopted to the apprehension of the simple. Much has already been done by our Printing Society in this way, and I am persuaded that more remains to be done, in which view it has lately occurred to me, that as we have already gone through the explication of the LORD's parables and miracles, by question and answer, in tracts sold at 3d. or 4d. each, it might be equally beneficial to extend the same mode of elucidation to all the histories of the Old Testament, which might all of them be circulated in the same cheap form. At present, therefore, I have it in contemplation to attempt something of this sort, beginning with the history of creation, of paradise, of the flood, &c. &c. and proceeding thence to the histories of the patriarchs and the prophets, also of the call of Israel out of Egypt, and their introduction to the land of Ca-, naan, as those histories are recorded in the books of Genesis, Exodus, Liviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and the two books of Samuel and the Kings. And here, while I am talking of myself, will you believe that duty, not vanity, bids me tell you, that with the aid of an amanuensis I have lately finished a new translation of the Treatise on Heaven and Hell ; and also, a small work entitled, The Two Fheavenly Memorialists; or Love and Truth, stating to the christian world their present distresses, and supplicating relief ; also an explanation of seven new parahles, which had been overlooked in the former publication. The last work will be sent to the press immediately, but the Two Memorialists, will not be printed till the end of summer, as I wish carefully to revise it during my sojourning near the sea, in the approaching months of July and August. With the assistance of my amanuensis, I am also preparing a new translation of the gospel according to John, to be accompanied with extracts from our incomparable author, after the manner pursued in the new translation of Matthew, and I am persuaded I shall be favoured with your prayers for the successful accomplishment of the work.

The first number of your New Church Repository gives a fair hope that it will prove an interesting and edifying publication my most devout prayers attend it.

Extract of another Letter from the Rev. J. C. to a member of the

Church in Philadelphia, dated Manchester, May 26, 1817. I am much pleased with your interesting remarks respecting America, which, in general, I conceive to be just, and sufficiently well-grounded to authorize us in the indulgence of the most flattering hopes concerning the establishment of the New Church in that country, and its propagation thence into every corner of the habitable globe. But what an importance is thus attached to the exertions of the present infant societies, and what an obligation at the same time imposed, to take heed that these exertions may be at once well-derived and well-directed! Is it asked, how such derivation and direction may be best secured ? I should not scruple to answer this question, by saying, as our enlightened Author continually testifies, that the Church cannot fail to flourish and do well, provided charity be exalted above faith ; or, what amounts to the same, provided the purities of heavenly love and life be exalted and consulted in preference to any system of mere speculative opinions and doctrines; or, what still amounts to the same, provided every member of the Church be more concerned about the motions and tendencies of his Will, than about the illumination of his Understanding.

I do not, however, mean to insinuate, that faith, with its speculative opinions and doctrines, is of no account, or that the illumination of the understanding is to be neglected, for this would be falling into another extreme, and incurring the censure passed on the Church of Smyrna, whilst we were endeavouring to shun the error of the Church of Ephesus. All I mean to insist upon is, that the life is more than meat, and the body more than rai. ment ; in other words, that the Will has the pre-eminence over the Understanding, the Affections over the Thoughts, the Love and Life over the Notions and Ideas to which they give birth; and that consequently order can never be restored, either in the general or individual Church, only so far as such pre-eminence is seen and acted on.

It appears thus to me, that there are three fundamental errors, against which the members of the New Church have to guard ; the first is, that of supposing that they can be saved by truth with, out good; the second, that they can be saved by good without truth ; and the third, that either good or truth can save them,

unless the former be exalted above the latter. For before the precious ointment of the Divine Benediction can be of any avail to man in the great concern of salvation, it must be imparted alike and conjointly to the head, the beard, and the skirts of the clothing, (Psalm cxxxiii) in other words, to the will, the understanding, and the lower principles of the natural mind; but before it can reach the beard and the skirts of the cloathing, it must first be on the head, thus inculcating the instructive lesson, that the good of love must be first exalted in the interiors of the human mind, otherwise the truth of faith can never be received, inasmuch as the truth of faith is a vital principle, ever in connection with its parent good, and thus distinguished from that principle of mere science and speculation, which may be a dead principle, and will be so, in case it doth not acknowledge and bow down to its Divine Parent.

It is, I am aware, an idea cherished in some minds, and even in minds of a cælestial class, that, when they are on the housetop, there may be a danger in descending, to take any thing out of the house, (Matt. xxiv. 17) and they call it descending, when they consult the scientifics of faith. But this is manifestly a wrong notion of descent, inasmuch as man doth not quit the house-top merely by consulting scientifics, but by regarding them as an end, and thus exalting them above that good and charity to which they are intended to conduct. I conceive, therefore, that the higher we advance in the principle of celestial love and life, the more ardently we shall pursue, because we shall feel it a duty and advantage to pursue those knowledges, which may still be necessary for our further advancement, since no man can say that he hath yet attained a house-top so elevated, as to preclude further ascent. Yet how is this further ascent to be accomplished, but by new knowledges, or, as our enlightened Author expresses it, by new marriages, whilst the good, to which we have attained, attaches itself to some new and hitherto undiscovered order of truth, superior to itself, and thus produces a new and higher order of good, which, in its turn, seeks again its cælestial Bride, and is fruitful in generation after generation without end, each succeeding generation attaining to a house-top more elevated than the former, and thus becoming qualified to enter into mar. riage with a Bride of a more elevated order.

I conclude, therefore, that every man, in every state of regenerate life, is bound to cultivate the knowledges of truth, as the only means of improving that state, as on the other hand, in the cultivation of knowledges, he is bound by at least an equal obligation, to cherish the principles of heavenly love and life, as the great end of knowledges, or the good towards which their course ought always to be directed.

Our labours, for some years past, have been confined to the Tevisal of the late Mr. Hill's translation of the Apocalypse Explained, and to a new translation of the Treatise on Heaven and Hell; and these works being accomplished, we are now getting on with the Gospel according to John, intending to elucidate it with extracts from the Writings, after the manner pursued in the Gospel according to Matthew. When this labour is completed, our next design is to begin a new translation of the Psalms, and to collect all the illustrations given by our enlightened Author, of every psalm, and of every verse, in the sanie way with the two Gospels.

Extract of a letter from Mr. Robert Hindmarsh to a member of

the Church in Philadelphia, dated Salford, Manchester, April 17, 1817.

“ I hope the day will arrive, when the New Church will possess a most correct version of the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testaments. I have long thought, that an authentic copy of the Old Testament ought, if possible, to be procured from the Jewish synagogue in London ; and have many times, during the last thirty years, proposed to the members of the New Church, that a committee or deputation should be appointed to negotiate this matter with some of the learned rabbis. The idea was suggested to my mind, in consequence of observing what Emanuel Swedenborg states as the reason why the Jews have been preserved a distinct people to the present day, viz. that it is for the sake of the Word, that it might remain entire as to the letter in their hands, until the new people of the New Jerusalem should receive it from them as a most sacred deposit, for the benefit of all future ages. There is too much reason to believe, that it would have been strangely mutilated, had it been only in the care of those who bear the name of Christians; the propensity of the learned among them to introduce new and improved readings, as they profanely call them, being so strong, that every little difficulty, arising from their total ignorance of the spiritual sense, is eagerly seized upon, as a fit occasion to gratify their appetite. Of this, I understand, you are sufficiently aware. With respect to the New Testament, I am inclined to believe, that the copy, from which the common English translation is taken, is the most correct, being, as I apprehend, the same as that published by Robert Stevens, about the middle of the sixteenth century. But of this I am not quite certain, and could wish to be fully satisfied, as well concerning the New as the Old Testament. I think the copy used by Emanuel Swedenborg is not yet clearly ascertained.

The progress which the New Church appears to be making, on your side of the water, gives the highest satisfaction to the friends here, and is often the subject of conversation, when we meet together. We feel an interest in every thing that relates to the more extensive propagation of divine truth upon the earth; and therefore we cannot but rejoice in the prospect which is presented to our view, by the various accounts lately received from America. The opening of a new place of worship in Philadeldelphia, must, I think, under the Divine blessing, be attended with great and beneficial consequences to the inhabitants of that city. The doctrines will become more generally known, sincere recipients will be found, and a visible as well as an invisible Church will be established among you. I trust your example will, in due time, be followed by every town of note in the United States.

I am much gratified with the sight of your Liturgy. Uniformity of worship throughout all the societies of the New Church is frequently spoken of by some of our friends, as a most desirable object; while others judge it to be unnecessary, and that from a variety of forms may result the greatest harmony and unanimity, if all are consistent with genuine doctrine ; just as the various members and organs of the body, though different the one from the other, in their particular uses and forms, yet all conspire to produce unity of action and life. The form that is approved of by one society, will not please all. Even the same society may advance in perception, and require a change, especially at the commencement of a new dispensation, like that which we are now entering upon. This has been the case hitherto, from the time when our external worship first began in England, which VOL. I.

ii

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »