« PreviousContinue »
another, according as their goods differ generally and specifically : for distances in the spiritual world are from no other origin than from a difference in the state of the interiors, consequently, in the heavens, from a difference in the states of love; they are much distant who differ much, and they are little distant, who differ little: similitude brings them together." p. 26.
“They who are of like dispositions are, as it were of themselves, associated to their like, for with their like they are as with their own, and as at home, but with others as with strangers, and as abroad: when they are with their like, they are also in their freedom, and hence in every delight of life.
“Hence it is evident that good consociates all in the heavens, and that they are distinguished according to its quality : nevertheless it is the Lord, from whom is good, who so joins the angels in consociation, and not the angels themselves: He leads them, conjoins them, distinguishes them, and holds them in freedom, so far as they are in good; thus He preserves every one in the life of his love, of his faith, of his intelligence and wisdom, and hence in happiness.” p. 27.
In the next section we are taught “ that every society is a heaven in a less form, and every angel a heaven in the least form."
“ The reason why every society is a heaven in a less form, and every angel a heaven in the least form, is, because the good of love and of faith is what makes heaven, and that good is in every society of heaven, and in every angel of the society. It is of no consequence that this good is every where different and various, for still it is the good of heaven; all the difference is, that the quality of heaven varies accordingly. It is therefore said, when any one is elevated into any society of heaven, that he is come into heaven, and of the inhabitants, that they are in heaven, and every one in his own heaven : this is known to all who are in the other life, on which account they who stand out of or beneath heaven, and look afar off where companies of angels are, say that heaven is in this direction and also in that."
“ As an entire society is a heaven in a less form, so likewise is every angel a heaven in the least form; for heaven is not out of an angel, but within him, since his interiors, which are of his mind, are arranged into the form of heaven, thus are adapted to the reception of all things of heaven which are out of him; he also receives those things according to the quality of the good which is in him from the Lord : hence an angel is also a heaven.
" It cannot be said in any case, that heaven is without any one, but within him; for every angel, according to the heaven which is within him, receives the heaven which is without him. Hence it is evident how much he is deceived, who believes that to come into heaven is merely to be elevated amongst the angels, whatever be his quality as to his interior life; thus that heaven is given to every one from immediate mercy; when yet unless heaven be within any one, nothing of the heaven which is without him flows-in and is received. There are many spirits who are in the above opinion, and therefore also, by reason of this their faith, some have been taken
up into heaven; but when they were there, inasmuch as their interior life was contrary to the life in which the angels were, they began as to their intellects to be blinded, till they became like ideots, and as to their wills to be tortured, till they behaved like madmen: in a word, they who come into heaven after having lived evil lives, gasp for breath, and writhe with torture, like fishes taken out of the water into the air, and like animals in the æther of an air pump, after the air has been extracted. Hence it may be manifest, that heaven is within, and not out of any one.
“Since as all receive the heaven which is without them according to the quality of the heaven which is within them, therefore in like manner they receive the Lord, since the Divine of the Lord makes heaven : hence it is, that when the Lord presents Himself in any society, He appears there according to the quality of the good in which the society is, thus not in like manner in one society as in another : not that this dissimilitude is in the Lord, but in those who see Him from their own good, thus according to that good; they are affected also at the sight of Him according to the quality of their love; they who love Him inmostly, are inmostly affected; they who less love Him, are less affected; whilst the evil, who are out of heaven, are tormented at His presence. When the Lord appears in any society, He appears there as an angel ; but He is distinguished from the other angels by the Divine which shines through Him.
“Heaven also is where the Lord is acknowledged, believed in, and loved; the variety of the worship of Him, arising from the variety of good in one society and another, is not attended with detriment, but with advantage, for the perfection of heaven is thence.
That the perfection of heaven is thence, can hardly be explained to the apprehension unless we call in aid some expressions which are in use in the learned world, and by them unfold in what manner one, to be perfect, is formed of various. Every whole (unum) is composed of various parts, for a whole which is not composed of various parts, is not any thing, having no form, and consequently no quality; but when a whole is composed of various parts and these are arranged in perfect form, in which each thing adjoins itself to another in friendly agreement in a series, then it hath a perfect quality. Now heaven is one composed of various parts arranged in the most perfect form; for the heavenly form is the most perfect of all forms. That all perfection is from thence, is evident from all beauty, pleasantness, and delight, which affect both the senses and the mind (animus,) for they exist and flow from no other source than from the concert and harmony of several things which are in concord and agreement, whether these things co-exist in order, or follow in order, and not from one without more : hence it is said that variety delights, and it is known that delight is according to its quality. From these it may be seen as in a glass whence it is that perfection results from variety, even in heaven; for from the things which exist in the natural world may be seen, as in a mirror, the things which exist in the spiritual world.”
An Appeal in behalf of the views of the Eternal World and State,
and the doctrines of Faith and Life, held by the body of Christians who believe that a New Church is signified (in the Revelations, chap. xxi.) by the New Jerusalem, &c. By Samuel Noble, London, 1826. pp. 580.
The author states, in his introduction, that he has reference, in this appeal, to a late publication by the Rev. G. Beaumont, of Norwich, denominated “The Anti-Swedenborg : or a Declaration of the Principal Errors and Anti-Scriptural Doctrines contained in the Theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg ;" and remarks, that were he left to his own choice with regard to the form of this appeal, it would have been different from that which he was compelled by circumstances to adopt.
There are various opinions, in the new church, with regard to the manner in which attacks like the one alluded to above, should be noticed; or, indeed, whether they should be noticed at all. In the present infant state of the church, it is impossible to adopt any general rule which will equally apply to all cases, and in all countries. It is, however, gratifying to observe that the greater part of this very interesting work has no allusion to the publication of the Rev. Mr. Beaumont. Our limits will only enable us to give a very concise view of the book, which is divided into eight sections, besides the introduction.
The following are the subjects treated of: The second coming of the Lord; the resurrection; the last judgment; a human instrument necessary, and therefore granted; heaven and hell, and the appearances in them and in the intermediate region, or world of spirits; the trinity, as centred in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ; the atonement and mediation of Jesus Christ; the christian life.
The first section comprehends the introduction. In the second section, the second coming of the Lord, our author undertakes to show, that the second advent of the Lord is not a coming in person, but that it is the restoration of the true knowledge of divine subjects, or the genuine doctrines of the Word of God; that there are many signs and circumstances in the situation of the world at this day, which indicate that the second coming of the Lord has arrived ; and that this advent and the restoration of true religion, could not have been longer delayed without serious injury to the human race; that the improved state of the world relates to man as a rational being and an inhabitant of this world; that it is only
a preparation for things to come; a soil into which, if good seed be not planted, the rank weeds of infidelity will soon appear and overspread the whole field of the human mind. This section is thus concluded:
6 We have no worldly dignities to offer, -no, nor any short path to heaven. The only path to the blissful seats, with which we are acquainted, is the path of repentance and regeneration; and these works, we believe cannot be readily performed, but by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, believed in as the way, the truth, and the life, received in humility, and combined with hearty obedience on the part of man.” “Whilst then we point out to mankind the signs which demonstrate that the second coming of the Lord is arrived, we do not mean to fill their heads with idle fancies of no one knows what; but to enforce upon them the fact, that now are they called, more unequivocally than at any former period, to acknowledge the only true God, and to be assured that the first of all the commandments is, to love the Lord our God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and that the second is like unto it—to love our neighbour as ourselves.” pp. 60, 61.
In the section on the resurrection, after stating some new church views in regard to resurrection; that man rises from the grave of his dead material body immediately after death ; that he then finds himself in a world, not of mere shadows, but of substantial existences, himself being a real and substantial man, in perfect human form, possessing all the senses and powers proper to man,-Mr. Noble thus alludes to the old doctrine of resurrection :
“What are become of the first inhabitants of this globe, and all who lived before the flood? Can any one seriously suppose, that they are out of existence, or, at best, have only a very imperfect and uncomfortable existence, because destitute of that body which has been undistinguishably mixed with the elements for five thousand years ? and that they are still to pine for no one knows how many thousand years longer, before they will be themselves again, or can enjoy the happiness which scripture every where promises to the saints, without any where hinting at the immeasurably long, dreary interval of suspense, which they are to languish through before they can enjoy it? How does such a notion comport with the answer of the Lord Jesus Christ to the carnal-minded Sadducees, half whose doctrine, at least, has been translated into the creed of the opposers of the New Church ?" p. 64.
Many arguments are brought from Scripture to prove that man rises immediately after death; but as the doctrine of a resurrection of the material body is not very strenuously advocated by the christian church at the present day, it appears to us that Mr. N. has dwelt longer on this subject than necessity required. We pass to a notice of the section on the last judgment.
After stating, according to new church views, that man is judged immediately on entering into the spiritual world, but that, nevertheless, there have been three general judgments previous to the last, in 1757, viz. at the time of Noah, at the establishment of the Israelitish church, and at the first advent of the Lord,-Mr. Noble goes on to show that these several judgments in the spiritual world were succeeded by corresponding calamitous effects in the natural world; that the judgment on the most ancient church, if not succeeded by a literal flood, must, nevertheless, have been followed by some direful calamities, of which the flood was a representative; that the judgment on the Noetic church, at the time of the establishment of the Israelitish church, was succeeded by calamities to the Egyptians and Canaanites; and that the judgment on the Jewish church, at the Lord's advent in person was succeeded by the total destruction of the Jewish nation. For in thirty years after the ascension of the Lord (and the judgment in the spiritual world was concluded at the time of the ascension, the troubles broke out in Judea, which terminated in the destruction of Jerusalem, the desolation of the whole country, and total extinction of the Jewish nation. It is to be recollected that the term of thirty years is supposed to mark some important event in the spiritual world. Mr. Noble thus notices the effects of the last judgment in the natural world :
“ Have then any visitations that may probably be supposed, by their magnitude and extraordinary character, to have had such an origin, been experienced, within the last half century, by the nations of christendom for to them, more particularly, as forming the professing church, must such judgments belong. Do not the recollections of every one who reads this question immediately rush forward with an affirmative answer? In the wars, and other dreadful calamities, which began with, and rose out of, the French revolution, has not every serious observer of passing events noted features very
different from those which attended the wars and convulsions of former times,--of all times later than the first full establishment of christianity ? Will he not allow them to have been such as are fully commensurate with the ideas suggested by the “distress of nations and perplexity, causing men's hearts to fail them for fear,” announced by the Lord as among the signs of his second coming? which coming, we have seen, in the natural world, is a consequence of the judgment performed in the spiritual. There was one feature in the late contests so entirely peculiar, that it well deserves to be particularly noted; and that is, that the war at last raged in every nation on the whole face of the globe that bears the christian name; a circumstance which never occurred before since christianity began. Not only did Europe, from west to east, from north to south,-from France to Russia, and from Naples to Sweden,-heave the billows of her population against each other in more enormous masses than were ever before assembled for the purpose of mutual destruction; but