« PreviousContinue »
in this world his character is not fixed, and as his character changes, he changes his spiritual associations and connexions; and the other point of difference is that while in this world, he may not know what spirits he is associated with, or whether he is associated with any.
These principles being settled in our minds, we feel, think and speak of our friends, when they are either by death or distance naturally absent, in a manner which is not common among other people; for we do not conceive that such absence affects our spiritual relation to each other. We do not believe that any spiritual separation is produced by death. Every union that is spiritual and all that is spiritual in every union, remains the same as before, except that it is increased and made more intimate by the purification which natural absence tends to effect. The consequences of this purification are in part what our Lord alludes to when he speaks of the blessings which would follow his going away, or, as it is commonly called his death. Thus he says,— "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice because I said, I go unto the Father; for my Father is greater than I." Again he says, "Because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart; nevertheless I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart I will send him unto you." In a similar manner, whenever a friend of our's is, by Divine Providence, called out of the natural world, although it may for a time be very painful to us, yet we believe, and are sooner or later brought to feel, that "it is expedient for us" that he should go away, for by his going away we believe that his spirit is elevated, purified and converted into a more perfect friend and a medium of a purer influence; and by this natural separation our spiritual affection for him is separated from the natural selfish affections by which it was defiled, consequently we become purer recipients of his influence, On such an occasion we cannot therefore say, "we have lost a friend," nor can we, without self-reproach, mourn for him, because in the next moment, the present influence of his spirit will teach us not to seek the living among the dead.
Thus we believe, and we do in some measure feel, think, speak and act upon the principle, that we are constantly attended by spirits, and that we are not really separated from our friends by death or by natural distance. We say that we are not really separated from them; for we regard, or at least we know that we ought to regard spiritual presence as real presence, and natural presence as comparatively unreal. But the presence of spirits,
VOL. I.-NO. VII.
which we believe to be so universal, we at the same time believe to be almost as universally imperceptible. Exceptions to this rule there certainly were, during all the ages of which the Sacred Scriptures furnish us the history. No age since has been wanting in memorials of them. Nor is the present age as deficient in evidence as it is in faith, nor as deficient in private faith as it is in public.
În order that we may distinctly perceive spirits, our spiritual senses must be opened. By our spiritual senses, we mean the senses which we shall use after death in the spiritual world. These senses we now possess, for at death we do not put on a body, but we put off one. And these senses we now use, but we use them in connexion with our natural senses, and the latter conceal the former from our view, as the body does the soul. To have these spiritual senses opened is what is meant in the Sacred Scriptures by being "in the spirit." In this state we suppose Swedenborg to have been for about thirty years, and that this enabled him to see and hear the wonderful things which he has recorded. But as to those who are called his followers, they do not profess to be his followers in this respect. We believe that a few of them have been favoured with visions of short duration, but for their own particular benefit, and therefore unsuitable for public examination. But that intercourse with the spiritual world is now becoming and will soon be more common than it has been, we have no doubt.
To a person ignorant of human nature, and of the arts by which it drives to the greatest distance what it is most unwilling to believe, it might appear, from the loud clamour which is raised against visions, prophetic dreams and premonitions, that there was, among men of this age, a strong disbelief of every thing of the kind. To others, these appearances look suspicious. And we would inquire whether there be not a great deal of affectation in all this clamour and ridicule? and whether the apparent difference in opinion between Dr. Johnson and our modern philosophers is not in part to be found in his characteristic regard to truth?
For the New Jerusalem Magazine.
BEHOLD, THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU.”
EVERY one must know, from his own experience and observation, that the same things and circumstances do not afford the same degree of gratification and happiness to different persons. Indeed, the result is so different in different individuals, that we should doubtless speak truly in saying that it would never be pre
cisely the same in any two. The cause of this difference is to be found in the affections of men; for we are happy in proportion as we possess and enjoy what we love. It is therefore evident that it is because we have placed our affections upon different objects, that the same objects are not equally a source of happiness to us all. From a view of this simple truth, any one may see that heaven and hell cannot be of arbitrary appointment; nor the final judgment of every man to the one or the other, according as his deeds are good or evil, an arbitrary act. For whether a person would be happy in a certain society, must depend upon his being in a similar affection with those who constitute that society, and not simply upon his being placed in juxtaposition with them. This is a rule which must be as applicable to a state of existence in a spiritual body, as in a natural body, and even more so; inasmuch as the real internal character is there freely manifested, and of course all similarities and differences more fully made known and felt. So that mere admission into heaven could never make a man happy, unless he were first qualified for heaven. We must have learned the laws of heaven and have conformed to their spirit, and thus have become like unto the angels before we can enjoy their society.
When we consider that judgment to hell is not arbitrary, but every one who disobeys the commandments, does, by the very act, judge himself, and go into hell of his own will and choice, we shall find it to be true that in this case, which is the case with all who go there, the mere admission into hell, does not make them unhappy, but on the contrary makes them less miserable than they otherwise would be. The cause of their unhappiness is the evil affections in their own bosoms; and they are less unhappy in hell, than they would be in heaven, and therefore go there from choice, because their evil affections, which have now become unchangeable and cannot be brought into subjection, there find less opposition and restraint, and are put under a more tolerable kind of government.
This view may serve to explain those words of our Lord, Behold the kingdom of God is within you. We see that the affection, the love which reigns and rules in heaven, must rule in us, before we can be happy in heaven; or in other words, this love must rule in us, before heaven would be heaven to us. But there is always, in each one of us, some ruling love; and the heaven we desire, is but the form and magnitude into which this love would expand itself, and the power with which it desires to be clothed. Thus the kingdom we look forward to and desire, must always take its character from the kingdom already within us; and the one can be no more the true kingdom of God, than the other. This also explains to us the nature of an error, which we
are all continually involved in, to a greater or a less degree; which is that of looking forward for admission into something or some place, which is to make us happy. If this were so, if any door could be opened by omnipotent power, where free admission would make all happy, it would surely be done by Him who is mercy itself. But this door is that which opens into our own hearts, which can be opened only by our free consent and co-operation. At this door the Lord stands and knocks; and it is opened only when we listen to his voice, and keep his commandments. Thus we are not to look without for that into which we may enter and find happiness, the kingdom of God; but the Lord says, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him.
STATE OF THE NEW CHURCH IN EUROPE.
WE shall select, from time to time, such information with regard to the New Church in Europe, as will be likely to interest the readers of the New Jerusalem Magazine. We may hereafter be able to give a more detailed account of the church abroad; but at present we shall confine ourselves to a few general items which we have gathered, principally, from the Intellectual Repository, a publication issued quarterly, at London.
ENGLAND. The doctrines of the New Jerusalem flourish more in this kingdom than in any other in Europe. In London there are three societies, having each an ordained minister, viz. Messrs. Sibley, Noble and Goyder. Mr. Noble's society is the largest of the three; they worship in the chapel, (Cross street, Hatten Garden) which was formerly occupied by the Rev. Mr. Proud, and latterly by the celebrated Mr. Irving. There are two societies in Manchester, viz: that of Mr. Jones, in Peter street, and that of Mr. Howarth, in Bolton street, Salford; of the latter society, the Rev. Mr. Hindmarsh was formerly the minister. In Birmingham there is the Rev. Mr. Madely's society, and the society over which the late Mr. Proud was settled. In Leeds, the Rev. Messrs. Rendell and Gilbert have each an established society. Besides these there are many other societies in different parts of the kingdom, which have ordained ministers; and we learn, from the periodical above alluded to, that there are no less than seventeen societies within twenty-four miles of Manchester, without ordained ministers.
There are various societies in London and Manchester, the object of which is to disseminate the doctrines of the New Church. We shall have occasion to notice some of their operations hereafter, and shall here only state the existence of such societies.
The following are the names of the societies: The London Missionary and Tract Society of the New Jerusalem Church; the London Society for Printing and Publishing the Writings of the Hon. Emanuel Swedenborg; the New Jerusalem Church FreeSchool Society; the Manchester Printing Society; and the Manchester and Salford Missionary Society.
The New Church periodicals, published in London, consist of the Intellectual Repository, alluded to above; the Noviciates' Preceptor, published monthly; and the New Jerusalem Magazine.
FRANCE. There are no established societies in this country. We learn that an enterprising individual was engaged, in 1825, in publishing the writings of Swedenborg in the French language, and that there was a great call for the books by the French residing in Moscow; but that the Emperor Alexander had prohibited the importation of them into the Russian dominions.
In 1826, a list was obtained of the names of all the readers then known in France; from which it appeared that the number was but about 66, being thus divided in Paris, 14; in Tarbes, 16; in Blois, 6; in Nantes, 3; in Toulouse, 3; in Milhaud Aveiron, 3; in Bordeaux, 3; in Bayonne, 2; in Angers, 1; and in Herberie near Compeign, Pontoise, Hersailes and Sisteron, in the department of the lower Alps, 15. The number of readers has doubtless increased since that time.
GERMANY. In the kingdom of Wurtemberg, and city of Tubingen, Dr. Emanuel Tafel, a young man of great talents, embraced the doctrines of the New Church a few years since. He was a student of theology at the University of Tubingen. There were but few of the writings of Swedenborg in the place, and those in the library of the University. Having embraced the doctrines, he was for some time entirely ignorant of the state of the New Church at the present day. He thought seriously of visiting Sweden, for the purpose of collecting information concerning Swedenborg. But having obtained knowledge of the New Church in England, he soon availed himself of the means of obtaining books, &c. After suffering much persecution from the clergy, his high qualifications enabled him to obtain the office of Librarian of the University, a situation which will enable him to do much good. He is actively engaged in translating the works of Swedenborg into German, and is publishing pamphlets illustrative of the doctrines.
SWITZERLAND. We hear of four societies in this country, which were formed since the year 1824. We, however, know but little of their condition. They have, as yet, but few of the writings of Swedenborg.
SWEDEN. The doctrines of the New Church are received by very many of the learned in this kingdom; but owing to the want