Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

It was

ings of Swedenborg," and in a new edition, we suggest that this title be adopted.

Whilst, however, we have thus cleared the way, as to a right estimation of the position which the New Church occupies in relation to Spiritualism and Spiritual Manifestations, we are aware that it may be urged as an objection,—“Why then do you not repudiate the manifestations as made by Swedenborg himself, through his alleged intercourse with spirits? And if it is wrong in us now to attend to spirits, was it not wrong in him?"

To this we reply, that the case of Swedenborg was totally different, and for ever to be distinguished from that of mesmerised clairvoyants. Swedenborg's case was different in its nature, different in its object, and different in its tendency, and thus totally different from that of clairvoyants even of the very highest class. different in its nature, because Swedenborg very often assures us that he was, when in communication with angels and spirits, in the fullest state of wakefulness as to his external senses, and that he conversed with them as a man converses with his fellow-man upon earth; whereas clairvoyants are not, as to their external senses, when in the mesmeric condition, in a state of wakefulness, nor can they, at the same time, converse with men, but must first be awakened from their mesmeric state, when they are entirely unconscious of what has happened in the clairvoyant condition. Swedenborg, on the contrary, could, at the same time, have full intercourse with spirits by his internal senses, and by his external could, as in ordinary life, have full intercourse with men, and could also, at the same time, be occupied in writing or in other employments. Thus Swedenborg could, when in this state, employ his rational powers, and consequently “prove the spirits" by the Word of God and by sound reason, and thus he could become possessed of information and intelligence, such as no mortal prior to him could possibly acquire, because not placed in similar conditions. Whereas clairvoyants, when in the mesmeric state, are, as to their external senses, quite asleep, and as to their internal senses they are, for the most part at least, merely passive recipients of what is told them, incapable of reasoning, and thus of proving the spirits with whom they are in association. Hence Mr. Mahan says, p. 108, “ To enter the mesmeric state, on the one hand, and to become mediums on the other, one and the same condition is requisite in both instances, namely, a state of mental passivity.But with Swedenborg it was entirely different. (See T. C. R. 851.)

Swedenborg's case was also different in its object from that of clairvoyants. For this object was worthy of a divine interposition to accomplish, it being no less than to teach mankind the true nature of God's Word, to unfold, according to the laws of correspondence which determine the relation between things natural and spiritual, the true meaning of the Scriptures, to make known its pure doctrines, and thus to vindicate the Word itself against the attacks of infidelity, and to place the disciple of Revelation upon a rock of adamant, against which the sneers, scoffs, and objections of scepticism, or of a negative rationalism, will ever fall blunted and harmless. This, it must be admitted, was an object worthy of an especial interposition of Providence in respect to some man, who, from his childhood, had been prepared as an instrument for its accomplishment. But in addition to this, as another object of Swedenborg's mission, we must consider the discovery of man's state after death, and the great amount of reliable and rational information he has communicated respecting heaven and hell. We say reliable and rational, because the mind can only repose and rely upon that which is truly rational, and, on this ground, we challenge the strictest investigation as to every thing which Swedenborg has stated respecting the life after death. It will be found to be both rational and Scriptural, and, therefore, worthy of all acceptation. This, again, we repeat, is an object infinitely to be desired, and worthy of a divine interposition to accomplish. For what can be more desirable, next to the true knowledge of God Himself, than a knowledge of the world in which we are to live for ever? But ask the Rev. A. Mahan, First President of Cleveland University, what he knows about the state of man after death,—about Heaven and Hell, and he will tell you that he knows nothing more about these greatest of all realities to man, than the most common generalities,—that heaven is a place of happiness and hell a place of misery; he may also say, in justification of his ignorance, although a President of a theological institution, that he is not concerned to know anything more about them, because, in his imagination, this is all that is necessary to be known in respect to these eternal realities, these final destinies of the human race. But all the particulars involved in those generalities are, under various types and symbols, revealed in the Word, and Swe. denborg, by discovering the meaning of these symbols and types, has made known to us, through the Lord's mercy, a great number of particulars respecting heaven and hell.

Now, in order that the Word might thus, as to its true nature, be explained and vindicated against its numerous enemies, as a Revelation from God, it was necessary in the nature of things, that in the

progress of mental development and improvement, some suitable mind should be prepared, and by a remarkable divine interposition, be enabled to receive and to impart the desired knowledge, and thus, through divine Mercy, to benefit the human race, by raising them to a higher platform of thought as to things spiritual and divine, and hence prepare them for a right discernment of God's Word, and for a full contemplation of the great realities of eternity. But this object could not be accomplished without placing, as an instrumental medium, some man in open communication with the spiritual world; this man, we, who have studied the subject on all sides, have every reason to believe was Swedenborg, and the conviction gradually growing amongst thinking and independent minds, who have examined his works and his claims, is becoming daily more deeply rooted and expanded.

Swedenborg's case was also different in its tendency from that of Clairvoyants. For this tendency is to inspire his reader with an exalted love and veneration of God's Word, to cause him to delight in meditating upon its Truths rationally opened to his mind, to make him see the necessity of holiness, as a universal principle of life, to urge him by every possible inducement to love the Lord above all things, by faithfully doing His precepts, and to love his neighbour as himself. Many clairvoyants, on the contrary, speak with disparagement of the Word, and even deny it as the Book of Life to man. We need not, as our space will not admit of it, adduce evidence from the documents of " Spiritualism," in proof of this. Here, then, is a great difference, which immensely distinguishes the tendency of Swedenborg's writings from that of Clairvoyants in general.

Swedenborg's case, then, we consider to have been totally different, both as to its nature, object, and tendency, from that of Clairvoyants; although, as Professor Bush has demonstrated, the experience recorded by Swedenborg himself, explains many of the phenomena of Mesmerism, which otherwise would still be involved in impenetrable dark

We therefore conclude, as the only way of explaining Swedenborg's case, that the solution which he gives of it himself, is the only true one, namely, “ that it pleased the Lord, for the most important uses to mankind in respect to true wisdom and happiness, to open the interior senses of his spirit,"* and, thereby to place him in open communication with the spiritual world, and thus to enable him to procure an immense amount of intelligence respecting spiritual and divine things, which he could rationally explain and describe for the benefit of the human race, and especially of the universal Chris. tian Church. For the time had come when an interposition of this kind was indispensable to rescue the Word, as the only source of religious knowledge, from universal contempt and denial, and to afford the means, by opening new mines of spiritual intelligence, and espe. cially by opening the spiritual sense of the Word, for the true spiritual development and regeneration of mankind. Thus improvement and progress are, by the mission of Swedenborg, secured to an extent which cannot, in the present state of worldliness which so commonly prevails, be easily appreciated. But successive generations, as they come on the stage of life, will, untrammelled by traditional creeds, built upon the fallacious ground of merely sensuous appearances, and not on genuine truths, appreciate the nature, object, and tendency, of the mission and message of Swedenborg,

* Sea T. C. R. 771, 779, 850, 851.

ness.

It is not our intention to pass under review the entire book before us, but only that chapter which treats of “Swedenborg and his clairvoyant Revelations." We may, however, state that the author imagines that he has found a key which universally unlocks and explains all the phenomena of clairvoyance. This key is the Odylic Force, * which Mr. Mahan

says

is “identical with the immediate cause of these Manifestations," p. 99. This odylic force " is exclusively physical in its nature,” p. 100, and by means of this force all the manifestations of “Spiritualism" are to be solved and explained. Whatever "spiritualists," or those who through clairvoyants endeavour to have communications with spirits, may think on this statement of Mr. Mahan, and on this key to all the phenomena of spiritualism, we, who have nothing in common, nor desire to have any communion with them, unhesitatingly avow that these statements and this key are by no means adequate to solve the phenomena of clairvoyance, still less any of the phenomena which attended the states of -Swedenborg. For most of the phenomena are attended with the evidences of rational existence. Questions, as is well known, are put, and rationally and correctly answered by this supposed Odylic Force, which, it is expressly said, “is identical with the immediate cause of these manifestations.” But this force, it is also said, is "exclusively physical," consequently according to Mr. Mahan, the First President of Cleveland University, a Physical Force is gifted with rationality! Where, in the literature of philosophy, do we meet with such a materialistic absurdity, especially as coming from a theologian ? For many cases are recorded in the annals of clairvoyance in which rational agency, quite independent of the subjective state of either

* Discovered and explained by Baron Reichenbach. See Dr. Gregory's trans. lation of this extraordinary work.

[Enl. Series.--No. 22, vol. ii.]

3 N

the clairvoyant or of the mesmerizer, is evident. How can this independent rational agency be explained on the theory of the Odylic Force ? which, it is said, "is exclusively a mundane physical power," although declared to be indefinable. But rational agency, whether exercised in answering questions, or in making known things hidden and unknown both to the mesmerizer and clairvoyant, is certainly not a merely mundane or physical power. Mr. Mahan has, therefore, utterly failed in supplying a key to these extraordinary phenomena.

But even more unsound is the argument of Mr. Mahan in respect to the divine origin of the Jewish religion and of Christianity :

" To our mind (says Mr. M.) it is self-evident, that nothing but miracles, that is, effects which can result from the action of no finite causes, can properly be appealed to, as evidence of the divine origin of Christianity, or of any other religion.” p. 345.

Here are two statements which are obviously erroneous. First, it is said, “ that miracles are effects which can result from the action of no finite causes.” On the contrary, we know that the magicians of Egypt performed by their enchantments miracles exactly similar, as to appearance, to those performed by Moses and Aaron, which were truly from a divine origin, and from “no finite cause;" but no one will contend that the miracles performed by the magicians were from a divine, but from an infernal origin, and consequently from a finite cause. Accordingly we learn that the “spirits of devils can perform miracles ;" (Apoc. xiv. 14.) and that “ false prophets can also work miracles.” (Apoc. xix. 20.)

Miracles, therefore, are not exclusively from a divine origin, nor are they exclusive attestations of a dispensation from God, or of a divine Revelation. Miracles, as recorded in the Word, have another design, both in the direct and the permissive Providence of God. As from a divine origin, or from the direct Providence of God, they are the means of revealing the Word, or of Divine Truth in its relation to the church, and to the states of its members, whether good or bad; consequently miracles are the means of revealing the divine Truths of Redemption and Salvation, and supremely of the Lord's works of universal Redemption, Judgment, and the Glorification of His Humanity, and also of the Regeneration of Man. This is the chief end for which miracles, as recorded in Scripture, were performed. Because the divine truths relating to these important subjects, which are the essential subjects of Revelation,

* Dr. Haddock records, in his valuable work on

“ Somnolism and Psycheism," &c., many instances of rational agency, such as the discovery of things unknown both to the mesmerizer and to the clairvoyant, &c. See especially pp. 112--151. Second Edition.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »