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at the conclusion of our last paper, to be erroneous and false. Swedenborg makes, as we pointed out, a distinction between them and the Gospels, but he by no means, as declared in his own statements to Dr. Beyer, rejects them. He adduces them in his last great work—“The True Christian Religion,” at least forty times in confirmation of his doctrinesman evident proof that he does not reject them. It is, then, abundantly clear that Mr. Mahan does not derive the ground of his accusations from Swedenborg himself, but from his enemies—Dr. A. Woods and Dr. Pond; for if Mr. Mahan had read Swedenborg himself he would have seen the groundlessness of his charge.
We have said (p. 468) that in primitive Christianity it was customary to make a distinction between the Gospels and Epistles as to the superior holiness and authority of the former over the latter. We will here adduce a few facts in proof of this assertion. Ignatius, one of the early fathers, speaks of " fleeing to the Gospel as the flesh of Jesus, and to the Apostles as the presbyters of the church.” Now, here Ignatius makes the distinction for which we contend, and which Swedenborg has explained. Again, Irenæus, another early father, says—“The doctrines of the Apostles (meaning their Epistles) are agreeable to the Sacred Scriptures.” By this statement Irenæus distinguishes the Epistles from the Scriptures themselves. Again, Augustin says—“In the New Testament the Four Gospels have the highest authority.” Other extracts from ancient authors might be adduced to show that this difference was made between the Gospels and the Epistles; but enough has been quoted.*
We will now inquire of Mr. Mahan if he does not belong to the Protestant denomination styled Lutheranism; or if he does not advocate the principles called orthodoxy, which are founded chiefly upon the teachings of Luther ? Now this very Luther, as is well known, in the history of the Reformation, rejected, on his own authority, the Epistle of James, the most practical epistle of the Apostles. He treated it with contempt, and called it an “ Epistle of straw.” (Eine rechte stroherne Epistel.) He rejected this Epistle solely because it opposed his doctrine “of salvation by Faith only.” And he also agitated the propriety of rejecting the Epistle of Jude and the Apocalypse. Here, then, if Mr. Mahan adheres to the so-called orthodoxy founded upon the teaching of Luther, the very charge which he has, without cause, alleged against Swedenborg, he ought to have laid at the door of Luther, the champion of the prevailing orthodoxy!
* See Noble's “ Plenary Inspiration,” &c. Appendix II.
Let us, then, no longer hear of the groundless allegation against Swedenborg, that he rejected the Acts and Epistles of the Apostles !
The next charge brought by Mr. Mahan against Swedenborg is that which relates to the mode of interpreting Scripture by means of the doctrine of correspondences between things natural and scriptural. This charge he alleges in the following indistinct terms :
6. The main and almost exclusive interest which that portion of the Holy Writ which is left us (after the Acts and Epistles, together with Hagiographia of the Old Testament have been rejected], is to possess in our minds, after receiving these revelations as divine, is to be derived from the new meaning which we are now to attach, and that simply because Swedenborg says we must, to the words of Scripture, a meaning arbitrarily attached to them, and which they have no adaptations whatever to convey. The literal meaning of the Bible, we are taught, that is, the Scriptures, when explained according to the laws of language, is often self-contradictory and false, contrary to valid history and true science, and of an immoral character and tendency. It is only when we come to the higher and spiritual meaning which Swedenborg was commissioned to reveal, that we find real and absolute truth,truth self-consistent and eternal. The great interest, then, which the Scriptures should possess, and will possess, the validity of his claims being admitted,—the interest which, with all his followers, they do in fact now possess, is to attach almost exclusively to this new and higher meaning. Yet this one all-absorbing meaning, the words of Scripture have no adaptation to convey. We will give a single illustration, Swedenborg's explanation of 1 Samuel, chapters v. and vi., which contain the account of the retention of the ark for a season in the land of the Philistines, and its being sent back by them. • The Philistines represent,' he says, those who exalt faith above charity; which was the occasion of their continual wars with the Israelites, who represent those who cherish faith in union with charity. The idol Dagon is the religion of those who are represented by the Philistines. The emerods are symbols of the appetites of the natural man, which, when separated from the spiritual affections, are unclean. The mice, by which the land was devastated, are images of the lust of destroying, by false interpretation, the spiritual nourishment which the church derives from the Word of God. The emerods of gold exhibit the natural appetites, as purified and made good. The golden mice signify the healing of the tendency to false interpretations, effected by admitting a regard to goodness. The cows are types of the natural man, in regard to such good qualities as he possesses. Their lowing by the way expresses the repugnance of the natura) man to the process of conversion. And the offering them up for a burnt-offering typifies that restoration of order which takes place in the mind, when the natural affections are submitted to the Lord.'* Who, from any correct laws of interpretation, could ever have dreamed that God intended to represent by two cows the natural man in regard to such good qualities as he possesses, and by the lowing of these cows the repugnance of the natural man to the process of conversion ? The words have no adaptation whatever to convey such an idea. The same holds equally true of every other spiritual idea which this revelator affirms to be
* True Chris, Religion, section 103.
expressed by the words of Scripture. Yet, if we receive him as our guide, our interest in these ideas thus arbitrarily attached to the words of Scripture, will become the almost, if not quite exclusive source of interest with us, in the Word of God.”—pp. 425, 426.
Here we will observe, firstly, that the charge that the spiritual sense is a “meaning arbitrarily attached to the words of Scripture, which they have no adaptation whatever to convey;"—that this charge is so obviously groundless, that it can only be the result of mere ignorance on the part of the accuser, who if he had read even a single chapter of Genesis, or Exodus, or the Apocalypse explained according to the spiritual sense by Swedenborg, would have, at once, perceived that it was by no means arbitrary but according to fixed and intelligible principles, and also that the words of Scripture, which as to their literal sense, are taken from the objects and occurrences in nature, are most fitly adapted to convey the spiritual and divine ideas, which it is the primary object of a divine revelation to communicate. For what can be more fixed and less arbitrary than the laws which govern the relation between things natural and spiritual ? But it is according to this fixed relation called correspondence, that the spiritual sense is interpreted. In order, however, to show how unfixed and arbitrary the system adopted by Mr. Mahan and the so-called orthodox school is, we will adduce, out of very many that might be quoted, only one instance from their most celebrated writers, such as Beza, Whitby, Doddridge and others. Whitby says that the Lord's words, “Every one, shall be salted with fire,” (Mark ix., 49.) mean that “every wicked man shall be seasoned with fire itself so as to become inconsumable, and shall endure for ever to be torinented.” Beza and Gilpin say that thereby is meant “ that every Christian is purified. by the difficult and fiery trials of life.” Lightfoot and Doddridge maintain that thereby is signified that the “ man thus salted with fire is a true sacrifice for God, and is seasoned with the salt of grace to the incorruption of glory."* Here then is, indeed, a specimen of the arbitrary, and what is worse, the contradictory modes of interpretation in the school to which Mr. Mahan, as Theological President of Cleveland
University, belongs! Now, the fixed system of interpretation by which · Swedenborg expounds the Scriptures entirely precludes the possibility
of this arbitrary and contradictory mode of interpretation. What these worthy men wanted as interpreters of the Word of God, to prevent them. thus stating things contradictory and opposite to each other, was the fixed system of correspondences explained by Swedenborg. Here then
* See all these arbitrary significations of this passage adduced in the margin: of Bagster's Comprehensive Bible.
the tables are again turned upon Mr. Mahan in his attempt to cast disparagement and obloquy upon the system of interpretation adopted by the New Church. The infidel who rejects the Bible, may, indeed, say to Mr. Mahan that “one reason why I have rejected it, is because your own most celebrated interpreters understand it in so many different senses, and their interpretations are so diverse and even so much opposed to one another, that I cannot accept it as a revelation from God.” But this charge he can never allege against the system of interpretation explained by Swedenborg.
Mr. Mahan quotes, as a specimen of Swedenborg's interpretation according to correspondences, the extraordinary account of the ark taken captive by the Philistines, when, as a consequence, the people were smitten with emerods, and the land devastated by mice. When, however, the ark, placed upon “a new cart drawn by two lowing milch kine,” was sent back, together with golden images of emerods and mice, the Philistines were delivered from the plagues. Now, this account, like many other things said in the letter of God's Word, appears, as the Apostle says, “ foolishness to the natural man.” And upon this, as upon many other statements, the infidel takes his stand, and not only hurls his mockeries and reproaches at the Divine Word, but he rejects it as an “old wife's fable,” not adapted to the enlightened age in which we live. The infidel, of course, like Mr. Mahan, only understands it according to the letter, denying that it involves a spiritual meaning, discovered by interpreting the objects there named according to the doctrine of correspondences, which are fixed and immutable, and therefore by no means subject to an arbitrary or fanciful interpretation. But Swedenborg thus demonstrates in what the divinity of this passage consists, brings out its divine truths, and shows that the passage is applicable, first, to the states of the unregenerate man, when his motives and principles of action are mere cupidities springing from evils in his life, such as avarice, signified by the mice, and sensuality in various forms, denoted by filthy emerods. In which state, although as an external member of the church, he may have a knowledge of the truth, he is only an “uncircumcised Philistine” opposed and hostile to the “true Israel of God," or to the true and regenerate members of the church. The worship also of such a man is represented as to its true nature by the hideous idol Dagon. And the condemnation and perdition of all such merely nominal members of the church, when after death they come into the world of spirits, is signified by the destruction of Dagon at the presence of the ark, which denotes the Lord's presence, especially at the time of judgment, and by the disclosure of their evils signified by the “mice and the emerods.”
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Secondly, he shews that this passage is applicable to man in the process of his regeneration, when he is being converted from a merely natural to a spiritual state; during this conversion, which is not effected in a moment, but is of long continuance, there is much reluctance to be overcome. This reluctance is signified by the “lowing of the kine,” to leave their homes, and to draw the “new cart” to its destination. And we all know, if we have any practical Christianity within us, how strong our inclination is to remain in a merely natural state, and not to make daily progress in the regenerate life to what is spiritual and heavenly. Thus in order to be the Lord's disciples indeed, we have “ daily to bear our cross, and to deny ourselves” unholy and impeding gratifications of every kind, as we are being led by the natural affections denoted by the milch kine, from a spiritual origin, of divine Truth. For the “milch kine” involve the idea of their essential use, which is that of suckling their young, which denote principles of innocence and purity established in the natural man as the results of regeneration. Now, to persevere and nourish these principles is attended with more or less of difficulty, anxiety, and reluctance; and this was signified by the lowing of the kine, which literally signifies their reluctance to leave their home and their young
But thirdly, the process of regeneration accomplished is signified by the offering up of “the cart and the kine as a burnt offering to the Lord.” Thus when all things in man become consecrated and sacrificed to the Lord, the work of regeneration is complete. Then love, denoted by the "fire" of the burnt offering, is all in all. In this case all the affections and appetites of the natural mind are purified, as signified by the “golden mice and the golden emerods;" for gold is an emblem of pure goodness from God. “I counsel thee, saith the Lord, to buy of me gold tried in the fire that thou mayst be rich.” (Rev. iii. 18.)
Now, we candidly ask Mr. Mahan, whether this divine record which appears to the unenlightened natural man “ foolishness," is not, when interpreted according to Swedenborg, on the fixed principles of correspondence between things natural and spiritual, full of divine instruction and edification? Whereas none of the commentators of the school to which the President of Cleveland University belongs can make anything of it. They consequently leave it to the ridicule and scoff of the infidel. But not so Swedenborg; he reduces the scorner to silence by shewing the true nature of the Word, and arms the disciple of revelation with a panoply of intellectual strength against which the shafts of infidelity are of no avail. Let the students of Cleveland ask their President to give them a rational exegesis of this extraordinary record,