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persons who had witnessed the events related in the Scripture ; or who wrote them from the reports or tra
just come out of her captivity in the perverse, misleading, Babylonian spirit.
I can say nothing of the Books Ruth and Esther. As to the Acts of the Apostles, and the Apostolical Epistles, they seem to me so instructive above the productions of men of our kind, so connected together, and such a consequence of the Gospel, that, though given under different names, I believe them, from what I have been told, to have been written by the same hand; and that, without a positive injunction not to acknowledge them as Scriptures, I could not cease to reverence them as having been inspired by the Omnipotent, and dictated by His Spirit who speaketh in His elect. St. Matt. 10. 19, 20. (For instance, I could not conceive how the following verse can have been written without the inspiration of God. In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began. Tit. 1. 2.)
Admitting that what Emmanuel Swedenborg, the much informed, but not infallible, Swede, says, is right : “ that there is a great difference " as to the wisdom and instructions that are conveyed by the Books" that are generally received, I should not think it sufficient to reject those that are inferior to others; no more than I should give up the law of Moses, because it is not equal to that of Christ : the first of which I consider as the preparatory instruction or the beginning of the regeneration, and the second as the perfecting of it: both beautiful and essential in their time and season.
Upon the whole, it does not appear to me of so much importance in our present degraded condition, to know accurately the degree of wisdom of each of the Books, and whether this or that is positively part of the Bible, or not, as to receive with simplicity those that seem to us to bear the stamp of the Word of God; and to follow, the best we can, the excellent instructions which they contain. It is to be hoped that some day or other we shall be favoured with a correct information about them.
More than two years after I had written this note, the following books were sent to me to read :
Defence of the New Church, signified by the New Jerusalem
ditions of others who were supposed to bave seep them : which seems inconsistent with the notion of a Divine
contained in Letters to Dr. Priestly, published by Robert Hindmarsh, in 1792.
Letters to a Member of Parliament on the Character and Writings of Baron Swedenborg, in Answer to the Abbé Baruel, by the Rev. Mr. Clowes, in 1799.
In the extracts which they contain of Swedenborg's theological works I have met with propositions that have appeared to me so much in contradiction with the Scripture, and leading so much to consequences that would be, in my opinion, subversive of it, that, should you happen to peruse those writings, I think you will do well not to suffer yourself to be so attracted by his uncommon learning, nor so far influenced by the satisfaction which many of his explanations might afford you, as to receive every thing from him without discussing it and inquiring whether it agrees with the Sacred History or not; I do not mean whether this or that notion of his might be or not in a manner supported by one or several passages, but whether it can be reconciled with the spirit of the whole. From the various and doubtful opinions which I have heard from some of those who have studied his writings, I have been led to suppose that they must be complex, deficient in simplicity, and hard to be understood, unless the intelligence of his admirers be questioned.
In refutation of the Abbé Baruel's words, that, “ in the writings r of Swedenborg, it is always God or an Angel that speaks," Mr. Clowes says, “ The fact is, that, throughout the voluminous philoso“ phical and theological works of our honourable author, there is “ not a single passage to support the assertion of the Abbé Baruel " that God speaks in them, and I challenge the Abbé to produce such “ a passage. I challenge him to point out a single instance in those 6 works wherein it is asserted by the author that he immediately re“ ceived any command, precept, or information from the Most High. « On the contrary, it is continually insisted upon by Swedenborg, " that the Sacred Scriptures, or Word of God, contain the whole “ will and wisdom of the Deity, and are fully competent, if rightly un“ derstood, to the instruction of man in every case relating to salva“ tion. It was, therefore, the great labour of Swedenborg, as a hea
inspiration, as no necessity appears for it, merely to give an account of what one has seen and heard: while
“ venly-instructed scribe, not to reveal to men any new will or word of “ God, for that was not wanted, but to lead mankind to a right un. “ derstanding of the old word, which, through the misinterpretations “ of men, had been perverted and corrupted. It is true, in some of “ his spiritual intercourses, the author takes occasion to relate the “ discourse of the angels; but this occurs so rarely, and, compared " with the whole of his writings, makes so small a portion of them, “ that the Abbé must have strangely forgotten himself, or the truth,
when he inserted in his charge the word always. It is further to “ be observed, that when we read of what the angels speak, which is “ very rare, their discourse is never pressed with the authority of a “ command, intended for the direction of life, but only in the way of “ information respecting the invisible realities of that world which " they inhabit, and which they were desirous to make known unto " men."
Without entering into a minute discussion of that paragraph, I shall only say that it appears to me, from Mr. Clowes's words, that almost the whole of Swedenborg's works may be considered either as his own opinions, or as information which he has received from revelations or by inspiration. If he wrote from revelations, or by inspiration, it may be asked, who were the agents of either, whether in a visible way, whether in an invisible ? Were they superior spirits, who al. ways revealed to him, or inspired him with, the truth? Were they spirits of the middle hierarchies, whose communications were measured to the imperfect state of his mind, and varied according to the degrees of knowledge he was led through, and according to his ability to bear greater informations ? Were they inferior spirits by whom he was in danger of being misled? Ignorant as I am of his works, may I be allowed to add these other questions :-Is there any proof that he has perfectly understood the spiritual language of angels. and has he always expressed himself in a way intelligible to his readers ? I am disposed to doubt it.
If most of what he says ought to be considered only as opinions of his, please to remember that he was a man, a poor mortal, or rather, Scripturally speaking, one of the dead (Matt. 8. 22); and that, be
to speak of things of which we can have no positive knowledge, there is an absolute need of the inspiration of the Creator of all things. For my part, were I to say that any of the books that are generally considered as parts of the Old and of the New Testaments, or any part of them, is a relation of facts that have been witnessed on this earth by such or such person who wrote it, I should be afraid of being tased with denying that it was given by the inspiration of God, with denying altogether that it is His Word, and with assimilating it, in imitation of the Jews, with the traditions of men: which would tend to lessen the faith in it, as no human record, of some extent, can be entirely depended upon; let the writer be ever so pious.
With the belief that the Scripture had emanated from the Deity, the converted Jews ought to have been impressed with the certainty that it speaks of different things from those alluded to in the books of men ; of
fore his notions be admitted, they ought to be tried, in obedience to the injunctions in 1 Thess. 5. 21, and 1 John, 4. 1.
In the defence of the New Church I have particularly remarked, p. 241, Mr. Hindmarsh's following note. “ The creation spoken of " in the first chapter of Genesis, does not at all allude to the creation “ of the visible universe, but solely to the regeneration of man, as may “ be seen abundantly proved by Emmanuel Swedenborg, in his Ar
6 cana Coelestia." If Swedenborg has proved it to the satisfaction of his readers, I think they may conclude that the earth spoken of in the first verse of the Scripture is not this visible one, and as the Sacred Writings speak no where else of the past creation of another earth, it seems to me that they may infer, also, that in no place they allude to this, and to what belongs to it; but rather to the world which God sets in the heart of men ; and which must be overcome for their regeneration.
things important for the soul, for the inward man, who, by sin, has ceased to be image and likeness of his Creator; of things able to make one wise unto salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus ; of things profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3. 15, 16). Perceiving that it relates to the soul (Job, 32. 8), as it appears to me from the numerous passages in which she is mentioned, they might have inferred that it was intended for her regeneration, for her resurrection from the state of spiritual death; and they ought to have endeavoured to apply it to themselves : which might bave brought them to suspect the possibility of finding in the Sacred History a part or a hint of their own soul's history. For instance, in the account of the creation, which they had supposed to refer to a single individual, I think it might have been of service to them to examine whether it could not, and did not, relate to themselves as well as to that creature ; which I believe may be countenanced by the following verses, which seem to bint at a previous existence of every one of us. Male and female created He them (Gen. 1. 27). And God blessed them, and said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply (28), male and female created He them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created (5. 2). The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be ; and that which is done, is that which shall be done ; and there is no new thing under the sup (Eccl. 1. 9). Is there any thing whereof it may be said, this is new? It bath been already of old time, which was before us (10). There is no remembrance of former things (11). That which has been, is now; and that which is to be, hath already