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right understanding of the Word ; and which means are those which are least encumbered by human interposition; thus, more especially by such a change in one's mental optics as may approximate one to the interior sphere, which the original texts of the Word may be considered to represent.
Need I adduce, by way of analogy, the rationale of spiritual intuition, or interior sight, as contrasted with the absurd, but yet half-exploded notion of angels and spirits becoming visible by the assumption of matters foreign to their spiritual nature.
In conclusion, W. M. `will pardon me, if I, good-humouredly, suspect a species of malice prepense in his judgment, when I beg leave to parallel it with that of the real “Solomon,” when he called for a “sword,” as the means best adapted to decide between the dead and the living children, or rather the claimants. Unwilling were I, on the other hand, to ascribe to any one the justice of a sentence, without the judgment which used it but as a means for eliciting the truth. I have the honour to be, Gentlemen, your obliged humble servant,
PANIOTA. Aberystwith, Oct. 22nd, 1842.
REPLY TO “ AN OLD READER.”
To the Editors of the Intellectual Repository. GENTLEMEN, Your Correspondent “ An Old Reader,” has either through a want of perspecuity on my part, or clear discernment on his, totally mistaken my meaning. I can only say, that I do not mean that a man has three bodies ; nor did I intend to assert my opinions so confidently as to defy contradiction.
If "An Old Reader” will put the word matter for nature, and material for natural, in all the quotations he has made from Swedenborg, he will find his own confidence somewhat shaken as to the belief that they undoubtedly mean one and the same thing. He will find his amended edition to be a mass of absurdities and contradictions; kept as they are, they appear to me to justify every expression I have used. At all events, I shall believe so, without any fear of being condemned for my confidence, until “ An Old Reader," or others, shall give me reason to alter my opinion. The purer substances of nature which a man retains after death as continents, are not material; the material form is not a human form from itself, but from the spiritual form. I will readily admit, that the proper substances of nature which a inan puts off at death, may be material; but that the purer substances he retains are so, I cannot by any means believe.
I remain, Gentlemen, yours, &c.,
OBSERVER. immmmmmmm P. S. It may be as well to observe, that when E. S. speaks of the Lord's assuming a human or humanity like that of another man, and consequently material, (Doc. Ld. 35,) I understand him to mean, not that humanity was ever material, or that matter was ever a constituent of humanity, but that the Lord, externally, clothed himself with a material body, being in this respect like another man. Humanity in this world is a spiritual being clothed with a material body; humanity in the spiritual world, is a spiritual being clothed with a spiritual body.
A Letter to a Friend on Swedenborgianism. Otis Clapp, Boston, U. S.;
W. Newbery, 6, Chenies Street, Bedford Square, London. 1842.
Pp. 21. PERHAPS there is no point in which the Doctrines of the New Church are more evidently remarkable, than in the number of paths which conduct to them. Not a province of nature, or a branch of science, or a movement of the human race in modern times, but furnishes its specific attestation of this truth. With this great cloud and multiplicity of witnesses in nature and society, there is a corresponding diversity in the minds of the recipients of those doctrines, and in the literary works that advocate them: for, in the spiritual sense, all nations, and peoples, and kindreds, and languages, are being concentrated and arranged in the New Jerusalem. When, therefore, we find any new channel receiving and transmitting the truth, and de. veloping it in fresh relations, far from thinking that such channel is an uncalled for innovation, we ought to accept it as the means of fertilizing new spiritual regions,—as a sign of the variety and plasticity of our principles, and of their adaptation to the complex of the spiritual and natural creations.
Such reflections strike us on perusing this “ Letter to a Friend on Swedenborgianism” - so different from any former advocacy of the claims of our author ; and yet so truly excellent, in design, tone, and execution. Its leading object is, to remove those prejudices that close the threshold of a knowledge of the doctrines, and to shew, that, for any thing the world yet has a right to infer to the contrary, those doctrines may be true; and on this ground, to inculcate the moral responsibility men are under of examining them. The points which experience has proved to be the main stumbling-blocks to the ignorant and careless reader, are presented in order, and gently put aside : the circumstances of the age are then briefly touched on, as indicating the necessity for a divine interposition, to bring forth the Word from the darkness with which human evil and error have surrounded it, and to restore it as the medium between heaven and man; and a succinct statement of the new revelation is propounded. In the details much novelty could scarcely be expected : it is in the tone and arrangement that the peculiar talents and graces of the author's mind are strikingly displayed. It would be impossible, we think, for any person to read this Letter, and not to be impressed with its powerful qualities of common sense; with its logical flow of argument, and its piety; and with the absence of all visionary, enthusiastic, and ambiguous statements whatever. To those who have heard Swedenborg censured as a mad. man, the first feeling on opening this Letter would probably be surprize; to find every thing so cool, reasonable, and easy of acceptation ! The timid would be pleased to discover, that the new revelation was not meant to destroy, but to fulfil the law; and the skeptic, proud of his denunciations of bigotry in others, and of his fearless reasonings, might be won by the substance of these things, instead of pursuing their shadow.
To enable the reader to judge, in some degree, of the correctness of our statement, we will quote the concluding paragraphs.
In quitting the subject, there is one thing I would wish to leave clearly understood, namely, that the truth or falsehood of Swedenborg's writings and mission is not the question which I have attempted to argue in these pages. The position I have from the first taken, and which I have attempted to illustrate and defend, is simply this; -that for any thing the world as yet knows, or has fairly proved to the contrary, these doctrines may be just as true as we suppose them; because the opinion of their untruth, which prevails so generally, is accompanied by an ignorance of their true nature, and consequent incompetence to decide, as general as itself. I have endeavoured to interest you by the assurance, that beyond the thick veil which the apathy and misconception of mankind have spread before these doctrines, there lie things, the true shape and import of which the world has never yet seen ; but which, illustrating and illustrated by the wonderful changes now going on around us, altogether form a case worthy the deepest investigation of every rational and religious man. I have sought to induce you to pierce this veil, to see these things as they really are, and then judge for yourself. It may be possible that in this I shall fail ; the feeling, however, of duty, from which I have made the attempt, prompts me to
add, finally, a consideration to which I am aware you of all men will not be insensible.
These doctrines come to us in the name and on the alleged authority of God. Now, whatever security or confidence Christians may feel, that the contempt with which they treat them does not fall back on any such divine authority; yet, apart from the mere feeling of confidence, is not this security mainly based on the following supposition ;-that the man who put forth these doctrines to the world, was either mad, self. deluded, or an intentional deceiver?
Without, then, attempting to shew that this supposition is groundless, may I not truly observe respecting it, that those who rest upon its truth as a security that they are not disrespectfully rejecting the proffered mercies of God, make it a security for a very serious thing? a due and reverent sense of which, one should think, might indicate the duty of an examination into the foundation upon which the supposition itself rests. Is it respectful to the name in which these things have come, to allow it to rest (as most do) upon that worst of all foundations in religious matters, the opinion, rumour, and hearsay evidence of the world? I will not hide from you my own conviction, that from the aspect these doctrines present to those best acquainted with them, from the blameless life and character of their immediate author, and more especially from the authority which he has claimed for them, I think it the duty of all Christians, once, at least, in their lives, to give them a serious investigation.
The man who rises from such a task with a conviction of their fallacy, will then do so with a clear conscience, or at least in such proportion as he performed his task in a candid and truth-seeking spirit. That, where religious truth is concerned, a man ought well to know wbat that is which he receives, is an admonition of most grave and vital importance; but surely all the reasons which make it so, make it equally important that a man should know as well what that is which he rejects.
I am, my dear Sir, &c., &c.,
LINES COMPOSED FOR A LADY'S ALBUM. “ Behold! I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me.”- Apocalypse, 3: 20.
What gentle impulse wakes my slumbering thought?
For who, but Thou, can titles shew so clear,