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RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, AND LITERATURE. 317
light of nature and humanity. He represents the Logos as "having in Himself the ideas conceived by the Father," and terms Him "the light-bringing Voice anterior to the Morning Star." When men are disobedient, this Word brings them back, not of necessity, but calling them to liberty of His own accord. He assumed a body from a virgin, in order that His presence might be continued with men, and His Humanity might thereby be exhibited as an aim to all men, that it might be proved God made nothing evil, and that the human will might be preserved in freedom.
Let us now return awhile to the East. Clement was succeeded in the Alexandrian school by his illustrious pupil Origen, who surpassed him in learning, and has rendered his name immortal by his Hexapla, the first essay towards a Polyglot Bible. But though superior to Clement in learning, he was not equal to him in the clearness, beauty, and harmony which distinguish the religious opinions of his master. His views of the Logos are, however, substantially the same, and therefore require no particular detail. His disciple Theodorus, a native of Cappadocia, closed the Ante-Nicene period. He is better known in hagiology as St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, or the wonder-worker; but his first name is more in consonance with his teaching concerning the Logos as the gift of God, hidden in the inmost centre of every human soul.
The Nicene period commences with the Council of Nice, A. D. 324, when Christianity became the established religion of the Roman empire, and the Christian clergy superseded the Pagan priesthood. The doctrine of the Alexandrian School still continued to be maintained in Cappadocia (a nation in which the Greek and Oriental elements were blended), by Basil and the two Gregories,* but it appeared now in a somewhat new phase, for among the Christian writers of this period, and chiefly with the three great names just mentioned, originated a distinct branch of polite literature, namely, the description of natural beauty and grandeur. In the Pagan authors, it has been observed, the scenery of nature is often beautifully described, but ever as the background of humanity, which always occupies the foremost place. But these writers delight in the contemplation of Nature apart from humanity, and this gives rise to the most charming descriptions. Thus (the modern being better known than the ancient) Basil's account of his delightful retreat at Pontus, reminds us at once of Petrarch's description of Vaucluse, and the happy valley in " Rasselas," while in his designation of the stars as "the eternal flowers of heaven," we may discern the
» Basil, Bishop of Ccesarea, was born A. D. 829; died, A. D. 879. Gregory of Kazienzum, horn A. D. 338; died A. D. 390.
818 RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, AND LITERATURE.
rudiments of Longfellow's exquisite verses, long before the key-thought had utterance by " the castled Rhine :"—
"Wondrous things, and manifold as wondrous,
Sees in stars and flowers alike a part
And, finally, in the beautiful " Ode to Spring," by his beloved friend Gregory of Nazienzum, we may discover the beginning of that descriptive poetry so admirably, yet variously developed in aftertimes by the authors of "The Seasons," "Sweet Auburn," and " The Excursion."
Whence, then, we may ask, this elevation, or (if the term may be allowed) apotheosis of Nature? Is it not manifestly a result of the doctrine of the Logos—the Word without echoes, as it were, the Word within, giving back some of its " many voices of one delight"? Every object in nature corresponding to some principle or truth of the Word, the varied delights which we feel in contemplating the landscape of nature arise from its awakening or calling forth some phase of the innumerable and infinite genera and species of spiritual and celestial ideas which, with their corresponding affections, are latent in the sphere interior to our consciousness, in consequence of the constant presence of the Logos (Truth Divine) in the human internal of every man.
Here we are presented with a theory of the Beautiful, on which we reserve a few observations for our next. J. B. W.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF THE LATE REV. WILLIAM
MASON. William Mason was born in London, in April, 1790, and at an early age was admitted into Christ's Hospital, that excellent foundation, where many great and useful men have received their education. Having preferred business to farther pursuing his studies, he entered, in 1805, the London warehouse of a Nottingham hosier and cotton-spinner. Here he made the acquaintance of Mr. John Darwin, who occupied a responsible situation under the same employ. Mr. Darwin was at that time the president of the society for which the Rev. M. Sibly officiated as minister, and he endeavoured to introduce the heavenly doctrines to the intelligent youth thus come within his influence. I quote Mr. Mason's own words as to the change that occurred in his views :—-
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF THE LATE BEV. WILLIAM MASOK. 319
"My education had strongly imbued me with 'Church and King' principles, Bo that for several years I regarded Mr. Darwin's religion with feelings, I may say, of abhorrence; and with the impetuosity of youth I did not scruple to treat his overtures to introduce his doctrines with marks of contempt, and, without at all understanding them, to stigmatize his sentiments to my friends. But the Divine Providence is able to work out Its own purposes. I had been accustomed to read the Bible on Sundays, and on one occasion I was forcibly struck with apparent contradictions in the Gospels in respect to ' the Trinity.' 'Here,' said I to myself, with strong feelings of impatient indignation, 'it says there are Three, and here it says there is only One: who can reconcile these statements? I know that the Church of England cannot, for I have often heard the preachers declare that no one can explain this inscrutable mystery, and, indeed, have felt something like exultation that on this subject, at least, I was as wise as my teachers.' So excited was I by my discovery, that I felt I should discard the Bible altogether unless I could get satisfaction on this subject. 'Only Darwin's religion,' said I, 'professes to be able to explain the Trinity. I must ask him to lend me a tract.' Accordingly I asked him to lend me ' something short on the Trinity.' He lent me a tract prepared by the elder Mr. Hawkins, proving the New Church doctrine on the Trinity from Scripture and the Fathers. I read it, and exclaimed—' Tbis makes all clear, and satisfactory too, if true.' I took the tract and showed it to an old friend and schoolfellow, by whom it was handed to a clergyman, who filled a large sheet of paper with what he deemed, no doubt, a complete refutation of the heresy. Its haughty and ill-tempered style, and the feebleness of its arguments, led me to think that if nothing better than this could be urged against the views, they must be true. I determined, therefore, to go on with my investigation, and commenced reading, with much earnestness, 'The True Christian Religion.' By the time I had read the chapter on the Divine Omniscience, and looked through the 'Heaven and Hell,' I was pretty well convinced that the writings of Swedenborg contained the very truth."
He was at this time eighteen years of age, and evinced, in this episode of his life, the earnest loyalty to truth which afterwards, when a man, became his predominant characteristic. Fierce indignation from his friends saluted his avowal of the change in his opinions. To some it is not easy, and to many it is impossible, to conceive how, from hot vituperation of a religious system, an earnest and sincere young man may honestly pass to a belief in it as conscientious, and a defence of it as warm. Time, however, and perceiving how useless was their opposition, healed this breach. For some years Mr. Mason did not join any society of the New Jerusalem, and attended Divine worship at the Established Church. Perhaps this experience, by rendering him familiar with it, enabled him to become the unsparing analyst of the system of theology called othodox, as in subsequent life he so powerfully manifested himself.
When twenty-one years of age, he succeeded in obtaining a situation as clerk in the Horse Guards, where he continued for fourteen years. 320 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF THE LATE EEV. WILLIAM MASON.
For the greater part of this time he was a member of the society to which the Rev. S. Noble officiated as minister, and for the last five years of this period Mr. Noble resided in his house. In 1820 he married the present Mrs. Mason, then Mrs. Hodson, and who for the long period of fortythree years has been to him a tender, sympathising, and devoted wife. During the five subsequent years it was that Mr. Mason became a member of the Philomathic Society, where he formed many interesting acquaintanceships, and among others that of Mr. Shaw, to whom he introduced the doctrines, and who afterwards became minister to the society meeting at Argyle-square, London. These two men, although forming a strong contrast in almost every element of intellectual character, ever remained most affectionately attached to each other. For many years they constantly corresponded, a delightful interchange of thought and sentiment, only interrupted for a time by the removal into the spiritual world of Mr. Shaw; but now, doubtless, at least for a state, resumed on the other side. The friendly messenger of death has reunited what it had before sundered, the conscious communication of souls, kindred, at least, in love of God and loyalty to truth.
During five years, from 1820 to 1825, Mr. Mason was secretary to the Swedenborg Printing Society, as he was also secretary to the London Coffee Meeting, and an editor of the Intellectual Repository, together with Messrs. Noble, Jones, and Pritchard. Not the least interesting of incidents in relation to the London Coffee Meeting, Mr. Mason has preserved and handed to the author of this sketch. It is as follows:— "Just before the publication of Mr. Coleridge's 'Aids to Reflection,' in 1825, a communication was made to the London Coffee Meeting (a select body of twenty-four gentlemen, admitted by election) by a member of it, Mr. C. A. Tulk, that Coleridge was a decided admirer of Swedenborg, and would undertake to write a'Life of the Mind of Swedenborg,' if £iOQ. were raised for him. Mr. .Arbouin, having some doubts of Mr. Coleridge's doctrinal fitness, and knowing the gentleman at whose house Mr. Coleridge was staying, at Highgate, went there, just before the dinner hour, and was invited to stay and dine. After dinner, he asked Mr. Coleridge's opinion of Swedenborg, when he received a guarded but unfavourable reply. This was conveyed to the Coffee Meeting. Mr. Tulk asked Mr. Coleridge for an explanation, and he said, 'that being, as he judged, rudely questioned before a mixed company, he was not prepared to unreservedly give his opinion, and so he replied as he did.' Thus, however, ended the proposal."
That Coleridge was an admirer of Swedenborg's philosophical writings, he has left on record; but it may well be questioned whether he was prepared to produce this work with so ambitious a title, or, if he had produced it, whether it would not have been more ornamental to imaginative literature than useful to truth.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF THE LATE REV. WILLIAM MASON. 821
Mr. Mason was attacked by the disease of the eyes, called irites; and in 1825 he was compelled to resign his situation, and retire from London. From injudicious surgical treatment which he underwent, the sight of his left eye was permanently lost. He went to reside at Colchester; and as his discourses were extempore, he was still able to preach. In September of this year he became minister to the New Church society at Brightlingsea, having been previously ordained for this purpose in London, by Mr. Hindmarsh. For three years he regularly travelled from Colchester to Brightlingsea on Saturday, returning on the Mondays. There are still a few friends at Brightlingsea who can remember Mr. Mason's ministry, and who still preserve the deep feelings of respect and gratitude his gratuitous services evoked.
It was during this period that Mr. Mason felt it his duty to differ from Messrs. Noble and Hindmarsh in their views of the Lord's Resurrection; and by a careful and profound study of Swedenborg's writings, he arrived at those views on the subject which ever afterwards he conscientiously and unflinchingly maintained. Toward the end of 1828, he left the county of Essex, and took up his residence at Melbourne, Derbyshire, and became the minister of the incipient society at that town. The sterling integrity of his character, as strong in the maintenance of his views of truth as he was conscientious in their adoption, has deeply and deservedly endeared him to the survivors of the few Melbourne friends who were living at the time of his coming among them. In 1846, Mr. Mason commenced to perform ministerial duties on alternate Sundays at both Melbourne and Derby. This he continued for three years, until his failing health, in 1849, compelled him to devote himself entirely to one society, when he went to reside at Derby, and officiated for the friends there. From the time of his ordination until 185S he conducted two services each Sunday; but from June of that year he was obliged to relinquish the evening service. He had been suffering considerably from angina pectoris, which powerfully affected his respiration, and which compelled him, at the end of 1857, to resign all ministerial duties.
Mr. Mason, as a preacher, was grave and reverent. His discourses evince profound and continued thought. He was less an expounder of the Word than an enforcer of the great practical duties of religion. Few have felt more deeply than he the sublime beauty of the maxim— "All religion has relation to life, and the life of religion is to do good;" and no preacher has more emphatically illustrated and maintained it. The constitution of his mind, in which the love of order was painfully developed, rendered him prompt to detect and prone to intimate the