Imágenes de páginas
PDF
[ocr errors][merged small]

required only a majority, it would have become law; but as the constitution requires for such measures the votes of two-thirds of the members, it failed for want of a few voices, the peasantry being chiefly against it. But of its future success we have reason to entertain good hopes; for though life moves slowly with us, the attentive eye sees it progressing spiritually as well as naturally.

One of the most remarkable appearances of our time is the change going on with the clergy of the Established Church. Their Protestantism consisted chiefly in opposing everything new; but this is much altered. Besides the part they took in the House of Representatives, they have come forward and warmly supported, through the press, the cause of religious liberty. Ten or fifteen years ago we heard from the pulpits almost nothing but faith; and those who did not agree with tbem were made to feel their displeasure. Now, many of them confess that the Word is given as a means of acquiring goodness, or love to the Lord and the neighbour, to which faith is a means. That something in the doctrines of the church is wrong, is more and more felt amongst them. "We are groping in a thick wood; but we dare hope that the Holy Spirit will lead us to the truth," said a clergyman to me. In a conversation with a theologian, I presented the views of the New Church concerning the Sacraments. After quietly listening to me, he said—" Something of that kind has really been foreshadowed in my mind;" and another clergyman admitted the correspondences between natural and spiritual things. May we not herein see the increased influence of the spiritual world, as its numbers are increased for the church 1 But it is also gratifying to perceive how even those who know not the genuine truth must work for the fulfilment of the Lord's merciful ends. As such I think that two celebrated Danes, though in very different respects, have a prominent place. The one is a yet living gifted clergyman and poet, SeverinGriindtoig. As a man of strong intellect, he cannot be satisfied with anything in which he does not find some real spiritual life; and for want of the key given us by Swedenborg, he has fallen into the error of undervaluing the letter of the Old Testament, together

with other essential parts of the Word; he has therefore vigorously assailed the literal thraldom of the church. Admired as a great genius and an eloquent minister, and venerated as a pious Christian, it may not appear strange to us that he has gained a respectable party amongst the laity and clergy both in Denmark and here, among whom are many gifted men proclaiming with youthful enthusiasm the spirituality of the Bible, without, however, having the key to unlock its hidden treasures. Still, though on a wrong track, we cannot overlook the good to which this movement may lead, as it opens the eyes of the people to the necessity of a spiritual sense of the Word, and another key to it than the vague notions of men.

But more positively in the service of truth has Soren Kierkegaard worked. I feel my inability to give a correct idea of the rich authorship of this champion of Christianity, who has found a better conductor to the truth than the philosophers of our time. Having long lost sight of his writings, it is with distrust I attempt to give a sketch of them. The intelligent classes in Denmark and Norway having long and painfully felt the deficiency of the established religion to satisfy their spiritual wants, they were looking in vain for a word that would solve the problems of life. Then sounded a voice through Europe—" The spirit of the times rules the world," and "To think is to be." "Yes, this must be the truth," was reechoed from thousands of hearts; "the great Hegel has said it." All rejoiced: "Broken for ever is the chain of the church—the schools of science are the right churches, the thought is the true Messias. That man who dares contradict this, has no right to be called a man, he is only a brute." Even from the pulpits these new dogmas were taught and explained, and the Word interpreted according to them. But they were not long to remain in the uninterrupted enjoyment of this. While all appeared glad and happy, at once a flood of writings fell on the public— "Either, or,"—"Fear and Tremor,"— "The Reiteration," — " The Idea of Dread,"—" The Proviso,"—" Philosophio Crumbs,"—"States of Life,"—"Postscript to Philosophio Crumbs," and some others. With great erudition, psychological acuteness, remarkable dialectical and logical power,—with almost un

[merged small][ocr errors]

equalled command of language, together with a great amount of Christian experience,—they uncover the dark recesses of the human heart, and throw light therein from the Holy Word. Following the philosophers of our time, step by step, they show the psychological consequences of the new doctrines; and after having, in this way, shown what Christianity is not, in his book, entitled "Works of Love," he explains what it really is. And the man who had the courage to step forward in this way was candidate in Theology and Magi Philosophies, Soven Kper-Reyaord. But at the same time that he directed a powerful blow against the philosophers, he did not forget the deficiencies of the church, having in a multitude of sermons laid them open to view. On account of this, we thought to have found in him a New Church brother; but a thorough perusal of his writings has altered our opinions. Being a light, he has, however, had, and still more will in future have, a beneficial influence upon his countrymen, having taught them what the essentials of Christianity are; and in this way prepared a new era in the church, an opinion even entertained amongst the clergy themselves. Speaking once with a gifted clergyman about him, he remarked—" He has commenced a new epoch in the church, but in what direction it tends we don't understand, the future only can solve this problem." This from their point of view is perfectly true, having shown what Christianity is, without rectifying the wrong ideas concerning the Lord and his Atonement. Kierkegaard necessarily comes in contradiction with himself; and this weak Bide his opponents have not overlooked. Thus, notwithstanding there is too much of real life in his works to be wholly overlooked, earnest Christians regard him as John the Baptist was looked upon—as a precursor of a greater light. In these facts I account for the tolerance prevalent among the clergy in these times. Doubts, painful to the earnest, have seized all classes of intelligent minds. For years we have been accustomed to devour all kinds of German theology having the stamp of orthodox Lutheranism; now they stand almost unsold on the shelves of the booksellers, the people having become disgusted with them; and in their place

we now find, in increasing numbers, translations of English sermons—for instance, of the Baptist, Prescott. The first time my eye fell upon that name, my heart beat for joy, thinking the work to be from the pen of a New Church minister that had found its way here; but I was soon convinced of my mistake. In hopes of better times, my brother Capt. C. Boyesen, has translated a good many sermons of Prescott Killer's, and I some of Noble's and Dr.Bayley's; but we have not been able to get them published, for want of the necessary means. But for these sermons to do much good, we need, first of all, the writings of Swedenborg translated in our language, and, if possible, in our country. We trust in the Lord that this may be granted us. For many years we have been longing for a man who, with the necessary qualifications, would sacrifice himself for the truth's sake. This hope now appears to be gratified: our brother H. Boyesen having for more than ten years diligently studied the writings of the church, is now expected home, after a stay of four years in America, England, and France, in order to profit by intercourse with prominent men of the church. May his future use be in proportion to his personal sacrifices and devotedness to our cause!

With my kindest regards to all friends, I remain, dear Sir, very truly yours,

T. F. Boyesen.

fMarvt'agr. At Grove-place Chapel, Dalton, June 8th, 1863, by the Kev. B. Stony, Mr. B. H. Armitage to Miss M. A. Alsten.

ffiiftttarp.

Departed into the spiritual world, March 9th, aged 62 years, Mr. Thomas Skeel, for upwards of thirty years a member of the New Church in Peterstreet, Manchester. This departed brother had in his youth become impressed with the truth and importance of the doctrines of the New Church, and was greatly esteemed and beloved by all who knew him. For the last twenty years of his life he was afflicted with the effects of a severe bronchitis, which for many years, owing to a violent cough, prevented him from attending his place of worship. He therefore nourished and strengthened his mind

[ocr errors][merged small]

by frequently reading the Word, and the writings of Swedenborg. The same cause which prevented his attendance at worship, also prevented him from attending to his business, especially during the winter. But whilst his bodily sufferings were great, the mental consolation he derived from his spiritual faith and intelligence was also great, and sustained him in his trust in the Lord's Providence and Mercy, who, be well knew, ordered all things for his eternal good. He has left an amiable and affectionate widow and a circle of friends to lament his departure. J. H. S.

At Nottingham, May 8th, 1863, Mrs. Sarah Palmer, aged 56. The subject of this notice was a very consistent member of the Hedderly-street Society. Greatly appreciating the doctrines of the New Church herself, she felt much delight in hearing them expounded to others. She first became acquainted with the truths of the New Jerusalem by means of the tract distribution. At first various difficulties arose in her mind, occasioned by previous confirmations of doctrines from the apparent literal sense of the Divine Word, apart from the spiritual sense " which giveth life." She requested that the minister of the society would call and clear up the difficult points; this being done to her entire satisfaction, she became a constant attendant at all the services, and the pleasure and profit she derived led her to induce several others to attend also. Her departure from the natural to the spiritual world was very sudden. She attended the services on the previous Sabbath, and expressed the delight she felt with the evening discourse, on "The Heavenly World; its Inhabitants, Joys, and Scenery." On the following Wednesday evening she was also present, and said that she had felt as in heaven while hearing of the unchanging love of Jesus as the only God of heaven and earth. On Friday she was seized with apoplexy, and died immediately. The solemn circumstance was improved by a sermon preached by Mr. Bay, from John viii. 51, her family and relatives being present. Two important lessons are impressively taught us by her

removal, viz., the necessity of being constantly prepared to enter the heavenly world, so that " when we fail, they may receive us into everlasting habitations," and the importance of "working while it is day." W. K.

An aged lady and member of the church has been removed from among us, who deserves at least a brief record in the pages of the Conference Magazine appropriated to obituary notices. Mrs. Elizabeth Williamson, widow of Mr. D. Williamson, of Liverpool, artist, died at Warton, in Lancashire, of bronchitis, on the 26th of May last, in her 85th year. Her family were among the earliest receivers of the heavenly doctrines in this country, and she herself, as she said about a week before her last illness, was one of the oldest members of the church then living. Her parents, both genuine New Church people, were Mr. and Mrs. Peter Litherland, of Liverpool, but previously of Warrington. Mr. Litherland was well known in scientific circles as the original inventor and patentee of the lever watch and of other mechanical improvements.

Previous to 1861, Mrs. Williamson resided in London for many years, but bodily infirmities prevented her regular attendance at the New Church places of worship. She retained, however, to the last the use of her mental faculties, and the perusal of the Writings (of which the Memorable Belations were always a great source of delight to her), and conversations on the doctrines, and respecting the Bev. Mr. Clowes and other New Church worthies with whom she had been acquainted, constituted her chief pleasure. Of late years failing sight obliged her to have recourse to others in the perusal of Swedenborg's works, and a portion of them and of the Divine Word were read to her daily. She was much beloved by all who had the privilege of her acquaintance, for her amiable and affectionate disposition, and great evenness of temper. She has now departed, full of years, to those realms so long the subject of her thoughts and aspirations, and her name and character will be a beacon for good to her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and friends who survive her. S. T.

Cave & Sbver, Printers by Steam Power, Hunt's Bank, Manchester.

THE

INTELLECTUAL REPOSITORY

AND

NEW JERUSALEM MAGAZINE. No. 116. AUGUST, 1863. Vol. X.

ADDRESS TO THE SWEDENBORG SOCIETY, Read at the last Meeting of the Society, by the Rev. A. Clissold, on the occasion of moving the following Resolution:— "That this meeting cannot but recognise in the agitation which now so deeply affects the Christian world on the subject of the real character of The "word Of God, and the true method of its interpretation, a Providential opening for the especial work of this Society, which was founded for the very purpose of teaching the real character of the Word of God and its true method of interpretation, as communicated by the Lord through the instrumentality of His servant Emanuel Swedenborg."

Allow me to draw your attention first of all to the debate in the House of Commons, on Wednesday, June 10th. In that debate the following resolution was moved :—

"That in the opinion of this House the subscription required from the clergy to the Thirty-nine Articles be relaxed."

In seconding this motion the honourable Member observed—

"We were unquestionably drifting into a religious change, which, be it a reformation or a deformation, would still be as great as that change of the 16th century which was eternally famous in the annals of mankind. It was impossible for a legislature to stay or advance it; but they might take order, that, whenever it came, it might be reasonable, peaceful, and not followed by those bitter hatreds which attended the great uprising against the Papacy, and which we still had to deplore. In what capacity, then, ought they to approach the subject? Solely as politicians."

But if this great change be impending, in what capacity ought this Society to approach the subject? I answer—Solely as theologians. The political part of the movement is only the effect: the cause of that effect is entirely religious and theological. This being the case, 346 ADDRESS TO THE SWEDENBORG SOCIETY.

it is of the first importance that, as members of this Society, we should keep clearly in view the position which it maintains, and will have to maintain, in regard to this impending change, and hence the solemn responsibilities which will belong to the members of the Society in general, and to the Committee in particular,—if, as we are told,—the impending change is one which, like that of the Reformation, is to be eternally famous in the annals of mankind.

In order to ascertain our position, it will be necessary to have a clear idea of the nature of the change impending. Now, a mere glance at existing controversies will shew that the whole question to which they relate has reference to the Word of God. In the Lutheran Reformation the case was that of "the Bible versus the Church;"—the cry was— "The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible." The question has now resolved itself into this—Is not the Protestant Church, whose cry is—" Nothing but the Bible," tending to regard the Bible itself as a nothing? Let me take a general and very brief review of the Controversy, and then of the position of this Society with regard to it.

First, with regard to the Roman Catholic Church. In a series of Letters on "The Colenso Controversy," by the President of St. Mary's College, Oscott, and the Professor of Mental Philosophy in the same College, I find this announcement, p. 39 :—

"We Catholics, indeed, have never professed to draw our religion from the Bible: we believe in one Holy Apostolic Church, the divinely appointed teacher, the pillar and ground of the Truth."

It then goes on to say—

"Yet since we have always been taught to reverence the Bible as the work of men inspired by the Holy Ghost, as the written Word of God, it cannot be a matter of indifference to us to hear it held up to ridicule as full of contradictions and impossibilities."

The Bible, then, according to this admission, is " the work of men inspired by the Holy Ghost." Now what has the Roman Catholic Church to say concerning the nature of this Inspiration? The answer is given in the next page—

"The Church has really defined very little concerning the nature and extent of the Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures."

Well, then, when Roman Catholics ask—"If the Word of God is in the Bible, but not all that is in the Bible is the Word of God, what rule have Protestants whereby to distinguish one part from the other ?"—we ask also—And what rule have Roman Catholics? The answer is this— We Catholics, indeed, have never professed to draw our religion from the Bible. We, consequently, are in no dilemma: it is you Protestants

« AnteriorContinuar »