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RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, AND LITERATURE.
in the supernatural Deity; it can, therefore, only manifest itself by something different, i.e., darkness or materiality of light, the only medium through which the supernatural light can manifest something of itself, and make itself in some degree visible to the creature. The same supernal light in all things is identical with the inseminated Word in all souls. Sight and sensibility is but one power of light, but light is all power; it is life, and every joy and sensibility of life is from it. The softness of sounds, the sweetness of flowers, the brightness of gems, whatever is delightful, sublime, and glorious in spirits, minds, or bodies, either in heaven or earth, is from the power of light opening its endless wonders in them."*
A great similarity, both in views and spirit, may be observed in Mr. Law's writings to those of Madame Guyon and Fenelon, already noticed. And here, perhaps, may be the most suitable place for a few words on Mysticism. In what did it consist ? Certainly not in believing that Christ and His kingdom are latent in every soul, or as Madame Guyon expresses it, “the ineffable Word in the depth of every heart speaking in silence,” this being asserted more or less expressly by all the writers cited in the preceding papers, as well as being explicitly taught by our Lord (Luke xvii. 20.) and His apostle, who regards it as “the hope of glory," proclaimed to all men alike in the Gospel. (Col. i. 5, 6, 27, 28.) But the error of mysticism consists in confining the attention to Christ within exclusively, without any, or at least sufficient, regard to Christ without, or the recognition of His universal presence in creation,-as an eminent disciple of this school is said to have once passed through one of the most picturesque districts of Switzerland without noticing the scenery, saying, he was too much absorbed in the contemplation of God. The true theosophist equally recognises the Eternal Word in the depths of his being within, and the great universe without; but, above all, in the Scriptures of Truth, which, especially in their internal sense, are the legitimate means of testing, regulating, and bringing into harmony the consciousness of both.
The utterances of theosophy have been hitherto like the voices of the sleeping champion of legendary lore, waking up for moments, through intervals of long ages, and asking—"Is it time !" then sinking again into “ the depths of silence.”+ But now they are as the “winged words” of the same champion fully awake, and proclaiming o'er hill and valley
* There is a resemblance in this to the ancient Magian theosophy. In Bishop Berkeley's • Siris,' already referred to, there is a similar view of the spiritual and divine origin of light.
+ There is a curious tradition in different countries of Europe, that the great champions of their freedom are not dead, but only sleep, and will yet wake up for the deliverance of their respective lands. Meanwhile, they are said to wake for a moment at long intervals, and asking—"Is it time," sink again into sleep,
RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, AND LITERATURE.
that the hour and “set time” of deliverance is come. Theosophy now finds its most illustrious among the Scandinavian nations. Emanuel Swedenborg, long famed for his scientific attainments and discoveries, and esteemed by his cotemporaries for his virtues, now (1749) first appears as a theological writer, and continues such without intermission 'till his death (1772). We are not, however, going to discuss his scientific antecedents or his spiritual claims. Our object is simply to show what he has done for theosophy. And here he appears preëminently the “scribe instructed in the kingdom of God, who like a wise householder brings out of his treasury things new and old.” (Matt. xiii. 52.) He looks, likë the mythic Janus, both to the past and the future, bringing us back to the primitive church, whose truths he enunciates with a purity of which we have no instance among its existing records, and carrying us forward to the church of the future, for which, among other services, he exhibits the Scriptures in the light of heaven, which renders them transparent, and we behold the Word Divine enshrined within in crystal clearness and opal variety. He reproduces the views brought to light by the writers that have hitherto appeared in these papers, with complete identity as to the inward idea, yet with a diversity in the outward form that stamps his teaching with originality. We may also note two distinguishing characteristics which mark him off, so to speak, from all preceding theosophists. Their theosophy was more or less blended with the teaching of their respective churches; their views, often eminently beautiful, have generally some foreign accompaniment which renders them obscure, like a scene, bright in the foreground, but clouds and mists linger in the horizon. Swedenborg, on the contrary, is clear throughout; no mixture of adventitious doctrine or hereditary creed, one serene, sunny, cloudless landscape, arrayed in the verdure and floral smiles of spring. Again : their theosophy is more or less incomplete and fragmentary, like the relics of some earlier and complete system ; but his is complete and entire, all its truths being arranged in such beautiful and harmonious order as indicates that elder and perfect system recovered and reïntegrated. Theirs resembled the moon in her various phases ; his “the empress of the night,” full-orbed and throned in “her highest noon.” Theirs, in fine, are like the portions of some antique temple of wondrous art, collected at different times, and preserved with care ; his like a restoration of the hallowed fane, which could never have been effected by the inspection of any existing monuments, but only by a deep and extensive acquaintance with the principles of the art on which it was originally constructed.
RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, AND LITERATURE.
With what wonderful power and skill does Swedenborg strike the great key-note of theosophy, as we may term it,—the universality and unchangeableness of Divine love; embracing the universe, never receding; constituting, with its inseparable wisdom, the ever-influent life that is entering every moment into every soul of man, with all the boundless delights of universal good, and the unnumbered ideas of universal being,—its enjoyment and manifestation being only modified by the capacity of the recipient form. Hence he infers, as a first principle, that no anger or wrath can exist in All-paternal Deity, inasmuch as He is love itself and mercy itself; and he disperses, “as with Mercury's wand," the objection arising from all seeming expressions to the contrary in Scripture, by his doctrine of Genuine and Apparent Truths, which after establishing by many incontestible proofs, he illustrates with wonderful force, simplicity, and beauty, by the similitude of the sun and the earth. Swedenborg has been justly called the Newton of theology ; he may with equal propriety be termed its Copernicus. For the old theology (with the exception of a feeble protest on the part of the theosophists and mystics) made man the centre, like the earth in the Ptolomaic astronomy, and God the revolving luminary, now drawing near in His mercy, and again receding in His wrath, and leaving man in the blackness of darkness. The new theology of Swedenborg restores both to their true place. God remains " without variableness or shadow of turning,” like the sun, ever-streaming forth the benign influences of His love and wisdom, while man, like his native planet (with the difference of free agency), revolves round “the Father of Lights,” losing these heavenly influences when he recedes, and finding their ineffable virtues as he turns to their Divine Source. In accordance with this first principle, the atonement, mediation, and intercession of Christ, are not means of warding off the anger of God (which is non-existent), or of procuring His favour (which is ever-waiting admission into the heart of man), but solely as media, through which all heavenly influences can descend to the human race, in a form suitable and adapted to their circumstances. He unfolds in connection with this his theory of the Logos or Word, which he defines according to the Hebrew as “ speech, thought of the mind,—everything that has real existence ;” but more generally.expresses it as divine truth proceeding from divine good, in which are contained all truths identical with the Divine ideas. This truth, ever in union with that divine good of which it is the form or manifestation, forms in the beginning of its descent the heavens, the true home and nature region of souls; and descending thence into every
RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, AND LITERATURE.
soul at its formation, it becomes therein a heaven in miniature ;-here, in this calm region beyond the human consciousness, are stored, not only innocence, charity, and all the germs of heavenly affections, but all those wondrous ideas of inner thought (each of which is a universal containing many ideas) whose indirect presence within our natural thought renders us rational, as their direct presence and permeation, with their ever - accompanying corresponding affections, renders us regenerate : this is our ideal or intelligible world. The same truth in outward nature becomes the inmost substance of the universe; and the imagery of that universe, as apprehended by the inspired writers in heavenly order, it forms the written Word, by the practical application of whose truths the inner man, our lesser heaven, connecting us unseen with the greater, is mirrored, with its all-comprehensive spiritual ideas, to our consciousness, and brings our outward man under the gentle and equitable sway of these divine principles, which heaven-descended, lead to heaven again. Thus, in the highest sense, “by the Word of the Lord were all things made,” both in heaven and earth. (Ps. xxxiii. 6; Col. i. 16)
And so in this master-mind we find all the truths of theosophy connected together as by a luminous chain. In all those that went before him we find these truths often delightfully presented and ably treated, but more or less unconnected and, as we may express it, isolè ; but here they are treated not only in connection and unity, but actually as one, the same Word Divine of eternal and universal truth constantly appearing under various aspects, like some sweet heavenly air remaining the same through endless variations, 'till in all its wondrous combinations of unity and variety, we get such a perception of universal harmony that we almost regard, not so much an earthly strain, as “music from some distant sphere,” which in reality it is.
• ELIJAH THE TISHBITE.
PART III. “ And it came to pass after a while [at the end of days] that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee up to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidan, and dwell there : behold, I have commanded a widow woman to sustain thee. So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks; and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in
ELIJAH THE TISHBITE.
thine hand. And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse; and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it and die. And-Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth [giveth] rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah; and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days (a full year]. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which He spake by [the hand of] Elijah.”—1 Kings xvii. 7—16. “And it came to pass at the end of days.” Day in the Word signifies state, as is evidently shown in such expressions as “ day of trouble,” “day of salvation,” “the day of vengeance,” “the day of judgment,” &c. “ Renew our days as of old.” (Sam. v. 21.) So in Joel—". The day of Jehovah cometh, for it is nigh at hand, a day of darkness and of thick darkness, a day of clouds and obscurity,” &c. (Joel ii. 1, 2.) So in Zechariah—“I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day; in that day shall ye cry a man to his companion under the vine and under the fig tree.” (iii. 9, 10.) “It shall be one day which shall be known to Jehovah, not day nor night; and it shall come to pass that at evening time it shall be light.” (xiv. 7.) “Honour thy father and mother, that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may be well with thee on the ground,” &c., (Deut. v. 16; xxv. 15.) where to have days prolonged, does not signify length of life, but a happy state.
“In the literal sense it must needs appear as if day signified time, but in the internal sense it signifies state. The angels, who are in the internal sense, do not know what time is, for they have no sun and moon to distinguish times; consequently, they do not know what days and years are, but only what states are, and the changes thereof; wherefore, before the angels, who are in the internal sense, everything relating to matter, space, and time disappears. When the notion of time is removed, there remains the notion of the state of things which existed at that time.”—Arcana Cælestia, 488. “ The end of days” signifies the completion of the state previously described.
“The brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.” This shows that all natural knowledge depends in reality on spiritual knowledge ; as the writer of the Proverbs declares— Where there is no vision the people perish." (Prov. xxix. 18.) Such is the connection between truth of every degree, that only they see natural truth in a genuine manner who are also principled in spiritual truth. There can be only a mental stagnation and intellectual drowth among those races