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25G Swedenborg's Knowledge Of Hebrew,
carried the discussion as far as he originally intended. But the alarm which his articles very naturally created in some minds did not arise from his having cast doubts on Swedenborg's accurate knowledge of the Hebrew language, which he never does, but from his having maintained that no one known copy of the Scriptures is free from verbal errors— errors that have been introduced by the mistakes of transcribers. In these articles Mr. Noble admits, indeed, that Swedenborg was mistaken in supposing that the Word had been preserved in its purity by the labours of the Masorites; but he justly places it among the notions he derived from the natural world, to which such matters belong, and not, as the editor imagines, to the teaching of ignorant spirits, whose influence he mistook for divine inspiration. But Mr. Noble, however, expresses his conviction that Swedenborg, though technically wrong, was substantially right; since there is every reason to believe that the Word has been preserved in its integrity as to every particular, not indeed in any one copy, yet in all copies taken together. He expresses his belief also, that the Divine Providence will, by the labours of future scholars, aided by the light of the internal sense, or by some more immediate instrumentality, restore the true readings of the sacred text, and from many imperfect copies, produce one complete and perfect copy of the Divine Word.—Editor.
P.S.—Since these remarks were in the printer's hands, we have seen the editor's article in a separate form, with new matter introduced,— intended, no doubt, to render it a more complete refutation. The new objections we can do little more than record.
We may pass over the discrepancies between the Adversaria, or notes on Genesis and Exodus, and the Arcana Calestia, since the editor himself has anticipated our reply—that when the author wrote the Adversaria "he was emerging from darkness to light." But concluding that this plea might be set up, the editor has "a case for which no such apology can be offered." The case is this :—In 1757, Swedenborg heard a voice from heaven telling him to apply himself to a work he had begun on the Apocalypse, and finish it within two years; and in the Last Judgment (n. 42.) he promises the work within that period. But it was six years after this date before it was published. The charge, of course, is that "the command from heaven he did not obey; the promise he did not keep." We confess to not being able to see the irresistible force of this grand argument. An angelic injunction is not a Divine command; a human promise is not an absolute decree. In fact, every such com
AND THE "SPIRITUAL MAGAZINE," AGAIN. 257
mand and promise is conditional, even when no condition is expressed. Nay, every human promise is only expressive of a fixed intention; for no human being can absolutely pledge himself for the future which he cannot foresee. He may not be here; circumstances may be changed. Yet the author did prepare a work on the Revelation for the press; and on its title page was found the very date 1759. He could, then, have done what a command and a promise seemed alike to require he should do. He did not do it. The work thus prepared, though not entirely finished, was laid aside, and another and smaller work was commenced, and published in 1766. He has left no record to tell us the reason of this change, and the cause of the consequent delay. It is perhaps useless to conjecture. It is remarkable that the unfinished work leaves off at the words—"See thou do it not,"—the words addressed to John by the angel when he fell down to worship him. Had these words struck the expositor of the Revelation, that in acting under the pressure of an angelic command he was practically rendering to a dependent being, like himself, a homage which was due only to God? This may be all too superstitious. It is enough for us to know—and the character of the author is a guarantee for the fact—that he had a reason, and that a sufficient one. But supposing our author had published the work within two years, would our friend have received it as a message from heaven? Not he. The fact is, he disbelieves the book, and only makes use of the circumstance of its delayed publication to damage the reputation of its author.
But there is another objection relating to these two works. They do not agree in all particulars. The fact is, every work of any depth and value, and foremost among them the Bible, contains some conflicting passages. Affirmative men call these apparent discrepancies; negative men call them absolute contradictions. Affirmative men, being peace-makers, in literature as in society, try to reconcile differences; negative men, being peace breakers, try to keep them at variance. Affirmative men endeavour to understand an author, in the hope that he will thus reconcile his own differences; negative men seem, at least, as if they did their best to misunderstand an author (whom they do not like) that, being his enemy, they may make him an enemy to himself.
We advise our friend to try his hand at the work of reconciliation; and if he bestow half the labour and ingenuity which it has cost him to find so many discrepancies, we promise him that he will find no "irreconcileable contradictions" in Swedenborg.
258 SWEDENBORG S KNOWLEDGE OF HEBREW, ETC.
Once more. In the first edition of the editor's observations we were told that—
"Mr. Noble (one of the few Swedenborgian ministers who have possessed a claim to ordinary scholarship) threw doubts on Swedenborg's accurate knowledge of the (Hebrew) language, and was only deterred by fear from changing these doubts into facts."
In the enlarged edition of the editor's observations we find—
"It has been claimed for Swedenborg by his followers that in his knowledge of Hebrew he was before his age, and this judgment is formed of him from an exact and critical examination of his translation, by more or less competent critics."
Let us not be in too great haste to plume ourselves on this newly discovered, or at least newly acknowledged talent among us. The writer knows what he is doing. If he gives with one hand, ho intends to take with both. He now finds it convenient to admit, or assert, that our critics have maintained our author's advanced knowledge of Hebrew on purely philological ground. But this is only to let us know that, as his critic has taken this ground completely from under our feet, we have no alternative but to change our tactics, and "attempt to answer the present criticism of Swedenborg's translation by some elastic notions of the spiritual meanings comprised in the Hebrew words." But even this refuge will fail us. Swedenborgians are told plainly that—
"It will not do for them, when Swedenborg's blunders are exposed, to alter their mode of examination of his translations, and to throw the discrepancy upon the elasticity of their supposed spiritual sense."
Those who have read the two articles of "In Lumine Lucem," the second of which appears in the present number, will be able to judge how far the editor's champion has driven us, in vindicating Swedenborg's blunders, to seek refuge in our supposed spiritual sense, and how far he himself is invincible.
If arrogance and insolence deserve to be rebuked, no one of our readers can regret that the rebuke which this attempt has received is justly merited.
Paet I. In order that a clear and comprehensive view of Remains may be obtained, the consideration of them shall be divided in the following order:—Firstly, What are Remains? Secondly, What is the use of Remains? Thirdly, By whom are Remains implanted? Fourthly, When and how are Remains appropriated?
First, then, what are Remains? In the most general sense Remains are the goods and truths in the interiors of the mind, together with their states, also the knowledges of them which are stored up in the memory. In a general sense, Remains are goods and truths with their states only. And in a particular sense, Remains are simply the forms of goods and truths as they are stored up in the internal memory. Personally considered, Remains are those persons with whom gooda and truths exist at the end of a church.
In considering the subject of Remains, there are two facts which should be known and borne in mind. The first is, that everything which is learned by man, from whatever source, is received by an external way, through the medium of the bodily senses,—there being no other access to the mind from either the objects of the world, or from the minds of others. The second is, that whatever enters the mind, by means of the senses, is merely formal; no life, no good, no quickening principle, entering by that way.
It may be useful to define what we mean by knowledges, what by goods and truths, and what by states. Knowledges are the forms of goods and truths as they exist in the external memory, which are the most external mental forms which are permanent. Goods and truths are those forms in the interior degrees of the mind which correspond to the knowledges in the memory. It is to be observed that both knowledges and goods and truths, as received, are in themselves void of life, and are really not goods and truths, but only the forms thereof, and become goods and truths by the reception of, and by being actuated by, influent life. The states of goods and truths may be considered under two aspects: firstly, as to their affections, which are the results of life operating in them; and secondly, as to their position, relation, and action. Respecting Remains Swedenborg states as follows:—
"Mention is made of remains and also of residues in the Word throughout, but by the former and the latter have been understood only remains of a people or nation according to the letter; whilst heretofore it has been altogether unknown that in the spiritual sense they signify goods and truths of the interior man, stored up by the Lord. . . That remains are not the remains of any people or nation, may be manifest from this consideration, that in the Word, especially in the prophetical, by Israel is not meant Israel, nor by Jacob, Jacob, but by each the church, and what is of the church; and this being the case, by remains are not meant the remains of Israel and Jacob, but the truths and goods that are of the church. Yea, neither do the remains of people, and the residues of any nation, when the expressions are used, signify the remains of any people, or the residues of any nation, because by people in the internal sense are signified truths, and by nations goods." Arcana Calestia, 5897.
Those in whom there remain, at the end of a church, any goods and truths proper to that church, are in the most general sense signified by Remains, because of the goods and truths which are in them, and not on account of their persons; it is so for this reason, it is the church which is treated of throughout the Word, and goods and truths are what constitute the church; hence the application of the Word is universal, and will be so as long as goods and truths continue to exist in human minds. With this idea we shall be able to see the truth and application of these words :—
"Remains are everywhere treated of throughout the Word, and by them are signified those states by which man becomes a man, and this he does from the Lord alone."—A.C. 1906.
"With the church the case is this—that in course of time it decreases, and at last remains with a few. Those few with whom it remained at the time of the Deluge, were called Noah. That the true church decreaseth and remains with a few is evident from other churches which have thus decreased. Those who are left are in the Word called Remains or a remnant, and are said to be in the midst or middle of the land. Now as this is the case in the universal, so it is in a particular sense, or as it is with the church, so it is with every individual man; for unless remains were preserved by the Lord in every one, he must needs perish in eternal death, for spiritual and celestial life exist in them. So also in a general or a universal sense, unless there were always some with whom the true church or true faith remained, the human race would perish."—A.C. 468.
"In order to the better understanding of the nature of Remains, let it be observed that they are not only the goods and truths which a man has learnt from his infancy out of the Word, and which were thereby impressed on his memory, but they are likewise all states thence derived; as states of innocence of infancy;—states of love towards parents, brothers, teachers, and friends;—states of charity towards the neighbour, and also of mercy towards the poor and needy; in a word, all states of goodness and truth. These states, with their goods and truths, impressed on the memory, are called Remains, and are stored up unconsciously to himself in his internal man, and are carefully separated from the things of man's proprium, that is, from evils and falses."—Arcana Calestia, 561.
Here we have a full definition of Remains, showing what they are, where they are, and by whom implanted and preserved. Although Remains are commonly confmed to the goods and truths which are stored in the interiors, yet it is here said they include the goods and truths which are learnt and impressed on the memory. Now the goods and truths which are learnt are knowledges; those included in Remains are such as are derived from the Word; and we apprehend they are included in this comprehensive definition of Remains, because they are