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The inspiration of Scripture had been thought of, talked of, and prominently brought before the world of late; but as had been before observed, in the Church of England there was no definition of inspiration. It was not so in the New Church. God had not left His Church in ignorance. The Word was so full of spirit that it was capable of filling the mind of the highest angel and yet capable of instructing a little child, and of leading the child from the.lowest state to the highest, and thus making him wise unto salvation. Let them, then, from the oldest to the youngest, cherish a love and reverence for their Bible, looking not to the outward letter, but to its spirit, which would lead them to life everlasting. Mr. Best expressed the great pleasure he had at meeting so many friends of the New Church: the largest assemblage he had ever had the honour of addressing. He then spoke of the practical effects resulting from and following upon the inspiration of the Word, and said, however that inspiration was conveyed the Word must be infinite, since it reached to God, and descended to the humblest man. He urged that if the New Church viewS of inspiration were presented to the young, they would not only be saved from scepticism and doubts, but derive elevated and sublime ideas from the Scriptures, which would in truth prove a light to their life, and a lamp to their feet. The New Church doctrine was also a potent weapon of defence against those who pointed to deficiencies in history or geography, or to dark passages, in the Bible. Though the letter was attacked, the spirit could not be; and whilst they saw constant attacks upon the outworks, they were secure in that temple which nothing could destroy. In the spiritual and celestial senses of the Word, there were no inconsistencies, but all was harmony; and he thought that if the members of the New Church were to try to convince pious men, who might differ from them upon such doctrines as the trinity and the atonement, that there was a spirit beneath the letter on which they could rest, and defy all the attacks of infidels and sceptics, they might establish a common ground as to the spirituality of the Word, which would gradually lead to the acceptance of other New Church doctrines.
. Mr. E.J. Broadfirld thought if there was one subject more calculated than any
other to remind them that they were brethren, it was the one under consideration. They came not with Uniformity upon their banners, but Unity; and if anything could unite them, it was their views as New Churchmen of the inspiration of Scripture. As Dr. Bateman had remarked, the Scripture was not written like other books, but men wrote it as amanuenses of the Divine mind—almost as pens in the Divine hand—writing that which is suited not only to all men in all ages, but to all angels. Mr. Broadfield said none could properly understand the New Church idea of inspiration unless they understood the doctrine of degrees; and he proceeded to enlarge upon and illustrate that doctrine most interestingly and eloquently. Though the world did not reoeive the views of the New Church now, the time would come when it wonld. Just as external civilization advanced, so must religious civilization. By slow degrees the world would advance towards the truths of the New Church. They might not see the day; but there was even now a glimmering of the time when they who should call—" Watchman, what of the night?" would have the reply— "The night has passed, and the morning cometh."
The Rev. J. B. Kennerley said if men wished to understand the Word of God, they must understand what God is, and their relationship to Him. They must learn to see in Jesus the highest development of Divine purity and holiness, and to endeavour to live to be His children. The Bible was no mere human production, but in very truth the Word of God. The speaker went on to show how suited the Bible is to all varieties and capacities of men, and contended that it could be the production of none but the Infinite. In revealing His Word to mankind, God had adapted it to every condition of humanity, and it was by looking at the Bible downwards from God to man that we could see its Divinity. None but a literal form of the Divine would be adequate to convey the spiritual to man; and New Churchmen believed that not one jot or tittle of the Word should pass away till all things shall be fulfilled. They could see in the letter the outward manifestation of God to man. God lives in it, moves in it, breathes through it, and by it is the central means of making Himself known to mankind. With what reverence, then,
should they approach it; with what love receive it I They might have a wellbound book and call it their Bible, bat the Word of God to them was just so much as was graven on their souls from affection. They could all see how much of the Word of God was theirs by how much they lived of it. Let them, then, hallow, reverence, and obey, day by day, this manifestation of God in their midst.
The Rev. Dr. Batley thought the choice of the subject for that evening was an exceedingly happy one; for if there was one designation more than another suited for all the tabernacles of the New Church to be known by, it would be the Church of the Word. They allowed of no councils, no parliaments, no fathers, or anything else to come between the human soul and the holy Word of God. It was well, therefore, that on such an occasion as that they should strengthen their love for this Divine revelation; and it was a pleasure that their thoughts and affections had been gathered that night round the Word. The speaker then proceeded at some length to show that there was the closest analogy between the living Word, Christ Himself, when on the earth, and the written Word; and concluded by observing that the Divine Book would go on bringing souls into subjection till the knowledge of the Lord would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
The Rev. 0. Prescott Hiller considered that one of the greatest blessings of the New Church was, that they were able to see clearly, and to fix in their minds what the inspiration of Scripture was. Setting aside those who were opposed to the Bible, and men of the Colenso style, they found that men who called themselves orthodox had very varied views of inspiration. Mr. Gilfillan had written a book entitled " The Bards of the Bible." Why there was only one bard of the Bible, and he was also the poet of nature. What, then, was inspiration? He would answer in three words— Dictation from God. The inspired penmen, not even in the historical parts, were allowed to write one word of their own, but they wrote down as they heard from the voice of God through the medium of an angel. They must distinguish, however, inspiration from illumination. Not all the books of the Bible were equally plenary inspired. Certain books in the Old Testament, and the
Epistles in the New, were written by illumination of men's faculties, and not by inspiration. So of Swedenborg; he was not inspired, but illumined. He could wish that they had a Bible in which the books were rightly arranged, so that those which were not inspired should be an appendix at the end. In the present Bible the Books were not arranged in proper order, or according to the original Hebrew, but we followed a translation — the Greek Septuagint. In the Hebrew the books were severed, and the Jews divided the Scripture into a first and second class, which was a confirmation of the distinction held by the New Church between inspiration and illumination.
The Rev. W. Woodman remarked, that to prevent any misunderstanding, it should be known that the last speaker did not mean to say that any part of the Bible was not really inspired. The Jews divided the Bible into three parts—the law, given by God speaking to men; the prophets, who spoke from visions; and a third class, written by Divine suggestion. They were all inspired, but by different degrees. This was verified by Swedenborg, who showed them that the Bible was plenarily inspired.
The proceedings were diversified by singing, and brought to a close by the Chairman pronouncing the Benediction.
Friday Evening. The members of the church in Bath entertained the members of Conference at a soirSe. The Rev. Dr. Bayley presided. Short extemporised and informal addresses alternated with music, ranging over the whole interval between grave and gay, the tender mingling with them both, served to render the meeting one continued succession of varied satisfactions and delights. The President took the opportunity of returning thanks in his own name and in that of the Conference to the friends in Bath for their warm hospitality, extended, as it had been, to the whole of the members of Conference. No Conference, he said, had ever been more harmonious in itself, and none had ever been more happy in its relation to the friends of the church where it had assembled; indeed, it was the general feeling that it was the happiest Conference that had ever been held. In responding, the Secretary, in the name of the society, reciprocated the
sentiments of the President. The members of the society were grateful that their invitation to the Conference to meet in Bath had been accepted, and were delighted with the intercourse they had had with their brethren from other parts. The happiest of these happy meetings was brought to a close by singing the Queen's anthem, in which the whole company standing joined, after which the Chairman pronounced the benediction.
Inquiries With Answers.
"J. L." inquires concerning the meaning and application of the word "Desire."
He finds that this word is used about a dozen times in the Liturgy; three times to denote the activity of evil, and nine times to denote the activity of good. It is also twice used in the children's catechism in the former sense. What he wants to be known is—whether it is right, in New Church theology, to apply this word thus variously to the two states? or whether it is orthodox to apply it to denote the connection with evil at all? Is it not the opposite correlative to the word concupiscence? and should it not always be applied to mean the same in relation to good as the latter word does to evil? He has never observed that Swedenborg uses the word desire in connection with evil. The Lord uses it very emphatically in Luke xxii. 15— "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer."
Answer.—The word desire is used in English to express eagerness to obtain or enjoy, whether the object wished be good or evil. The Latin term, which is the origin and equivalent of our word desire, is used by Swedenborg in both senses, as in A.C. 5623:—" To those who are in good it is pleasurable to perfect good by truth, for good receives its qualities from truths, on which account they desire truths, but to those who are in evil, evil is pleasurable, and to confirm evil by falses, on which account they desire falses." The translators of the English Bible use the word in the same way; for they speak of "the desires of the flesh," (Eph. ii. 2,3.) as well as " the desire of them that fear the Lord." (Ps.cxlv. 19.) In the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New, the same word is also employed in both senses.
To the inquiry of Pedro we answer that the Lord, when on earth, had no
"human soul, the same as man, besides the Divine Soul, which was from the Father."
"J. B."—The assertion of some geologists (actuated, it may be, with a laudable desire to reconcile Genesis and geology) that the days of creation mean long periods of time, is only one natural sense substituted for another.
GENERAL CHURCH INTELLIGENCE. London.—Argyle Square Society. The general meeting of this society took place on Wednesday, 12th July. The friends having partaken of tea, the Rev. Dr. Bayley took the chair, and the business of the evening was proceeded with. Mr. Watson read a report of the general condition of the society, which is highly satisfactory; and Mr. Pitman (the treasurer) a statement of the finances. Mr. C. W. Smith read a report on the new day school, from which it appeared that the building is nearly completed and will shortly be opened. The sum of £300. will be still required to meet the necessary expenses; £800. having been already raised. Mr. Herbert Moore read a report of the Junior Members' Society, showing that the various lectures, conversational meetings (held on Sunday afternoons), theological and elocution classes, are vigorously conducted. The society's festivals, elocutionary entertainments, balls, fetes, &c., are well supported by the senior members. The present number of junior members and subscribers is 143. Mr. J. Presland read a report of the Sunday school, which is rapidly improving. The number of scholars is 303. During the year a library of 350 volumes has been formed, and a singing class instituted. There is a book stall in connection with the school, which largely disseminates the New Church periodicals, &c. among the scholars and their families and friends. There is also a savings bank, the present amount of the children's deposits being £21.3s. 6d. Mr. Arthur Day read an interesting account of the "Penny Readings" instituted by Dr. Bayley for the instruction and amusement of the working classes. Mr. Arthur Faraday read a report of the Sunday morning classes for the instruction of the children of the members in the New Church truths. The various officers and the new committee for the year were elected. The meeting closed
by a resolution, supported by Mr. Pitman, Mr. Watson, Mr. J. C. Bayley, Mr. Oborne, &c., expressing the gratitude of the society for the prosperity which attended all its operations.
South London.—The quarterly meeting of this society was held on the 25th July, at its meeting-room, Newington Causeway. The members partook of tea at six o'clock, and the chair was taken by the leader, Mr. E. Austin, at half-past seven. Business of a formal character having been transacted, the desirability of selecting a suitable site upon which to erect a church was considered. The committee reported that after the fullest inquiry and reflection, they had unanimously resolved to recommend the society to obtain a piece of leasehold land in Brunswick Road, Camberwell New Road, that locality being, for various reasons enumerated, by far the most central and eligible of any which were accessible for the purpose. The suggestion was very generally approved, and it was ultimately decided to forthwith procure the plot in question, subject to certain favourable conditions then specified.
The Bazaar in aid of the Building Fund is fixed to be held during the second week of October next. According to previous announcement, St. George's Hall, Gray's Inn Road, has been engaged for the occasion, and as it will be thoroughly cleaned and redecorated before that time, the fears of some as to the appearance of the room being rather unprepossessing will be altogether dispelled. Many friends in London and the country have kindly promised handsome contributions, which the Ladies' Committee will be happy to receive not later than the 30th September, if possible. It is confidently expected that the undertaking will be pecuniarily successful, and it is earnestly hoped that all who are interested in the external growth of the New Dispensation will assist in realizing such a gratifying result.
Annual General Meeting Op The Fibst Association Op The New JeruSalem Churoh, Jersey.—On Sunday afternoon, July 9th, was held, in the¥ New Jerusalem Temple, Victoria-street, the annual general meeting of the above named association, which was continued by adjournment, on Monday evening, the 10th. Mr. Titus Brown, the leader,
having been called to the chair, the meeting was opened by singing the 501st hymn, after which an appropriate prayer was offered up by the chairman. Mr. Philip Binet, the secretary, then read the report, from which it appeared that during the past year, eight infants and children have been baptised, six members added, and one deceased; that three funeral services have been held, and two marriages celebrated; that there has been one missionary visit; and that certain bylaws for the government of the association, in 44 articles, have been adopted. There are now thirty registered members on the books. The financial year leaves the association with a balance of £7. 16s. 2Jd. in its favour; but there is still a debt of £300. owing on the temple. The various church officers were then re-elected, with the exception of the treasurer and members of the committee of management.
The next day the meeting was resumed in the same place at six o'clock p.m. Mr. Brown having again been called to the chair, the treasurer and the committee of management were re-elected, and Mr. P. E. Du Chemin was appointed corresponding member, in order to relieve the secretary of part of his onerous duties. A conversational discussion followed respecting the most feasible means of extinguishing the debt still owing on the temple, and one member offered, if six persons would come forward with £50. each, to make one of the six. A resolution was passed to print the constitution and by-laws of the association, so that members might have a copy. The meeting separated with a feeling of thankfulness at the uses which the association has thus far been enabled to accomplish, and thereby with an incentive to renewed exertion to spread further and wider still, within the precincts of our beautiful island, a knowledge of those truths which have proved so precious to us all.
Abglye Square Junior Members' Society And Literary Institute.—The Annual Fete took place at Rye House, on the 27th July, and was in every respect one of the most successful ever held in connection with the society. The members and friends assembled at the Bishopsgate Station at 9-30, and were conveyed to Rye House by special train, reaching there about half-past ten. The friends on arrival assembled in the pavilion, to
hear the arrangements for the day announced by the Rev. Dr. Bayley, and then dispersed abont the grounds or amused themselves with boating, riding, &c. until one o'clock, when a cold collation was served up in the handsome pavilion, to which upwards of sixty sat down; after which, the company adjourned into the adjoining pavilion and took part in a social meeting, presided over by the Rev. Dr. Bayley, at which addresses were delivered by Messrs. F. Braby, George Dibley, and the Chairman, and a selection from the play of "The Man of the World" was given by Messrs. J. Presland and E. M. Pulsford. It being felt that it would not be desirable further to prolong the meeting, the members and friends then dispersed to seek other amusements, for the extent and variety of which Rye House is so celebrated. Tea was provided at five o'clock, and was partaken of by one hundred and nine ladies and gentlemen; after which, dancing was commenced to the music of a very efficient band which accompanied the party, and was continued until it was time to return. The party left Rye House by a special train at 8-50, and reached London at about 9-30, after having spent a very happy day in the country. These excursions of the Argyle Square Junior Members' Society are very pleasant and profitable, and serve to cement the members of the New Church more closely, and we would earnestly recommend them to the notice of all our New Church friends in and near London.
Glasgow.—The New Church society in Glasgow, whose engagement with Mr. Porteus has recently terminated, have had the pleasure of a visit from their old friend, the Rev. D. G. Goyder. On Sunday, July 16th, he preached in the morning from Luke xix., on "Zaccheus: • his character, and the correspondence of the sycamore-tree." In the evening, his sermon was on the "Spiritual Harvest," from Matthew xii. 30. On July 23rd, in the morning, he preached from John xiii. 34, on "The New Commandment;" and in the evening from Matthew vi. 24, on "The Worship of God and Mammon contrasted." On July 30th his morning sermon was on "Prayer," founded on the Parable of the Publican and Pharisee, Luke xviii. 10; and in the evening on " Sanctification," John xvii. 19. After the morning service the Sacrament of
the Lord's Supper was administered to sixty-five communicants. This service was felt to be an especial privilege; the devout manner in which it was conducted had a most beneficial and refreshing influence upon all who partook of it. Dr. Goyder's visit has been highly appreciated, both by old and young friends, their only regret being that it was so short.
Nottingham (old Society).—This society has purchased a piece of freehold land (£200.) centrally situated, and intend erecting a church and school. The old chapel is much too small, especially in warm weather, and the progress of the society retarded by the want of a schoolroom and other conveniences. The contemplated building, which will be a plain neat Gothic, capable of accommodating between 200 and 300, will, it is expected, cost about £600., of which half at least will be raised by mortgage. The society believe that the time has now arrived to carry out their long-cherished desire, and they earnestly entreat a little help from distant friends. The following sums have been received, and for those forwarded by members of other societies, the Building Committee tender their most hearty thanks :—
£ s d Nottingham Society and
Friends 90 0 0
Sums yet to be received.... 50 0 0 Sale of small chapel, deducting mortgage (£80.), say 120 0 0
Messrs. Hall, London 21 0 0
Mr. Sonstadt, Salford 10 0 0
Friends at Accrington (per
Mr. Chester) 5 7 0
Friends at Heywood (per Mr.
Chester) 2 10 6
Thomas Watson, Esq 110
H. Butter, Esq.. 1 1 0
300 19 6 Cost of land 200 0 0
£100 19 6
Further sums will be duly acknowledged in the Repository.
J. D. Beilry, Secretary,
Mansfield-road. J. A. Clarke, Treasurer,
45, Esplanade. July 8th, 1865.