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use of at Leeds. I preached three times; and the friends expressed themselves individually highly satisfied with their place, the attendance, good behaviour, and serious deportment of the people. In the morning I suppose upwards of an hundred were present; in the afternoon a few more; and in the evening two hundred and seventy were counted, besides children. A worthy member of the Society, who has been a reader of the new doctrines for upwards of twenty-five years, and despaired of hearing them openly proclaimed and taught in Sheffield, was so agreeably surprised at the promising appearance of their being now permanently established there, that he said, “I never expected to see this ; it far exceeds my calculation : but now my. hopes begin to revive at the opening prospect.” I own I was gratified myself to see them so well pleased with what they had undertaken. I felt a great desire, that it should ultimately succeed to the glory of our blessed Lord, and the propagation of those transcendant doctrines, which he has mercifully revealed to his Church in these latter days.
The friends at Sheffield are desirous of being formed into a regular Society, after a manner similar to that which has been adopted in Leeds, which shall be done as soon as circumstances will permit. Having incurred certain expenses, and subjected themselves to a considerable rent, and being at the same time without either a preacher or a leader, they have expressed an earnest wish that I would fix my residence among them, after the termination of my present mission. I am aware, that some members of the New Church think more good is to be done by circulating the doctrines in books and tracts, than by preaching; while others again conceive, that this latter mode is the most effectual in promoting the cause of truth. I am of opinion, that both modes are necessary; that all lawful means of instructing the ignorant are under the direction of the Divine Providence ; and that those who prefer spreading the doctrines in a printed form, and those who are chiefly concerned in giving them publicity in an oral form, are equally acceptable to the Searcher of hearts, according to the degree of purity in the motive in, fluencing the doer. We see moreover, that some being employ. ed in one interest, and some in another, causes all to be pursued with a spirit and vigour essential to the doing any thing effectually. Yet as the grand end is the same, viz. to put man
kind into the happy possession of such invaluable treasures, as are the doctrines of the New Jerusalem, the different means should harmonsie together, and the persons also employed there. in; so that those who possess most strength, and have perhaps more than sufficient for their own undertakings, should exercise the noble prerogative of rendering assistance to such as are comparatively weak.
ON THE DIVISION OF THE DECALOGUE. One of our correspondents having inquired of us the reason why the New Church has adopted a different division of the Ten Commandments, from that commonly received, we think we cannot give him a more satisfactory explanation than is contained in the following articles, copied from “ The Magazine of Knowledge” for January, 1791. At the same time it may not be amiss to inform those of our readers who are not acquainted with the fact, that the Old Testament in the original Hebrew manuscript is not divided into verses, neither is the Decalogue subdivided into ten distinct commandments.—The divisions called verses which appear in our translations, were adopted for the purpose of facilitating references to particular passages.
TO THE EDITORS OF THE NEW MAGAZINE, &c. Your general invitation to correspondents inclines me to hope, your next number will account for the difference in the first and second editions of the translation of Swedenborg's True Christian Religion, or Universal Theology, respecting the Decalogue. In the second edition, the first and second commandments are united, and the tenth divided in two ;-but otherwise in the first edition. It is also observable in your Liturgy, that the two first make one, and the tenth two; but whether this difference is owing to the author, translator, or editors, I know not; therefore should be glad to have some reason assigned for such alterations in so divine an institution, as the Decalogue certainly is. Your attention to this hint will oblige an admirer of the Baron's writings, and a constant reader of your useful Magazine, although yet
A MEMBER OF THE OLD CHURCH. Bristol, Jan. 12, 1791.
We are happy to embrace the first opportunity of complying with the request of the above correspondent, in making answer to the question which he has, with so much propriety, put to us. The following information, we hope, will prove satisfactory to him.
The division of the Ten Commandments, as they stand in the second edition of Swedenborg's True Christian Religion, and in the Liturgy of the New Church, is the proper division agreable to the author's original Latin, as well as the ancient usage of the Christian Church. The reason why it was not so divided in the first edition of the True Christian Religion, we understand, was, because the translator of that work was apprehensive it might give offence to some English readers, who had been so long accustomed to the other division, as even to concieve a veneration for it. But when the writings of Baron Swedenborg began to be a little more generally known, and in consequence thereof men's prejudices in favour of established customs, merely as such, were considerably abated, it was thought proper, on printing the second edition of the work above-mentioned, to make the same division of the Decalogue, as the author himself had done in the original : and this more especially as it was considered to be the true and proper division.
That the division of the Decalogue, as printed in the Liturgy of the New Church, both in regard to the two tables, and the Ten Commands, is the true and proper division, will appear evident on examining their nature, end, and contents. It is universally admitted, that the Ten Commandments were written upon two tables, and that on the first table were written four commandments, having respect to man's duty towards God, and on the second table the remaining six, which regard man's duty towards bis neighbour. Accordingly the Christian Church, prior to the time of the Reformation, made the fourth or last commandment of the first table to be that beginning with these words, Honour thy Father and thy Mother, g'c. agreeable to the order in which it stands in the New Church. But among the many enormous abuses which had crept into the Church, this also was one, namely, that the Roman Catholics interpreted the fourth commandment as not only licensing, but even enforcing the worship of the Virgin Mary, whom they impiously and idolatrously supposed to be the Mother there meant. When the Reformation took place, the Protestants with great propriety rejected this abuse of the commandment, as most dangerous and fatal to the Church: but being ignorant of the internal sense of the Holy Scriptures, or who and what were meant, in that sense, by the Father and Mother which are to be honoured ; and consequently not knowing the true spiritual reason why that commandment was written on the first table, they ventured to shift it to the second, which regards our duty to our neighbour; hoping thus to be entirely clear of the Popish abuse. But in this, as in many other points, by endeavouring to avoid one evil, they fell into another; for, having removed one commandment from its proper table, in order that they might still preserve the due number in each, they split the first commandment into two, and ran the ninth and tenth into one.
The external conduct of a Church has always carried with it something singularly expressive of its internal faith, and the peculiarity of its worship. Thus as the distinguishing feature of the Protestant Churches has been faith alone, so they were naturally led to select that doctrine of the Popish Church which was most favourable to their new scheme of salvation, and there. on to erect a superstructure which should most effectually distinguish them. This doctrine was that of a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead, equally maintained by Roman Catholics and Protestants. But as the prevailing evil in the Romish Church was the lust of dominion over the holy things of the Word, and over the souls of men, therefore they raised a system of idolatry, congenial to that love of self, on the perversion of such passages as in the letter seemed capable of countenancing the worship of dead men; to the honours of which worship many of them expected to arrive by canonization after death. Protestants, on the other hand, seemed to be influenced by different motives; and accordingly, the doctrine of justification by faith alone being their grand topic, and this owing its very birth, life, and support to a division of God into Three Persons, they only acted in conformity to these acknowledged principles, when they divided the first and great commandment, (which, like its Divine Author, should be but ONE,) into two distinct commandments, as if there were two distinct Gods whom we are commanded to worship.
Having said thus much in regard to the conduct of Protestants in first altering the division of the Commandments, we shall now in a few words give a further reason, than what has been already advanced, why the New Church in her Liturgy has restored the true division, as well as given the literal translation from the original Hebrew.
By the internal sense of the fourth commandment we are taught, that the Lord is our Father, and the Holy Word, or the New Church, our Mother. And this is the reason why that commandment properly belongs to the first table; for the Word being from the Lord, is divine, and as such it is also the Lord himself, according to John i. 1. The same is also true of the Church for it is the divinity proceeding from the Lord, as received by the members of the Church, and by no means any thing belonging to man, which constitutes the Church.
As the first sentence in the Decalogue is, in a general point of view, the life and soul of all that follows; so in a more particular sense it is the life and soul of the first table. And so again, the fifth commandment, being the first of the second table, viz. Thou shalt not kill, is also, in subserviency to the former more universal sense, the very life and soul of all the following; for as murder includes every species of ill-will to our neighbour, so the internal shunning of murder includes every species of mutual love and charity. Such, and a thousand times greater, is the wonderful perfection of these heavenly commandments.
The circumstance of the terms Father and Mother being applicable, in the literal sense, to the parents and guardians of children, does not properly rank that fourth commandment in the second table; for the duty which children, by virtue thereof, owe to their parents and guardians, is not so much a part of neighbourly love (the true characteristic of the second table,) as a kind of worship (peculiar to the first table) paid by them to those, who stand as it were in the place of the Lord, during the time of their minority ; in all which term, as the innocence of ignorance prevails, the Lord permits such worship, (if we may so call it) or rather honour, to be paid by children to their parents. From which consideration it is evident, that the fourth commandment, viz. Honour thy Father and thy Mother, &'c. properly belongs to the first table; and that there is nothing even in its literal sense, which opposes such arrangement.