« AnteriorContinuar »
was on the 31st day of July, in the year 1787-31, at London. But some few societies desire no form at all. We must therefore make every charitable allowance for one another, and each society, each individual of a society, endeavour to promote every possible good to the whole body. Under the influence of this spirit, the New Church will, as its Head and Founder once did, "increase in wisdom, and stature, and in favour with God and man," Luke ii. 52. From a state of weakness and relative imperfection, it will acquire strength and vigour every day, until at length, as the prophet observes, “A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: the Lord will hasten it in his time," Isaiah ix. 22.
Extract of a letter from a gentleman in London to a friend in Philadelphia, dated March 20, 1817.
Were I to give you a sketch of the leading characters of our societies, their labours, and the several uses to which their respective provinces determine them, I might possibly be telling you all that you were well acquainted with long ago, and so create disappointment, where I fear at best I shall make but a poor payment for the debt I owe you; and yet I am inclined to give you a general view of the state of the different societies, as they appear to me, and in some few instances enter into particulars, where I think the characters are not yet known to you. The views and dispositions of our societies are wonderfully changed from what they were about the year 1789, when, at a meeting held at Eastcheap, nearly the whole of those who resided in London, and some in various parts of the country, resolved to separate from the forms of the established church. If such a measure were dictated by the spirit of wisdom-and it must be confessed that many had no alternative-no such excuse can be made for that spirit of intolerance against those who thought differently on the subject, and who, in their own minds, had enlarged the boundaries of the LORD's New Church beyond the mere pale of the reception of the writings of our Swedenborg, so as to embrace all who believed in, and approached the Divine Humanity of the LORD, and who suffered their wills and lives to be governed by the spirit of his Holy Word. But this despotism of faith by degrees happily gave way to the heavenly government of charity and forbearance; and now, though the same disposition to draw
the line of separation between forms, remains, a more correct view is generally taken of what truly constitutes the Church, and in the same proportion, a more harmonious disposition of all, and zealous co-operation is excited, to promote its establishment. Several causes operated, most providentially, to effect this change. In Manchester, principally by the meetings held by turns, every other week, in the houses of the principal recipients. These, conducted by the temperate and enlightened rector of Saint John's, as they consisted both of separatists and non-separatists, and were employed, like all the productions of our Swedenborg, in the discussion of essentials, were accompanied by the most blessed results. The same was effected, though upon a wider scale, by the meetings at Hawkstone, at which are assembled generally some of the principal known members of the New Church. These, coupled with the very great want of success, in the attempts to give stability to the exterior ordinances of worship, and to make them more generally useful, have given birth to a heavenly forbearance and accommodation towards those, whose views were more liberal, and whose sphere of activity and use has been more extended and important to the interests of the Church. I may be permitted to express these sentiments, as my father was a warm separatist, and I myself was brought up with, and embraced the same views, which an impartial examination of the principles of the Lord's Church, and of past events, has served to modify, and in some degree to change. The operations of the Divine Providence, in the regeneration of man, are nothing but a series of the most merciful accommodations to the blindness and infirmities of his state-a truth, which, as it seems to me, should constantly rule and determine our conduct, in our intercourse with one another. The zeal which has been thus tempered with charity, has taken another and more interior course. It has been exercised in spreading far and wide the heavenly doctrines, by printing and publishing the writings of our Swedenborg, and of others in agreement with them. Here all, laying aside the petty differences which must ever exist with a different perception of truth, whether interior or exterior, have nobly united in one heavenly bond; and our American brethren, in common with thousands of others, are reaping the rich harvest of this blessed union. And this mode, under the Divine protection and blessing, is clearly the most efficient, for spreading, both directly and indirectly,
the glad tidings of this second advent. Society is already much affected, especially in its moral and political views, by the descent of the Holy City; and sentiments and opinions are now known and reverenced, which were scarcely known, or, if known, despised, some few years back. But it is by indirect means, more than by direct, that the New Doctrines must, in the first instances, be disseminated. Prejudices of a most extraordinary nature are levelled against the very name of Swedenborg, so that men are deterred at the threshold:-drop but the name, and he must be indeed confirmed in evil or in error, who will not be delighted with the beauty, the truth, and sublimity of his sentiments. In this way, many of our friends are enabled to spread widely the heavenly principles of the Church; as in the case of many clergymen in their respective parishes. But for this much, prudence and forbearance are requisite ; and by obedience to these virtues, the leading and essential doctrines may be, and are received by many. There is not, I truly believe, one profession, in which there are not secret recipients, who instil these heavenly doctrines, by various applications to natural duties, and so possibly contribute very much to their more full and perfect reception. To instance one; let us take my excellent friend, the illustrious sculptor Flaxman; a man singularly gifted with genius and attainments of the highest order, united to a mind most humble and unassuming. All his works teem with the principles of the New Dispensation. His lectures, delivered as professor of sculpture, every year before a delighted auditory, without exception tend to exalt the art, by elevating and connecting it with its DIVINE SOURCE; and, whether in regard to his compositions or his writings, all Europe unites in placing him among the most distinguished characters, and in admiring the marked originality, intellectual beauty, and sublimity of his productions. Who, that ever saw his designs, or heard his lectures, could for a moment doubt of the great indirect effect they must have, in disposing the minds of many to a right reception of heavenly influx.
You will be pleased to hear, that seven parts of the Work on the miracles have appeared; an explication which, in point of depth, clearness, and power of conviction, far excel the other admirable works of our enlightened friends Mr. Clowes.
MISS JONES'S CORRESPONDENCE.
A pamphlet has lately been published in New York, by Riley and Adams, entitled, "An interesting correspondence between the Rev. John Johnson, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Newburgh, state of New York, and Miss Elizabeth Jones, relative to the change in her opinions, which occasioned her dismissal from his church."
The facts, as collected from this work, are, that Miss Jones, who had been a zealous and attentive member of the Presbyterian Church, had within a few years received the doctrines of the New Jerusalem, and in consequence thereof was expelled from her former communion.
An almost total indifference to religious inquiry amongst modern Christians, seems to have left the right of advancing opinions on matters of faith and doctrine exclusively to the clergy, and hence the productions of the laity are scarcely deemed worthy of consideration. To behold, therefore, under all the disadvantages of prejudice, an individual, and one too of the weaker sex, engage in a theological controversy with one of
the Masters of Israel," is an occurrence rarely to be met with. Miss Jones, it appears, is a lady of very limited education, but who, from an intimate acquaintance with her Bible, and her favourite theological works, has been enabled to wield the weapons of argument with a force almost irresistible. We learn from New York, that the circulation of this correspondence, which has nearly exhausted the first edition, has been attended with the most pleasing effects; and we also understand that a second edition will soon be published at Philadelphia, which we recommend to our friends as a work well calculated to promote the cause of the Church. ED.
MISSIONARY TOUR. Narrative of a Missionary tour through the Western part of Pennsylvania and Virginia, to the state of Ohio, during the months of July and August, 1817-61, communicated by the Reverend Mr. Carll.
July 18th. I embarked on board the steam-boat for Wilmington, at which place we arrived in the evening. Observing some religious Tracts on board for the use of the passengers, I embraced the opportunity of depositing a few, relating to the doctrines of
the New Jerusalem Church. On the 19th, I arrived at Baltimore, where our friends manifested every mark of kindness and affection.
On the 20th, (Lord's day,) I preached in the morning and evening, at the New Jerusalem Temple. The church was well filled on both occasions, and on the latter, there were between forty and fifty hearers who stood by the open windows on the outside.
On the 21st, I was joined by my friend Mr. C——, who was to accompany me to the westward. During this day we paid several visits to the friends, all of whom expressed an abundance of love and zeal in the promotion of the glorious cause. passed the evening at Mr. H's, where a number of the members were convened. Conversation on the present and future prospects of the church, interspersed with a few delightful hymns, constituted the agreeable employment of the evening, which was concluded with a fervent petition to the Throne of Grace, by our beloved brother the Rev. J. Hargrove, in which the blessings of Heaven were invoked on our journey.
On Tuesday the 22d, we took passage in the stage for Chambersburg, at which place we arrived in the evening, without accident, a distance of 75 miles. During our first day's ride, our company consisted of a lady of good sense and piety, and a number of gentlemen. We had much interesting conversation, in which the principles of the New Dispensation were developed. The lady candidly confessed in the course of the conversation, that her mind was frequently harassed and distressed beyond expression, when she reflected on the prevailing opinions of the day respecting the Divine character, and the doctrines of election, predestination, &c. &c. and found it impossible to reconcile these opinions with the unbounded goodness and mercy of God, as displayed in the world of nature and of grace. The consoling views of the New Church, on these momentous subjects, were opened, and seemed to afford her that comfort which they are so well calculated to impart. We separated with regret before the end of our first day's ride, and she having expressed a desire to procure some books, we cheerfully supplied her with such as we
On the 23d, we left Chambersburg early, and reached the Juniata in the evening. During this day's journey, we discovered