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I have carried out as far as possible the intentions of the donors of the fund given to the Conference for missionary operations at Longton, and the dissemination of the Heavenly Doctrines in the Potteries. I have personally made two visits to Longton, preaching and lecturing to the Society, and rendering such other assistance as I was able in furtherance of this mission. At one of these visits I had the pleasure of introducing into the church at Longton several new members, one of them a gentleman from whom I anticipate help in conducting the public services of the church in the future.
"The amount of missionary labour rendered has not been quite equal to that of last year; and, unless the fund is increased from some other source, cannot be so large in the year before us. The monthly visit of the Rev. W. Bates afforded the opportunity of usefully employing the services of this esteemed minister after he had been compelled to relinquish the pastorate of a Society. His labours at Longton were continued to the time of his departure from all earthly service to his heavenly home. His loss is severely felt by the little flock to which he last ministered, and his place will not be easily filled. In addition to the monthly visits of Mr. Bates, I was able, by the kind consent of the Committee of the Manchester and Salford Missionary Society, to arrange for frequent visits to the Potteries by Mr. Henshall, their zealous colporteur, whose visits are warmly appreciated by the members and friends in the district. I instructed Mr. Henshall to spend a Sabbath at Longton, and to employ the following day in colportage work in one of the populous towns of the Potteries. In his report to me he writes: "The colporteur has visted the Potteries eight times, preached sixteen times, and held a number of cottage meetings for conversation on the Doctrines of the Word. He has distributed one thousand tracts, and sold several copies of the "True Christian Religion,' the "Apocalypse Revealed," Clowes' Histories, Bayley's 'Brighton Lectures," and Chauncey Giles' "Spiritual World." He has visited Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton, Kidby, Newcastle, Mow Cop, Macclesfield, and Congleton. During the past twelve months there has been an increase of members and a marked improvement in the knowledge of the Heavenly Doctrines.'
"I have only to add that the payment of the rent for the current year is kindly undertaken by Edward Ford, Esq., of the Lawn, near Stoke. Only one half-year's rent, therefore, appears in the accounts which accompany this report.
AUSTRALIA.-A Visit to New South Wales. (To the Editor of the Intellectual Repository.) Dear Sir,-After continuously working in Victoria during a residence of fourteen months, I resolved to visit New South Wales in compliance with the kindly request of the members of the New Church in Sydney, at the same time engaging to deliver a series of lectures explanatory of the doctrines of the New Jerusalem. I left Melbourne on April 29th by the s.s. Barrabool, in company with several gentlemen who were all strangers to me. After clearing the river Yarra, which in its lower parts is both uninteresting and not altogether pleasant, we got into Port Philip's Bay, and commenced what proved to be a very agreeable and refreshing voyage. During the passage, which necessarily lies along and near the coast, I had an opportunity of forming a better estimate of Australian scenery, with which I was much charmed, especially at some spots, where we came in view of grand mountainous country, which appeared to me to be in every respect equal to what I have often seen in Cumberland and Westmoreland. Some of the peeps are particularly lovely and inviting, and I fancied to myself that, if populated with people of the right kind, those localities must be among the paradises of earth. There was often in my mind a strange feeling of astonishment that this fair land was so long unknown and shut off from communion with the Christian world; nor could I help desiring for her, men worthy of her wealth, and gifted with willing hearts, unselfishly to open her longneglected treasures for the comfort and delight of mankind. Australia seems to me to be the last continent to be really understood or appreciated, but perhaps, when known, she will not be the least loved. That, however, must depend upon those who possess her. It was a crime, I think, to inaugurate her history by making her a prison for convicts; and if England has a little trouble with Australia's sons, let her bear in mind that, as a mother, she did not foster her fair child with the milk of human innocence.
The only passenger by the Barrabool that particularly engaged my attention was a medical man-a gentleman of a highly cultured and thoughtful mind-with whom I happily obtained much pleasant intercourse. As a scientist this physician had long absorbed the merely naturalistic and materialistic faith that is now so widely prevailing. To him nature was a plenum as to Tyndall, and there was no room for a God. But on a visit to Melbourne his faith in this was shaken, and he was so far influenced as to be convinced that there is a spiritual world.
His faith in this, however, seemed to me to be mainly sensuous and natural, and he was not, I judge, disposed to accept any doctrines drawn from Divine Revelation. During two days I had the great pleasure of directing his attention to the New Church teachings concerning the Lord and the spiritual sense of the Word. These doctrines seemed to be received by him with a real relish, and he promised to inquire further into them. During his brief stay in Sydney he visited Dr. Brereton, with whom I stayed, and after receiving some of the works of Swedenborg, and some of the Manchester tracts, which I carried with me, he wrote saying, "I sincerely trust that I may be led to know the truth, as that is what I have long thirsted after, and these new views give a light to a book which I had before looked on as mythology."
On arriving at Sydney late in the evening of May 1st, I was very kindly met by several friends of the New Church Society, Messrs. Slater, Backhouse, Newton, Hilton, and others. From them I learned sad news, which took me much by surprise. It was of the illness of their highly esteemed leader, and my friend, Dr. Le Gay Brereton. By his previous correspondence and thoughtful kindness, this gentleman had already endeared himself to us, and to meet him was one of the pleasures I looked forward to in visiting Sydney. It transpired, however, that for a month he had been unable to officiate in the Sabbath service, and that his illness as such was to cause some feeling of alarm. Notwithstanding, however, the shadow which this cast over us all, the Doctor gave me a hearty welcome, and I remained in his house, enjoying much delightful intercourse for a full month. At the end of this time my host was much the same as to his bodily health-in hopes of a perfect recovery before long, but still not without much anxiety. Should his life be prolonged, as I fervently pray that it may for many years, I think Dr. Brereton will render important service to the New Church. He is gifted with great literary ability, a powerful intellect, large resources, a warm heart, and, what is wanted in Australia at present, courage and boldness. Mrs. Brereton is a thorough New Church lady, and does much to sustain her husband in his self-denying labours for the Church.
During the first fortnight of my visit to Sydney there were continuous rains. On the evening of the first lecture, the subject of which was "The Spiritual Sense of Holy Scripture," the wet was very heavy, too heavy for any but strong men to be out, and we had an audience of seventy or eighty people in the small room of the
Temperance Hall, which would accommodate perhaps about 250 persons. Some of our hearers had never before heard of a spiritual sense to the Word, and were deeply interested in the explanations and illustrations that were given. One gentleman, an American, visiting Sydney, seemed especially delighted with the light which was thus thrown upon the Worl, or rather, which came from it; and he, with several others, attended every subsequent lecture.
The second lecture was entitled, "Jehovah and Jesus are one," and was delivered in the large room, Pitt Street, on Tuesday, May 6th. It consisted mainly of three parts, the first showing that the Jehovah of the Old Testament was a Man, that is, a Divine and Infinite Man; the second treated of the Miraculous Conception and Incarnation; and the third set forth that Jesus, the Man of the New Testament, was Jehovah, the God of the Old-that He possessed and manifested all the attributes proper to the Supreme God. He was omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. He also constituted Himself the only object of worship, because He was and is the only God. This lecture excited considerable and deep interest. At the close of it at least a dozen questions were asked and answered. Some were presented as objections, and others to elicit further explanations.
The third lecture was on "Christian Faith," referring also to the Christian life, but the Sunday evening when it was delivered was so intensely wet, and the rain came down in such a heavy and drenching pour that we scarcely expected to see any audience at all. There were, however, above twenty-four persons present.
On the following Tuesday evening we again had the large room of the Temperance Hall in Pitt Street, and a good audience to the lecture on the Resurrection. Of this the Sydney Morning Herald gave the following brief account: "On Tuesday evening, the Rev. J. J. Thornton, of the New Church, lectured to an attentive audience of about 300 persons in the Temperance Hall. The subject was, 'The Resurrection-when is it?" He said that the death of the natural body, now and before the fall of man, was an orderly event, and necessary to man's introduction to a higher life. Men were raised up out of their natural bodies, as a rule, about the third day after death, as Christ was; but to this there were exceptions, such as those meeting with sudden death, as in the case of Saul, who was killed in war, and was told by Samuel, the day before his death, that he should meet him in the spirit world the following day. Mr. Thornton brought forward passages from
the Scriptures to prove his position, and further stated that man's spiritual body was within his natural body, and that he had greater fulness of life when he was released from his natural body, which was only a temporary covering to enable him to act in this life, and not needed in the higher life. He said the soul was in the human form, which was the highest and best form of which we could conceive, being in the image and likeness of God. It was in every part of the natural body, and by it man felt, saw, and heard, but without it the body was dead and could do neither, as any one could prove for himself. The presence of the spiritual body in the natural was possible, just as two things could be in the same place at the same time. For example, electricity and iron and light and glass. Numerous questions on and beyond the subject were asked after the lecture, and were answered to the satisfaction of the audience, who frequently applauded the lecturer.'
On Saturday, May 17th, the members and friends of the Sydney Society held a social meeting, which was especially called for the purpose of discussing the project for forming a General Association of New Church Societies in Australasia. In an address based on the words, "Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together," I endeavoured to describe what the Church ought to be as an external institution, quoting largely from the works of Swedenborg in illustration of the subject, and urging the importance of our taking some steps in Australia calculated to strengthen and protect the uses which are being inaugurated. Addresses were also given by Messrs. Backhouse, Newman, Slater, and others, all favouring the proposal. Arrangements were subsequently made to hold a meeting of the Society with the view of adopting some practical suggestions on this subject. The Adelaide Society is the only one that has yet sketched out any plan of united action, and they suggest the publication of a New Church periodical for Australia. It is hoped that before another year has passed the views of the Societies will be more mature on this and kindred subjects, and that we shall have something more to communicate to our friends in England. The Australasian New Church is yet far in the wilderness, and she has a hard fight before her. Her enemies arise just so soon as she is perceived to possess any power.
On Sunday, May 18th, we had the small hall for the lecture on "Heaven." On this occasion, for the first time, we had a really fine night. The hall proved much too small for those who wished to hear. cut out for you the following from the
report of the Town and Country Journal, May 24th:
"When I ascended the stairs of the new Temperance Hall on Sunday night I found myself in a little crowd waiting for an opportunity to enter the room, where service had already commenced, and the words which reached my ears from the inside were those of the Lord's Prayer, reverently uttered. As I stood a moment the thought came to me, Should not all who solemnly and thoughtfully use these words, taught by the Good Master Himself, recognise one another as brethren? From almost every gathering of Christians in the two hemispheres these words of prayer were being uttered in obedience to the one command, and as the fitting expression of the thoughts which arise in a mind which has learned the great lesson of our common faith-that the Almighty is our Father in heaven. Surely the possession and use of this prayer should be recognised as a sacred bond between the members of different Churches in spite of their theological differences of opinion.
"While the minister was announcing the first lesson I entered the crowded hall, where every seat was occupied, and was requested to go forward and avail myself of one of the Temperance Society's chests beside the platform. Mr. Thornton at once commenced to read a chapter in Isaiah. At the conclusion of the first lesson Montgomery's hymn for public worship, "To Thy temple repair,' was heartily sung by the congregation, and Mr. Thornton then read with considerable expression the 22nd chapter of the Revelation of St. John, a chapter which has met the deepest wants of the human soul. What introduction could be more fitting for a discourse or meditation on Heaven? These words seen dimly through a veil of tears have oftentimes brought heaven very near to the bereaved heart. The lesson was followed by the Beatitudes, which, embodying in a brief form the sum and substance of the teaching of our blessed Lord, are read every Sunday in the services of the New Church. A confession and two prayers had been read before the first lesson, and after the second three beautiful prayers and a thanksgiving were offered. They were composed in stately dignified language, and at the same time expressed the wants of the heart in the simplest manner. One prayer for families was especially noticeable, containing the petition-Enable married partners to live before thee in humility, purity, and love, ever helping each other to become what Thou wouldst have them to be.' Between these prayers and the sermon the oldfashioned and favourite hymn of Dr. Watt's, "There is a land of pure delight,' was sung.
"Heaven, what it is,' was the advertised subject of the sermon, and Mr. Thornton took as his text the very appropriate words of the Saviour, quoted by St. Luke, Neither shall they say, Lo here, or Lo there; for behold the kingdom of God is within you. With such a text many divines would have dwelt upon heaven as a state or condition rather than a place; but the doctrines of the Swedenborgian Church are so clear in respect to the reality of the spirit world that Mr. Thornton did not take up this aspect of the words, though he taught distinctly that heaven is to be felt,' and that heaven is the outcome of our life.' But his discourse was mainly occupied with the theory that we shall possess in heaven joys corresponding to all the pure joys we experience here. We shall possess spiritual habitations, spiritual food, spiritual clothing, and a spiritual Word of God.' This contention he supported by many texts of Scripture, some of which appeared to me to be used in a strained and unnatural sense, as, for instance, he quoted the words of the Psalmist, They do His commands hearkening unto His Word,' as proving that angelic spirits have a Bible.
"Mr. Thornton's address contained much that was very beautiful and very practical. "To be an honest man,' he said, and not a hypocrite, is a step towards heaven.' He had been asked if his religious body had discovered a new religion; he replied that they had founded a new Church, but new religion; that there was only one real religion in the world-that which consisted in loving the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy neighbour as thyself.' "Mr. Thornton retained the interest of the congregation to the last word. At the conclusion of the service Christians of all denominations were invited to join in the celebration of the Lord's Supper. This service was conducted with the greatest solemnity. The administration of the elements was prefaced by a brief address on the meaning of the ceremony and by suitable prayers. The doctrines of the New Church on the Sacrament may be gathered from the following extracts from their form of service: We are instructed that by the Lord's body or flesh is meant the Bread of Life-all the good which giveth spiritual life to man, which cometh down from heaven-being communicated from the Lord to all who come unto Him, who worship Him, and rely on His power to save.' "We are also taught that by the Lord's blood is meant the Blood of the New Covenant--the Divine Truth, which proceeds from Him, and conjoins His children to Himself." The minister first partook of the elements himself, reverently kneeling as he did so, and then came
round with the bread which he had broken and the wine which he had poured out, and administered them to the communicants, saying from time to time, Jesus said, This is My body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of Me;' and 'Jesus said, This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.' This simple ceremony was followed by a hymn and a brief reading, and at the close the benediction was pronounced. All displayed the greatest reverence, and even those who are imbued with high sacramental notions would not have been offended by this simple but devout 'order of the Holy Supper.'
There were thirty-three communicants. at this service. In the afternoon of the same day the ordinance of Holy Baptism was administered to two adults and five children. This service was preceded by a special one for children and young people, the address being from 1 Kings iii. 7, 9. "O Lord my God, I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. Give, therefore, Thy servant an understanding heart, that I may discern between good and bad."
The concluding lecture was given in the large hall on Tuesday evening, May 20th, the subject being "Hell," and the text Mark ix. 43-48, containing the words, "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." Hell was a dreadful reality, not less, but more dreadful, than generally supposed, and its punishments were inseparable from the life the wicked are now leading; nor could they be averted except by genuine repentance. The worst men have no conscience on earth, and devils have no conscience in hell. With them lusts and passions are raging where reason and conscience ought to be ruling and reigning. Remove the restraints of law and authority in this world and hell soon shows itself here. The condition of evil is eternally the cause of estrangement from God, and punishment is co-eternal with active evil, because evil punishes itself. The Lord said, " Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the last kodrantes." Swedenborg said that unless evil were removed by punishments such spirits could not but be kept in hell to eternity; for otherwise they would infest the societies of the good, and do violence to that order established by the Lord (4. C. 967). Replying to a question at the close of the lecture, I said I knew nothing to show that a devil could ever become an angel; but at least he might be eventually so subdued or controlled as to be rendered harmless to the good, and capable of performing some use. Swedenborg says (4. C. 2871), "It is impossible
for any one to come into heaven who has formed his life according to self-love and the love of the world."
At the present time the Sydney Society are unable to hold Divine service twice a day, owing to the room being engaged by the Unitarians in the morning. About the time of my visit considerable depression prevailed among some of the members in consequence of Dr. Brereton's indisposition, and also through Mr. Slater's determination to remove his home to Brisbane and settle with the Society in that city, a decision in which he is influenced by a regard to the fitness of the climate for promoting his health. Mr. Slater was their secretary, and in this capacity he rendered great service. He also read for them in the absence of Dr. Brereton. Previous to my leaving temporary arrangements were made to supply these losses. Mr. Backhouse and Mr. Vernon consented to conduct the services alternately in the absence of Dr. Brereton, and Mr. Fred Biden, a grandson of Dr. Bateman, was willing to act as secretary. Two new members were proposed, and it was hoped that others would soon resolve to unite with the Society and help to sustain its important uses. There is urgent need that the whole Society turn their attention to providing a suitable place of worship, and this, I have no doubt, they will soon do. They have among them the elements of progress and of great usefulness in the future. If, in the Divine mercy, Dr. Brereton's health is restored, and he is able to resume his labours, their power for good will be much increased.
Mr. Newman of Redfern, a suburb of Sydney, has long conducted New Church services in his cottage, and still continues them. He remained steadfast and faithful to the doctrines of the New Jerusalem through troublesome times, keeping alive the flame of its heavenly fire before the final settlement of the Society in Sydney. He has around him a small circle of interested and inquiring friends, to whom he is useful.
The last week of my visit to Sydney a Presbyterian minister advertised a discourse on "Swedenborgianism," which attracted some attention. He seemed to have been stirred up in mind somewhat, but was very little acquainted with the subject he undertook to handle, as may be judged from two statements he made, to the effect that Swedenborgians" assert that there are three persons in the Godhead"!!! and "practically deny the Divinity of Jesus Christ"!!! If these objections against the New Church are not well and sufficiently answered by our practice, I know not how they could be! But there were other difficulties raised by this gentle
man that would need explicit explanation. His attack was some evidence of an impression being made by the labours of the New Church friends.
It was a cause of great regret to me that, when in Sydney, I could not prolong my absence from Melbourne and visit Brisbane. I had a great desire to do so. The Society there have erected a neat and commodious place of worship of wood on high ground on one of the commanding sites of the city. The members are thoroughly earnest, and have an excellent leader in Mr. John Garsden, who, by the way, was formerly an Accrington man, though not then connected with the Church. The building stands on Wickham Terrace. The opening services were announced in the Brisbane Telegraph on the 4th of June; the subject of discourse in the evening being "The Foundation of the Church." Queensland is likely to form a good field for the operations of the New Church, superior in some respects to those offered by the other colonies. This, however, is only an impression gathered from reports.
Of Adelaide I have not heard recently; but the Society there never fails to send its annual report to Conference, so you will soon hear of them on better authority. I hope that within two years from now we shall be able to send Conference a general report of the Australasian Societies. It is often a source of regret to me that Mr. Day is so far off. To change with him would, I think, be a pleasure and benefit to all concerned. There is a dreadful sense of loneliness here-the isolation is so great. If there were not a spiritual faith to uphold us, and the consciousness of our blessed Lord's presence, I think we could never stand up and pursue our work. You, dear sir, seem to be in the very centre, while we are quite on the circumference.
I should much like to have given some account of my visit to the Blue Mountains; of the zigzag railway that is carried along their precipitous face; of the wild scenery extending for twenty miles among their peaks and spurs; of the vast resources in coal, iron, copper, fireclay, limestone, and water that appear on their western side; and of the various places which I saw a little of in a homeward journey of 600 miles over land by rail and coach. But these are not fit subjects for a Magazine devoted especially to Church purposes even in the Miscellaneous department, and I fear I have already trespassed too much on your space.-I am, dear sir, yours faithfully,
J. J. THORNTON.