« ForrigeFortsæt »
pended upon, until it's aecuracy be clearly and indisputably established.
Let us put a case. Suppose a noblenian of princely fortune to be travelling over Hounslow Heath, or Finchley Common, and he is overtaken by thieves, who strip him, and beat him, and leave him half dead of his wounds. They theni divide his garments anyongst them, and immediately fly, the one in one direction, and another in another, carrying with them the booty of which they plundered him. It so happens, that one of those thieves is afterwards found in London, a second in Dablin, a third in Rome, and a fourth in Paris ; and every one of them has a portion of the nobleman's splendid garments upon bim, to cover his nakedness or his rags. Btit as neither of them is possessed of his whole wardrobe, they each add something of their own, and with an air of affected dignity boast of their superb dress. Now can it be said, that the nobleman in this case has still preserved to himself his garments, merely because they are sometchere or other in existence, though snipped, and clipped, and preposterously fitted to the backs of the rogues? Would not an indifferent person, on hearing the story of this onfortunate man, justly conclude, that his garments were lost, absolutely lost as to the use for which they were originally designed, because they were divided, cut up, and dispersed into all countries, where they are made to form part of a motley assortment of princely and beggarly apparel!--So it has been done with the letter of the Word : it has suffered violence from Christian scribes, - who, after curtailing or amplifying, according to their own taste and fancy, what they did not rightly understand, have at length so disfigured, rent, and dispersed the garments of the Lord, that they can now no longer be recognised to be the same as they once were; nor is it probable that they can, by any efforts of mere human industry, be again recovered from the hands of the spoilers.
What then is to be done in a case so mucli to be deplored ? Or where are we to look for the real and genuine Word of the Lord? Let us attend to what the learned, the enlightened, and the inspired Swedenborg has said on this subject. He has not left us altogether at a loss to know where to turn our eyes, or where to look for this invaluable treasure, which has been so carefully preserved by the Divine Providence for the use of the
New and True Christian Church. Speaking of the Jews fas a dation, whom he describes as mere external men, yet having
great veneration for the letter of the Word, he observes as follows.
« Inasmuch as the tribe of Judah was of this character more than the other tribes, and at this day, as formerly, account the . rituals boły, which may be observed out of Jerusalem, and also have a holy veneration for their fathers, and a particular reverence for the Word of the Old Testament; and inasmuch as it was foreseen that Christians roould almost totally reject that Word, and would likewise defile it's internal things with things profane, therefore that nation hath been hitherto preserved, according to the Lord's words in Matthew, chap. xxiv. 34. It would have been otherwise, if Christians, as they are acquainted with things intermal, had also lived internal men; in this case that nation, like other nations, would have been cut off many ages ago.” Arc. Coel. 3479.
Again, the explanation of the 34th and 35th verses of Matt. xxiv. is thus given. * Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, until all these things come to pass, signifies the Jewish nation, that it shall not be extirpated as other nations; the reason of wbich may be seen, 1. 3479 (as above). Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my roords shall not pass away, siguifies the internals and externals of the former church, that they should perish, but that the Word of the Lord should abide. That the words of the Lord are not only those things which were here spoken concerning his coming and the consummation of the ago, but also all that are contained in the Word, is evident. Those words were spoken immediately after what was said concerning the Jewish nation, because the Jewish nation was preserved for the sake of the Word, as may appear from the passage cited, n. 3479.”
Speaking further of the Lord's frequent declarations in the Gos pel, that in him were to be, and are, consummated all things contained in the Scripture, he says, “ In the internal sense all and singular things, even to every iota, or to every smallest apex, treat of the Lord; wherefore it is said, that one iota or one tittle shalt not pass away in the law, until all things be effected; and in Luke, ' It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one apex of the law to fall,' xvi. 17. He who doth not know, that singular things, even to the least of all, in the internal sense treat of the
do not appear
Lord and of his kingdom, and tbat hence the Word is most holy, cannot in any wise comprehend what this meaas, that one apex shall not fall, nor one iota or tittle pass away, and that it is easier that heaven and earth should pass away; for those things, which are extant in the external sense,
of so great moment: but the internal text is of such content, that a single expression, howsoever small, could not be omitted, without an interruption of the series." Arc. Cæl. 7933.
In another place the author again speaks of the great importance of the literal as well as of the spiritual sense of the Word. “ The literal sense (he observes) is the basis and fulcrum, on which the spiritual sense leans, and to which it coheres in the closest conjunction, insomuch that there is not even an iota, or apex, or little twirl in the letter of the Word, which doth not contain in it a holy divine principle, according to the words of the Lord in Matthew v. 18; and in Luke xvi. 17. Therefore also by the divine providence of the Lord it hath been effected, that the Word hath been preserved, especially the Word of the Old Testament, as to every iota and apex, from the time in which it was written. It hath been shewn also from heaven, that in the Word not only every expression, but also every syllable, and, what is incredible, every little twirl of a syllable, in the original tongue-involves what is holy, which becomes perceptible to the angels of the inmost heaven. That this is the case, I can positively assert; but I know that it transcends belief.” Arc. Cæl. 9349.
In the treatise on the Last Judgment, speaking of the books of the Old Testament, he says, that “every circumstance recorded therein, and every word, contains an internal or spiritual sense; therefore not a single word can be taken away from them, without injuring the internal sense. Hence it is, that by the divine providence of the Lord those books have been preserved entire even to a tittle, ever since the time they were first written, which was effected by the care of several of the learned, who have numbered every minute particular therein. This was provided by the Lord on account of the sanctity in every point, letter, word, and thing therein contained.” Last Judg. 41.
In the treatise on the Sacred Scripture he thus writes. :“It is to be observed, that in the spiritual sense all things cohere together in continual connection, to produce which end every expression in the literal or natural sense is available; wherefore if a
single word were taken away, the connection would be broken, and the principle of conjunction would perish. To prevent this, it is therefore added at the end of the prophetical book of the Revelation, that “not a word should be taken from it,” Apoc. xxii. 19. It is similar with the prophetic books of the Old Testament, from which lest any thing should be taken away, it was effected by the divine providence of the Lord, that singular things therein even to the letters should be numbered: this was done by the Masorites.” Sacr. Scrip. 13.
Lastly, in the work on Divine Providence the author again takes up the subject, and expresses himself in the following mapner. “ The reason why that nation (the Jewislı) has been preserved, and spread over a great part of the world, is for the sake of the Word in it's original tongue, which they regard as holy more than Christians do." Div. Prov. 260.
After these repeated declarations concerning the preservation of the Word of the Old Testament, and the people by whom it was to be, and actually has been, preserved in all it's integrity to the present day, can any thing be more certain, than that the author has given us the clew, the plainest directions, whereby we may discover, where it now is, namely, among the Jews, the only proper depositaries of that Word, for the sake of which they have, as a nation, been most miraculously continued in existence through every adversity and fluctuation of fortune ? It is among the Jews, who have ever been scrupulously tenacious of every word, syllable, letter, iota, and tittle of the original, and not among Nominal Christians, who, indulging themselves in all the wantonness of self-derived intelligence, have created for themselves an endless variety of readings, that the great treasure of the church is still to be found, undespoiled, undiminished, and without loy.
The salvo of Dr. Bentley, as quoted in the Repository, p. 521, “ that the text in the worst manuscript now extant is competently exact,” (that is, sufficient for every divine purpose,) cannot be admitted by a member of the New Church, while he believes with Swedenborg, that the omission or variation of a single word infringes and violates the series of the internal sense; and while he further believes, that true and genuine doctrine is founded upon the integrity of the letter. But what right had Dr. Bentley to presume, that the worst manuscript is good enough for the church, and capable of answering all the ends of divine wisdom, when he knew scarce any thing of the real uses, for which the Word was given? Writings, to be accepted as divine, should be so in every minute particular; and as the Christian manuscripts are deficient in this respect, they cannot be considered as authentic copies of the Word, which, like the Lord's BODY, without the fracture of a single bone, (Psalm xxxiv. 20; John xix. 36,) ought to be uncorrupted and entire in all it's parts.
The very circumstance of the Jews being preserved “ for the sake of the Word of the Old Testament,” implies that they are in possession of it in all it's integrity. And further, it having been foreseen, “ that Christians would almost totally reject that Word, and would likewise defile it's internal things with things profane," are we not thereby plainly instructed, that we ought not to expect to find it among them in it's original purity? What then is the line of duty pointed out to us, as members of the New Church, in a case like this? Is it not clearly to make application to the Jews, that body of people, with whom the Word of the Old Testament is still preserved, and to procure from them an authentic copy of those divine books, which the watchful eye of Divine Providence has never ceased to regard as the birth-right and indefeasible inheritance of the New and True Christian Church? • In agreement, therefore, with these suggestions, I would humbly propose, that a deputation, from the Ministers and other members of the New Church, legally and constitutionally assembled in General Conference, be forthwith, or as soon as conteniently may be, commissioned to treat with the proper persons for the purchase of so desirable, so rich a treasure, as the uncorrupted WORD of our Divine Lord, miraculously given to the Jews of old, and no less miraculously preserved to the present day, as the grand mediam of conjunction between heaven and earth, between the Lord himself and the whole kuman race.
Having made these observations concerning the divine books of the Old Testament, it is now proper to turn to the consideration of those of the New; it being equally desirable, that the integrity of these latter as well as of the former, should be clearly ascertained. With respect to the Acts of the Apostles, and their Epistles, as it is well known in the New Church, that they form no part of the Divine Word, because they have not an internal sepse, like the books above alluded to, it is of little moment whether they be, or be not, perfect and exact transcripts of the