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highest satisfaction and delight the gratifications thence résulting.
The objects which this Society has in view are pre-eminently useful and pre-eminently disinterested: and who is the individual amongst us that can for a moment entertain 'even a thought to the contrary? If there be such a one, let him reflect upon the obstacles which the world presents to the dissemination of those. doctrines which it is. our object to print and publish; let him consider well the strength which accrues to a small body of individuals when acting unanimously and with undaunted perseverence; and let him yield to the almost self-evident consequence, that the latter is indispensable for resisting and overcoming the former.
By these means, and by these only, will a check be given to the debasing sentiment of man's inability to act from motives of a disinterested nature; by this Society collectively will be manifested the most unequivocal signs, that the sentiment is as nugatory and fallacious as it is mischievous. Can selfish considerations be imputed to a body of individuals, who fearlessly promulgate to the world doctrines which they conscientiously know and feel to be true, but which are at the same time opposed by a most obstinate and blind spirit? can any thing like interested motives operate with men who are influenced by a love of truth for its own sake, to embrace those doctrines wherein nothing that in any way opposes truth has ever been found, in spite of the numberless discouraging circumstances which the world presents, or in defiance even of the loss of what must be most precious to“every man of sound mind, viz. the being regarded as a rational creature among his friends and fellows? We are aware that men have repeatedly professed to have been actuated by similar motives and under similar circumstances; but in the case in question, there is the most marked difference from any that hath heretofore existed : for to obtain a full and correct idea of the real nature and tendency of the New Church doctrines, it is absolutely incumbent on the individual, who may desire it, to exercise freely and vigorously ALL his mental powers; to liberate his understanding from the fetters of prejudice ; to allow his rational faculty toʻtake its natural course in its investigation of truth; and to have his memory well stored with knowledges of every kind. These are the requisites which will best qualify him for discovering the No. III.-VOL. I.
real and full merits of those doctrines, though they at the same time present the additional recommendation, of being wonderfully comprehensible, both to the lowest capacity, and to the delicately constituted mind of youth.
I have been induced to make these observations from a conviction of the utility of our having right impressions respecting the important object of our annually meeting here in social intercourse, as well as respecting the purity and value of the doctrines which come so home to our hearts.
The Convivial Recreations which were enjoyed at the earlier period of Christianity, are I trust beginning to be enjoyed by us; for they were the recreations of Charity, and existed with such as were influenced by mutual love grounded in a similarity of faith. “ The Christians of those primitive times,” we are told*, “ conversed together on various subjects both civil and domestic, but more particularly on such as concerned the church: and as their feasts were feasts of charity, their discourse on every subject was influenced by Charity with all its joys and delights. The sphere which prevailed on those occasions was a sphere of love to the Lord and of love towards the neighbour, which exhilarated every mind, softened the tope of every 'expression, and commupicated to all the senses a festivity from the heart.”
And that this, Gentlemen, may be the experience of you all, is the most fervent and most bumble desire of one, who will ever do the little, but the best, he can, to promote it.
THE INQUIRY PURSUED: WHETHER THE WORD IN ALL ITS INTEGRITY, THOUGH
PRESERVED, AT PRESENT EXISTS IN ANY INDIVIDUAL COPY.
[Continued from p. 155.]
It having become notorious, that the manuscript copies of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments which have been preserved do not all exactly resemble each other, but present a large number of variations, which, under the name of Various Readings, have given occasion to a great deal of discussion in the
* True Christian Religion, 0, 433.
religious and learned world, the attention of our readers was called to the subject by an intelligent friend who takes the signature of Iaxwßos, in the last number of our Former Series. On this occasion we endeavoured to shew, first, that the existence of Various Readings in different copies of the Scriptures affords no argument against their Plenary Inspiration, since it was impossible to be prevented without making every Scribe who ever copied them a subject of the same inspiration as possessed the original penmen, which again was impracticable without the performance of a series of miracles that would have violated the free-will of man, and would thus have been inconsistent with all the laws of Divine Order and Providence: and, secondly, that the existence of these Various Readings is not at variance with the fact mentioned by Swedenborg, that the Word has been preserved entire from the time of its being written to the present day. But against several of the sentiments advanced by us in this discussion, our esteemed friend, Mr. Hindmarsh, saw some objections, which occasioned him to draw up a paper with the design to prove, not only that the Word has been preserved in all its integrity, but that, with regard to the Old Testament, copies free from any erroneous readings are to be found among the Jews, and
may be procured of them; and that, with regard to the New Testament, a perfect copy will be found either in Leusden's edition of 1741, or in that attached to the Hebrew of Manasse ben Israel in 1639. As, however, it appeared clear to us, that these views were founded in mistako, we attempted, in our last number, a defence of our former sentiments. We first endeavoured to shew, that the opinion we had offered in the words of Dr. Bentley, that, “the real text of the sacred writers does not now (since the originals have been so long lost) lie in any single manuscript or edition, but is dispersed in them all;"-is not unreasonable or ridiculous, but is the only one that is consistent with the facts of the case ; that though no individual copy of the Word may be free from defects, the Word itself, as to every iota, may thus be preserved, whence integrity may, by future Masorites, be restored to the copies. We, secondly, offered evidence to prove, that it is a mistake to suppose, either that any more perfect copy can be obtained from the Jews than we are possessed of already, or that the Various Readings of the manuscripts or editions have proceeded from Christians; since all the copies of the Hebrew Scrip
tures in existence have originally been received from the Jews, and Christians have already had access to the best copies possessed by them. And, in the third place, we shewed, that the true reason why, as E. S. states, the Jewish nation has been preserved for sake of the Word, is, not merely because, without then, the text of the Old Testament would have been corrupted by Christians, but because, without them, it would, in its original language, have perished altogether. We are now to proceed to consider, what has been done by the Masorites for the preservation of the Word, and to inquire, whether, because the preservation of the Word in its integrity has been owing, in a great degree, to their labours, this includes the perfection of any of the copies now existing.
IV. On these three questions, the preservation of the Jews for the sake of the Word in its original tongue,-the existence of an internal sense in all and singular things, even to every iota, of the letter, and the preservation of the Word entire on this account, Mr. H. has adduced seven extracts from the Writings of E. S. Of these, three relate to the preservation of the Jews for the sake of the Word; a fact which is unquestionably most true, and which exhibits a wonderful instance of the care of Divine Providence on this subject, as we have already seen under the third branch of our remarks. The other four passages from E. S. affirm the fact, that “ the internal sense is of such content, that a single expression, however small, could not be omitted, without an interruption of the series.” This also is a truth 'most fully admitted by us, and which all that we have written on the subject is intended to corroborate and support. But it may here be observed, by the way, that though the omission of any thing must needs make an interruption of the spiritual sense, there appear to be some instances, in which the exchange of one expression for another is not attended with similar injury: how else are we to account for the fact so well known to all who have compared the quotations from the gospels with their originals in the Old Testament, that there is very seldom an exact agreement between them? Many of them are taken word for word from the Septuagint version, where this differs from the Hebrew; and some differ from both. The translators of the Septuagint were not inspired: yet they sometimes have given Various Readings which writers who were inspired have adopted. Must it not be inferred
from these facts, that the same spiritual sense may sometimes be conveyed by different natural expressions ? And if so, may it not be presumed, further, that all the Various Readings of a text but one are not necessarily corruptions, but that some of them may equally afford a proper basis to the spiritual sense? It seems not unreasonable to conclude, that the Divine Sphere, which no doubt is continually operating to preserve the Word, might sometimes thus overrule the very lapses of the transcribers. That it could not, consistently with other divine laws, prevent all admission of variety in the different copies, is evinced by the fact, that varieties exist: but it may with probability be inferred, that where it could not entirely prevent the aberrations of human infirmity, it might give them a direction as little injurious as possible, and sometimes such as would be attended with no injury at all. This view of the subject, if correct, would certainly remove some share of the apprehensions for the integrity of the Word, which have arisen from the existence of various readings, and may therefore be worthy of further consideration : but we offer it as a mere surmise, not as our adopted opinion. The view which we advocate supposes that the Word exists in its integrity as it was first penned by the inspired writers: we shall not therefore turn aside to inquire, whether this is absolutely necessary or not. To proceed then with our remarks.
Of the four passages adduced by Mr. H. from E. S. which affirm the injury which must be done to the spiritual sense of the Word by taking any thing from the letter, three mention as a fact, that "therefore, 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:" and two observe, that, through the divine providence of the Lord, this “ was effected by the care of several of the learned, who have numbered every minute particular therein :" while one mentions the Masorites by name.
Now, because we were willing to take all that is thus stated in the most ample sense that the words would bear, we have con. sidered all these three propositions as express declarations of Swedenborg himself. That the two first are such, there can be no question ; viz. that the Jews have been preserved for the sake of the Word in its original tongue, and that the internal sense is of such