« ForrigeFortsæt »
must come in the form of such truths as we can learn and use even to-day. The name “God” is specially used with relation to the truth which leads us to goodness, and “God of Jacob " is the name of the Lord, as He first teaches us in His Word.
Then the Word is the Anointed of the God of Jacob. This name of Jesus, this name of the Word, is a rebuke of many erroneous views. Jesus does not come in consequence of God's wrath. He is anointed, and the anointing oil is the good of love from the Lord. It is the genuine truth that the Lord's Advent took place because of His own Divine Love. God so loved the world as to give His onlybegotten Son. So the Word of God is not the manifesto of His angerit also is anointed, and speaks only as the voice of His love. We do not always think so. When we begin to obey it, it deprives us of many pleasures, for in thunder it forbids all our sins, and what sin is there that the sinner does not find pleasant? But even in denying us the pleasures of sin, the Word is the voice of Love, it is Love commanding us not to drink of the sweetened cup in which poison is mingled. When most stern the Word is most loving.
The Word comes to us in lowest forms of Divine Truth, for it speaks the last words of David. The language it uses is human in its descent and meaning—David the son of Jesse speaks in it. Its truths are a God-given help in our conflicts with sin, it is a mighty man raised up by Jehovah Himself, and it speaks only in love to those who only deserve anger. Finally, it is the sweet Psalmist of Israel, because it leads up to a state in which we may ourselves bear the name Israel, a spiritual Church: a state in which we, too, may be sweet psalmists, sweet singers, not only receiving and rejoicing in spiritual blessedness and delight, but also sweetly commending those delights and blessings to others.
“ Be good, my child, and let who will be clever ;
One grand sweet song.” This, then, is the message of our text. Value the Word of God. It is venerable for its age, to which Assyria now witnesses. It is worthy for its simple impartial records, the envy of historians. It is marvellous in its miracles, surpassing wonder in its prophecy, grand and simple and tender in song, awe-inspiring in apocalypse. But beyond all these claims, love it for its ultimate forms of Divine Truth, its human form of Eternal Wisdom. When tempted, seek its aid ; it is
an exalted hero. Sad and sin-sick, learn hope and receive life from this Anointed of the God of Jacob. Follow lovingly its counsels, and you shall enjoy and give to others the delight which makes the Word the sweet Psalmist of Israel. Thus too shall we learn here and sing hereafter the song of Moses and the Lamb.
HISTORY OF THE CONFLICT BETWEEN RELIGION
DR. DRAPER's book claims to be merely a sketch of the rise and progress of science, together with the parallel history of the spread of superstition in Europe, and the conflict between scientific truth and dogmatic error. He discusses grave religious questions as they were and are still presented to the student and the world, distorted in form and surrounded with the gloom of the Middle Ages. The light, however, which the New Church throws around those subjects seems not to have been discerned by him, and on this account the book is defective, as it leaves an impression on the mind of the reader, if not dangerous, at least somewhat false. He indeed professes to deal with Romanist dogmas and Romanist persecution, but one is apt to forget the warning given in the Preface, and embrace the whole Christian Church in a general condemnation. We think the work would be more useful if it contained some notice of the profound and advanced doctrines of the New Church. The name of Swedenborg cannot be unknown in America, and whoever reads diligently the writings of that illustrious man will be able to view the past more justly and the future hopefully. The author, however, plainly shows the position which the Roman Catholic Church has always assumed towards those who have desired to dispel the shadows of ignorance and superstition. The Romish Church affords a singular spectacle for contemplation; she cherishes her first love, she cannot relinquish the dim cloisters and the gloomy ruins of antiquity, she loves not the harmonious sounds of industry, and turns from the light of human progress. Unmoved by the current which bears mankind towards a brighter day, she rears her grim form among the crumbling remains of a city whose glory, like her own, is departed. This condition of the Roman Catholic Church is the more to be deplored because the world owes no little to her influence in past centuries. We cannot forget the great and good men who have worshipped at her shrine, we cannot forget that within the walls of her monasteries
many of our most precious historical records were penned, we cannot forget that her missionaries brought tidings of Christianity to our shores.
Had she advanced with the times, had she viewed with satisfaction and delight the progress of solid learning and science, she might have accomplished a great work in the world. But her desire for unbounded power over mankind, both in temporal and spiritual things, caused sorrow to generations of men, and raised up enemies against her. When Galileo established the heliocentric theory, and discovered certain memorable facts relating to the movements of the heavenly bodies, the Church became alarmed; she felt that some of her long-established dogmas would be destroyed if she allowed the newly-born hydra to live. But what availed persecution? What availed edicts and bulls ? Truth is eternal, and when apprehended by noble minds, abides there immovable. The laws of God cannot be contravened by the ravings of cardinals or the anathemas of popes. It is a law of God that man should progress both by the exercise of his reason in unfolding natural laws, and by the contemplation of spíritual things, and he who attempts to prevent or retard its operation sooner or later finds himself despised and ridiculed by the thoughtful. The Romish Church did not nor does rightly understand the bearing of Scripture. The existence of a few passages in the Word which speak of the world as immovable was considered sufficient argument against the clearest evidences of the senses and the plainest demonstrations of science. The Church and the Bible were the sole criteria of all knowledge. What could have been better calculated to raise up enemies against the Bible? But while the Church strove on the one hand to stop the progress of science, on the other hand, by her scandalous practice of granting indulgences, she brought on the Reformation. When Luther nailed his ninety-five theses on the door of the cathedral at Wittenberg he initiated a movement which councils and decrees were powerless to arrest. But although we contemplate the effects of the Reformation with pride and satisfaction, yet we regret that it did not leave superstition and bigotry entirely to Rome, for Luther and Melancthon hated philosophy as an enemy of religion, and maintained the principle that the Bible contained the sum and substance of all knowledge. Even Calvin displayed a spirit akin to the worst of persecutors when he caused the Spanish physician Servetus to be burnt at Geneva in 1553. The days of persecution are past; but the Church established by the Reformation has not altogether divested herself of the old bigotry and superstition upon points of doctrine. Still there is less dogmatism among Protestants than formerly. Some of the old positions have been rendered untenable by the overwhelming evidences of science. Thus no candid and enlightened theologian would now maintain the absolute literalism of the first chapter of Genesis in the face of geological facts. The Established Church is perhaps more subject to bigotry than any other section of the Protestant Church in our own country. Were this not so, the Athanasian Creed would have long since been removed from the Prayer Book. That unjust anomaly in the marriage law, the consecration of churchyards, the cherished regard for apostolic succession, the late fierce controversy over a tombstone, indicate a spirit not entirely satisfactory. But in Protestantism there is a liberality altogether wanting in the Church of Rome. Her dogmatism, her biogtry, her love of persecution, everybody knows, and yet we occasionally have the singular spectacle of a bishop or cardinal deploring the want of toleration. Do they forget the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, the massacre of Saint Bartholomew, the ravages of the Duke of Alva in the Netherlands ? Do they forget the Inquisition and the Marian persecutions? Would not those terrible scenes of the dark ages be repeated if Rome could again exercise her ancient temporal power? We doubt not, for it is in the very nature of her constitution and faith. “They who belong to it” (the Church of Rome), says Swedenborg, "acknowledge and adore the Lord apart from all power of saving; they entirely separate His Divine from His Human, and transfer to themselves His Divine power which belonged to His Human, for they remit sins, they send to heaven, they cast into hell, they save whom they will, they sell salvation, thus arrogating things to themselves which are properties of Divine power alone. And since they exercise power, it follows that they make gods of themselves, each one according to his station, by transference from their highest, whom they call Christ's Vicar, down to the lowest of
thus they regard themselves as the Lord, and adore Him not for His, but for their sakes. They not only adulterate and falsify the Word, but even take it away from the people, lest they should enter into the smallest light of truth. They strive with all diligence to extinguish the light of heaven, which is from Divine truth, in order that ignorance may exist in the place of it, and the denser the igno
rance, the more acceptable it is to them. They extinguish the light of heaven, by prohibiting the reading of the Word and of books which contain its doctrines, instituting worship by masses, destitute of Divine truth, in a language unintelligible to the common people. . . . Moreover, they use much artful precaution lest any one should come out of their darkness into light, and from idolatrous to Divine worship, for they multiply monasteries, from which they send out spies and guards in all directions, they extort the confessions of the heart, which are also confessions of the thoughts and intentions, and if any one will not confess, they threaten him with infernal fire and torments in purgatory. But dominion such as this is not of heaven over hell, but of hell over heaven, for in as far as the love of ruling prevails in man, especially in the man of the Church, in so far hell reigns. The Church is where the Lord Himself is worshipped, and where the Word is read” (“Last Judgment,” No. 55). We have given the above long extract, as it summarizes the various causes which render the Roman Catholic Church an enemy to true religion and progress. We cannot close our notice of Dr. Draper's book without raising our voice against the sweeping manner in which he destroys the authority of the Pentateuch. Seven pages is a singularly short space for the discussion of such a grave question. Moreover, we would contend that, however acute the criticism given to the subject, commentators are entirely at fault upon a most important point-the true nature and character of the Mosaic records. The critics should learn that there is no question at issue between the Divine Word and the teaching of modern science; moreover, they need light as to the actual position of science, in its relation, on the one hand, to Man as an investigator, and on the other hand, to God as the Creator and Governor of the Universe. If the same rules are brought to the Pentateuch as are used for critically examining Macaulay's "History” or Carlyle's "French Revolution," it will fall before its enemies, but if the Word be fairly examined in the light which Swedenborg sheds upon its pages,
it will be found to rise far above every species of human compassion. The vicissitudes of centuries, the storms of persecution, the acumen of critics, have failed to destroy the Bible, and not only will it endure, but in time to come will be revered by all men as the Shechinah of the Most High God.