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EXPLANATION OF REFERENCES.
The Works of Swedenborg quoted in the following pages are :
66 True Christian Religion.
“ Conjugial Lovę.
Heaven and Hell.
Doctrine Concerning the Sacred Scripture.
« Divine Love and Wisdom.
• Doctrine of the Lord.
A. C. James, stereotyper, Cincinnati.
* NEW CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
INTRODUCTORY REMARKS — WITH A SKETCH OF THE LIFE, WRITINGS,
AND CHARACTÉR OF EMANUEL SWEDENBORG.
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Tårs earth of herself is cold and dark. All the warmth and light she has, come down from the beneficent 'sun, without whose quickening beams not a blade of grass could grow and not a creature draw the breath of life. Wherever she turns her face direct towards this bountiful giver of light and heat, she receives therefrom an expression of activity and joy ; life circulates through every vein, and her smiles of beauty are reflected in ten thousand forms. But where her face is turned away from the great orb of day, there the shades of darkness brood—there cease the pulsations of life, and nought but sadness and gloom overspread her icebound surface.
Thus it is with man. Of himself he hath neither goodness nor truth, love nor wisdom. All that he receives of these comes down to him from the beneficent Lord of life, who is Love itself and Wisdom itself, and the only source of goodness and truth to men. The most ancient men of our earth perceived this, and from the heart acknowledged it. And so long as they thus kept their faces turned towards the Lord, the only Fountain of life and light to their minds, and remained in the inward acknowledgment that all their love and wisdom were derived from Him alone, life, love and joy circulated through every avenue of their souls ; the harmony and peace of heaven reigned within; fragrant thoughts and pure affections sprang up, and grew and blossomed spontaneously; and the minds of men were as the garden of Eden, the paradise of God. The truth needed no other witness than her own resplendent brightness, because men had eyes to see. They were in love with all that is good, and therefore they could perceive all that is true ; for goodness and truth are always in agreement. Man was then a living soul, created in the image and likeness of God; for the truly human principles of love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbor, had then absolute dominion over all the inferior principles of his mind — "over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
But when man began to turn his face away from the Lord, and to cease acknowledging Him as the Fountain of all the wisdom and intelligence of angels and men, and began to regard himself as the source of goodness and truth, then the heavenly order of his mind began to be inverted, and the light that was in him to be changed to darkness. And the more he continued to love himself, and to regard his wisdom as his own and originating in himself, so much the more did he turn his face away from the light of the Sun of heaven, to the darkness of self-derived intelligence ; until at last his primitive state became completely inverted. His affections, which were originally directed towards the Lord and the things of heaven, became withdrawn from these and turned toward self and the world. And when in this manner he came to regard himself as God, knowing good and evil, then the heavens became black as sackcloth of hair ; for he had extinguished in his mind the only true light, and his affections became fast bound in the frosts of selfishness.
Thus did man's blooming paradise become transformed into a desert. Thus did his affections and thoughts, which once bore the freshness and fragrance of heaven, lose their life and perfume when deprived of the blessed beams of heaven's own Sun. And thus was man driven out from the garden of Eden, where the Lord God placed him and caused to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. This was the Fall — the fall of man; a fall from his primitive and exalted state of innocence, simplicity, truth and love.
It is because of this inverted state of man's affections — because the image and likeness of God in human breasts has been thus marred, that genuine truth has now so few attractions, and appears so unlovely to the world. Because man has fallen from his original state of supreme love to the Lord, into an infernal state
of self-love, therefore truth has no beauty or attractions for him, for it is not in agreement with his perverted affections ; therefore it is, and has ever been, since the Fall, despised and rejected of men, having no form nor comeliness to the natural mind, and when it is seen, “ there is no beauty that it should be desired.” Hence it is that every ray of truth which has been sent from heaven to bless mankind — to enlighten and guide men out of their fallen state — has gained admittance into the world only by a persevering and often painful and protracted contest. It has often had to fight its way through racks and faggots — through dungeons and chains. The Lord's prophets have been stoned and spit upon. The noblest messengers of truth to man have been treated with scorn and contumely. And when He who is the Light of the world - the very Truth itself — became flesh and dwelt among men, He was despised and rejected, and at last killed as a malefactor. And when He performed deeds that no other man could do, and spake as never man spake, it was said of Him, “He hath a devil and is mad, why hear ye Him ? ” Yes — so lost were men to truth and love, so perverted were the principles of humanity in their breasts, that, when their original, divine Archetype appeared, they knew Him not, and put him to an ignominious death.
But Truth itself - absolute Truth can never die. In the language of a distinguished German author, “It is eternal, like the infinitely wise and gracious God. Men may disregard it for a time, until the period arrives when its rays, according to the determination of Heaven, shall irresistibly break through the mists of prejudice, and, like Aurora and the opening day, shed a beneficent light clear and unextinguishable over the generations of men."*
Looking, therefore, at the present and past state of the world, and seeing how it has fared with truth generally at its first unfolding, and with every new dispensation of truth in particular, we ought not to be surprised that the New Dispensation of truth which has been made to the world through that distinguished servant of the Lord, EMANUEL SWEDENBORG, is not suddenly embraced, nor at once seen to be truth. We ought not to be surprised, but rather to expect, that the pure truths of the New Jerusalem, since they are opposed to the impurity of men's natural loves, will meet with opposition, misrepresentation, scorn and contempt. Such is the present state of what is called the Christian world, that it is to be expected men
* Organon of Homeopathic Medịcine, by Samuel Hahnemann, p. 44.
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will sit in judgment on these truths, who know little or nothing about them; and that base fabrications and false statements with regard to them, will be circulated by persons who may think, as Paul thought, when engaged in hauling Christian men and women to prison, that they are doing God service.
But the ignorance, bigotry, and wholesale abuse, which are among the characteristics of an unthinking and frivolous age, are fast disappearing before the dawning light of a better era. Within the last half century a spirit of free and fearless inquiry into everything has been strikingly manifest; and rigid investigation and severe analysis are everywhere beginning to take the place of crude conjecture and groundless assertion. “If ever there were a period, (says a late English author,), in which the members of the Christian church were called upon to believe not every spirit, but to try the spirits, whether they be of God, • to prove all things and to hold fast that which is good,' the pres ent assuredly is one. The disposition to inquiry that has been awakened, the spread of education, the increasing desire of knowledge, and the extraordinary progress of the sciences, however sometimes exaggerated, have been sufficient to lead many sober and reflecting minds to contemplate, as not improbable, a new aspect in the history of the world ; and when we connect these circumstances with the disregard of human authority in matters of religion, the asserted right of private judgment, the conflicting views which are entertained even upon the most important principles of Christianity, it will be granted, I presume, that, if ever learning, sound judgment, piety and diligence were required in the clergy, they are assuredly most requisite now. When to this we add, that among a considerable portion of the Christian community, there prevails à variety of expectations with respect to prophecies in Scripture, the fulfillment of which many believe to be not far distant, there is, assuredly, the more particular reason, why the Christian community should be on its guard, lest any enthusiast should avail himself of these expectations, and delude both himself and his followers; more especially as, under the circumstances we have mentioned, the probability, is that enthusiasts would arise, and that many, consequently, would be deluded. It is remarkable that the introduction of new dispensations, by the Almighty seems, in general, to have given occasion for opposite and rival claims to the truth. When Moses wrought miracles before Pharoah, counter miracles were said to be wrought by the