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He is one." This is but another way of expressing the teaching of the evangelist, that the Logos, the Word which was in the beginning with God, and was God, is the true light wbich lighteth every man that cometh into the world. Man had, as Max Müller expresses it, the religious faculty, and the inflowing light gave him the religious idea. This was the origin of primeval man's religion. And a much simpler and more reasonable account of it it is than that he was left to grope his way in the dark to find out a religion for himself, a theory which has a natural tendency to the conclusion that, as man is the originator of his own religious idea, the divinity he worships has no existence but in his own mind.
Besides the article which we have now noticed the Revier contains two others on the same general subject; one by the Duke of Argyll on man’s place in the unity of nature, and another by the Hon. Justice Fry on Theology and Materialism. The Nineteenth Century also contains several articles bearing on the same topic, one in particular on old and new creeds, which we would have noticed at some length had space permitted.
Our own Church Magazines deserve a notice in this place. The American New Jerusalem Magazine for October contains a large amount of sound, solid, and instructive reading. It is a large number, consisting of about a hundred pages, and contains eleven essays, besides reviews and monthly notes and comments. Among the subjects of the essays are—“Swedenborg and his Office," which occupies about eighteen pages ; "the Sabbath-Day;" “Unity in Variety;" “ John Ruskin," to whom eighteen pages are devoted; and “Sabbath-Day Duty.” An interesting notice is given of “The Religion of Ancient Egypt,” being the Hibbert Lectures delivered in London last year by P. Le Page Renouf, in which he shows that the religion of Egypt in its original state was monotheistic, that it taught the immortality of the soul, and a pure religious morality. There are several other interesting reviews, one on the leading subject of our own present notice-Pre-Adamites. There is a brief notice of our own Magazine, in which it is spoken of much more favourably than it appears to have been in our own Conference, if we may judge from the report of its proceedings by the English correspondent of the American Messenger. One suggestion we think it may be useful to act upon-to print more sermons, and those of a different character. The writer speaks of the Intellectual Repository and New Jerusalem Magazine as an odd name, and unnecessarily long. Its original name was the Intellectual Repository. A good many years since it was proposed to change it to the New Jerusalem Magazine. But the agent represented that a publication once known to the trade by :
certain name would lose its identity if the name were changed. So, for trade reasons, the old name was retained, and for descriptive purposes the new name was added. So abhorrent to publishers is change of title that a magazine now issued monthly still calls itself the Fortnightly Review, and a newspaper that came to be published at six in the morning long retained its original title of the Evening Courant.
The writer mentions further that the Repository is now in its twenty-seventh year. The Repository is now in its sixty-ninth year. Its apparent youthfulness arises from the fact that it has twice commenced a new series, and at each new start it has, unwisely we think, begun with number one.
We are glad to see so just an appreciation of the progress that is going on in the Churches around us as that expressed in the last article, and the gentle reproof it administers to those amongst us who are rather narrow in their views. “ We fear we detect a patronizing tone in the utterances of our people, arising from an inclination on their part to underrate the merits of the leaders of the various religious denominations, who, under the influence of the Lord, by means of the new heavens, are brought gradually into a clearer light, revealing the falsities of doctrines once believed, and who are every year in greater freedom to publish all they learn. ... The Church on earth is one, and they are in the centre of it whose faith and life recognise most fully the facts of the existence of the new age, of the unfolding of the Word, and especially of the presence of the Lord in the
power and glory of His second advent; but if there be a tendency to look down upon any, we are in need of Paul's injunction : “ If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body" (1 Cor. xii. 17, 19, 20).
The Messenger is a weekly publication, like our own Morning Light. It is the property, and we suppose it may be called the organ, of the Convention. It was added to, and finally supplanted, the New Jerusalem Magazine, which was also the property of the Convention. The magazine which now appears under this title, is published by the Massachusetts New Church Union. The Messenger is a favourite with its readers on this side of the water, and we have no doubt with those on the other side also.
The Independent, another American monthly, sustains its title in a dual sense; it is independent as a property and independent in its tone. It contains many good articles, and it is always welcome. We liked its motto, which it has for some time discarded : “ The Word our authority, Swedenborg our guide."
(To the Editor of the “ Intellectual Repository.”) THE AMERICAN CONVENTION AND ITS THEOLOGICAL
SCHOOL, THE URBANA UNIVERSITY AND THE
MY DEAR FRIEND,—In your article on “The American Convention,” etc., in the August number of the Repository, you say that the degrees of the Academy of the New Church are not conferred “ on the ground of eminent scholarship or extensive theological attainments, but on the condition of their recipients subscribing to the distinguishing article of the Academy's creed, and binding themselves to obey the Academy's behests." May I ask you to give your authority or your reasons for making this statement ? for I confess that I am not prepared to believe, without proof, that any body of our New Church brethren would act in such a manner. I hold that to act in such a manner would be monstrous, and therefore I am unwilling to believe that any of our brethren would act so. In fact I will not believe it without proof.
furnish it ? For if you can, then I am quite prepared to join you, my dear friend, in your opposition to the degrees of the Academy to the utmost extent. To grant degrees “on the condition of their recipients submitting to the distinguishing article of the Academy's creed, and binding themselves to obey the Academy's behests,” would be, in my opinion, to render such degrees of no value whatever. I would in that case be one of the first to tear them up, and so far as I could, scatter them to the winds.
As I am at present informed, however, that is not the case. With my present lights I am inclined to favour the granting of the degree of Bachelor of Theology (not of Divinity) by the Academy to young men who have distinguished themselves in their knowledge of New Church theology. And this for the very plain, and as I think, strong reason, that there is no other academic authority in the world that has power to grant such degrees.
It is certainly very unfortunate that the impression should have gone forth to the Church that the degree lately granted by the Academy was the degree of B.D. So long as that impression remained in my mind, I felt it to be impossible for me to approve of the action of the Academy, and that for reasons which I think should be obvious to all. But having now seen the diploma in question (which is in Latin), and having seen that to call the degree a degree of B.D. was simply a huge mistake; the title of the degree as given on the diploma itself being “Baccalaureus Theologiæ, i.e. B.Th., and not B.D. at all; the great objection, as I have considered, to the granting of the degree in question, is entirely removed.
There now, however, remains the question that I have indicated at
the commencement of this letter. If you, my dear friend, are able to prove the exactness of that statement, I shall most certainly unite with you in denouncing the conferring of any degrees by the Academy as worse than useless.
In my opinion an academic honour ought to be granted solely on the ground of academic excellence. If a man be distinguished by a profound knowledge of the theology of the New Church, he ought to be eligible for the Academy's degree of B.Th., whatever his views as to extraneous questions may be. The “ Academy's creed,” the “ Academy's behests” ought certainly not to be made the test of excellence in the theology of the New Church. The theology of the New Church is the theology of the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, and that alone. Does the Academy, in granting its degrees, really demand an assent to, or even a knowledge of, any creed but that vast creed which we all acknowledge, namely, the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, and those writings themselves pure and simple, just as they stand before us in the volumes which contain them? I confess I am astounded at the gravity of the charge you have brought against the Academy of the New Church, and cannot remain satisfied until it is proved to be either true or baseless.
In making this request I do not cast the slightest suspicion upon your own accuracy of statement in so far as your knowledge extends. But human knowledge is finite and therefore not infallible. If you are able to substantiate the charge you have made, I shall be sorry, but I shall certainly agree with and uphold you. If, on the other hand, you should find that you have unwittingly fallen into an error, I am sure you will be as glad to find that you have done so as anybody can be, for it must be as painful to you as it would be to me to have to think that any of our brethren in the New Church would allow themselves to play the part of academical tyrants.
JOHN FAULKNER POTTS.
[Our esteemed friend's kind and temperate letter deserves a sympathetic answer, and as we intend it to be final, we shall endeavour to make it full.
Our assertion that the Academy's degrees are not conferred on the ground of eminent scholarship or extensive theological attainments, but on the condition of their recipients subscribing to the distinguishing article of the Academy's creed, has not the "authority” of the Academy's professions, but it has the “reason” of the Academy's practice, which we are justified in regarding as an exemplification of its principles. Mr. Tilson is a young man of respectable acquirements, and we hope he may live to be an ornament to the Church, but no one will maintain that he is an eminent scholar or a distinguished theologian, such as the title of Bachelor of Divinity is understood in this country to possess. True, this ground of complaint is assumed by our friend to be removed. The degree conferred on Mr.
Tilson is proved to be, not Bachelor of Divinity, as first announced, but Bachelor of Theology. Whence this “huge mistake”? Did the Academy's Examiner in this country not know, or did he mistranslate, the proper title? or is the second title an afterthought of the Academy itself? The latter case is the much more likely. Nor need the Academy be ashamed of making the alteration. The one title has the same meaning as the other. The difference is merely verbal. But the new title has this important advantage, it will not be confounded with that of a well-known and highly-respected English degree; and known to be foreign, it will more readily be estimated at its true value.
Our friend, with his present lights, is disposed to favour the plan of bestowing upon young men who have distinguished themselves some such recognition of the eminence they have attained as that which is offered by the Academy, which is the only body in the world which has the power of conferring degrees on New Church students. And the Academy, as it is the only body in the world having the power of conferring such theological degrees, is generously disposed to give the whole New Church world the benefit of its privilege.
As to the desirableness of young men who have newly finished their collegiate course, even when they have distinguished themselves, being adorned with a degree such as that of Bachelor of Theology, we have serious doubts. In its course of procedure, and the clerical title of Reverend, which our ministers receive, the New Church follows in the wake of the Old. Why not follow it also in this? The Old Church does not confer degrees on its young divinity students, even when they have distinguished themselves, after a much longer course of study than we are able as yet to give our students. How many of the clergy of the Established Church or ministers of the great dissenting bodies are dignified with divinity degrees? Not perhaps one in fifty. Clowes and Clissold were young men who had distingnished themselves in their theological studies, and both were honoured with fellowships, but neither of them ever received a divinity degree. They both had the degree of M.A., and this is considered a not unimportant mark of distinction by clergymen generally.
Degrees in arts are now attainable, without distinction of creed, at our Universities, through which our young men may obtain the legitimate and genuine marks of scholarship, as a solid foundation, as well as a guarantee of capacity, for theological attainments; and some of our younger ministers wear these well-earned and justly-esteemed badges of distinction. Without these as preliminaries, the Academy, it appears, is ready to bestow degrees in theology. Its first Bachelor of Theology, in this country at least, has not acquired any Englisl University degree; he has not even passed through the introductory gate of matriculation, and would not, we believe, have been able, at the time of his being invested with his degree, or at least at the time he finished his studies at the College, to pass the second. division of the Cambridge Local Examination.
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