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publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth !” And when this prophecy was about to be fulfilled, a multitude of the heavenly host proclaimed it, “praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Peace-making is one of the beatitudes; and the Lord taught his disciples that into whatsoever house they entered they were first to say—“Peace be to this house." He also told them that “if the son of peace was there, their peace should rest upon
it.” The son of peace is the truth of goodness. Again, he taught them to “ have peace one with another ;” and said“ Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you ; not as the world giveth give I unto you.” After His resurrection the Lord appeared, and several times said unto the disciples, “ Peace be unto you.” From these facts we learn that the predictions which point to the advent of Christianity—that the proclamation by which it was announced—that the teachings by which it was accompanied—the promises which were made to believers, and the benediction which our Lord pronounced after His resurrection,--all concur to shew that the establishment of peace is the great and merciful purpose of all the teachings and provisions of the true Christian religion. The reason is, because it is designed to secure for men a final residence in the kingdom of heaven; and that is a kingdom of peace, because it is a kingdom in which faith and charity are possessed, and exercised, and felt,—a kingdom in which love and wisdom are always in the ascendant. “ The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable.” The Lord is the source of this peace;
it is a Divine gift which proceeds from Him, inmostly affecting, with beatitude and joy, all who dwell there : thereby they dwell in the Lord and He in them. It is written that “the work of righteousness shall be peace;" and also that the Lord's people shall "dwell in a peaceable habitation.” So there can be no well-founded doubt that the establishment, prevalence, and permanence of peace, are among the merciful purposes to be effected by the true Christian religion; and therefore, whensoever we see wars and hostilities, whether of a physical or moral kind, they may justly be regarded as evils which interrupt the progress and purposes of this heavenly institution.
But this being so, it may be asked, What then could be the meaning of the Lord's declarations—“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth ? I tell you nay, but rather division.” 6 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth : I came not to send peace, but a sword.” These passages appear to give a strong denial to all that has been said : still it must be evident that this cannot be their real meaning. As there cannot be any reasonable doubt that Christianity is intended to introduce
men, by means of the faith and virtue which it inculcates, into the enjoyment of peace, it must be clear that the Lord, by the above passagés, never could have designed to contradict this intention; they, consequently, must be interpreted so as to harmonize with it. And a key to this interpretation is furnished by that remarkable passage in which the Lord said_" Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you.” Here the Lord plainly distinguishes between the peace whicn He gives and that which the world confers; and He regards the latter as no real peace, because it is not His gift. The peace which the world.confers is, for the most part, devised by selfishness; it is only of a hollow and temporary kind, brought about by indifference and moral cowardice.
It is merely a bribery of the enemy into quietude, and not the expelling of him for peace. How many are there who, from the love of ease, which they call the love of peace, neglect the duties of rebuking and resisting what is wrong? It is thus that encroachments upon propriety and right are so frequently effected. It is no part of a Christian's duty to permit any trespass upon justice. “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion." But in defiance of this intimation, it is occasionally indulged. Parents, for the sake of peace, omit to correct the misdoings of their children; friends, for the sake of peace, permit irregularities to go unnoticed ; societies, for the sake of peace, pass by, without rebuke, the disorder of some great man who may belong to them; and nations, for the sake of
peace, have permitted, without remonstrance, the encroachments and tyranny of others. By the neglect of those duties, certain present irritation may have been spared and pain avoided, and so the ease and peace of selfishness may have been procured. But to turn away from any cause which really deserves resistance and rebuke, is simply the shunning of an irritation, it is not the security of peace; it may, however, be that which the world giveth, but this gift is attended by an actual loss the loss of moral courage and our sense of duty in times of difficult surroundings; and thus the peace of the world is only to be secured at the
expense of that which the Lord giveth. They who will reflect on these considerations will readily perceive that this is the peace which the Lord said He did not come to "give,"—to "send." He came, not to bestow that ease and quiet which selfishness invokes, nor to give the peace which moral cowardice may wish for; not the peace
may temporally arise from the neglect of painful duties, for that would have been to encourage men in the cultivation of those vices which destroy that solidity and rectitude of character which are so essentially connected
with the permanence and dignity of His own kingdom. And this view of the case renders the statements in the passages referred to perfectly consistent with the grand purpose of Christianity, to establish that peace which arises out of the reception of spiritual wisdom and the practice of religious virtue, and thus to secure that peace which the Lord gives, and not, that which the world bestows, and which is brought about by the selfishness of men."
That this is a correct view of the above passages, may be evinced by other considerations. They were specifically addressed by our Lord to his disciples; and they, by virtue of their discipleship, were endowed with knowledge and expectation somewhat different from those which prevailed among the generality of their Jewish brethren. These had long ceased to have any true idea or enjoyment of that peace which enlightened religion is alone capable of bestowing. The common notion of peace which then prevailed among them was such as they supposed would arise out of their being placed in a position of national prosperity. This, they thought, would be brought about by the coming of the Messiah. But their hopes in respect to him, and what he would then do for them, were altogether of a worldly kind. The peace which they were expecting was grounded in the love of themselves, and the love of the world. When, therefore, the Lord said to His disciples,"Suppose ye that I am come to send peace on earth? I tell ye nay,” “ Think not that I am come to send peace on earth : I came not to send peace sword,” it was for the purpose of awakening in them an inquiry concerning the nature of the peace which he had descended to restore, and an intimation to them that it was not of the character which the Jews in their ignorance and selfishness were commonly expecting. And thus it was intimated to them that they should look forward to the realization of á peace having a holier origin, a purer character, and a more permanent duration; consequently to the attainment of that interior spiritual peace which we have seen it is the great purpose of the Lord, through the establishment of genuine Christianity, to confer upon its true disciples.
Other proofs of the correctness of this general view of those passages are afforded by the particular sentences with which they are concluded: one says it was to "give division;" the other tells us it was to "send a sword.” It may be plain that neither of those sentences was meant to be understood in a strictly literal sense.
The Lord did not come to originate disagreements in families, or to promote feuds in society : for He had said—“Bebold, how delightful a thing it is for brethren to dwell
but a He came.
together in unity!” He also said—“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Nor by a “sword" could He have meant the soldier's weapon ; for He had said—“All they that take the sword, shall perish with the sword.”
The "division” which the Lord came to give consisted in His teaching the distinction which ought always to exist between the religious falsehoods which prevailed, and the holy truth which He delivered-the separation which must be effected between the evils that were active, and the good which He inculcated. To enable men to see these distinctions, to feel their disagreements, and to acknowledge their opposite origins and tendencies, were amongst the merciful purposes for which
His object was to divide the things of hell from the things of heaven, wbich men were in the process of mixing by their profanations. He is ever wishful to separate the chaff from the wheat; hence it was said of Him that He would come with “a fan in His hand, and would thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." To divide, and keep separate, holy from unholy things, is unquestionably the continual effort of all the Lord's Providence; and the peace which He intends to promote can only be secured as this is accomplished. And so the "sword” which the Lord came to send, is of that character which John saw proceeding from “His mouth," and which is described as “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” It consists in that Divine Truth which enables men to make inquisition into falsehood, in order to its discovery and rejection,-that Divine Truth which qualifies them to see when Good cometh, to the end that they may embrace and love it, and so enjoy the peace which it confers.
There is then nothing in those two remarkable passages to cast even a shadow over our conviction that Peace is the grand end which it is the object of Christianity to secure, and that the only means to this end is the cultivation of goodness and truth, under the acknowledgment that these graces are the Lord's, operating in us and by us.
So far as this is attended to, the will of the Lord will be done on earth as it is done in heaven, and then peace and unity will be among the enjoyments of men, in like manner as they are among the beatitudes of angels.
R. * * *
A TESTIMONY TO THE PURITY AND HOLINESS OF
SWEDENBORG'S TEACHING.* To the Editor.
Dear Sir,—There are many things in the writings of Swedenborg -which appear to me defective, more, however, faults of omission than of commission ; subjects ignored that demanded more extended notice. I am also far from a feeling of cordiality with what has transpired of a controversial, and, I fear, sectarian spirit in some of your community. This, however, is not the burden of my present communication, further than to show that no personal interest leads me to testify against what I consider a gross and indecent outrage in a Christian community.
As a humble layman of the Established Church, I feel it my duty to express my own opinions respecting the proceedings which have lately disgraced our city. I allude to the lectures of one Brindley, who calls himself a “Doctor;" but since he goes about to prove Swedenborg an impostor, he must excuse me if I question his right to that learned title, at least until I have seen some person who has seen his diploma. It is but fair to say that I did not personally attend these lectures, for the printed programme contained such evidence of a malicious spirit, in wilful perversions of the truth, that I could not conscientiously give money for such a purpose. For instance, the fact of the sensational happiness of heaven (for that all enjoyment must come through either the spiritual or the natural senses is equally taught by Scripture visions and the writings of Swedenborg), is perverted by using the word sensual ;+ evidently to prejudice the reader by the idea of a Mahomet's paradise. In short, this specimen, the testimony of some who were present, and the report in the York Herald, made it too manifest what was the style and manner of this disgraceful breach of Christian charity. A respectable working-man assured me that he much regretted having heard it, for not only were the quoted passages from the above writings greeted with ridicule, but even passages of Holy Writ were received with roars of profane laughter, the ignorant auditors supposing them to be the work
* This communication is from York, and was written soon after Dr. Brindley's visit to that city. It is inserted however rather for the sake of its general than of its special testimony, and in the hope of its performing a permanent and not merely a temporary use. We had intended it should follow the account of Mr. Woodman's visit to York, given in the Miscellaneous department, but think it may usefully occupy a more prominent place.-Ed.
+ “Sensual" is used in a good as well as in a bad sense, and frequently occurs in the English translations of Swedenborg's writings in the writer's meaning of 6 sensational.”_ED.