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community law has two great functions; the first is purely negative: it is to prevent men from injuring each other in person and property, and to secure strength for the resistance of a common enemy; its second use is affirmative, and seeks to give each one an opportunity to exercise and develop his powers in freedom, to amass property, and to enjoy it in peace and security. In its negative capacity, government organizes armies, navies, and police forces, and builds forts, fleets, and prisons. It makes restrictive or prohibitive laws relating to labour, to commerce, to barter, to the shooting of wild birds and animals, and to property in general. In some cases it takes the Divine laws under its patronage. The laws prohibiting stealing and murder are of Divine origin, yet the state protects them by human law, and enforces their observance by pains and penalties. Strange, when we come to think of it, that Divine laws have to be protected by human authority, and yet no one can truly say that it is not a matter of necessity.
In its affirmative capacity, the government makes laws defining our trade and other relationships with foreign nations. It husbands home resources, both with respect to talent and the materials of commerce and industry. It provides for education, establishes colleges and churches, coins money, fixes the standard of weights and measures, constructs roads, carries letters, surveys land, and builds lighthouses. In one case, even in its affirmative capacity, government protects Divine law by a human statute. Marriage is of Divine institution, and when properly understood, is the union of two minds; but it is felt to be so vital in its bearings upon the very structure of human society, and on civil order and happiness, that it is placed under state patronage, and in this country marriage is a civil contract, -a startling interference with freedom if viewed in one light, but yet a simple necessity arising out of the present condition of human nature. Thus viewed, it will appear that though the state is not of Divine appointment, as is sometimes claimed, yet, for the time being, that its enactments are sacred, because they are the indispensable requisites of national life. These enactments are also expedients, yet they are as necessary as air for the lungs, or sails to a sailing vessel; they do not oppose moral rectitude, as expedients in the vulgar sense always do, but they protect and foster it, and are the great safeguards of our liberties, our lives, our property, and our happiness.
(To be continued.)
THE DOCTRINE OF ETERNAL PUNISHMENTS.
That the present age is one of inquiry is a truism, and as such needs no illustration. If any, however, be furnished in the remarks that are to follow, it is merely to indicate, if possible, the direction in which inquiry is likely to lead, especially in reference to religious doctrines.
The uninterrupted advance of scientific research has compelled theologians to reconsider their position. Geology has demonstrated the fallacy of the once popular and literal interpretation of the Biblical account of the Creation. It became evident that what is popular or almost universal is not necessarily the truth, and gradually old notions were abandoned, and new theories propounded to satisfy the growing intelligence of the age. A few rejected the belief in a Divine revelation of the external truths of the universe, which, as they conceived, could alone be acquired by the enlightened understanding of the external man. Others, and by far the greater number, still fondly adhered to the theory that in Genesis is to be found a correct history of the Creation, according to its several stages, but that, nevertheless, its true interpretation was left for the present age. The former class, having taken a more decided step, and given up a revelation as to the things of the visible universe, were prepared to go a step further.
Instead of inquiring whether, if Genesis did not give a true narrative of what took place at the Creation, it might still—from its being founded on external appearances—have been a Divine allegory, pregnant with truths of a higher, a spiritual order, they discarded it as a mere collection of fragmentary traditions, which, as they argued, it was the lot of Moses to transmit to posterity. The New Church, in its truly spiritual interpretation of the Bible, corrects the rationalistic tendencies of the one, and the materialism of the other. She tells them, with Divine authority, that they have both been misled; that both misunderstand the object of Divine revelation ; that both looked for a glowing yet accurate picture of Nature in its outward and downward aspect as a proof of Divine revelation, instead of considering whether it is not more in accordance with the laws of an intercourse between God and man that those phenomena should be taken by the Creator, just as they are understood by man, and used as means, but nothing more than means, to elevate the finite mind to a contemplation of those infinite and everlasting truths of which they
are the appointed symbols. Such an inquiry would have prepared them for a contemplation of the science of correspondence.
It is quite evident, from the very existence of these two schools of thought, that the former belief in the infallibility of the popular interpretation of the Bible has been shaken to its foundations. All inquiry is useful, if men will but “prove all things,” and “ hold fast that which is good.” If modern thought has done so much to set men upon the right track in reference to the opening chapters of the Bible, to put out of sight old prejudices and received notions, and to go to its sacred pages with an earnest desire to know the truth, though that desire
may be impeded in its progress by another and as earnest a desire to reconcile theology with science—it is not to be wondered at that the traditionary modes of dealing with the rest of Scripture are called in question, and that prominent teachers and preachers are backward in expressing their doubts as to the justice of the interpretation which, with their schools of thought, has been the accepted if not unchallenged rule of faith. Amongst these new subjects of inquiry is that relating to the doctrine of eternal punishments. And on this question theologians of the old school are as much at variance as they were on the other. Here, too, they appear as two broad channels of thought, both of which branch off in different directions, and between both of which it is the mission of the New Church to take her place as mistress of the situation, when men will no longer be able to resist the conclusions to which she, by virtue of her Divine appointment, has already arrived. There are undoubtedly indications of the approaching reception of the truths committed to her charge in respect to the spiritual interpretation of the opening passages of Scripture, and we can also enjoy the prospect of other churches embracing the great truths she has in store for mankind in reference to their eternal destiny. The progress of the mind may be slow at first towards the shrine whence she derives her strength, but when once it has tasted the living waters of truth, we fear not the result.
"In ten years' time the great majority of our people will be either annihilationists or universalists." Such are the words which the Rev. J. Baldwin Brown, B.A. (in a series of five discourses on Eternal Punishments, at the Brixton Independent Church), ascribes to “one of our ablest ministers, who is looked upon as a pillar, and who is understood to have adopted the theory of the ultimate annihilation of the wicked.” Mr Brown does not agree with him. He believes “ the old idea of eternal punishment is rapidly vanishing,” but he does not
think men will accept his friend's conclusion. He says, “I am neither an annihilationist nor universalist; I do not think that I can ever become either the one or the other.” He declares that the question of the future destiny of the impenitent is being, and is likely to be increasingly pressed on the thoughtful consideration of those who care to think about their creed in the Christian Church, by the character and tendency of the intellectual activity of our times, whose atmosphere we breathe, and whose influence we take in at every pore. 6. The doctrine of the eternal torment of those who die in sin is the point on which probably the mediæval theology is most visibly and hopelessly breaking down; for it has now, blessed be God, become simply incredible to all who care to exercise their minds and their hearts about Divine things, that the God whose love to the world can be measured only on Calvary can bring into existence, generation after generation, countless myriads of intelligent beings, capable of suffering intensely, with the certainty that the vast mass of them must spend an undying existence in fearful anguish, for want of saving faith in a Gospel which but a few of them were permitted to listen to, and which still fewer of them had a chance of hearing, as Christ would have proclaimed it, in the full power of its love and truth.” Mr. Brown utters a strong protest, but it is one which will find an echo in the hearts of many who, notwithstanding the orthodox education they have received in spiritual matters, have had their silent misgivings not only as to the efficacy of intimidating the wicked by a picture of all that is horrid, but also as to its justice and its accordance with the attributes of a God of whom it is expressly declared that “ His tender mercies are over all His works.”
Mr. Baldwin Brown sees that belief in eternal torment becomes possible through the terrible anguish of the sin-stricken spirit—the pit which sin has opened in every guilty human heart. “The sinner in the agony of conviction needs no worse pit than he finds within.” As one broad, simple proof that terror rather than love has been supreme in the churches, in their conception of Christ's relations to the world, in the office of judge rather than the mission of the Saviour, he adduces the rapid spread and the intense fervour of Mariolatry, “ which means, simply, that the Saviour has become increasingly associated with ideas of judgment, not of compassion; and so men devise a woman as a mediator with the Saviour, that they may re-open through a woman those springs of tenderness which, but for the woman, they think would be well-nigh closed in the merciful Redeemer's heart." After reviewing the horrible doctrines of Calvinism and kindred schools, the preacher declares there are multitudes who will say,
6. We do not believe in this eternally vengeful and tormenting God."
He adds : “I think I may say the Church of our day, in the person of all its most intelligent members and teachers, has renounced this idea of eternal torture as too horrible. There is an almost universal consent to abandon this tradition of Calvinism among our wisest and most influential ministers; and it is said now that what is meant hy eternal punishment is the fruit of sin in the sinner, distracting him and tormenting him; eternal exclusion from the home of God, the sphere of light, life, and joy, and eternal condemnation to that dark region where the sinner finds his own place' for ever.
Here we get clearly on the track of a great truth.”
(To be continued.)
IS THE SCIENCE OF CORRESPONDENCES A DIVINE LAW ?
By the science of correspondences we understand that science which unfolds the correspondence existing between things spiritual and natural, between every object in the spiritual world and its counterpart in the natural world, between God and His Church, between the spirit and letter of His Word.
Our subject assumes the form of a question. Is the science of correspondences a Divine law? and it devolves upon us to attempt to demonstrate, first, the existence of this science of correspondences ; second, to show that correspondences are not arbitrary; and third, that this science has a Divine origin, and therefore must obey a Divine law,
Swedenborg has told us that men never arrive at any knowledge of the science of correspondences without revelation, and we can understand that this must be true, since it presupposes a knowledge of the existence of God which alone could be derived from revelation; and also of the spiritual world, between which and this material universe the correspondence exists. It appears to me, therefore, that the best plan of establishing our three points is by reference to the Bible itself, since if the law of correspondences exists therein, our position is established.
Our Bible consists of a series of smaller volumes written during a period extending over about 1500 years. Their authors were shep