Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the New Churchmen, these suggestions will seem to be recommendations of conduct which is—to say the least-disingenuous, and which savours somewhat of a "pious fraud.”

The essayist, however, in his opening paragraphs, deprecates the making of his remarks a casus belli for controversy, and it is with no desire to ignore his wishes in this respect that these few words are penned. Their modest design is, neither to controvert the arguments, nor to neutralize the suggestions of the article in question, but rather to indicate a line of action for the friends of Swedenborg which can profitably be pursued, even concurrently with those advocated by “M. A. Oxon."

It is open to question whether, to a very considerable extent (in the words of our essayist), “the very mention of his (Swedenborg's) name excites a prejudice : sone public exponents of New Church doctrines would affirm that such mention more frequently exposes complete ignorance, or unmasks profound indifference. Prejudice cannot exist with those who are equally ignorant of Swedenborg's name and of his tenets. Prejudice, moreover, has not commenced to exist with those to whom both the man and his doctrines are things equally unworthy of consideration. Here, then, are two classes of men—who, perhaps, constitute the majority of that "lump” wherein the New Church should be as "a little leaven”-in whom that spirit of prejudice, which our essayist presupposes as everywhere rampant, either does not exist, or exists only potentially. From these men we need not sedulously withhold the name of Swedenborg; these men may be told, with no jeopardy to their possible reception of the doctrines, that the New Church exists as a tangible reality. But how are they to be reached ? How are even the names of Swedenborg and the New Church, much less the nature of the heavenly doctrines, to be made familiar to the ignorant and indifferent? For, be it remembered, that to make such men conversant with names is to progress in the direction of making them conversant with ideas. Misconception, ignorance, and unconcern as to Swedenborg and his doctrines do certainly exist, nor are such misconception, ignorance, and unconcern wholly unreasonable when and so long as the subject of them appears but furtively and at rare intervals in the broad glare of our nineteenth-century publicity. Now-a-days the amount of importance to be attached to any man, and the amount of acceptance to be accorded to his teachings, is to a great extent decided for “the general public” by the frequency or infrequency of his being selected as a topic in those “popular educators," our newspapers and magazines. Were the name of Swedenborg, and the doings of his followers, as "familiar in the mouths" of newspaper and magazine readers as those of Luther and Calvin, of Wycliffe and Knox, of Dr. Döllinger and Père Hyacinthe, our Author would much less rarely than now be, as it were, instinctively shunned as a “mystic," and his teachings held to be mysterious.

The value of this form of New Church propagandism_relatively inferior in importance though it be to many other works for “the

[ocr errors]

good cause”_has never been wholly overlooked by New Churchmen, but at the present time it seems to be engaging an increasing share of their attention. The name of Swedenborg, in connection with notices of his Writings and reports of the proceedings of Societies and Congregations devoted to propagating his teachings, is not unfrequently to be met with in public prints; and one of the raisons d'être of “The Auxiliary Missionary Society" would seem to have been an appreciation of the good to be effected by organized effort in this direction. That such increasing notoriety will occasionally assume the form of the “familiarity” which “ breeds contempt” must be confidently expected,—witness a recent article in The Daily News, wherein, treating of a successful method for instructing the deaf and dumb to speak, the names of Swedenborg and “ Artemus Ward !" with a quaint quotation from the latter, occur in one sentence. But even such ill-assorted conjunction is not without its use, for does it not afford an opening for the insertion of a correction ? And, moreover, does not this particular instance evince that our sciolist newspaper writers are ceasing to ignore the Swedish sage, even though they may misrepresent him? There can be little doubt but that this tendency of newspaper editors to admit

-in some cases to welcome-items of information concerning subjects held dear by New Churchmen, may, by them, be fostered and directed so as to minister largely to the future extension of the knowledge of the Heavenly Doctrines. To the furtherance of this end, the establishment and continuance of a weekly newspaper that should ably and fairly represent the New Church in the republic of letters, and discuss the events of the day in the broad light of the New Dispensation, is also a desideratum.

While, therefore, it is not denied that the advice tendered by “M. A. Oxon” may be, especially in particular cases, worthy our consideration, our plain duty may yet be held to be to endeavour, both in print and in action, to make the magnum et venerabile nomen of Swedenborg more and more widely known and respected in the world, as a stepping-stone to that wider appreciation of his teachings, which will surely come as knowledge of them increases; and to substantiate, so far as we can, our claim that the New Church is to be the crown of all preceding churches, “a city that is set on a hill,” which “CANNOT be hid.”

H.

THE PSALM OF LOVE.

Love was the whisper--the only sound;
Every breath in the air around
Teemed with that one tender tone of love;
Love never ending, below, above.
Birds in the branches all sung the word,
Ever re-echoing notes they heard ;
Flowers spake it clear with each voiceless mouth,
Borne on the wings of the balmy south.

Floating in perfume, it swelled away,
Skyward it rose with the rising day,
High o'er the far away eastern hills,
Loud the full anthem the sunshine fills.
Larks trill the hymn on the beam of morn,
Chanting of love to the day new born ;
Strong grows the chorus throughout the day,
Then, in the west, seems to fade away.
Soft in the twilight that skirts the sun,-
Only to waken as one by one-
Stars, through the veil of the fading day,
Peep out like children's bright eyes at play.
Tenderly clear round the silver moon
Wreathes the ineffable endless tune;
Into the heart of the mother it creeps,
Bending in love o'er her babe that sleeps ;
Into the hearts of the maid and youth,
Pledging their lives in their loving truth;
Into all bosoms of young or old-
Even the miser's hard greed for gold
Softens at times as the sphere around
Touches his soul with its tone profound.

Where does it come from, this charm so fair?
Is it of earth born-of sea—or air ?
In the wide ocean that clasps the earth
Does this sweet whisper of Love have birth ?
Rises it not on the rippling tide,
Lapping the sand in its golden pride ?
Do not the billows' majestic forms
Bring it to life in the calms and storms?
No !—though the rich diapason sound
Far o'er the wild water's utmost bound;
Over the earth, through the sky, the air,
Deep in the essence of all that's fair ;
Warm in sun's loving God-like ray,
Filling the world with the blaze of day ;
Nurturing nature with life and light,
Strength and activity--bounteous, bright;
High amid Heaven's angelic throng,
Chanting enraptured the marvellous song.
No!-though this last seems its native soil-
Though there's no shadow of grief or toil;
Toning its harmonies fitter for earth,
Not even there has this Anthem birth.
No for its source we must seek elsewhere-
Not in creation its birth-place fair;
But the bright heaven of heavens above,
In the Creator whose name is LOVE.

J. B. K.

SHORT LESSONS FOR SIMPLE MINDS.

NO. III. -HEALING THE LUNATIC.

Matt. xvii. 14-21.

Two remarkable proofs of the Lord's Divine power have already como under our notice; that of curing bodily diseases, and relieving bodily wants by a miraculous gift of food : we have here a still greater proof that He was not only the Ruler of the visible world, but the Lord of the invisible one. A poor man comes kneeling before Him, entreating Him to have mercy upon his son, because he was “a lunatic and sore vexed." Amongst the terrible results of the dominion of evil spirits, the power which they obtained over the bodies of men, at the time of our Saviour's coming into the world, must have been the most fearful to behold. With what joy, then, would the father of the young man spoken of in the passage under consideration find that He who could heal the sick, the lame, the blind and the dumb, and could also feed five thousand people from five loaves and two fishes, possessed the still more wonderful power of casting out evil spirits.

There is no sorrow to which human beings are subject so dreadful as that which deprives them of their senses, when they can no longer hold intercourse with their fellow-creatures, receive comfort from their sympathy, or perform any useful action. Everything that could give pleasure to their minds is shut out. But when any one is not only insane, but violent, then, indeed, he is “sore vexed.” Sometimes he is impelled to self-destruction, and, unable to perceive that fire and water are destructive when not used rightly, is obliged to be put under restraint to prevent his injuring himself or others.

In the two succeeding Gospels we learn more particulars about the sufferings which this poor boy endured ; that this evil spirit tore and bruised him, and made him foam at the mouth and pine away. No wonder that his father should seek to have his only child cured of such a fearful disease. How thankful ought we to be when we are preserved from losing all power over ourselves, and from being at the mercy of evil spirits, who would delight to work the ruin of our souls and bodies. But we must not forget that “whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin,” and that there are fires of evil lusts, and “floods of ungodly men,” among which we may still be cast, if we do not, like this poor man, go to Jesus and seek His Divine protection from them. David says,

“Save me, O God, for the waters are come in unto my soul. I am come into deep waters where the floods overflow me." “I sink in deep waters where there is none to help;' and in Jonah it is said, “The waters compassed me about even to my soul,” but as Jonah in his distress looked toward the holy temple, we must always look to the Lord's Divine Humanity, which, in John ii. 19, 21, He called a “Temple," for salvation from these depths of temptation. “When iniquity cometh in like a flood,” the Holy Word tells us, “the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against it;" and there is a beautiful passage in Isaiah, “When thou passest through

[ocr errors]

the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.” When Noah was commanded to build an ark that he and his family might be saved from the flood which would destroy all the wicked, we are told, “According to all that God commanded him, so did he.” We shall always find that obedience to God's commandments is the only way to be saved from the evils which come upon the wicked. But we are not only to seek protection from the waters which would drown our souls by leading us to reject the truth, as men are said to try to drown the voice of a reproving conscience by persuading themselves that the sin they are about to commit is not a sin,—thus putting what is false in the place of truth, we must at the same time' most earnestly seek the Divine protection against evil loves which “set the heart on fire of hell.” Isaiah says (ix. 18), “ Wickedness burneth as the fire,” and we speak of those who "burn” with anger or rage—are

“consumed ” with envy; in a word, who have "burning" instead of beauty." For every danger to our souls we find a promise of deliverance in God's Holy Word, for in Isaiah we read, "When thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” How easy to believe this when we read, in Daniel iii. 27, of those “on whose bodies the fire had no power, nor the smell of fire had passed on them." Yes, we may have to pass through fire and through water,” but the Lord will bring us "out into a wealthy place” (Ps. Ixvi. 12), if like Him we rebuke the spirits with His Word. Let us, then, when we are tempted to allow evil affections and thoughts to take possession of us, go to Jesus and say, “Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief !” Let us read His Holy Word that we may find some passage in it which may help us to rebuke and overcome evil spirits as He did ; then as angels came and ministered to Him after the devil had left Him, so will it be with us if we strive against sin, for the angels are “all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation.” May He who has "led captivity captive, and received gifts for men,” give us each thankful hearts for that redemption from the power of evil spirits which he has procured for us by His sufferings and death.

M. S. B.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Reviews. An EXAMINATION OF THE ALLEGED DISCREPANCIES OF THE BIBLE. By

John W. HALEY, M.A. London : Dickinson & Higham. 1875. We have no doubt that the discrepancies and other difficulties in the Scriptures are much fewer than is popularly supposed, and that the progress of our knowledge on Biblical subjects will gradually reduce the number which even the well-informed of to-day are willing to admit. A careful study and intelligent collation of seemingly conflicting passages of Scripture is suficient to clear up most of our difficulties by reconciling apparent contradictions. The work of Mr. Haley is a very successful attempt to harmonize discrepant or seemingly discrepant passages of the Bible. The work presents not the views of the author only, but of the most eminent Biblical scholars of all

T

« PreviousContinue »