« PreviousContinue »
destination. The wills of angels are not equipoised between good and evil, yet they are free, and will as freely as they breathe, and so also did man in his pristine state. The infernals also will, nor can they do otherwise, yet neither are equipoised between good and evil. Hence Swedenborg informs us, that “The equilibrium in which the angels are kept in the heavens, and the spirits in the hells, is not like that which exists in the world of spirits. The angels in the heavens find their equilibrium in the measure of good in which they had been willing to be grounded, or in which they had lived while they were in the world, and consequently in the degree in which they had held evil in aversion, whereas the spirits in hell find their equilibrium in the measure of evil in which it had been their will to be immersed, or in which they had lived while in the world; and thus, consequently, in the degree in which in heart and spirit they had been in opposition to good” (H. and H., 591).
If the freedom of the will depended in every condition upon an equalization of opposites, or of good and evil, and was the result of it, that would imply the necessary existence of evil, and then the angels would be subject to similar annoyance to which they were subject whilst they were men in the natural world; they would also be subject to temptations, and would be equally liable to fall as when in the world, in which case they could not experience that peace and tranquillity, joy and delight, and never failing confidence in their divine Sustainer and Protector, which in their complex constitute happiness. And, on the other hand, if the infernals were subject to the same internal good influences to which they ere subject whilst they were men in the world, then, in addition to the suppression of their desires by external restraints, it would be a source of great grief and torment to them, beside that it would afford the opportunity of acquiring additional evil, and by rejecting the good of becoming more wicked, and therefore of becoming more miserable.
After all arguments have been used and evidence adduced to show and to prove the existence of free-will, it is frequently asked, even by persons from whom we might least expect it, What is it that causes the will, even when equipoised and free, to choose one thing in preference to another? Adding, there must be something to move the will, or how does it will at all ? This notion implies that the will is not and cannot be free, and that it cannot will freely, but that when placed in the only condition in which it can choose freely, the very effort and act of choosing is, and must be, the result of another agent.
Although the freedom of the will, effected by the neutralization of opposite forces, is not a state of activity but one of passivity, yet that very state affords the will an opportunity of choosing freely. The will possesses a God-like property, viz., apparent independence or apparent self-existence, by virtue of which it can choose without either restraint or constraint, that is, it can choose freely. Free-will excludes everything that would force, bias, or in any way influence. It would be much more reasonable to ask what caused the will to be free. A further remark or two on this point may not be out of place. The capability of willing is grounded in man's apparent independence. That appearance is the result of life entering man in a degree superior to the plane in which his consciousness exists. Life so entering man, and descending into his conscious degree, is there first made manifest, and where it is first manifested it appears to originate. It is said life enters man, but it may with more propriety be said to be ever present and operative in him ; it was present in the beginning of his formation in the womb, and effected that formation, and it has been present continuously ever since, and a moment's cessation would be man's annihilation. Although we have affirmed that life appears to originate in man, yet that affirmation is not strictly accurate, for life does not appear to originate at all, if it did, to whom does it so appear? If to man himself, that would imply that he must have existed previously to that appearance, he being unable otherwise to witness it. If life appeared to originate, that appearance must be secondary in point of time, and existence to him by whom it was perceived, for nothing could appear except to some one already existing. Life does not appear to originate in man, but rather it appears to be an inherent property. If life appeared to originate in man, he could not appear to be self-existent, or if he did it would follow that his life was not essential to his existence, because he must have been existent before he became a recipient of that which appeared to originate in him, or it could not have appeared to him. Apparent self-existence altogether excludes all appearances of the origin of life. Man's life could no more appear to him to originate in hiin than himself could appear to himself to originate.
In conclusion, we affirm there is not anything to move the will, nor is there anything to cause it to prefer acting in one way rather than in another. The will itself is the subject of the motive, or that which causes choice, the motory power is in itself, not by reception but as an inherent property, by virtue of which it can will equally freely to go to the right or to the left, to good or to evil, that power being its prerogative. If it were admitted that the will is influenced in its choice by some other power, that would admit that it was not free, and still it would not relieve the questioner of his difficulty, but only remove it a little to the back, it would presently come again with renewed force and increased weight, and ask, What is it that moves that which moves the will to choose one thing or one way rather than another? And so the questioning might go on without end. The will has no cause out of self for choosing one thing in preference to another, to choose is its peculiar capability, and its determination is the exercise of that capability. If the will were influenced or led to choose by any extraneous agent, the action would not be attributable to the will but to that agent, to admit which would only lead to a fruitless inquiry as to what that agent was, and would ultimately conduct to God, as the only cause of both good and evil; this would be a logical result. The will is the origin of its own motive, it is the innermost of man, and therefore we cannot go beyond it. This is the very core of our theme, and with it ends our disquisition on free-will.
REV. CHAUNCEY GILES. OUR readers will be glad to hear that Mr. Giles arrived at New York on October 25th, after a pleasant voyage.
We have been permitted to insert the following interesting passages from a letter written to a friend in Manchester :
“New York, Oct. 26, 1875. “ MY DEAR FRIEND,-You see by the date of my letter that I am safely in my own country once more. . . . I found it very difficult to get away from England. From the power of attraction, or from some other cause, the steamer could not leave until night had cast her shadows over the earth, and hid the island home of so many dear friends from my view. A fog gathered around us, so that neither I nor the captain could tell which way lay my native country. Did that obscuring veil represent the state of my own mind ? But it cleared away, and we steamed slowly from one class of our friends to another. I think the good wishes of my friends must have had some effect upon the wind and waves, for we had a very comfortable voyage, while some steamers which sailed about the same time had severe storms to encounter. Good wishes do help us to buffet the storms of life, if they do not allay the winds and subdue the waves of the sea. I was sick one day, but only one. My mind must have been more active than when I went to England, for then I could not read, but now I could read all day, and I passed several days very pleasantly, which would otherwise have hung very heavily upon my hands. I made some very pleasant acquaintances, and had an opportunity to practise my profession. I preached once at the request of the captain, and a second time at the urgent solicitation of the passengers. We did not reach New York until nine o'clock on Monday morning. My mind has not yet become sufficiently settled to take calm survey of the work which lies before me; but I must begin to-morrow to write sermons.
“I feel that my visit and journey have been of great use to me, and that I can do better work than ever before. But this feeling may be due to some effervescence of mind, and I cannot tell so well how much I have gained until my mind settles down to its level-gained, I mean, in intellectual force and the ability to set forth the beautiful and glorious truths of the New Church in a more attractive and comprehensible form. I know that I have gained much in many other ways. I have enlarged the horizon of my thoughts and affections, and I feel that I have become greatly enriched by the—I was going to say, friends I have made, but they must have been made before. It is the exacter truth to say, the friends I discovered. I feel that I have largely increased my world. Its horizon stretches much farther away, and embraces many more interesting objects of thought and affection.
“ This discovery is not only interesting in itself, but in the new light it throws upon the future and the glorious prospect it reveals to us of the constant and eternal increase in the number and excellence of our friends. What treasures of friendship, and still more interior affection, we shall acquire in the eternal future!...
“I hope the acquaintances I have made may become more intimate and ripen into friendship, and that the friendship may become more interior and heavenly. I will do what I can to keep them up and increase them. But I know how busy I shall be when I get the harness on and begin my work. I know how absorbed I shall be in it—how I shall write to weariness of myself, and others too, perhaps. But I am sure I shall think of the pleasant homes and kind faces and warm hearts in England when I am writing and working, and unless I greatly change, I shall be addressing you as well as others nearer in the body, perhaps not so near in the spirit.
“I feel deeply thankful that I have been permitted to make this visit, and I shall try to profit by it as much as possible. ...
“I intend to take hold of the Messenger with renewed energy, and I wish I could make it so good that it could win a much larger circulation in England, and that every one who did take it would feel that he received a full equivalent for his money. I see now, more clearly than ever before, that it is very useful to us to know more about our New Church friends in England, and I doubt not it would be equally useful to them to know more about the thought and life of the Church in America.- Very truly, your friend and brother,
SWEDENBORG STUDIES. By RICHARD M‘Cully. Speirs. London. OUR well-known contributor, who has for many years charmed the readers of the Repository with his bright intelligence on a variety of subjects, has published a selection of his essays, with the addition of some that have not previously appeared. Their re-issue in a separate form was first suggested by an Ainerican writer well able to form a just estimate of their value, and who spoke in the highest terms of their excellence. We are glad the author has acted upon the suggestion; for the essays can now be read in their connection, in a handy volume, printed in the best style. The essays have also been carefully revised, so that the reader has the advantage of the Author's last thoughts, anıl the latest touches of his pen. The subjects of the essays are Descartes and Swedenborg; Swedenborg's conversion; His years of brightening lises; Mary Magdalene; Theories concerning the Christhood of the one God our Father; Kittie Barclay; The Glory and Decline of primitive Quakerism; Lazarus; On the Era of a New Dispensation; The Last Judg. ment; The aged Seer and his Lord; Stray Leaves of the New Civilization; Faith and Fact; Emerson. We hope the work will have a deservedly large circulation.
THE ATONement. The Congregational Union Lecture for 1875. By R. W.
DALE, M.A. London : Hodder & Stoughton. We are informed in the preface to this volume that “The Congregational Union Lecture has been established with a view to the promotion of Biblical Science and Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature." The Committee of the Union, in making the foregoing announcement, are careful to add that—“For the opinions advanced in any of the lectures the lecturer alone will be responsible."
The lectures contained in the work before us were delivered in the Congregational Memorial Hall, London, during the months of February, March, and April 1875. Notwithstanding the disclaimer of responsibility, these lectures are generally understood to be given under the auspices of the body mentioned above.
Mr. Dale sets before himself the task of defending the popular doctrine of the Atonement. He recognizes the fact that that doctrine is extensively disputed, and frequently refers to the "controversy” thereon, as one which requires, and will continue to require, the ablest intellects of the Christian Church. He says :“In this hour, not of peril, but of fierce struggle, the Church must use all her varied and boundless resources, her science, her learning, her logic, her eloquence ; and she
must use them with a patience, a courage, and an energy corresponding to the great issues of the strife.
In the first lecture the author lays down the position that—" Any complete theory of the Atonement must include a definition of the eternal relations between the Son of God and the Father."
“What may be described as the internal and natural relations of the Trinity must contain the ultimate solution of some of the questions suggested by the relation of Christ in His redemptive work to the Father. But the development of the doctrine of the Trinity has been practically arrested for thirteen or fourteen hundred years; and in those early centuries, when that doctrine absorbed the theological thought of the Church, the theory of the Atonement had as yet assumed so rudimentary and imperfect a form that it was impossible for theologians to appreciate the close and profound relations between those two great provinces of Christian speculation. During the Athanasian controversies, the construction of the doctrine of the Trinity suffered very seriously through the absence of a just theory of the Atonement; and until the doctrine of the Trinity has received a much richer and fuller development, there are questions relating to the theory of the Atonement to which we can give no reply."
These are remarkable admissions. Does Mr. Dale see that, in conceding thus inuch, he concedes the truth that neither the doctrine of the Trinity, nor the doctrine of the Atonement, as now popularly taught, was known to the early Christian Church? The lecturer necessarily grants that both the doctrines in