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of truth, by another of its distinguished proclaimers, excited in one of old, whose previous habits had in like manner disqualified him for receiving it, but who, while under its influence for a moment, could not refrain from exclaiming, “ Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.' The previous habits of the Monthly Reviewers, together with the character they had to maintain, constrained them to speak of Swedenborg as an enthusiast; while the force of truth compelled them to admit, that he was such an enthusiast as the world had never before seen. What could have made them say, “ In whatever light we view this author, there is something truly astonishing in him and his writings ?” what, but an inward consciousness, though not acknowledged to themselves, that no other hypothesis could explain the phenomenon of his case but that which the author himself assigns ? without which his character and writings must ever remain an inexplicable riddle, calculated to generate all that astonishment which attends the combination of contradictions ? What more extraordinary contradicti than to talk of a CALM and cooLLY REASONING enthusiast ! WHOSE DOCTRINE, too, is such as all good men must certainly wish should become universal, that is, is the ESSENCE OF REASON AND EXCELLENCE ?
When the recognition of part of Swedenborg's claims to attention, and the denial of the rest, involves men of rationality in such palpable inconsistency, what is the proper conclusion, but that sound reason requires the admission of the whole ?
A HUMAN INSTRUMENT NECESSARY, AND THEREFORE RAISED UP
The Objection, That Swedenborg performed no Miracles,
Considered. That, whenever the time for the Lord's making his Second Advent should arrive, a Human Instrument, to communicate the truths then to be made known, would be necessary, and that no man more likely to be chosen for that
than the illustrious Swedenborg could easily be found; That his quali
* Acts xxvi. 28.
fications for such an office, and his claims to be received as invested with it, are supported by abundance of most unexcep tionable testimony ; are propositions which, I trust, my candid readers will allow to have been sufficiently established. Against him, then, as standing in this character, what objections are raised ? None that would demand any notice, were they not continually reiterated, and did they not sway the minds of those who are destitute of the information requisite for forming a correct judgment on the case. One of the principal, and one that has been most pertinaciously insisted on by his opponents of all classes, is, that he performed no miracles. This, therefore, shall be considered in the present Part of this Section.
The objection made against the authority of Swedenborg, that he performed no miracles, has been replied to by his advocates with the most convincing arguments.* Among other considerations it has been urged, that if no human instrument who has a divine commission is to be accepted in that character till he has performed some miracles, then were the Jews fully justified in rejecting the Baptist: for it is expressly said, " John did no miracle.”+ But it has been endeavored to evade this argument by a strange misrepresentation. "As Baron Swedenborg,” it has been urged, with equal wit and elegance, “ took upon himself to act the part of a mighty man of valor in revolutionizing heaven, earth, and hell, he ought in any wise to have certified his credentials for such a mighty undertaking by a few notable miracles. Moses, who headed a new dispensation, wrought many in the name of the Lord. Jesus Christ, in his own name, wrought numberless miracles, signs, and wonders. Whilst the Baron, proclaiming himself to be at the head of a dispensation which shall last forever, does not justify his heavenly mission by even a single miracle! The Baron's friends excuse their leader by saying, that John the Baptist wrought no miracles. This plea is weak and futile. John was not at the head of a new dispensation; he was the harbine ger, not the author of the Christian religion — the author was the Son of God, the author and finisher of our faith!'”! So then it is allowed, that if the Lord Jesus Christ and not Swedenborg, is at the head of the New Jerusalem Dispensation of Christianity, as he was of the Dispensation of it announced by the Baptist, the performance of miracles is not to be demanded of the harbinger ; and what a monstrous perversion of truth is it to pretend any otherwise, to represent Swedenborg ag guilty of the blasphemy of "proclaiming himself to be at the * See, in particular, Hindmarsh's Letters to Priestly, Let. i. † John X. 41. Anti-Swedenborg, Preface, pp. xi. x.i.
head of the dispensation" which he announces, in the same manner as Jesus Christ was at the head of the dispensation then commenced ! or even to claim any thing similar for Moses !
But supposing the only reason why John the Baptist did not perform miracles, to have been, because he pointed to another person who did ; what could be the reason that the ancient prophets did not perform them ? for of all the sixteen prophets, with the Psalmist in addition, there is not one, except Isaiah, of whom
miracle is recorded.* To say that it was necessary for Moses to do miracles because he - headed a new dispensation,” but was not requisite in those who, under the same dispensation, came with divine messages after him, is a “ plea weak and futile” indeed. How did the miracles of Moses authenticate the testimony of all who succeeded him ? Did their acknowledging his miracles, and living under the dispensation which he was the Human Instrument for introducing, evince that what they delivered was equally true ? As well might we say, that because the Pope acknowledges the miracles of Jesus Christ and lives under the dispensation which he was the Divine Agent in introducing, he possesses the infallibility to which he pretends, and all his bulls are to be received for what they claim to be the dictates of divine inspiration. Would the Jews have been justified in refusing to admit into their canon more than half the books which we at present find there, because the writers of them did not work miracles ? If not, there must be something in the character of every divine communication which carries its own evidence with it; and it must be upon this evidence, and not for outward signs and tokens, that He from whom it comes requires that it should be received. But it will perhaps be urged, that the fulfillment of prophecy, without miracles wrought by the prophet, sufficiently evidences its origin. To a certain extent, this is true : but of what use is this ex post facto evidence to those to whom the divine message was first delivered, and whose most important interests frequently depended on their immediately believing it? Besides, though many things contained in the prophetic writings have since been fufilled, so obscure are they, frequently, in their literal sense that the learned dispute whether some of them, yea, whether any part of whole books, have been fulfilled yet, and so far from compulsive is even the evidence afforded by the fulfillment of any of them, that infidels, we know, reject the whole together.
* Jeremiah predicted the death, within a year of Hananiah ; Daniel, with two private individuuls, was delivered from the furnace, and alone, afterwards, from the lion's den: and Jonah was saved by and from the fish: but none of these were miracles wrought by themselves, or of a nature to insure their credit as propl:ets.
As then, it is incontrovertible, that even under the Jewish dispensation, -- the only dispensation to which miracles properly belonged, - it was not usually that the Divine Being auiletticated the writings even of his most distinguished prople's ly any immediate external token; much less, surely, was it to be expected, that the deliverer of such communications as Sue. denborg's, if true, purport to be, should appear with a wonder. working rod, and bring in a new age of prodigies and sign.s. And, in regard, to the evidence which prophecies derive from their fulfillment, we have seen that the testimony of Swedenborg has received an authentication which is fully equivalent and of an exactly similar kind : for that the visible effects of the Last Judgment, which he announced, speak as plainly in his behalf, as any fulfilled prophecy whatever.
But let us look a little more particularly at the circumstances attending the introduction of the Mosaic, the Christian, and the Renewed Christian or New Jerusalem Dispensations; and see if we cannot discern satisfactory reason why miracles accompanied the two former, but cannot form proper accompaniments of the last.
By what means, then, other than miracles, was it possible for Moses to have accomplished the external mission on which he was sent ? The Israelites were slaves in Egypt, and in no condition to emancipate themselves by force : by what means then but miraculous ones was it possible to compel the stubborn will of Pharaoh to let them go? All the miracles wrought by Moses, or rather by Jehovah through his almost passive instrumentality (for not one was attempted by Moses but in compliance with a positive injunction), had for their object the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, their preservation in the wilderness, and their introduction into Canaan, as the subjects of a species of political government which has been properly called a theocracy, in which Jehovah himself filled the station of a temporal king: and not one was performed which was not obviously necessary to these purposes. As far as concerned the Jews, external objects alone were in view : and by the miracles wrought, external objects alone were attained : the one was exactly adapted to the other; and, as external performances, to r.othing else. That they all represented spiritual things, and are recorded in the Divine Word for our continual instruction, which is the second and higher end designed in them, does not alter their nature as external performances. Having once beea wrought and recorded by inspiration, they teach their spiritual lesson for ever; and, to convey this benefit, it is totally unnecessary that they should be wrought again.
Now who does not see, that between Moses, the Human In
strument in delivering a people from temporal slavery, — their conductor through a series of temporal wanderings, amid the destitution of a wilderness, to colonize a temporal country, and the necessary Human Instrument for announcing the truths connected with the second and purely spiritual advent of the Lord; no regular parallel can exist. All that was done by Moses, was, in his situation, and for the immediate natural and remote spiritual objects to be obtained, indispensible ; but to require the same works as were done by him of the herald of the Second Advent, would be like requiring of the present inhabitants of England the tasks of the back woodsman of America ; tasks which were necessary when England too was a forest, but which are equally unnecessary and impracticable now that the forest is no more, but meadows and corn-fields
its place. For the Jews, indeed, who hope again to be gathered from among the nations and re-conducted to the land of Canaan, it is perfectly natural to expect the great prophet who is to deliver them to bear a rod more powerful than that of Moses, and to smooth the road by a series of miracles; having only a natural kingdom in view they are consistent in looking for its es. tablishment, by supernatural means, indeed, but productive of none but natural effects : but for Christians, — for spiritual masters in Israel, who know that their Lord's kingdom is avowedly not of this world, to expect that, at his Second Coming more truly to establish it, he will again send prophets such as Moses to astonish with external prodigies, is to betray conceptions as gross as those of Nicodemus ; it is to loathe the manna in comparison of the garlick and leeks, and to sigh again for the carnalities of Egypt.
When, however, God himself appeared on earth Incarnate, he was preceded, his coming loudly proclaimed, and the duty of repentance as necessary to prepare for him authoritatively preached, by a Harbinger” who “ did no miracles; but of whom, nevertheless, it is stated, that “ all things which he spake of this man [Jesus] were true ;'** plainly enough instructing us, that miracles are by no means necessary to authenticate the most important communications and doctrines ; and that a teacher divinely commissioned may point to the Lord, and prepare men to receive him, who does not bring outward signs to prove whence he comes. Nor is the force of this instance at all evaded by saying, that “ John was not at the head of a new dispensation;" that “ he was the harbinger, not the author, of the Christian Religion ;” and that “the author was the Son of God,” who “ wrought numberless miracles, signs, and wonders.” This argument would be very good, and would make
* John X. 41.