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Since then boys and youths in the other life still have boyish and youthful minds (for as soon as their minds lose this character they cease to appear as boys and youths); and since boyish and youthful minds cannot be kept continually fixed on serious studies, it seems a dictate of reason to conclude, that their intellectual exercises will at times alternate with external exercises corresponding to them; and that in heaven, where nothing whatever is done but for the sake of some use, by such exercises their intellectual acquirements may become fixed and confirmed; as, in the world, by moderate exercise, the formation of the chyle and its passage into the system are assisted, and the mental faculties, also, are refreshed and strengthened. Then let not Pharisees sneer at the notion of boyish sports permitted to boys in heaven, or think that the angelic character would be better formed in them by fixing them immovably on a cloud to sing hymns to eternity ; or by allowing them, instead of ungracious running, to flit about on a pair of little wings, forming a sort of dish to hold their chubby cheeks. Let them remember, that if such juvenile recreations form no part of the proper felicities of heaven, they are at least used by the prophet as proper sym! ols for expressing those felicities : « And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls, playing in the streets thereof.'
6. Only one other occasion of scandal seems necessary here to be mentioned: but that is a grievous one indeed, as Phari. sees would make it. It is, That one mode of instruction, in the oiher life, is by means of scenic representations. That this should be considered as such a matter of offence, is, however, a striking example of the power of prejudice, and of the disposition of mankind to condemn for a mere name,
however unexceptionable or excellent may be the thing to which that name is affixed.
That scenic represenations in the world deserve but too much of that disesteem in which they are held by many pious perscns, is abundantly true. As usually conducted, a most powerful engine is made the subject of great abuse; and many instantly argue from the abuse against the use; they seem determined to consider the whole machine as purely diabolical, even when employed in a manner purely angelical. On earth, the abuse is, perhaps, nearly inseparable from the use. corrupt state of society, the pieces composed will never have pure instruction as the first end in view : their main object will cver be to amuse, and to obtain success by flattering the taste of the spectators. Among the spectators will always be a great number of the most dissolute portion of society ; and very ex
* Zech. viii. 5.
emplary virtue is not to be expected from the performers as a body. Altogether, it is but too true, that our theatres are scenes of contagion : and as their attractions are also fascinating, it is no wonder if, by many of the pious, they are utterly proscribed. But suppose all this to be reversed : suppose the pieces performed to have no tendency but, by the most enga. ging means, to encourage and animate virtue and piety; suppose all the performers to be persons actuated by the sincerest desire to promote the same sacred object; and suppose all the spectators to be the best of characters likewise, attending the exhibition with a greater desire to be improved than amused, and to make the amusement completely subservient to the improvement: and what would there then be in the whole unworthy of heaven itself? The beautiful remarks of Addison in the Spectator* on the moral uses to which the stage is capable of being applied, are well known: and even Watts, whom no one will accuse of laxity of moral or spiritual princi. ple, allows, that it is only the abuise that makes the theatre an evil. “A dramatic representation,” he observes, “ of the affairs of human life, is by no means sinful itself: I am inclined to think, that valuable compositions might be made of this kind, such as might entertain a virtuous audience with delight, and even with some real profit. Such have been written in French." Indeed, the drama was originally connected with religion: among the ancients, dramatic 'performances formed part of the solemnities of their religious festivals; and on their revival in more modern times, the subjects of them were taken from the Scriptures, the theatre for performing them was the church, and the performers were the clergy. Suppose them then to be not only restored to their original design, but exalted to all the excel. lence of which they are capable ; and will they, we repeat, be unworthy of a place among the instructive recreations of heav.
at least, of some of the societies of the lowest heaven? for it is only thus connected that Swedenborg mentions their existence. And, as mentioned by him, what is there justly to offend the most fastidious ? His words are,
- There are, moreover, dramatic entertainments exhibited upon theatres out of the city; the actors representing the graces and virtues of moral life; amongst whom are inferior characters for the sake of relatives (or relation]. No virtue with its graces and decencies can be represented to the life, but by means of relatives, in which all its graces and decencies, from the greatest to the least, are comprised and represented; and the inferior characters represent the least, even till they become none : but it is provided that nothing of the opposite, or of what is unbecoming and dis* Nos. 39 and 93.
+ On Education, Works, vol. vii. p. 566.
honorable, should be exhibited, except figuratively and remotely. It is so provided, because nothing that is becoming and good in any virtue, can by successive progressions pass over to what is unbecoming and evil; it only proceeds to its least, where it perishes; and then, and not till then, its opposite commences : so that heaven, where all things are becoming and good, has nothing in common with hell, where all things are unbecoming and evil."*
What is there, in this account of the matter, that is in the slightest degree unbecoming, or unworthy of heaven? Who that can in the least distinguish between names and things, can look at the thing here described, and think that it is at all unlikely to be among the means of instruction for "junior spirits,” in the angelic world? Were not, in fact, the surprising scenes exhibited to John in the Revelation, completely of the nature of dramatic representations ? And if such a mode of instruction can be resorted to in the case of the prophets, by the Divine Being himself, is it unreasonable to suppose that an inferior species of the same kind of instruction may be bene. ficial to noviciate angels?
I have now gone through the chief of the particulars mentioned in the writings of Swedenborg, and derided by our adversaries, which can with any plausibility be constructed into matters of offence; and I trust that, when considered with ref. erence to their proper causes, and to the nature of man after death, of the circumstances in which he is placed, and of the appearances around him, ali the facts must be allowed to be in perfect harmony with the statements of Scripture and with the dictates of reason ; that the true ground of offence must be admitted to exist solely in the unfounded prejudices of our opponents, - in the vague, shadowy conceptions, which in the acknowledged absence of all specific knowledge, they had formed for, and from, themselves. But to make this examination in all respects complete; and being desirous that everything which our enemies censure as objectionable should be viewed in the fullest light; an Appendix shall be added, in which each of the remaining Sundered Scraps that the writer I chiefly follow has adduced to substantiate his calumnious imputations, shall be separately considered. At present I will conclude with observing, that if even they who have dreamed of angels, good and evil, as beings of totally different origin and nature from men, have yet been obliged, as we have seen, in effect to make men of them before they could form respecting them any determinate ideas; if having made them men, they have been compelled to represent the world they inhabit as yery similar, in appearance, to the world inhabited by men;
* Tr. Chr. Rel. n. 745.
thus if the great poct felt it necessary to suggest, as quoted above,
" What if earth
Each to other like, more than on earth is thought:"if the most elevated geniuses, though they assign to angels a nature different from the human, are constrained to represent them as speaking, acting, and existing in circumstances, only suitable to the nature of human beings, after all : – how far from ridiculous is it in Swedenborg, having rationally and scripturally evinced that all angels and spirits really are men, to place them in circumstances, and ascribe to them actions, suitable to the nature of men, - either of men little changed from what they are here, as is the case with all, on first entering the world of spirits, — or of men exalted to high degrees of angelic wisdom and goodness, as is the state of those in heaven, men degraded to awful depths of infernal wickedness and in. sanity, as is the state of those in hell ?
HEAVEN AND HELL; AND THE APPEARANCES IN THEM, AND IN
THE INTERMEDIATE REGION, OR WORLD OF SPIRITS.
Swedenborg's General Views respecting Heaven and Hell obvi.
ously agreeable to Reason and Scripture. If we have succeeded, as I trust will be the opinion of the Candid and Reflecting, in vindicating the most peculiar and uncommon of the ideas presented in the writings of Swedenborg, respecting the other life and its inhabitants, from the ridicule and contempt which it has been attempted to throw upon them, and in showing that even these, how different soever from what is usually conceived, are in no respect adverse either to Reason or to Scripture ; it cannot be difficult to evince, that the General Views presented in those writings respecting Heaven and Hell are obviously agreeable to all that Reason and Scripture depose upon the subject; and that, in fact, nothing is here presented that can be deemed inconsistent with the usual conceplions of the Christian world. On these General Views, then, it cannot be needful to dwell at much length, though it would
be an unpardonable omission not to notice them at all. Besides, even in this respect, the views of the New Church, obviously rational and Scriptural as they are, have not been allowed to pass unassailed. As much then of their nature must unavoidably be stated, as is necessary to rebut the chief of the calumnies which have been published against them. But in confining myself to this ; — in forbearing to enlarge upon this subject, I am well aware that I am foregoing a great advantage ; for the views we entertain respecting heaven and hell in general only require, I am sure, to be fully and fairly exhibited, to win the admiration, and charm the affections, of all the candid and re. flecting aspirants for the heavenly kingdom.
To generate odium, the opponent whom I have chiefly taken as a guide, imputes to us, by a most unaccountable misrepre. sentation, as noticed above,* the denial of “a future reckoning day and an hereafter of rewards and punishments ;” so now, for the same purpose, he represents us as abolishing the difference between heaven and hell. 6. The Baron,” he affirms, " by his descriptions of the invisible world, has gone a great way towards making those who will believe him, neither very anxious for heaven, nor much afraid of hell, which, wherever such a feeling obtains, is a dreadful mental disease. For the sanctions of rewards and punishments do mightily restrain from vice, and promote virtue and piety. We are all naturally too remiss in religious duties: there is therefore little need to bereave us of those two great stimulants, hope and fear.”+ So then, Swedenborg deprives virtue and vice of their sanctions :a serious charge indeed! To be “afraid of hell," however, in its most proper sense, is to be afraid of evil; for though heli is a place and state of misery, the essence of it is evil. The fear of hell which is not accompanied with the fear of evil, is but a spurious, selfish, and Pharisaic kind of feeling, productive of little benefit either to the individual or to society. may be afraid of hell in the manner recommended by this opponent, even of “ the Mahometan's hell,” the description of whose terrors he quotes (for he here again refers, for the third or fourth time, to his favorite standard of orthodoxy, “ the Mahometan's Creed !") - without being much afraid of evil: and surely it is no light evil continually to sin, as is done by our adversaries, against the commandment, “ Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
That any man who has ever looked into Swedenborg's treatise on Heaven and Hell, and by making references to it, wish. es it to be believed that he has read it, should be capable of advancing such a calumny as to say, that the Baron's descrip * Pp. 128, 129.
† Anti-Swedenborg, p. 67.