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or ever have been, any such characters ? If he cannot do this how can he impute want of charity to Swedenborg for stating the fact, and for pointing out the awful nature of the state as a warning to others? It would appear as if he felt like the law. yer in the gospel, on hearing the Lord's condemnation of the Scribes and Pharisees : - Then answered one of the lawyers and said unto him, Master, thus saying, thou reproachest us also."* I forbear to add the sequel.
We will take one other example. One of the extracts presented is the following: " That there is not a single truth remaining in the Old Church which is not falsified and brought to its consummation : and that this is signified by the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel.” For the foundation of this statement we are referred to Tr. Ch. Rel. n. 174, 177, 180, 758. In the first of these places the following proposition is advanced : “ That a Trinity of Persons was unknown in the Apostolic Church, and that the Doctrine took its rise from the Council of Nice, from which it was introduced into the Roman Catholic Church, and was thence propagated among the Reformed Churches. After a brief historical statement respecting the Council of Nice and the circumstances that led to it, the author proceeds thus: “From that time an incredible number of heresies, respecting God, and the person of Christ, began to spring up; whereby the head of Antichrist was exalted, and God was divided into three persons, and the Lord the Saviour into two: and thus the temple which the Lord had built by his Apostles was destroyed, and that so effectually, that there was not one stone left upon another. which was not thrown down, according to his own words, Matt. xxiv. 2; where by the temple is not meant the temple at Jerusalem only, but the church also, of whose consummation or end that chapter treats through
But what else could be expected from that council, and from the others which succeeded it, which divided the Divinity, in like rnanner, into three persons, and placed the Incarnate God below them on their footstool ? For they removed the head of the church from its body, in consequence of climbing up another way: that is, they passed by the Incarnate God, and climbed up to God the Father, as to another person, with only the mention of Christ's merits in their mouths, as an inducement to the Fa. ther to have mercy on them; believing that they should thus receive instantaneous justification, with all its attendant graces, such as remission of sins, renovation, sanctification, regeneration, and salvation; and all this without the use of any means on the part of man.” And in n, 177, after some similar remarks, in which he illustrates how little dependence is to be
* Luko xi. 45.
placed on councils, by mentioning the palpable abominations which some of them have sanctioned, he concludes the subject with this affecting exhortation : “ But do you, my friend, go to the God of the Word, and thus to the Word itself, and enter by the door into the sheepfold, that is, into the church, and you will be enlightened ; and then you will see, as from a high mountain, not only the errors of many others, but also your own former bewildered wanderings at the foot of the mountain.”
Now in all this, where is there any breach of charity? False doctrines, it is true, are exposed with a clearness of illustration that renders their falsehood palpable, and with a strength of language well calculated to awaken attention in those who are slumbering in them: but the objects of the writer's severity are always destructive principles, not deluded persons : while for the persons who have been, or are in danger of being, deluded by them, he evinces the tenderest solicitude.
All the other passages referred to in the selected extracts are equally replete with most solemn truths, and equally consistent with the purest charity.
Some, however, may possibly think, that Swedenborg exhibits the false doctrines of the day in more than their native deformity, and that such sentiments as he explodes are not really included in the popular creeds. To guard against this mistake, he prefixes to his . Apocalypse Revealed,' and to his · Brief Exposition of the Doctrine of the New Church,' summary views of the doctrines both of Roman Catholics and Protestants in their own words, the former taken from the decrees of the Council of Trent, and the latter from the book called Formula Concordia, which is an exposition of the doctrine of Protestants, agreed upon by most of the Lutheran churches on the continent, and subscribed by their ministers at their ordination.
What the doctrine generally prevailing respecting the Trinity is, is known from the Athanasian creed: but that many carry the work of division in the Divine Being farther than that creed sanctions, and actually, beside dividing God into three divide the Saviour into two, as stated in the last extract, is a fact of which many, perhaps, are not aware. It is however done by Calvin and his followers. A popular example of it may be seen in a sermon of Dr. Watts's which he calls the Scale of Bless edness ;' in which, after describing the blessedness of saints and angels, he proceeds to delineate that of “ the man Christ Jesus," meaning the Human Nature of our Lord, which he places, as a man by itself, in heaven among the angels; after which he sketches the blessedness of the three Persons of the Trinity, one of whom he represents as the Divine Nature of our Lord, which he places, with the other two Persons, at an immense distance
above heaven, and above “the man Christ Jesus.” This sermon was written by Watts when he was a young man, and was full of school-divinity upon the principles of Calvin ; in his latter years he adopted more rational and scriptural sentiments.
This is a sufficient specimen of the divinity of the schools, being that which nearly all profess, whether they are aware of it or not, in regard to the Trinity in the Godhead and the Duality in Jesus Christ: I subjoin a few propositions from the For. mula Concordiæ on Justification by Faith without the works of the Law, as quoted in the introduction to Swedenborg's Brief Exposition, where references to the pages of the work itself are accurately made. “ That faith is imputed for righteousness without works, on account of Christ's merits, which are laid hold of by faith. That charity follows the faith that justifies; but that faith is not justifying as being formed by charity, as the Papists say. That neither the contrition which precedes faith, nor the renovation and sanctification that follow it, nor good works thence, have any thing at all to do with the righteousness of faith. That it is foolish to dream that the works of the second table of the decalogue can justify man before God; for in them we have to deal with men, and not properly with God, and in the business of justification we have to do with God, and with the appeasing of his wrath. - If any one thinks to obtain remission of sins because he has charity, he casts a reproach upon Christ, because a man's trust in his own righteousness is impious and vain. That good works are altogether to be excluded from the business of salvation and eternal life. That good works are not necessary as a meritorious cause of salvation, and that they do not enter into the act of justification. That the position, that good works are necessary to salvation, is to be rejected ; because it takes away the consolation of the gospel, affords occasion for doubting of the grace of God, and brings in an opinion of man's own righteousness; and because it is accepted by the Papists to support a bad cause. That such forms of speech as imply good works to be necessary to salvation, are not to be used or defended, but to be exploded by all churches, and rejected as false. – That works, when they do not proceed from a true faith, are actually sins before God; that is, are defiled with sin, because a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. That faich and salvation are not even preserved and retained by good works ; for they are only tokens of the presence and indwelling of the Holy Ghost.
That the decision of the Council of Trent, - that good works preserve salvation; or that the righteousness of faith previously laid hold of, or faith itself, is retained and preserved by our works, either in whole or in part;- is deservedly to be rejected.”
Now will any candid and reflecting person say, that it is want of charity to treat such doctrines, respecting the Trinity and justification by faith alone, as utterly pervering the Christian church, wherever they are embraced and confirmed, and where their receivers actually neglect the charity and good works which are thus vilified in their doctrines as not necessary to salvation ? Would it not rather be a want of charity, to suffer such doctrines, still unreproved, to continue their desolating career? If, also, as has been shown in Sect. V., Swedenborg was a chosen instrument for restoring the lost truths of pure
Chris tianity, how should he, if he saw the evil of the common doctrines and gave not warning, have “delivered his soul ?" And, little as many may suspect it, the same pernicious sentiments as are stated above, are contained in the Articles of the Church of England, in the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the As. sembly's Catechism, received by the Church of Scotland, and in all the prevailing creeds, though they are not in all so openly disclosed in their proper deformity.
We have now, I apprehend, abundantly vindicated the East. cheap document, which the accuser gives as “ a sample of Swedenborgian charity," so far as it expresses the sentiments of Swedenborg himself. The whole case may be illustrated thus : Suppose a man were to knock loudly at our accuser's door in the middle of the night, and on his coming to the window to inquire the cause, should tell him that his house was on fire, and that unless he made haste out he would be in danger of perishing; and suppose the gentleman
answer, uncharitable to disturb me with such disagreeable news:” and without making any examination, should return to his bed and his sleep, and should persuade his wife and family to do the same : what would be thought either of his charity or his prudence? Yet this is an exact image of what he has done, in condemning, as uncharitableness, Swedenborg's solemn information of the insecure state of his spiritual house and bed, of the system of doctrine in which he reposes at his ease. Take another parallel case.
6 Come out of her, my people,” says the warning voice of the Apocalypse, “ that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."* 6 A fine specimen of angelic or divine charity, truly !" answers this gentleman : “ regard not, my friends, the unkind intrusion : the • Old Church, depend upon it, 'sits a queen, and is no widow, and shall see no sorrow.'t Though prophecy may announce the disownment by heaven of our doctrines, it will never, take my word for it, be fulfilled.”
* Chap. xviii. 4.
66 You are very
But while Swedenborg affirms that prophecy is fulfilled, and that great evils and errors have, as was predicted, crept into the professing church; and while he exposes those evils and errors, and their deplorable consequences, with the uprightness essential to his character, and with the truly charitable motive of withdrawing his readers from them; far is he indeed from being infected with the least taint of that odium theologicum, that uncharitableness towards others, which has so extensively influ. enced the adherents of the different forms of the Christian re. ligion, and which has brought so much disgrace upon the Christian name. Far is he, indeed, from partaking of that spirit, of which almost every sect has drunk so deeply, — that spirit which would limit salvation to those of their own denomination or par. ty, or, at most, to those who make mention of the Saviour's name. Though fully acknowledging “ that there is none other name under heaven given amongst men whereby we must be saved” but that of the Lord Jesus, he shows that the benefits of this name are not confined to those who, by the mere circumstance of birth, have had the opportunity of hearing it, but are extended to all in the universe ; and that the apostle utters a real truth, and does not amuse by a solemn mockery, when he says, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."'* The Lord's church universal, he teaches, is indeed a catholic or universal church, including all the good of every denomination, and of every family of the human race; though the church particular, or where the Lord is known by his Word, is, to the rest, what the heart and lungs are to the body; thus that another Apostle declares a most certain truth when he says, that God " is the Saviour of all men ; but specially of those that believe.”+ Statements to this effect are contained in all his works; as a just “ sample,” I will conclude this PART, with two short extracts, which, I am sure, all the Candid and Reflecting must acknowledge to contain the enlightened views of pure reason, and to breathe the expansive sentiments of genuine charity.
6. The Lord provides that every religion should contain precepts similar to those in the Decalogue ; as, that God is to be worshipped ; that his name is not to be profaned; that sacred festivals are to be observed; that parents are to be honored ; that man is not to commit murder; that he is not to commit adultery; that he is not to steal; that he is not to bear false witness. The gentiles who regard these laws as of divine authority, and live according to them from a principle of religion, are saved.”' “ It is provided by the Lord, that whatever her. * Acts x. 34, 35.
t Tim. iy. 10. | Div. Prov. n. 264.