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extraneous considerations, find it very difficult to rezist: is it then the part of a rational man, under the influence of merely extraneous considerations, to refuse to avail himself of what is indisputably excellent, and to reject the whole for what he regards as a blemish in certain parts ? On the supposition that those parts are merely the offspring of imagination, they must hiive been the products, not of a light or disordered mind, but of a mediation so profound, that the subjects of it occasionally became embodied as realities. If, also, the having received such impressions, whether real or not, is a sufficient reason for rejecting the whole of his writings, and sentiments, with them must be rejected the writings and sentiments of many others, who were regarded with the high est esteem in their life-time, and who have since retained, and retain still, a large share of influence over the opiņions of mankind. «Even deists have been of this number. The story of Lord Herbert of Cherbury is well known;, who was encouraged, as he believed, by a supernatural appearance, to publish his book against the Christian religion. Among the great geniuses who arose on the revival of learning, few were more distinguished than the celebrated Cardan. This man believed, and most solemnly affirins, that he had frequent communication with spirits : yet none of the learned allege this as a reason for rejecting his writings in toto, or for refusing to look at the valuable things which they are admitted to contain. Abundance of similar instances might be adduced; but I will content myself with that of the famous Luther. If we are not to accept the doctrines of the New Church, because their propounder avers that he had spiritual communications; we ought never to have separated from the Church of Rome, because the greatest of the Reformers asserts the same thing. Many statements respecting Luther's supernatural intercourses, contained in his own works, might be quoted: but we will take a specimen of a Memorable Relation of his from his book De Missa Privata et Unct. Sacerd. [It may be seen complete in the edition of his works printed at Wittenberg in 1588, tom. vii. p. 479. In the latter editions some parts of it have been omitted; but I have ascertained that it is contained, with only the omission of the words describing the devil's voice, in the copy of Luther's works in the library of the Royal lustitution, tom. vii. p. 228].
Awaking from a sound sleep a few nights ago," says Luther, “the devil, who, I assure you has made me pass many an uneasy one, began to speak to me as follows. • Listen to me, I learned man! Do you know that, for these fifteen years, you have been in the daily habit of saying private masses : Now what if all this time you have committed daily acts of idolatry, and, instead of the body and blood of Christ, have adored and exhibited to others to adore, nothing but plain bread and wine?' I instantly replied, 'I am an anointed priest, ordained by a bishop; I acted according to the command of my superiors : why then should I not be said to have truly consecrated, as I pronounced the words attentively, and said mass most devoutly?'. Very true,' said the devil; but the very Turks and heathens perform their rites in their temples from a principle of obedience, as well as you. But what if your ordination and consecration were both false, like that of the Turks and Samaritans?' Here,” says Luther, “ my heart began to beat, and the cold sweat to ooze out from every pore.' The devil put forth his whole argumentative force; and he has a deep and strong voice. Nor can such an altercation continue long; on the con. trary, question and answer pass in an instant. It was then I plainly perceived how it sometimes happens that people are found dead in their beds.' He can destroy the human frame when and where he chooses: nay, so oppress the soul as to force it from the body, as he has often nearly done mine; so that I am convinced both Empson and Ecolampadius were killed in this manner; for no human being, unassisted by God, can withstand it.” - He goes on to relate, at considerable length, the remainder of the dispute ; and what is not a little ex: traordinary, he gives the devil the right side of the argument, and is convinced by him of the idolatrous nature of private masses.
Now that there was some illusion in this statement of Luther's will be generally thought. Admitting there to be any reality in it whatever, it certainly was not the devil, considered as the sovereign of hell, with whom he held the conversation ; nor was it with all hell, considered as one aggregate power, in which sense the devil is spoken of in Ścripture. According, however, to Sivebenborg's statements, it is by no means impossible that some spirit or other discoursed with Luther on this occasion, whom he, judging of the case froin his own previously formed opinious, might suppose to be the deril. But cven ou
the supposition that it was an evil spirit, or u devil, the relation is very incongruous: the sentiinents delivered are by no means in perfect accordance as is strictly the case in all Swedenborg's relations, with the imputed character of the speaker. But let the incongruity be ever so extreme ; or even supposing the whole, as will now be the judgment of most, to be the mere offspring of imagination ; will any assert that the writings of Luther are therefore to be rejected altogether ? that it was absolutely wrong, under such a guide, to forsake the Romish communion ? that it is impossible justly to regard him, as he has been hitherto extensively regarded, as an extraordinary instrument in the hands of Providence for good? They who hesitate at coming to such conclusions in regard to Luther, ought to beware how they adopt similar ones in regard to Swedenborg. This observation would be true, were his statements equally incongruous: much more is it true, when, as just remarked, there is none of his Memorable Relations which does not wear much more of the character of con. sistency and probability than does this Memorable Relation of Luther's.
The case altogether stands exactly thus :
Luther affirms that he had supernatural communications, of which he relates many instances :
Swedenborg affirms that he, also, had supernatural communications ; and he gives such explanations of the nature of the spiritual world, and of man as possessing a spiritual part as well as a natural part, as clearly account for his own spiritual experience, and for Luther's also:
Luther, notwithstanding his relations of his snpernatural communications, is regarded by all Protestants as entitled to the utmost respect as a theological leader and writer :
Consequently, Swedenborg, whose writings on no subject are less rational than those of Luther, and on many are far more so, is entitled to at least an equal degree of respect from the Christian world.
The above relation, with other similar statements, has lately been published by the Catholics as a tract, under the title of Martin Luther's Conference with the Devil, by way of throwing ridicule on Luther and the Reformation : in exactly the same manner as our opponents, by their “Sundry Extracts,” endeavor to throw ridicule on Swedenborg and the New Church; and if these succeed in their object, the Catholics most certainly, ought to succeed in theirs.
I only add, to prevent misconception, that while in these last paragraphs I have reasoned upon the supposition, that Swedenborg's statements respecting his spiritual intercourse might only originate in imagination, I by no means intend to admit that in my own estimation, formed from an examination of all the circumstances of the case, there is any possibility of such having been the fact. And though I am of opinion that they who think so, may, nevertheless, read his writings with advantage, I am satisfied that few of those who shall thus come to the conviction that his writings are true in part, will fail to conclude in the end, that they are true altogether.
No. II. SECTION VII. PART IV. P. 413. The New-Church Doctrine of the Trinity, not a Revival of Subellianism, or
any other Ancient Hersesy. A very common mode of attempting to throw odium on the doctrines of the Now Church, is that of giving them the name of Sabellianism, or some other long exploded error. Thus after stating, in his way, our view of the Trinity (as given above, p. 378), the writer I chiefly follow proceeds thus :
“If there were any merit in the authorship of this anti-scriptural doctrine, yet, even then it would not fall to the share of the Baron, for the very same doctrine in substance was broached and propagated in the third century by an arch-heretic of the name of Nelus, and whose followers were called Nætians, and also Patripassians, because they said the Father suffered in the body of Christ for the sins of all mankind. After this arose another sect bearing some resemblance, though somewhat different, under the denomination of Sabellians, being the followers of one Sabellius." (P. 10).
Here are two things to be observed: first, that in bringing this charge against us, the objector includes in it a statement, which, indeed, is an essential part of it, but which totally exculpates us from it : and, secondly, that the same statement shows, that in all that is really erroneous in the doctrine of Nætus and
Sabellins, the charge may be truly made against modern Tripersonalists in general. 'The statement alluded to is, that they were called " Patripassians, because they said that the Father suffered in the body of Christ for the sins of all mankind."
It is true that the Sabellians and Nætians, and also the still earlier Praxeans, were justly called Patripassians, and that for the reason stated by the objector; and this evinces that their doctrine was most essentially different from ours; for it has been amply shown in Section VII., that in no sense whatever do we hold that the Father suffered. Such an idea is, to our apprehensions, shocking and blasphemous in the extreme. We have seen, however, that modern Tripersonalists in general, if they do not believe that the Father, as the first person of their Trinity, suffered, do believe this of the Son of God from eternity, the second Person of their frinity, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father: thus if not Patripassians, they are strictly Deopassians ;* and all the absurdity and blaspheiny of Patripassianism belongs to it, not as Patripassianism, but as Deopassianism ; that is, it belongs to it, not as affirming that the Father suffered as a Divine Person distinct from other Divine Persons, but as affirming that the Father suffered as God. The monstrosity of the doctrine consists in its imagining that God could suffer from this absurd and shocking idea the doctrines of the New Church are complely free: in those of Tripersonalism it is retained in all its deforinity and extravagance.
Our opponents will, perhaps, wish to escape from this imputation: it shall, therefore, be establishied by an authority which they admit, that of the celebrated Mosheim. As, of the three ancient “ Arch-heretics, the sentiments of Nætus come the nearest to our views, I will extract a statement of them from Mosheim's most copious work on Ecclesiastical History, his De Rebus Christianorum ante Constantinum Magnum Commentarii ; in which he treats of these subjects far more particularly than in his well known Ecclesiastical History, translated by Dr. Maclaine.
"The doctrine of Nætus,” says our learned author, “so far as it can now be made out from the writings of the ancients, was this. I. The clearest declarations of the sacred oracles establish beyond all dispute, that beside that God who is called the Father of all things, there is no other. II. But they who divide God into Persons, multiply their Gods, or out of one inake many. III. Therefore, that distinction of persons in God ought to be rejected as false. IV. But the divine books declare with equal clearness, that God was in Christ, and that Christ is that supreme God, from whom proceeded all things. V. To reduce, then, the two classes of declarations to agreement, it is necessary to believe, that the God who is in Christ, the supreme God himself, whom the sacred books call the Father of the human race. VI. That Father, in order to succor fallen men, procreated of the Virgin Mary, a man free from all fault, who, in a peculiar sense, is called the Son of God. VII. The Father joined that man to himself, in such a manner, that of himself and that Son was formed one person. VIII. On account of this conjunction, whatsoever things befel that Son, or that divinely begotton man, are also rightly attributed to the Father, who had associated him to his own person. X. 'The Father, therefore, thus joined to the Son, was born, suffered punishment, and died. For though the Father, considered in himself, can neither be born, nor die, nor be tormented, yet, since he made the Son one person with himself, he may be said to have been born and to have died. X. For the same reason, although the Father present in the Son continues to be the Father, he is also rightly called the Son.'
By this statement of Nætian doctrine, so clearly given by Mosheim, we find that it contained great truths mixed with great errors. Through the first six or sevea articles the reasoning is irrefutable, and the conclusions certain ; but from thence to the end all is as erroneous. The origin of the error lies here: that neither Nætus, nor any other theologian before Swedenborg, perceived, that the union between the Divine and Human Nature was not complete, but only in incipiency, at the time of our Lord's birth, – that it was in progress during the whole course of his life in the world, and was only finished by his death and resurrection ; thus, that it is literally true, as declared by the Apostle, that he was "made perfect through sufferings.". For want of perceiving this truth, though it stands so obviously extant in the sacred writings; and thus supposing that the union of the Divinity and the Humanity was complete from the very birth of the latter; Noetus and the other ancients, who denied the tri
* A Deopassion means one who holds the doctrine of a suffering God.
personality, were driven to the necessity of admitting, that the Father, or the whole Godhead, suffered in the Humanity of Jesus Christ; and Tripersonalists have in like manner been compelled to suppose, that, though not the whole Godhead, a third part of it, – the Son of God froin eternity, - a God co-equil and co-eternal with the Father, — actually thus suffered. From what inextricable embarrassments, then, are we relieved by the New-Jerusalem doctrine, of the progressive union of the Divinity with the Humanity, and of the gradual glorification or deification of the latter?
But with all its errors, the doctrine of Nætus is greatly superior to that of Tripersonalism ; since this retains all the errors of the former in addition to its
This is actually acknowledged by Mosheim, though himself a very orthodox Tripersonalist. Take his remarkable words: “This doctrine,” says he, meaning that of Nætus,“ does indeed take away the mystery of the Divine Trinity (meaning Tripersonality]; but it does no prejudice either to the person or to the offices of the Saviour Christ
, and is far preferable to the Socinian doctrine, and all that are like it. It also is not more repugnant to reason, than that which affirms that it was a Divine Person (the second Person of the Trinity) which
joined the man Christ to himself; nay, by establishing the most simple unity of the Divine Nature, it seems to come nearer to the dictates of reason." Moshein afterwards notices a remark of Beausobre's, who, because Nætus admitted the Divine Nature to be impassible in itself, concluded that he could not hold as affirmed of him, that the Father suffered. “He could not,” says Beausobre, “ without the extreme of folly, have said, that one and the same God was impassible, and yet suffered.”. On this Mosheim observes, it is truly astonishing that this eminent writer did not recollect, that what he calls the exireme of folly, is precisely what the great body of Christians profess every day; namely, that that God, who, by nature cannot suffer at all, did in Christ suffer the punishment owing by man to God ; that is, that the sufferings of Christ's Human Nature did also belong to God, who was joined to this Nature by the closest and most indisoluble union."'*
For popular evidence, that the great body of Christians do profess every day what Beausobre justly calls the extreme of folly, the notion that God himself suffered on the cross, - take the following extracts from the Hymns of Wesley, who has never been charged with want of orthodoxy:
“ Where is the King of glory now,
The everlasting Son of God !
Nature in convulsions lies;
The Great Jehovah dies!
With the sufferer sympathize;
While his Creator dies !
Silence saddens all the skies:
(Hymn 552.) Contrast the foregoing pictures of the Suflerer at the Crucifixion, with the following from the New-Church Hymn Book, and say wliich is most rational as well as scriptural :
* Mosheim's De Rebus, &c. pp. 685, 686, 687.
“Now Satan triumph'd ; .Now,' he cried,
Who shall my power oppose ?'
The Son of God arose.
Redemption's grand design :
(Hymn 82.) Thus then we find, even from the admission of a learned Tripersonalist, that it is wrong to charge us with being Netians or Sabellians, since we utterly reject the notion which procured for them the distinguishing name of Patripassians; that most unjustly is the charge made by modern Tripersonalists, who themselves hold the error which, in the former name, is imputed to us, being themselves Deopassians as truly as were the Nætians; and that, were the charge against us as true as it is false, our sentiments would still be more consonant to reason than those of the Tripersonalists, because not destroying, as theirs do, the real unity of God. Of the three doctrines, ours alone has no inconsistencies, That of the Natians is burthened with inconsistencies from which ours is free. That of the Tripersonalists retains all the inconsistencies of the doctrine of the Nætians, and adds to them others equally great beside. Far indeed, then, are our adversaries from obtaining any triumph over us, when they throw upon us the unmerited reproach, of holding the doctrine of Nætus or Sabellius.
The doctrine of Sabellius deviated farther from ours, and approached nearer to that of the Tripersonalists, than did that of Nætus; but it is not very important to point out the distinction. They are generally regarded as the same; and when our adversaries ignorantly charge us with Sabellianism, they mean by it the doctrine which is explained above as that of the Nætians.