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asked to confide in Dr. Tafel's judgment. Without questioning either Dr. Tafel's ability or his integrity, we confess to having a decided preference for the English rule that the student's professor shall not be also his examiner. This we know, that the standard of the Academy cannot be a high one when a young man who began and finished his course of classical and theological study in his two years' residence at the College was, very soon after he had entered on the work of the ministry, made, with not a little display, a Bachelor of Theology.
But even supposing it desirable that young men who have distinguished themselves should receive some such mark of distinction as that which our young minister has received, is the Academy the proper body to bestow it? It is our decided opinion that any body in the New Church with University powers, should originate or be connected with, or at the least be approved or sanctioned by, the Convention in America, or the Conference in England. Such a body would represent the whole Church, or the Church in general. But the Academy cannot claim even the lowest degree of recognition. On the contrary, we have reason to believe that the Convention disapproves or at least ignores it. The Academy owes its origin to some four out of about seventy ministers of the Church in America, who associated themselves together, and named their association after a celebrated Athenian school, and obtained from the state of Pennsylvania a charter which gives it the power of conferring degrees.
What was their object in establishing this Üniversity? Was it simply to promote, encourage, and reward success in, the study of arts and theology? Besides the Urbana University, which gives degrees in arts, if not in theology, there was already in existence the Convention's Theological School, with, according to its last report, a rather complete staff of teachers. Why did they not unite with those already engaged in the work, and help to raise the Theological School of the Convention to the dignity of a university ? But perhaps we wrong the Academicians. We may be reasoning respecting the immense territory occupied by the United States as we do about the limited area of our own little island.
A university may be needed for each state. Still the Academy did not intend to limit its operations to the state of Pennsylvania, nor even to the continent of America. If it is not catholic in its views, it is at least cosmopolitan in its aims.
Our friend mentions that the Academy requires assent to no views but such as are plainly revealed in the Writings. No doubt. But what are those views ? Are its articles of faith such as those which our Conference requires its members to sign ? The Academy is not satisfied with belief in the doctrines taught in the Word of God and contained in the Writings of Swedenborg. They require belief, not only in the doctrines which the Writings contain, but in the Writings themselves. They no doubt think that the Writings “plainly teach” their own infallibility, and thence their authority--the authority due to infallible wisdom. And to this the Academy requires assent by
those on whom it confers its degrees. Would it confer a theological degree on any student or minister, however otherwise distinguished, who did not assent to this article of its creed ? We believe that it would not; and we do not see how it consistently could. One of its most distinguished members has pronounced the view that Swedenborg was not inspired but enlightened to be a heresy; and, if we rightly understand his teaching, he has declared ministers who hold this view to be bad shepherds. Sincere as we believe the Academicians to be in their views on this subject, we cannot suppose they would be so inconsistent with themselves as to give the stamp of their authority to men who teach heresy and lead their flocks astray. They have also provided against any defection on the part of their graduates by making them promise to submit to the decisions of the Academy, which we understand to mean that they are to subordinate their own individual opinions and their own private judgment to the views and decisions of the Academy. Is not this binding themselves to obey its behests?
It was recently remarked by the Messenger that in the New Church there is perfect liberty of thought respecting the claim for Swedenborg as to whether he was enlightened or inspired. This is perfectly right. It is in accordance with Swedenborg's own teaching. In the chapter on ecclesiastical government, in the “ New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine,” he tells us that as all men cannot think and thence believe alike, every one is to be left in the peaceable enjoyment of his own views--provided he makes no disturbance. Had those who are now members of the Academy been content individually to hold their peculiar and distinguishing tenet as a private opinion, no one would have sought to curtail their liberty. We ourselves were aware of Dr. Tafel's views on this point, and have spoken with him respecting it without any approach to controversy or any lessening of esteem for his worth or admiration for his talents, and, we may add, of gratitude for the eminent services he has rendered to the Church. But when he became aggressive, by the publication of his “Authority in the Church,” and when he united with others to form a propaganda, the case was different. Our lecture on the nature and extent of Swedenborg's illumination, delivered in the College some three years ago, was, we confess, intended as an uncontroversial reply to the doctrine contained in that work. Any controversy that has arisen out of that lecture has, we trust, been conducted on our part, as we are sure it has on Dr. Tafel's, without bitterness, and, we believe, without any breach of friendship. We might, so far as we are personally concerned, have left the movement of the Academicians to settle down of its own accord—to sink or swim according to its specific gravity. The Church has sufficient vitality to free itself from any spurious or parasitic growth. Yet as Nature sometimes requires assistance, so does the Church. While we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we may feel it to be our painful duty to dash the Babylonian little ones against the stones. And we think there is something that rather savours of dominion, although it may be only dominion over the intellect, in the theory and practice of the Academy. It has a tendency, at all events, to create discord and produce division, and having this tendency, its existence is to be deplored, as its views may need to be opposed. Yet if we all strive, whatever view we may take of this or any other particular subject, to hold or maintain it in the spirit of charity, the harmony and unity of the Church will be preserved. We have a high authority for the statement that if all had charity the Church would be one, notwithstanding difference on matters of faith.
Since the above was in type we have read the Rev. Chauncey Giles' letter in the Messenger, giving an account of the proceedings of our Conference, especially in relation to the Academy's degree to Mr. Tilson; from which we make the following extracts :
• Many fears were felt that the subject would cause a rupture in the Church. But there is not much danger that the Church will be rent asunder by any such means. These special forms of thought which grow out of the idiosyncrasies or personal ends of a few minds, and which may seem to those who become absorbed in them to constitute the essential principles of the New Church, are only little eddies in the great current of truth, and which are themselves carried along in it, though those who are in them may seem to themselves to be moving in an opposite direction. . . . There will always be men who will look at the doctrines of the Church from a natural point of view, and who will be the stanch advocates of authority in the comparatively low sense in which they understand it, and will make their conceptions 'the measure of a man' of the Church; and they will think that those who do not bear the image and superscription of their special ideas are going dangerously astray. But the Church is larger than any man, or any institution.
The forms of truth are infinite, and good will assume any one of them. The New Church is a universal Church, and no man, and no class of men, can bottle it up into the vessels of their minds and put their label upon it, and convince the world that it is the label that determines the quality of the truth.
“It is difficult for us in America to understand the importance which is attached to an honorary degree in England. It seems to be taken for granted that there is something talismanic in the letters of the alphabet appended to the name which will open the way to success and secure it. In the discussion on the subject in Conference it was taken for granted by some that it was a matter of great importance to have a diploma which would certify that the possessor had passed through a certain curriculum of study by which he was prepared to perform the duties of a minister. Such a diploma may serve as an introduction, and place its possessor in a position to make a trial of his powers, but it will give him very little help beyond that. And even its influence as an introduction will depend upon the character of the institution which grants it. If there is the slightest ground for the belief that the diploma can be easily obtained, and is not a testimony of real merit, it will do more harm than good. A minister's success will depend upon the work he can do, and the wisdom with which he performs his duties. If he cannot present the doctrines in a clear and intelligible manner, and is more concerned for the dignity and the respect due to his office than for the faithful performance of its duties, all the letters of the alphabet appended to his name will not help him in the least. And if he can do the work well, the want of these appendages will not detract in the least from his influence. Society in all its forms and degrees is coming under the law which must be of universal application, by which every man will be judged by his works. “The tools to him that can handle them' is becoming the rule. Mr. Tilson is handling his very well, according to all I could hear, and if he continues to do so he will succeed by virtue of his ability, and not from any letters the “ Academy’or any other body may grant him permission to append to his name.”
To this we have nothing to say except that the inportance attached to our honorary degree in England arises from the fact that it represents real merit.-EDITOR.]
DEAR SIR,—In reply to the letter of W. M. C. will you allow me to state that the form of creed which is now called by the above name was not compiled with the intention of asking the Church to accept it as the revised form, unless it were generally approved, but rather as a basis for revision, and as indicating the points in which improvement is desired. The four chief points being—1. That it would be well for the New Church to set forth prominently in her creed the great central idea that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only God of heaven and earth. 2. That some description of Redemption should be introduced, stating that it was the One God who came on earth as our Saviour. 3. The resurrection could be much better described, to the effect that man is a spiritual being and his natural body the earthly covering. 4. The last clause did not at all explain in what the Second Advent consisted.
It will interest many to know that the editor of the New Jerusalem Messenger so far approves the form of the Birmingham Creed that, since July 1st, he has inserted it on the first page, as setting forth " the faith of the New Church."
Referring to the form of creed suggested by W. M. C., it will be noticed he does not state “that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only God” till the end of the second paragraph, whereas it should be in a most prominent place, and there is no place so prominent as the commencement of the creed. This great truth is our first distinguishing feature,
yet the religious world, generally speaking, does not know it. And if friends will take particular notice they will find that many of those usually ranked as New Churchmen do not clearly and unmistakably accept it; they speak of Christ, not as the One God manifest in the flesh, but with a vague uncertainty, a mixture of the Unitarian and Trinitarian heresy. This would not be if we more persistently and definitely taught this great truth.
If the first paragraph of W. M. C.'s creed is looked at from an Old Church point of view, it will be seen to be not incompatible with the tripersonal idea. This should not be in a New Church creed, but it should be so arrayed as to leave no chance of doubt or misunderstanding as to the only true object of our faith and worship.
The latter part of W. M. C.'s creed contains some good suggestions, one sentence excepted, viz. “When I die as to my natural body. “I” never die, for I am an immortal spirit. A better phrase would be, “When at death I leave my natural body.”—Yours truly,
G. C. HASELER, Jun. 6 NURSERY TERRACE, BIRMINGHAM.
SHEEN FROM MY THOUGHT-WAVES. London: Haughton & Co.
Pp. viii, 166.
The author of this instructive little volume is a minister in the Free Wesleyan Church. The work consists of short and pithy statements of moral and religious truth which, the writer tells us, were written chiefly for a small monthly paper of which he was for a few years the editor. The dominant
purpose of the work is to bring religion into the varied relations of moral and social life. The work is singularly free from the dogmatic theology of the author's Church, and the thoughts expressed are mostly such as may be profitably pondered by Christians of all denominations.
“ If,” says the author, “ we come to study Truth prepared only to receive that which agrees with a substratum of dogma already in our minds, we shall never gain a clear view of it; our vision will be oblique ; we shall certainly, as old Thomas Browne says, “look asquint at the face of truth.' I have thought that if we could remove from our minds all the deductions drawn from God's revelation of Himself in Christ which we have received from others, and study that revelation simply for ourselves, we should derive in that way more direct knowledge of the “truth as it is in Jesus' than we should in any other. One of the greatest hindrances to the right apprehension of a truth is to have our judgments warped by our precon
1 Where does our young friend find these strange New Church people ! We have not met with any of them.--Ed.