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Storey's Gate, St. James's Park, S.W., and has been ably carried out by Messrs. Martyn and Emms, sculptors, of Hales Road, Cheltenham. During its construction, the opportunity was taken of having the whole of the interior stonework of the chapel well cleaned. These works leave a sum to be met of about £60 beyond the subscriptions already received, and further aid will be most thankfully received by Miss Bateman or the Treasurer.
NEW CHURCH V. SWEDENBORGIANISM. SIR, —At the annual meeting of the Swedenborg Society in June 1877, Mr. H. R. Williams made a very judicious and much-required remark on the misuse of the word “Swedenborgian” in connection with the “New Church.” I was surprised at the superficial (even flippant) style in which several good and respected speakers shut him up.
After long waiting for some better qualified writer to come forward, I venture to offer these few lines for earnest consideration on the part of the readers of the Intellectual Repository, who doubtless include most members of the “New Church ;" for, instead of the matter being of slight moment, my experience among the highest as well as lower classes of the human community (for a quarter of a century) has afforded to me indisputable evidence of its extreme importance to the interests of the New Church.
It must be admitted how few are our numbers, and how difficult it is to fill our few small churches, even though the public are apt to run after able preachers of any sectarian denomination.
Now, there is too commonly in existence among New Churchmen (the sooner love of truth is proved by candid confession the better) a natural tendence to self-complacency and self-absorption in the plane of their own religious views and feelings, which tendency is apt to prevent due allowance for the erroneous ideas and feelings of others. Hence many cannot see and understand the excessive prejudice which still prevails among the various Christian denominations even against Swedenborg himself—much more against the doctrines of persons calling themselves “Swedenborgians.” It must be allowed that there is already a great increase of those who have begun to feel some respect for Swedenborg's Writings or portions of his Writings; but of these there are comparatively few who even dream of becoming New Churchmen, while the bare idea of being a “Swedenborgian” is almost universally regarded with either ridicule or horror.
When from time to time during the last twenty-five years I have introduced highly educated and rational persons into our Church, and thus given them opportunity of hearing beautiful and convincing
sermons, I have been surprised to observe how little their prejudices (in favour of religious doctrines in which they had been educated) were changed by hearing the truth, though nearly all admitted that they received much food for thought. But–introduce the name of Swedenborg, and the influence of truth at once departed.
I have no hesitation in asserting that no ordinary outsider would be induced to enter a “Swedenborgian” place of worship, and hear an eminent “Swedenborgian" preacher, except with the feeling akin to visiting some rare monkey or new lion at the Zoological Gardens. Yet in some of the London papers occasional New Church advertisements are 6 seen with the word “Swedenborgian” in brackets-a
— certain method of preventing the advent of many strangers or investigators. In fact the use of the word is calculated directly to obstruct and partially to neutralize progress already made.
In principle, any man's name associated with any special doctrines at once must constitute a mere “sect” in the eyes of the world. May I not appeal to certain injudicious leaders of the “New Church” no longer to degrade the visible nucleus of our Lord's Second Advent to such a position ?
If New Churchmen themselves encourage the idea of a “Swedenborgian" sect, we cannot but expect that popular imagination (already in error) will be thus guided, and that our numerous enemies and satirists will seize the advantage.
An earnest suggestion may here not be out of place. “ Milk for babes," offered with due judgment and expediency, presents a leading feature in the teaching of the Divine Word. It is easy to reason from the Sacred Scriptures without ever naming Swedenborg. Many converts are thus made and greater success achieved outside than within the nominal “New Church.” Such converts can be multiplied with comparative rapidity; and clear evidence has been afforded (as might be anticipated) that they will as a rule (after their judicious initiation) be ready and even eager to ignore prejudice and admit Swedenborg's Writings. Might it not be most advantageous for true “New Church" extension to put forward Swedenborg's name rather less prominently in notice from the pulpit (when strangers are present), in placards outside, and other advertisements to attract searchers after Truth among the public at large? No man,
may add, can more venerate Swedenborg and his inspired Writings than myself.--I remain, sir, yours faithfully,
AN OLD SUBSCRIBER.
THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF EVIL.
IR,—Permit me to correct a slight error in your article in the Intellectual Repository for October commenting upon a work on the “Nature and Origin of Evil.” This work, written by request of the late Bishop of Argyle for the series entitled “Present Day Papers on Prominent Questions of Theology," was, you remark, laid aside owing to the “death of Bishop Ewing before the series was commenced.” Now, not only was the series commenced, but it was carried out to the extent of three good-sized volumes, comprehending papers by various writers, including the Bishop himself, and his friend the late Thomas Erskine of Linlathen, a true, loving-hearted Christian. The series of “Present Day Papers” is published by Strahan & Co., and I feel sure that New Churchmen will appreciate their broad liberal spirit and enlightened theology, should they add them to their libraries, and most certainly I would advocate even the most zealous New Churchman, perhaps the more zealous the more need, “ going out to find pasture’ as well as seeking it within.
The very first paper of Bishop Ewing's “series” is chiefly a reprint of the “Second Dialogue” in the “Spirit of Love,” by the well-known William Law, best known as the author of “Law's Serious Call.” Law was a contemporary of Swedenborg, two years his senior, with ten years a shorter life in this world, and classed too amongst the “Mystics." His “Atonement” will well repay perusal, and will astonish some by its anticipation of Swedenborg's enunciations upon the same subject
. A few extracts, difficult to make where all is so good, will sufficiently indicate the scope of Mr. Law's views. On page 56 we find, “He [Christ] is in no other sense our full, perfect, and sufficient Atonement than as His nature and spirit are born and formed in us, which so purge us from our sins that we are thereby, in Him and by Him dwelling in us, become new creatures.” Again, on page 50, “To satisfy righteousness means neither more nor less than to fulfil it.” Again, on page 61, “The certain and infallible ground of the absolute necessity either of a perfect holiness in this life, or of a further purification after death, before man can enter into the kingdom of heaven.” And lastly, page 69, “God is in Himself all love and goodness, therefore can be nothing else but all love and goodness towards fallen man, so that fallen man is subject to no pain or misery, either present or to come, but what is the natural, unavoidable, essential effect of his own evil and disordered nature, impossible to be altered by himself, and that the infinite, never-ceasing love of God has given Jesus Christ in all His process, as the highest and only possible means that earth can afford, to save man from himself, from his own evil, misery, and death, and restore him to his original divine life ; when you look at this matter in this true light, then a God, all Love, and an Atonement for sin by Christ, not made to pacify a wrath in God, but to bring forth, fulfil, and restore righteousness in the creature that had lost it, have everything in them that can make the providence of God endurable, and the state of man comfortable.”
The above extracts will I trust lead New Churchmen to read, when they have the opportunity, not only the remarkable elucidation of the Atonement doctrine by Law, but also the papers generally in Bishop Ewing's series.
I think we all admit the advisability of the thinkers and writers who belong to the external New Church keeping themselves well informed as to what has been done and is doing in the elucidation of truth, whether coming professedly from Swedenborg or not. So doing we may possibly find, more than some care to admit, that he was not the only medium by and through whom truth adapted to the age has been vouchsafed to man by the Lord.
It is frequently asked, “How do you account for the slow growth of the New Church ?” The question may be answered by another, Do you mean the New Church or Swedenborgianism? If the New Church itself is meant, it has not and does not increase slowly; for its principles, and doctrines more or less modified, are rapidly permeating, leavening the thoughts, and may we hope the principles of action, of many scattered through every Church and denomination. Nothing can hinder this “the Lord's doing.”
But let us beware how we narrow down, or try to at least, this “great city the New Jerusalem ” to the bonds of a sectarianism, labelled with the name of any man however great, and backed up by “authority” that would seek to stifle the liberty of mind and judgment, for the freedom of which Swedenborg himself so well contended. Has not a tendency to sectarianism greatly hindered the spread of a knowledge of what the New Church, the New Age, and the Second Coming really are ? Has not the assumption that through none others could be transmitted any of the grand New Church truths but through Emanuel Swedenborg, and the assumption of his complete inerrability, spite of abundant testimony to the contrary, done much to prejudice our fellow-Christians against our great author, his writings, and his followers.
By all means let us as New Churchmen continue our association as a religious body, our church organization, and all connected with it, but let us avoid to the uttermost all sectarian exclusiveness, and let us hail with welcome the truths of the New Dispensation wherever to be found, in writings old or new, even if the welcome
that Swedenborg—as in the case of Law's work on the Atonement above alluded to—was not the first propounder. Let us keep our minds free, and absolutely refuse, as Swedenborg would have done himself, to bow before the word "authority” apart from the perception of truth, or it may be in spite of it, whether of Swedenborg or any other man. We know that “Swedenborgians” are few comparatively, we do not and cannot know the vast diffusion, for we have every reason to believe in the vast diffusion, of the great truths of the New Age. We need not fear or despond as long as the motto shall stand
66 VINCIT OMNIA VERITAS."
[Four volumes of “Present Day Papers” were published between 1870 and 1874 inclusive. The first paper of the first series, by Mr. Law on the Atonement, and the last in the third series, by the Bishop of Argyle on Reconciliation, which treat of the same subject under different titles, are excellent articles, and take the true view of the subject,
by maintaining that the Scriptures speak only of man's atonement or reconciliation to God, never of God's reconciliation to man. Yet the author of “Hamartia” considers himself entitled to assert that, so far as he knows, his view is original. We ascribed his enlightened views to the influx of new light from heaven; for some of his notions are so alien to those of the New Church that no one, we thought, who knew them affirmatively could hold such opinions. We think it not unlikely that some of that school, including the good Bishop himself, may have been indebted for their excellent views on the subject to the Writings. It is possible that Law himself may have consulted them, for he died in 1761, seven years after the last volume of the “Arcana” had been published. Whether this was so or not, we are not disposed to deny the credit due to any independent investigator. Indeed we rejoice in the fact that the others have brought forth from the Scriptures the truths that Swedenborg teaches. There is enough besides all that others have found to make his works and his mission peculiar and precious. - ED.]
ERRATUM IN THE CALENDAR OF THE LITURGY.
DEAR MR. EDITOR,—Permit me to point out an error in the Calendar of our Liturgy, as printed both in the large and small type editions, which has probably caused some confusion in congregations where the Scripture lessons are selected according to the lists there provided. Table VIII. (page xvii, large edition ; xix, small ditto) requires the insertion in the column for the Morning Second Lesson, between the 40th and 41st Sundays, of the word Revelation, as otherwise the direction appears to refer to the Gospel according to St. Mark, the reading of which is finished on the 40th Sunday.
As we are now approaching the end of the Calendar, which provides for the reading of the entire Word in our public services once every four years, beginning at Leap Year, I would suggest that in Societies like that at Argyle Square, where the morning and evening congregations are usually composed of different persons, it may be useful, during the next four years, to read in the morning the First Lessons appointed for the evening, and in the evening those indicated for the morning. By this means the morning congregation, which for four years has been hearing the Scripture histories, will read the Prophets, while the evening auditories, whose first lessons during the same period have been drawn solely from the prophecies, will hear the histories. At the end of another four years the arrangement can again be reversed, and thus the whole congregation be equally instructed from the entire Word.— Faithfully yours,
John PRESLAND, LONDON, 20th October 1879,