網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

per,

Chapter 12 is a luminous exposition of the uses of Baptism. Without a knowledge of the spiritual sense of the Word, it is shown, no one can know what the two sacraments, Baptism and the Holy Sup

involve and effect. The washing which is called baptism, signifies spiritual washing, which is a purification from evils and falses, and thus regeneration. As circumcision of the heart was represented by circumcision of the foreskin, baptism was instituted in lieu of it, to the end that an internal church might succeed the external, in which all and everything was a figure of the internal church. The first use of baptism is introduction into the Christian Church, and at the same time insertion among Christians in the spiritual world. The second use of baptism is, that the Christian may know and acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ the Redeemer and Saviour, and may follow Him. The third and final use baptism is, that man may be regenerated. By the baptism of John, a way was prepared that Jehovah the Lord might come down into the world, and accomplish the work of Redemption.

Chapter 13 is taken up with a like description of the uses of the Holy Supper. It is shown that it is impossible for anyone, without an acquaintance with the correspondences of natural things with spiritual, to know the uses and benefits of the Holy Supper. An acquaintance with correspondences serves to discover the signification of the Lord's flesh and blood, and that the bread and wine signify the same, namely, that the Lord's flesh and the bread signify the Divine Good of His Love and likewise all the good of charity, and that His blood and the wine signify the Divine Truth of His Wisdom and likewise all the truth of faith, and that to eat signifies to appropriate. By understanding this, it may clearly be comprehended, that the Holy Supper contains, both universally and particularly, all things of the Church, and all things of Heaven. In the Holy Supper the Lord is entirely present, with the whole of His Redemption. The Lord is present, and opens heaven to those who approach the Holy Supper worthily, and He is also present with those who approach it unworthily, but does not open heaven to them; consequently, as baptism is an introduction into the church, so the Holy Supper is an introduction into heaven. Those approach the Holy Supper worthily, who are under the influence of faith towards the Lord, and of charity towards their neighbour, thus, who are regenerate.

Those who approach the Holy Supper worthily, are in the Lord, and He in them; consequently, conjunction with the Lord is effected by the Holy Supper. The Holy Supper is, to the worthy receivers, as a signing and sealing that they are sons of God.

Chapter 14, concluding the doctrinal portion of the work, describes the Consummation of the Age, the Coming of the Lord, and the New Heaven and the New Church. The consummation of the age, is the last time or end of the church. The present day is the last time of the Christian Church, which the Lord foretold and described in the Gospels, and in the Revelation. This last time of the Christian Church, is the very night in which the former churches have set. After this, night, morning succeeds ; and the coming of the Lord is this morning The coming of the Lord is not a coming to destroy the visible heaven and the habitable earth, and to create a new heaven and a new earth, according to the opinions which many, from not understanding the spiritual sense of the Word, have hitherto entertained. This, which is the second coming of the Lord, is for the sake of separating the evil from the good, that those who have believed and who do believe in Him, may be saved ; and that there may be formed of them a New Angelic Heaven, and a New Church on earth; and without this coming, no flesh could be saved. This second coming of the Lord is not a coming in person, but in the Word, which is from Him, and is Himself. This second coming of the Lord is effected by the instrumentality of a man, before whom He has manifested Himself in person, and whom He has filled with His spirit, to teach from Him the doctrines of the New Church by means of the Word. This is meant by the new heaven and the new earth, and the New Jerusalem descending out of heaven, spoken of in the Revelation. This New Church is the crown of all the churches which have existed to this time, on the earth.

On all these snbjects Swedenborg discourses at length, and in a style which, for its combined simplicity and depth, we believe, is unmatched in theological literature. Wilkinson says truly of the volume, that“ viewed as a digest, it shows a presence of mind, an administration of materials, and a faculty of handling, of an extraordinary kind. There is old age in it in the sense of ripeness. If the intellectualist misses there somewhat of the range of discourse, it is compensated by a certain triteness of wisdom. As a polemic, not only against the errors of the churches, but against the evil lives and self-excusings of Christians, the work is unrivaled. The criticisms of doctrine with which it abounds, are masterly in the extreme; and were it compared with any similar body of theology, we feel no doubt that the palm of coherency, vigour, and comprehensiveness, would easily fall to Swedenborg, upon the verdict of judges of whatever church."

We have said nothing of the seventy-six Memorable Relations strewn through the pages of the “True Christian Religion,” because the limits to which we are confined, forbid anything approaching to an adequate description of them. They are a great trouble to new readers of Swedenborg, and many who love and delight in the doctrinal teachings of the work, pass over, unread, the memorable relations, and try not to think of them. But this is only for a time. They are only strange and incomprehensible because the principles upon which they

are written are not apprehended. The Indian King, who was told that in northern lands water became solid so that bis elephants might walk on it, laughed, and was an unbeliever. But had the law or principle by which water becomes ice, been made plain to him, his laughter and his unbelief wonld have ceased. So it is with those who are shocked with Swedenborg's relations of things heard and seen in the spiritual world. Let but the great law of correspondence be understood, and the most marvellous of the relations straightway attain an interest and reality, which none but those who have studied them under the bright light of correspondences can understand, or easily believe possible. A memorable relation, which was to the writer of this, at one time, a thing to cause pity for the man that wrote it, is now the pleasant and practical study of a Sunday afternoon. He knows that his experience in this respect is paralleled by that of most Newchurchmen.

Count Hopken, in a letter to General Tuxen, says, “I once represented, in rather a serious manner, to this venerable man, (Swedenborg), that I thought he would do better not to mix his beautiful writings with so many memorable relations of things heard and seen in the spiritual world, concerning the states of men after death, -of which ignorance makes a jest and derision. But he answered me, that this did not depend on him; that he was too old to sport with spiritual things, and too much concerned for his eternal happiness to give into foolish notions; assuring me, on his hopes of salvation, that no imagination produced in him his revelations, which were true, and derived from what he had heard and seen.”

The “ True Christian Religion” was the last work Swedenborg published ; it was a worthy conclusion of his grand labours. Among his papers, at his decease, was found an incomplete“ Coronis Appendix to the work. This has been translated and published, and contains an elucidation of several interesting points.

[ocr errors]

or

CHAPTER 28.

Anecdotes and Traits of Character. Swedenborg arrived in London, from Amsterdam, in August, 1771, and took up his abode in lodgings he had before occupied in the house of Shearsmith, a peruke maker, at 26 Great Bath street, Cold Bath fields. From Shearsmith we learn several interesting items of intelligence regarding Swedenborg's habits and mode of life.

The dress that he generally wore when he went out to visit, was a suit of black velvet, (inade after an old fashion,) a pair of long ruffles, a curiously hilted sword, and a gold-headed cane. In his later years he became less and less attentive to the concerns of the world. When walking abroad, he seemed to be engaged in spiritual communion, and took little notice of things and people in the streets. When he went out in Stockholm, without the observation of his domestics, some singularity in his dress would often betray his abstraction. Once when he dined with Robsahm's father, he appeared with one shoe-buckle of plain silver, and the other set with precious stones, – greatly to the amusement of some ladies of the party. When he lodged with Bergstrom, he usually walked out after breakfast, dressed neatly in velvet, and made a good appearance. In Sweden his dress was simple, but neat and convenient : during winter, he was clad in a garment of reindeer skins; and, in summer, in a study gown; “both well worn, as became a philosopher,” according to Robsahm. Mr Servanté was one of the earliest and most affectionate receivers of New Church doctrine. Before he received the truths of the New Church, he was once passing along St John's street, London, when he met an old gentleman, of a diguified and most venerable appearance, whose deeply thoughtful, yet mildly expressive countenance, added to something very unusual in his general air, attracted his attention very forcibly. He turned round, therefore, to take another view of the stranger, who also turned round and looked at him. This was Swedenborg ; but it was not until some years afterward, on seeing his portrait, that he became aware that the dignified and venerable old gentleman was the author of those works he now so sincerely loved, and so earnestly studied.

In person, Swedenborg was about 5 feet 9 inches high, rather thin, and of a brown complexion. His eyes were of a brownish grey, nearly hazel, and rather small. He had always a cheerful smile upon his countenance. When Collin visited him, he was thin and pale, but still retained traces of beauty, and had something very pleasing in his physiognomy, and a dignity in his erect stature. Ab Indagine tells us his eyes were always smiling; and Robsahm, that his “countenance was always illuminated by the light of his uncommon genius.” His manners were those of a nobleman and gentleman of the last century. He was somewhat reserved, but complaisant; accessible to all, and had something very loving and taking in his demeanour. Personally, he left good impressions behind him wherever be appeared.

It seems be did not know the English language so as to hold a running conversation in it; and moreover he had an impediment in his speech. He was well acquainted, however, with the principal modern languages, and, of course, was thoroughly familiar with Greek and Latin, and had a sufficient knowledge of Hebrew. All authorities agree that his speech, though not facile, was impressive. He spoke with deliberation, and when his voice was

heard, it was a signal for silence in others, while the slowness of his delivery increased the curiosity of the listeners. He entered into no disputes on matters of religion, but when obliged to defend himself, he did it mildly and briefly; and if anyone insisted upon argument, ‘and became warm against him, he retired, with a recommendation to them to read his writings. One day, when Mr Cookworthy, a member of the Society of Friends, was with Swedenborg in his lodging, a person present objected to something he said, and argued the point in his own way; but Swedenborg only replied, " I receive information from the angels on such things." One day, when dining with some Swedish clergy in London, a polemic tried to controvert the doctrine concerning the Lord, and the nature of our duty to Him; when, according to Mr Burkhardt, “Swedenborg overthrew the tenets of his opponent, who appeared but a child to him in knowledge.”

Swedenborg was practically a vegetarian. Shearsmith said he sometimes ate a few eels, and his servant informs us that he once had soine pigeon pie; but his nsual diet was bread and butter, milk and coffee, almonds and raisins, vegetables, biscuits, cakes, and gingerbread. The gingerbread he used to take out with him into the area of Cold Bath square, (now covered with houses,) and distribute it among the children as they played around him. He was a waterdrinker, but occasionally, when in company, drank one or two glasses of wine, but never more.

He took no supper.

Of coffee he was a great drinker, which he took very sweet, and without milk. At his house in Stockholm, he had a fire during winter almost constantly in his study, at which he made his own coffee and drank it often, both during the day and in the night.

From the commencement of his illumination, Swedenborg was very particular as to his diet; and his Diary contains many references to his food, and to the spiritual association which various kinds of nutriment induced. In one place we read under the heading of “the Stink of Intemperance,” “One evening I took a great meal of milk and bread, more than the spirits considered good for me. On this occasiou they dwelt upon intemperance, and accused me of it.” Indeed, on the first opening of his spiritual sight, in London, in 1743, when being very hungry from much exercise, he ate with great appetite, the spiritual stranger who appeared, saluted him with the words, “ Eat not so much.”

In his treatise on Heaven and Hell, n. 299, he writes, “ It has also been granted me to know the origin of the anxiety, grief of mind, and interior sadness, called melancholy, with which man is afflicted. There are certain spirits who are not yet in conjunction with hell, being yet in their first state, who love undigested and malignant substances, such as food when it lies corrupting in the stomach. They consequently are present where such substances are to be found in man, because these are delightful to them; and they

« 上一頁繼續 »