« ElőzőTovább »
production by supposing external bodies in their likeness rather than otherwise, and so it might at least be probable there are such things as bodies that excite ideas in our minds."
“ Neither can this be said,” replies Berkeley, “for though we give you materialists your external bodies, yet by your own confession ye are never nearer the knowing how our iileas are produced, since you own yourselves unable to comprehend in what manner body can act upon spirit, or how it is possible things should imprint an idea in the mind. And if we deny you the existence of matter, it is only the philosophers will miss it !” ($ 35.)
At this point we can imagine Swedenborg, who had been most of the time a silent listener, stepping forward with two of the Bishop's books in his hands. “Have ye then,” he asks, “so completely forgotten the old Greek epilogue of the Cave, within which, from childhood, chained mortals had lived—their faces turned from the light of day—the objects of their sight rendered visible but by a fire burning afar off and behind them? Do you not remember how that between the fire and those in chains there was a road above, along which ran a lengthy wall, by whose side, and on whose top, there toiled small groups of human beings amidst statues of stone and of wood ?”
“You are proposing,” says Berkeley, “a most absurd comparison, and absurd captives also !”
“Such as resemble yourselves," answers Swedenborg; “for think you that such as these would have seen anything else of themselves or one another except the shadows that fall from the fire on the opposite side of the cave? And if they had been able to talk with each other, do you not suppose they would think it right to give names to what they saw before them ? And if this prison-cave had an echo on its opposite side—when any person present spoke, think you they would imagine anything else addressed them except the shadow before them? And would not such persons deem truth to be nothing else but the shadows of exhibitions? What, then, if such persons were liberated and carried up towards the true light—what would they say when the effects of the sudden change had ceased—when the dizziness and dazzlement were over? Would they not confess that they had formerly seen but shadows and nere empty visions in the cave our Plato describes ?"
Here Swedenborg opens one of the volumes; it is Berkeley's Commonplace-Book. He reads from it the two statements; “Mind is a congeries of perceptions. Take away perceptions and you take away the mind. Put the perceptions and you put the mind.” “Sensual pleasure is the summum bonum; this is the great principle of morality.” He then opens the same author's “Treatise on Motion," and reads: “We find by experience that there is a thinking, active being, the source of motion, which we call soul, mind or spirit; and we also find there is a being extended, inert, moveable, which differs altogether from the other, and constitutes a new class." The travelled Seer tells Berkeley he is better than his theory with its sensual summum bonum; wiser than his idealism would show by this mentally impossible "being, extended, inert, noveable." He commends Johnson for his earnestness and Berkeley for his allegiance to supposed truths; but the latter thinker he counsels to retrace his steps, and from the fact of the idea of God in self-consciousness, and from a higher knowledge of the nature of the human mind, to make a new departure. “ Whenever affirmative reasoning is applied to a preconception, an infinity of particulars, all voting the same way, fly to its assistance,—both the decrees of ratiocinative philosophy, and the phenomena of the world, laid hold of in the fallacious light of the senses. Indeed, there is nothing but may form a constituent part in different series of reasonings, if not directly, at least obliquely, as a single colour in an infinity of pictures ; thus the legitimate may be engrafted upon the spurious and so falsehood assumes the form of truth, and the measure of the fiction increases by meditation. At length, when the phantom is led forth upon the theatre of what is called the learned world, multitudes run to it, passionately admire it, favour and appland it; nay, numerous connoisseurs embellish it with paint and new decorations, so that it looks like a phantom no longer, but like a beautiful Venus. Hence errors, mental obscurity, fallacies and strife ; civil wars between the son and the body; scholastic contentions about straws and trifles; the flight and exile of truths; and stupor and thick darkness in those very things where the light is most brilliant : and this to such an extent that the very altars and their sacred fire are contaminated (An. Kingdom, i. 9). • With Jehovah is the fountain of life: in His light we see light'” (Ps. xxxvi. 9).
TO THE REV. CHAUXCEY GILES, “The Chrysostom of the New Church, the 'golden mouth'd' teacher of the
golden truths of the Golden City.”—Rev. W. BRUCE, 110 Oct. 1875.
With the golden cords of a golden love
Our willing hearts are bound,
The golden truths around.
Tae doctrines of the New Church were revealed to the world to inaugurate the reign of universal love and charity; that love to the Lord which will induce mankind to regard Him as, in very deed, the “Father of all,” in a far more holy sense than the poet ever dreamt of; and that charity which will lead them to look upon one another as “ His children," as brethren united in the endearing ties of mutual love and charity. It is, nevertheless, but too apparent that, however anxiously we may long in theory for the realization of so desirable a state of society, we contribute very little in the way of individual effort towards bringing it about, forgetting, or seeming to forget, that the aggregate is made up of individual particles, and seemingly content with looking at that state of society as one to be realized only in the remote future, and to be hastened only by means of our prayers, and by letting our light so shine before men, that they, seeing our good works, may glorify our Father who is in heaven. Now, most certainly, we are far from undervaluing the test of a holy life as one by which to judge of the purity of the principles that influence it. But the question is, Will this be accepted as an infallible test of the truth of our doctrines ? Is it not rather repudiated as such by those to whom it is offered ? Are we not continually being told that “we are better than our creed ?” That, besides, however conscientiously we may, in humble dependence on the Lord, perform our duty towards our neighbour, by “doing unto all men as we would they should do unto
us," all that will be of no avail in the matter of our salvation, unless we have fled for refuge to “what can put away sin, and save the sinner from the doom he deserves.” Then we are told this is "blood." For, we are further told, “ without shedding of blood is no remission."
The tract from which the foregoing thought is taken is designed to show that sin cannot by any possibility be“ taken away,” except by “the blood of Jesus Christ—once slain on Calvary.” And “50 perfectly," it is added, “ does His blood do this, that God esteems those who trust it as made fit for His own holy presence ?"
Thus, as may be seen, what are commonly called “the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel,” occupy as prominent a place as ever in the popular theology of the day. And its ethical teachings, as embodied in the “Sermon on the Mount,” which, be it said by the way, has at least as good a claim to be regarded as part and parcel of the Gospel as these “peculiar doctrines,” its ethical teachings are relegated to a subordinate place, and made to play a non-essential part in the matter of human salvation: while all attempts to restore them to their rightful place in Christian theology, and to reunite them to the doctrine which can alone give them vitality, that, namely, of the Divine Unity as centred in the Divine-Human of the Lord, are cast aside with seeming horror as attempts thus to introduce deadly heresies into the Church, and to undermine “the faith once delivered unto the saints.” It is plain, therefore, that the hortatory modes of expression commonly employed when entreating sinners to "flee from the wrath to come, and to bring forth fruits meet for repentance," will be of 10 avail in entreating the adherents of any system of religious doctrine whatever to forsake it for another; particularly when that other has been misrepresented and misunderstood, and when that from which it is sought to detach its adherents has been so glossed over by rhetorical artifice and the admixture of a modicum of truth, that
any truthful representation of it will seem to its adherents to be but a grossly exaggerated caricature of it, and will by them be indignantly rejected as such. What, then, in this case, must be done! Must New Church advocates, with criminal complaisance, and in a spirit of spurious charity, stand forth and say to these adherents of the existing system, “ You are not so far wrong after all ; your system is not nearly so bad as some of us, doubtless through misunderstanding it, have represented it to be. And a few mutual concessions will greatly tend to show how little of real difference exists between us !” Does any one in his senses for a moment imagine that such a compromise would be accepted by those to whom it is offered ?—that the doctrine of Substitution, the doctrine of Justification by faith alone, the doctrine of utter human impotence in the matter of human salvation, together with a host of others of like tendency, would be given up in the way of compromise for any concessions we might offer? The folly would be to expect it. It is well known that the an world at large grudge the Church the title of Christian ; that its official organ, while giving insertion to reports of meetings of the “Unitarian " body, has studiously, and, it would appear, systematically, omitted all mention of New Church meetings, of New Church anniversaries, of everything in short connected with New Church proceedings or New Church work. What, then, does this plainly show? Why, that the Christian world, socalled, is determined to carry on the controversy with the New Church to the bitter end. Nor can it, in the nature of things, possibly be otherwise. Let the receiver of the doctrines of the New Church read and attentively ponder the proposition stated and developed at 647 to 649 of the T. C. R., and then let him ask himself honestly whether the largest, the most comprehensive charity, could lend its sanction to the slightest compromise between the faith and imputation of the New Church and the faith and imputation of the former Church. The adherents of the latter clearly see that no such compromise can be effected ; and therefore it is that they stand in an attitude of such determined hostility against the New Church.
What, then, remains for us to do? Must we persist in holding out the right hand of fellowship to those who persist in scornfully rejecting it, while they regard us in the light of a mushroom but antichristian sect, endeavouring to disseminate doctrines of so dangerous a tendency, that no effort should be spared, no means left untried, to put them down?
To us it appears that our bounden duty is to be honest, to tell those whom we are seeking to detach from their erroneous views, as gently as may be, but candidly, what we think of those views. Let us by all means avoid needless offence; but let us not, while so doing, shrink from inflicting necessary pain. Many, no doubt, will feel acute pain when they hear doctrines to which they had clung as to their souls' sheet-anchor, characterized as delusive and dangerous; but will our refraining from so characterizing them destroy, or in any way modify, their delusive and dangerous character? Again, we say, let us be honest. Nothing will be gained to the cause of truth by what is commonly called “mincing matters.” And, should controversy inevitably follow, it will become our evident duty to accept it as a means of spreading abroad the Truth placed in our hands by Divine Providence.
We readily admit that controversy is not in itself a desirable thing. Still, in the development and elucidation of Truth it cannot always be avoiiled ; and it is sometimes well even to carry the war into the enemy's camp. For,
Let New Churchmen never forget it-in the controversy we hold with the former Church our object is partly aggressive; it is one not merely of defence, but of re-conquest. We are commissioned, as a Church, to re-conquer for the Lord those domains of which He has so long been despoiled by the Prince of this world, and which have likewise subsequently been unrighteously withheld from Him by those who should have been the first to hail Him as their rightful heir, instead of saying, as they have done, “ This is the heir, come, let us kill Him, that the inheritance may be ours !” It is our bounden duty,