« ElőzőTovább »
ledge only one kind of good, viz., celestial good ; and he does not seem to acknowledge the reality of spiritual good, the lowest form of which is the good of faith, and which good is represented by the state of the earth at night, when the moon and the stars shine. Relatively, or compared with celestial good, spiritual good is in darkness or in shaile ; yet this darkness is not infernal darkness, and it is not represented by the night prevailing in hell, but by the night when the moon and stars shine. The various degrees of this spiritual good also are represented by the six days of creation, while celestial good is represented by the seventh day.
There are some other points to which we must take exception. The Essay on “ Reform” might lead a young and inexperienced reader to think that there is no spiritual use in desisting from outward evil until, or further than, the inward inclination to commit it is removed. The author says, “ The Lord does not permit evils to be destroyed externally, except so far as the love of them is or can be removed from the heart." « The Lord seeks not to prevent but to cure ; to remove the cause of evil, and not to heal the wounds of society before there is health and soundness within." Had the author said, “The Lord seeks not only to prevent but to cure,” he would have expressed the real truth. This theory is also advocated in the Essay on “Swine and their Symbolism,” where the author says, "No amount of instruction, of reading, and mere study can free us from some of our evils; we have to be let into them—to love them, to indulge in and live them, before we can even believe in their existence, or that we are capable of them.” It is true that the great aim of all Divine laws and providential arrangements is to root out evil from the heart, because without this there is no true reformation of character. But it is a wrong, and therefore a dangerous doctrine to teach, that it is unnecessary to desist from outward evil until the love of evil is removed from the heart. Young men, for example, need no encouragement to sow their wild oats, under the impression that if the inclination is there, it may as well come out and manifest itself, and that to restrain it without the right motive would be hypocrisy. It is true that evil is permitted. It is permitted to every one to will and think evil, for this is a necessary condition of human freedom ; but all laws, Divine and human, go to prevent the commission of outward evil. Evil in act cannot indeed be altogether prevented, and so far is permitted, but it certainly ought not to be encouraged. We do not say that the author does this by intention, but we think his theory has this tendency, and, if acted upon, will have this effect. His quotations from Scripture and from Writings of the Church, in support of his views, we have not noticed, as they have really no bearing on the point.
Nearly related to this subject is that treated in the Essay “From Servitude to Freedom.” It is true, as here stated, that man is the subject of hereditary evil; and that “no man is responsible for inheriting that on which his wishes were not consulted.” But is this condition the price of our creation, the burden of our life, the yoke of slavery under which we are born ?" It is true that “every one is born with a predisposition to love and delight in evil ;" but this does not make him a slave to sin till, with a knowledge of sin, he chooses to love and do it. The young are not slaves to evil, because they do not know from reason what evil is, and that evil is the parent of sin. But the author goes further than this. He asserts that " so far as the conviction that truth is better than falsity, and good better than evil extends, to that extent man is responsible to God for the life he leads ; or, what is the same thing, he is responsible to his convictions.” Is it so ? Many, if not all, of the greatest scoundrels and criminals on earth have no convictions that truth is better than falsity, and good better than evil. If they were only responsible to their convictions, their responsibility would be very limited indeed. Men are responsible according
to their knowledge. To this extent are they responsible. Yet, what is responsibility ? Responsibility is the capacity and means of judging. We are not to think of responsibility to God in the old way, as the result of some outward arbitrary law. Nor are we to think of happiness as determined in the same way. Our happiness is determined and measured by our capacity for it. God desires to make all happy ; but those only who have a capacity for happiness can receive and enjoy it; and their capacity is the measure of their enjoyment. Man's capacity is formed in this life; it is filled in the other. Evil is that which destroys this capacity, and whatever destroys it is evil. And so completely may it be destroved, that the mind may call good evil and evil good, and put darkness for light and light for darkness.
These strictures on his book we are sure Mr. Rodgers himself will regard as no hostile criticism. Mr. Rodgers is a man of talent and a power among us. Had he been less, his book might have been left to find its level. It is because we wish him to be a power for good only, that we point out what we regard as blemishes in his work. As a proof and illustration of Mr. Rodgers' power we give the following extract from the Essay on “Dew—the Truth of Peace :"
“In a general sense dew is an image of the truth that makes the heart and life fruitful in goodness; or the truth of peace. Dew refreshes vegetation and stimulates it to fruitfulness; and spiritually it symbolizes the truth that makes the heart and life fruitful in goodness. With this meaning of dew in our memories, every fact in relation to the forniation and use of dew will be spiritually instructive and highly poetic.
« First, notice the origin of dew, Dew is formed by the surfaces of bodies which are colder than the neighbouring air coming in contact with the vapour which the air holds in suspension. From this fact it follows, that dew is formed either wholly of chietly at night, and it is found to be formed more copiously between midnight and sunrise than between sunset anul midnight. - "These facts may seem of little importance to us as spiritual beings ; hut when we remember that the Infinite God said, 'I will be as the dew unto Israel,' they are at once invested with deep and great significance. Nigb
cal fact: it is a spiritual fact also, and night comes to the human soul. We are often without clear mental light; the understanding is overshadowed. We have striven manfully and cheer. fully, and worked with good heart in the sunshine and warmth of prosperity and successful enterprise ; for a season friendships have been pure and sweet ; life has been without crosses ; desires have been abundantly gratified, we have gained our ends, and had our own way, and our hearts have rejoiced in the day of our exaltation. But this day
orter duration has at last come to an end, and night has succeeded. Everything, somehow, has seemed to be under a shadow ; we appear to be at cross purposes with our very selves ; every thorn seems to have for us an extra scratch; if a conterfeit coin is in currency, we are sure to get it in our change ; if flour goes down in price, we are sure to have ordered a sack just before the fall occurred ; in fact, one might conclude at times, that everything was leagued in a conspiracy against us, and took a special pleasure in our mortification. This is our night. But it is never to be forgotten, that it is during this night, the night of the sonl, when, if ever, the Divine Truth comes to us as the dew. The dew is one of the blessings of the night; it is one of night's best features, and reconciles us somewhat to its coming ; it is one of nature's loveliest works, and without the night we should never be blessed by it or see it more." - One remark on this passage. Not the troubled, but the tranquil night, is that after which the dew is found.
Mr. Rodgers' book is very tastefully got up. The rising sun on the cover of the book, which is very artistically executed, may be regarded as emblematic of its contents. But we have no doubt that the sun which even now sparkles in the dew of his early thoughts, albeit these are the outcome of his “night thoughts," will, when it attains to a greater altitude, give a more certain as well as a more powerful light, and will warm as well as enlighten, and invigorate as well as cheer, all who come under its influence.
is not on
Christian UNION.-A great effort is assembled express no authority but their made by Dr. Döllinger and other leaders own. The Church of England has taken of the Old Catholic movement to pro- no corporate part in these discussions ; mote union among the different branches and what an eminent Churchman has of the divided Episcopal Church. We designated “The Church in England,” say the Episcopal Church, for it does i.e., the dissenting communities, has not seem to have entered the minds of taken no part whatever in the movethose who have recently held a six days' ment. The moving and the guiding Conference at Bonn to promote this unity spirit in the work is the President, Dr. of the brethren, that any other branches Döllinger, who has brought to the task of the Christian Church were interested immense erudition, and exercised unin the matter, or needed to be consulted failing tact and patience in the effort to on the subject. The parties who have accomplish his purpose, A divided assembled at this Conference are the Old Godhead will ever be accompanied by a Catholics, the Greek Church, and certain divided Church; and not in the effort leading members of the Church of Eng- to restore the Old, but in the cordial land. About one hundred members acceptance of the New, will be found the attended the Conference. Dr. Döllinger, solid ground of real unity. from the chair, seems to have given quite a number of long addresses on a PURGATORY.—Dr. Döllinger's diver. variety of topics connected with the his- gence from the Papacy is not only in tory of the Church, and of the develop- ecclesiastical but also in doctrinal mat. ment of its dogmatic statements. The ters. The following is his statement at great aim was to procure a general state, the recent Conference respecting the ment on the doctrine of the procession Papal doctrine of Purgatory :-"It must of the Holy Ghost, which divides the first be noticed that it was only amongst Eastern and Western Churches. Pro- the Germans and Dutch that the conpositions were submitted by Canon mon expression (Fegefeuer-cleansing Liddon and the Dean of Chester on the fire) introduced the idea of a material part of Anglicans. Those presented by fire. It was not necessarily contained the Greek Church conceded nothing, in the word Purgatorium. The ancient and offering, therefore, no base of union, Church knew nothing of a purgatory, were speedily withdrawn. In the end, and the first to introduce and fix the a series of propositions by the chairman opinion in the West was Gregory the were accepted. These propositions stated Great, in the year 600. The belief of agreement in accepting the doctrinal de. the ancient Church was, that after death cisions of the ancient undivided Church ; those who were not ripe for the heavenly in denying that the addition of the kingdom were kept in an intermediate Filioque took place in an ecclesiastically state (Hades), where they were gradually regular manner; in acknowledging on purified and prepared for the fulness of all sides the representation of the doc. blessing, and that prayers for them in trine of the Holy Ghost as it is set forth that state were of benefit. All this was by the Fathers of the andivided Church ; only a widely-spread opinion, and was and in rejecting every proposition and not contained in any settled articles of every method of expression in which in faith. The new doctrine that spreaul in any way the acknowledgment of two the West was of a fixed place, where principles in the Trinity may be con- souls were purged by material fire, and tained.
where prayers offered for them shorteneil The aim of these theologians is com- this fiery ordeal. In the thirteenth mendable, and they seem to have felt century the Schoolmen manufactured satisfied with their work. They must this material conception into an article be very sanguine indeed, however, to of faith ; and in the beginning of the hope for the unity of the Church on he fourteenth century the doctrine of Papal base they are thus adopting. It is indulgences, as a means of deliverance obvious that the greater part of those from Purgatory, was spread. The abuse
grew and increased, until in this year of friendly terms with Christians of other grace, 1875, we have a grand jubilee denominations, there can be no internal year of indulgences, in which the Pope bond of alliance between them and ourmay clear out Purgatory altogether per- selves so long as they adhere to the haps. The Pope's triple crown is now doctrines of the consummated Church, justified; he is supreme ruler over three As professed worshippers of the Lord kingdoms, the kingdom of heaven, of Jesus Christ in His Divine Humanity earth, and of the world of spirits. You as the Only God we dwell alone, and may go, for example, to certain churches are not reckoned among the nations. in Spain, which are privileged with in- We are glad to know, however, that a dulgences, and there you may see written spirit of inquiry is abroad in regard to on the doors, “To-day you can bring the teaching of the Word and the prinsouls out of Purgatory. We, Old Catho. ciples of its interpretation. We know lics, utterly repudiate this doctrine; we that the Lord in this His Second Advent abjure the whole system of Papal indul- has emancipated the rational faculty. gences, whether for thedead or the living, We know that now it is allowable to and we believe what the old undivided enter intellectually into the mysteries of Church taught about the middle state. faith ; and it is with much pleasure that We do not attempt to define that state, we hear of the earnest and frequent but we pray to God for the welfare of efforts now being made so to modify the those that have entered into it.” ancient faiths of Christendom as to
nentralize the poison of infidelity, and VATICANISM.-The speeches of Dr. to satisfy both the intellect and tbe Döllinger at the recent Conference at heart. We know how impossible it is Bonn showed a complete departure from to amalgamate the doctrines of the New Vatican Catholicism. “The Vatican Church with those of the Old, yet we Council of 1870," he said, “had intro. may surely hope that the convulsions duced two new articles of faith, and con• that are shaking Protestant Christianity sequently had manufactured two new to its centre will eventually terminate heresies; it demanded an acknowledg. in the establishment of that “ Kingdom ment of (1) the absolute supremacy of the of our Lord and of His Christ " which Pope over all baptized Christians; and Divine Truth assures ns "shall stand (2) the infallibility of the Pope in all for ever." matters of doctrine and morals. ... Even in these “ remote corners of the We are on the eve of great changes. earth" we find that professing Christians It is impossible that the Vatican Decrees do not adhere to the doctrines of orthocan continue to be the law of thought doxy (so called) with anything like the for 180 millions of Christians, composed same tenacity as formerly. And we canof the most educated people. The ma- not but regard this as one of the many terial for the burning is present in the symptoms of the final restoration of Roman Church in heaps ; some day it society to a state of spiritual health and will be fired. An Anglo-Roman bishop soundness. Yet we cannot be unmindsaid, “From this day forward you must ful of the adverse circumstances tending believe in the supremacy and infallibility to obstruct the progress of the Church. of the Pope, just as you believe in the In this colony, in particular, its advanceexistence of God.' It is not possible that ment is checked, and whatever efforts 180 millions of reasonable people can are made to disseminate its truth are force their consciences to accept this.” rendered apparently unavailing by that
which, to the great bulk of the comGENERAL CONFERENCE. – Address munity, is regarded as a cause for very from the Adelaide Society of the New general congratulation. We refer to Church, South Australia, to the General the commercial prosperity of the colony. Conference of the New Church in Great Perhaps in no part of the British domi. Britain.-Dear Friends and Brethren in nions is there less social distress than in the Lord, -We gladly avail ourselves South Australia. Poverty, as it exists once more of the privilege of transiit. in the older countries of Europe, with ting to you our annual address. In its terrible squalor, vice, and misery, is doing so our pleasure is the greater on absolutely unknown amongst os. Inaccount of our isolation ; for, whilst we dustry cannot but prosper in a country desire and endeavour to live upon where all are fully employed, and the
necessities and comforts of life are July 7, 1844, since which the services abundant. Yet we cannot fail to see of the Church have been regularly held that this cxceptional and very general on the Sabbath-day. Now, however, state of worldly prosperity is rendering our minister (Mr. E. G. Day), and his the hearts of thousands callous and in- assistant (Mr. W. Holden), are far sensible to the blessed influences of love advanced in life, and must soon inevitand mercy now proceeding from the ably join the majority in the land of the Lord for the regeneration of the world. living. Whenever this event occurs It is true that the author of the Arcana there appears to be no other prospect Colestia assures us that “natural temp. but that our beautiful place of worship tations," consisting of “diseases, mis- must be closed for the want of a preacher. fortunes, persecutions, punishments, not Should our fears in this particular be grounded in justice and the like with realized, the first altar raised in the anxieties which then exist, .. do not Southern Hemisphere to Jehovah Jesus at all affect man's spiritual life;" but will be thrown down, and the members he also instructs us that spiritual temp- of our congregation scattered as sheep tations which are of the internal man having no shepherd.” We know, how. “are frequently induced by natural ever, that the Divine auspices are over temptations” with those who are in the Church, and we therefore cling to simple good (A. C. 8164), and we think the hope that when our present "helpers we are justified in concluding from the are withdrawn” the Lord will provide teachings of the Word, and the writings others, especially if the Society is true of the Church, that a state of uninter- to its trust, and in all its doings does rupted worldly prosperity is not con- good, for the promise engages Thou ducive to the dissemination, or rather to shalt dwell in the land, and verily thou the reception of spiritual truth. Be shalt be fed." this, however, as it may, we regret to Signed on behalf of the Adelaide find that for several years our Society Society of the New Church, has not made any numerical progress.
F. W. BOTTING, Secretary. Our financial position and prospects are Adopted at the Quarterly General sound, we have no internal dissensions, Meeting of the Society held on April the members of our congregation are for 26, 1875. the most part punctual in their attend- To the Society of the New Church in ance, we believe that they love and Adelaide, South Australia. Dear endeavour to live the truth “with a Brethren,-- It will indeed be as you say, pure heart fervently,” and earnestly in your address to the General Conferdesire to see Jerusalem “a praise in the ence of the New Church in this country, earth."
But they often feel discouraged that the pleasure you derive from these by their want of success in their efforts annual communications is much in. to sow the good seed of the Kingdom. creased, because of the isolated position To all human appearance "the cares of which you occupy. Placed as you are, this world, and the deceitfulness of so far away from all New Church riches, choke the Word,” and render it association, this annual correspondence unfruitful. We have also to lament with men of your own faith will be that some of those who have intellectu. esteemed a delightful privilege. For ally received the doctrines of the New while you are on terms of Christian Dispensation, and who accept the testi- friendship (and most properly so), with mony of Swedenborg as a teacher sent the other religious bodies around you, of God, do not in any way identify yet you can never enter so fully into themselves with the Society, either by union with them, as you can with men their sympathy, their advice, their animated by the same faith, pursuing assistance, or their attendance at the the same ends, and offering up the same worship of the Church. We cannot but worship as you do yourselves. Fully regard this as more detrimental to the appreciating your position, therefore, Society than would be the open hostility we rejoice with you in these annual exof its enemies.
pressions of good-will, and in these The Adelaide Society of the New loving interchanges of thought and feelChurch originated in a meeting for the ing connected with the great questions worship of the Lord Jesus Christ as of New Church faith. "the Only Wise God our Saviour " held We are gratified to hear of the pro