« PredošláPokračovať »
lusion? Admit the spirit-intercourse in Bible, in Testament, or in profane history, ancient or modern, and you are logically bound to decide in favour of Swedenborg's testimony rather than in favour of Emerson's supposition. If it be true that at Guttenberg Swedenborg saw the Stockholm fire ; if it be true that he startled the Queen of Sweden by a communication from her deceased brother; if it be true that after spirit-information he sent John Wesley a letter inviting to an interview; if it be true that in consequence of similar information he once obtained an important receipt for Mme. Marteville, the widow of the Dutch Ambassador; if it be true that he foretold the time of Olofsohn's death,—also the time of his own; if only one of all these instances be true, then Emerson's supposition is utterly falsified. Let the reader decide,—not forgetting to notice the support modern Spiritism gives Swedenborg's testimony in this matter. The degree of probability must necessarily be sufficient here until absolute proof be found.
II. Emerson takes exception to Swedenborg's exhibition of the Spiritual Sense of the Scriptures, because of “the exclusively theologic direction his inquiries took.” "His perception of nature," says our critic, "is not human and universal ; but is mystical and Hebraic. He fastens each natural object to a theologic notion.” “In nature,” Emerson adds, " each individual symbol plays innumerable parts, as each particle of matter circulates in turn through every system” (i. 323). Here is a complete misapprehension of the case.
To Swedenborg the Bible was a spiritual book for spiritual uses in a New Spiritual Church of men and women, “drawing breath through heaven from the Lord” (C. L. 532). As such the Bible was a means of intellectual education in spiritual truths-truths evolved only in the light of heaven and as realised by angels. Adapted to the nature of angelic minds such truths were “human” as their own humanity, and having their origin in the Divine Proceeding of the Lord, the reception of such truths would be adequate to every need, and according to the individuality of each recipient,—the best and indeed only kind of “ universality” possible where all is freedom. “ Hebraic" that kind of truth is not, for the “ literal sense passes into the shade when the spiritual sense appears” (A. C. 1408). It is true the literal sense is “Hebraic," and that for the most satisfactory of reasons. are as chords on the Lyre of humanity. Each has its specific use, which no other can equally well perform. Greeoe had its Art, Egypt it's Science, Rome its Law, Palestine its Monotheism in the midst of a
world given to idolatry. Here alone, for this very reason, was an Old Testament possible, whose letter should bear witness to the One God, that its undertones might convey the prophecy of the ONE INCARNATE LORD. For the same reason a New Testament was alone possible here, for only here could the incarnation of that Lord be witnessed to, and those acts narrated whereby the old was fulfilled and blent with the new, even as the Glorified Redeemer at length revealed Himself as JEHOVAH-JESUS. As for the “individual symbol playing innumerable parts,"—it does ; but not to the eye of scepticism, whether transcendental or other. “The angels say," writes Swedenborg, “ that the Word of the Lord is a dead letter, but that it is vivified in the reader by the Lord, according to the faculty of each individual ; and that it becometh alive according to his life of charity and state of innocence; which takes place with endless variety" (A. C. 1776). State is the determinant here, and symbolism meets every change.
III. “Conjugial Love" contains the principle to which Emerson next takes exception. Swedenborg, we are told, “though he finds false marriages on earth, fancies a wiser choice in heaven. But of progressive souls," continues Emerson, "all loves and friendships are momentary. Do you love me? means, Do you see the same truth? If you do, we are happy with the same happiness; but presently one of us passes into the perception of new truth ;-we are divorced, and no tension in nature can hold us to each other” (i. 327). More than a quarter of a century has passed since Emerson wrote these lines, and since then Young America, so enthusiastic in inaugurating social Utopias, has sought to establish the principle contained in this opinion. It has been found to produce a Hell upon earth! It has carried wretchedness and degradation into a thousand homes; it has entered the Senate, and assassination has been the result; it has wound its serpentine way into the Church there, to destroy faith and paralyse effort: the scandals that have arisen upon its track have spread their poison in all directions around, and have tainted the minds of a generation. Better for Emerson never to have written a line than to have given the influence of his name to a principle that has been shown by its fruits to involve social anarchy and spiritual death. The incomparable superiority of New Church thought upon this matter may be manifested in a very few words : Progress in truth and life is identical with husband and wife in heaven-“ they both look together" (C. L. 75), for “the kingdom of heaven is within" as well as without.
individual in it."
IV. Emerson's next notable misapprehension is, that “Swedenborg's system of the world wants central spontaneity.” “ There is no
“There is an immense chain of intermediation extending from centre to extremes, which bereaves every agency of all freedom and character." “Every thought comes into each mind by influence from a society of spirits that surround it, and into these from a higher society, and so on. All his types mean the same few things. All his figures speak one speech.” “ His heavens and hells are dull; fault of want of individualism.” “There is no lustre in that eye which gazes from the centre, and which should vivify the immense dependency of being" (i. 329). One wonders how Emerson could pen such statements in face of the frequent assertions of Swedenborg, that the Lord not only is God-Man, but also that He is of Infinito Love, Wisdom and Power. These two facts are the best of guarantees that “spontaneity” to the utmost degree of its usefulness is a characteristic of Our Father in Heaven ; and more or less than this would not comport with the Divine Nature, because imperfection would then ensue. As to “ the chain of intermediation "—chain is not the proper word; the term vitiates the entire objection. There are spheres of intermediation, and as these are in the Divine Proceeding of the Lord they constitute a plenitude of derived life, and for this very reason the immense dependency of being" is "vivified." Then again, with respect to the passive nature of the human mind in its acts of intellection,—this also is misrepresented by Emerson. “Every thought" does not
come into each mind by influence from a society of spirits that surround it.” Were such the case, man would be mentally an automaton. Each individual mind thinks its own thought in “the influence from a society of spirits that surround it,” and this because of the solidarity of humanity, and because only through such society of spirits, as constituting one of the spheres of “intermediation extending from centre to extremes," could the profluant activity of life operate as it descends out of the Lord, from whom we live and move and have our being (A. C. 2892). It is true our minds think even when we do not ; but this is because our minds are in the spiritual world and as necessarily live their own derived life when our will does not exercise them, as our muscles live their own derived life when our will leaves these alone. In neither case is personality then predicable in connection with the activity and its produced result. Emerson would have Swedenborg assert that the same conditions are predicable of our human individuality in its action as a responsible being! As to all
Swedenborg's " figures speaking one speech,"—how could it be otherwise if "all the inhabitants of the spiritual world have a spiritual language which has not in it anything common to any natural language ?” (T. C. R. 280). Swedenborg could only bring down angelic speech into natural speech by passing it through his natural mind, here it could not but be shaped by his individuality and mental forms.
V. The only remaining objection of any importance is, that “the interest attaching in nature to each man because he is right by his wrong, and wrong by his right,” is not recognized by Swedenborg. Judgment upon this point may safely be left with the reader. It is but another way of saying "that man, though in brothels, or jails or on gibbets, is on his way to all that is good and true.” The principle confounds good and evil. Abolish the distinction between right and wrong, and Human Responsibility becomes a figment, the doctrine of the Incarnation a fable, heaven and hell lose their ground of certitude, and there is no room for the operation of the Divine Mercy (T. C. R. 123).
Here, however, our brief remaining space compels us to close our remarks on a writer at once agreeable, instructive, and stimulating. A Shelley in prose, there is a great future before Emerson because there is a great future for scepticism, wilfulness and idealistic dreaming. But as Religious Faith increases the influence of Emerson must wane. Sic transit gloriu mundi !
“ The Lord is good to all : and His tender mercies are over all His works.”
- Ps. cxlv. 9.
Thy mercy's boundless plan
The fallen race of man.
The riches of Thy love;
To raise the soul above.
Oh, that Thy children everywhere
Would hear their Father's call,
And on Thy mercy fall.
My God, I thank Thee for Thy grace
To me and all mankind;
Of wilful sin behind.
The evils of our life may we
In deed and thought suppress,
Our highest happiness.
Thus may our heaven begin on earth,
In us Thy kingdom come,
AFRICA: ITS WRONGS AND ITS CLAIMS.1
Both Dr. Livingstone on the south of the Equator and Sir Samuel Baker on the north testify to the open, unrestricted, and extensive traffic in human beings in Central Africa, and to the desolation, sorrow, and suffering wrought by the slave traders. Baker estimates that fifty thousand slaves are annually deported from Africa, chiefly to supply the slave markets of Arabia and Persia; and Livingstone is of opinion that if the slave trade continues Central Africa will in time cease to be the habitation of man. Certain it is that the work of extermination is going on with fearful rapidity. For the number of slaves exported gives no adequate idea of the diminished numbers of the populations that supply them. The slaughter that takes place in slave hunting, and the great mortality among the slaves before they reach the coast, must be taken into account in our estimate of the numbers drawn from Africa by the slave trade. A simple entry in the Journal gives us some idea of this. “Kenyengeré attacked, and 150 captives taken and about 100 slain.” Nor is this all. That nefarious traffic brings other evils in its train that tend to diminish and prevent the natural increase of population, for it produces a general sense of insecurity that is unfavourable to the cultivation of the soil and to all settled industry, and thus leads to anarchy and famine. Livingstone travelled over a district at least fifty miles in extent
The Last Journal of David Livingstone in Central Africa from 1865 to his Death. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street. 1874.
Ismailia : a Narrative of the Expedition to Central Africa for the Suppression of the Slave Trade, organized by Ismail, Khedive of Egypt. By Sir Samuel Baker.