Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[ocr errors]

as in other instances, Swedenborg writes, “God Messiah ” when He is the instrument, but refers to “ Jehovah God” of himself, a distinction well worth the reader's notice.

A month later a passage is written, giving clearest proof that our author's mind was now quickly ripening under new influences. “In heaven," he says, “continual types of the last judgment exist, but few know what judgment is presupposed thereby” (ii. 1462). Still later, on the 28th July, he writes that " in heaven all the angels of God Messiah look anxiously forward for the last day, and think of nothing else” (vi. 4445). At a still later period we have a passage where, in a very few words, a description of the spiritual world is given, which is truly wonderful as an anticipation of the broad statements, written twelve years later, in the history of the last judgment which had just taken place. He says, “ at the last judgment the weapons shall fall from those who cunningly invent snares; for who does not know that heaven has no need of craftiness” (iv. 4510).

This introduces a new consideration. “ Wonderful things happen in heaven,” says he, “ when man speaks or is spoken to; one person suddenly comes and speaks instead of another; it is done in a moment, and sometimes is clearly perceived, sometimes is only known by the speech itself. Indeed a spirit can now at times so personify another, and so adroitly tell lies, that only by diligent investigation can the trick be found out. Sometimes a number of them speak together, thus forming a composite person ; sometimes other plans are adopted; I cannot particularize them however, for if I did, they are so wonderful hardly anybody would believe them” (ii. 514). Again, soon afterwards, he tells us that there are wicked ones now in heaven, that good spirits and angels are with them, but that such is the arrangement of God Messiah that they are distinct from each other, the good unknown to the evil and safe from injury by them. “For a long time together I have myself been crowded round by such evil ones,” says our author, “ but I have been kept safe ; though they sought to harm me they could do me no wrong ” (ii. 687). Here, again, see how consistent Swedenborg is with himself over long periods: the old churches excluded light from reason (T. C. R. 648); what marvel then if, unwilling to see truth in its own purity, intellectual obscurity and moral obtuseness accompanied them beyond this life? The very aura of the spirit-world corresponds to the state of its habitants, and many years later than the period of which we speak, Swedenborg wrote: “ All enlightenment comes to man from the Lord through heaven, and enters

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

by an internal way. So long as there were congregations of undecided spirits between the Lord and the Church, it was impossible for man to be enlightened. It was as when a sunbeam is cut off by a black interposing cloud, or as when the sun is eclipsed and his light arrested by the interjacent moon" (C. L. J. 11). We will now look at the effect of such a cloud upon Swedenborg in 1746.

He is vainly endeavouring to give the clear, unbroken internal sense of the forty-seventh chapter of Genesis, where the Egyptian people are spoken of as having sold their herds, land, &c., to Joseph, in order to obtain from Pharaoh the needful food during the famine. We translate a passage verbatim, Swedenborg's reference to his own sorrowful condition being at first within brackets, and afterwards without them, as in the original

1063. Knowledges themselves are signified by silver, and as they are worthless when not applied to spiritual things, are first taken away as answering no useful purpose. This has been done up to this point, for they are without any application to celestial things (if I am forsaken in these matters, as would now appear, then those knowledges hitherto given me through the divine mercy of God Jesus Christ are useless, and I have so far wrought in vain ; even as follows here):

1064. The flocks, &c., with the horses, are likewise interior knowledges, as the horses here are the carnal pleasures and desires of the world (these also are taken away from me, thus I can attempt nothing, I know nothing, nor what course):

1065. The land is the intellect itself, of the mind, which is also taken away, so that I understand nothing, for evil spirits are behind me, and what I may write is given me but in fragments :

1066. This is my state to-day; altogether as is prefigured in this man in Egypt. What these things will end in I know not. I look for Thy help () God Messiah !” (Adv. ii. 1063-6.)

Who cannot admire the indomitable frankness and perseverance manifested by such passages?

In ii. 872, he tells us he would have preferred another explanation of a certain passage, but holds forward to the end, however, in his own despite. “That God Messiah interpreted dreams and revelations in His Word is known to all :—so has it been to-day, for I have not derived the least portion from myself” (ii. 560), is another of his suggestive remarks.

In the midst of such interior uses, sights, and struggles, Swedenborg passed away the early winter. The “Adversaria” is steadily continued, but although a sense of security is in the main manifest, yet in

a

fifty places our author gives expression to feelings of suspicion and doubt. He maintains his wonted intercourse with those of the inner worlds ; converses, for instance, with king Solomon, who still retains his fashion of speaking proverbially (iv. 1434); he hears Moses sorrowing,—the patriarch has no recollection of having appeared with Elias upon the mount of transfiguration (iv. 1865); he gives us a long history of the unfallen angel Lucifer, and the latter's subsequent fate (iii. 136-147); tells how after supplication it was permitted our author, in sleep, to enter into the inmost of the Church (iii. 2308); speaks of writing a history of his temptation (p. 62, last vol.); but we need not linger over these, for Swedenborg himself began to question their worth, nay, to doubt if he could always tell when he was not deceived. Thus, in vol. iii. 181, he talks of obliterating whatever came from spirits without the evident concurrence of God Messiah. Then he began to write without any regard to correct composition. The “Adversaria" lapses into brief memoranda for awhile; pages are condensed into single lines, or are conveyed in fragmentary hints. The notes on Isaiah and Jeremiah are not even numbered ; indeed, unless there be a book lost, Swedenborg only wrote a hundred pages between 7th November 1746 and 9th February 1747, at which latter time the true doctrine of the divine human of the Lord was revealed to him, and the “ Adversaria," as a consequence, was discontinued. Before we come to that point, however, it is worth while applying to this period the question previously considered in reference to the year of the Drömmar, what remained for Swedenborg if he had not advanced beyond this latest phase of 1746 ?

We answer :

no recognized creed of Christendom, inasmuch as the inner-world had been exposed to his sight. There was thus nothing for him but either to have sunk into pantheistic spiritism or to have anticipated our own century by fashioning a dreamy spiritualism, which, from its very vagueness, should be unsusceptible of proof. To see his true relationship to these—and the study will show us what our own attitude should bewe have only to think of Swedenborg as we now know him, and then imagine him to-day perusing the spirit-lore of Davis and Harris.

With a perception educated up to the want of a Divine GOD-MAN, JEHOVAH JESUS, how hopeless would seem the former's talk of Deity, "a vortex of pure intelligence,” in the beginning an unimaginable ocean of liquid fire, whence all things had birth (“Nature's Divine

1 Almost the only instance in which Harris comes within the limits of test, by exact scholarship, is in his translations from the Word in the “Ar. of Christianity;" you there find, however, that he has adopted Swedenborg's “version.'

Q

[ocr errors]

1

Revelations," sect. 1); how profane the disconrse respecting “the Infinite Mother-Woman, the Divine Femininity, which is one with the Divine Masculinity," and who “extends her arms through the organic forms of Woman's Word" (Harris, Ar. of Christianity, iii. 625); or again, as in the hymn said to have been sung in the celestial heavens:

“ Heavenly King and Heavenly Queen,

Father, Mother, two in one,
First in Deity are seen

Beaming from the bridal sun. And how “those angels nearest God” at times of high ecstasy “feel they are transformed into snow-white lambs, pure and white,” and “in their celestial meadows see the Lamb of God in their midst !"2 If our author turned with horror from the one, as he taught that to look upon our Saviour «

as the Mediator is most unrighteous, inasmuch as it elevates one person above another, and tends to establish exclusive privileges” (Davis, sect. 134), would he not also shrink from those who could pray, “O Thou, in whose bosom, in Thy Divine Humanity are the seven attributal spirits of Almighty God” (Harris. Ar. of Ch. iii. 93), would he not marvel at their talk how “ within the Fire-Eve dwelt the Fire-Christ-Woman of the delight of affection” (Harris, Breath, &c. 95). If, as author of the “Regnum Animale,” he would scorn the notion of man's origin being traced back to an obsolete species of ape (Davis, 66); as admirer of Locke, “On the Understanding,” would he not look with pity on poems said to be of celestial origin, yet wherein we read how the perfect, the model celestial man, before the Fall, bore on his shoulders a golden bow and white arrows, while “ he bred in his full breast a choir of azure-crested doves that fed on marriage-blossoms" (Harris, L. M. Land, 105). “Ye do but deepen mystery!" would have been his saying to Davis when the latter spake of the origin of evil as merely “ a necessity of a law of decomposition inherent in nature,” to Harris in his speculations of the effects of a lost orb, he could with equal reason have said the same.

With his deep love of the Word, would not Swedenborg have written “blasphemy!” to the saying of the one that the Scriptures were the result of ignorance, uncultivated judgment and imagination, and that they were originally written in Greek (Davis, sect. 103), and when reading in the other, how in heaven there was a Christianized version of many of the legends which survive in the “ Arabian Nights' Entertainment"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1 Harris, “ Breath of God with Man,” p. 96.
· Harris, “ Lyric of the Morning Land," p. 40.

6

[ocr errors]

(Harris, Ar. of Ch. iii. 454), would he not have seen the pre-eminence of the Bible disputed, its use and unique sufficiency disparaged? Then again what would the author of the “Principia” have said had he heard the former call the atheist D’Holbach“ an unfolded mind, whose revelations demand equal attention and respect" (sect. 168), what would he have thought of the other's contemptuous talk respecting the great Humboldt, “how his mountain of laboriously constructed formulas brings forth the smallest of pilfering and burrowing animals;" how “the reader of his Cosmos' is lost in vain conjecture at every point beyond the merest rim of matter" (Ar. of Ch. iii. 151). Of the new astronomy, when“ earths are at last translated, and each becomes a Spirit-Star;"1 of the new millennium, “when Apollo and his peers, enthroned amid the rising sun, shall make the vibrant horizon resound with music tuneful grand ;"2 of the new civilisation, wherein "Fays of Silver, Gold and Blue," shall “wake to Love's delight,” shall “drink sweet May-dew,” and “chase bright snow flakes ;"3 of the new Therapeutics which shall abolish the necessities of scientific study, and “internal respiration” shall “expel the virus of hereditary maladies, and renew health from its foundations ;" 4 of these things and their like we need not further speak; the logical mind of Swedenborg would have perceived the work of fantasy, where an impatient and imperfectly trained mind was fain to see truths only; no charming of the latter would have restrained our author from still higher aims and less perturbed vision :

[ocr errors]

4

Not his the golden pen's or lip's persuasion,

But a fine sense of right,
And Truth's directness, meeting each occasion

Straight as a line of light.Qualities these the most removed from modern spiritualism, the very vagueness of whose imagery we find exerting so fatal an influence around us upon the sensitive, the consumptives and the weak; soothing that feverish and fitful taste whose appetency grows by what it feeds upon, until at length-rendered incapable of exact and continuous thought—it sinks, only too often, into utter emasculation, enslaved to the domination of one dreamy idea, which fosters disease it mistakes for the beginnings of “internal respiration.” To depend 1 Harris, L. M. Land, 56.

? Ibid., p. 154. 3 Ibid., 139.

4 Breath, &c., p. 17. It is worth notice how very seldom you will find among them a person of robust physique and thought.

5

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »