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logy is to deduce facts from the laws of the molecular forces of nature" (p. 121); "whether a law is to be regarded as the expression of the mode of operations of natural forces, or whether it is simply the statement of the manner in which a supernatural power has thought fit to act, is a question of secondary importance” (p. 214); "many problems about which we are naturally curious, are essentially questions of lunar politics ; of which we know nothing, and can know nothing" (p. 145); * scepticism is the highest of duties, and blind faith the one unpardonable sin ;" as a man of science he believes in justification, not by faith, but by verification” (p. 18).
(To be continued.)
SWEDENBORG AND HARRIS.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE INTELLECTUAL REPOSITORY.
Sir,-In the May number of your Journal appears a paper by Mr. M‘Cully, containing some severe criticisms on the writings of Thomas Lake Harris ; but, inasmuch as the writer has misunderstood, and therefore misrepresented Harris's teaching, I must ask you, as a simple matter of justice, to publish in your next issue a brief reply to his charges.
(1).“We 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.”
Answer.-Two mistakes are here involved ; first the writer implies that there is no “spirit-lore” in the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. This is
It is true that he states he received the doctrines of the New Church from the Lord only, but in his Arcana and T. C. R. and other works, he repeatedly relates conversations with spirits; secondly, the writer implies that the doctrines of Harris and Davis are so much alike that they can be classed together; but this is a great error. Harris teaches throughout the doctrine of the Divine Humanity, the supreme and sole deity of the Lord Jesus Christ ; in fact, though his writings contain some doctrines additional to those of Emanuel Swedenborg, I do not know one of importance (except that concerning the existence of evil on the other earths) which is contrary to his. Davis, on the other hand, utterly denies the Divinity of Jesus, and many other doctrines which are held equally by Emanuel Swedenborg and Thomas Lake Harris.
(2) “With a perception educated up to the want of a Divine God-man, Jehovah Jesus,
how profane the discourse respecting the infinite Mother-Woman, the Divine Femininity, which is one with the Divine Masculinity,” &c.
Answer.—(1) Harris does maintain the doctrine of the divine humanity most fully and absolutely. (See A. Chr. i. 67, 207-43, 799-827 ; iii. 517, &c). (2) Where is the profanity of speaking of the Lord as the “Infinite Mother-Woman?” The Word tells us that man (homo) was created in the image of God, and as woman excels in affection, and man (vir) in intellect, therefore woman is a finite representation of the infinite love ; and man (vir) a finite representation of the infinite wisdom. Is it not right then to call the Lord our Mother as well as our Father, and to recognise Him as the primal source of womanly as well as manly virtues ?
(3) “ And how those angels nearest God' at times of high ecstacy ' feel
they are transformed into snow-white lambs pure and white,' and 'in their celestial meadows see the Lamb of God in their midst.'”
Answer.—This is a misquotation. Harris says nothing about “those angels nearest God,” nor does he say “they feel they are transformed into snow-white lambs." The whole passage is distinctly stated at page 38 to have been a vision having a figurative meaning.
(4) “Would he not shrink from those who could pray O Thou in whose bosom, in Thy divine humanity, are the seven attributal spirits of Almighty God ?'"
Answer.—Harris says (A. Chr. iii. 13) that the “ seven spirits” signify “the typal forms of the divine attributes which representatively appear to the
eyes of the celestial angels.” What is there to be objected to in this ? (5) “Would he not marvel at their talk, how 'within the Fire-Eve dwelt the Fire-Christ-Woman of the delight of affection ?'” (misquoted “sensation.”)
Answer.—Fire corresponds to love, hence the Fire-Eve is feminine love; the Fire-Christ-Woman is the infinite feminine love of the Lord, of which the
pure affection of woman is a finite image. The simple meaning of this passage and its context seems to be that all the faculties of the angels were pervaded by the divine faculties ;—“I in Thou, and Thou in Me, that we all may be perfect in one.”
(6) “Would he not look with pity on poems said to be of a 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." Answer.—Here again Harris is misquoted. He says (A. Chr. i.) that the first created pair on this earth sinned, therefore this “ model celestial man ” lived after the fall, though before the earth became excessively corrupt,in fact in what he calls the Golden Age. Again the writer seems to imply that the bow and arrows were used for destructive purposes. There is no difficulty here, seeing that sin had entered the world, but more probably they were symbolical, for it is difficult to see how arrows could be shot from a golden bow, unless the physical properties of gold have considerably altered since that time.
(7).“. Ye do but darken mystery' would have been his saying — to Harris in his speculations of the effects of a lost orb.”
Answer.-Harris's “speculations” contain the only rational explanation yet given of the fact that geological discoveries prove the existence of violent death, and hence of sin, at an epoch long anterior to that in which man lived on the earth (A. Chr. i. 167). Moreover, I think Emanuel Swedenborg indulges in“ speculations” of a similar kind, and states that it is possible for an earth to be destroyed through the wickedness of its inhabitants ; but in this I quote from memory.
(8) "When reading how in heaven there was a Christianized version of many of the legends which survive in the Arabian Nights Entertainment, would he not have seen the pre-eminence of the Bible disputed, its use and unique sufficiency disparaged ?”
Answer.-- This is a non-sequitur. It is difficult to see why the Bible should be disparaged by the existence of other works containing illustrations of its teaching
(9) "The contemptuous talk respecting the great Humboldt," &c.
Answer.—Harris does not speak contemptuously of Humboldt, but on the contrary speaks of him in terms of respect (A. Chr. i. 515 ; iii. 143-51). He merely implies that Humboldts vast attainments were little compared to what they would have been had his spiritual senses been opened.
(10) “Of the new astronomy when earths are at last translated, and each becomes a spirit-star.”
Answer.—Harris states that, every material earth contains a spirit called a world soul, and that when the human race on that earth has arrived at its perfection, the particles of the material earth are dissipated, and the world soul ascends and becomes the heaven of the inhabitants of that earth (A.
i. 550-3, &c). This is not new astronomy, but old, for it is the only rational explanation yet given of the cause of the disappearance of stars, which has been noticed for a long time.
(11) “Which fosters disease, it mistakes for the beginnings of internal respiration.”
Answer.—Harris says, that the assaults of demons in the beginning of internal respiration, occasion disease, but these are not all the phenomena. Here are some of them, “From this time a supernatural reverence for the name of Christ agitates the whole being." "Henceforth Christ is received as the one everlasting God, and besides whom there is no other." cry of the soul is, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ? and there is an instant determination to have no kin but the Divine Father and Redeemer." (A. Chr. iii. 125). This then we are told is the result of disease! Surely the writer could never have carefully read Harris's works if he could pen such a statement as this. Moreover, Emanuel Swedenborg states that he had an “internal respiration ;" was this also the result of disease ?
(12) The objection about Goethe is so puerile that I should not have noticed it, had not the writer called it a striking example. Harris does not deny or assert that Goethe published a part ii. of Faust ; he simply says that a demon personated him and professed to give a part ii
. of Faust
. It was, of course, very ignorant of the demon to do so, but Harris is not to blame for that.
(13) We now come to the last and most important part of the subject, which is that the writer evolves a theory which is fatal to his own objections to Harris. The whole article is designed to show that whereas before Emanuel Swedenborg received the doctrine of the divine humanity, his writings were “erroneous and inharmonious," after this reception, and resulting from it, they were free from these defects. Now Harris holds this doctrine as firmly as Emanuel Swedenborg, therefore according to Mr. M‘Cully's own theory his spiritual communications since that time must be true, though before that time they may have been “ erroneous and inharmonious” (see A. Chr. i. 794). Harris's views on spiritualism are given in his “Modern Spiritualism.” They are briefly this ; that good and evil spirits now communicate with mankind, and that the good assert the Deity of Jesus, whereas the bad deny it. In this he simply agrees with the apostle John, who says, “ Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God.” Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God. Here then is the simple text. If communications from spirits persistently maintain the Deity of Jesus, they are from a good source ; if not, from an evil source ; and as Harris maintains this doctrine, his writings must be good.
In conclusion, I cannot but express my regret that such hostility to Harris should be manifested by Swedenborgians. Every man is perfectly at liberty to reject or accept his teaching as he thinks fit, but why attack and misrepresent him ? What good will it do? Will it convert the world ? No; ihe world looks upon both as pretenders to impossibilities, and pronounces the impartial verdict, “ Arcades ambo.” Will it change the opinions of the readers of Harris ? No. Is it any use to tell a blind man that the sun does not shine, whilst he can feel its heat ? Will it avail to tell me that Harris is a deceiver or deceived, if I have felt in myself the benefit of his
writings. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” When readers find that spiritual growth is as impossible without prayerful study of his works, as bodily health is without wholesome food; when every time they are read they produce more and more a determination to be the Lord's at all risk ; when wilful disobedience to the Lord makes one feel for the time that he cannot, dare not, read them, lest they should condemn him ; when one has been saved from infidelity solely by means of his writings ; when one who has been prejudiced against Harris through false reports, prays earnestly to the Lord for guidance as to their truth or falsehood, and is answered by being enabled to see their truth in all its beauty and clearness ; what can he said then ? If I cannot trust the Lord in this, how can I trust him in anything? I trust therefore that this spirit of antagonism and want of charity will cease ; " if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought; but if it be of God ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found fight against God.”—I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
ED. WM. BERRIDGE, M.D. 254 St. Paul's Road, Canonbury, London, N.
Reviews. ON THE NEW JERUSALEM, AND ITS HEAVENLY DOCTRINE, by EMANUEL
SWEDENBORG. The Swedenborg Society, 36 Bloomsbury Street,
London, W.C. A REVIEW of this work appeared in Church Opinion for May 6th. The reviewer introduces his criticism of the work with some remarks on Swedenborg and his place among theological writers. He classes him with the mystics, but says:
“He towers high above the best of the mystic schools. He made his mark on the spiritual developments of Christianity, and the results of his investigations are fairly incorporated in a great mass of theological speculations.
We find much to admire in Swedenborg, and cannot but think that the study of his writings must prove of the highest use to Christian people, quite irrespective of lenominational prejudices. Indeed, the entire absence of anything like sectarianism is one of Swedenborg's chief merits, and may in some measure account for the paucity in numbers of those Christians specially called by his name. All his aspirations and efforts were for the Church, not for a band of followers. Charity was, in his estimation, the highest Christian virtue.”
Of the work itself he speaks thus:“We regard the practical teaching of the book as in the main excellent. Many will think that Swedenborg undervalues Faith, according to the popular acceptation of the term; yet it is hardly just to do so, for what he really insists on, in his own peculiar way, is a living faith as opposed to formal opinions. With him
comes before and stands higher than faith. He says, it is impossible for any one to know the essence of faith, unless he knows the essence of charity ; because where there is no charity there is no faith,' and he defines faith as the affection of truth arising from willing truth for its own sake. The logical qefinition of terms is a strong point with Swedenborg. Thus with every quality lle couples a higher relative, or what may be termed its spiritual attainment and force. Of 'good and truth, the value of the latter is determined by subordination to and harmony with the former; so of the 'will and understanding,' which
together constitute mind: the will must submit itself to the good, in order that the truth acquired through the understanding may contribute to spiritual growth towards perfection ; and this process, according to Swedenborg, is perpetually going on, both here and hereafter, with spiritually enlightened beings, whether men or angels. In the same way are coupled together the argument relating to the internal and external man, which naturally leads to the consideration of love of self and of the world, as opposed to the love of God and of the neighbour; and then, on this basis the author treats of the various Christian doctrines mentioned above, which may also be called the distinctive characteristics of Christianity.
“We have but glanced at the contents of this book. Our space is limited, and as we said before, the work forms but one link of a long chain of mystical theology, but for its practical value we deem it the gem of the whole, and we think the Swedenborg Society has done well to issue it in its present form. Religious speculation was never more active than at present, nor heresies more numerous and multiform. In substance, these are older, perhaps, than Christianity itself-coeval with the first commands of God requiring absolute obedience from men both collective and individually; but the aberrations of each age may be said to have their special tone and colouring. In our day we find at one pole of thought a tendency to gross materialism, and a rejection of everything that cannot be touched and handled, balanced at the other by a degrading and spurious spiritualism, dishonouring alike to God and man. Surely, then, any teaching whichquite irrespective of personal peculiarities-tends to lead men to real conceptions of what a true spiritual life is, must be valuable. For thoughtful and studious minds, which are those whose influence flows down through the masses below them, we think Swedenborg helps in this direction. For the many he will never, we imagine, be a direct guide. A gifted man, whose first half of life was industriously occupied in sciences, based on mathematical precision, and whose later and riper years were given to spiritual abstractions which raised him, in a real sense, from earth to heaven, the latter period was yet coloured by the former. He has given us here and there grand pictures; but to our thinking he never touches the confines of true poetry. The emotional part of our nature he does not awaken. He treats of heaven and heavenly beings, and he gives to them forms of beauty certainly—the beauty of goodness—but they may be measured with line and plummet, and as Emerson justly says, “they want life.' Still, we say again, this does not detract from the value of that which is true in his teaching.
THE OTHER LIFE. By W. H. HOLCOMBE, M.D. SPEIRS, London, The author is favourably known by “Our Children in Heaven” and “The Sexes Here and Hereafter.” The present work may be regarded as a popularized epitome of “ Heaven and Hell ;” and may serve to give a view of the subjects of that work to those who are not disposed to read a larger volume, or who require something more to convince them than the simple relations of one who tells what he has heard and seen in the other life. To such it may be very useful, to those as well who require reasons or like to see old truths in a new light.
THE PRAYER OF PRAYERS. By the Rev. D. G. GOYDER. SPEIRS, London.
This series of five lectures on the Lord's Prayer treats its several petitions in a simple and practical manner. The discourses are brief and to the point, and give much excellent instruction in a small space, and in clear language. We cordially recommend it as the fruit of long study and large experience.