« PreviousContinue »
3dly, To exhibit the sublimity, purity, and edify
ing tendency of that rule of doctrine and of life, which will be found in the extracts from the above theological writings, as collected in the following work.
In regard to the first of these points, viz. the demonstration of the sanctity and divinity of the inspired writings, und in what that sanclity and divinity consist, as manifested in the above declaration, THE WORDS THAT I SPEAK UNTO YOU ARE SPIRIT, AND ARE Life, it may be observed, that the divine declaration extends, not only to the words spoken by Jesus Christ in the New Testawient, but likewise to what is recorded in the Old, since both Testaments are acknowledged to be alike the WORD, or Speech, of the Most Hich, and consequently both must be alike replenished with the same divine principles called by the Great SAVIOUR Spirit und Life. The grand question then is, what are these principles, and in what do they consist? What is this Spirit, and what this Life, which constitute the 'very soul and essence of all the words of God? But who can give a serious and satisfactory answer to this question, without being forcibly struck with the conviction, that when a divine speaker declares, The words that I speak are spirit and are life, He must of necessity mean by the terms spirit and life a divine spirit and a divine life, since it is impossible to suppose what is divine, can influence the words of a DIVINE
cs any other spirit and life, except SPEAKER, so as to constitute their essential properties ? Who again can give a serious and satisfactory answer to the above question, without being struck as forcibly with another conviction, that the terms spirit and life, when applied by a divine speaker, involve in them distinci divine prineiples, so that spirit is to be understood as expressive of one divine principle, and life as expressive of another, otherwise the two terms would be an useless
tautology, altogether unworthy of a Divine SPEAKEr? Again, who can give a serious and satisfactory answer to the above question, without discerning, as by a noon-day light, that spirit and life, according to their distinct signification, and as distinctly applied by a DIVINE SPEAKER, must of necessity mean the same things as DIVINE WISDOM and Di'VINE Love, or Divine TRUTH and DIVINE GOOD, since the GODHEAD, we are assured, is both, and may therefore be called the divine union of both in their infinity and eternity? The conclusion then from the above premises is, (and a more important conclusion cannot be conceived by man) that every part of the revealed Word, both of the Old and New Testament, is filled with the divine wisdom and the divine love, or with the divine truth and divine good, of the Most High God, in indissoluble union, this being it's very inmost soul and hidden essence, whilst the letter or history is merely it's external body and manifested existence.
From the above consideration then may be clearly discovered the sanctity and divinity of the inspired writings, and in what that sanctity and divinity principally consist. For if the divine wisdom and divine love, or the divine truth and divine good, are the very essential spirit and life of those writings, conjoined with them as soul is conjoined with body, or as human thought and affection are conjoined with human speech, then how plain is it to see that God himself, who is the very union itself of divine wisdom and love, or of divine truth and divine good, is one with 'those writings, and so incorporated in them, (if we may use the expression) that it is impossible to put them äsunder! But if the Great and Holy God be thus incorporated in His written Word, so that the letter or history of that Word is only the body, the husk or shell, of which Hé himself is the living soul, the vitàl seed or kernel, then what language can sufficiently express, or what idea fully conceive, the sanctity and divinity of the inspired records ? Then how ought we to bow down in humiliation and devout reverence before the sacred volume, as before the Most High God himself, who is present in it! Then how ought we to exclaim with the patriarch of old, Surely the LORD is in this place, and I knew it not ; this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven! (Gen. xxviii. 16, 17). And then too, observing how the letter or history is only as a kind of casket, to contain the jewels and treasures of the divine love and wisdom deposited and concealed within, how cautious ought we to be, either of mistaking the casket for it's rich contents, or of fixing our eyes so intently on it's beauty and it's lustre, as to overlook and become blind to what gives it all it's value, viz. the divine presence, will, wisdom, intelligence and operation of The Most High and Holy Gov!
From the above view then of the sanctity and divinity of the sacred Scriptures, it will be manifest to every considerate mind that they carry along with them their own internal testimony, or a full and satisfactory evidence of their divine original. For as when the sun of this world shineth in his strength, enlightening the eyes of men with his cheering light, and enlivening their bodies with his quickening and reviving heat, no other proof can be wanting, either of the sun's existence, or of the properties and qualities by which that grand luminary is distinguished from all other objects, so it is likewise in regard to the REVEALED WORD. No other proof can be wanting of it's sanctity and divinity, or that it is indeed the living WORD of the Most High, but the blessed effects which it is calculated to produce in every well-disposed mind. For doth the light of the sun, when enlightening the eye of the beholder, convince him most effectually, and beyond the force, of any other argument, that it is the sun? In like manner, the light of divine truth, shining forth from that GloRIOUS BEING, who at once hides and manifests His divine countenance in His HOLY WORD, convinces the simple and sincere that it is divine truth, so that no other argument can be wanting to confirm their faith. Doth again the sun's reviving warmth confirm the proof of his existence and astonishing properties, by exciting combined wonder, adoration, and delight in all who are made sensible of the power of his quickening beams? In like manner, and for the same reason, there is a warmth of heavenly love and charity, issuing from the bosom of the Father of Mercies, and dispensed to His humble and teachable children through the quickening beams of His Most Holy Word, which brings along with it such an additional and powerful conviction of it's sanctity and divinity, that all doubt and uncertainty vanish, whilst wonder, adoration, and joy announce the presence, and prove to a demonstration, the mercy, love, and benevolence of the Divine Being, whose sacred residence it is, whose instructive language it speaks, and whose manifold divine blessings it is the medium of communicating to His penitent and believing children.
To exhibit then this internal evidence of the sanctity and divinity of the sacred Scriptures, is the first particular object aimed at in the following pages: And since this evidence is principally derived from the numerous extracts selected from the theological writings of the Hon. E. Swedenborg, by which extracts it is made clear to demonstration, that under the letter and history of the inspired volume, there is contained an internal or spiritual sense, which constitutes the very spirit and life of the Holy Book, therefore a second particular object is to demonstrate the high authority stamped on those writings, as resulting from this their sacred and edifying testimony.
To say all that might be said on this subject, would require a volume, which is now become the
less necessary, since so many volumes have already been written upon it, all of them carrying with them a fulness of conviction to the serious and well-disposed mind. But there is one feature of pote and excellence in the character of the enlightened author under consideration, which perhaps has not heretofore been sufficiently insisted on, and which, as being more immediately connected with his general interpretation of the sacred Scriptures, and especially with his particular comments on the following Gospel, it may not be improper here to advert to, and dweli on. The feature alluded to is the author's grand discovery of the distinction existing between the two eternal principles, which he calls the Good and the True, together with the eternal relationship of those principles to each other; their perfect and everlasting union in the divine mind, and also in the divine Word ; their conjunction likewise in the heavens, or in the minds of the heavenly inhabitants; their conjunction too in every created subject in the world of nature, together with their proposed conjunction in the minds and lives of men, with a view to render them also capable of heavenly and eternal association and bliss ; and lastly, their manifestation in the distinct natures and qualities of the two sexes, from which result the nature, necessity, sanctity and bliss of married life,
If then it be a fact that the above eternal distinction between the Good and the TRUE was never before noted, or at least never before insisted on, by any human writer : If it be a fact also that the distinction, as it is extended and elucidated by the enJightened author of the following Extracts, involves in it lessons of the deepest and most important wisdom, by opening the intellectual mind to the true knowledge of the Most High God; by proving, with irresistible and heretofore unknown evidence, the divinity and sanctity of His REVEALED WORD; by manifesting the heavenly principles, their dis