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may be comprehended together at one view by the interior or intellectual sight; such is the nature of the first rational principle, or of that which exists before regeneration. But the rational principle after regeneration is formed by the Lord by the affections of spiritual truth and good, which affections are wonderfully implanted by the Lord in the truths of the former rational principle, and thus the things therein which are in concord with and favour those affections, are vivified, whilst other things are separated thence, as of no use, till at length spiritual goodnesses and truths are bound together as it were into little bundles, the things not agreeing therewith, and not capable of being vivified, being rejected as it were to the circumference; and this successively, in proportion to the increase of spiritual goodnesses and truths with their affections; hence it is evident what is the nature and quality of the other rational principle. .. But it is to be observed, that with man, although he is regenerated, still all and singular the things appertaining to the first rational principle remain, and are only separated from the other rational principle, and this miraculously of the Lord (A.C. 2657).
E. D. R.
SWEDENBORG IN THE NEW DAWN.
II.—1745. (Adv. p. 1, Vol. I.) “Could I begin my existence again, and—what is equally impossible—could I see before me all I have seen, I would choose few acquaintances, fewer friendships, no familiarities. This rubbish (for such it generally is) collecting at the base of an elevated mind lessens its height and impairs its character.”—LANDOR.
“Forewarned that the vice of the times is an excessive pretension, let us seek the shade and find wisdom in neglect.
The scholar must embrace solitude as a bride.”—EMERSON.
No sooner did Swedenborg reach home than he resumed the duties of his assessorship; this is clear from official documents : Hebrew was also to be commenced; as is evident from the fact that a few months later he begins to make use of it in his biblical studies. Conjointly with these labours, there were more papers on the “ Animal Kingdom” —the secret of the soul, for instance—to be wrought out: last, and most important work of all, there was the Word to be taken up—not for science merely, nor for critical exegesis, but because he felt he was called to a new career, and that the Scriptures had everything to do therewith. Such labours enforced privacy; yet, because Swedenborg
accepted solitude, and toiled away in happy ignorance of the world without, he is called “ a man of no friendships !” For his indifference to the essentially indifferent, he is called "a man of small heart." The truth is, the hour had its work; and with singleness of aim he betook himself to the punctual accomplishment of that work. A student, earnest, plodding, and systematic, he could not but despise that giddiness called Fashion, seeing, as he did, how its thousand frivolities emasculated the will until this became the very slave of appearances ; how they distorted intellect until it could judge but through conventionalism ; how they debauched the religious sentiment till faithful search and loving worship were no longer possible. It was the creations of vanity only that he ever despised; and, as we shall soon see, he really never cherished humanity more warmly than now :—for this, from a love of this, all his subsequent labours were undertaken ; let us be grateful for that harvest of wisdom won for us in those hours he felt were God-given, and thus worthy of higher uses than are effected where life spends itself out in flatteries and soulless commonplace, "speaking weakly and from the point, like a flighty girl.” “Lovers should preserve their strangeness.”
It was with the highest expectations he took up the Bible. “The Scriptures should be chiefly studied with this intent;—that we may see the future kingdom of God therein, and the many things pertaining thereto. Not here and there only, but everywhere do the Scriptures treat of His kingdom ; for this was the end contemplated in all creation both in heaven and in earth.” Such are the words introducing No. 1 of Swedenborg's first great theological work—the "Adversaria"-a work extending over 2889 pages of Latin. It is a commentary composed in agreement with the above view, and was written from first to last within the twenty months immediately following the date of his return home. In this work, the whole of the five books of Moses, Joshua, Judges, Isaiah, and Jeremiah are gone through at length; and from page
to page, as you read, you see the writer advancing to higher intuitions and clearer perceptions, while experiences relating to the spiritual world are given from time to time, but are carefully distinguished from the text itself. Much of the work was written in the very presence of angels; the holy thoughts of the beatified are oftentimes set down in their own words. Philosophy transcending all that mortal man ever penned before will be found running through innumerable pages. Free from moodiness and melancholy, large portions of the book, if found within the covers of Plato, would be deemed his
best, and inspired. Discourses full of serenity, and treating of the sublimest themes that ever occupied a seraph's thought, will be found here and there in the volumes. A book of homilies, such as would take orthodoxy on its own ground and carry it to heights of perception it had never before attained, might be compiled therefrom ; while the lover of mysticism will here find a store of beautiful allegory free from asceticism, extravagance, and weakness. The reader of the treatise “On the Infinite” will here find the whole book re-written, not as speculation but as history; the biography of the first-born in Paradise is here continued to its tragical close. To him who studies Hebrew, not merely as a language but rather as the divine vehicle of a peculiar kind of thought, there is no work to be compared with it; not only are there two distinct translations running through a good portion of the volumes, but the writer's thoughts themselves have such immediate reference to the Word and its exact import that the sense of study is absorbed in enjoyment, while your power of perception is intensified by the serenity of thought superinduced. It is to the “ Arcana Coelestia" what the concrete is to the abstract, and generally gives the very idea wanted to carry the reader from the particular to the universal ; thus, while everywhere ministering to the religious sentiment, it is a sort of nexus between Swedenborg's subsequent writings and such books as Mathew Henry's commentary. Well do we know that a true sermon derives its inspiration, wisdom, and influence from a higher sphere than that governed by culture, and thus that the earnest Christian minister looks otherward for light; yet may we say that even he who believes in the supremacy of intellect and prudence need never preach a dull sermon if he turn to this book, for here the natural and the spiritual alternate with singular freshness and beauty. It is all novelty and instruction. And yet one cannot but regret that it should be so voluminous, thus too expensive for reprinting in our time; hence, when the Church rises into Swedenborg's thought with regard to the absolute necessity of a knowledge of Hebrew for a true understanding of the Bible, there will probably be no longer an opportunity of procuring the very work most conducive thereto. No congregational library should, for this reason, be without it: the Church exists for use.
Singularly enough, the "Adversaria" at the outset is altogether on the natural plane of thought. Swedenborg's writings thus begin at the lowest healthy point, at times afterwards to rise into the celestial.
The object of this scientific introduction was to see if the history of creation as related by Moses would stand the test of critical investigation. It
does. The greatest geological difficulty—that of a six days' work-is shown to be but an apparent one: the Word was not man's but God's, and with Him a thousand years are but as a day,—“it was a complete period of time.” Nor is the sun's primal creation represented as taking place after that of the earth; the perfected rotatory motions of the latter in bringing about the alternations of evening and morning first brought the sun into its true relationship,—the only creation involved. If Huxley and Darwin are not supported in the explanation of how the first human pair came into existence, neither is orthodoxy; the question altogether is held to be one of secondary importance, and the view laid down in the book on “The Wisdom and Love of God” is still favoured (p. 10): while the Fall itself is shown to have been an actual representation on the plane of nature of man's spiritual declension from the celestial state wherein “the inspirations of the Divine immediately flowed in.” Here, in contrasting the external speech of fallen man with the “universal speech of the celestial ones," and which is " produced by wondrous gyrations of the celestial form," Swedenborg tells us how he has been introduced into heaven and has perceived such converse to exist among the angels (p. 15); he alludes also to a daily experience of divine teachings (p. 17). With Adam's expulsion from Eden-a natural event typifying the soul's departure from that paradisiacal state wherein “ God, the Sun of Wisdom, is ever in His rising"—the historical introduction closes; one of its many uses being this :-to strengthen the conviction that Swedenborg's illumination at no period of its development had anything in common with that modern Spiritism which, in its magnetic manipulations, and in its dismal interrogations through tables and other mediumistic apparatus -living and dead-never wholly exorcises doubt, nor brings one's inward faculties, even for a moment, into the light of Him who is the life of man.
We find Swedenborg, from the very first, advancing from one degree of certitude to another and higher degree, all in a brighter light than that of outward nature. The relatively imperfect perceptions of Trinitarian angelic societies necessarily had their effect in preventing our author's mind from at once seeing interior truth as it could best be seen ; but in that arrangement of Divine Providence, for equilibrium and ascension, whereby the influences of those societies were counterbalanced by those of Monotheistic Jewish ones, and both subordinated to the gentler, wiser instructions through the angelic spirits of the Ancient and Must Ancient Churches,—this, with all it has brought us, is sui generis, and an essentially divine work.
Consider, for instance, the influences involved in the following, and which was written near the beginning of this volume :- “ What that state is like wherein we are governed by celestial influx, and this not only as to our thoughts but even to the very actions or motions of our body, and that at such a time it is not in the least degree permitted the inferior faculties to effect anything through the active will—this, by God's grace, I have well learnt from my individual experience” (p. 18). Under such holy influences, his very language is gradually becoming more and more angelically human. A mode of expression free from all disguises, a clear, logical directness of speech, such as befits the rhetoric of Truth,—these are already unmistakably manifest: thus his words respecting the first blush of shame in Paradise are worthy of a seraph's pen; the sections on the Descent of the Supercelestial Life sound like the echo of an angel's speech (Nos. 11, 12, 13). Who but some blest one that had ascended the ladder Jacob saw at Bethel could have prompted those exalted thoughts respecting it that we find here? (484 to 492) and could any angel but a celestial one have led Swedenborg up to that point of perception indicated in the sweet passages on “The Kingdom of God ?" (520 to 524), “ righteousness and peace have kissed each other."
It is after speaking on this subject some pages previously that he makes the following trenchant assertion :
“Lest these things should be counted fables, I can attest, and that most solenınly, that I have been intromitted into this kingdom by Jesus of Nazareth, the very Messiah and Saviour of the world. I have conversed there almost continually with celestial genii, spirits, the risen dead, and even with such as called themselves Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Rebecca, Moses, Aaron, and the Apostles (chiefly Paul and James),--this for eight months now—that period excepted when I was journeying from London to Sweden. The converse was especially continual when these things were written which I now publish ; indeed, the above (or their angels) and others were the nearest vehicles of the very words themselves ” (475).
This passage is far more important than it appears to be at first sight. Extensive angelic intercourse is shown; many varieties of character must have been met with ; corresponding differences of scenery would be beheld ; descriptions of spiritual and celestial events and customs would be frequent topics of discourse : yet not only does Swedenborg refrain from word-painting in regard to these things as such, but—as a further passage in the same section shows—he actually considers them