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(and although truth should be maintained and promulgated), still at such a meeting as this such reflections might and would probably tend only to a feeling of self-exaltation in our own minds, leading us to indulge in a fancied intellectual superiority over others, which is at all times to be deprecated, and totally incompatible with that spirit of humility and love which ought to be our guiding principle. The most important duty devolving upon us, as members of this Society, is that we should endeavour in every possible way to place before others the writings of Swedenborg, which we, from heartfelt experience, know to be of the deepest interest and of the highest importance, and show, by the consistent character of our own lives, the benefits that we have derived from a knowledge of the truths contained in his works. All the members of this Society must be aware of the great need now existing for the circulation of the works of Swedenborg, in aiding to keep alive and spread abroad the knowledge of one of the first, and in itself one of the most important, of all other religious truths, viz., the Word of the Almighty, entirely differing from the literary works of man, is plenarily inspired, the nature and objects of that inspiration, and how impossible it is, without a knowledge of the science of correspondence, fully to understand or adequately to comprehend the Bible in its entirety. Moreover, does it not behove us all to be alive to the fact that a larger diffusion of truth is requisite to correct and prevent from spreading the most false and pernicious ideas now prevailing as to the very nature and character of the Divine Being Himself? In certain sections of the Christian Church, members of which do not hesitate, whilst praying to the Almighty to pardon their sins for the sake of the merits of His own dear Son, to ask in addition the prayers of the Virgin Mary and the Saints. Whilst, however, we protest as strongly as possible against such practices, let us beware, on the other hand, of lowering that idea of reverence which ought to exist in the minds of every one for the character of the Virgin Mary so beautifully portrayed in the New Testament. A Romish Priest, on being asked if the Virgin Mary should be prayed to, replied, Yes; but you will only hear in reply what the Virgin said to the servants at the marriage of Cana of Galilee, "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do." In other sections of the Christian Church we find the clergy trying, by handsome edifices, elaborate forms of ritual, gorgeous decorations, and imposing ceremonials, to supply the lack of wisdom on their part, and failing, in consequence, to reach the hearts and minds of their congregationsthe hearts and minds of whom can be alone impressed and delighted by truths taught by ministers gifted with an intelligent comprehension of God's Holy Word.
Before concluding, I will only say that I will not anticipate the report which will now be read of the transactions of the Committee for the past year, but will simply express the earnest hope and prayer that the Council about to be elected by your suffrages may throughout its year of office be guided by the influence of God's Holy Spirit, and that the Society, by its fostering care and supervision, may continue to develop and bear rich fruit. Finally, my friends, may
we each in our own sphere continue to labour for the spreading forth of truth, and may we by our lives show that we remember the apostolic injunction, "The end of all things is at hand, be ye therefore scher, and watch unto prayer. And above all things, have fervent charity among yourselves, for charity shall cover the multitude of sins."
The Chairman then called upon the Secretary to read the minutes of the last Annual Meeting. After these had been signed by the Chairman, the Secretary read the following Report of the Committee:
In presenting a report of the Society's proceedings for the past year your Committee deems it a matter of congratulation that so many opportunities have been afforded to it for the furtherance of the great objects of the Society. In one special instance an opportunity has been presented which affords a signal proof that, in the words of Cowper, the Divine Providence "moves in a mysterious way its wonders to perform." That the noble sum of £1000 should have been placed at the disposal of the Society, under the simple condition, that as far as possible the uses it would enable the Committee to perform should be as universal as possible, was more than the most sanguine member could possibly have anticipated. It will add greatly to the gratification of the members to know that the benevolent donor is desirous of still further promoting the objects of the Society when the above mentioned sum has been expended. A few particulars in connection with the gift will form an appropriate beginning for the Report under its first heading of British. It was at the Committee meeting in last month that your Treasurer reported to the Committee that on the 27th April he received an intimation from the London and County Bank, that the sum of £1000 had been placed to the Secretary's credit by a donor who expressly desired to be anonymous. In conveying the gift its disposal was expressly left to the judgment of the Committee, accompanied with an intimation that the theological works might usefully be presented to the Nonconformist colleges and institutions of a similar character, and also that an offer of a copy of the True Christian Religion gratuitously to clergymen of the Church of England and ministers of every communion, in all probability would be attended with a successful result. Accordingly the Secretary communicated with sixteen Congregational and Wesleyan colleges and Institutions, offering them sets of the theological works, and the sum of £250 was set apart for the purpose of presenting to clergymen of the Church of England, and ministers of every denomination, copies of the True Christian Religion upon receiving their names and addresses.1
The results so far have exceeded all expectations. Out of the sixteen colleges eleven have accepted them, four are waiting for the decision of their Committees, and only one has refused. The refusal, however, was worded in very courteous terms. The following are the
1 Advertisements were arranged to appear weekly until the end of the present month in the following papers, viz., Times, Daily News, Daily Telegraph, Standard, Scotsman, Glasgow Herald, Guardian, Inquirer, Watchman, Baptist, Christian World, Freeman, Rock, John Bull, Methodist, Nonconformist, (the Tablet refused to insert one).
names of the colleges which have accepted the offer:-Wesleyan Theological Institution for the improvement of preachers who have been placed by the Conference on the President's list of reserve, Richmond Branch (52 students); Didsbury Branch; Headingley Branch; Western College, Plymouth (21 students); Rotherham Independent College (18 students); Hackney Theological Seminary (20 students); Congregational Institute, Nottingham (50 students); Spring-hill College, Moseley, Birmingham (20 students); Theological Hall of Congregational Churches of Scotland (11 students); Congregational Memorial College, Brecon (18 students); Independent College, Bala (25 students); Congregational Institute of Bristol (14 students); Wesleyan Training College, Westminster (125 students last year.)
Copies of the True Christian Religion have been applied for by ministers of nearly every denomination. As many as 108 letters were received by Mr. Speirs in one day, 27th May, and the daily average has been from twenty-five to thirty. The number of applications up to the present date is upwards of 700. Some of the applications were from the students of some of the above named colleges. instance the application was signed by every student in the college to the number of fifty-two, and in another the same would have been done but for the absence of two at the time the application was made. A considerable number of applications have been made by persons, not clergymen, but class leaders, city missionaries, occasional lecturersor otherwise engaged in the work of religious teaching. Your Committee has dealt with all these in a liberal spirit, so that no apparently bona fide application has been refused. A brief selection from the correspondence in connection with the Secretaries of the Colleges, and with the applications for the True Christian Religion will be interesting and instructive, and afford remarkable evidence of the passing away of prejudice against the name of Swedenborg, and a consequent desire to become better acquainted with his writings. First as to Colleges.
One Secretary writes,
"At a Committee meeting a resolution was passed to accept thankfully your liberal offer of the theological works for the Institution on the conditions you mention."
The Committee are prepared with thanks to accept the proposed gift of a set of Swedenborg's works."
A third writes,—
"We shall, I am sure, be happy to receive the noble addition to our library which you propose to send us, and will comply with the reasonable condition which you impose."
From the numerous letters from applicants for the True Christian Religion, the following are selected :
"Will you present my sincere thanks to the Swedenborg Society, with my assurance that the book which was first read by me many years since, shall again be studied with the earnest desire to see the truth which its sublime promises deserve."
"I have seen in two newspapers the enclosed advertisement, and herewith ask you to forward me a copy of Swedenborg's True Christian Religion.' If I had known about it last week I would have called for it personally. I am the Unitarian minister of this town, and the book will be very useful to me. During the past winter I have lent to several persons all the books I have on Swedenborgianism, e.g., Noble's Appeal,'Life of Swedenborg,' etc. Dr. Bayley's lectures here two summers in succession created a spirit of inquiry amongst a few. These come to me because it is little good for them to go to our Orthodox friends and ministers. I have purchased several Swedenborgian works for them."
"Having seen your advertisement in the Nonconformist respecting the work of Swedenborg, I enclose ten stamps for a copy of his work advertised therein. I do not know much of his writings, only what I do know has created in me a relish for a better acquaintance with his doctrines."
"A non-wealthy rector will be too happy to receive from Mr. Speirs a copy of 'Swedenborg's True Christian Religion,' from whose writings he has from early life derived much lasting benefit."
"Believing it to be the duty of every one who professes to be an ambassador of Christ, thoroughly and conscientiously to study every phase of opinion which may be presented on that all-important subject, and observing that you are prepared to make a presentation copy to those who may specially desire to study the writings of Swedenborg, 1 respectfully request that at your convenience you will kindly forward a copy of the said work. If you have any of Dr. Bayley's lectures at hand I should be glad to peruse one or two of those.”
"I can assure them that the work shall receive a careful and studious consideration, and it will ever be a pleasure to me to be able to refer to the opinions of so distinguished a philosopher and theologian as Emanuel Swedenborg.'
"During the present week I have come in contact with the book advertised in the Methodist,' 'Swedenborg's True Christian Religion,' and had I been consious of its worth-as an intellectual, philosophical, and truly religious work-I should ere this have purchased it. I have until the present regarded with suspicion his writings, but to a great extent what I have already read of his book has tended to annihilate those feelings; and I shall esteem it a favour if you will at your earliest convenience send me a copy. I have enclosed the necessary postage. "At the present time I am not in charge of any congregation, having lately come to this place for the sake of health, but I preach regularly, and before I came here had charge of the Congregational church at I may state that the reason, or rather occasion, of my applying to you is a conversation which I have lately had with a lady, who has an intelligent well-informed friend whose opinion is that any one reading Swedenborg's writings with an unprejudiced mind is pretty certain to agree with his views, and my own opinion is, that we should be willing to receive light even though it come from quarters where we have usually thought it did not exist."
As a specimen of an application entirely different in tone, we will conclude these extracts with one from a correspondent in the North.
"Observing in Scotsman of 16th inst. advertisement offering gratuitously a copy of the work above named to clergymen and ministers of every denomina tion, on receipt of 10d. stamps for its transmission, I would feel much obliged by your sending me a copy of it BY RETURN of post. Enclosed are 10d. postage stamps, as required for its transmission.
"P.S. Though not actually a clergyman, yet I think I may truly enough say-and I am not given to boasting that I may as worthily and appropriately request a copy of the work in question to be sent me, as plenty of clergymen &c., who may apply for copies to be transmitted or forwarded to them. Trusting therefore you will be good enough to comply with my request to send me a copy ON RECEIPT, by which, and also selecting me a good copy as regards binding, &c., &c., you will greatly oblige. It is almost unnecessary to add, that should my humble application for a copy be refused, you will please of course to be so good as to return me forthwith or on receipt, the 10d. stamps herein enclosed, but I trust as above stated, it will be kindly complied with."
On the recommendation of a gentleman, an old member of the Society, the Committee resolved to devote a further sum of £250 out of the £1000 for the purpose of revising, stereotyping, and publishing the Apocalypse Revealed in one vol. It will be rather larger than the True Christian Religion, but the price will be the same, viz., 2s. 6d. The desirability of offering gratuitously the work also, when completed, to clergy and ministers will deserve the serious consideration of the new Committee. The disposal of the £500 remaining is under consideration by a Sub-Committee. It has been suggested
that part of that sum might with great usefulness be devoted to further translations of the works in the Continental languages, and one or more of the smaller works into Hindoostance, the present time offering a fitting opportunity to supply the newly created spiritual wants of the immense populations of the far East.
The revision of the Divine Providence was completed shortly after the last annual meeting, and the book published in a pocket edition. Four important works can now be had in a portable form of elegant appearance and at a very low price. These editions have met a want which has long been felt, and their sale has been a most satisfactory one. At the suggestion of Dr. Wilkinson, attention was called to their suitability for Christmas presents by some small bills freely circulated at the end of last year, by which the sales were materially increased. The number of volumes sold has been over 2000.
In September last Mr. Thomas Potts, the indefatigable secretary of the Sunday School Union, Manchester, communicated to the Committee a resolution passed by the Union, thanking it for the 2s. edition of the True Christian Religion, and requesting an offer of the Apocalypse Explained at a reduced price. Your Committee agreed to accept 12s. per set of six vols., and it has great satisfaction in reporting that 106 sets or 636 vols. have been ordered by Mr. Potts. The large circulation thus given to this work is of great importance when viewed in connexion with the recent introduction of the Apocalypse into the lectionary of the Church of England.
BARLEE LEGACY.-It will be remembered that the legacy amounting to £91, Os. 10d. consols left by the late Mrs. Barlee of Ealing to the Society, was announced at the last annual meeting. Since that time it has been duly transferred by Mrs. Barlee's executors to the trustees of the Society, as will appear by the Treasurer's account.
HUBER BEQUEST.-Your Committee regrets being unable to report the settlement of this matter. Mr. Hancock is still in communication with Mr. Huber's representatives. The American Printing Society is also interested under the will, and a communication has been made with the Committee of that Society to secure joint action so far as is possible.
DONATIONS AND SUBSCRIPTIONS.
£1,249 2 0
£199 19 3