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light has penetrated to those places of instruction; still, for the most part, it is only cloudy glimpses that are observed; and truths taught under such circumstances are frequently suffocated by the tainted atmosphere which surrounds them; moreover, it seldom happens that the source presumed for them will be acknowledged by those who teach them. These things many experiences have proved; by them professed members have been drawn away from the distinctive work of the New Church; they have weakened Societies; and the ministry has been discouraged.
These, and some other points that could be named, deserve the careful and earnest attention of all who profess to accept the teachings of the New Jerusalem. The remedy is to be found in the cultivation of a sounder faith. Loyalty to all that which gives the New Church distinction should be conscientiously observed. There should be no half-heartedness in the espousal of its teachings. The peculiarities of doctrine which are inseparable from its existence should be honestly avowed. The frankness will be esteemed if the opinions are rejected. Any attempt to evade their precise expression is the result of a feeble apprehension of their excellence. The peculiarities of the new dispensation are not eccentricities, they are simply the evolutions of a spiritual philosophy, which has not attracted the attention of the world. To conceal it is impossible, to proclaim it is a duty. To be silent upon such subjects is to be unfaithful to our profession. There should be no hesitation in declaring that the former Church, through the prevalence of false doctrines, has come to its end; that a New Church with true doctrines is now being established among mankind, and that Swedenborg was the instrument through whom the Lord was pleased to effect the spiritual exposition of His Word, and make known much of the nature and many of the phenomena of the other life. We profess to believe these things; we desire that intelligence and piety should examine the grounds on which they rest and the objects at which they aim, and we should never lack the courage to give them open and intelligent expression. Our duty is to uphold by life and conversation what we know to be the truth, and nothing should seduce us from our allegiance to so Divine a teacher. By seeming assent and conformity to the common Christianity of our times we do injustice to the truth with which we have been intrusted. We know the doctrines of that Christianity to be false, and we should not by any reserve lead their believers to suppose that we either approve of their opinions, or that our differences are so slight that we have no
fair grounds for a distinctive profession and existence. Divine truth admits of no compromise with human inventions. Its defenders may seem singular; that is a small penalty for so great a privilege. It has been suffered by wise men in all dark times; how conspicuous was it in the character of Jesus. Every one should have courage equal to his opinions, and even dare to be singular whensoever it may be necessary for the honour of his faith.-On behalf of the Conference, I am, yours very faithfully, E. D. RENDELL.
PRESTON, August 10, 1874.
THE FOURTH GOSPEL THE HEART OF CHRIST.1
IN Part IV. of his valuable book, Mr. Sears undertakes a review of the "Johannean Theology." Over this portion of the work many readers will linger with pleasure and admiration. As a motto for the section, the author has chosen the fine saying of Schaff, that the Johannean theology "breathes the air of peace, yet sounds at times like a peal of thunder from the other world; it soars majestically like the eagle towards the uncreated source of light, and yet hovers as gently as a dove over the earth; it is sublime as a seraph, yet simple as a child; high and serene as the heaven, deep as the unfathomable sea."
The fact that "men like Clement, Origen, Augustine, Chrysostom, Neander, and Schleiermacher have found in John's theology the keynote of all the harmonies divine and human, and the open entrance to the knowledge and fruition of God," should furnish to all "an urgent motive to study this Gospel with expectant minds." No statement of its theology can be "exhaustive." "None of our creeds have crystallized the whole Johannean theology, or probably ever will. When we have put everything visible and tangible to us into our formulas, there is still a divine atmosphere which enfolds us, and which we breathe and live in though unseen, and there are clefts in the heavens still higher, suggesting fields of truth not yet open to our gaze." This is beautiful and true.
Because the theology of the New Testament "collided with pre
1 "The Fourth Gospel the Heart of Christ." By Edmund H. Sears. Boston, Noyes, Holmes & Co. 1874. Demy 8vo, pp. viii-551.
ceding or contemporaneous systems of belief," no exposition of it can be made tolerably intelligible without some clear apprehension of the leading features of the philosophy and cosmology to which it stands contrasted. Hence Mr. Sears sets forth some of the elements of the cosmology of Plato, drawn chiefly from his two later and more elaborate productions, the "Republic" and the "Timæus." Those students of Swedenborg who have not bestowed much attention on this subject may find some slight help from the reviewer's summary of Mr. Sears' summary of Plato's views, as stated in the "Timæus."
Plato assumes three postulates. There is, firstly, a Demiurgus, or divine artificer; not an unconscious force, but a being possessing personal attributes; the Supremely Good, who is described as the Nous, or Supreme Intellect. The Supremely Good is thus conceived as determined by an infinite Reason: the Agathon is the Nous, the "Good" is the "Intelligent." This INTELLIGENCE OF MIND was in the beginning of things, and was the presiding and constructive force in the architecture of the universe. There are, secondly, ideals or archetypes, after the models of which all things were to be made. These were co-eternal with the Demiurgus, existent, not within his mind, but objectively to it, in their own heavenly locality. The latter distinction is important, often overlooked, sometimes denied. Plato however represents these archetypes as separate entities, occupying their own intelligible world, existing as both general and special, as one perfect whole, compounded of an infinite number and variety of particulars, "subject to no increase or diminution, but comprehending all possibilities of class, order, genera and species." There is, thirdly, the primitive chaos, wild, disorderly matter; containing the prime elements of earth, air, fire, water; subject to no beneficent law; eternally discordant, the slave of chance; it was not visible, but a wild fundamentum of existence, the dark and evil womb of some prima mater. Granting these three postulates, creation is thus explained: the Demiurgus took the archetypal or ideal earth, air, fire, water, and dipped them into chaos, whereby these higher ideals became clothed, material and visible. Thus to the primal chaos succeeded the orderly universe. Although all the primal chaos became thus used up, wrought into the beautiful Cosmos, the old chaotic tendency remained as a disturbing element. never thoroughly subdued. Despite the labours of the Demiurgus, incarnating the ideals within the chaos, it formed only a deceptive covering, phenomena or sensuous appearances being ever changing and “phantasmal." When the Cosmos was thus
fashioned, the Demiurgus infused into it a soul. This soul consisted of the "harmonic pure and simple," of the "discordant pure and simple," and of the "commingling together of the harmonic and the discordant." This soul was diffused throughout the whole Cosmos, which thus became an animated being, a visible god imaging the invisible, bearing in this way the impress of the Nous, the Divine Reason itself. Then began the motions and revolutions of the universe: then time began. But this Cosmos was a generic god-the visible ALL; every planet and star in it was likewise possessed of a separate and specific soul, and each such soul was eternal and divine. They each were specific, though comprehended in the ALL; just as each animal is specific, yet all are comprehended in the term "Nature." I pass by Plato's theories as to the motions of planets and stars, the rhythmic order of the motions of the outer stellar orbs, the "music of the spheres;" only observing that the comparatively irregular movements of the planets were ascribed to the circumstance that the "discordant" element was more largely infused into these planet-souls than into star-souls, while in the sidereal circle the "harmonic" prevailed.
The next thing to be formed was man. The Demiurgus is immortal, and inasmuch as a part of man was to be mortal, he could not be altogether created immediately by the Supreme. The stellar and planetary gods were employed as the instruments of the Demiurgus in the creation of all that was mortal. The Demiurgus provided the inmost souls of men, from the pre-existent "over-soul," the remnant left of the cosmical soul, for the clothing of which chaos supplied no material. This remnant, greatly inferior in quality to that already incarnated in the world-souls, the Demiurgus compounded anew and fashioned into as many souls as there are fixed stars. Each soul prior to mortal incarnation was to be "sent to its most congenial star, there to be carried round in the cosmic revolutions, and enjoy the contemplation of supernal wisdom," and hear the music of the spheres. In this pre-natal state the destiny of each soul was unrolled to it, the mysteries of the universe explained, but such heavenly knowledge was subsequently to be forgotten, "overlaid and buried under the swathings of mortality." In this pre-natal state the immortal, inmost soul was to learn that it must descend, together with two inferior and mortal souls, into a mortal body; be subjected to pleasure and pain, fear and anger; encounter those irrational enemies, the lower souls and the mortal body; and that, in order that it might "reascend to its native star," it must overcome these
enemies. If vanquished, instead of being victorious, the soul would sink into lower conditions, be again and again incarnated in lower and lower animal forms, until the victory so often attempted should be complete, when it would reascend to its star, and enjoy once more supernal wisdom and the music of the harmonic spheres. (It is somewhat remarkable that Mr. Harris has revived, and added to, the notion of world-souls; and that the Spiritualists of France and Germany have adopted the notion of "reincarnation," and are busily advocating it.)
The gods carried out these instructions of the Demiurgus; they duly constructed the mortal souls and the mortal bodies. The immortal soul they placed in the head; one of the mortal souls they placed in the thorax, and made it the seat of passion, anger, and rage; the other and still baser mortal soul they placed below the diaphragm, and made it the seat of sensual and beast-like appetites. Between the immortal soul and these three-the two mortal souls and the body— there was to be waged continual war. At birth, and for some time afterward, the celestial nature-the soul descended from its star-is completely dulled and muffled gradually, however, it reveals itself to consciousness, makes itself felt and heard, and when its behests are obeyed, gleams of its pre-natal condition, and murmurs of the sphere melodies are obtained, and which draw the soul upward. If by contemplating the Cosmos, both through sight and the rational and immortal soul, passion and appetite are subordinated, the celestial nature triumphs, and, after death, the soul reascends to its star: if otherwise, it transmigrates to lower and lower forms and natures. Originally there was no division of sex: all were men. Cowards after death became women, and thenceafter the race was bisexual. whose minds were light, fantastic and frivolous, became birds. Those who became enslaved by bestial appetites became successively, and in proportion to their moral degradation, animals, reptiles, fishes, or even "oysters which live in mud." Animals were not created such: they are degraded men, resulting from the continued enslavement of the celestial by the sensual and corporeal. Darwin and some other thinkers represent man to be a highly developed animal: Plato represents the animals to be degraded men!
Plato ends his description of this fantastic cosmology in a strain of exultation:-"Our discourse about the universe is ended. It has received its complement of animation, mortal and immortal; it has become greatest, best, most beautiful and most perfect: a visible