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true, and thence appropriates them to himself. There are two ways of procuring the truths of faith,-by doctrinals and by the Word: when a man procures them to himself only by doctrinals, he then has faith in those who have drawn them from the Word, and he confirms them with himself to be true because others have said so; thus he does not believe them from his own faith, but from the faith of others: but when he procures them to himself from the Word, and hence confirms them with himself to be true, he then believes them because they are from the Divine, thus from a faith derived from the Divine. Every one in the church first procures to himself the truths of faith from doctrinals, and also ought to procure them thence, because he is not yet endued with sufficient strength of judgment to enable him to see them himself from the Word; but in this case those truths are mere scientifics: when, however, he is able to view them from his own judgment, if he then does not consult the Word in order that he may thence see whether they are true, they remain with him as mere scientifics; whereas if in such case he consults the Word from an affection and end of knowing truths, he then, when he has found them, procures to himself the things of faith from the genuine fountain, and they are appropriated to him from the Divine." (A. C. 5402.)
"Merely natural faith is not to be ascribed to the Lord, but the truth of innocence which is therein. Merely natural faith is that which is insinuated by an external, and not by an internal way,-such as sensual faith, which consists in believing a thing to be so, because the eye hath seen, and the hand hath touched it [such was that of Thomas, John xx. 29]; also as the faith of miracles, which consists in believing a thing merely from miracles; also as the faith of autho rity, which consists in believing a thing to be so, because another, to whom credit is given, has said it. But spiritual faith, on the other hand, is that which is insinuated by an internal, and at the same time by an external way; insinuation by an internal way causes anything to be believed, and in this case what is insinuated by an external way causes it to be confirmed. What is spiritual in faith is the affection of charity, and hence the affection of truth for the sake of a good use, and of life; these cause faith to be spiritual. The insinuation of faith by an internal way is effected by the reading of the Word, and on suck occasion by illumination from the Lord, which is given according to the quality of the affection, that is, according to the end or purpose in learning the truth." (A. C. 8078.)
"Be it known, that all the truths of the Word which are the truths
of heaven and of the church, may be seen by the understanding, in heaven spiritually, in the world rationally, for the understanding truly human is the very sight itself of those things, being separated from what is material, and when it is separated, it sees truths as clearly as the eye sees objects; it sees truths as it loves them, for as it loves them it is illustrated. The angels have wisdom in consequence of seeing truths; wherefore when it is said to any angel that this or that is to be believed although it is not understood, the angel replies, "Do you suppose me to be insane, or that you yourself are a god whom I am bound to believe. If I do not see, it may be something false from hell." (A. E. 1100.)
"The mind of man desireth evermore to know the truth according to the most infallible certainty which the nature of things can yield. The greatest assurance generally with all men is that which we have by plain aspect and intuitive beholding. When we cannot attain unto this, then what appeareth to be true, by strong and invincible demonstration, such as wherein it is not in any way possible to be deceived, thereunto the mind doth necessarily assent; neither is it in the choice thereof to do otherwise. And in case these both do fail, then, which way greatest probability leadeth, thither the mind doth evermore incline."-HOOKER, Ecc. Pol. ii. 7.
NEVER was there a period in the history of the Church when members had more cause than at present for fostering a spirit of calm rational inquiry. Numbers of well-meaning individuals have thoughtlessly turned their backs upon the past with all its teachings and warnings. In a feverish yearning after the marvellous; in a hankering, such as that which led poor Irving to say he loved to watch for Coleridge's grand ideas, dim looming through the mist,—men allow judgment to be distorted by inflooding novelty. They do not pause to scrutinize. Wonderland has such charms, that its glories, some people think, must needs be divine. Thus a class is rapidly increasing, who, in matters pertaining to religion, have predilections innumerable, but no convictions; the fanciful has taken the place of exact knowledge. In such a time the attitude of the Christian disciple should be one of circumspection,-cheerful, confident, and calm. The new should be welcomed, but questioned. The serene wisdom of Swedenborg
when, from day to day and from year to year, he looked upon nature as in very deed a creation "in God from God," and thus never bereft of the Divine Presence, such should be an object of our effort to attain.
"There is a fire
And motion of the soul, which will not dwell
In its own narrow being, but aspire
Beyond the fitting medium of desire;
And but once kindled-quenchless evermore-
Of ought but rest."
Herein lies danger; and the example of Swedenborg, in regard to a particular order of thought, may advantage us in a time of tendency towards unhealthy extremes.
Swedenborg had a life-long confidence in the principles which underlie the teachings of DESCARTES. In his early student-years the Cartesian philosophy furnished a tranquillizing "Method" for his thought; at middle-age he wrote the treatise "On the Worship and Love of God," a piece of pure Cartesianism; in after life and under illumination this "Method" was so practised as to win from him for humanity the most important of results; a justification, surely, for our looking at Descartes awhile, and at some of the chief points in his teachings.
René Descartes was born at La Haye in Touraine, in the year 1596. Of delicate constitution, and subject to a short dry cough that served as a continual memento mori, the child was thoughtful beyond most children, and as he grew up towards manhood those habits which characterized his latter days already exhibited themselves in a pensiveness which, though never sinking into melancholy, rarely rose into hilarity.
The Jesuits were his teachers in youth; the army in early manhood was his school; neither could give him what his soul wanted— wisdom. He was affluent in circumstances, was fond of philosophy, was much given to mathematics, and had no slight love of poetry; but neither the advantages of position, the cloud-castles of scholasticism, the pretty aridities of geometry, nor the hazy splendours of Parnassus could still a heart craving for the truth. Least of all were the rules and aphorisms of the older logic likely to satisfy him; for under their regimen human thought had gone farther away from God. His experience was that of Swedenborg: "In truth we are surrounded with illusive and fallacious lights, and are the more likely to fall because
our very darkness thus counterfeits the day. When we are carried away by ratiocination alone, we are somewhat like blindfolded children in their play, who, though they imagine that they are walking straight forward, yet, when their eyes are unbound, plainly perceive that they have been following some round-about path, which, if pursued, must have led them to the place the very opposite to the one intended." 1
Descartes saw that the multitude of laws often furnishes excuses for vice; and he believed that a state is better ruled when, having few laws, these few are strictly observed. He concluded that, for a like reason, the great number of precepts constituting the older logic might advantageously be set aside for the following four, provided these were rigorously observed.
I. He would avoid haste and prejudice in judging, and would never receive anything for true that he did not, from "clear and distinct perception," know to be true.
II. He would divide every difficult statement into as many sections as possible; by such analyses general principles should be correctly known from a correct knowledge of their particulars.
III. He would conduct his thoughts in an orderly way by synthesis, beginning with the simplest objects, and ascending thence, little by little, to the knowledge of things the most composite.
IV. He would make such general revisions and such complete classifications as should leave no doubt of anything essential having been omitted.2
The observance of these rules Descartes believed would save him from that Pyrrhonism which was everywhere around him, and which, however learned, witty, and polite, was after all mere withering pretentiousness. Scepticism can accumulate only doubts; the human mind is contented only with a faith which can build up a heaventouching temple. Descartes would try these four principles while assuming for a moment an artificial scepticism which should make permanent scepticism illogical. He did not desire-he said-to rebuild the town in which others dwelt, but to reconstruct the dwellingplace of his own intellect; he might for this purpose employ old materials, but the plan must be new and the ground thoroughly cleared. With the postulate that the human mind is competent for truthful intellection, he began by seeking for the first principle of true metaphysics; this found, and its bearings ascertained, the proper foundation was laid for a right philosophy of being.
1 Econ. An. Kingdom, 11.
2 Discours de la Méthode, ii.
He began by an act of abstraction; a temporary suspension of the judgment. "In order to rid one's self of all prejudice," said he, "it is only necessary to determine not to affirm or deny anything of what we formerly affirmed or denied, until it has been carefully examined again. But we are not, on this account, prohibited from retaining in our memory the whole of the notions themselves."
As our senses deceive us sometimes, Descartes resolved to suppose there was not anything exactly such as our senses imagined it to be; nay, inasmuch as some men have gone wrong in their reasonings on the simplest of matters, he rejected, as possibly false, all reasons previously accepted as demonstrations. Finally-considering that the thoughts we have while awake may also come to us when we are asleep, without any of them at that time being true-he resolved to feign that everything which had ever entered his mind was no more true than were the illusions of his dreams.
It was at this point that Descartes felt constrained to observe that during the very time when he was feigning everything to be false, there was still one idea unquestionably true. He who thought was something. The one truth, "I think, therefore I exist," was so firm and assured, as a clear distinct certainty, that all the most extravagant suppositions of scepticism were powerless against it. Evidently Descartes could without scruple receive this fact as the first principle of the true system of metaphysics he would discover.
In this indubitable certitude of a self in consciousness, reason had found in reason the individual as a thinking personality. Philosophy had new birth in that act of perception. In what lay Descartes' ground of confidence here? It was in the conviction that the idea was true because it was clear. The thought led to an important generalisation; all clear ideas are true-a doctrine to which Swedenborg attaches great importance through all the years of his illumination. Descartes reached it by some such consideration as this: "Having observed there was nothing in this perception, I think, therefore I am,' that assures me of truth in it, save that I see very clearly, that to think presupposes existence in that which thinks, I judged that I might accept as a general principle just what this involves, namely, that everything conceived of very clearly and very distinctly is true." Such is the beginning of Descartes' deductive philosophy,—a philosophy that should embrace whatever consciousness could "clearly and distinctly" accept;-God, humanity, nature, and thought!
"Everything which originates in order is truth," says Swedenborg,