« PreviousContinue »
once his divinity and lapse into the Arian heresy; and denying his divinity, we become palpable Humanitarians or Socinians; and as a mere man, his death could be of no more efficacy in the work of human redemption than the death of Moses or one of the prophets.
I am, Gentlemen,
THOS. F. CHURCHILL.
To the Editors of the New Jerusalem Magazine. GENTLEMEN,
It is quite impossible for any ordinary mind to comprehend what your Correspondent *** means, when he says, that to believe that the Lord dwells in a Divine Body "is to acquiesce in interpretations which contradict the very first principles on which the Theology of the New Church is founded.” I beg to refer him to the following passage from the Divine Love and Wisdom No. 18, and to add, that I believe there is no one in the New Church who advocates the absurd doctrine which teaches, that the Lord still dwells in a material body, and this appears to be the only sense in which the term Divine Body can be offensive; they are too plainly taught, that it was made a Divine substance, thus substance itself, at the resurrection, and consequently could be no longer material. I can hardly conceive this to be the error *** means to correct, but should it be, I think he is certainly mistaken in supposing that such exists; should it not be, let him lose no time in giving us his own interpretation of a matter, which he regards as, and which truly is, of so much importance; otherwise he will be only endeavouring to overturn our present conceptions of the Divine Nature, without furnishing us with any thing to supply its place.
I am, Gentlemen,
Yours very truly,
"That there are infinite things in God any one may affirm in himself, who believeth that God is a man; and that inasmuch as he is a man, He hath a body and every thing appertaining to a body; thus that He hath a face, a breast, an abdomen, loins and feet, for without these He would not be a man; and that forasmuch as He hath these, He hath also eyes, ears, nostrils, a mouth and tongue; and also the organs that are within a man, as the heart and lungs and their dependencies; all which taken together make man to be a man. In created man those things are many, and viewed in their contexture are innumerable; but in God.man
they are infinite, there being nothing wanting, whence He hath infinite perfection. The reason why a comparison is made between uncreated Man, which is God, and created man, is, because God is a Man, and it is said by Him in the first chapter of Genesis, that "man in this world was created after his image, and according to his likeness, verses 26, 27."
Divine Love and Wisdom, n. 18.
Review of Books.
A Sermon occasioned by the decease of the Rev. Joseph Proud, formerly a Minister in the General Baptist connexion at Norwich, but since that period for many years a Minister in the New Jerusalem Church; including a concise account of his life and labours; By the Rev. Edward Madeley, Jun. London, 8vo. pp. 38, Price 1s.
We noticed in our last number, in the obituary department, the removal from this world into a better, of that valuable and most useful Minister of the New Church, the Rev. Joseph Proud. The Sermon before us is a spirited and affectionate tribute to the memory of this good man, and we doubt not but it will be read by the members of the church with that feeling and_interest, which must have been felt at the time of its delivery, From the perusal of this discourse we are enabled to correct an error which passed in our last respecting the age of Mr. Proud. We stated in our obituary that he was in the 80th year of his age; but this is a mistake as we find that he was in his 82nd year. We select from this Sermon the following account of his Life and labours.".
The Rev Joseph Proud was born at Beaconfield in Buckinghamshire, on the 22d March, A. D. 1745. Exhibiting, in his youth, the marks of a superior genius, his talents were directed to the ministry, under the auspices of his father, who was himself, for many years, a minister in the connexion of the General Baptists. Our departed friend commenced his pulpit exercises in the year 1768, being then twenty-three years of age; and having continued to preach with zeal and ability for the space of seven or eight years, he was admitted by ordination into the regular ministry of the General Baptist Denomination. His first engagements were at Wisbeach in Cambridgeshire; but he was shortly removed to the city of Norwich, where a commodious chapel was erected purposely for him, by the late Mr. Hunt, then of that city, but latterly of Gissing in the county of Norfolk, and who acted with him as his colleague in the ministry. His labours were eminently successful; nor were they exclusively confined to the city of Norwich; for the adjacent towns and villages shared the benefits of his exertions. He continued an acceptable minister in the General Baptist Connexion till the year 1791, a period of twenty-five years; during which he published twelve small works on religious and moral subjects, which had a considerable circulation. In the year 1789, two gentlemen zealous to promote the rising cause of the New Jerusalem Church, travelled through England, at their own expense, for the express purpose of promulgating the heavenly doctrines of that Church, both by preaching and the distribution of books. On their arriving at Norwich, Mr. Hunt allowed them, repeatedly, the use of his
chapel, and shewed a disposition to lend a favourable ear to the truths they announced; in which he was, at first, vehemently opposed by our late Friend and Pastor. Anxious to suppress what he then considered to be contrary to Scripture testimony, Mr. Proud undertook to convince the visitors, by public declamation and private argument, that they were the dupes of an artful and visionary enthusiast, and that the opinions they maintained were utterly unworthy the acceptance of mankind. What a contrast, does his conduct at this time present to that which it soon afterwards became! For, how frequently and how solemnly have we heard him declare,-yes, brethren, and the last time we heard him lift his voice in this place he declared, that, the doctrines of the New Jerusalem Church were the most scriptural, the most rational, the most consolatory, the most to be prized, of any that were ever published to the world! How often has he told us, that in being made acquainted with these doctrines, we have experienced the most stupendous and inestimable blessings that could ever fall to the lot of man! while he hath earnestly exhorted us, even with tears, to shew our utmost gratitude to the Great Giver, by letting our "light so shine before men," that they may be convinced of the purity of our doctrines by the purity of our lives, and constrained to glorify the God of heaven. In conclusion, however, several works of the Hon. Emanuel Swedenborg,—that heaven directed messenger of the Lord of Hosts, that "luminous expositor" of the mysteries of the Holy Word,- -were left in his possession, and a promise was elicited that he would candidly and seriously peruse them. For some time he formed various undecided opinions respecting their contents. He suffered great mental inquietude from the consideration, that if the doctrines of the Eternal Truth were providentially offered for his acceptance, an obstinate rejection might with justice be imputed to him as a crime. Being one day more than usually agitated on this subject, he retired to ask the Divine assistance and direction in prayer: he immediately afterwards opened the Holy Word, when the passage in Hab. i. 5. accidentally arrested his attention, The words are remarkable: "Behold ye, among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you." From that instant he was resolved calmly to reconsider the writings he had despised, in the unbiassed spirit of prayer and perseverance. His old mistaken and gloomy notions on religion soon gave way, and convictions of the grand and glorious truths offered to mankind in the doctrines of the New Church, soon grew and were confirmed. He obtained "The True Christian Religion or Universal Theology of the New Church," and began to study the doctrines with a glowing and increasing delight. He perceived and acknowledged their heavenly tendencies. For they directed him to the true and proper Object of all Worship: they instructed him "rightly to divide" and understand "the Word of truth:" they impressed upon him, at the same time, the absolute necessity of shunning every evil, in heart and condnet, as a sin against God: in short, they prescibed to him a life of love and wisdom, of charity and faith, as leading to a life of never ending blessedness in eternity: and while he found them harmonize together, he saw them supported both by rational and revealed evidence.
Having thus discovered the "pearl of great price," in the knowledge of the Only Wise God our Saviour, and become enriched with the treasures of true wisdom, he joyfully and fearlessly proclaimed the glad tidings to all around him, under the pleasing anticipation that all would be equally gratified and benefited with himself. But alas! the abettors of error, satisfied with the aberrations of their own prostrate reason, raised around him a host of opposition. Alarmed at the great change in the sentiments of an eminent Minister, they assailed him from all quarters. Like his Saviour he suffered persecution for the sake of the truth. Yet was he unbending; because they desired him to exchange the stability of wisdom for the wanderings of ignorance, and to relinquish the life-giving fountains of heaven for the broken cisterns of human tradition. Hence he was inflexible; and he was therefore driven from communion with the General Bap
tists, to seek among strangers even the means of subsistence. His fortitude on this trying occasion did not forsake him. He forgave their uncharitableness, aware "that they knew not what manner of spirit they were of." And though many were his enemies, who carried their rancour far beyond what a difference of opinion would warrant, yet was his heart gladdened by some, who rejoiced in the light he attempted to diffuse around him; while the antichristian sentiments exercised towards him, and from those too from whom "he might have expected better things," doubtless contributed to wean him entirely from the erroneous principles which dictated such conduct, and to confirm his good opinion of the New Doctrines he had espoused.
Providentially, at this period a temple was erected in this town, being the first place of worship ever raised in this kingdom, for the dissemination of our sentiments; and our late friend and brother was earnestly requested to take charge of the congregation; to which he acceded. He had previously in the short space of three months, composed the volume of Hymns bearing his name, the first edition of which was printed in 1790. On making application in London, he was re-ordained à minister of the New Jerusalem Church, on the 3rd of May, 1791. The late Rev. Mr. Leicester, previously an esteemed clergyman of the Church of England, who had been appointed to preach the opening Sermons in Birmingham, becoming suddenly indisposed, the duty devolved upon Mr. Proud, who preached two discourses from 2 Samuel, vii, 29; in which he took occasion to announce the general doctrines to be advocated in that place. These sermons are before the public; and a contemporary observes respecting them, "that they were masterly compositions, were delivered with the utmost propriety, and were satisfactorily received by an overflowing audience." The temple was regularly crowded to excess; and great indeed were the expectations which were then formed of the future prosperity of the Society; expectations, alas! not then to be realized. Unforseen misfortunes awaited them, occasioned, it is but too certain, byan imprudent zeal on the part of several principal supporters of the cause. The congregation was dispersed, the society overwhelmed in calamity and surrounded with difficulty, and the temple alienated within the short spaceof two years. Our friend, with great regret, left Birmingham, to act as the colleague of the late Rev. Mr. Cowherd, in the large and handsome church then just completed in Peter-street, Manchester. The Society in Birmingham, however, collected their scattered remains, and with great exertions, in which they were warmly and materially assisted by the present proprietor, the place in which we are now assembled was erected, and Mr. Proud after an absence of only seven months, again consented to become their minister.
Here he continued until the year 1797; when, on solicitation, he left Birmingham again, to take charge of a Society in London, and to proclaim the doctrines of the New Jerusalem in the commodious chapel in Cross Street, Hatton Garden. That Society removed, in 1799, to a larger chapel in York Street, St. James's; where they continued till the expiration of their lease in the year 1813, when they were compelled to reliuquish it for a small place in Lisle Street; which, however, they only engaged as a temporary convenience. As a proof that our friend's ministry was ac.. ceptable, for he was "a workman that needed not to be ashamed,"-I have been informed by those who witnessed the fact, that for the period of seventeen years, the time he remained in the Metropolis, he always had large and respectable congregations; those in the evening, amounting to not less than from 700 to 1000 people; except when at Lisle Street, where the place would not contain so great a number.
In the mean time, the Society in Birmingham underwent a severe trial by the removal of their minister. The vacancy was however filled up, du- ́ ring many years, by the active services of the Rev. W. Faraday, now deceased. But in the year 1814, our late venerable friend, whose heart, as he expressed it, was with the Birmingham Society, a third time yielded to No. 10-VOL. I.
their urgent wishes again to come and live among them; and he overjoyed them by his return. Here he took up his final residence; and here he has finished his course. Ever alive to the welfare of the church with which he was connected, hc, in the year 1815, voluntarily offered his services to the General Conference assembled in Manchester as a Missionary minister, the perpetuity of such an office being then under consideration. His services were accepted, and he visised the greater part of the New Church Societies in England at the advanced age of 71 years. He commenced the arduous undertaking in 1816, and continued in it two years; which was as long as his health would permit. The Societies he visited testified their affection and respect for him in every possible way; and ample evidence might be adduced, if necessary, as to the great usefulness of his exertions. He has resided in Birmingham, in all eighteen years, and has shared the regard of Christians of all denominations; this is evinced by the circumstance of his having at the solicitations of the ministers and congregations, several times preached in other places of public worship in this town besides his own.
For the long period of thirty-five years he has been a useful minister of the New Jerusalem Church; and it was his consolation in his last days to remark, that, through the divine blessing, he had never cast reproach on his profession, nor disgraced his office by any immoral conduct. He was accustomed, both in the early and latter periods of his ministry, to extemporaneous preaching; but entering upon the ministry of a church, whose. doctrines were so different from those which he had before professed, and the language proper for the accurate expression of which must of necessity be less familiar to him than that which he had practised so long; he feared to trust himself to this mode of speaking, and he consequently delivered written compositions for a number of years: and this was, no doubt, a providential circumstance; as those discourses have been, and are to this day, widely circulated among those rising Societies which have no permanent ministers. During his ministry he has preached not less than 7000 discourses, 3000 of which have been written. He has published at different times, and on various occasions, about ninety sermons and lectures, either separately or in volumes, all in harmony with the doctrines of the New Church. His much admired volume of Hymns passed through five editions; besides which, he has printed thirteen other works, large and small, together with many fugitive pieces and occasional papers in periodical publications. He has left behind him in manuscript, as he himself informed me, a short time ago, as much prose and poetry (including his sermons) as would compose near three hundred volumes of an ordinary size, exclusively on moral and religious subjects; and besides this, he maintained an extensive correspondence with his friends.
Amid such multiplied and important avocations did the life of our deceased brother pass away. Though he cannot be ranked among authors of the first literary attainments, yet his abilities, as a writer, were respectable: as a public speaker, he was truly eloquent; if the applicability of that term is to be estimated from the extraordinary effect his delivery frequently produced. He was constantly heard with the most profound attention, and always with delight. Of the innumerable frailties incident to human weakness, but very few were discernible amid all the estimable qualities of our Pastor; and it is but justice to remark, that these principally arose out of a reserved manner, which can only be ascribed to his natural temperament, distinct from perversity of character. Who among mankind is wholly free from imperfections? Trials and tribulations are permitted in the divine economy, to assist in the purification of the mind, by a gradual and almost imperceptible operation: they continually remind us of our polluted and depraved condition by nature. The good man cannot escape the tribulations attendant on this state of probation and of these our worthy friend had his share; while it must be acknowledged, by those who shared his intimacy, that he bore them with a resignation of superhuman origin. He has had trials of a continued and distressing nature in his family. Out of thirteen