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such thought. A magpie, even, or a jackdaw may be taught to speak without understanding what it says. . . . . Every man, whose soul desires it, is able to see the truths of the word in clear light. Whatever is not received by the understanding has not any abiding place in the memory as to the thing itself, but only as to the words. We will tell you nothing but what you can understand, or else our discourse would fall like rain upon sand, and as seeds sown in it, which, though they be watered by the showers from above, wither and perish.” (T.C.R. 621.)
In his masterly treatise on “Faith,” Swedenborg deals a death-blow at belief without understanding the thing said to be believed. Take a few of his opening sentences :
“The idea attached to the term faith, at the present day, is this, that it consists in thinking a thing to be so, because it is taught by the church, and because it does not fall within the scope of the understanding. It is usual with those who inculcate it to say—You must believe and not doubt.' If you answer—'I do not comprehend it, it is replied, that is the very circumstance which makes a doctrine an object of faith. ... This may be called a blind faith, ... an historical faith... This is not spiritual faith. ... Genuine faith is an acknowledgment that a thing is so because it is true. He who is in genuine faith thinks and speaks to this effect :- This is true; and therefore I believe it.' Faith is the assurance with which we embrace that which is true. A person of this character, if he does not comprehend a sentiment, and see its truth, will say— I do not know whether this is true or not; therefore I do not yet believe it. How can I believe what I do not comprehend? Perhaps it may be false.'” (D.F. 1, 2.)
"The angels utterly reject the tenet, that the understanding ought to be kept in subjection to faith, for they say, “How can you believe a thing, when you do not see whether it is true or not?' Should any one affirm that what he advances must nevertheless be believed, they reply, ! Do you think yourself a god, that I am to believe you? Or that I am mad, that I should believe an assertion in which I do not see any truth ? If I must believe it, cause me to see it.' . . . Indeed the wisdom of the angels consists solely in this, that they see and comprehend what they think.” (D.F. 4.)
" Faith is the internal acknowledgment that a thing is true, and faith and truth are a one. (D.F. 5, 6.) Hence none can have faith in a thing until they exercise their thinking faculty. (A.R. 776.) Faith is perfected according as the number and coherence of truths seen, recognised and acknowledged. (T.C.R. 352, 353.) When those who are in celestial love are told that faith consists in believing what is not understood, they turn away, saying, “This person is out of his senses.' (D.L.W. 427.) Hence a faith which is induced by miracles is not faith, but persuasion ; for there is nothing rational in it. (D.P. 131.) Faith is the eye of love. (A.C. 3863.) He who can remove the understanding from faith can obtrude a thousand visionary things upon every religious tenet. (A.R. 451.) Hence to believe, to see, and to know, make one. (T.C.R. 159.) There is a difference between scientific truth, rational truth, and intellectual truth, and they succeed each other in an orderly arrangement : scientific truth is a matter of science, [that is, an idea merely stored in the memory and not understood,] rational truth is scientific truth confirmed by reason ; intellectual truth is rational truth joined with the perception that it is so.” (A.C. 1496.)
It would be easy to multiply quotations. Swedenborg is emphatic upon this point. He denies man’s power to believe that which he does not, and cannot, see. If any profess such a faith, he denies that it is more than “an historical faith,”—a belief that a certain person has said so, or that it has been so written. His definition, of course, admits that the fact of an otherwise trustworthy person having said a certain thing may well provoke a presumption that the thing is true; but even in the strongest of such cases the thing really believed is that such a thing has been said by such an authority, and that such an authority otherwise speaks truly; and not that the thing is true. The distinction is important, for it expresses the difference between an historical faith and genuine belief. We may require, on a few rare occasions, to apply this distinction to some things that Swedenborg has stated. It indicates the main difference between the mode in which the "authority” of Swedenborg is receivable, and that in which other "authorities” are regarded by most persons in the religious world. The great maxim remains,—only so far as we see and understand can we intellectually and rationally believe. This axiom Swedenborg himself gives to us; by this axiom we are to judge the truth of all doctrines ; and by this axiom he himself consents to be judged. · Thus Swedenborg, firstly, bases his claims on human attention on the truth and value of his doctrinal teachings; and, secondly, asserts that man's rational intelligence is competent to sit in judgment on his claims. We shall next see, thirdly, what are the proofs which he offers in support of his claims; what are the witnesses which he brings before this competent court of man's judgment; and according to the evidence which they furnish, each of his judges is to give verdict.
(To be continued.)
EVIL SPEAKING. The habit of speaking uncharitably and ill of others is too common. It is, indeed, often done thoughtlessly, but it is not the less sin on that account; for though we may not be aware of it, it proceeds from evil in our hearts. It comes either from secret malice, bitterness, hard feeling, or at best it is a proof of indifference and recklessness in regard to the comfort and welfare of our neighbour, which indifference certainly shows the want of love to the neighbour. And where that good affection is not, there must be an evil feeling in its place; for where there is not good there is evil; there is no medium; there can be no vacuum. ... It must be so; it cannot be otherwise. Words come from thoughts, and thoughts spring from feelings. Where there is only love and kind feeling in the heart, it is utterly impossible for a hard thought to enter the mind, or an unkind word to escape from the lips.—Hiller on the Commandments.
Christianity being a system of spiritual truth adapted to the states of men in all times—Scripture, the code-book of this system, must of necessity be capable of a more interior reading or interpretation, as the advanced state of man shows the same to be necessary.
How Thomas-like we are in our faith, though the hard fact of past providence stands before us,—as Christ did before the doubting disciple,—and we have seen it oft, and therefore ought to recognise at once the tried friend; yet the sensual nature must be gratified to repletion, and we must each time thrust in our hands before we can asseverate, “My Lord and my God!” And this also is human weakness; and there is but one antidote : if we would thoroughly know God's purpose concerning us, and from understanding, have implicit confidence in His providential care, we must climb the ladder to heaven, every step of which is a work and a prayer, and seek in the light of that sphere, the truths but darkly shadowed forth on earth.
“ Faith is ... the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews xi. 1.) Faith is attained by what we might call circumstantial evidence. We are told that a certain thing is true, and therefore we must believe it, or in other words, have faith in it. Now this we cannot do without some ground or reason, and that reason partakes of the character of circumstantial evidence : we argue link by link, until to the best of our ability we have completed the chain ; and then having worked out the problem, we say such and such must be the result.
“God is love.”—God created the world ; hence it is evident all things were created from love.
GENERAL CONFERENCE. The ensuing General Conference will be held at Salford, commencing on Tuesday, August 11th, 1868. Secretaries of Committees who have not yet forwarded their reports to the Secretary should take an early opportunity of doing so.
.: F. PITMAN, Secretary, 20, Paternoster-row, London, E.C.
INQUIRY WITH ANSWER.
“W. M.” has some difficulties about the relation in Joshua of the sun and moon standing still. The most useful way of answering his inquiry will be to give the passage entire in which our author explains the text and accounts for the phenomenon :
“It shall also be explained what is signified by the sun resting in Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, concerning which it is thus written in Joshua :— Then spake Joshua to Jehovah in the day when Jehovah delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon ; and thou, moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation was avenged upon its enemies. Is this not written in the book of Jasher ? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.' (x. 12, 13.) In this passage its being said that the sun stood still upon Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, signified that the church was altogether vastated as to all good and truth, for this took place on the occasion of a battle against the king of Jerusalem and the kings of the Amorites; and by the king of Jerusalem is signified the truth of the church altogether vastated by falsities, and by the kings of the Amorites the good of the church vastated by evils ; wherefore those kings were smitten with hailstones, by which were signified dire falsities of evil. It is said that the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, namely, in the sight of the children of Israel, that they might see their enemies; but this was prophetical, although historically related, as may appear from the circumstance of its being said—Is not this written in the book of Jasher ?'. And this was a prophetical book from which the words were taken; wherefore from the same book it is also said — Until the nation was avenged upon its enemies,' the word 'nation’ being used prophetically. The same may also appear from this circumstance, that this miracle, if it had been literally accomplished, would have inverted the whole order of nature, which is not the case with the rest of the miracles recorded in the Word. In order, therefore, that it might be known that this was said prophetically, it is added, “Is not this written in the book of Jasher ?' But nevertheless, that there was a light given to them out of heaven, as the light of the sun in Gibeon, and a light as that of the moon in the valley of Ajalon, is not to be doubted.” (A.Ę. 401.)
As the author here recognises the fact that substituted lights for those of the sun and moon were given out of heaven, we must regard the heavenly light as the cause of the appearances. If these were presented in the natural world, and were seen by the natural eye, the spiritual light given out of heaven must have clothed itself with such natural substances as those which in our world make natural objects visible. As everything in the natural world, even the sun itself, has a spiritual origin, there is no difficulty in conceiving the temporary existence of luminous bodies in our atmosphere, which would appear to the Israelities as the sun and the moon. Especially is this to be considered consistent with the order of things, when we reflect that under that dispensation correspondences had such power that spiritual causes were often exhibited immediately and extensively in natural effects.
REVIEW. ABRIDGMENT OF SWEDENBORG'S WORK ENTITLED “ THE TRUE CHRISTIAN
RELIGION.” London : Pitman, and Alvey; Manchester: Ledsham,
and Larkin. This, we believe, is the first attempt that has been made to produce an abridgment of any of Swedenborg's theological works. Reverence for the productions of a man who wrote under the guidance of a special illumination has possibly been too great to allow any one to use what may have seemed to him, and probably to most others, an unwarrantable or dangerous liberty. If such scruples have hitherto hindered such a work, we are inclined to think that they exist no longer, at least to any appreciable extent. On the other hand, altered states and circumstances seem to have created a demand, and even a moral necessity, for some at least of Swedenborg's works being presented to the public in an abbreviated form. It is the constant complaint of "outsiders” that Swedenborg's works are so voluminous, that it is impossible for any one who cannot devote a lifetime to their study to expect to be able to go through them.
White's synoptical views of Swedenborg's writings no doubt originated in, and was produced to supply, a growing popular demand for a briefer statement of Swedenborg's doctrines, expositions, and revelations, than his own works supply. But Mr. White's work has itself given encouragement, and produced a moral necessity, for such works as the present one, in which our great author is allowed to speak