« AnteriorContinuar »
Life.” The grand question then is, what are these principles, and in what do they consist? What is this “Spirit," and what this “Life,” which constitute the very soul and essence of all the words of God? But who can give a serious and satisfactory answer to this question, without being forcibly struck with the conviction, that when a divine speaker declares, “The words that I speak are spirit and are life," He must of necessity mean by the terms "spirit and life” a Divine Spirit and a Divine Life, since it is impossible to suppose that any other “spirit” and “life," except what is Divine, can influence the words of a DIVINE SPEAKER, so as to constitute their essential properties? Who again can give a serious and satisfactory answer to the above question, without being struck as forcibly with another conviction, that the terms “spirit” and “life,when applied by a Divine Speaker, involve in them distinct divine principles, so that “spirit” is to be understood as expressive of one divine principle, and
as expressive of another, otherwise the two terms would be a useless tautology, altogether unworthy of a Divine SPEAKER? Again, who can give a serious and satisfactory answer to the above question, without discerning, as by a noon-day light, that "spirit” and “life,” according to their distinct signification, and as distinctly applied by a DIVINE SPEAKER, must of necessity mean the same things as DIVINE WISDOM and DIVINE LOVE, or DIVINE Truth and DIVINE Good, since the GODHEAD, we are assured, is both, and may therefore be called the divine union of both in their infinity and eternity? The conclusion then from the above premises is, (and a more important conclusion cannot be conceived by man,) that every part of the revealed Word, both of the old and New Testament, is filled with the Divine Wisdom and the Divine Love, or with the Divine Truth and Divine Good, of the Most Hiru God, in indissoluble union, this being its very inmost soul and hidden essence, whilst the letter or history is merely its external body and manifested existence.
From the above consideration then may be clearly discovered the sanctity and divinity of the inspired writings, and in what that sanctity and divinity principally consist. For if the divine wisdom and divine love, or the divine truth and divine good, are the very essential “spirit” and “life” of those writings, conjoined with them as the soul is conjoined with the body, or as human thought and affection are conjoined with human speech, then how plain is it to see that God Himself, who is the very union itself of divine wisdom and love, or of divine truth and divine good, is one with those
writings, and so incorporated in them, (if we may use the expression,) that it is impossible to put them asunder! But if the Great and Holy God be thus incorporated in His written Word, so that the letter or history of that Word is only the body, the husk, or shell, of which He Himself is the living soul, the vital seed or kernel, then what language can sufficiently express, or what idea fully conceive, the sanctity and divinity of the inspired records? Then how ought we to bow down in humiliation and devout reverence before the Sacred Volume, as before the Most HIGH GOD Himself, who is present in it! Then how ought we to exclaim with the patriarch of old, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not; this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven! Gen. xxviii, 16, 17. And then too, observing how the letter or history is only as a kind of casket, to contain the jewels and treasures of the divine love and wisdom deposited and concealed within, how cautious ought we to be, either of mistaking the casket for its rich contents, or of fixing our eyes so intently on its beauty and its lustre, as to overlook and become blind to what gives it all its value, viz. the divine presence, will, wisdom, intelligence, and operation of the Most High and Holy God! From this view then of the sanctity and divinity of the sacred Scriptures. it will be manifest to every considerate mind that they carry along with them their own internal testimony, or a full and satisfactory evidence of their divine original. For as when the sun of this world shines in his strength, enlightening the eyes of men with his cheering light, and enlivening their bodies with his quickening and reviving heat, no other proof can be wanting either of the sun's existence, or of the properties and qualities by which that grand luminary is distinguished from all other objects, so it is likewise in regard to the REVEALED WORD. No other proof can be wanting of its sanctity and divinity, or that it is indeed the living Word of the Most High, but the blessed effects which it is calculated to produce in every well-disposed mind. For does the light of the sun, when enlightening the eye of the beholder, convince him most effectually, and beyond the force of any other argument, that it is the sun? In like manner, the light of divine truth, shining forth from that GLORIOUS BEING, who at once hides and manifests His Divine Countenance in His HOLY WORD, convinces the simple and sincere that it is divine truth, so that no other argument can be wanting to confirm their faith. Does again the sun's reviving warmth confirm the proof of His existence and astonishing properties, by
exciting combined wonder, adoration, and delight in all who are made sensible of the power of his quickening beams? In like manner, and for the same reason, there is a warmth of heavenly love and charity, issuing from the bosom of the FATHER OF MERCIES, and dispensed to His humble and teachable children through the quickening beams of His Most HOLY WORD, which brings along with it such an addition and powerful conviction of its sanctity and divinity, that all doubt and uncertainty vanish, whilst wonder, adoration, and joy announce the presence, and prove
to a demonstration, the mercy, love, and benevolence of the Divine Being, whose sacred residence it is, whose instructive language it speaks, and whose manifold divine blessings it is the medium of communicating to His penitent and believing children.
To exhibit then this internal evidence of the sanctity and divinity of the Sacred Scriptures, is the first particular object aimed at in the following pages. And since this evidence is principally derived from the numerous extracts selected from the theological writings of Swedenborg, by which extracts it is made clear to demonstration, that under the letter and history of the inspired Volume, there is contained an internal or spiritual sense, which constitutes the very spirit and life of the Holy Book, therefore a second particular object is to demonstrate the high authority stamped on those writings, as resulting from this their sacred and edifying testimony. To say
all that might be said on this subject, would require a volume, which is now become the less necessary, since so many
volumes have already been written upon it, all carrying with them a fulness of conviction to the serious and well-disposed mind. But there is one feature of note and excellence in the character of the enlightened author under consideration, which perhaps has not heretofore been sufficiently insisted on, and which as being more immediately connected with his general interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures, and especially with his particular comments on the following Gospel, it may not be improper here to advert to, and dwell on. The feature alluded to is the author's grand discovery of the distinction existing between the two eternal principles, which he calls the Good and the True, together with the eternal relationship of those principles to each other; their perfect and everlasting union in the divine Mind, and also in the divine Word; their conjunction likewise in the heavens, or in the minds of the heavenly inhabitants; their conjunction too in every created subject in the world of nature, together with their proposed conjunction in the minds and lives of men, with a view to render them also capable of heavenly and eternal association and bliss; and lastly, their manifestation in the distinct natures and qualities of the two sexes, from which result the nature, necessity, sanctity and bliss of married life.
If then it be a fact that the above eternal distinction between the Good and the TRUE was never before noted, or at least never before insisted on, by ony human writer; if it be a fact also that the distinction, as it is extended and elucidated by the enlightened author of the following Extracts, involves in it lessons of the deepest and most important wisdom, by opening the intellectual mind to the true knowledge of the Most High God; by proving, with irresistible and heretofore unknown evidence, the divinity and sanctity of His REVEALED WORD; by manifesting the heavenly principles, their distinctness, and yet their conjunction, which constitute the holiness and bliss of angelic life; by conducting man to a more intimate acquaintance with himself, as created to be a receiver of those principles conjointly, thus as gifted with a will for the reception of heavenly good, and with an understanding for the reception of heavenly truth; by thus further instructing him in the full measure of his religious duties, all which have relation to the formation of those principles, and to their perfect conjunction in his mind and life; by exhibiting a clearer view of the wonderful works of the GREAT CREATor in this lower world, in which even every grain of sand is stamped with the divine marks and characters of the conjunction of the above divine principles; and lastly, by demonstrating the divine origin and sanctity of married life, the partners of which stand, each of them, in a distinct relationship to those principles, and thus in the blessed capacity of being fully united with each other according to such holy relationship;-if all this, it is contended, be true, (and who but a stranger to our enlightened author can dispute the truth?) then what further argument can be wanted in favour of the high authority by which his pen was directed, and thus of that divine and merciful Providence which gifted him with the extraordinary powers, first, of discovering the above wonderful distinction, so as to discern and comprehend it clearly in his own mind, and secondly, of unfolding for the edification of others, all its most interesting and edifying results, applications, uses, and benefits ?
Doth the reader still doubt and dispute the above authority? Then in the spirit of humble and devout prayer to the FATHER of MERCIES, and with a mind divested of all worldly and selfish prejudices, let him peruse attentively and seriously
the extracts from the theological writing of the enlightened author, which are contained in this volume. Let him in this spirit view their testimony, first as a spiritual telegraph, announcing blessed tidings from afar respecting the divine mind and the angelic kingdom, or (to change the allusion) as a grand panorama, in which may be seen all the wonders and beauties of creating, preserving, redeeming, and regenerating Wisdom and Love. Let him next examine it as a mental kaleidoscope, in whicht the apparent incoherences, contradictions, and scattered senses of the letter of the sacred Scriptures, are presented to the delighted eye in all the symmetry, order, and harmony of the most affecting and beautiful arrangement. Let him lastly regard it as a golden wedding ring, intended for the finger of the Bride, the Lamb's Wife, as a symbol of her eternal and happy conjunction in life and love with her DIVINE HUSBAND, and not only so, but as a representative figure of the conjunction of His divine Love and divine Wisdom in all the subjects of creation, whether great or small. Let him then ask himself the following questions, and answer them in the sanctuary of conscience. Is it possible for
any mortal of himself, to invent and fabricate such wonderful instruments ? For can any mortal, of himself, remove “the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations ?”. Isaiah xxv. 7. Can any mortal of himself, be found "worthy to open the book and loose the seals thereof, Rev. v. 2, so as to present it to the view of his fellow-mortals, in its transfiguration glory, full of light, full of power, and of consolation? Can any mortal, of himself, thus enable “the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, and the dead to rise ?” Matt. xi. 5. Let then the above impossibilities decide the question of authority in the present case, by conducting the reader to its divine source, until all doubt, all dispute, all uncertainty on the occasion, be lost in the animating confession of the holy one of old, “this is the LORD's doing, it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will be glad and rejoice in it." Psalm cxviii. 23, 24.
But should any fluctuation still remain in the reader's mind, concerning the testimony in question, it is humbly hoped that it will be entirely appeased by a view of the sub. limity, purity, and edifying tendency of that rule of doctrine an of life, which will be found in the following extracts, and which is the third point of consideration intended to be insisted on in the present publication. This rule of doctrine and of life results from the distinction between the two prin