صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

we have preached unto you, let him be accursed!"


Though the apostles were invested with an extraordinary authority, yet you will certainly admit, that in their love and zeal for the truth, and (due allowance being


was, "to urge on them perpetually those truths and precepts about which there was little contention?" Had they done so, possibly they might not have been "made the offscouring of all things," and been "exposed to deaths oft;"-but have enjoyed singular prosper-made for change of circumstances) ity," "found themselves respected by all classes of society," and been distinguished by the eminent," and by those whom the world would call "the enlightened and the good." But did they not act upon an entirely opposite "system?" Did they not preach, " with much contention," a doctrine which was "to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness"-a doctrine which was "every where spoken against?" Were not their epistles all of them controversial, in a greater or less degree, and some of them almost entirely? Did they not zealously contend for sentiments which were denied and opposed-and the more zealously, in proportion as the opposition was more powerful and determined? Did they not earnestly denounce' false doctrines and false teachers? warn the churches and all men against every prevalent error? and with the utmost solemnity say, "If we, or an angel from Heaven preach any other gospel unto you, than that which

[ocr errors]

in the manner of performing their ministry, they are examples for all the ministers of Christ. If then you and your liberal brethren have chosen to adopt "a general system" of conduct in the ministry,altogether different from theirs, we must entreat you not to think it strange, if there are some who cannot accord to you all the "praise," which you have thought that you s deserved." And notwithstanding the assurance and the pathos, with which you make your appeal to your people, you must not expect that the minds of all will be entirely relieved from the painful apprehension, that both you and your people may be under some deception ; or from the distressing doubt, whether, at the appearing of the Lord Jesus, you will be able in his presence to say to them, "We take you to record this day, that we are pure from the blood of all men; for we have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God."

[Remainder of this No. in our next.]



en, it is of the utmost importance that it be spread; if it be the work As there are now at least a doz- of man, it ought to be discouraged. en societies of Swedenborgians in That a person of talents may now our country, and as great exertions and then profess to believe it, is are making to propagate their te- no argument in its favour. Every nets, I have thought it desirable system of religion has been upheld that the public should have a clear more or less by talents. How men view of this system of religion, of learning and sound judgment in before they are called upon to em- other respects, can pretend to bebrace it. This system occupies no lieve in the greatest absurdities middle ground. If it be from heav-that were ever invented, I pretend

[ocr errors]

not to explain. That no system is so absurd as to want followers, is a fact, which I leave to be accounted for by others. So long as "the heart governs the understanding," talents and learning are no shield against error. Great and powerful minds, like the most hardened and polished steel, are liable to be sullied and tarnished. I propose to give your readers as clear and candid a view of this "new dispensation," as can be drawn from the works of its founder, pledging myself to assert nothing for which I cannot show authority.*

Emmanuel Swedenborg, whose writings I am now about to examine, was born at Stockholm, in 1689. We know little respecting his childhood and youth, except that he appears to have been well educated by his father, who was a bishop in the Lutheran church at Westrogothia. At the age of 21, he travelled over the greater part of the continent of Europe, at which time he seems to have faithfully studied human nature. At 27, he was appointed Assessor of a Metallic college, by Charles XII. King of Sweden, and received the title of Baron three years after. In his 45th year, he published his Regnum Minerale, in three folio volumes, and soon after, treatises on Tides and Planets. He was a man of great learning for his day, and possessed natural talents of the highest order. Before publishing his system of religion, he was extensively known in Europe, and had gained an enviable reputation. He possessed a vigorous mind, a bold and daring imagination, was

The principal authorities consulted on this subject, are Arcana Cœlestia, 12 vols.-True Christian Religion, 2 vols.—

Heaven and Hell-Hindmarsh-North

Amer. Review-Remarks upon the writ. ings of Swedenborg--Buck-New Jerusalem Miss. &c.

impetuous and headstrong in his feelings, ardent in his pursuits, and probably honest in his professions.

His diligence was astonishing. Besides many works connected with the sciences, he has left more than 30 octavo volumes, besides many of a smaller size, all of which are filled with revelations or explanations of that system of religion, of which he was the founder. All these were written after he was 54 years of age. To the contents of these works, the reader is soon to be introduced. Swedenborg died at London in 1772, aged 84. During his life, his followers were very few. His works were published at his own expense, and little noticed. It is here to be observed, that both he and his followers claim that all his writings are inspired by God;" that "he is the new star in the Northern hemisphere, to guide and comfort the bewildered traveller on his way to Bethlehem," and that his "New dispensation is the last and most magnificent of all."


Before attempting to analyze the system of Swedenborg, I shall permit him to give his own account of his first vision, which took

place in 1743. "I dined very late at my lodgings at London, and ate with great appetite, till at the close of my repast, I perceived a kind of mist about my eyes, and the floor of my chamber was covered with hideous reptiles. They soon disappeared, and the darkness was dissipated, and I saw clearly in the midst of a brilliant light, a man seated in the corner of the chamber, who said to me in a terrible voice, Eat not so much. those words my sight became obscured; afterwards it became clear by degrees, and I found myself alone. The night following, the same man, radiant with light, appeared to me and said, "I am God, the Lord, Creator and Re


deemer; I have chosen you to unfold to men the internal and spiritual sense of the sacred writings, and will dictate to you what you are to write." At that time I was not terrified, and the light, though very brilliant, made no unpleasant impression upon my eyes. The Lord was clothed with purple, and the vision lasted a quarter of an hour. That same night, the eyes of my internal man were opened, and fitted to see things in the world of spirits, and in hell, in which places I found many persons of inine acquaintance, some of them long since, and others lately deceased."

From the time that he thus saw the personal appearance of God, to the day of his death, Swedenborg enjoyed uninterrupted intercourse with the world of spirits. He informs us that he conversed with angels on many subjects, "at least a thousand times."

He re

lates the most ludicrous ideas and stories with such a wonderful de. gree of gravity, that the reader of his works often finds it difficult to keep his risible muscles under proper discipline. I am first to give a faint picture of heaven and hell, as drawn by our author in a large volume, and of which he most solemnly assures us on his dying bed, word is true."



At death, then, the soul does not immediately go either to heaven or hell, as the scriptures teach us, but to a world of spirits, situated exactly between. This "valley of spirits," has heaven above it, and hell beneath it; but it is so well guarded by rocks, mountains, &c. that the spirits cannot escape. They remain here, some for days, some for weeks, or even for years, though none are allowed to remain longer than thirty years. Whether this valley becomes full, or why they are not permitted to remain longer, we are not informed.

From this world of spirits, the soul, if prepared, is introduced into heaven. Here we find every thing almost precisely as it is on earth. There are three distinct heavens, the inhabitants of which are not permitted to hold any communion with each other, though Swedenborg was allowed even this privilege. The angels are divided into innumerable societies, and seem to continue in their respective places, with little or slow improvement. "That the universal heaven resembles the human form. is a secret hitherto unknown in this world;" but it is even so, though we can get no idea of the proposition. That angels are human forms of men,' 99 says Swedenborg, "I have seen a thousand times, and have conversed with them, as one man with another— nor did I ever see any thing that differed from the human form." He informs us that there is a real sun and moon in heaven, though they are both spiritual. This idea is highly poetical, but not original? the heathen poet expresses it more clear and elegant:

-'solemque suum, et sua sidera norunt.' There is also heat, light and darkness in heaven; and one is almost tempted to set Milton down as a Swedenborgian, notwithstanding he lived some time before Swedenborg.

• There is a cave Within the mount of God, fast by the throne,

Where light and darkness in perpetual


Lodge and dislodge by turns, which

wakes thro' heaven Grateful vicissitude, like day and night.'

There are four cardinal points in heaven, corresponding to ours; and what is remarkable, the angels are never permitted to turn their faces from the east. How they are comfortable or happy in this

eternal position, it is difficult to conceive. The angels are clad in real garments, which our author saw and handled times without number. They have houses, gardens, walks, groves, &c. like ourselves. They have temples and social worship, though to what denomination they belong we are not told. Swedenborg frequently attended their meetings, and even assisted in conducting them. "That I might be an eye witness to the manner of their assemblies in their temples, I have been indulged with permission to enter them, and hear the preaching. The preacher stands in a pulpit on the east side; before him sit those who are most eminent for wisdom, and on either hand the inferior. They sit in something of a circular form, so that all can see the face of the preacher; but no one is to be out of his sight, no one is allowed to stand behind the pulpit; for Should one do so, it would confuse the preacher, as would be the case should any one dissent from his doctrine." The power of angels is described as very great over matter. "I have seen mountains that had been occupied by evil spirits, cast down and overturned, or shaken from top to bottom, as by an earthquake; rocks also rent asunder to their very foundations, and the evil spirits upon them, swallowed up." The angels all speak one language, which, as our author so readily understood it, is probably Swedish. Writings are numerous among the angels, though they seem to be applied to no use. These are probably Hebrew. "On a certain time a little paper was sent me from heaven, on which were written some words in Hebrew characters, and it was told me that every letter contained some secrets of wisdom, nay the very flexures and curvatures of the letters, and the sounding them

[ocr errors]

from thence." To many it may be new to learn, that there never was such a being as satan or the devil; that there never was any order of spirits superior to man;and that every inhabitant of heaven and hell originally came from this world; but Swedenborg says it is, So. It may also be new, to learn that there is never to be any resurrection, except what takes place at death, when a spiritual body is taken out of our natural bodies; that there is never to be a day of judgment, except what took place in 1757, which was the second and last judgment;" but Swedenborg says these truths were all thus revealed to him. Just one third part of the inhabitants of heaven are infants, who are educated with great care by females appointed for that purpose. The rich and poor retain their respective characters in the other world. The lot of the rich, when transplanted to heaven, is that of being in a condition of greater splendour than others:some of them dwell in stately palaces, richly furnished and ornamented as with gold and silver, together with abundance of all things ministering to the delight of life.


Our Saviour declares that there is neither marriage nor giving in marriage" in heaven; but Swedenborg, in a long and dismal chapter on this subject, says there are marriages in heav


The description which he gives of hell resembles that of heaven. He says there are three hells, corresponding to the three heavens; that there are the same number of societies; that there is an exact equilibrium between heaven and hell, to prevent the freedom of man from being destroyed by the over balancing of good or evil; that all the inhabitants of hell are of one race; and that as all heaven resembled one man, so all hell

resembles one devil. These three hells are described as under huge mountains, hills and rocks; as dark and dismal, though here and there lighted up with burning coals. Some of the dwellings of the sufferers, are described as resembling dens of wild beasts, some as full of fire, some as ruined cottages, towns and streets; others are like deserts, caves and gloomy woods. The punishment of hell is very

properly represented to consist in unrestrained passions. But this, we find the inhabitants represented as suffering from heat, cold, hunger, as being beaten, driven into narrow and filthy places, &c. in a manner that almost wholly destroys that awe and dread with which this subject is surrounded by the language of the New Testa


[To be continued.]


No. IV.


It is presumed, that, with a few exceptions, the orthodox, whether they choose to be called Hopkinsians or Calvinists, will all assent Having traced the origin of the to the following propositions: that epithet Hopkinsian, and shown its there is One only living and true propriety and utility, I now come, God, the Maker, Possessor and agreeably to the plan proposed in Governour of the world-that the my first essay, to draw the outlines Scriptures of the Old and New of the system, properly denominat- Testaments, were written by Died Hopkinsian. A brief sketch is vine inspiration--that, in the Unity all that can be reasonably expect- of the Godhead, there is a Trinity ed; since, to exhibit a Hopkinsian of Father, Son and Holy Ghostconfession of faith, in all its rami- that the purposes and providence fications, would be a greater task, of God, are universal-that manthan the writer was willing to im-kind are free, moral agents, acpose upon himself, and would oc- countable to God for their concupy more room in the Magazine, duct-that men, by nature, are than the Editor would, probably, depraved, guilty, lost creaturesbe able to spare. In the brief that Jesus Christ is truly God, and, sketch proposed, it will be a lead- by his submission to death, made a ing object, to present a discriminat-proper atonement for the sins of ing view of Hopkinsian tenets, or to point out the difference between them, and the tenets of others, who are called Orthodox, and particularly of such, as lay an exclugive claim to Calvinism.

Respecting many of the fundamental doctrines of revealed religion, the Orthodox, in general, of every name, express their belief in nearly the same terms: the difference between them, consists in the sense, in which they use those terms, and the inferences, which they deduce from the ideas, understood to be expressed by them.

men--that salvation is sincerely offered to men in the Gospel, upon the condition of repentance and faith--that, in order to repent and believe in Christ, men must be regenerated by the special operation of the Holy Spirit--that those, whom the Holy Spirit regenerates in time, were given to Christ in eternity, or chosen to salvation from the beginning-that all true believers will be preserved from final apostacy--that the bodies of men will be raised to life, at the last day; when Christ will judge the world in righteousness; and

« السابقةمتابعة »