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harsh as the phrase may sound, to assist in “miserably destroying those wicked men,” to enrol ourselves in the King's armies, and to assist in “destroying those murderers, and burning up their city” (Matt. xxi. 41, xxii. 7). But let it be known that not the persons, but principles of men are the objects of Christian opposition; and that love for their souls constrains the true disciple to strive to deliver men from errors that would destroy them. And this may be done, nay, must be done, in a spirit of the purest charity; in such a spirit as will show the misguided votaries of existing systems that, so far from misrepresenting or caricaturing the beliefs to which they so tenaciously cling, we only present them with a faithful and unexaggerated picture of those beliefs, that they may contemplate them as what they really are, namely, refuges of lies.
There can, therefore, be no breach of charity in employing the forms of controversy for such a purpose and in such a spirit. And, however
arsh our expressions may seem to those who, having ticklish ears, are not accustomed to hear a spade called a spade, they will eventually be seen not to be harsher than the occasion really called for; and will then be found to be nothing more than part and parcel of that Christian plain dealing which the apostle has so beautifully characterterized as “speaking the truth in love.” Then will the spirit of controversy be for ever banished from its forms, and it will become what it should never have ceased to be, a valuable auxiliary in the investigation and elucidation of Truth.
F. D. STOKE NEWINGTON, Oct. 13, 1875.
CONFLICT BETWEEN RELIGION AND SCIENCE.
The magnificence and culture of the great Persian Empire was not lost upon the Greeks. They returned from the campaigns of Alexander enriched with fresh knowledge of nature and humanity. They had been brought in contact with a religious system founded on a basis widely different from their own. Persia recognised “one universal intelligence, the creator, preserver, and governor of all things, the most holy essence of truth, the giver of all good.” Greece worshipped Jupiter at Dodona, Apollo at Delphi, and in every city subordinate deities. Here was a contrast striking and suggestive. The doctrines of Zoroaster were far in advance of the heterogeneous faiths that prevailed in the cities and amongst the mountains of Greece. But the most memorable result of the impetus imparted to the Greek mind through the conquest of Alexander was the establishment of the celebrated museum of that city. Ptolemy Soter had the honour of founding that institution. It became the great centre of intellectual activity. The Aristotelian philosophy was its corner-stone. The doctrines of the Stoics found a home within its walls. There mathematical science
tras vigorously cultivated. Euclid, a supposed native of Alexandria, gave to the world his celebrated monument of exact reasoning; in his noted elements of geometry he demonstrated clearly and accurately the laws governing form, and proved the possibility of discovering absolute truth. Another great mathematician Archimedes, who calculated the volume of the sphere, and discovered the laws of specific gravity. To these and other great geometers, mathematicians and physicists, we owe the origin of the exact sciences. The old superstitions were unable to stand before this great awakening of science, and, gradually receding, lingered only amongst the multitude. They had performed their work, and to supply their place new truths from the Divine descended into minds adapted to receive and bring them forth in their most useful forms. He in whose sight a thousand years are as nothing was laying the foundation upon which a greater, nobler, and still more enlightened world should raise a grand temple of science, from whose shrine temporal blessings unspeakable might descend to the human family. While Greece was in the zenith of her power, Rome was slowly gathering strength. And when the Greece of Demosthenes and Plato, of Pericles and Xenophon, was no more, the City of the Seven Hills had planted her standards from the pillars of Hercules to the shores of the Caspian, from the mountains of Caledonia to the banks of the Nile. By her great system of military organization and her extensive conquests she prepared the way for the pioneers of a new faith-a faith which, when Rome is forgotten, shall bring consolation and peace to all the inhabitants of the earth. the shepherds watching their flocks in the stillness of night on the mountains of Judæa, an angel proclaimed the birth of the Saviour : “ Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.” Tidings of great joy to all people! Herculanæum and Pompeii, Athens and Alexandria, are buried beneath the dust of ages, but that message lives, and when generations of generations shall have breathed and passed away, its divine eloquence will speak to the people who shall be.
It is a remarkable fact that, when Christ came into the world, the Roman Empire enjoyed an almost unbroken peace, it was a period, which, as Mosheim says, “ may be justly styled the pacific age.” This condition of things enabled the disciples of Christianity to diffuse its doctrines throughout extensive countries. The church which was strengthened and animated by Paul was remarkable for a while by the uprightness and brotherly unity of its members ; but when worldly-minded and ambitious men, in the time of its prosperity, used Christianity for political schemes and ends, its original beauty was marred. Then gradually advanced that traffic in pagan rites and absurd superstitions, which, after the lapse of eighteen centuries, is still carried on in the Catholic Church.
Speaking of this serious cause of corruption and decay, which laid
fast hold of the Christian Church, the writer says,—“Heathen rites were adopted, a pompous and splendid ritual, gorgeous robes, mitres, tiaras, wax tapers, processional services, lustrations, gold and silver vases were introduced. The Roman lituus, the chief ensign of the augurs, became the crozier. Churches were built over the tombs of martyrs, and consecrated with rites borrowed from the ancient laws of the pontiffs. Festivals and commemorations of martyrs multiplied with the numberless discoveries of their remains. Fasting became the grand mass of repelling the devil and appeasing God; celibacy the greatest of virtues. Pilgrimages were made to Palestine and the tombs of martyrs. Quantities of dust and earth were brought from the Holy Land and sold at enormous prices as antidotes against devils. ... The worship of images, of fragments of the Cross, or bones, nails and other relics-a true fetich worship was cultivated. Two arguments were relied on for the authenticity of these objects,—the authority of the Church and the working of miracles. Even the worn-out clothing of saints and the earth of their graves were venerated. From Palestine were brought what were affirmed to be the skeletons of St. Mark and St. James, and other ancient worthies. The apotheosis of the old Roman times was replaced by canonization; tutelary saints succeeded to local mythological divinities. Then came the mystery of transubstantiation, or the conversion of bread and wine by the priest into the flesh and blood of Christ. As centuries passed the paganization became more and more complete. Festivals sacred to the memory of the lance with which the Saviour's side was pierced, the nails that fastened Him to the Cross, and the crown of thorns were instituted. Then there were several abbeys that possessed this peerless relic; no one dared to say that it was impossible they could all be authentic.” Thus had degenerated the Christian Church. But while common sense was shocked, and the virgin purity of the new dispensation violated, intellectual development received a check from the diffusion of the doctrine, “that all knowledge is to be found in the Scriptures and in the traditions of the Church ; that in the written revelation, God had not only given a criterion of truth, but had furnished all that He intended us to know." This is not a doctrine of God, but of man-a doctrine which bears unmistakeable indications of the cunning and selfishness that prompted it. While the Church—no longer the Church of Christ, but the Church of Rome-led astray the mind of the multitude by mummeries, superstitions, and saint worship, it desired to establish itself as the guardian and repository of all knowledge, human and divine. Were, then, the labours of the Greek philosophers, of the Alexandrian mathematicians, of the Chaldæan astronomers, mere aëry fabrics, worthless and unprofitable? Were, then, the sublime faculties of man to be circumscribed by the decrees of councils? The very Church which was the author of this absurd dogma soon afforded proof of its incapacity to restrain the expansive power of the human intellect. For doctors differed respecting various cardinal points formulated in the doctrines of the Church. The unscriptural canon of three Persons in
the Godhead was received with general assent until Arius shocked the Church by the promulgation of his belief upon that point. Then Arian controversy acquired such importance, that, in A.D. 325, a Council was assembled at Nice to decide finally upon the matter in dispute. Had these doctors and divines devoutly studied the Word, they might have seen that their own dogma of a Trinity of Persons was as false as the heresy of Arius. They might have seen that revelation conveys to us that knowledge of God and His ways to men which cannot be discovered by human research, and that man is left free in the exercise of those powers of mind and intellect which render him a progressive being. But this they did not see, hence the line of thought naturally followed by the mind diverged more and more from that rigid line laid down for all those who desired to be regarded as devout sons of the Church.
I. T. (To be continued.)
LIGHT ON LIFE. ESSAYS BY ROBERT R. RODGERS. JAMES SPEIRS.
London, 1875. The impression which the perusal of this volume leaves upon us is that it is a collection of sermons in the shape of essays ; the texts from Scripture having been removed, and extracts from Christian and Pagan poets substituted in their place. Yet, whether regarded as a collection of essays or sermons, the voluine before us is written in a sprightly style, and it abounds in graphic delineations, apparent paradoxes, and unexpected antitheses; all of which commend it to that class of readers who desire not only to be instructed but also to be interested and amused. Whether this style is best suited to the subjects treated of in the book, and whether it is a useful style for sermons, is a different question. Divine and spiritual things ought to be approached with a certain feeling of reverence and humility, and anything savouring of trivialities is out of place there. From this charge the book before us is not altogether free. Besides, the sprightly particulars contained in it sometimes remove out of sight the general subject under discussion, so that the mode in which this is treated occasionally resembles more the stringing together of shining beads than the strong and powerful concatenation of logical argument.
It is difficult to say whether the book is intended for the general reader, or for those acquainted with the Writings of the New Church, for, on p. 43, in introducing some quotations from these Writings, the author does not mention Swedenborg by name, but speaks of him as “ a writer of the last century;" while again, on many pages, we find unexplained references to D. P., H. H., Ap. Ex., T. C, R., Spir. Dia., which must be perfectly unintelligible to the general reader, and could have been intended only for those who are acquainted with Swedenborg's Writings. As the author, however, in many places appeals to the authority of these Writings, it is but just that we should examine some of his “ Essays” in the light of these Writings.
In the first “ Essay," which is entitled “The Lord our Light and Salvation,” the author lays great stress upon the truth that “ He is the source of that light by which man acts, and of the good which he obtains” (p. 7), and that “the good which is imparted by the Lord is wrought within man, while he does not reflect upon it” (p. 8); and from this he infers that “as man's goodness is not man's, but the Lord's in him, if ever he becomes conscious of his goodness, he merely recognizes himself, and it is instantly turned into self-merit” (pp. 8, 9). This position he reasserts on the same page in these words, “True goodness is the soul's newest and freshest life, and if ever it enters the natural consciousness, it fades and becomes a part of man's general self-hood ;” and again he says, “True good has no consciousness of anything but its own joy;" and, finally, on p. 10, “When a man is really good he is no more conscious of the fact than he is conscious that his blood circulates, or that the atmosphere has weight and presses upon him with a force equal to fifteen pounds to the square inch. He is in good, good is his being, and no man is conscious that he is himself (!). When he sees good it is because it is outside him, because he contemplates it from a consciousness that is not good, and because it is not himself.”
The meaning of this in plain English is : good is good only so long as it is confined to the will, and as soon as it enters into the understanding and becomes conscious of itself, it becomes evil. Surely this cannot be the meaning of Swedenborg's doctrine. He cannot mean that we should never exercise the process of introspection and self-examination ; and he never teaches that good is turned into evil when it enters into man's consciousness. It is true that the Lord alone is absolutely good; and that all goodness upon entering into man is more or less tarnished by that which is his own, or by his proprium ; but this is true not only of the good of which he becomes conscious, but also of that which he receives unconsciously. From the very moment when good enters into a man's soul it loses its Divine quality, and puts on a human quality, whether a man become conscious of it or not. And, besides, only in proportion as man does good as of himself, is he capable of receiving good from the Lord ; he must, therefore, not only become conscious of good in his understanding, but he must also consciously think and do good, or else the Lord cannot flow into him with His good. The Lord does not act through man ; but man takes consciously of the Lord's life, and he confirms this life in himself by acting in accordance with the laws of Divine order. Truth is the means by which the Lord leads man to good ; and unless man becomes conscious in his understanding of the truth, which is the form of good, the Lord cannot lead him to good. Unconscious good, the good of the babe in the womb, is not genuine good; good in order to be real good must become conjoined with truth, 2.e., man must become conscious of it in his understanding; this is a law of Divine Order, it is the law of the establishment of the Church, of the Lord's kingdom in him.
A similar misapprehension of a general doctrine of the Church we find in the second " Essay," entitled “Night and Morning.” This essay, like the former, abounds with sparkling thoughts and graphic descriptions, yet the general argument is at fault. With the author “morning" is always synonymous with good, and “night" with evil ; when yet there is a difference in the night and in the morning. There is that night where everything is dark, and which is like the night prevailing in hell, and which night is synonymous with evil ; and, again, there is another night when the moon and the stars shine, which night has a different spiritual signification altogether. This distinction is ignored by the author. So also the “sun” and the morning,” which are identified by the author with good, are not always the emblems of good, for the sun which parches the ground and dries up the seed signifies self-love, and thus the fire of evil.
Throughout the whole of his treatise the author seems actually to acknow