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out, so that not "one tittle of the law should fail.” He told the Jews that they had misunderstood and falsified the Word. “ Ye do err,” said Jesus to the unbelieving Sadducees, “not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” Even so is it now. The Lord has not left the Church, in its blind and vastated condition, to find its way back to primitive Christianity and the purity of the Gospel by human reasonings ; but in infinite love and mercy to mankind, and infinite compassion for our ignorance and blindness, He has condescended to make a further revelation of truth, by unfolding, in the spiritual sense of his Word, deeper treasures of wisdom than the world has ever dreamed of. In the truths of this revelation, which are Himself,—His own Divine proceeding beams of light-He has come again into the world according to his promise. This revelation acquaints us with the true nature of divine inspiration, and shows wherein consists the divinity of the Word ; and that, however party-colored, multiform, and apparently contradictory are some portions of it in the literal sense, in the spiritual sense it is one and uniform-like the Lord's vesture, woven without seam from top to bottom. It is this revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word—this manifestation of genuine truth through the obscurity of the letter-which is claim. ed to be that predicted and glorious appearing of the Son of Man “upon the clouds of heaven.”
But whether those who examine, will be able to acknowledge the claims of the New Church, must ever depend on the state of mind in which they undertake the investigation, or the end which they have in view. Ifone enter upon this examination under the persuasion that he is already in possession of all truth-who therefore regards himself as spiritually “rich and increased in goods”—to him the writings of Swedenborg will appear any thing but lumin
Regarding his present views as an infallible test of truth, whatever does not conform to these he sets down as therefore false, and of course rejects. His examination is not instituted in order to see whether his present views be conformable to the truth, but whether the views which he pretends to examine be con. formable to his own. Such a person is not in that humble, docile, child-like frame of mind, which is favorable to the reception of truth, or to a fair investigation of any subject. And before he can be made wiser by the truths of the New Church, or before he can see that they are truths, he must be willing to become a fool in his own estimation. He must be willing to go and sell all that he
hath, “ Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”
But to all honest, humble, independent, sincere seekers after truth, I have no caution to submit. They are affectionately solicited to examine the writings of Swedenborg for themselvesseriously—patiently—thoroughly. The New Church shrinks not from the severest investigation of her doctrines and principles, by all those who desire truth to the end that they may live a purer and a better life. She is willing—nay, she desires-that philosophy and science, talent and learning, acute penetration and sound logic, humility and meekness, freedom and independence-in a word, that all the treasures of wisdom and all the noblest facu). ties of the human mind, be brought to the investigation of her writings. Truth is its own witness. It fears not free and impar. tial examination, but ever seeketh to be seen in its own resplendent brightness.
Much misrepresentation has gone abroad in respect to the writings of Swedenborg. I may say that the popular impression in regard to the New Church is very remote from the truth. Many who oppose and ridicule its doctrines, would find upon careful examination, that what they had opposed and ridiculed, were not the doctrines of the New Church, but only some grotesque caricature of them—the creation of their own or of others' minds. The enemies of truth have sometimes brought forward garbled extracts from the writings of Swedenborg, which, when taken out from their proper connection, cannot be rightly understood ; and which have doubtless been the occasion of prejudicing the minds of some innocent and well-disposed persons against the New Church. But honest people must see that such a course is extremely unfair. Stone, and mortar, and rough lath-boards may be indispensable in building a royal mansion ; but neither of these could be considered as exactly a fair specimen of the king's palace. And before one allows a prejudice to enter his mind against the writings of the New Church, on account of some extracts that may have offended him, he would do well to consider what may be, and what indeed has been done in regard to the Sacred Scriptures. The sneering infidel has collected passages from the Word, which, when misunderstood, or understood in their strictly natural sense, appear trivial, obscene, irrational, and altogether unworthy the Divine Mind. And would it be fair to judge the Sacred Volume by these garbled extracts misunderstood ?
If so, the argument of the infidel were indeed triumphant. Yet, (strange to say !) this is precisely what some professed christians have allowed themselves to do in regard to the writings of the New Church.
Perhaps it will be thought by some who may read these Lectures, that the writer has sometimes spoken concerning the Old Church with a degree of plainness which seems harsh and severe, and not quite consistent with genuine charity. But it should be remembered that true charity is spiritual. It has more regard for the future and eternal states of men, than for their present or merely natural feelings. It aims not to please, but to do men the highest good. It therefore tells them the simple truth, « whether they will hear or whether they will forbear.” And to those who are in a state of opposition to the truth, the truth always seems harsh and severe. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do," was the language of Charity itself to the unbelieving Jews. And they sought to kill Jesus, because He told them the truth.
If the revelations which have been made for the use of the New Church be true, then certainly they are of paramount importance. And if there be even a possibility of their being true, then they deserve a patient and thorough examination. Multitudes of honest and deep-thinking men—some of them among the purest and most eminently philosophic minds of the age-after giving them such an examination, have with one voice declared, “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see,” The strongest evidence that the doctrines of the New Church are all true and from heaven, is, after all, to be found in their purifying and regenerating power; in the searching influence which they exercise over the heart; in their efficacy as felt in the renewal of the inner life ; in the sweet, gentle, heavenly peace which they diffuse through all the chambers of the soul. They explore the hidden recesses of the mind—they unveil the latent springs of action, and show us the evil quality of our hearts with a distinctness with which we never saw it before; and at the same time they teach us how to get rid of our evils, as we find taught nowhere else. Could these doctrines do this could they open the eyes of the spiritually blind—could they unstop the ears of the spiritually deaf —could they make the lame walk, the leprous clean, and raise up to newness of life the spiritually dead, if they were from hell ? “ Can a devil open the eyes of the blind ?"
This New Revelation comes to men without the attestation of external miracles. It addresses them as beings possessed of a rational faculty, and therefore capable of judging between truth and falsehood without any external signs to force belief. It comes a great light into the world, manifesting the real internal quality of the prevailing Church. It sits in judgment upon all forms of religious error. It prostrates all idols of silver and gold, the work of men's hands. It strips off the feeble disguises of mere form, parade, and external sanctity, and lays bare the interior, ruling loves of men. Yet it cometh “not to condemn the world,” but that the world through its agency may be saved-saved from those evil loves and false persuasions that enslave the human soul.–And as the field of true science enlarges—as thought becomes more free -as inquiry upon all subjects becomes more bold and searching--a voice, louder and still louder, comes up from the honest and thinking men in christendom, calling for rationality in religion as well as in every thing else ;-calling for such principles of biblical interpretation as shall show the Scriptures to be indeed THE WORD OF GOD. And no where but in the writings of the New Church, will it be found that this call is fully answered.
Near one hundred years have already elapsed since Swedenborg began to write. And although the world has been ever since steadily and rapidly advancing in knowledge, yet it is a remarkable fact that his writings were never so much sought after, nor so extensively circulated and read, both in our own country and in most of the civilized states of Europe, as at the present time. New editions of his works are in constant progress of publication to satisfy the continually increasing demand for them. Not a few men of reputed piety and learning are known to read these writings extensively, and to take from them (generally without any acknowledgment of their source) the very truths which gain for them their chief glory. Here then is a problem not easy of solution, if the writings of Swedenborg be the offspring either of imposture or delusion.
That this volume of Lectures may be instrumental in leading sonie to a careful and diligent perusal of these writings, and that the Lord Jesus Christ may open their eyes to see and their hearts to acknowledge Him in the glorious truths of the New Jerusalem, is the earnest prayer of their author.
B. F. B. New York, Jan. 28, 1842.
NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH.
INTRODUCTORY REMARKS, WITH A SKETCH OF THE
LIFE, WRITINGS, AND CHARACTER OF THE HON. EMANUEL SWEDENBORG.
“A MAN SENT OF God.”—John, I. 6.
This earth of herself is cold and dark. All the warmth and light that she has, come down from the beneficent sun, without whose quickening beams not a blade of grass could grow, and not a creature draw the breath of life. Wherever she turns her face direct towards this bountiful giver of light and heat, she receives therefrom an expression of activity and joy; life circulates through every vein, and her smiles of beauty are reflected in ten thousand forms. But where her face is turned away from the great orb of day, there the shades of darkness brood—there cease the pulsations of life, and nought but sadness and gloom overspread her icebound surface.
Thus it is with man. Of himself, he hath neither goodness nor truth, love nor wisdom. All that he receives of these, comes down to him from the beneficent Lord of life, who is Love itself, and Wisdom itself, and the only source of goodness and truth to men. The most ancient men of our earth perceived, and from the heart acknowledged that this is so. And so long as they thus kept their faces turned towards the Lord, the