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no the word diárovos, a minister or servant, with the view to remove the impression of its referring to one who has been inducted into holy orders. Strictures of this nature are calculated rather to confuse and involve the sense than elucidate it. That the Greek word has a variety of meanings is at once conceded; so has the word “minister” in English. There is, in this respect, indeed, a considerable similarity between the two, and it would be just as logical to argue from the different senses in which the English word has been employed by the translators in the Bible, that it never means one who has been ordained into the Church, as the parallel reasoning on the corresponding word in the original.
There are, however, one or two facts before which these hyper-criticisms will melt away and disappear. First, we have the undoubted fact that the Lord set apart twelve from the rest of His disciples for the special work of the ministry. Then, secondly, “the Lord appointed (avedežev) other seventy also, and sent them two and two before His face, into every city and place whither He Himself would come.” (Luke x. 1.) The Lord thus really instituted two orders of ministers; one which, in addition to the office of preaching, &c., was to be near His person, and the other to act as harbingers, to prepare the way for His coming. That the two offices were also distinct as concerns their respective degrees of dignity, follows from the relative positions held by each—that of being always near the Lord, being the more distinguished. Moreover the position of the Apostles as being distinct from, and more eminent than that of either the other disciples or the seventy, is indicated by their being so frequently referred to as “The twelve.” On other occasions the Lord, in like manner, recognises their position, as where he says, “ Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil ?” (John vi. 70.) It was when with the twelve that He instituted the Holy Supper; it was also to them that He addressed the words—“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and ordained you (set you apart), that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain."
Spiritually the passages recording the appointment of the twelve and the seventy comprises the whole duties of the ministerial function, consisting as they do of the double office of “ teaching truth, and leading to goodness,” the latter being comprehended in the healing of sicknesses and the casting out of devils; for men can only be led to goodness as they are led to forsake their evils, the devils by which they are possessed, before becoming the subjects of regeneration.
It may possibly be urged that the Apostles were chosen to represent the graces of spiritual life. That they sustained a representative character is not denied; but that does not invalidate the fact of the Lord having set them apart from the rest of His disciples to fill the ministerial office. Moreover, ministers sustain a general representative character even now; for Swedenborg informs us that kings and priests are representative even at this day; (A.C. 3670) so that both the fact and the representation are equally applicable, both to the ministers of the time of the Lord and that in which we live.
As far, then, as the scripture testimony is concerned, it supplies most unequivocal evidence of the ministry as a distinct order, being of Divine institution, having been founded by the Lord Himself.
One of the most general, and, perhaps, the most plausible objections to the establishment of the ministry as a distinct order, is founded on the abuses which have existed under ecclesiastical hierarchies. The position is true as to fact, but the deductions drawn from it are fallacious. No assumption is more illogical than that which from the possibility, or even the existence of the abuse of anything, argues against its use. There is nothing which exists, however useful when legitimately employed, but is liable to perversion. Such an argument logically carried out would therefore go to the rejection of everything useful. Moreover the more exalted the use, the more corrupt and degraded it becomes when perverted to unworthy purposes. Unless, therefore, those who object to an ordained ministry are prepared to demonstrate the contrary, the existence of even gross abuses in that function leads to the opposite conclusion, and proves to how elevated a use it subserves when in a normal condition. If, then, the existence of abuses in the ministerial office furnishes a valid reason for abolishing the priesthood as a distinct order, and thus obliterating the normal functions of men who, by reason of their being set apart for the office, are in a position to concentrate their thoughts and energies on the efficient performance of the duties entrusted to them, there is no useful operation or institution but ought to be abolished, which would obliterate uses altogether.
The excesses which have crept into the Church—the greed for pelf and the appetite for power, are, I admit, notorious in ecclesiastical history. But the lust of dominion and gain is not, be it remembered, peculiar to the ministry. Nor, indeed, are despotism and tyranny confined to royalty even ; dictators under a republican form of government have in many instances aimed at and exercised despotic power, and even subordinate magistrates have equally exhibited according to the extent of their power the same spirit. Nor have private individuals been exempt from the taint; so that if the ministry ought to be abolished, on the same ground all social distinctions and civilization itself ought to follow. But there are other evils connected with religion. What is more deplorable than hypocrisy? On the same ground religion should be abrogated. But were these entirely swept away, and society reduced to a state of barbarism, it would not remove the evil although it might change its form. The source of the mischief lies, not in the institutions, but in the heart, in the inordinate love of self, and the greed after worldly possessions, which have been inherited from the fall; and our controversy ought not to be with institutions capable of usefulness, but with the depraved principles which are the primary cause of their being abused. For, till these are removed, no change in the form of society can restore it to its normal condition.
That there are temptations peculiar to the ministerial office is not denied; so likewise are there to every other relation. The same, moreover, is true of the possession of power under every form. Whoever is placed in authority is liable to abuse it, whether he holds it by legal appointment or by reason of the influence which wealth bestows. Talent, also, which confers a moral power in many respects superior to that which results from position, is equally in danger of being prostituted to unworthy objects. The real question on which the value of an institution rests is, the use of which it is capable when its duties are conscientiously performed. To deny that uses of a truly exalted character result from the faithful discharge of the ministerial office, implies an obliquity of vision not easily accounted for; equally so those also who assume that whoever enters the ministry, as a separate order, necessarily falls into abuses, which are only accidents, and no essential part of the institution itself. They, moreover, by implication, charge the Lord, in setting apart His Apostles and the seventy to that office, with an act worse than superfluous. Granted that ministers have peculiar temptations; so have they peculiar aids. Where there are trials proportionate strength is vouchsafed to resist and overcome them. Conflict with evil principles is the inseparable portion of humanity in this probationary state ; but it is permitted for the express object that these disorders may be vanquished, and that we may reap the fruits of victory in an enlarged and more exalted field of useful activity.
That Swedenborg recognises the ministry as a distinct order, ap
pointed to specific duties, must be familiar to every one who has made himself acquainted with his writings. Thus, in his chapter on “Ecclesiastical and Civil Government” (see New Doctrine, n. 311—325), he has insisted in the strongest terms on the necessity of such an order as being intimately connected with the spiritual well-being of society :
“There are (he says) two classes of affairs amongst men which ought to be conducted according to the laws of order ; namely, that which relates to the things of heaven, and that which relates to the things of the world. The former are called ecclesiastical, and the latter civil affairs.”
Speaking of the functions of the civil magistrate, he adds,
“It is impossible that order can be maintained in the world without governors, whose duty it should be vigilantly to observe the proceedings of those who act contrary to order, that they may reward the former and punish the latter. Un. less this were done, the human race would inevitably perish."
The reason of this necessity he explains to be, that the desire of ruling over others and of possessing their property, hereditary with man, would, were he not restrained by the fear of the laws and the dread of punishment, involving the loss of honour, of property, and of life on the one hand, and encouraged on the other by the hope of honour, reward, and gain, would break forth into the evils of enmity, envy, hatred, revenge, deceit, cruelty, and others of a similar kind, and that to an extent that would speedily bring the human race to an end.
After observing that governors appointed over those things amongst men which relate to heaven or ecclesiastical affairs, are called priests, and their office the priesthood, he thus defines the duty of their order:
“With respect to priests, their duty is to teach men the way to heaven, and likewise to lead them therein. They are to teach them according to the doctrine of the Church, which is derived from the Word of God, and to lead them to live according to that doctrine. Priests who teach the doctrine of truth, and lead men thereby to goodness of life, and so to the Lord, are the good shepherds of the sheep; but they who only teach and do not lead to goodness of life, and so to the Lord, are the bad shepherds.”
Some have contended, as they have done with regard to the Sacrament of the Holy Supper, that these remarks of Swedenborg are addressed to the ministry of the Old Church, and not to that of the New. Such an impression is, however, equally fallacious in both instances. As with the sacraments, so with the ministry, his observations form part of what he has himself entitled, “ The New Jerusalem, and its Heavenly Doctrines,” and it likewise occurs in the chapters in the “ Arcana " on
Charity and Faith, and is thus ranked among the fundamental tenets of the New Church. Besides, is there any portion of his teachings, on the extracts above adduced, which does not apply to those who minister in the New Church ? Is it not their duty to teach according to the Word of God, and to lead their flocks to goodness—to teach men the way to heaven, and to lead them therein ? If this is not a vital part of the ministrations of the New Church, in what do the duties of its ministry consist? But we need not pursue these arguments, as the fact is so self-evident, that it must approve itself to every one who reflects on the subject.
Having thus established the necessity of, to use his own term, a priesthood, Swedenborg next proceeds to explain the position they should hold
“Dignity and honour (he maintains) ought to be accorded to priests on account of the sanctity of their office.”
Further on he adds by way of further explaining the ground on which such honour is due,
“The honour of any employment is not in the person of him who is employed, but is only annexed to him on account of the dignity of the office in which he is engaged ; and what is annexed does not belong to the person, but to the employment, being separated from the person when he is separated from the employment. All personal honour is the honour of wisdom and the fear of the Lord.”
Neither has he overlooked the danger of a priesthood, to assume power not legitimately belonging either to them or their office, and to claim to themselves honour which is due to the Lord alone. On the first point he insists that,
“Priests ought not to claim to themselves any power over the souls of men, inasmuch as they cannot discern the real state of the interiors, or of the heart; much less ought they to claim the power of opening and shutting heaven, because that power belongs to the Lord alone.”
Of the second, he observes, speaking of the dignity proper to the ministerial office,
“They who are wise ascribe all such honour to the Lord, from whom all sanctity proceeds, and not to themselves; whereas they who are not wise attribute the honour to themselves, and take it from the Lord. They who claim honour to themselves on account of the sanctity of their office, prefer honour and gain to the salvation of souls, for which they ought to provide ; but they who attribute honour to the Lord, and not to themselves, prefer the salvation of souls to honour and gain.”
Is there, I would again ask, anyihing inconsistent with a New Church priesthood? Or is the establishment of a ministry whose