« ZurückWeiter »
wander from door to door, seeking where they can be received, and at length supplicating for food and warmth. When they are thus received, and desire, as in their lifetime, to be eminent over others, and to be more esteemed ; and if they also covet and take away the possessions of others (which they cannot but do); if in the life of the body such are punished, they are there much more severely punished, and driven away when they wander about alone in torn garments, begging; and this miserable state they suffer until their pride or their love of pre-eminence over others is abolished, and until the cupidity of taking away the goods of others is subdued. In this manner they are devastated, and can be admitted into the company of such spirits as agree with them. This devastating process is sometimes the work of very many years ; they say of some hundreds, yea, of some thousands of years, for the states of some require that duration of vastation.
Review. EMANUEL SWEDENBORG AS A PHILOSOPHER AND MAN OF SCIENCE. By
RUDOLPH LEONARD TAFEL, Philosophiæ Doctor. Chicago : Myers
and Chandler. 1867. Not only with enemies but even with friends the theological writings of Swedenborg have cast into the shade his astonishing labours and acquisitions in the fields of science and philosophy. This circumstance, more perbaps than any other that could be named, has contributed to produce the neglect to which his writings in general have been so long consigned by those whose special duty it was to have carefully studied them. Posterity, better informed, will look back with wonder on the power of prejudices, which were able so thoroughly to blind the eyes of reason in men otherwise intelligent and truth-loving.
Those two faculties which, in the opinion of Lord Macaulay, were given in greater abundance to the poet Southey than to any other human being—“the faculty of believing without a reason, and the faculty of hating without a provocation"-are evidently largely shared (with honourable exceptions) as well by our fourth-rate reviewers, who take upon them to lead public opinion on all subjects, as by literary adventurers and book-makers. The opportunity of exercising these unenviable endowments was, in the case of such an author as Swedenborg, far too good to be lost. Accordingly, all circumstances duly
considered, more silly writing, more reckless blundering, more arrogant criticism, more dishonourable hostility-both direct and oblique—have been called into existence by this one man's literary productions than by those of any other perhaps that could be named in the history of literature. Here the “Gay Science" has indulged in its wildest vagaries. All great thinkers have had their detractors. This curious race of beings follows the path of great men as shadow follows sunlight; the brighter the light, the deeper the shadow. Socrates, Aristotle, Des Cartes, Wolff, had their enemies ; why not Swedenborg, the greatest thinker of all? How are the pernicious effects of this unreasoning state of criticism and reviewing to be obviated ? How best can one prevent the minds of simple and undiscerning readers from being deluded by gross misrepresentations of plain and evident facts? There seems to be no more effectual way than that indicated by the contents of Professor Tafel's volume. Up to the present time, the writings of Swedenborg have been, for the most part, studied in a desultory and perfunctory manner. Nor is this to be wondered at. The quantity and variety of matter they contain, the depth of the subjects, the complexity and subtlety of the problems they treat of, demand, for their clear working out and thorough mastery, a mind of dimensions, activity, and industry almost equal to that of the author himself. They everywhere present views and principles which the most eager and devoted student will be the first to confess that he has as yet but dimly comprehended. The volume before us will serve to indicate how much still remains to be known, even by his most ardent admirers, of Swedenborg's method, processes, and results in science and philosophy. The first step has hardly yet been taken in the matter. We therefore hail with much satisfaction the appearance of Professor Tafel's valuable compilation as a sign that intelligent readers of the Writings have not wholly lost sight of a department of study so essential to the adequate comprehension of the primary truths made known in those Writings, ard, moreover, a study so necessary in the present day, when the common estimate of our author's character and labours is that of mysticism, visions, dreaming, and the so-called “spiritualism."
Professor Tafel's work is divided into two parts, which treat, respectively, of Swedenborg as a philosopher, and as a man of science. Its chief aim is “to remove the stigma cast upon a great and honourable name, to vindicate a true and holy cause,” by placing before the reader “ EMANUEL SWEDENBORG, and the cause which he advocated, in the light in which they appeared to those who are entitled, by an honest and faithful study of his writings, to express the judgment which such study alone could render them competent to form.” This the Professor has endeavoured to do by means of a copious and interesting collection of reviews, opinions, and judgments published at various times by writers in some respects fairly qualified to pronounce on such a subject. These extracts, although of unequal value, deserve careful perusal.
The hearty thanks of all interested in such matters are due to Professor Tafel for the labour he has bestowed in thus bringing together the series of suggestive papers, from the pen of Mr. Beswick, on the Principia. A very slight examination of these will suffice to show the magnitude of the task which lies before those who would thoroughly comprehend the vast undertaking which Swedenborg conceived, and, by Divine providence, accomplished. It is earnestly to be wished that Mr. Beswick will see his way ere long to publishing these studies in a separate form, with such additions as his own increased experience, and the rapid progress of physical science, since their first appearance in the Intellectual Repository, will have enabled him to make to them.
It is not our purpose at present to enter into a detailed examination of the various points discussed in the papers here collected together. We cannot, however, help noticing with surprise and regret the late Dr. Tafel's opinion of the Prodromus de Infinito, as teaching an innocent kind of materialism, capable of being converted into spiritualism. Such a view as this proceeds, we believe, from an entire misapprehension of the scope and character of that wonderful little book. A charge so grave as that of “ materialism” ought not lightly to be made against any Christian writer, least of all against the author of the Prodromus. Such a charge coming as it does from an ardent and successful champion of the good cause, such as Dr. Tafel proved himself to be, can give no offence : but echoed, as it has been, by sciolists and pretended exponents of Swedenborg's principles, it is calculated to do much mischief, by not only exciting groundless prejudices, but also by leading the mind away from the stupendous argument which pervades that work—that the existence of the infinite is rationally demonstrable to any mind which, by adequate preparation and training, is capable of clearly and consecutively reasoning on the nodus philosophic.
A glance at the second part of the work-Swedenborg as a man of science-is enough to prove that what has been attempted, up to the present time, in this field, is but a mere introduction to the subject.
The division headed Physiological Theories and Anatomical Discoveries seems even more defective than the rest. No mention whatever is made of the author's profound and original views respecting the nature and functions of the nerve-cells, nor of his singular investigation into the anatomy and physiology of the coronary vessels of the heart. Swedenborg's results, as to this last most difficult subject, are altogether at variance with modern anatomical science. One or the other must be in error. Time will tell which.
No mention, it may be added, is made of the relation between Swedenborg's view of the sun as being “pure fire,” and modern speculations on the nature and constitution of the sun and sun-spots.
Time was when the “Swedenborgian,” so called, might assert or deny what he chose. The outer world paid no heed to what it looked upon as mystical dreams or wild fancies : but the progress of science and of scientific speculation has changed all this. The writings of Swedenborg are slowly but surely forcing themselves on the attention of thinking men. The very discoveries of science and the unphilosophical and visionary hypotheses too often rashly advanced to explain them are actually bringing men of science, nolens volens, more on a level with the really advanced views of the Swedish philosopher. It behoves all concerned to prepare themselves therefore, as best they may, for discussions which cannot long be postponed.
On the whole, we cordially welcome the appearance of this useful and opportune compilation, and earnestly hope and pray with the compiler that the work he has thus well and faithfully begun may not be suffered to rest where he has left it; “but be taken up and carried forward by unprejudiced and ardent scholars, who
shall not fail to reap great and abundant harvests of knowledge in the field where so much light has been already suwn.”
O SORROW not, my gentle one,
As those who have no hope;
His promise will have scope.
The feeble effort of thy soul,
All seemingly beneath control.
Live in the promise then, and see
What love to thee is given,
Which in thy life is hidden.
And all of time has ceased for thee,
Shine in that bright eternity.
Nor let one shadow linger there;
To heav'n extend this gracious prayer: O God of love, Thy will be mine,
No greater boon Thou hast to give; Fill’d with the Spirit all divine,
It is not yain for me to live. H. N. B. We
taken; but very many also are true and
useful. Much, therefore, in these and One of the marked features of the age is similar publications is preparing the the growth of our periodical literature. way and hastening the progress of the A paper read before the Church Congress brighter day which is arising on the by the Rev. J. Erskine Clarke, the Church. editor of the Parish Magazine, Chatter. There is another class of publications box, Children's Prize, &c., gives some which, at this season of the year, apinteresting statistics respecting this pears in considerable numbers. These growth. '“ There are published,” he are the Christmas numbers of popular says,
“in London, in round numbers, periodicals, and the various annuals of 350 monthly magazines, apart from 70 the publishers. Among these, a large quarterly issues, and about 400 weekly space is occupied by publications devoted newspapers and magazines ; so that the to children. These treat on a great serial literature of the day may be put variety of subjects, and are often beaudown at about 800 separate publica- tifully illustrated and elegantly got up tions, from daily to quarterly.'
to attract the attention of their little Of this vast number, some are of a readers. Referring to the fairy stories vicious and others of a questionable and other tales intended to fascinate moral character. Some are directly the imagination of children, a writer antagonistic to the truths of revelation, in the Messenger offers the following and others offer to the Bible a cold suggestion for the preparation of books assent, while few, apart from the strictly intended to circulate among the children denominational magazines, attempt to of New Church families :defend the orthodox beliefs. Those " Truth is stranger than fiction.' religious magazines which obtain the The Lord has created more wonderful largest circulation are those which things than man can imagine. manifest the greatest liberality and are in the midst of supernatural influbreadth of view. Two of the most
Our whole life comes from remarkable of these are Good Words them. The fairies of fable may not be and the Sunday Magazine. The former around us, helping or hindering us in has a monthly circulation of 130,000 good or evil; but more powerful beings copies, and the second nearly as large. And every earthly thing has its These magazines are edited by distin- significance, from its relation to its guished Presbyterian ministers, but spiritual cause. In the truths which number among their contributors some the New Church reveal to us concerning of the ablest writers of the English the
presence and active influence of the Church. Bishops, deans, and titled spiritual world and spiritual beings laymen are among their constant con- upon us, we have materials which we tributors ; and this circumstance has can utilise for the help and culture of led to the expression of a regret that our children, for a more fascinating these influential journals are not more literature than the legends of the past; thoroughly devoted to the work of a literature which will meet all the promulgating strictly Church of Eng- wants of the youthful fancy, and at Iand principles among the people. În the same time direct it to some practical the expression of this regret, it is overlooked that it is the absence of every- The strictly religious and denominathing sectarian that gives them their tional magazines offer in their numbers, hold upon the public mind. It is one theirimproved tone, and general earnestof the signs of the times that the ness many points of interest to members healthful serials of the age that are of the New Church. We must not, most gladly welcomed are those which however, in this hasty review, overlook encourage the freest religious investiga- the claims of our own periodicals. The tion, and that shake themselves free New Church in England has few of from the current phrases and stereotyped these. It is the more necessary, thereconventionalism of the creeds. Many fore, and the more easy to her memof their utterances, viewed from the bers to give them an efficient support. deeper insight and clearer precision of So far, however, the circulation of both the New Church, are crude and mis- magazines, the Intellectual Repository