CONTROLLED BY THE ACADEMY OF THE NEW CHURCH
THE CONFLICT OF THE AGES
PUBLISHED FOR THE ACADEMY OF THE NEW CHURCH
BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.
Copyright, 1884, by J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO., for the ACADEMY OF THE NEW CHURCH
THE CONFLICT OF THE AGES.
CONFLICT IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (Continuation):
The Reformation 5
The Rise of the Reformation in Germany 20
NOTES AND REVIEWS:
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE CHURCH 51
THE NEW-CHURCH REVIEW 93
THE CONFLICT OF THE AGES
CONFLICT IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
THE first three general Churches had their centre in Asia, in the land of Canaan. In Western Asia the First Christian Church also in great part enjoyed its brief bloom of spring-time, for, as we have seen, up to the Nicene Council the Oriental Christian Church was the centre of learning and of power in Christendom. As the Church declined into the Babylonish Captivity the centre of power moved westward to Rome. The last era of the Church sees its centre farther removed to the North, to Germany and to England. Even as the sun in its apparent circuit round the earth rises in the east, passes through the south to the west, and thence to the north before it begins a new cycle, so the Church in its cycle passed through its various stages, geographically as well as spiritually. There was first love to the LORD, then the brightness of spiritual thought, then came selfish ambition, and, lastly, the grave of a cold, merely natural learning. All this had to be passed through before a new beginning could be made, and the LORD could make His Second Coming with the brightness of eternal Morning.
Surrounded as we are by those who worship the midnight darkness of the dead Church around us as the brightness of Gospel light, it is often difficult for us to realize that the Reformation was but the final stage of the Consummation of the First Christian Church. But a deeper view of Christendom, as seen in the light of Heaven, now granted us, plainly shows that this is the case, and that the Protestant Church, the Church of Faith Alone, is that cold, wintry state in which the Church established by the LORD is sleeping its sleep of death, all heavenly warmth of life, all love of the LORD JESUS CHRIST as the only God of Heaven and earth, having been buried, together with the faith in the Divinity of His Human. In consequence, genuine charity also is so far buried out of sight that the Old Church cannot even give anything like a true definition of it.
Surrounded by the dead Churches which owe their birth to the Reformation, the man of the New Church is constantly tempted to mistake their whitened charnel-houses for temples of worship, and the full formation of the Church on earth is still put off owing to the same cause that preserved so long the imaginary heavens in the other world. Just as the simple-mingled angels of the First Heaven were misled by the apparent good and truth of those who constituted the imaginary heavens, so the simple-minded of the New Church, who are in the externals of the New Church, mistake the apparent good and truth of the Old Church around them for real good and truth, and therefore commingle with it such associate with it, so that it is hardly possible to disjoin the New Church thoroughly from the Old without doing violence to the states of those who constitute the ultimates of the Church and on whom it rests.
The state of the Old Church on earth now is so similar to that of the imaginary heavens in the other world before the Last Judgment, and the connection of simple-minded New Churchmen with the Old Church is so like that of the simple good in the ultimate heavens with the seeming good of the imaginary heavens, that we think it of great use to consider in this connection the statements as to them found in the Writings.
They were those who lived in the world in external, and never in internal, sanctity; who were just and sincere for the sake of civil and moral laws, but not for the sake of Divine laws; who, therefore, were external or natural, and not internal or spiritual men; who also were in the doctrinals of the Church, and were able to teach them, but whose lives were not accordant with them; and who filled various offices, and did uses, but not for the sake of uses. These, and all throughout the whole world who were like them, and lived after the LORDS Coming, constituted the First Heaven. This heaven, therefore, was such as the world and the Church upon earth is, among those who do good, not because it is good, but because they fear the laws, and the loss of fame, honor, and lucre. They who do good from no other origin do not fear God, but men and are destitute of conscience. In the First Heaven of the Protestants there was a large proportion of spirits who believed that man is saved by faith alone, and who did not live the life of faith, which is charity, and who loved much to be seen of men. In all these spirits, so long as they were associated together, the interiors were closed that they might not appear, but when the Last Judgment was at hand they were opened; and it was then found that inwardly they were obsessed by falses and evils of every kind, and that they were against the Divine, and were actually in hell; for every one after death is immediately bound to his like, the good to their like in heaven, but the evil to their like in hell, yet they do not go to them before the interiors are unveiled; in the mean time they may live together in society with those who resemble them in externals.--L J. 69.
We also read concerning them in the Spiritual Diary, as follows:
The cause why they were elevated into the court of heaven was because they had from infancy frequented the worship of the Church from habit, and had also acknowledged the holy things of the Church in thought and with the mouth, but still had made life of no account, had loved honors and gains for the sake of honors and gains, or on account of an evil end, had judged from gains, enmities, favor and envy, and not from justice, and this through their whole life.
The state here described is on the whole so much like that we see in the world around us that no one can help being stuck by the similarity, or, rather, sameness. It is evident that the time of Judgment on earth is protracted, and the evil internals are only slowly unfolded, and this chiefly where the Divine Truth is taught clearly and faithfully. Elsewhere the simple-minded of the New Church still suffer themselves to be seduced by specious appearances, so as to form friendships of love, and thus to affiliate with the Old Church; even as the simple good angels of the ultimate heavens were conjoined with those who formed the imaginary heavens. Concerning this conjunction we read in the Last Judgment as follows:
There were many reasons why such societies or such heavens were tolerated; the principal reason was, that by external sanctity, by external sincerity and justice, they were conjoined with the simple good, who were either in the ultimate heaven, or were still in the world of spirits, and not yet introduced into heaven. For in the spiritual world there is a communication, and thence a conjunction, of all with their like: and the simple good in the ultimate heaven, and in the world of spirits, look principally to externals, yet are not inwardly evil; wherefore if these spirits had been forcibly removed from them before the appointed time, heaven would have suffered in its ultimates; and yet it is the ultimate upon which the superior heaven subsists, as upon its own basis.L. J. 70.
Even so it is with the simple-minded in the Church at this time; deceived by appearances, they still cling to their Old Church associations and friends, and ministers of the LORDS New Church even go so far as to exchange pulpits with them, and are thence unwilling that the Divine Truth revealed by the LORD should be preached, and that a separation should thereby be effected of the New Church from the Old.
Without truths there is no cognition of the LORD, as without truths there is no faith and thus no charity; consequently without truths there is no theology, and where this is not there is no Church. Such is the assembly of people at this day, who call themselves Christians, and who say that they are in the light of the Gospel, when yet they are in thick darkness itself; for the truths lie hidden under falses, like gold, silver, and precious stones buried among the bones in the valley of Hinnom. That this is so was clearly evident to me from the spheres in the spiritual world which flow forth and propagate themselves from the Christendom of to-day. One sphere is concerning the LORD; this breathes forth and pours itself forth from the Southern quarter, where there are the learned of the clergy and the erudite of the laity. Wherever this penetrates it stealthily enters the ideas; with many it takes away the faith in the Divinity of the LORDS Human, with many it weakens it, and with many it infatuates, because it brings at the same time a belief in three gods, end thus there is confusion. The second sphere, which carries with it faith, is like a black cloud in winter-time, which brings darkness, turns rains into snows, makes bare the trees and freezes the water, and takes away all pasture from the sheep.
The angels complain of these spheres, and pray to the LORD that they may be dissipated, but they received for answer that they cannot be dissipated so long as the Dragon is upon the earth, because it comes from the dragonists there; for it is said of the Dragon, that he was cast to the earth and then the following: For this rejoice, ye heavens, and woe to the inhabiters of the earth (Revelation, xii.). Those three spheres are like atmospheres blown forth from the nostrils of the Dragon, which, because they are spiritual, invade and compel minds. There are as yet few spheres of spiritual truths, only in the new heavens and with those below heaven who are separated from the dragonists: which is the reason why those truths are at this day as invisible with men in the world as ships in the Eastern Ocean are to the captains and sailors who sail in the Western Ocean.--T. C. R. 619.
Thus we see that the draconic sphere will continue so long as there is on earth a Church principled in the worship of three gods and in faith alone, and we also see that this Church is internally opposed to the LORD and to His Church, and in league with the hells below. That the Reformation which brought forth such a Church cannot have been a step toward Heaven, but was a further step downward, must thence be manifest. When this is considered we can realize, the teachings of the Church on this subject, to the effect that the morning of the Church was in the time of the Apostles, its progression to noonday in the first three centuries, and thence onward to the Last Judgment, in 1757, its vastation and consummation (see Summary to the Coronis, 7).
The state of the Protestant Church is described in the prophet Daniel, where we read: And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the meat-offering to cease, and upon the bird of abominations shall be desolation, and until the consummation and decision it shall drop upon the devastation (Dan. ix. 27). These somewhat enigmatical words are explained for us by the LORD in the Writings as follows:
Yet he will confirm the covenant for one week, signifies the time of the Reformation, when the Word was again read and the LORD acknowledged, that is, the Divine in His Human, which acknowledgment and thence conjunction of the LORD by the Word is signified by covenant, and the time of the Reformation by one week. But in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the meat-offering to cease signifies that still interiorly with those who are the Reformed there was no truth and good in their worship, sacrifice denoting worship from truth, and the meat-offering worship from goods; by the midst of the week is not signified the midst of the time, but the inmost of the state with the reformed, for midst signifies inmost, and week the state of the Church, The reason why there was no truth and good inwardly in worship after the Reformation was because they assumed faith for the essential of the Church and separated it from charity, and when faith is separated from charity, then in the inmost of worship there is neither truth nor good, for the inmost of worship is the good of charity, and the truth of faith proceeds from it. At length upon the bird of abominations shall be desolation signifies the extinction of all truth by the separation of faith from charity. The bird of abomination signifying faith alone, thus faith separated from charity, for a bird signifies thought concerning the truths of the Word, and the understanding of them, which becomes a bird of abomination when there is not any spiritual affection of truth which illustrates and teaches truth, but only a natural affection, which is for the sate of fame, glory, honor, and gain, and which, being infernal, is abominable, inasmuch as were falses flow from it. And even to the consummation and decision it shall drop upon the devastation signifies the extreme state thereof, when there is nothing of the truth of faith remaining, and when the Last Judgment takes place.
The prophecy contained in this chapter of the prophet Daniel is also further explained in the Dicta Probantia, a posthumous work of Swedenborg, where it is shown that the whole succession of states in Christendom is portrayed in verses 26, 26, and 27 of this chapter. It is thus stated:
The first state of the Christian Church, while it was called Apostolic, thus up to the Council of Nice is described in verse 25: Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto the Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks shall the street and the ditch return and be built even in distress of times. This was in distress of times on account of the heresies then. The second state of that Church is treated of in verse 26: And after the sixty two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood and unto the end of the war devastation is determined. This was when the Papacy increased in strength. In this state all the Divine Power of the LORD was transferred to the Pope, and the Word was almost buried, and with it all cognitions of the LORD and the cognition of every truth. This is understood by the words The Messiah shell be cut off. The third state of this Church, which is called that of the Reformation, is treated of inverse 27: And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week, and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the meat-offering to cease, and upon the bird of abominations desolation and even until consummation and decision it will distil upon the devastation. In this Reformation the worship of the LORD ceased, because they went away from Him to three gods from eternity and thence fell into were falses, even so that not one spiritual truth of the Word remains, wherefore this is called there the bird of abomination, desolation, consummation, decision, and devastation (verse 27), and by the LORD it is called the abomination of desolation foretold by Daniel the prophet (Matt. xxiv. 15).--Dicta Probantia, p. 13.
In these passages the internal character of Protestantism and of the Reformation is laid bare.
As to the profanations which are signified by the abominations, they are the perversions of the holy things of the Church, thus the changing of its goods into evils, such of its truths into falses. These are called abominations, because the angels abominate them, for in so far as they were holy things of the Church, from the goods and truths from the Word, they ascend into Heaven, but in so far as they have been applied to evils, and thus profaned, they carry with them what is infernal, which lies hidden within; therefore these things are perceived as dead things in which there has been a living soul; thence it is that Heaven abominates and detests those things.A. E. 1045.
From this state it is that the Church is by the LORD called a carcase in the words Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together (Matt. xxiv. 28).
Since this is the state of the Church after the Reformation, we call also in some degree appreciate the force of the words of the LORD: and except those days be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elects sake those days are shortened.
We see from these passages that the opinion prevalent even in the New Church concerning the Reformation and the Protestant Churches, has no foundation in internal truth and in that deeper view of the course of events which results from studying history in the light of Heaven.
Those who read the Word without doctrine are in the dark concerning every truth, and their mind is wandering and uncertain, prone to errors, and also inclined to heresies, which they embrace, if favor and authority support them and their fame be not endangered; for the Word is to them like a candlestick without any light, and they see in the shade, as it were, many things; and yet they see scarcely anything, for doctrine alone is the candle. I have seen such explored by the angels, and it was found that they could confirm from the Word whatever they would, and that they do confirm particularly those things which are of their love and of the love of those whom they favor.--T. C. R. 228.
Thus we see that those who have the letter of the Word and no true doctrine to guide them are not in light but in darkness; this is still more the case with those who are in false doctrines, as we learn from the same work:
With those who read the Word from a false religion, especially those who confirm that doctrine from the Word and then look to their own glory and to the riches of the world, the truths of the Word are as in the shade of night, and falses as in the light of day: they read truths, but they do not see them; and if they see a shadow of them, they falsify them.
But many of them were examined as to the love from which they had studied the Word, and it was found that some studied it from the love of self, that they might be worshipped as primates of the Church, and some from the love of the world, that they might gain riches. When these also were examined as to what they knew from the Word, it was found that they knew nothing thence of genuine truth, but only such as is called truth falsified, which in itself is putrid falsity, for in Heaven it stinks.-- T. C. R. 232, 233.
But still it is thought that the letter of the Word, even with those who pervert and falsify it, establishes and preserves communication with Heaven. This idea, is confirmed by passages such as the following:
By the sense of the letter of the Word there is conjunction with the LORD and consociation with the angels.T. C. R. 234.
This is true of all with, whom order is not perverted and destroyed, as with infants and children, and also with all those whose spiritual mind is not closed by evils or by confirmed falses. That with the latter there is no consociation with Heaven through the letter of the Word may be seen from the True Christian Religion, where the wonderful things which are from the Word in the other world are treated of:
If anything is written out of the Word upon paper by any one who is in falses, and the paper is thrown up toward Heaven, then an explosion takes place in the air, between his eyes and Heaven, and the paper is torn into shreds and vanishes.T. C. R. 809.
But this law is not confined to the other world, for the number continues:
Thence it was manifest to me that those who are in falses of doctrine have no communication with Heaven by means of the Word; but that their reading is dispersed in the way and perishes, like gunpowder inclosed in paper when it is set on fire and thrown into the air.--T. C. R. 209.
From this it is evident that the influence of the letter of the Word on the mass of the Protestants who were evil and unregenerate, and at the same time in falsities of every kind, was not that which the superficial thinker supposes. The Protestants were, indeed, thereby enabled to shake off the rule of the Pope and of the Romish Priests, but they were still ruled by their self-intelligence and self-will,--i.e., by the evil spirits of hell, from whom has arisen the thick cloud of materialism, rationalism, and infidelity which shrouds modern Christendom as with a somber pall. Still the letter of the Word was of use to the comparatively small remnant in Christendom, who through it drew in a new breath of life, and it is also of use in providing a larger base for the revelation of the internal sense in the New Church.
The other reason which has led many in the New Church to assign a higher place to the Reformation and to Protestantism, is the prevailing tendency of the mind in Protestant countries to look at intellectual states alone, to the neglect, and even the exclusion, of the affectional or will side of development and of character. As we have seen in our last section, there was a steady intellectual progress from the end of the twelfth century up to the time of the Reformation, and this Progress has continued, more especially in Protestant countries, up to the present time, and even this one-sided intellectual progress has been something of a preparation for the intellectual reception of the Doctrines of the New Church, but it does not bring salvation.
It is this progress which has blinded the eyes of many to the fact that, morally, the progress of mankind has been still downward. The signs of this moral decline are seen in the diminished reverence for the LORD, for His Word, and for His Church, and in the almost total loss of influence of religion over the daily life of man, so that with the exception of the small remnant still existing in the Old Church, and those who allow themselves to be regenerated of the LORD in the New Church, the great mass of men in Christendom at this day, like those who occupied the imaginary heavens, destroyed over a century ago, are in external, never in internal, sanctity, being just and sincere, for the sake of civil and moral laws, but not for the sake of Divine laws, and therefore are external or natural, and not internal or spiritual men.
In the New Church we have, more than ever before, the light of the history of the preceding Churches to guide us into a right appreciation of all Ecclesiastical History, and thus also of our present religious surroundings. All the great Churches had their reformations: so we see in the Most Ancient Church, that after the heretical line of Cain is described as having run its course, a new line--the reformed Church under Sheth--had its day, until it also was consummated. When the Ancient Church had come to an end, a reformed Ancient Church under Eber arose, and preserved something of religion and of worship. In the Jewish Church, after its captivity at Babylon, a remnant returned, and commenced again the temple worship, externally very orthodox, keeping itself free from idolatry, but internally full of all uncleanness. So when the First Christian Church had sunk away into the Babylonish captivity of Rome, a Reformation arose, putting away the Romish idolatry, and still keeping all the other former evils and falses, adding to them the pernicious doctrine of Faith Alone, which at last totally destroyed what charity there was yet remaining.
These various reformations of the great Churches only ended in a more total vastation and desolation, yet they also contributed in some way to the preparation for the New Church that was to follow. In one way this was done by a more full and complete extirpation of religious life, by which a more general reception of the Doctrine of the New Church was prevented, which in that state of the Church could only have ended in a general profanation of the truth newly revealed.
The preparation for the New Church, effected by the Reformation, consisted especially in this: that the tyrannous sway of Romish dominion was broken, and a little breathing-room given for free thought. Connected with this external preparation there was the restoration of the Word in the letter, which, though rendered ineffective by false doctrine, yet formed the necessary basis for the reception of the spiritual sense of the Word, and thus for the Coming of the LORD with power and great glory at His Second Advent. Concerning this we lead in the Invitation to the New Church, a posthumous work of Swedenborg, as follows:
The only cause why the Reformation was effected was that the Word, which lay buried, might be restored to the world. It had, indeed, been in the world for marry ages, but had been at last entombed by the Roman Catholics, and thence no truth of the Church could be manifested, nor could the LORD be manifested, but the Pope was worshipped as God instead of the LORD. When, however, the Word was drawn out of its sepulchre, the LORD could become known, truth could be drawn thence, and conjunction with Heaven given.
That the blessings which the open reading of the Word might have secured were not received we see in the extracts cited above, especially in the words:
There was no truth and good interiorly in their worship after the Reformation, because they assumed faith as the essential of the Church and separated it from charity.A. E. 684.
In the Reformation the worship of the LORD ceased, because they went away from Him to three Gods from eternity, and thence fell into were falses, even so that not one spiritual truth of the mold remains.--Dicta Probantia, p. 13.
In the Reformation there was thus only a check given in a part of the Church to the external and more manifest evils, such as the acknowledgment of the vicarate of the Pope, the adoration of the Virgin and of the Saints, the personal domination of the Priests, the sale of Indulgences, and the Celibacy of the Clergy, while the Protestant Church nevertheless retained all the leading false and perverted doctrines of the Romish Church, such as the Three Persons in the Godhead from eternity, Original Sin derived from Adam, the Imputation of the Merit of Christ, and Justification through Faith in this Imputation, and explained or rather perverted the Word to agree with these falsities. To these this Church added the further falsification of separating faith from charity and good works, thus cutting off from religion the internal life-giving principle of love.
With many members of the New Church, living, as they do, among the sects of Protestantism and brought up in the sphere of their thought, the Reformation and the Reformers have assumed a character not properly belonging to them, and the Reformers especially have been encircled with a halo of glory and a reputation for intelligence and wisdom which they by no means deserved. There is no doubt that they were men full of energy and ability, battling bravely against a gigantic power which threatened to crush them to the earth; but they were not in any great degree superior to their opponents either in goodness or in intelligence and wisdom, and despite the Word which they had regained, they remained in all the more subtle and malignant falsities and evils of their parent Church, to which they added others of their own, in which they so confirmed themselves that the better ones only entered Heaven after several centuries of vastation and temptation, and many others not at all.
The New Churchman who is blessed with the light of Heaven on this question, will not fall into the prevailing hero-worship with which the world approaches this subject, but, looking first to the light that comes from above, he will view all history in a clearer and brighter light, and thus impartially and justly.
The Rise of the Reformation in Germany.
WE have seen in the chapter on the Revival of Learning that the gradual intellectual development of Europe had been brought about through the establishment of numerous universities, the revival of the study of Latin and Greek classics, as well as the study of the Greek and Latin Fathers, and through the formation and development of modern languages and modern literature, all tending to emancipate the minds from the confining and restraining influences of Latin domination.
While in France, Italy, and Spain the ecclesiastical authorities had in no ways opposed, but on the contrary fostered, intellectual development, so that some of the primates showed themselves the most distinguished patrons of learning, in Germany there soon arose an antagonism between the higher order of the ecclesiastics especially and the moving spirits in intellectual progresses. In the other countries the vices of the clergy were reproved as emphatically as in Germany, but without an equal desire of over-turning the whole fabric of ecclesiastical government. It may well be questioned whether the supposed deeper spirit of piety in Germany had more to do with the general antipathy against ecclesiastical misrule than the fact that it was a foreign power which dominated over the national life, and which at that most critical moment, was outraging public opinion by the persecution of those who were prominent in the revival of letters, and by the grossest abuses in the sale of indulgences.
It is also a doubtful question whether the Reformation would have succeeded in maintaining itself against the united powers of the Papacy and the authority of the Empire if it had not been for the general preparation of the public mind by the apparently unsuccessful attempts at reformation under Wiclif, Huss, and Savonarola. For some time the whole trend of events in Western Christendom had been toward an uprising against the despotic sway of Romish dominion, but in Germany these was a concentration both of title evils of ecclesiastic oppression and of the forces that opposed it, so that it became the battle-field of these contending powers and the first theatre of open warfare.
The centre from which the Reformation began and spread was a university founded at the very beginning of the sixteenth century (1502) by the Elector of Saxony, Frederick the Wise.
Staupitz and Dr. Pollich were the leading men in the new faculty, and they both stood in opposition to the prevailing theological and philosophical system. In the year 1508, Staupitz, who was at the same time the Provincial Superior of the Augustine Order, drew Luther, then an Augustine Monk, to the new focus, appointing him professor of philosophy.
Luther was born in Eisleben in the year 1483 from a peasant family, and after finishing his studies at the University of Erfurt, he entered the Augustine Convent of that city, where he passed through many internal struggles, until at last he found comfort in the saying of Paul as explained by Augustine, that man is saved by faith without the works of the law. This became His settled conviction, and the foundation of his teachings. So embodied was this in his thoughts that, when he afterward translated the Scriptures, he added to the saying of Paul that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law the word alone, and this verse still reads in the common German version, that a man is justified by faith alone without the works of the law.
The execration of the Catholics on the one side, and the hero-worship of his followers on the other, make it difficult to gain a true picture of Luther. But in the New Church we have the advantage of knowing how he appeared in the other world, after the mask of earth-life had been stripped off. As a knowledge of his true character will enable us to better understand the Reformation in which he played such an important part, we quote here from the Spiritual Diary:
Luther in the world had been a quarreler, self-confident, loving to speak alone, angry against all who did not agree with him, inveighing against all who dissented, whoever they might be; defending Faith Alone, caring little for life, not knowing what is charity or the neighbor. That he was a hypocrite was shown by his excitation. It was said that he spoke one way with the princes, and another with the common people, so that he believed differently from what he spoke; and that he produced a new thing from the itch of commanding; in a word, that he was a hypocrite. They who are such disturb with others all the tranquillity of mind, and their conscience, and all freedom of thought concerning the Word, by introducing their opinions as if from the Divine, infesting all who do not receive.S. D. 5105.
The extreme pertinacity of Luther may be seen from the following:
Luther narrated that it was told him by an angel from the LORD that he should beware of Faith [Alone], for there is nothing in it; wherefore also he took heed for some time and recommended works, but still he continued to separate works from faith, and on that account execrated the Epistle of James and rejected the Apocalypse.--S. D. 6042.
The power of Luther consisted chiefly in his persuasive faculty in boldly and repeatedly affirming, frequently without rational confirmation, whatever he wished to prove. This persuasive principle attended him also in the other life until he was vastated. Of this it is stated:
He had contracted a persuasive power through this, that whatever he thought, he believed to be indubitable, because these things had been successful in the world, and had been received in the kingdoms, thus from the fire of glory. Nothing can be said in reply to such a persuasive principle before it is dispersed, for there is in it no interior understanding.--S. D. 5912.
That Luther, after imbibing the conviction that man is saved by faith alone, cared only to further confirm and develop it, is acknowledged by the historian, as where we read:
He did not load himself down with much heterogeneous literature; he only desired to confirm such develop the conviction he had acquired.Ranke, vol. i. p. 199.
Nevertheless, since Luther had lived a good life and had in his childhood and youth been a Catholic, there remained with him internally a leaning toward charity, and he could therefore in the other world at last receive the truth and be elevated into Heaven. Concerning this we are taught:
It was said to me by the exploring angels that Luther was in a state of conversion before many others who bad confirmed themselves in justification by faith alone, since in his childhood, before he began to make the Reformation, he was imbued with the dogma of the pre-eminence of charity, wherefore he also taught as well in his writings as in his sermons so excellently concerning charity. Hence it follows that the faith of justification was implanted with him in the External natural man, and not in his Internal spiritual man.T. C. R. 796.
In the summer of 1518, Philip Schwarzed, whose name was early translated into the Greek Melanchthon, came to Wittenberg, being recommended to the Elector by his kinsman, the celebrated Reuchlin, who had himself directed his Greek and Hebrew studies. With his arrival the classical studies, which had up, to this time been somewhat neglected, received a new impetus, and gave a new fame to the growing university. Leaving to some extent the study of the Latin Fathers, attention was directed to the foundation of faith in the Sacred Scriptures. Luther then also first began these fundamental studies in good earnest.
The progress of Luther in this direction was slow, and not without its occasional interruptions. When in the year 1510 he journeyed to Rome as a pilgrim, and at the same time in the affairs of the Augustine Order, he was still a most devout and submissive Catholic. The historian records:
When he saw from afar the steeples of Rome, he fell to the ground, lifted up his hands, and said, Welcome, thou holy Rome! He omitted none of the practices of pilgrim piety, and he gave himself up to them with devotion and piety, without allowing himself to be disturbed by the frivolity of other Priests. He almost wished that his parents had already died, in order that he might release them from purgatory most surely by the privileged services at Rome. And yet he felt every moment how little all this agreed with the comforting doctrine found in the Epistle to the Romans and in Augustine. As he climbed up the Scala Santa on his knees in order to receive the High Indulgence which rewarded this laborious devotion, he heard an opposing voice within him continually dying out, The just shall live by faith.Luther, as quoted in Ranke, vol. i, p. 200.
Is the year 1516 he plainly taught the Unfree Will, and doubted whether Indulgences could communicate grace, and whether aid ought to be ascribed to the Saints.
It is characteristic of the hidden connection of history, that about the time that the great opposition to the power of Rome was thus being prepared, the Pope assumed unlimited sway over the College of the Cardinals, and subjected them entirely to his power. The College of Cardinals had frequently operated as a check on Papal extravagances and wickedness; but Leo X., making use of a conspiracy against his life, created thirty-one new Cardinals at once, and filling these new offices with his creatures, he gained an ascendancy which enabled him to rule with absolute and undisputed sway. This uncontrolled power, however, proved a snare in the path of Romish domination. It lured the Pontiffs on to more unreasonable and exorbitant demands and measures than they had been guilty of before. The Lateran Council, in servile submission to the Pope, granted him a tithe from all the possessions of the Church in Christendom, the pretext begin a war against the Turks. No intelligent man, however, doubted that it was only another financial speculation.* Besides this, three commissions were seat out into Germany for the sale of Indulgences, and this with powers more extended than any ever before granted. The pretended object for these moneys was the restoration and completion of St. Peters Church at Rome, hut it was well known that a great part was going in other directions. An agent of the celebrated banking-house of Fugger traveled around with the preachers of Indulgence, and was entitled to receive half the proceeds of their work in payment of an old debt owing them by Elector Albrecht of Mayence.
* There is still extant a receipt of Lorenzo, the nephew of the Pope, for one million francs received from the king of France, which amount was to be deducted from the tithe granted the Pope.
One of the most impudent of these preachers, the Dominican Friar John Tetzel, came also to Juterbock, near Wittenberg, and preached there. Attacked thus, as it were, in his very home, Luther no longer held back, but, on the 31st of October, 1517, nailed us on the door of the cathedral at Wittenberg his ninety-five theses in opposition to Indulgences. This act was the beginning of a new era. The historian thus describes the effect:
This action was like a mighty clap of thunder that aroused Germany. That a man should rise up who had the courage to undertake the dangerous conflict produced a general satisfaction; it appeased, as it were, the public conscience. There were connected with it the most living interests: that of a deeper piety in opposition to this most external of all absolutions; that of literature in opposition to the heresy-hunters, of whom Tetzel was one; that of a renewed Theology in opposition to the scholastic Dogma which defended all these abuses; that of civil power in opposition to ecclesiasticism, which it endeavored to restrain; and, lastly, that of the nation in opposition to the Romish demands for money.Ranke, vol. i. p. 212.
It was in part owing to the opposition of the civil power against the continual encroachments of Rome, and to the opposition of the nation to the payment of the enormous sums necessitated by the extravagant pomp and luxury of Rome, that Luther found a ready ally in Frederick the Elector of Saxony.
He saw the monk who wrote some theses on the chapel of the castle at Wittenberg with letters so large and distinct that they could be read from the castle at Schweinitz, where the Elector was then residing. The pen grew and grew until it reached to Rome and touched the triple crown of the Pope and made it totter. While Frederick stretched out his hand to steady it he awoke.Ranke, vol. i, p. 211.
The authorities is Rome do not seem at first to have given much attention to the proceedings of Luther, viewing them in part as a quarrel among the monks, such as had many a time taken place before without leaving any lasting effect,Luther being all Augustine Monk, and supported by his order, while his opponents were mostly Dominicans, and adherents and defenders of orthodoxy as handed down by Thomas de Aquinas. Tetzel, with the aid of the learned Wimpina, answered the ninety-five theses of Luther in two lengthy and bitterly-aggressive theses. Hogstraten, John Eck, and others also attacked Luther in acrimonious terms. Luther answered the several attacks, while the field of dispute continually widened.
A voice was now also heard from Rome; the Dominican, Silvester Mazolini, occupying a leading position in the pontifical palace, refuted Luther by citing against him the dicta of his patron, Thomas de Aquinas. Luther thought best to send in a defence to the Pope, in which he declared, I may make mistakes, but I will not be a heretic, no matter how much my enemies may rage and puff. Still his cause looked foreboding, a Court of Inquiry being appointed in Rome, with Silvester Mazolini, his opponent, as the leading theologian.
Through the influence of the Elector of Saxony, Luther was granted the privilege of defending His cause in Augsburg, before Cajetan, the Legate of the Pope, instead of going to Rome. But Cajetan, who was a bigoted Realist and head of the Dominicans, after a short interview dismissed Luther, with the demand that he should either recant or appear no more before him. Still the Pope, who did not wish to alienate so influential a prince as the Elector of Saxony, sent him as a sign of his apostolic favor what he had long desired, the golden rose, and delegated at the same time Miltitz, a subject of the Elector, to be the Papal Nuncio. Through his skillful negotiations he induced Luther to make a declaration, in which he set forth that the Saints ought to be invoked, but more for spiritual than for natural gifts; that he did not deny that God performs miracles at their tombs; that he also acknowledged Purgatory and Indulgence in a restricted sense, and concluded with the acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Pope, adding that for no sin committed there (at Rome) was it allowable to separate from it, nor in any way to resist the papal injunctions. (Ranke, vol. i. p. 272.)
But this retreat was only temporary. Von Eck, one of the must learned of Luthers opponents, challenged Carlstadt, one of the professors at Wittenberg, to a public discussion on some questions of Grace and Free Will. This challenge was accepted, and the discussion took place at Leipsic, before Duke George of Saxony, who was a stanch Catholic, and in the midst of a great; concourse. As von Eck had introduced into the program some themes put forth by Luther, he also was drawn into the discussion, and the main contest turned out to be, not that between Carlstadt and von Eck on Free Will, but that between Luther and von Eck on the primacy of the rope. This dispute proved to be important in its consequences, as Luther was compelled by the logic of his position to occupy ground greatly in advance of his lately-expressed opinions.
First, Eck von Ingolstadt arrived. He appealed in the midst of the Professors of the University in Leipsic, who gladly welcomed him as an ally against their neighboring rival in Wittenberg. He took part, arrayed in his chasuble, in the procession on Corpus-Christi-day, showing great devoutness. On the 24th of June the Wittenbergers appeared, the teachers on several open farmers wagons, Carlstadt in from, then Luther and Melanchthon, and some licentiates and alumni; with them came Duke Barnim of Pomerani, then studying at Wittenberg, occupying the office of provost; around them on foot several hundred zealous students, with halbreds, pole-axes, and spears. It was observed that their hosts of Leipsic did not, as usage demanded, come out to meet them. Duke George had a large hall in his palace fitted up for the literary conflict. Two lecturing desks were placed, facing one another, hung with tapestry representing the militant saints, St. George and St. Martin; there were tables for the notaries and benches for the audience. Finally, on the 27th of June, 1519, the contest opened with the celebration of Mass. Carlstadts opening discourse called forth but little interest, while von Ecks skill and readiness in debate dazzled the audience. More lively was the interest shown when Luther made his appearance on July 4th. Luther was of medium size, then as yet quite slim of body, all skin and bone. He possessed neither the thundering voice nor the ready memory of his opponent, nor his practice and skill in debate. But he stood in the bloom of manhood, his thirty-sixth year, in the fulness of strength. His voice was melodious and clear; he was quite at home in the Bible, and the most fitting passages flowed into his discourse as it were spontaneously.
In the discussion it soon appeared that Luther could not maintain his assertion that the primacy of the Pope dated from the last four centuries. He soon saw himself pushed to the man by older documents, especially as criticism had not yet shaken faith in the forged decretals. But all the more emphatically and forcibly did he oppose the doctrine that the primacy of the Pope, in whom he continued as yet to recognize the Ecumenical Bishop, was founded on Scripture, and thus of Divine Authority. When the more remote domain of Church history was touched, the superiority of Luther was undeniable. One of his chief arguments was that the Greek Church had never recognized the Pope, and yet had not been declared heretical.
Luther continued his progress. Finding, on examining the doctrines of the Greek Church, that they contained nothing of the Romish doctrine of the purgatory, he relinquished also this doctrine, which he had still upheld at Leipsic. About this time he received from Bohemia the writings of John Huss, and was very much astonished at finding in them the Augustinian doctrine of faith. He writes in February, 1520:
I have been teaching the doctrines of Huss, and so has Staupitz, without knowing them. We are all Hussites without knowing it; Paul and Augustine are Hussites. I know not, for amazement, what to think.Luthers Letter to Spalatin, Ranke, vol. i. p. 286.
About the same time he first saw the work of Laurentius Valla, in which he shows the forgery of the alleged gift of Emperor Constantine to the Bishop of Rome. All the opponents to the Popish dominion seemed to gather around him, and he was wrought up into a state of such bitterness that he boldly declared the Pope to be the Antichrist foretold in the Bible.
Melanchthon gave valuable support to Luther. Making his separate studies, he came out with a very scholarly thesis against the materialistic doctrine of Transubstantiation. He continually directed the attention of his students to the Scriptures as the source of all true philosophy. He as yet in his youthful zeal and innocence, described the Scriptures as heavenly ambrosia, filling the soul with wonderful delight. Luther, on the other hand, looked on Scripture as a warrior on His arms. He exclaims, The Word of God is sword and war and destruction. As a lioness of the forest, it meets the children of Ephraim. Melanchthon and Luther were warm personal friends, ever supporting each other in all their undertakings.
The Pope, aroused by these discussions, awoke from his inaction. The subject of Luthers theses was the subject of prolonged discussion in Rome, resulting in the Bull published June 16, 1520, in which forty-one of Luthers theses were declared to be false, seductive, objectionable, or downright heretical, and Luther himself, unless he should recant within sixty days, was to be excommunicated. The publication of the Bull in Germany and the execution of this sentence were put into the hand of Luthers opponent, Eck, and of Aleander, and they received high powers. But though successful in the bishoprics and in Bavaria, they were not able to effect anything in Wittenberg. Elector Frederick, supported by the decision of the University of Wittenberg, determined not to publish the Bull in Saxony. As soon as Luther heard of what was preparing at Rome, he published his Address to the Christian nobility of the German Nation, in which he declared against the privileges and immunities of the clergy, against their close dependence on the Pope, and against celibacy. But this was only the opening of the conflict, for he followed this by a most severe pamphlet on The Babylonish Captivity of the Church, in which he especially waged war on the Romish abuses connected with the Eucharist, declaring against the usurpation of withdrawing the Cup from the laity, against Transubstantiation, and against the idea that the Eucharist was in any may a sacrifice or a good work by which merit is acquired.
The art of pamphleteering was first effectively used by Luther, and became one of the most potent means for the spread of the Reformation, and more, perhaps, was owing to the five hundred or more pamphlets and books published by Luther than to his eloquent preaching.
The University of Wittenberg gave Luther an undivided and enthusiastic support in this conflict, and it was in good part owing to this active living centre that the Reformation was established. When the Bull of the Pope began to be executed in some of the German principalities, so far as to lead to the burning of Luthers works, he felt himself strong enough to return the compliment.
On the 15th of December, 1520, the numerous students at Wittenberg, on a formal invitation, assembled at the Elster-grate of the city. Here a funeral pyre had been erected; an officer of the University set it afire, and Luther approached, with the Bull of the Pope and the Papal Decretals in his hands. Because thou hast troubled the saints of the LORD, may eternal fire consume thee! he exclaimed, and cast them into the fire.Ranke, vol. i. p. 507.
This bold action received the enthusiastic approval of many, who recognized in it an unequivocal step towards independence from Rome, and called forth many utopian plans for the reorganization of Church and State.
While these events were taking place in theological and literary circles, an important political change had taken place in the election of Charles V., king of Spain and Naples, to the imperial throne of Germany. Though a German by birth, being of the line of Hapsburg, Charles V. had grown up in the settled orthodoxy of Spain, and had no understanding of the spirit of dissatisfaction with popery which had spread in Germany, nor did he ever show the least sympathy with it.
The Emperor saw in the movement something to make use of in his relations with the Pope, but it does not appear that he ever gave the matter a thought separate from His own political interests.
If Luther had contented himself with denouncing the wicked practices at Rome, the Diet could not but have supported him, for a leading Committee of the Diet had just completed a protest against these which was equal to any of Luthers denunciations; and even the Confessor of the Emperor, a Franciscan Monk, had threatened him with the punishment of Heaven unless he should reform the Church. The Confessor endeavored his best to persuade the Elector Frederick and other friends of Luther to induce him to confine himself to this position, and to submit the matter to arbitration. In such a case, especially if the matter could have been kept in suspense, the Emperor would have possessed in it a potent weapon against the Pope. This would, however, not be the case if the Emperor should be compelled to condemn Luther on doctrinal grounds. But the friends of Luther could not be brought to any compromise. Still the Elector sent a Councillor to meet Luther, with the advice that it would be best for him not to come lest he might share the fate of Huss.
On being summoned before the Diet and questioned whether he would recant any of his writings, Luther made answer to the effect that if he was not convicted of error from the Sacred Scriptures he would not recant, as not only Popes but also Church Councils could err and had erred. When he was told that if he refused all recantation the Empire would know how to deal with a heretic, his answer was, Here I stand; I cannot act otherwise. God help me! Amen.
The Spaniards and Italians present were unanimous in denouncing Luther as a madman and a heretic, while his intrepidity and straightforwardness made a good impression on the Germans, especially on the brave generals and knights, who did not fail to testify to him their sympathy. The Emperor, however, avowed his determination to treat Luther as a heretic, and to proclaim him under the ban of the Empire. The Diet endeavored to mediate and to induce Luther to take back some of his most obnoxious declarations; but Luther refused any concession. Still, the Emperor did not follow the urgent appeals from the side of Rome to hand Luther over to the Pope for punishment. Charles V. was not willing to break his word of honor and violate the safe-conduct given to Luther, as Sigmund had done with Huss, but allowed him to depart unmolested.
But the movement had advanced too far to be stopped by such coercive measures. Where the Emperor was personally present the Edict was executed, especially in the Netherlands, but in Germany itself we hear but little of such autos da fe. When the University of Paris, until then acknowledged as the centre of learning, supported the Papal Bull and the Edict, Melanchthon did not hesitate to reply for Luther, and to hurl back at her the epithet of heretical, claiming for his party alone the title of truly Christian.
Luther during this time was busily engaged on the Wartburg in the translation of the New Testament. He had been carried thither by the command of Elector Frederick, having been seized by a band of masked knights on his return from Worms. But even in his absence the commotion continued to extend, especially at and around Wittenberg. Priests declared against celibacy, the monks, especially the Augustines, against the obligation of their vows and against the use of the Mass, which was discarded by Carlstadt at Wittenberg.
Carlstadt urged the City Council to abrogate all Masses, Vigils, and Celebrations, and to give unlimited freedom to ministers. The Council found itself obliged to yield in most of these matters. Then he urged the closing of all houses of amusement, whether allowed or forbidden, and to give the possessions of the religious orders to the poor, so that there might be no more beggars. Another professor of the University taught that there was no more need of any studies, as God now sent His inspired prophets; he urged the students to go home and till the soil and eat their bread in the sweat of their brow. A principal of the Boys School advised the citizens assembled before the school-house to take their children home, as there was no more any need of learning. The common people were easily persuaded that mechanics and laymen were fitted to officiate as preachers and priests. To confirm them in this view, Carlstadt would visit the citizens in their houses and request them to explain to him some dark passage of Scripture, for what God has hidden from the wise and prudent He has revealed to babes.
In this emergency Luther determined to leave his asylum. Excommunicated by the Pope, outlawed by the Emperor, he yet did not hesitate to come forward to the rescue of his people. In answer to His appeals and under his direction the innovations were stopped and declared to be either useless or non-essential, except so far as they could be shown to be founded on a direct teaching of Sacred Scripture. The enthusiasts were removed and the Reformation brought back to its former course.
It has been a puzzle to many how it was that the Reformation, met as it was at its outset by the Excommunication of the Pope and the Edict of an Emperor as powerful as Charles V., who was also at the same time the monarch of Spain, Naples, and the Netherlands, could fail to be crushed out. But it must be noted that one of the concessions granted by Charles V. to insure his election, was that Germany should in his absence be ruled by a Commission, selected by the Electors and the various states of the Empire, and presided over in turn by one of the princes. While this Commission was unfavorable to the Reformation in the first year of its existence, this changed at once when Elector Frederick himself was at the head; and even afterwards the Commission, as well as the Diets during the years 1522 and 1523, were decidedly reformatory. This was shown in the answer of January, 1523, to the Papal Nuncio refusing to carry out the Edict of Worms against Luther, and demanding a Church Council for hearing the dispute, and decreeing that in the mean time nothing should be taught but the true, pure, sincere, and holy Gospel and approved Scripture, piously, kindly, and in a Christian manner, according to the doctrine and exposition of the writings approved and received by the Christian Church. This answer was delivered to the Nuncio, and at the same time it was published as an imperial Edict, thus leaving the Evangelical preachers free unshackled;
The new doctrine spread in every direction, and it is somewhat unexpected to find an order of monks the rallying centre of the opposition. The Augustinian Order, to which Luther belonged, everywhere took up the combat against Papal domination. The emancipation had begun, as it were, with the Augustinians of Thuringia and Saxony, but they found support in the Augustinian convents of Magdeburg, Osnabruck, Lippe, Antwerp, Regensburg, Dillingen, Nurnberg, Strasburg, in Hessia, and in Wurtemberg. Some of these Augustin Monks were also, as at Antwerp and Metz, the first martyrs to the cause. But monks of other orders--not, indeed, with the consensus of their order, but in opposition to it--rose in support of the Reformation. The Franciscans were everywhere in the from of the conflict, and in Hamburg they for three years bore the whole brunt of the struggle. But even Dominicans, Carthusians, Benedictines, Carmelites, and brethren of the order of St. Bridget, joined the battle for the Reformation, and whole convents espoused the new cause. From these recruits came some of the ablest defenders of the Reformation.
Even among the Bishops there were a number who favored Luther. The most pronounced of these was Bishop Polerlz, of Samland, who appointed Lutheran Priests in many parishes of his diocese. The Bishops of Augsburg, of Basel, of Bamberg, and of Merseburg were also favorably disposed. Many parish Priests followed their example, not only in Northern Germany, but everywhere, especially in the free cities of the Empire. An original innovation was made by Roubli, of Basel, who in a procession on Corpus-Christi-day, instead of the consecrated host, carried a Bible in splendid binding, and declared that he alone bore the true sanctum. Ulrich Zwingli, in Zurich, among others, nobly sustained the conflict in Switzerland. These innovations, however, could not but meet violent resistance and persecution. But it was of great importance that all who were persecuted elsewhere could find a safe asylum at Wittenberg, where also they would find kindred spirits, and go forth again strengthened and instructed for further conflicts. This contributed greatly to the unity of the movement.
Wittenberg, however, was not only the university and asylum, it was also the literary centre. The increase of German books printed was suddenly very great. The average yearly number from 1513-1517 was 44; in 1518 it increased to 71; in 1519 there were 111; in 1520, 208; in 1521, 211; in 1522, 347; in 1523, 405. The great increase was chiefly owing to Wittenberg and to Luther himself, for we find in these years, counting from 1518 respectively, 20, 50, 133, 40, 130, and 183 new publications under his name. Gradually his followers emulated his activity, and in the year 1523 we find, beside the 183 publications of Luther, also 215 other reformatory publications, while the Catholic publications numbered only about 20. (See Ranke, vol. ii. pp. 46-56.)
This development of reform literature extended also to hymns and chorals. These were needed to give to the worshipers that participation in worship which the new order of thing imperatively called for. The opposition to the clergy, indeed, for a time threatened to extend to all learning; but Luthers Address to the Burgomasters and Councillors of all German cities, in which he advocated the establishment of Christian schools and of public libraries, had a great effect throughout the country in counteracting this influence and in sustaining that intellectual development which had begun, and which remained the characteristic of the centuries immediately succeeding.
Six years had now elapsed since Luther had affixed his ninety-five theses to the cathedral in Wittenberg, and though the Pope and the Emperor had launched their excommunication and ban against the reformer and the reformation, the support of certain princes, and, latterly, of the Imperial Commission, had enabled it to spread until it extended to all parts of Germany. But the Pope now succeeded in rallying a party to his support. He gained the Dukes of Bavaria by granting them one-fifth of the ecclesiastical revenues, and by giving them jurisdiction over heresy trials independent of the Bishops, who had not shown much zeal in this matter. To Archduke Ferdinand of Austria there was granted even more--a full third of all ecclesiastical revenues for the war against the Turks. Increased powers were also given to the Archbishop of Salzburg, and these being joined by other bishops and archbishops, a strong and reliable papal party was thus formed. This party showed its influence already in the Diet of 1524, for the reformatory Commission was then deposed, and a new Commission, from which all the members of the old. Commission were excluded, was formed.
The Nuncio of the Pope, who was present at the Diet, was by no means pleased with the result, nor inclined to hope for any favorable decision from the contemplated meeting at Speyer. To counteract it, he urged the Catholic party to assemble immediately at Regensburg, so as to consolidate their strength. This meeting took place, and care was taken at once to reform certain abuses of the Catholic Church which were most unpopular, while at the same time intimate relations with Rome were renewed. The Emperor was urged both by this meeting and by the Pope himself to forbid the contemplated assembly at Speyer. Immersed at the time in his war with France, desiring to retain kind relations with the Pope, and being personally opposed to the Reformation, he was easily induced to issue an Edict forbidding it.
In Bavaria and Austria the assembly at Regensburg was followed by cruel persecutions; Priests who favored reform were removed, and nobles driven from their possessions until they should recant. Those who openly favored Luther and His doctrines were executed, sometimes with frightful tortures; if they recanted, they were nevertheless banished.
The delegates of the imperial cities, which mostly favored the new doctrines, assembled at Speyer immediately after the Convention at Regensburg, and is opposition thereto decreed that their preachers should preach only the Gospel and the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures. After the Emperor forbade the desired general Assembly at Speyer, the cities met against Ulm to conclude a defensive union. A number of the nobles sent a delegation to them, offering a defensive alliance, which was at once accepted. A number of princes also declared their opposition to the Convention of Regensburg. The Markgrove of Brandenburg, the Landgrave of Hessia, the Duke of Wurtemberg, then living in exile, the Duke of Luneburg, and Albrecht of Prussia, then Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, as well as the Elector of Saxony, took position more or less decided in favor of reform. In this they were joined by Frederick I., king of Denmark.
Thus the refusal of the Emperor to allow the nation to come to a unanimous decision in its general Diet caused at once a division which later events only continued to increase and to widen.
The Reformation at this time, however, was threatened not only by enemies from without, but even more so by injudicious, enthusiastic friends within. Carlstadt, Strauss, and Munzer, in Saxony, preached innovations. Carlstadt and Strauss desired to restore the Mosaic Law; Munzer, on the other hand, acknowledged the so-called internal revelation alone, and taught, like the Taborites formerly, that the unbelievers should be exterminated with the sword, and thus a kingdom of believers be instituted. Throughout Germany enthusiastic preachers preached of great changes impending, and of the year of jubilee that was to come.
Ten years before there had been insurrections of a part of the Peasantry in Southern Germany, the peasants demanding release from part of their burdens. But now, animated by enthusiastic leaders, they rose in numbers throughout Swabia, and Franconia, until at last all Southern Germany was in an uproar. The peasants summed up their grievances in sixteen, afterward in twelve, articles, which they even had the boldness to submit to the new Imperial Commission sitting at Esslingen. Most of these articles treated of the alleviation of oppressive measures and of serfdom, but one of them demanded the right to choose their own preachers, so as to be instructed by them in the true faith. Thus religious and worldly moments were strangely blended, and the idea of the formation of an evangelical brotherhood was plainly expressed by some of the leaders. The insurrection, which had been more local in the autumn of 1524, in the spring of 1525 spread farther, and there were gathered masses of armed men, before whom the nobles bowed down, while the few who resisted were crushed. Some of the nobles thereupon even condescended to become captains and leaders of the peasants. The smaller towns and cities began to join this seemingly resistless power, which occupied the greater part of what is now Wurtemberg, Baden, and Alsatia, and was gradually extending into Austria, the Tyrol, Bavaria, Hessia, Thuringia, Westphalia, Saxony, and Lorraine. Munzer, after having traversed Austria, Swabia, and Franconia, returned to Thuringia, and caused the flame of insurrection to rise at once far and wide.
Philip of Hessia was the first to stern the tide.
The Duke of Lorraine came to the assistance of Alsatia, destroyed some scattered bodies of peasants, while the rest, who were assembled at Zabern, capitulated; but all of these, seventeen thousand is number, were butchered in cold blood the next day. The peasants of Wurtemberg were nest defeated by the troops of the Swabian Confederation at Sindelfingen; and the victorious troops, joined by the Electors of Trier and of the Palatinate, then moved on Franconia, where they defeated the peasants at Mhlberg and again at Ingolsladt, most of them being slain. Another body of peasants was defeated on the Bildberg by Elector John of Saxony, who, more merciful, spared the life of all who surrendered. The next defeat of the insurgents took place on the Upper Rhine. In Upper Swabia the peasants were so far successful that concessions were made to them before they laid down their arms. The men of the Black Forest were the last to he defeated and scattered.
Where the peasants had been entirely defeated indemnities were exacted, and the laws became even more oppressive. But in other regions, as in Austria, Salzburg, Tyrol, in the domains of the Count von Suit and of the Abbot of Kempten, and some others, the state of the peasants was improved and the laws amended. But as to the religious status, though the Princes favorable to the Reformation had contributed much to the suppression of the insurrection, the whole tendency was to repress the new doctrines, with which the insurgents had more or less identified themselves.
In the years following the Peasants War a strong tendency manifested itself to secularize all ecclesiastical possessions. It was proposed at one of the Diets to use the resources thence arising for the salaries of the ministers of religion, of bishops who should occupy themselves with purely ecclesiastical administration, and for other purposes. Ferdinand of Austria, as well as the Evangelical states, seemed favorable to this movement. But it was especially in Hessia and in Saxony, and wherever the monks disbanded, that the ecclesiastical domains were at once secularized and the proceeds used for the above purposes. The princes favorable to reform united more closely at Mageburg in the year 1526. Besides the Elector of Saxony and the Markgrave of Hessia, there were the natural allies of Saxony,i.e., the Princes and Counts of Luneburg, Grubenhagen, Mecklenburg, Anhalt, and Mansberg; the city of Magdeburg also joined the confederation.
In this institution different views prevailed. Luther himself had at one time favored a very democratic order and method.
In the year 1523, Luther had advised the Bohemians to elect their pastors and bishops themselves without any scruples; this was because an insupportable confusion had arisen from their clinging to the necessity of ordination by Bishops. He advised them to prepare themselves by prayer, then to assemble in the name of God and proceed to the election. Their leading men might then lay their hands upon those chosen. After this had been done in several churches, the Pastors would then have the right to select a superior, who might visit them, as Peter did the first Christian communities. Such ideas were popular, and had spread in those years extensively, not only in Switzerland but also in Germany.... The communities looked on themselves as the source of spiritual power. Thus the new Church would have been built up on a purely democratic foundation.--Ranke, vol. ii. p. 305.
Luther, indeed, soon changed his views; yet still this system for a time had a trial in an important German principality. Landgrave Philip of Hessia at Homberg held a synod, composed both of clergymen and laymen, at which these views were advanced by Francis Lambert, a Frenchman, who had bees first converted by Zwingli, and who had been further instructed by Luther. The decision arrived at was, that those who were believers should come together and subscribe to the laws and regulations of the Church to be constituted, others should be considered as pagans. The believers should then choose unblemished, educated citizens of any profession, who should be called Bishops, and who should continue in office so long as they preached the pure Gospel. Every year a synod of Bishops and lay-delegates should assemble, by which all complaints were to be heard and decided, and all doubts removed. The Synod should annually select three visitors to examine the state of the individual churches. This congregational order, after five years trial, gave way to the order established in Saxony by Luther.
In Saxony, and, in consequence, in the Lutheran Church, there was a certain commingling of civil and ecclesiastical governors in the administration of the Church. To the Pastors there were added Superintendents, who acted as Bishops over small circuits, while these again stood under General-Superintendents, who were, as it were, Archbishops over provinces or smaller principalities; these in some principalities are called Prelates. These, again, are subordinated to the Consistories of the various principalities, which have usually a civilian as President, and are composed of civil and ecclesiastical Councillors in subordination to the Sovereign of the state. Thus the order which begins as a pure ecclesiasticism is placed under the supremacy of civil rulers, and the disorder which subjected kings and emperors to the dictum of an ecclesiastic has its counterpart in the disorder which subjects Priests in their ecclesiastical functions to the dicta of the civil powers.
NOTES AND REVIEWS.
The Government of the Church.
THE NEW-CHURCH REVIEW, October, 1883. THE TWO PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONS OF THE GENERAL CONVENTION. By F. S.
THE NEW JERUSALEM MAGAZINE, January, 1884. THE NEW CHURCH: CONSTITUTION OF THE GENERAL CONVENTION.
THE NEW JERUSALEM MAGAZINE, August and September, 1883. ON THE NATURE AND CONSTITUTION OF THE CHURCH. By JOHN C. AGER.
THE endeavor to those men who reconcile differences among men, especially among those men who are required to act together, is very laudable. The means adopted for the carrying out of such an endeavor may not be equally laudable. Our desires and our efforts ought to be governed by true principles drawn from the only source of truth and right. Good aims become good effects only when guided and determined by truths.
To bring about a real reconciliation of differences among men, four things are requisite, in addition to good-will,a knowledge of the subject of a difference, a right appreciation of the character of the differing ideas and views, the ability to discriminate between real and apparent agreements, and a sufficient judgment to devise the ways of removing the latter without injustice to either side, and of bringing out the former with justice to both sides.
F. S., in his review of the two proposed Constitutions of the General Convention, seems to have had in mind the laudable end of effecting a reconciliation between them; but has lamentably failed in carrying it out, having manifestly neglected to provide himself with the needful means for the accomplishment of his purpose. He does not inform us of his views in regard to a true form of organization for the external New Church, nor does he analyze the two proposed Constitutions, and present the leading ideas of their construction, showing wherein these agree with the Doctrines of the Church or disagree with them, nor does he really attempt to point out what is useful in the one and not useful in the other. To bring them into one, he infers agreements, not from the express language of the instruments, but from ideas supposed to exist in the minds of the members of the Church, and he reconciles disagreements by putting aside the provisions of the one plan and substituting for them those of the other.
A criticism is really valuable in proportion to its judicial quality. We do not imagine that the Church will be greatly benefited by adopting and following this method of criticism. We, at least, have not been helped to see the agreements of the two Constitutions, nor the way of removing their disagreements; unless it be herein, that we have been more thoroughly confirmed in the conviction that the only way of reaching a common understanding on the subject here in hand, as on all other subjects, is by learning better, and gaining a more rational conception of, the LORDS teachings.
All the principles and laws of the Churchs government are Truths revealed by the LORD, and all Truths are Laws of that Divine Older in the Church for the sake of which there are governments and governors. These Truths are presented in the Writings for the New Church, in the form in which they proceed from the Divine Human of the LORD, to produce with men, in all the states of their life and existence, as sell aggregate as individual, the images and likenesses of that form. This is none other than the human form, in which is the Grand Man of Heaven, every society and every angel of Heaven, and into which the Church on earth is born and grows, as it is reformed and regenerated by the LORD.
The two proposed Constitutions of the General Convention, which are under notice by F. S. in the New-Church Review of October, 1883, were communicated, for the information of the Convention, by the Committee on the Revision of the Constitution. They had not been considered in detail nor acted on by the whole Committee, and they were not proposed for adoption, but merely for consideration. The Committee, in its report to the last annual meeting of the Convention, remarks, Neither of these forms is thought to be perfect, nor so far perfect that it may not be much improved by further study, but each plan is deemed, by a considerable portion of the Committee, reasonably satisfactory on the whole. With this understanding of the plans as presented, and speaking for the portion of the Committee that favors one of them, we may express the hope that the members of the Convention who will ultimately have to decide upon the adoption of the one or the other of these plans, or possibly of a third one, to be proposed hereafter, will take them into earnest and thoughtful consideration. And by an earnest and thoughtful consideration of the plans offered we do not mean a consideration in the mode and sense of that which F. S. has given to them, but something entirely different in character.
The principle governing such an examination of the proposed plans as we have in mind is not covered by the question, Wherein do these plans agree or harmonize? but by the questions, What are the lending or universal principles of ecclesiastical order and government formulated in their several provisions?
We may not, at this time, be prepared to come to an agreement on the first point, or, if we are, we may not be ready to harmonize on the second. In either case it will be wise to wait, to study, and to reflect. The Convention ought not to demand of its Committee a full and complete report until it is prepared to make one; and the Committee cannot be prepared to make one until it has examined the very foundations,--in other words, the Universal Laws of Order,--on which to rear a superstructure wherein the whole external body of the Church can have its living and doing. There is no pressing reason why such a demand should be made. The Convention has existed and worked along under a very imperfect Constitution for a number of years, and it may continue to exist under the same for a number of years longer, in the prospect that mature deliberation will produce an instrument of organization more fully adapted to its needs, and possessing elements of permanence in a truer ultimation of the order revealed by the LORD for His Church on earth. In the mean time, we have before us two forms or plans of organization, the consideration of which, if rightly pursued, may lead all to clearer light on the whole subject, and prepare the way for a common understanding of fundamental Principles of Order, on which we can unite, and From which we may derive further ideas, to be seen and accepted in common as truths or lams of our general ecclesiastical government.
The method followed by F. S., in the New-Church Review, of comparing the two forms of organization submitted in the Report of the Committee on Revision, of cc removing, as far as possible, all peculiarities of mere verbiage or form, and of seeing wherein they essentially agree or differ, although superficial and unsatisfactory, is seemingly fair.
Treating of the Basis, or Confession of Faith, of the two forms, F. S. remarks, Form A, simply declares the body to be organized in the acknowledgment of the Heavenly Doctrines, without any detailed statement of what those Doctrines are. It is evident that the gist of both forms lies in this simple acknowledgment, and that nothing really essential is added in the longer Declaration of B. Nothing can be more comprehensive than an acknowledgment of the Heavenly Doctrines of the New Jerusalem as revealed by the LORD in the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. Having affirmed this to His own satisfaction, and evidently believing it to be true and worthy of all acceptation, F. S. proceeds to harmonize the two forms by dropping the Declaration of plan B and adopting Article I. of plan A. But, we ask, Is it true that nothing can be more comprehensive than an acknowledgment of the Heavenly Doctrines, etc.? These Heavenly Doctrines themselves do not agree with F. S. In A. C. 4687 we read, The supreme or highest of Divine Truth is the LORD Himself, and the supreme or highest among doctrinals is that His Human is Divine. What is supreme or highest is certainly also most comprehensive. And, because the Heavenly Doctrines are from the LORD, and, indeed, from the Divine Human of the LORD, since they all revealed to men in His Coming, and constitute a part of His Coming, it would seem that there is an acknowledgment more comprehensive than that of the Heavenly Doctrines. This is none other than the acknowledgment of the Second Coming of the LORD, which F. S. calls a special statement, as if it were subordinate to the Heavenly Doctrines made known at the Second Coming of the LORD. And, strangely enough, it occurs to F. S. that if any Universals of Faith are to precede the Constitution, they should be those which Swedenborg placed at the beginning of the True Christian Religion, as a gate through which entrance is made to a Temple, etc. And to this he adds, It is noticeable that in this sublime preface, however, nothing whatever is said about the Doctrine of the Second Advent as forming one, either of the Universals or of the Particulars of the Faith of the New Church. (The italics are ours.) Is it possible that F. S. has so carelessly read this sublime preface as not to know that it contains the following plain contradiction of his too confident assertion:
The Faith of the New Heaven and the New Church, in its Universal Form, is this: That the LORD from eternity, who is JEHOVAH, came into the world, that He might subjugate the Hells and glorify His Human; and that without this no one of mortals could have been saved, and that they are saved who believe in Him.
And thus does this preface declare the Second Coming of the LORD to be not only a Universal, but also a Particular of the Faith of the New Heaven and the New Church. Because the Coming of the LORD into the world is distinctly declared to be a Universal of the Faith of the New Church, not only in this preface to the True Christian Religion but everywhere else in the Writings where there is question of what is Universal in the Faith of the New Church, and because the Second Coming is declared to be the Divine sequence of the First Coming, as every one may know who thinks from any sound reason, therefore has it received so prominent a place in plan B. And, if any one will read with care and reflection, the Summary attached to the Appendix of the True Christian Religion, which, as a Summary, is a statement of Universals of Faith, he cannot fail to see that the Second Coming of the LORD involves the Divine completion of the First Coming, a Last Judgment, a Second Redemption, a Divine Revelation of the Heavenly Doctrine, which is one with the spiritual sense of the Word, and the formation of a New Heaven and a New Hell, and thence the establishment of a New Church on earth. These are the Universals of Faith contained in the condensed Declaration of plan B.
F. S. seems to look upon the Second Coming of the LORD rather as a Doctrine than as an Infinite Divine Fact, comprehending within itself the whole work of Redemption with Revelation, and thence the sole possibility of human salvation. He would have it omitted as being a special statement, and keep the acknowledgment of the Heavenly Doctrines as the only and the all-sufficient basis of organization.
It must be evident to our readers that F. S. has not been highly successful in his first attempt at finding essential agreements in the two plans.
Passing on to the second point of the Reviews consideration of the two plans, we come upon another example of the summary mode of harmonizing things adopted by F. S. He sees that plan A organizes a Convention of a Church and plan B a Church itself. Two very different things, one should suppose; but since, according to plan A, the Convention professes to be a general body of the New Church, as well as annual meeting of that body, we see, he says, that between the idea of a Convention in A and what in B is intended by the declaration this body shall be called the New Church in America there is but little, if any, real difference. (New-Church Review, p. 505.) If there be so little difference between these ideas, and if the one plan proposes to organize a Church which is a body, and the other to organize a meeting which is not a body, why does not F. S. find his way to agreement by proposing the adoption of the idea presented in plan B, instead of suggesting the very clumsy expedient of introducing into the Constitution the self-evident decimation that the Church is not an annual meeting? To invest this proposition with some show of reason, the definition of membership given in plan B is assailed, because it embraces all those in the country who acknowledge the LORD in His Second Coming, and who desire to unite, etc. Aside from the fact that this acknowledgment is both most universal and most distinctive, it is of a nature not to interfere with that freedom, which so many professing New Churchmen claim, of deciding for themselves whether Baptism does make a man a member of the New Church or not. To adopt Baptism as a test of membership would be to introduce at once the question of the recognition of Old Church Baptism as a valid gate of entrance into the New Church, and F. S. himself, unless he has greatly changed his attitude on this subject, would be found among the objectors to the idea that the Church is composed of those who are in it by Baptism administered in the New Church.
But there seems to our reviewer, in the definition of plan B, to be something of a confusion or uncertainty of mind as to whether it is really Church membership or still the old Convention membership under a new name that is being defined. We can neither see nor feel this confusion in the definition under discussion, but we do find it appearing in a most marked manner in the Reviews observations on Membership and Organization (p. 500), where we read, The Church, as a national body, includes every baptized member of the same in America.
F. S. does not seem to like Article III. of plan B, which reads, The membership of this body shall be organized into the General Churches (Associations) and particular Churches (Societies), and single or individual Churches. We would remind him that the term organization has a general as well as a particular meaning, and that when it is applied, as here, to the whole membership of the body, it is intended to express the idea that the structure, or form, or general arrangement of this largest Church is threefold, like the structure of the Heavens, and like the structure of man. The arrangement into general, particular, and single parts or organs includes, and by no means excludes, further and more particular organization for the performance of other uses. The organization of any body composed of human beings, if it be true and orderly, is in the human form, and such an organization exists for the use and end for which man was created. Of this general form there may be many varieties, according to the varieties of ministry or use, but in all the varieties, however numerous, the general form will always reappear.
But how a Church, so organized as a body in the human form, can regard the Convention [i.e., the annual meeting of certain persons representing its component parts] as its executive instrument in the performance of its governing and administrative functions [see New-Church Review, p. 509], surpasses our understanding. To assume that the Convention [the annual meeting] exists for no other use than for the Churchs proper ordering and government, so that all of its uses may be the more efficiently performed; and that, therefore, this Convention or annual meeting is to be regarded as the governing or the administering arm of the Divine Law of the Churchs Order,--that, is, of the Churchs Use [see New-Church Review, p. 509], is simply to repeat, and to fix by reiteration, the old confusion of thought on this subject. Suppose we first think, according to the truth, that the Church on earth is a human body, and then call this human body by its own name,--the Church, what, then, is the relation of an annual, quarterly, or meekly Convention or meeting to this Church?
The Church, as a body, is evidently composed of intelligent human beings, who are in the performance of individual uses, and also of common uses, and who, to the end that they may perform their common uses in a rational and orderly manner, need to meet and confer together in respect to them.
F. S. claims that because plan A calls the Convention a body, it agrees with the idea of plan B that the body is a Church and not a meeting. If the Convention is both a body and an arm, and if the arm is the bodys governing arm, does the arm govern the body, or the body the arm, or how is it? We are confused, and are looking for a head. In his zealous effort to produce a state of harmony, F. S. seems to have inadvertently decapitated his body, unless, indeed, we are to accept the governing arm as a proper and fitting substitute for the head. Upon the whole, what human--i.e., rational-idea is there in the expression the governing arm of the Church, as applied to an annual meeting of certain delegates sent by the various component parts of the Church?
In dealing with the matter of the Government and Officers of the Church, as defined in plan B, and comparing the same with the propositions of plan A, F. S. finds ample scope for his harmonizing tendencies. It does not appear to him to be essential or important that instruments such as the two under consideration should declare in explicit terms the nature of the government to be established; it is sufficient if this be implied or understood in some way.
Plan B declares that the government of the Church is vested in the Priesthood. This is the very teaching of our Heavenly Doctrine, in which LORD reveals the Divine Order according to which His Church is to be established.
The failure to see this is evident enough, and the ground of it may possibly be discerned in the statement we do not make the Priesthood governors by merely calling them so, as in form B, while we at the same time give governing functions to others (p. 510). Plan B does not merely call the Priesthood governors. It declares, what every New Churchman ought to know, that the Lord calls the Priesthood governors, and thereby makes them governors, and, when we adopt such an Article in our Constitution, we acknowledge the LORDS teaching to be our law, and we subordinate our wills and notions and conceits to the same, and so it is that our Priests become our governor.
It is all folly to suppose that a government, whether priestly or otherwise, can be established among men without some distinct affirmation of its nature and character. A body of religionists, which merely allows a Priest or Minister to be its head, is not a Church, and its government is not an ecclesiastical government. The first requisite of an ecclesiastical government is wanting in this case, and without this first there can be no true second and third requisites. One might as well affirm that a man can learn truths from the Word and live well, without an acknowledgment of the LORD, as to assert that an ecclesiastical government can be established and an ecclesiastical use can be performed, without the acknowledgment of an ecclesiastical body, having an ecclesiastical bend or governor.
But we are told that nothing seems to be gained by the declaration that the government is vested by Divine constitution in the Priesthood, when in the articles immediately following a considerable part of the charge and control of various uses is put immediately and wholly in the hands of the permanent boards which go to constitute the Council of the Laity.
F. S. does not discriminate between the government of the Church, which is ecclesiastical, and the charge and control of certain civil and business matters under that government, and necessary to its material support and maintenance. These things do not belong to the government of the Church, but to the subordinate administration of its merely external affairs; and, in giving these into the charge of the laity, plan B is at least consistent with itself, and with the ruling idea sought to be embodied in its provisions.
F. S. asks, What other permanent Boards [besides the Boards of Finance] would, according to plan B, belong to the Council of the Laity? The answer is simple, viz., Boards of Trust, such as the Trustees of the Building Fund, of the Rice and of other Legacies, etc. As to the matter of Missions and of Publications, F. S. knows that the former is a purely ecclesiastical matter, and that the latter has been taken out of the hands of the Committee of Revision, and placed in the exclusive charge of a quasi-independent corporation.
Of the Convention, as provided for in the two plans under consideration, F. S. remarks, Neither the form B, any more than A, makes the Convention exclusively a body of Priests, and yet the Convention, as distinct from the Universal Church itself, exists for no other use than for the Churchs proper ordering and government, so that all of its uses may be the more efficiently performed. In a very general sense, this definition of the use of a Convention is also the definition of the use of every other meeting of the Church; and, were it not for subsequent more particular definitions, one would hardly obtain a very clear notion of the writers conception of a Conventions place in the economy of the Church.
Plan B regards a Convention as a general meeting of the Clergy, together with the chosen delegates of the Laity of the Church, held for the purpose of enabling them to confer together in respect to the general needs and wants of the members of the Church, so that there may be established a mutual understanding between those whose duty it is to administer the things of the Divine Law and Worship, and to provide for things Divine among men, and those for whom such provision is to be made, and among whom such an administration is to be exercised. This purpose does not include a transfer of the duty of government from the Clergy to the Laity,--a transfer which cannot take place without a manifest and injurious inversion of the Order of the Church,--but it intends to bring the Clergy as a body, and without divesting them of their official character, together with the Laity as a body, and without investing these with functions, which, not belonging to them individually, cannot be attributed to them in the aggregate, unless by first abolishing the office of the Priesthood, and thus resolving the Church into its original, unformed condition.
Plan B is, therefore, opposed to the hybrid government of priestly and lay delegates constituting, according to F. S. the governing arm of the Church, as it is also opposed to the government of the Church by majorities of annual meetings, composed, for the most part, not of those who are in the governing function, but of those who are of the part of the governed.
To come to a clear understanding of the purpose and use of a General Meeting or Convention of the Church, certain questions of the Divine Law and Order must first be rationally investigated and determined; as, for example: What is really meant by the Doctrine that the office of the Priesthood is the governing office in the Church? what are the functions and duties of ecclesiastical governors? what is the extent and what the limit of their jurisdiction? where shall they learn the Laws of Order according to which they are to administer the government of the Church? are these Laws revealed by the LORD, or are they framed by men? These questions once rationally determined, there will be but little difficulty in reaching a just conclusion as to the use of a Convention or General Meeting of the Church, whether or not it is legislative, advisory, or executive.
Evidently we are at this time in a very unclear state of mind in respect to Church and Convention, priestly or lay governors, and other things. Is it not the part of wisdom, where Divine guidance is proffered, to leave the ways of empiricism, and to seek instruction for the formation of a rational judgment, by which we shall be led on the path of true order to a right organization of the external Church among us?
We may, indeed, muddle on in the near future, as in the past, without any defined or settled ideas of ecclesiastical polity, and by degrees, after many struggles and much wandering in devious ways, we may also be buffeted into some shape of rightness; but this would now seem like a willful disregard of the indications of the Divine Providence. The Church, from its needs, and by the mouth of the Executive Committee of the Convention, has asked for a. revision of its Constitution, with a view to its amendment.
Above all things, this is requisite to the formation of a true and right instrument of organization, that it be controlled and determined in the whole and in all the parts by one lending, fundamental conception, as distinct as it is universal, as practical as it is primary. Formed from such a conception, the instrument will have unity, consistence, and permanence, with power and usefulness. Formed without such a. conception, and from various ideas, or from no defined idea, it will lack all unity and coherence, and will speedily fall to pieces from intestine contrariety and external weakness. It is true, indeed, and amply attested by facts, that the human instinct of self-preservation, combined with a certain amount of practical common sense, will often carry a body of men along in some healthiness of form and use, in spite of the illogic, the crankiness, and the tottering condition of its Constitution or Organization; nay, in spite of that Constitutions having dead letter for years.
Bodies politic or ecclesiastic, as well as the natural bodies of individual men, are preserved in existence by the Divine Providence so long as they can perform their uses in any degree and manner, however defective may be their external organized forms. But while this is of the allowance of Divine Providence, we are not to infer therefrom that it is a condition to be deliberately adopted, but rather that it is one which ought to be guarded against.
There ought not to be any doubt or hesitation in the Church as to its duty of charity, in respect to the framing of an orderly and efficient instrument of organization. As it is of charity with every man first to learn the laws of his life and then to do them, so is it of the Churchs charity first to learn from the LORD the laws of its constituent government, then to enact them into the form of a human ecclesiastical government, and in this form to live its composite life.
The time may not yet have arrived, but it will come, when the Divine Teachings of the Doctrines in regard to the true nature and form of the government of the Church will be rationally seen and practically acknowledged. When this time comes, and the things of the Divine Law and Worship are administered by those to whom that administration is committed by the Divine Ruler, the Church will have a body of men wise, skilled in the laws, and fearing God, who, from the illustration of their office, will be able to define and to formulate aright the many things that F. S. thinks (see New-Church Review, p. 510) ought first to be settled, in order that any provisions made may have definite force, legal or ecclesiastical.
It is the duty of Priests to teach the Truths which are the Laws of Divine Order, and it is the duty of the Laity to hear this teaching, and then to examine whether it be in accord with the Word and Doctrine. If found to be in accord therewith, the teaching is to be received as coming from the LORD; if discovered not to be in accord, it is to be rejected, because not from the LORD. But while the Laity may in freedom decline to accept a teaching because not in agreement with the Heavenly Doctrine, it does not follow that this freedom of acceptance or rejection confers on the Laity the right to put aside the teachers with their teaching, and to assume their place, function, and office. And yet the claim to this right, though unwritten, runs through the entire plan A, and gives form to its provisions, even as it pervaded the old Constitution, and even as it has appeared in nearly all the organizations of the New Church, both in this country and in England.
These considerations ought to be soberly weighed. The formation of a Constitution, or External Organization of the New Church, is a grave and important matter. According as the framing of such an instrument is taken from the clear teachings of the Church, and rests upon the Law of Order Divinely revealed, will it be a veritable instrument of good uses; but according as it is derived from the modes and forms of our civil politics, or made up of mens notions and opinions, without reference to ecclesiastical laws and ends distinctly seen and acknowledged, it may avail to teach us how we ought not to proceed in such matters, and also to be patient; but it will be of no real or permanent value as an agency in the doing of those things for which the Church exists.
We have, indeed, reached a point in the movement of the Church at which, if the men of the Convention will cast a square and honest look into the face of the actual situation of things, they cannot fail to see that since we have taken the first steps towards a right ordering of our organization in obedience to the Doctrine of the Church, the second step is before us in plain day. The Church, at the recommendation of its Ministers, has accepted a general order of the Ministry or Priesthood derived from the Heavenly Doctrines. The next step to this--the inevitable step in common sense, in true order, and in accord with the Divine Law--is to give to this Ministry or Priesthood that place in the government of the Church for which it was instituted by the LORD, and without filling which place it cannot be a Ministry or a Priesthood according to the law and the testimony.
Plan B proposes to do this right and orderly things, and thus to give to the Constitution of the Church the central unitive idea and conception, which the Heavenly Doctrines teach to be the true idea and conception of Ecclesiastical Order and Government. Governors over those things among, men which are of Heaven, or over things ecclesiastical, are called Priests, and their office the Priesthood (H. D. 314).
Plan B proposes a priestly or ecclesiastical government for the Church; and how can there be a Church without an Ecclesiastical Government, and a New Church without Governors, who are called Priests, and whose office is the Priesthood? Plan A proposes neither an Ecclesiastical Government nor Ecclesiastical Governors. It acknowledges a Ministry or Priesthood, indeed, but provides no place in the government for the Ministry as such, unless it be that of a committee to be composed of ten Ministers, to be charged with all matters pertaining to the office and duties or Ministers, except so far as the same [what same?] is otherwise provided in this Constitution, and which shall, from time to time, revise the list of Ministers and report to the Convention the changes therein. Not a word is said of a particular constitution of this committee of ten Ministers, whether it shall consist of General Pastors, or of Pastors, or of Ministers; nor of the nature of its charge of all matters pertaining to the office and duties of Ministers, what the extent, and what the limit of this charge; nothing is made definite except the duty of revising the list of Ministers, and reporting to the Convention the changes therein. As this Committee is elective, according to plan A, it is possible that a Convention or General Meeting, moved by some impulse, may choose its ten members from among the youngest and least experienced Ministers of the Church; and since there is nothing in the plan to prevent such action, it may, at the same time, elect a lay President and Vice-President, and lay Secretaries of the Convention. But this is not by any means the sum of the exclusion of the governors over ecclesiastical things from the government of the Church, rendered possible by the provisions of plan A.
Let the reader turn to Article VII., which provides for the representation of the Church at its general meetings, and he will see that this Constitution excludes all Ministers from voting membership in such meetings, unless attending the same as authorized delegates of some Association or Society, or unless specially authorized by the Convention to do so for a particular session.
Suppose every Association does not do what it is entitled to do, suppose no Association sends as delegates to a general meeting its Presiding Minister and other Ministers; we shall then see a general meeting without any Minister in attendance, thus without no Ecclesiastical Committee, and without a representative of that part of the Church, when regarded as a human body, which is usually held to be of some importance in the human economy.
Associations have heads, for Article VII. credits them with Presiding Ministers, but the General Church, which is composed of Associations, may appear in one of its general meetings even without a head, or with a lay President, as a succenturiate head. Article VII. evidently needs reconsideration; and whilst it is undergoing this necessary process, it may be well for the Committee on Revision to examine the Laws of Ecclesiastical Order, for the purpose of seeing whether there is anything in them to support the proposal to deprive Ministers of a leading function of the Priesthood, in order that they may obtain a place in general meetings of the Church.
A Minister by his ordination into the Priesthood is made a governor in the Church. As such, and by virtue of His office, he is a representative of the LORD; but Article VII. will not allow him any place in a general meeting, unless he appears there as a delegated representative of the people. If revision is to produce no better results than this, it were wise to retain the old Constitution, which, with all its faults, had the grace to recognize the Ministers as ex-officio constituent members of all general meetings. Indeed, it might be a difficult task to show cause why a meeting should be denominated an Ecclesiastical or Church meeting at all, from which all Ecclesiastics are excluded who do not appear there as representatives of laymen. And, possibly, the difficulty of this task might be enhanced by a requirement to show how Priests, as such, can be, or can be made, representatives of the laity in the work of the Church.
The exclusion of Ministers, ex-officio, from the general meetings of the Church, provided for by Article VII. of plan A, when joined with the non-recognition of their office as the governing once in the Church, assumes an almost sinister aspect when viewed in connection with Section 5 of Article VIII.
This section, contrary to the spirit and the letter of the Conventions late action in relation to Associations and their organizations, not only prescribes a rule of procedure for such Associations, but also gives to the Executive and Ecclesiastical Committees of the General Church the power to suspend for a time the effect of such procedure by an Association. The procedure prescribed is in respect to ordained persons who are within the bounds of an Association. Ordained persons not within the bounds of an Association may, for cause, be suspended by the Executive Committee, without the concurrence of the Committee on Ecclesiastical Affairs, even if the cause be the calling in question any of the Doctrines of the New Church, an offence which, it would naturally be supposed, ought to come under the jurisdiction of an ecclesiastical, not of a lay, committee.
Whenever any ordained person shall call in question any of the Doctrines of the Church contained in the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, in order that such person may be brought under discipline, there must, of course, be some other ordained person, or some non-ordained person, who brings charges against him. It is well that the common sense of both ordained and non-ordained persons has from the first enactment of this clause of Section 5 of Article VIII. prevailed to keep it among the dead letters of the Constitution. Ordained persons have differed so greatly, and do nom differ so widely, on important points of Doctrine that there might have been an endless succession of heresy charges and trials if this constitutional enactment had been carried out. Is revision to revive a provision so manifestly absurd?
But, it may be asked, is no provision to be made ill our Constitution for cases of manifest heresy, for denials of the Doctrine on the part of the Teachers of Doctrine? Yes, most assuredly. But let this not be mans provision, but the LORDS. He has provided for such cases in the ecclesiastical law given to His Church, which is to this effect: Among the governors there must also be order, lest any one from caprice or from ignorance permit evils contrary to order, and thus destroy it, which is guarded against when there are superior and inferior governors, among whom there is subordination (H. D. 313). Let the Church acknowledge the governors over ecclesiastical affairs, who are called Priests, and they, in the performance of the duties of their office and under the responsibilities of the same, will administer the things of the Divine Law and Worship, and also guard against those disorders which may arise from caprice and ignorance.
F. S. expresses the opinion (New-Church Review, October, 1883, p. 503) that the members of the Church are really better able than the Committee itself to arrive at a just determination as to the value of these two forms [of organization] and the use that may be made of them. This may be true of those members of the Church who have made a careful study of the subject in the light of Doctrine, and who are prepared to form a just determination, but we are well assured that such members of the Church will not be in haste to accept F. S. as their representative. They will certainly wish to furnish better evidence of their ability to arrive at a just determination than is supplied by his note in the New-Church Review of the date above named. Nor can it be reasonably supposed that the Church at large will see a much greater degree of unity or conformity in the two submitted forms than the Committee itself could (Ibid., p. 503), if one who has professedly sought for such unity and conformity has been able to obtain them only by a process of substitution as unjudicial, not to say unjust, in the attempt, as it must be unproductive of useful results.
It may amuse F. S. to play this game of reciprocity all on the one side, but no one will be so blinded by the performance as not to see that plans A and B differ on nearly all the points on which it is possible for a difference to exist; and this difference, as we have endeavored to show, is fundamental as well as formal. The one plan cannot be merged into the other, nor can a part of the one be fitted into the other. They proceed severally from conceptions of Church Order and Government so divergent that, as F. S. has practically demonstrated, they can only be brought into uniformity by the doing to death of the one or the other plan.
Happily or unhappily, as the case may be, the earth still moves, and plan B still exists in the form in which it was originally presented,--that is to say, in the form of an Organization for the General Convention, proposed for the consideration of the members of that body of the New Church.
The New Jerusalem Magazine for January, 1554 (page 52), under the head of The New Church, and the sub-head of the Constitution of the General Convention, evidently coincides with us in respect to the two points last noted. The writer of the article considers the two forms to have been submitted by the Committee on Revision for information and for examination, and, on examination, he discovers that plan B is an entirely new organization, while plan A is only a remodeling of the old Constitution.
Let us, as members of the Church, first see where we severally stand in respect to the matter of order and government, and then let us calmly and carefully consider whether we cannot construct an instrument of organization that shall include all, without doing violence to the rationality and freedom of any. This we conceive to be a work well worthy of the thought and labor of the rational men of the Church, and far more important in its bearing on the welfare of the whole body than the present or immediate adoption of a Constitution, based chiefly on the past experiences of some, or rather, perhaps, on the deductions made from past experiences by some, and without regard to the convictions of others, derived from the study of doctrine, and confirmed by deductions from past experience, of an opposite nature.
With these views, and looking upon the use to be performed by the Committee on Revision to be one that includes all the parts of the general body of our Church in this country, we take a first and radical exception to the effort of the writer in the Magazine to set aside plan B as not being a revision of the Constitution at present in existence, and, upon the whole, as not being what was asked for and what is needed. In the first place, let us remark, that it will not do for one person to speak for many, still less for all, unless he be especially instructed and deputed to do so. How does the writer know that some such plan as B was not asked for and is not needed? Was any particular plan asked for? was the Committee instructed by the Convention with respect to the scope or the nature of the revision to be made? Some members of the Convention, it is evident, did not ask for such an organization as is proposed in plan B but others have asked and do ask for it. Some did not ask for the kind of revision proposed in plan A, and others did. On what ground of freedom and comity among the members of the Church does this writer in the Magazine assume to speak for all the members of the Convention, and tell them what they have not asked for and what is really not needed? He may possibly represent the views of a majority of the Convention, but we would remind him that the voice of a majority is not the voice of all, and, moreover, that the voice of a majority is not always the voice of wisdom. In a Church which is in true order, or in the effort to be in true order, the minority will ever hare a respectful hearing, because it is a minority, and, being such, may be less swayed by a general feeling, and thus be in a better state than the majority to form a rational judgment. Be this as it may, the writer in question is not justified by the facts of the case in making so broad an assertion as that the revision proposed in plan B is not what was asked for and what is needed.
He further observes: Speaking first of form B, we would suggest that it cannot be called a revision, though the Committee was appointed to revise the Constitution and By-Laws, as may be seen from Minutes 39 to 41 of the session of 1889.... Such a Report, however advisable practically, does not seem to be within the powers of the Committee, and we are surprised that it should be made. If this writer will carefully revise his apparent definition of the term revision, we are inclined to think that he will be relieved from the state of surprise in which he is that such a Report should be made. Revision is re-examination with a view to correction, and correction is making right. A re-examination of the Constitution of a body may be limited or unlimited, and a correction of the same may be a partial or a complete making right of the Constitution. The two things demanded in such a case are, first, that the body shall not be deprived of a Constitution; and, second, that the new Constitution shall be more nearly right than the old one, or that it shall be completely right.
Authority to limit the extent of revision rests primarily in the body which orders the same to be made, and, secondarily, with those who are commissioned to make the revision. If the body does not net in the matter, and instruct the commissioned revisers, the authority to determine the scope of the work rests with the latter. The revision having been made, and submitted to the appointing body, be it in one form or in several forms, the matter passes entirely out of the hands of the Committee, and is subject to the judgment and decision of the body having original jurisdiction. But, let it be well observed, that even this body cannot in reason and in justice set aside the full consideration of any form proposed by the Committee, on the ground that the revisers have exceeded the powers of their commission, if their powers have not been prescribed and defined. Absence of instructions, or defect of instruction, is to be assumed as being either from intention or from neglect on the part of the body, and, therefore, cannot be made of avail against a proposed form. If the Convention cannot justly do this thing, how will the writer in the New Jerusalem Magazine justify his effort to rule out of consideration the new organization proposed in plan B, because, in his estimation, it is not a revision, and, besides, is not this what was wanted by the Convention? Perhaps it is not a personal judgment, but inspired from sources which are deemed equivalent in authority to the final decision of a majority of the Convention. It is not uncommon for persons who uniformly net with a majority to speak as if they were the very voice of the majority. Sometimes, also, by speaking and writing in this way, they give form as well as voice to the thought of the majority. The cool manner in which this writer disposes of plan B looks very much as if it expressed the opinion of more them one that the Committee on Revision had better be warned not to waste time, on the consideration of new organizations, but to devote all its energies to amending the old Constitution.
We object to this mode of treating matters of common use and interest. We object particularly to the taking of subjects out of the hands of the Committees to which they have been assigned, and deciding them for the Committees, as well as for the General Body to which they are to be submitted. Such prejudgments, when widely circulated through the press, give birth to prejudices, and do injury to the cause of truth and good order. And we further object most decidedly to the manner of some, as illustrated in the number of the New Jerusalem Magazine now before us, of preventing the consideration of questions of general interest on their merits or demerits, by references to what some persons want and what others think to be needed.
Nor is it consistent with rational processes of reaching just conclusions that the mind should be fettered to certain lines of experience, as if all wisdom lay in them, and as if new lines were not to be opened, because we cannot foresee their precise working. In this strain is the following from the article in the Magazine which we are considering: The adoption of the form B would be a new beginning, a casting aside as fruitless of all, or nearly all, that had been done, a confession of error, and a setting forth upon no untried path. And why not? we ask. Are new beginnings to be avoided as evil things? How can there ever be reformation without them? And is it not speaking from the merest appearances to say that in making a new beginning one casts aside all, or nearly all, that has been done? Every new beginning in human life comes forth from and rests upon something that has had existence in a preceding state. And are we to infer that this writer believes the Convention to have been incapable or committing errors, that he so gravely deprecates the adoption of the form B, because this would be a confession of error? There must be error somewhere, and serious error, to have induced the Executive Committee to recommend, and the General Convention to adopt the recommendation of the appointment of a Committee to amend the Constitution. Can a confession of error be other than the very best thing, if there be error to confess?
It is possible that the past experiences of our Conventional existence have convinced some of its members of the greet value of certain lending principles and ideas of Ecclesiastical Order. And it is equally possible that the same experiences may have had an opposite effect on other members. The latter will naturally prefer entering upon a new and untried path to continuing in the path that had been tried and found not to lend to the desired goal.
There is abundant evidence of a difference of view among us, arising, in part at least, from a radical difference of the mode of dealing with questions offered for consideration. On the one side there is a clinging to precedent and experience, and on the other side a seeking for new light from Divine Doctrine. From the one side, represented by the writer frequently referred to above, we have this objection to the proposed calling of the Convention The New Church in America,--that the Convention never has been, and probably never will be, The New Church in America. To this the other makes reply: Granting that the Convention never has been The New Church in America, is that any reason why it should not be, and why we should not think of aiding it to become the National New Church of our country? Again, we are told, and this also from the past, that the Convention is an organization of visible bounds; and from the other side comes the query, An organization of what or of whom in visible bounds? Is not the Convention composed of members of the New Church, who have one faith, and some common ends of Church use? If this be the fact, is not the Convention a Church in external form, imperfect though it be? We must bear in mind that, according to Divine Order, no Church can exist without its own organization for work, which is but another expression for external Church, inasmuch as the work to be done is Ecclesiastical work.
In plan B the title General Church applies, of course, to the externally organized New Church in America, comprising various subordinate and less general Churches, heretofore called Associations to distinguish them from the largest Association, styled the General Convention. Now every one knows that the term Convention does not convey the idea of an organized, permanent body of men; and certainly it is not in harmony with the styles of its component parts. A Convention is a temporary and occasional assemblage of persons, while an Association is a Company or Society of men formed for a specific and more or less permanent object.
And this leads us to take note of a confusion in plan B, to which the writer in the Magazine calls attention. He remarks: We notice that Associations are called General Churches, and then we read of the General Church in Convention, and so conclude that there would be a difficulty in the use of terms so similar. Moreover, we find the Convention sometimes called so, and, again, General Convocation, and the Church, General Meeting of the New Church, the General Church, General Church in Convention, General Convocation of the Church, and all these instead of the proposed actual title, the New Church in America. This statement of the case does certainly present a somewhat bewildering confusion of terms; but, we submit, that if the statement were placed in the hands of a competent Committee on Revision, unhampered by any fictitious limitations, the confusion would not be found to exist in the instrument under review. A very little careful reading will show that where plan B employs the style General Convention for the whole Church, which is done only in the article on the Priesthood, it follows the language of the Order adopted by the Convention in Chicago. As this Order was unanimously adopted by the same meeting which appointed the Committee on Revision it was held that the new Order did not properly come within the purview of the Committee, and that changes, verbal or otherwise, could be made only by instruction of the body creating the commission. In all other cases, where the term Convention is employed, it refers to a meeting or an assembly of the members of the Church; sometimes also called a Convocation, according to ecclesiastical usage; and of meeting, assembly, or convocation, it is likewise according to common usage to designate as the General Church in Convention. Not one of these terms is used instead of the proposed actual title of the New Church in America, except in the case and for the reason above stated. We accord to our critic unlimited rights of revision, and trust that he will not be restrained by any fear of confession of error. As to the possible confusion arising from calling Associations General Churches, and the present General Convention The General Church and The Church, we apprehend that it will not affect any minds but such as are already afflicted by some uncertainty in respect to the use of the articles a and the.
That the two proposed Constitutions laid before the Church for the information of its members have not been approached in a more just spirit of criticism is a subject of regret. The true critic performs the duty of a judge, who determines matters brought before him from justice, according to what he finds in them, and not according to what he sees out of them. The New-Church Review, F. S. being the judge, has employed its critical faculty in an effort to get rid of the one plan by merging it in the other, and after that in suggesting certain external amendments of the latter. The New Jerusalem Magazine, having put the one plan out of the field of its judicial vision by a sort of ex cathedra declaration that it has no raison dtre, and is not what is wanted, devotes its energies to what it calls its small criticisms of the other plan. Now, all this may be in accordance with a preponderant state of thought in the Church, and, no doubt, foreshadows the action to be taken when a new Constitution is reported to the Convention; but, beside the lack of judicial quality in the criticisms of the information concerning the results of its labors given to the Church by the Committee on Revision, there is about it ail the deplorable sphere of an almost fatuous conservatism.
The case stands thus: A Committee, selected from all parts of the Church, is charged with an important duty. The members of this Committee devote such time as they can spare to the performance of the work committed to them,--committed to them, be it observed, without any special instructions or limitations, but with the clearly-implied injunction to give to their task close study, earnest thought, and their best judgment, to the end that the result of their labors may promote the food of the General Church, by furnishing it with another and better organization, to take the place of the one that has been tried and found wanting. The result, in partial forms, is placed before the Church, is submitted to its intelligent consideration, and behold the reception it meets with at the hands of the two journals, which are justly supposed to represent the views and the intelligence of a large, perhaps the larger, portion of our body!
The Convention, when it appoints a Committee to do a work that the body cannot conveniently do itself, if it desires the work to be done in some particular way, is bound, in common sense and common right, to furnish the Committee with express instructions to that effect. In such a case, those who are asked to serve on the Committee, knowing what is expected of them, will be free to accept or decline to perform the clerical duty of formulating what others have in mind and want. The nature of the duty required may not be suited to all. There are some persons, who take such matters very seriously, who are always willing and ready to serve on Committees, provided they have given to the subjects with which they are charged some study and reflection, and may thus contribute something that has been given to them to the common stock and the common good.
There are committees and committees. To some there is, of necessity, assigned certain clerical, routine, or mechanical work; to others, the work of suggesting how this or that desirable thing ought to be done; and to others, again, the duty of presenting Principles, Truths, Laws of Order, as well as of proposing the right forms and means of carrying them into effect. In the last-named class of committees we certainly placed the Committee on the Revision of the Constitution of the General Convention. But in this apparently reasonable view of the matter we seem to have been mistaken. If the New Jerusalem Magazine represents the sentiment of the majority of the Convention (and on no other ground can its attitude on the point in hand be excused), it is evident that the scope of the Revision of the Constitution was limited to an amendment, and, perhaps, slight improvements of an old instrument that had been found so defective as to need Revision. The Committee, as it would appear, is not at liberty to investigate the whole question of Church Organization; to examine the Constitution that is to be amended, in the light of the revealed Laws of Divine Order, for the purpose of ascertaining whether it is in harmony with them or not, and whether the defects complained of may not have their origin in some radical deviation from the Principles of that Divine Older. And should convictions, looking directly in this way, have been formed in the minds of some of its members, these are not to be expressed for the information of the Church, but they are to be suppressed, as things neither wanted nor needed. Such things, it is urged, do not run in the old, beaten paths; they have not been tried; we do not know whither they will carry us, and therefore let them be laid aside, and not even discussed and considered.
Does one accept and follow a Truth only when and because one has tried it? The question answers itself. Is not trust in the Truth which one learns from Divine Revelation trust in the LORD and in His merciful Providence?
Judging from the pest history of the Convention, and from the confidence with which the writer in the New Jerusalem Magazine indicates the wants and needs of the Convention, we have reached the discouraging conclusion that the struggle against the spirit of the control, so long held by a portion of the Church, and fostered by the support of numbers, is not yet coded. Something, and, all things considered, perhaps much, has been gained by the establishment of a General Order of the Ministry, and by the affirmation of the principle of non-interference mid the free development of the ecclesiastical bodies composing the General Convention. It may be well to take a time of rest before the struggle is renewed and carried on to the end. The Convention has left itself very little to do in the way of general uses, and its members may profitably devote the present time to a study of the Principles and Laws of Order, so that when it wearies of playing with mere expedients and wants, as it needs, a well-framed Constitution, it may be in possession of the knowledge requisite for the right ordering of its Ecclesiastical Government.
It is very evident that the Convention as a body is not prepared at this time to consider, much less to adopt, a Constitution purely ecclesiastical in form, and that it still favors an organization partaking largely of certain civil elements and democratic methods. We accept the situation as of the Divine Providence, and therefore for good, and hope that the newly-awakened zeal for the study of the Doctrines of the Church, which is moving so many, will serve to open their minds more and more to the duty of seeking in all things of life, both internal and external, the light now descending from God out of heaven, rather than the lumen of worldly science and knowledge, and that thus preparation will be made for a truer and higher order in the polity and government of the Church, and for a wiser policy in the administration of its general uses. From this general opening we trust that the conservatism of the New Jerusalem Magazine will not be omitted, and that the right and propriety of introducing new things into the Churchs organization will come to be embraced within the scope of its ideas of Revision.
When the articles On the Nature and Constitution of the Church appeared in the New Jerusalem Magazine we read them with interest; hoped that they would add some valuable contributions to the discussion of the organization of the Church,--a subject which seems to have suggested their preparation.
After making the sweeping and rather rash assertion that Swedenborg in his definitions never uses the term external Church in the sense of an external body or organization, he nevertheless admits that there will be such an organization, both local and general, in the New Church (New Jerusalem Magazine for September, 1853, p. 515). The paragraph containing this admission appears to present in a somewhat condensed form the views of the writer on the subject of the external organization of the Church. We give it, with our comments. Mr. Ager says:
We find in Swedenborg no explicit directions in respect to this organization. But this essay will have been written in vain if it does not help us to see what the fundamental and formative principle of this organization will be and what it will not be. It evidently will not be an attempt to maintain a visible Church which shall be as nearly as possible identical with the real Church. That is the Old Church Doctrine, not the New Church Doctrine. It will be an organization solely for use,that is, an organization for the performance of certain distinct uses, the chief of which will be the maintenance of the priestly function, of the Sacraments and public worship, and of public and private instruction in the things of eternal life.
Admitting that we do not find in Swedenborg any explicit directions in respect to the organization of the Church, we wish to know where Mr. Ager has found the teaching that the external Church will be an organization solely for use. And if there are in Swedenborg no explicit directions in respect to this organization, is there not an abundance of instruction, such as is contained in the following extracts? As in Arcana Coelestia, 2478:
The rituals or representatives of the Jewish Church contained in themselves all the arcana of the Christian Church; those also to whom the representatives and significatives of the Word of the Old Testament are opened may know and perceive the arcana of the Church of the LORD in the earth, whilst they live in the world, and the arcana of arcana which are in the Kingdom of the LORD in the Heavens when they come into the other life.
In the True Christian Religion, 670:
But washings and many similar things were enjoined and commanded the sons of Israel, because the Church instituted with them was a representative Church, and this was such that it might figure the Christian Church that was to come.
And in Arcana Coelestia, 4281:
The Church that was instituted with them (the Israelites) was not a Church, but only the representative of a Church, wherefore that Church is called a representative Church.
Now the Israelitish Church was nothing but all externally organized Church, representing the true Church of the LORD in the figure, form, and fashion of its rituals or representatives. If we can learn the true meaning of these representatives, we may know something concerning the hidden things of the Church which the LORD is now establishing on earth as the True Christian Church. Having gained so much, we may also learn to some extent how those hidden things will appear when they come into corresponding external forms, and are applied to the ordering and organization of the Church among men on the earth.
That it is possible to learn all that needs to be known of these subjects in the present, and in the future, no one will doubt who has ever gone to the law and the testimony for instruction. Our Doctrines do not give us explicit directions to do these things and to leave those undone, but they do give abundant information, conveyed in language clear and direct, on all matters of life and order, whether general or particular, to enable every man who will receive it, to judge and to act in freedom according to reason. A thoughtful study of the history and polity of the Israelitish Church from its first establishment to the building of the Temple by Solomon, in the light of the unfolding of their hidden things now given by the LORD, will supply the mind with an all-sufficient knowledge concerning the form and order of the True Christian Church. These were prefigured in the representative forms and order of that representative of a Church. We are not to seek explicit directions on such subjects, but only Truths that shall inform our understanding and form our rationality, so that we may, as of ourselves, do that which the LORD wills us to do. To the accomplishment of this end there is nothing wanting in His Revelations. The lack is with us in our want of belief in the Divine fulness of those Revelations, and in our want of consciousness of the extreme poverty in which we are sunken.
Mr. Ager insists quite strongly on the general prevalence in the New Church of the view that a visible Church--that is to say, an externally organized Church-ought to be identical with the real or internal spiritual Church. Such no idea has existed, no doubt, and it may still exist with some, but we do not believe that it can be shown to have prevailed to any considerable extent in the past, or to have more than a very few adherents at the present day.
Mr. Ager expresses the hope that his essay will help us all to see that the formative principle of our organizations ought to be and will be use. We ask again, as we have asked before, Where, in the Writings, does Mr. Ager find this principle, which he sees so clearly? And, upon the whole, what does he mean by Use? Is it Use in the sense of End, as we have it in the Writings? or does he think of what is useful or serviceable to no End? If he means Use in the former sense, we shall all agree with him; indeed, we have all been agreed from the beginning of the Church. All our organizations exist for Use, and for distinct uses. The principle is not new in the Church, nor in the world, and so we do not see how we are helped by its enunciation at this time. And the manner of the announcement is hardly correct. Use cannot properly be called a formative principle. Use is too universal and essential to be formative. It is an active principle, which, as an End, is receptive of influx, and which proceeds, by the operation of thought in the mind (the true formative principle), in the devising of Ways and Means for its appearing in an Effect. Use alone is neither formative nor productive; but Use, by Causes, which act as Means or Mediate Ends, becomes formative in the latter as in its own forms;
That Mr. Ager does not mean to be understood as referring to what is useful or serviceable to the Church when he speaks of Use as a formative principle would appear from his suggesting certain distinct uses, as ends or objects of an organization, viz., the maintenance of the priestly function, of the Sacraments and public worship, and of public and private instruction in the things of internal life. Now, for our own part, we are fully prepared to unite with Mr. Ager on the basis of these distinct uses; we have always believed in and advocated them, and we do not doubt that the progressive enlightenment of the Church will lead to their acceptance with ever-increasing unanimity. But, as the principle here announced is not new inasmuch as all Church Organizations, whatever their forms may have been, have existed for use, more or less clearly defined, and most of them in the past and at the present time, recognize in some fashion, the distinct uses of maintaining the priestly function, of the Sacraments and public worship, and of public and private instruction in the things of eternal life, we fail to see in what respect we are brought nearer to a solution of the question of New Church Organization. Mr. Agers illustration of his point sheds no light on the subject. He takes, for instance, the question of membership of the organization, and asks, Under this law of use, who shall be members? To this he replies, Evidently all who have the capacity and disposition to contribute anything to the accomplishment of the contemplated uses. This application of the Law of Use brings us no nearer to the goal of our discussion than we were at its opening, and only gives occasion for x repetition of the question, What does Mr. Ager mean by Use, as the formative principle of our organizations?
He first introduces certain distinct uses as ends for which our Church organizations ought to exist, and then he applies the Law of Use, not to these ends, or distinct uses, but to the means of their existence, to be derived from persons who have the capacity and disposition to contribute anything to the accomplishment of the contemplated uses,--who, in other words, can be instrumental and serviceable in making those uses effective.
But, even with an external Church, set in a plane so low as to be a mere organization of ways and modes of doing things, and not an organized body of living men, we do not see how the determination of the question of membership by the capacity and disposition to contribute something to the accomplishment of the contemplated use affords an escape from the necessity of first defining what constitutes capacity and disposition, and then of forming a judgment concerning their existence in those who seek membership. How is one to contribute something to the accomplishment of the distinct uses named above, who knows nothing about them, of the principles underlying them; in short, of the Doctrine, in which they are prescribed, and according to which they are to be done? And in the matter of disposition, will there not arise a difficulty similar in kind, if not in degree, to that which arises from the objectionable test to interior quality? It may be quite as difficult to ascertain the disposition to contribute anything to the accomplishment of Church uses as to discover the interior quality suitable for membership.
Suppose the use of maintaining the priestly function be submitted to a candidate for membership in some New Church organization, and he declare, I know nothing of any such function, and therefore do not acknowledge its existence. Upon the whole, I repudiate the entire Priesthood as existing in a class. Every man is a Priest, every man can administer the Sacraments, give public instruction, etc. Can such a person be regarded as an acceptable member of an organization under the rule proposed by Mr. Ager? Evidently he cannot be supposed to have the disposition, and thus the capacity, to contribute to the maintenance of the priestly function as one of the distinct uses of the Organization of the Church.
He has not informed his readers whence he has derived his knowledge of this new principle, nor has he laid before them a scheme or plan for its accomplishment. We all know that the Writings treat often and much of Use, but what is this particular Law of Use of which Mr. Ager tells us? There are good uses and evil uses, and the law of good use is Truth, and the law of evil use is Falsity. A Use is not a law, but an End,--that is to say, a good or an evil,--and Use itself is the universal End of all life and existence from the LORD. It is to be regretted that Mr. Ager has left his distinctive fundamental principle without illustration sufficient to enable us to know what in particular he means by it, and how he would apply it in practice. A plan of organization of the Church on the principle proposed would have been a useful contribution to the literature of this important and interesting subject.
We have not gained what we had hoped for from Mr. Agers essays on The Nature and Constitution of the Church, but we have had much satisfaction from his appeal to the Doctrines of the Church for a decision of the vexed questions of Church Order. He does not seek a solution of the difficulties in which the subject has been so unnecessarily enveloped by turning to the civil politics of the world, neither does he find it in the blind and tentative efforts of the past, nor in the uncertain conclusions of so-called experience, nor in the conceits of human intelligence. In the Doctrines of the Church he seeks for a principle of organization other than any that has heretofore been at the basis of our attempts at framing a Constitution. He does not take for granted that what in times past other men have derived from this source on the subject before us must be right and true, and therefore requires no revision, but only faithful acceptance and following.
Mr. Ager has searched the Doctrines for information concerning the nature and character of the internal Church, and also, to a limited extent, so far as we can judge from His essays, for similar information concerning the external Church. But here he scents to have stopped short. We find no evidence in his essays of any inquiry in regard to the Principles of Church Order and Government. He gives us what purports to be such a Principle, but which is no more a Principle of Church Organization than of the creation of a world, and of a grain of sand. And, moreover, he does not derive this Principle from any Doctrine of the Church bearing on the question of Church Organization, but simply affirms it, as if it could not be doubted, and must be accepted without hesitation. We are compelled to say of his discovery of a distinctive fundamental principle of organization that there is nothing in it. And yet we must count even this failure to be a great advance on the attempts of the other writers, whose papers we have noticed; of the attempt of the one to smother a plan of organization, drawn expressly from the Writings of the Church, under a soft but musty pillow of apparent harmony and agreement; and, of the other, to set aside the same plan by considerations of beaten paths, tried ways, and the like, enforced by limitations of the meaning of terms, and by inspired and uninspired dicta as to what is wanted and not wanted.
And now we are curious to know whether these writers, or Mr. Ager, or those who favor the plan that is rejected before it has been submitted, are in the greater accord with the Convention. There lies before us a small pamphlet, published by the American New Church Tract and Publication Society, entitled The Principles and Functions of Ecclesiastical Government. An Address by the Rev. Chauncey Giles. Delivered before the General Convention of the New Church as its session in Boston, June 1, 1883, and bearing this announcement on the inside of the title-page leaf,The following resolution was unanimously adopted by the Convention in regard to the Address: Resolved, That the Convention heartily indorses the principles enunciated in the Address of the President, and recommends them to the consideration of the Church. The address so indorsed and recommended opens with these words,--
Behold, I make all things new, is the promise of the LORD to the world in the establishment of the New Church represented by the Holy City, New Jerusalem, descending from God out of heaven.
This is what the President of the Convention believes, what the Convention itself indorses, and what we have been thinking. But the New-Church Review and the New Jerusalem Magazine do not think as we do. They would not have the Constitution of the General Convention so revised as to be made a new Constitution. Of course we must understand the making new of the Divine promise to be progressive, to be a perpetual reformation and regeneration, such as is the making new with the man who enters into life. And we must further understand the newness to proceed from anew and clearer seeing of the Truth, which is to lead to Good,--that is, to the life that is good. This involves the possibility in all cases, and the probability in most cases, of our seeing in the light of the Truth, that the old ways and means of graining the ends of life are altogether inadequate, if not entirely false, and that new ways and means will have to be adopted. We are speaking of things old and new in the New Church, be it observed, for we do not follow the President of the Convention in his idea that a new Divine breath, the new spirit of the LORDS promise in His Second Coming, has had, or will have, a great influence upon ecclesiastical institutions and governments [by which we understand him to mean the institutions and governments of the Old Church], an influence which must continue to increase in power until they also become new, until they are imbued with a new spirit, modified to meet the wants of the growing man-child.
This man-child, or male, or son, as we learn from the teachings of the Church, is the Doctrine of the New Church, the essential and fundamental of which is the Doctrine of the LORD (A. R. 561, etc.). In other words, it is that very new Divine breath, or that new spirit, that is now descending from the LORD. How the ecclesiastical institutions and governments of our day are to be influenced by this new spirit, until they become imbued with a new spirit, modified to meet the wants of the growing man-child, which is that very new Truth or new Doctrine of the New Church by which this change is to be effected, it is difficult to comprehend. The language of the Address may be intended to convey the idea that the LORDS Revelation of Divine Truth out of the Word, at this day made, will so affect the Old Churches that they will gradually come to receive and acknowledge it and to worship the LORD. If this is the view of the President of the Convention, it would seem that he ought to advocate our devoting all our time and energy to a conversion of the old ecclesiasticisms, instead of expending our strength in efforts to build up a new ecclesiasticism, which will be useless, after the Former ones have been so modified as to meet the wants of the growing man-child.
But, confining ourselves to the matter of ecclesiastical reform in the New Church, which we understand to be meant by a Revision of the Constitution of the General Convention, we can give our full assent to the statement in the pamphlet before us that there is enough of unregenerate human nature in all men to make it wise in us to gain as clear and true a conception as possible of the nature and use of government in the Church, and to so administer it as to avoid the evils originating in the love of rule, which have sorely afflicted the Church, and to secure the ends for which governments are instituted.
And, having given our assent to this introductory proposition, we feel entitled to inquire of the President of the Convention from what source he has drawn his conceptions of the nature and use of government in the Church that he should lay down the following, as a fundamental principle, in an address on the Nature and Functions of Ecclesiastical Government, viz., The end of government is to secure and Promote freedom. We do not find any such statement in the Doctrine concerning Ecclesiastical and Civil government, nor elsewhere in any treatment of the subject of government. What we do find is, that governors, and therefore governments, are for the sake of Order among men. To assign to governments the end of securing and promotion freedom, and not Order, is to assign to them an impossible end. Mans freedom is commensurate with mans will, its affections and delights, and the government of these belongs to the Divine rule of truth from Good. External governments among men administered by men, may be made instrumental in restraining the outbreaks of evils injurious to freedom, but beyond this they can secure and promote nothing of liberty. Civil government has the restraining power of law supported by physical force; ecclesiastical government has only the restraining and promoting power of Truth acting upon the human conscience. An effort to establish a government on the basis proposed by the President of the Convention could only result in Anarchy or in Despotism. For freedom, as we have noted, is of the will and its inclinations, which are evil with all natural men, and to make the end of government the securing and promoting of freedom is to make it the securing and promoting of the will, in the one case the evil will of many men, in the other case the evil will of one man.
Had the President included rationality in the terms of his proposition, and made rationality and freedom the end of government, he might have afforded a reason for seeking a way of reconciling his statement with the teachings of the Church.
Such words as The Church should be so organized as to secure the greatest degree of freedom of all its members are easy of utterance, and they strike upon the ear of the unthinking with a sort of pleasant sound, but they have no real meaning, and are without practical force and value. A Church organization will need to be administered by men, and the men who administer its affairs will need to have laws for their own guidance and for the direction of those to whom they are to minister. Have we any ecclesiastical laws in the great store-house of laws for the New Church, the administration of which can secure spiritual freedom to the members of the Church? If there are such laws they ought to be made known without delay. We know of no laws by which the individual can have his liberty secured but the laws that are operative in his reformation and regeneration, and the administration of these laws lies in his own hands, under the overruling Providence of the LORD. The whole Church is but a congregation of individuals, and the law is the same for the whole as for the part. Nay, the proposed organization, were it at all possible, would prove a curse instead of a blessing. The freedom of the man of the Church is gained by a life of obedience, by shunning evils as sins against God, and by coming slowly through temptations into true faith and charity. To have all this provided and secured by a Church organization would be like securing the freedom of a country against an invading and oppressing foe by calling an assembly of the people and passing unanimously a resolution that the enemy be defeated and annihilated, after which the enemy would remain and establish himself in the land.
The same fallacious idea finds expression in other propositions, such as the following: that the forms of the organization should not be so rigid as to prevent growth, nor so narrow as to hinder the freest play of the affections, the largest extension of thought, or the most vigorous action. Is not this to offer words for ideas, empty forms for thoughts? Suppose there be one who loves rigid forms; will not his freedom be hurt if the Church deprives him of them? And, on the other hand, may not any and every form, whether rigid or not, hinder the freest play of the affections, the largest extension of thought (so far as external forms can hinder mental states), and the most vigorous action, if it be not a form flowing from such affections, by such thoughts, for the doing of such actions?
But theories, continues the President of the Convention, may be good, but their application wrong; we may have true Doctrine, but an inadequate or false idea of it. The love of rule is so great and so subtle in its influence that it requires constant watchfulness against our being biased by it in the understanding of Doctrine and the application of it to the conduct of Church affairs. All of which is true, quite true; but, not to be unfair to other evil loves, which require constant watchfulness equally with the love of rule, it must be added that the lore of fame, of honor, of reputation, of gain, and a host of others of a like nature, may also bias our understanding of Doctrine and the application of it to the conduct of Church affairs. All evil loves, in which men are by nature and inheritance, are contrary to order, as they are against rationality and liberty, and it is not well for us to single out one of them and make it a subject of warning, as if that were the only cause of disturbance in Church affairs. Men will argue for freedom in the spirit of any one of these loves with a force and zeal as great and strong as in the spirit of the old theologoic tyrannies, and they will advocate breadth and charity, for the sake of honor and fame, with a narrowness and passion quite equal to those of the most zealous bigot.
The love of rule for the sake of self is a fearful evil, in which all men are just so far as they are in the love of self. But from the love of self there proceed other evil loves, and many of them, which may lend us into the danger of thinking that our way is the only any, and that those who will not walk in it are hostile to the truth and enemies to us. And it is because such loves exist with all men, and have power over their natural minds, that governments are needed to check their outbreaks; in other words, to deprive them in a measure of their freedom to do as they will. For this is a large part of the duty of governments in the world, as it is of the Divine Government of the spiritual world. Did not the LORD hold the evil spirits of hell in restraint, they would destroy the human race; and did not the LORD constantly withhold good spirits and angels from the evils of their natural proprium, they would rush into the hells and consummate that destruction.
It is unquestionably true, as observed in the Address before us, that every man is regenerated in a way special to himself, and that every one must do his own work in his own way, with such help as he can get. But we must bear well in mind that a large part of the help a man gets comes from his not being suffered to do his own work in his own way; and this is a common fact, constantly recurring and making itself felt in all the special ways in which men are regenerated. Indeed, no man could possibly be regenerated if he were allowed at all times to do His own work in his own way. Nor could society exist if every man were allowed to do His own work in his own way. Doth the works and the ways of men need to be corrected and directed, need to be brought into order and to be kept in order. For Order is not gained, as the President would have us think, by the flee exercise of many minds seeking the same end by different paths, any more than heaven is gained, as many would have us believe, by the different ways by which men may choose to reach it. The LORD is Order, and is revealed to men as the LORD is revealed by the Divine Truth in which He comes. Order is gained or attained only in so far as Divine Truth is received, makes man rational, and leads him in its ways and paths away from self and the world, to what is of charity and love, of Heaven and the LORD. The sweeping proposition of the President needs a large qualification to make it true. The free exercise of many minds seeking the same end by different paths may gain disorder as well as order. What is gained will depend upon the duality of the end sought, and of the principles or truths that form the thoughts and make the paths on which the end is sought. That forms of government will vary according to the needs of the men who are to live under them is as self-evident as that the means employed by one man to arrange His natural life will vary from those employed by another man for a like end. And it is of Divine Teaching that such varieties can co-exist in harmony, and promote the perfection of all, and of each government and man. Such a state existed in the Ancient Church in the day of its integrity, and such a state we are led to anticipate for the New Church in the distant future, when it shall have come to its full on the earth.
The President says that the true function of government in the Church consists in helping every one, whatever may be his state, to come into true freedom of thought and action, and to keep him in it. We say, that when the government of the Church fulfils its true function of preserving order, and administering all the things of the Divine Law and Worship, every one who is so disposed will be helped to come into true freedom of thought and action, and will be kept in it, so far as he willingly continues to conform to the laws of Divine Order.
When things Divine are thus provided among men, and men receive them and live according to them, they will be led by the Truth, and the Truth will make them free. In other words, the LORD, who is the Truth, will lead them into essential freedom, having first made them rational, and they will continue in this freedom by their own continuance in the life of faith and charity. And this, as our Doctrines teach, is the immutable law of order, by which there is established in man a state of true freedom. For essential liberty is love to the LORD and charity towards the neighbor; this also is Eternal Life, which man receives from the LORD, who is Life itself, and who, because He is Life itself, is also Liberty itself. It is only in this sense that we can speak of the Divine Freedom. He is not infinitely free, because He never transcends the laws of His Infinite Wisdom, as the author of the pamphlet before us affirms, but because Infinite Freedom is Infinite Love, and Infinite Love is Infinite Wisdom. One might as well say that the LORD is Infinitely Himself because He never transcends His Infinite self.
And yet even this strange statement concerning Divine Freedom is cast utterly into shade by that which follows: There is no freedom for man or angel, or the LORD Himself, except that which is gained by acting in conformity with law. We abstain from comment on these words of the Address other than that furnished by our italics, and can but hope that the writer did not mean what his words express, and that the Convention did not know what it so heartily indorsed.
Passing over many things that are well and pertinently said on the subject of freedom, but that have little reference to the Principles and Functions of Ecclesiastical Government,--the announced topic of the Address,we reach the following passage:
But there is a more excellent form of government than that which originates in the Truth, and is conducted by the application of it,a government in perfect harmony with the spirit and purposes of the LORDS Kingdom on the earth, and specifically adapted to promote its interests. The fundamental principles of this government are the Two Great Commandments, supreme love to the LORD and the love of the neighbor as ourselves.
From this proposition it would appear that, after all, the end of government is, not to secure and promote freedom, but something more excellent. For, of course, if there be a more excellent form of government than that which originates in Truth, there must be a more excellent substance or end of such a government. The President of the Convention having thus turned back upon his first position and argument, we are not greatly surprised at our inability to bring the parts of this second proposition into harmony with each other, and with what seems to be a summary of the idea intended to be conveyed, as it is presented in the concluding sentence of our extract. The LORDS Kingdom on the Earth, if it means anything, means the government of the LORD as King; and the uniform teaching of our Doctrines is that the LORD, as King, governs all from Divine Truth (see A. C. 1728, and passim).
What we want to know, in order that we may understand the passage before us, is what that more excellent form of government is which, not originating in the Truth, is yet in perfect harmony with the spirit and purposes of the LORDS Kingdom or Government originating in Truth, and is specifically adapted to promote its interests. Does the writer intend to lead the thought to the priestly government? The LORD, we are taught, governs all as a Priest, from Divine Good (see A. C. 1728, and passim). This does not seem to be his purpose, for he tells us that the fundamental principles of this government are the two great commandments. Commandments are Laws of Order (A. C. 2634, etc.), and all Truths are Laws of Order, and whatever the LORD says is a commandment. The Ten Commandments and the Two Great Commandments are summaries of the Word, which is the Divine Truth; and all the Heavens are formed and governed by the Divine Truth from the Divine Good; and so is the Church, and so are all things which are according to Divine Order. The fundamental principles of the more excellent government, as they do not originate in Truth, cannot be the Two Great Commandments, for they are the very sum and substance of all Truth, from which only Truths can originate.
Possibly the writer of the address may reply, that by fundamental principles he does not mean the Commandments or Divine Truths which teach, but the supreme love to the LORD and the love of the neighbor as ourselves, which are taught in them,--i.e., those loves without the truths of them. We much fear that there will be great disappointment among those who may be looking for a government founded on a substance without a form, or on a non-existent essence,--on Love without Wisdom, on Good without Truth, on Charity without Faith.
We read in Arcana Coelestia, 2634:
The precepts of GOD, or what GOD commands, are all and singular things of the Divine Order, even to the extent that Divine Order is nothing but a perpetual precept of GOD; wherefore, to live according to the precepts of God and in the precepts of God, is to live according to Divine Order and in Divine Order.
And in 4839:
Divine Order is the LORD Himself in Heaven, for the Divine Good and Truth which are from Him constitute Order, even to the extent that they are Order, Divine Good its essential, and Divine Truth its formal. (Cf. also 7995, 7206, etc.)
In all the government of the Truth, which is the Government of the LORD, there can be no other love than love of the neighbor and love of the LORD. Where these are not, there is no order and no LORD, who is Order itself. There is no Love without Truth, and no force from LORD, and no power from Love in ultimates, except by means of Truth.
One misconception leads to others, as this writer exemplifies in positions like the following:
If we desire to build up the strongest possible ecclesiastical government, it must be done by love,--not by the love of ruling, but of serving. It is not the power of one man, or of one class of men, to govern others, but the combined power of all to assist each member of the Church to govern himself. A heavenly affection is a police in every mind, etc.
Love cannot build up anything except by the Truth; and Love serves, as it rules, only by the Truth. The LORD by Love rules all Truths, but by Truths He governs the Heavens, the Church, and the World; for the Divine Truth forms the Heavens, and our Father in the Heavens is the Divine Truth of the Divine Good. Hem, then, can Love assist men to govern themselves, unless by the operation of the Truth, in which it is as in its own form? And how can it be said that a heavenly affection is a police in the mind,--that is to say, is a government that regulates sad matches over the order of the mind, carefully observing its evils, and seizing, imprisoning, and punishing them when necessary for the welfare of the mind?
As in the Heavens, so in the Church, there are two kinds of government, and under these there are many varieties; and yet, neither in the Heavens nor in the true Church of the LORD is there airy other government than the government of mutual love, which is heavenly government. In the celestial kingdom of the LORD the government is called Judgment, because it is from the Good of Love to the LORD from the LORD. But this government is not carried on without Truths; for the LORD Himself governs the angels and leads them by the Truths which are inscribed on their hearts. In the spiritual kingdom of the LORD the government is called Judgment, because it is from the Good of Charity towards the neighbor, and this Good in its essence is Truth. The angels of this kingdom are also led of the LORD, but mediately by governors, who administer all things according to the laws, which laws are Truths from the LORD (Cf. H. H. 214-217).
The President further says:
An ecclesiastical government which has its origin in a heavenly love must be the most powerful, the must orderly, the moat efficient in building up the LORDS kingdom on the earth. It must conduce to the largest and the most complete freedom for the whole body, and for every member of it. If we had sufficient wisdom and enlargement of heart to see it and act upon it, no man could withstand us. No good man and no society of good men would desire to withstand us.
The ecclesiastical government here proposed is evidently suggested for introduction in the New Church. Does the writer really intend to say that we should seek to establish a government such as he describes from a heavenly love in ourselves, and that if we do establish a government from this source, no man can withstand us? If such be his thought, and if this view is shared by others, it will go far to explain the origin of some of the differences that have existed and that do still exist in the Church on the subject of organization. Evidently this writer believes that ecclesiastical government ought to originate with men,--that is, in their loves,--and that if these are heavenly, the government will be powerful, orderly, and efficient; and if not, it will be the reverse. At the present day most men, nay, nearly all the men of Christendom do withstand us; and, tried by this test, certainly our ecclesiastical government cannot be said to have its origin in heavenly loves.
But is this to be the origin of ecclesiastical government in the New Church? Surely not with us; not in our loves, heavenly or otherwise; not in any wisdom or enlargement of heart of ours can we find the source of such an ecclesiastical polity as shall be powerful, orderly, and efficient in building up the LORDS kingdom on the earth. The principles and functions and the laws of Ecclesiastical Order and Organization come from the LORD alone, and are given to us in the Doctrines of the New Church, and the kind of government we should seek to establish is that which the LORD teaches us to establish, not from any heavenly loves in ourselves, but from His Divine love for the salvation of souls, to be effected by the means of His Church. We are to learn and to do His Truth. When He gives to us the duty of providing ways and means for the performance of Church uses, in other words, of framing for the Church an organization, we have no need to invent new ends and purposes of help to others in doing their work, still less to examine ourselves in order to discover qualities from which a good ecclesiastical government may originate. What is required in the given case is that we go to the LORD, that we inquire of Him in the Doctrine of His opened Word what are the ends of all government in the Heavens and on the earth, what its principles, functions, and laws. When with all diligence we have learned and, according to our capacity, have digested what He has given us to see and to know, then shall we be prepared to give form to an Instrument of Organization that may serve as a means of preserving order among the men of the Church, and of making due provision for the administration of the things of the Divine Law and Worship.
Guided thus by the LORD in His Divine Truth to do the work that has been set before us, we shall not be hampered by considerations that have no place in the preparation for that work, such as whether we shall make our Constitution and Rules of Order broad or narrow, elastic or rigid, free or bound. These are questions that do not concern us. The one point of importance is, What do the LORDS Doctrines teach us concerning the principles, functions, and form of the organization and government of the New Church? The provision of such an organization is a work or use of charity properly to be given to those among the men of the Church who are skilled in the Divine Law, wise, and fearing God. And once committed to them, the freedom about which we read and hear so much, ought to be accorded to them to perform their assigned use of charity in the manner in which they in their judgments can fulfil their duty most faithfully, honestly, justly, and sincerely, having but the one care,--that it shall be rightly done in the sight of the LORD.
Others, like ourselves, may have taken up the Address of the President of the Convention on the Principles and Functions of Ecclesiastical Government with the reasonable expectation of learning what the Church teaches on so large and important a subject. Like ourselves, others may have looked for some exposition and application of the Doctrines in respect to ecclesiastical government, some reference to the priestly order and functions, some allusion, at least, to the thing of the Divine Law and Worship, which Priests, as Church functionaries, are to provide for; but, with the exception of a subordinate mention of the last-named topic, they will have met with nothing bearing more nearly on these subjects than the following sentence: A genuine spiritual government, then, must be established by teaching the Truth, which is true.
As a discourse on freedom, the Address has this fault, that it does not touch the heart or the real core of the subject; and, as a discourse on the Principles and Functions of Ecclesiastical Government, it has this fault, that it begins and ends with a proposition which is not justified by any Doctrine of the Church on the subject of government, nor found in any teaching on the subject of the proposition itself.
At the close of what may be called the argument of the Address we read as follows:
I remarked, in the early part of my Address, that the true end of all government, and, I will now add, of all law, of all order, of all association with others, is to secure freedom and extend it,--freedom of thought, freedom of action, freedom of association.
We have been thinking that freedom was not an end but a means to an end, and that the true end of the things enumerated, and also the true end of freedom, as a faculty Divinely given to every one, was the regeneration and salvation of man, and his conjunction with the LORD, and, thinking thus, we have wondered with ourselves what, in general and in particular, might be the principles enunciated in the Address of the President that were so heartily indorsed by the Convention.
The New-Church Review.
THE NEW-CHURCH REVIEW. July, 1883. Fairbanks, Palmer & Co., Chicago.
THE New-Church Review, in replying to our note on its critique of Words for the New Church, assumes an attitude towards the Writings of the Church, as well as towards views presented in other publications of the Church, that seems to challenge an answer.
In the interest of a just criticism, and of the freedom of criticism, we are bound to accept the challenge and to make answer.
We ask the Review how we are to understand the following position:
The Review owns no authority but Revealed Doctrine, and it goes to this Doctrine as a learner rather than as interpreter for others, mid to this Heavenly Doctrine it would invite in the most cordial manner the attention of all enlightened and sincere Christian minds.Review, July, p. 429.
We will here further say that we are prepared to maintain that the Review is a more faithful exponent or Swedenborg, and exhibits a truer and deeper loyalty to that authority that inheres in his Writings than is the Serial itself under notice.
Of course we shall not try conclusions with the Review on the question of the relative loyalty to the authority of the Writings manifested by these two publications, to which we are the less inclined because we should be delighted to be assured of the truer and deeper loyalty of the Review to an authority to which we would be altogether and only loyal, but we should like to know how the Review can claim to be a faithful exponent of Swedenborg, when it goes to the Doctrine as a learner rather than as an interpreter for others. An exponent is one who expounds and explains, and this is about what an interpreter does. We also are learners, but, so far as we teach and write, we learn in order that in our teaching and writing we may explain and interpret to others what we have learnt.
But the Review holds the Writings as a heaven-given gospel addressed to the Christian World, and needing no final interpreter outside of itself. What is here meant by a final interpreter we do not know; but that a Divine Gospel (we prefer Divine to heaven-given) does need an interpreter the LORD has shown in that He Himself appointed Apostles and Teachers when He was in the World to expound and interpret His Gospel to men. And in our Heavenly Doctrines we are abundantly taught that this use of interpreting the Doctrine of the Church to men is that last mediation of Divine Truth for which the LORD has established His Priesthood in the Church. In fret, we utterly fail to see any reason for the existence of a New-Church Review, or of any other New Church publication, that professes not to expound, explain, and interpret the teachings of the Church as contained in the Writings. And we as utterly fail to see how a publication can exist for such an end, and have any quality or character at all, if its teachings have not the form, or garb, if you please, of its understanding of the Writings.
So far as we can ascertain from the statements of the Review, this objectionable garb of the Academy seems to consist in our effort not to present Swedenborg at all, either pure and simple or otherwise, as the author of the Writings of the Church, but the LORD alone. If this is what the Review means by the garb of the Academy, it means the truth. But when the Review declares, on page 430, the Words admits just this charge to be a true one, and instances such an admission on our part by citing a sentence from our article which does not admit this charge, but only declares that we were treating of one matter, whilst the Review demanded that we should have treated of another, we are led to think that if the Reviews presentation of Swedenborg pure and simple at all resembles this presentation of the Words, its claim to being a faithful exponent may well be questioned. Loyalty to the truth would seem to require that a quotation made to sustain the assertion that we had admitted the charge of the Review to be true should not only refer to that charge, but, above all, that it should be given in full, and not offered in a garbled form to its readers, many of whom might not be able to verify the quotation by a reference to the Words.
What we said was this: But we have fallen under the censure of the New-Church Review, because we have not treated of a matter which it was not our purpose to consider, because we have not tried to discover what we had already found, and because we have cited the Doctrines in support of a position already taken. And, after having mutilated our statement, in order to invent an admission which we never made, the Review applies this pure and simple presentation of our language to our position on the subject of the State of the Christian World so as to make us appear to say that it was not our purpose to consider certain milder and more hopeful reflections which the Doctrines unquestionably offer, but which we had clearly shown that they do not offer. We regret that it is not in our power to indulge in milder and more hopeful reflections on the fairness of the Reviews criticisms, or on the peculiar garb of its efforts to enlighten and edify its readers.
We have no objection to offer to what the Review appears to consider the strong point of its criticism of the Words,--that this publication presents Swedenborg to the World in its own peculiar garb. We present him in the garb in which we see him,--in the grab of the servant of the LORD, through whom He wrote the Writings for the New Church. Indeed, we are glad that the Review so persistently dwells on that point: it can but strengthen our position. But when the Review insinuates, as it does on page 431 of the number before us, that we have held back something from Swedenborg lest a favorite position of ours should be shaken, we feel it to be our duty to tell our late contemporary (the Review has ceased to appear) that this insinuation is quite as false, though not so harmless, as is the other which follows, to the effect that we claim to be his [Swedenborgs] only authoritative exponent.
With the feelings of the Review towards the Words, as expressed on page 431, we are not disposed to interfere, nor do we desire to offer an interpretation of them, authorized or unauthorized; we can but hope that with an increase of light and intelligence there will come due purgation and correction of feeling.
As the reply of the Review to our remarks on the State of the Old Church, and the matter of forming a judgment as to whether or not we are fit candidates for the New Jerusalem, does not reach the real point of our position, it may be left afar off, where it is, without further notice. We may, however, be allowed to express regret at having failed to make clear to the Review a point which is of such essential importance to a right understanding of the Doctrine of the Second Advent of the LORD. And, without renewing the discussion of this subject, we may state that whilst the Reviews explanation of its use of the terms objective and subjective, in connection with the Coming of the LORD, shows that either it has failed to grasp our point, or that we have failed to make it clear, this one thing is made altogether manifest, that the Review does not clearly see that there is a Coming of the LORD, which is a purely Divine Work, and a Coming of the LORD which is a Divine Work done in co-operation with the man who receives Him at His Coming.
On page 433 the Review says:
Nor do we mean to agree with the inference that the Words seems to draw from its citations of Doctrine, namely, that because the literal sense was dictated mediately, or to natural men by spirits, that therefore it is in a degree less Divine, or a less perfect and full Revelation than that which was given by inspiration directly from the LORD to Swedenborg.
We have drawn no such inference, nor is there a single expression in our article that can be tortured into the semblance of such an inference. Our entire argument is directed against the very notion here imputed to us. We endeavored to show that a Revelation made by the LORD in one way must be equally as Divine as a Revelation made by Him in another may,--that there cannot be Revelations made by the LORD, which are more or less Divine. And our argument was aimed at the position held by the Review, that the inspiration of Swedenborg was productive of less perfect results than the inspiration of the penmen of the literal Word.
Of course it is true that Swedenborg gave to us the Doctrines as he understood them, this is distinctly taught and sufficiently evident; but how does it follow from this that they are not the LORDS Doctrines, formulated for the use of the New Church in a manner as perfectly Divine as when formulated in the letter of the Word, by the agency of spirits, through natural men on earth? Is Divine Truth accommodated by the LORD to human understandings any less the Divine Truth than when accommodated by the LORD to the sensual conditions of human thought? The question answers itself.
The argument on pages 433 and 434 of the Review, based on the admission of the Words that the Writings do not contain the spiritual sense of the Word complete,--in other words, that they do not contain an explicit statement of the spiritual sense of every chapter and verse of the Word,--by which the Reviewer seeks to establish the point that the inspiration of Swedenborg was limited and modified by his own understanding, whilst it falls far short of its aim, proves conclusively that, in spite of his avowed belief in the Divine Authority of the Writings, the Reviewer does not hold the Revelation made through Swedenborg to be a perfectly Divine Revelation. How can it be perfectly Divine if it was limited and modified, not by the LORDS Will and Wisdom, according to the needs of men, but by Swedenborgs own understanding? And how can the Review say that the Writings are only a partial revelation of that which, in all its Divine fulness and perfection, is contained in the letter of the Word, when Swedenborg, from his genuine inspiration, declares that they contain the most excellent Revelation ever made to men? When John says, concerning the Divine record made through him of the LORDS work on Earth, And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written, shall we say, after the manner of our reviewer, that the Divine Revelation of the Word was a partial Revelation, because the world was not large enough to contain a full and perfect Revelation? in other words, that the LORD could not reveal more, because He had not made more world?
We are disposed to ask, Does our Reviewer realize the truth that the Word is the LORD, and that as well the giving of the Word in the letter as the opening of the word in the spirit to human understandings are the Coming of the LORD Himself? and that he is limiting and modifying the Divine Operation by finite human conditions, unforeseen and unprovided for by the Divine Wisdom, conditions which could not be overcome by Omnipotence so as to accomplish Divinely and perfectly, in the one case, what it is claimed was done in infinite fulness and perfection in the other case?
In No. XI. of the Words we desired the Reviewer to tell us whether he believes, fully and without qualification, that the Doctrine of the New Church is Divine. He replies that he does so believe, and adds that he believes in the infallibility of the Doctrines as he believes in the Infinity of the Deity or the Deity itself. But, not content with leaving the matter in this most satisfactory shape, he immediately proceeds to introduce a distinction which is either without any point and value whatever, or, if it has any, has just enough to destroy the entire force of his affirmation. He says:
It is precisely because the Doctrine is Divine, according to the beautiful and clear citation of the Words from A. C.3712, but in descending and ascending degrees or senses, accommodated to various orders of angelic and human mind, that we draw the distinction between their infallibility in their Divine origin and the fallible conceptions of them by men (page 434).
Is the last clause of this sentence intended to confuse the mind, and to destroy all the force of the Doctrine in A. C. 3712? or does the Reviewer utterly fail to see the very distinction he is making, and confuse himself on this subject, as he confused himself in respect to the Second Coming of the LORD? There is a distinction between the infallibility of the Writings in their Divine origin--and, we add, in their Divine giving to men--and the fallible conceptions of them by men; and because there is such a distinction, therefore are we required by sound reason not to confound the one with the other, and not even to bring the one into juxtaposition with the other. There is no question about the fallible conceptions of the Doctrines by men, as we have taken occasion fully to set forth (see Words, XI. p. 656). This is a subject which comes under the head of human reception of the Divine, and not under the head of the Doctrine of infallibility, any more than under the head of the Divine Infinity, Eternity, Omnipotence, etc.
Divine Truth is Divine, Infinite, and Infallible Truth, whether men receive it or not, whether men conceive it aright or not, whether men open themselves to its teachings or totally pervert and reject them. If we would understand and form a true rational idea of any subject, and especially of any Doctrine of the Church, we should endeavor to learn first its place in the system, and then to keep it there, and by no means to confound it with other subjects or Doctrines, however nearly related they may be. Order of thought and clearness of idea are quite as dependent on distinctions carefully made and observed as are the Order of a State, the Order of the Church, and the Order of Heaven.
THE NEW CHURCH
CONTROLLED BY THE ACADEMY OF THE NEW CHURCH
THE CONFLICT OF THE AGES
ACADEMY OF THE NEW CHURCH
1700 SUMMER ST.
THE CONFLICT OF THE AGES.
CONFLICT IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (Continuation):
The Reformation in German Switzerland 103
Calvin and Geneva 116
Calvin and Servetus 128
The Reformation in England under Henry VIIIScotland 152
Progress of the Reformation in Germany to the Council of TrentScandinavia 170
NOTES AND REVIEWS:
THE MINISTRY OF SACRED THINGS AMONG MEN 212
THE CONFLICT OF THE AGES
CONFLICT IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
The Reformation in German Switzerland.
WHILE the Reformation thus progressed in Germany, other countries had not remained passive. Switzerland, being spiritually allied with Germany and withal in a state of greater freedom, took up the conflict almost at the same time and with a spirit which in externals, at least, was even more radical and uncompromising.
The leading reformer in Switzerland was Zwingli, and his peculiar tenets, which found reception also in Southern Germany, were not without far-reaching influence on the Reformation. Ulrich Zwingli was born at Wildenhaus, in Toggenburg, in the year 1484, being thus only a few weeks younger than Luther. His father was the leading man of the place, and had chiefly contributed to the liberation of the village from feudal bondage to the Abbot of St. Gallen. The youth was early distinguished by his conscientious regard for truth and his enthusiastic love of it. His uncle, the pastor of Wildenhaus, directed the rudimentary education of Ulrich, who was destined for the ministry. Later on Zwingli attended the schools of Basel and Berne, and then the Universities of Vienna and Basel.
Zwingli did not, however, like Luther, confine himself to religion. He was a zealous lover of his country, and continually joined with all his soul in the political reforms necessary for its elevation. The: most crying political evil of his country at that time was, in his eyes, the acceptance whereby the leading men of the several cantons obligated themselves to allow those foreign states to enlist Swiss soldiers for their wars. It was Zwinglis failure in his active opposition to these subsidies or bribes which compelled him to give up his parish in Glarus, and to accept a vicarage in Einsiedeln. But this same bold stand also caused his call as preacher to the Cathedral at Zurich; for this city, more than others, was opposed to the subsidies. In Zurich Zwingli at once gained that position, which his character and his inclinations fitted him. He became there the leading opponent of all partisan leagues with foreign powers, even to those with the Pope, from whom nevertheless he even then was receiving a pension.
In this position Zwingli stood when the conflict of the Reformation broke out in Germany, and he at once took a sincere and liberty part in the contest. He published a pamphlet against the treatment of Luther by the Pope, as well as an answer to the Papal Bull. But His influence was not so much owing to his writings to his preaching, for he was a natural orator. Zwinglis definition of religion is as unusual as it is beautiful. According to him, it consists in innocence from love and fear of God. In his life he was cheerful and kindly, simple in his fare, though he did not refuse to take a hearty part in the banquets of the citizens or of the peasants. Zwinglis preaching ever had direct reference to life, doctrine being with him only the means.
While Luther especially desired an amendment of doctrine, which [as he thought] would be necessarily followed by an improved life and better morals, Zwingli directed his attention to the improvement of life. He chiefly seized upon the practical intent of the general contents of Scripture. His original views had been of a moral-philosophic nature. There is no doubt that also his religious tendency drew thence a peculiar coloring.Ranke, Vol. III, p. 47.
The progress of the Reformation in Zurich was somewhat peculiar, owing to its political status. The city of Zurich, though placed under the Bishop of Constance, claimed a certain independence, which was in part owing to the almost independent jurisdiction exercised by the Chapter of its Cathedral. Already in the year 1520 the Council of the city gave permission to the preachers, both in the city and in the whole canton of Zurich, to preach according to the Divine Scriptures of the Old and New Testament.
But a slight incident was sufficient to put an end to this apparent truce. A Franciscan monk, Francis Lambert, who had read some of Luthers writings, but still believed that the ceremonies were binding, appeared in the city and upheld the binding force of the ordinance of the Church. Zwingli, who was present in one of these discourses, interrupted him with the exclamation: Brother, thou art in error!
Zwingli had the belief that our Convocation, called not to injure any Christians but to hear the Word of God, cannot err, as it does not undertake to determine or to annul, but only desires to hear what is found in the respective passages from the Word. The Council of the city he viewed as the executors of the voice of the Church. His course consisted in debating a question from the pulpit until every one was convinced, then to bring it before the City Council, and to have it decree, in accord with the ministers of the Church, whatever was necessary. The condemnation of this course of action by the Bishop of Constance did not have much effect. To silence his opponents, Zwingli caused the City Council to institute in the year 1523 a disputation of its preachers and ministers. Even the Bishop of Constance sent some ambassadors not, indeed, to dispute, but to listen, to advise, and to decide. Zwingli, being triumphant in this discussion, the City Council further approved of his course, and enjoined upon the ministers not to institute or to preach anything which they could not prove from the Word of God.
Being less trammeled by considerations of policy the reforms, with respect to ceremonies, were more radical in Switzerland than in Germany. We read:
The chief difference was that Luther wished to retain everything in the existing religious institutions, which was not opposed to a direct teaching of Scripture, but Zwingli was determined to put sway everything that could not be demonstrated from Scripture. Luther thus, remaining on the foundation of the Latin Church, only desired to purify and to remedy the contradiction between Scripture and doctrine. Zwingli, however, considering it necessary to restore as far as ever possible, the simple, primitive state of the Church, proceeded to a total reorganization.Ranke, Vol. III, p. 56.
While Zwingli proceeded thus in a far more radical manner than Luther, there was still a certain unity in their views and endeavors until Zwingli brought out his new view of the Holy Supper. This view excluded everything mystical from the Sacrament, denying the real presence of the body of the LORD, which he could not understand, and regarding it as a memorial and as a means of conjunction of the members of the Church with one another, rather then with the LORD, in this respect resembling the view of the Unitarians. Luther was not willing to give up the real presence of the body of the LORD, though he denied the Catholic material notion of transubstantiation.
Zwingli taught that the words, This is my body, This is my blood, mean simply This signifies my body, This signifies my blood; giving also on his side the truth that there is a correspondence of the bread and the wine; but the truth that internal things act together with correspondent externals and are present in them, was but obscurely, if at all, present in his mind, and many of the people felt, when the change was made, like Mary Magdalene, when she exclaimed: They have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him. The year 1524 was momentous in bringing this difference forth to public view, thereby causing an open dissension among the Protestants, and producing an opposition hardly less bitter and acrimonious than that existing with respect to the Romish Church.
The Reformation, which had been so steadily progressing in Zurich, soon extended also to other leading Swiss cities, especially to Berne and Basel. The conjunction of religion with politics, characteristic of the Helvetian Reformation, also accompanied this extension.
These showed themselves in the year 1529, when the Diet of Speier was held, at which, peace having been made between the Pope and the Emperor, all the Catholic powers of Germany united to crush out the Reformation, and to pass an edict checking and forbidding all the late changes. The party of the Reformation did not, however, submit to this decree, and entered a solemn protest, from which came their name of Protestants. Six princes and twelve cities of the empire signed the protestation. The princes were: Elector John of Saxony, Margrave George of Brandenburg, the Dukes Ernest and Francis of Brunswick- Luneburg, Philip, Landgrave of Hessia, and Prince Wolfgang of Anhalt.
Philip, Landgrave of Hessia, however, did his best to restore harmony, end invited the Swiss theologians to a conference with the theologians of Wittenberg. A meeting of the leaders was held in the Hessian castle at Marburg, in which appeared Zwingli and olampadius from the one side, and Luther and Melanchthon from the other, together with many lesser lights. For three days they held a conference, during which many misconceptions were removed and a, union on fourteen articles of belief was effected, but as to the most important in the popular estimation, the fifteenth, respecting the Holy Supper, no union could be effected. Both sides agreed, indeed, as to the manner of the celebration of communion, and that the true body and the true blood of Christ are therein spiritually communicated, but they could not agree as to whether the true body and blood of Christ are bodily present in the bread and wine; and Luther was not willing to acknowledge as brethren or to make a league with those who would not acknowledge this real presence. The general despondency and feeling of impotence was increased by the doctrine of Luther and his followers, that it was not lawful for the princes of Germany to oppose the Emperor in anything that he might wish to do;
In the Diet at Augsburg in the following year, 1530, the distinction between the tenets of: Zwingli and those of Luther were even more strongly marked by the Augsburg Confession, which was written by Melanchthon and signed by the six Protestant princes and the two cities of Nuremberg and Reutlingen; the others, holding in part the views of Zwingli, refusing to sign the Confession. The Catholics answered in a Refutation of the Confession, and the Emperor, supported by a majority of the Diet, commanded the Protestants to give up their tenets and return to the bosom of the Catholic Church. In the attempt made at that time to effect a compromise with the Catholic Church, Melanchthon showed conclusively that the Protestant doctrines were essentially the same with those of the Catholic Church, and that, even as to rites and ceremonies, the obstacles to a union were not insurmountable. The Protestants offered to restore the jurisdiction of the bishops, if these would not prevent the free preaching of the Gospel; for the sake of good order they were willing to keep the fasts and to direct auricular confession where the consciences of men were weighed down by sin. The Elector of Saxony also offered to give the sequestered ecclesiastical possessions into the hands of administrators until the matter should be decided by a general Church Council. The Catholic majority spoke of the possibility of allowing the Marriage of Priests, and of granting the Cup to the Laity.
Another effort to reconcile the Zwinglians and the Lutherans, with reference to the Eucharist, was made at this time by Martin Butzer (Bucer), of Strasburg. He brought forward the vital points on which they agreed and minimized the differences, directing his efforts first to the Lutherans. These endeavors were so far successful with the Lutherans that they admitted the southern reformed cities of the Empire, from whom they had separated at Augsburg, to their consultation at Schmalkalden, and at their second meeting they formally received them into the membership of their Union. The cities of Strasburg, Lindau, Constance, and Memmingen at once joined the Union, and were soon followed by Biberach, Isny, Reutlingen, and Ulm.
With olampadius at Basel Butter was equally successful, but Zwingli would only agree to his presentation in part, and though the opposition and division between the evangelical parties was thus diminished, no real union was brought about.
But while Zurich, Berrie, and Basel, as well as St. Gallen, Biel, and Muhlhausen, received the Reformation, the original cantons, Uri, Schwytz, Uuterwalclen, and Zug offered a bitter and strenuous resistance. Not only were they opposed to the Reformation, but they were also firmly resolved not to give up the pecuniary advantages arising from the foreign leagues, the pensions, and foreign warfare. The conflict first arose in those territories which the united cantons had conquered, and which they governed in partnership, as conquered territory. Here the question arose, whether the Catholics should be allowed to retain their ascendancy. The Catholic governors of these territories persecuted all those who joined the Reformation by fines, imprisonment, and scourging. Reformed preachers were sent away with their tongues slit, or were put to death with the sword. Zurich and Berne in agreement resolved, that communities in the common territory where the majority adhered to the Reformation should in no wise be hindered in their worship. In consequence the reformed citizens in the conquered territory along the Rhine soon began to move. Despite the efforts of the Catholic cantons the reformed majority in this territory and in the canton Thurgan declared that they would hold to the Reformation.
The five original cantons, indeed, united against the reformed party, and, making a league with Austria, were ready to battle with Zurich and its confederates. But through friendly mediation a conflict was as yet avoided. The Catholic cantons had to give up their league with Austria end to grant that in the common territory the majority of a community should decide on their religious status.
But the five cantons, displeased at this turn of affairs, resolved to use force to retain their power. Failing on Zurich while this was unprepared, they defeated a small force that opposed them in the battle of Cappel, where Zwingli fell. Though Zurich and Berne, with their allies, soon brought greatly superior forces into the field, their former defeat, the death of Zwingli, their jealousies, and lack of harmony paralyzed their efforts, and they made a peace in which they gave up a great part of the territory that had already been gained for the Reformation. Toggenburg, Rapperschwyl, Gaster, and Wesen, the governments in the Aargau, also Bremgarten and Mellingen, were by force brought back to the Catholic religion. In Glarus, St. Gallen, and Solothurn the Reformation was checked, the Catholics regained their ascendancy, and the Evangelicals were in part forced to emigrate. Thus the Protestant movement, which threatened to overspread all the land, was restricted within certain bounds and Catholicism in part restored, and the parties were limited to those boundaries that have since remained unchanged in German Switzerland. The Reformation nevertheless continued to extend in Geneva, the Vaud, and Neuchatel, where the French language and French influences were dominant.
Calvin and Geneva.
WHILE the Reformation was progressing in Germany and in German Switzerland, an awakening was also taking place in France which brought to Protestantism a new genius of thought that extended itself under the name of the Reformed Church, or of Calvinism, in France and into French Switzerland, into Holland, South-western Germany, and Scotland, and which in England found reception among those first styled Presbyterians, afterward Puritans, and who later on became prevalent in New England and in other parts of the United States as Presbyterians and Congregrationalists.
In its origin in France the movement was essentially Lutheran and was at first so called by its antagonists, but as it came in contact with Zwinglian Protestantism it inclined to this, and was at last formulated more clearly by the labors of Calvin and his associates and followers.
The movements in Germany found their first echoes in diagonally opposite parts of France. Picardy in the northeast, and Navarre in the southwest, first received the new light, which, as is usual in France, soon found its way to the Capital. The Swiss reformer, Vollmar, and the Frenchmen, Roussel, Lefvre, and others, preached already in the year 1523 in Navarre and founded Lutheran Churches there under the protection of Margaret, the sister of Francis I, the King of France.
While these men worked chiefly among the common people, who heard them gladly, Queen Margaret of Navarre, thee in Paris, was equally zealous in introducing advanced ideas among the nobles in that city. The first progress thus made was cautions and secret, and though it met antagonists here and there, the favor of the Queen was sufficient for the protection of the new faith and it found friends few, indeed, as yet, but still scattered in every direction.
Numerous refugees fled at the breaking out of the persecution to the Netherlands, Alsatia, Switzerland, and even Northern Italy; others followed later, as they came to see that a free reading of the Word and independent worship could not be obtained in France. Among these latter was Calvin, the central figure of French Protestantism. Born at Noyon in the Picardy, in the year 1509, he had studied theology in Paris at the College of the Sorbonne. But as doubts of the orthodoxy of the Romish Church were awakened in his mind by his uncle Olivetau, he determined to devote himself to the study of law, which he pursued at Orleans and afterward at Bourges. Having been fully converted by Olivetau and Vollmar, he resigned the ecclesiastical benefits secured to him by his father. In consequence he was one of the suspected persons when the persecution began. Though he was for the time saved by the protection of Margaret of Navarre, he found it best to withdraw in the year 1536 to Basel.
In the same year he visited Ferrara and was hospitably received by the Duchess Rene, the cousin of Margaret of Navarre, but had to flee on account of the opposition of the priests. His return to France showed him that it was not safe for him to stay there. On his way back to Basel Calvin was stopped at Geneva by Farel, who persuaded him that it was His duty to assist in confirming that city in the Reformation, for which it had been gained by the labors of Farel, Froment, Alexander, and Viret. Through the ministry of these zealous men, laboring incessantly in conversations and preachings in private houses, the Reformation had gained a continual increase of adherents. The first growth had been facilitated by the intrigues of Pierre de la Baum, the Prince-Bishop of Geneva, and the Duke of Savoy. That party among the citizens, which resisted the encroachments of the Bishop and of the Catholic Prince of Savoy on their vested rights, were in a freer state to receive the doctrines brought by the reformed preachers. The public discussions in which the reformers attacked and the priests defended the Roman abuses and superstitions, turned out in favor of the reformers. Berne, which had supported Geneva against its enemies, vigorously upheld the reformed preachers, and Catholic Geneva thus step by step accepted the reformed doctrines. The ignorant Catholic populace and their leaders gave, however, only an unwilling assent, but the less numerous but more energetic reformed party having gained possession of the government, destroyed the images and paintings and all the paraphernalia of Catholic worship.
With Calvin a new spirit entered Geneva. More learning, but at the same time a more bigoted spirit of intolerance, began to prevail. Calvin entered the city in September of the year 1536, in an unassuming manner, as an assistant of Farel. Refusing any appointment as Pastor or Preacher, he began his work as a Reader in the Holy Scriptures at Geneva, or, as he styles himself, Professor of Sacred Literature in the Genevese Church. His lectures were not delivered in a house or hall, but in the great Cathedral of St. Peter, forming, in fact, an afternoon service, in which the Epistles especially were expounded. These lectures, having been recast, form his Commentaries on the New Testament, published at a later period. In the month following Calvins arrival at Geneva a great religious disputation was held in Lausanne to further the reformation of the Vaudois. Calvin attended in company with Farel, and here for the first time entered into a public discussion.
One of the disorderly features in Geneva was the lack of individual freedom. This is shown by the fact that the Council of the city undertook to manage not only civil government, but also to rule in ecclesiastical matters. Scarcely had the Protestants gained the upper hand than they passed an ordinance compelling all to attend the preaching of the reformers. This encroachment on individual freedom existed already under Farels ministration, for the above ordinance was passed in July, 1536; but after Calvins arrival the intolerant spirit steadily increased, and especially when at the close of the year he accepted the office of pastor and thus attained to increased influence. Calvin and Farel, in January, 1537, submitted a memoir in which they suggested to the Council of the City the desirableness of excluding from the Holy Supper all who led evil lives, and all who were opposed to the reformed religion.
Thus the liberty of conscience, and that spirit of toleration which allows others to differ in opinion if they will only not make disturbance, was infringed upon and violated. In accordance with this proposition the tithing men visited all the tithings and proposed to them the articles respecting faith.
It was not enough for Calvin that the document should be officially recognized by the Council as an expression of the faith of the Genevese, a course which had been deemed satisfactory in other places. He demanded that each individual should accept it.---History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin, by J. H. Merle dAubigne, Vol. VI, p. 292.
On Sunday, July 29th, 1537, the tithings appeared before the Council in the Cathedral and swore the oath of fidelity and obedience. But many of the most patriotic citizens had not presented themselves at the Cathedral; nor did all those who had presented themselves really receive and accept the confession. Calvin urged on the Council the necessity of the conformity, of all, and November 12th was appointed as the clay on which those citizens who had abstained oil July 29th, should be called upon to swear to the evangelical confession. But there were not many who responded. Especially was it remarked that of the German Swiss in the Rue des Allemands, who had most distinguished themselves in defending the liberties of the city, not one came. What chiefly repelled these so-called Huguenots, was the fact that an act was commanded which they knew they were free to do or not to do. They were determined not to bend under the yoke. After having dared all kinds of hardship for the sake of winning their freedom, they did not intend that when they had gained it in the State it should be snatched away from them in the Church. These men were among the most influential persons in the city. But the syndics and their Council were not more disposed to give way than their adversaries. They decreed that those who will not take the oath to the Reformation must go and dwell in some other place, where they may live according to their fancy.
Thus, under the lead of Calvin, was committed by the reformed party the great crime of sentencing to exile for their independence many of the most excellent citizens of Geneva. But Calvin had over-calculated his power. Those who loved their independence too well to yield their conscience to the order of the Council were also too independent to yield to what they considered an unjust decree of banishment Dissensions and disturbances increased in the city. On January 3d, 1538, the reformers appeared before the Council with the request that the Council sanction the exclusion of all the disturbers from the Holy Supper, but the syndics and Council had become more timid since the opposition had so plainly developed itself, and determined not to refuse the supper to any one.
The proposal of the reformed preachers would have deprived one-half of the citizens of the opportunity of Communion, as no other Communion but that administered by these preachers was allowed to he given in the city. This proposal was only less outrageous to the feelings of these citizens than the ordinance of the Council which had sentenced the to exile, and they set themselves with all their strength to overturn this despotic government. At the election of February 3d, 1538, the four syndics chosen to take the place of those whose terms had expired were all opposed to the reformers; and the Councils chosen on February 4th and 5th were in great part of the same party. The effect of this complete revolution was soon seen, in that the lower classes, whose customary amusements had been cut off by the reformers, resumed them with an eagerness proportioned to their long-continued forced abstention.
But there were soon to be more definite signs of opposition. The Church in Berne differed in some of its usages from that of Geneva; they had retained the baptisteries, the use of unleavened bread at the Holy Supper, and the celebration of the Christian festivals, all of which had been discarded at Geneva. After a general meeting of the Church at Lausanne, the Bernese, whose rites had been approved at this meeting, called upon the Genevese to conform with the newly sanctioned usages. But Calvin and Farel were not willing to yield; they wished to wait at least till a more general Synod which was shortly to be held. When ordered by the Council to use unleavened bread at the Communion on Easter without waiting for the decision of the Synod at Zurich, the reformed preachers refused and would not consent to administer the Communion at all, giving as a reason the disturbed state of the city, thus cutting off the whole State from the Holy Supper. On this the Council forbade their preaching, and as they disregarded this interdict, the Councils were convened to deliberate on the matter; first the Council of Sixty, then the Council of Two Hundred, and lastly, the General Council of the Citizens. These several authorities one after another declared against the reformed preachers, and sentenced them to leave the city within three days. Thus the sentence which the reformers had pronounced on one-half the citizens five months before, was now at last caused to fall on the heads of the instigators of that outrage. The Councils, indeed, had transgressed in commanding their preachers in a matter that pertained to their office; but the preachers themselves had been the greater sinners in desiring the exile of what now proved the majority of the citizens.
Calvin and Farel, loth to give up their work in Geneva, endeavored to secure their reinstatement, first through the intervention of the Council of Berne, afterward through the intervention of the Synod at Zurich. But the opponents of the reformed preachers were not to be conciliated. Farel, after first keeping Calvin company in Berne and then in Basel, accepted it call to Neuchtel, while Calvin accepted a call to Strasburg.
Here Calvin labored as a pastor among his exiled countrymen; he was also engaged in teaching theology to the students at the university, selecting for exposition the Gospel of St. John and the Epistle to the Romans. Like the other reformers he made the Epistles of Paul the centre of his theology. In his view the Epistle to the Romans was a path to the understanding of the whole Scripture. (DAubigne, Vol. VI, i,. 461.) Here he wrote a small work, On the Supper, which he also sent to Luther, who expressed great pleasure at reading it. Calvin accepted the doctrine of Zwingli, that bread and wine were signs and pledges of the communication of the expiatory virtue of the death of Christ, but added: With good reason the bread is called the body, since it not only represents Christ, but, also presents him to us. (DAubigne, Vol. VI, p. 461.)
Calvin also composed an able letter in answer to Cardinal Sadoleto, who had urged the Genevese to return to the Catholic Church. This letter was widely circulated, both in Geneva and elsewhere, and was admired for its eloquence and power. Sadoleto thought best not to make any reply to it. In August, 1510, Calvin was married to Idelette de Bure, a refugee from Liege, then living in Strasburg.
From his position in Strasburg Calvin was brought into contact not only with the celebrated theologians in that city, Capito, Bucer, Fell, Hedio, and Niger, but also with all the leading theologians in Germany.
In the mean time affairs at Geneva had not prospered. The only successful course that was open to the opponents of the reformed preachers would have been a return to Rome, but this they were neither able nor willing to effect. On the contrary, they made the Catholics who remained in the city give up their worship and attend reformed worship, and they appointed other reformed preachers who continued the work of the Reformation, but with so little skill and power that, especially from the friends of Calvin and Farel, they were met with mockery and contempt. Then the syndics through their incapacity involved the city into conflict with Berne, and were unable to bear up against the universal dissatisfaction, and two years after the expulsion of Calvin, His friends gained again the upper hand in the city.
On his return, Calvin drew up the Ordinances, a scheme for church order and discipline, which, after some amendments by the City Councils, was adopted as the law of the city. By it, the assembly of the ministers and twelve elders elected from the body of the three City Councils by the Little Council, were constituted a Consistory, to have in charge all matters of doctrine and of morality in the city. The times for preaching were multiplied. On Sunday there were sermons at daybreak, again at nine oclock, and at three oclock; and six ill the course, of the week. (DAubigne, History of the Reformation, Vol. VII, p. 74.) The elders served as an inquisitorial board, keeping all the citizens under strict surveillance. They used to be accompanied, says Bonivard, in his Police Ecclsiastique, by the tithing-men from house to house, asking of all the members of the household a reason for their faith. After that, if they think there is ally evil in their house, general or particular, they admonish to repentance. (Ibid., Vol. VII, p. 74.) That this system degenerated into espionage and petty tyranny, even such a friendly partisan as DAubigne is obliged to acknowledge: We cannot deny, however, that the Ordinances were severe, and that men and women were summoned before the Consistory on grounds which now appear very trivial.
Calvin and Servetus.
THE character of Calvin and of Calvinism appears most prominently in their treatment of those differing from Calvins standard in their religious views. As an illustration of this side of Calvins character, as well as on account of the misrepresentation that Servetus has suffered at the hands of the Calvinists, we shall treat of Calvins relations to Servetus at greater length. Servetus was bore at Villanueva, in Spain, about the year 1509. After studying at Saragossa and Toulouse, he for a time was in the service of Quintana, Confessor to Emperor Charles V, and, with his waster, attended the coronation at Bologna and the Diet at Augsburg, in the year 1530. But in 1531 we find him at Basel, disputing, still a youth, with the learned olampadius on the Trinity. In Alsace he printed, when only twenty-two years old, his first work, entitled, Errors with Respect to the Trinity, seven books, by Michael Servetus, alias Revs, from Arragonia, Spain.
This work, and his two Dialogues on the Trinity, printed in 1532, show a remarkable depth of thought and ripeness for a young man, and put him at the head of the reformers as to spiritual intelligence and penetration. The other reformers sought chiefly to modify the Church, while retaining most of the fundamental dogmas of Catholicism, but Servetus, resting on his independent study of the Sacred Scriptures, sought to correct the fundamental dogmas themselves: and to substitute for them doctrines which, though general and comparatively obscure, still closely approach the truth.
His fundamental idea was that God is One and Indivisible, and that the Son and Holy Spirit are but dispensations or dispositions, i. e., manifestations of the One Divine.
God is eternal, one end indivisible, and in Himself inscrutable, but making His being known in and through creation; so that not only in every living, but in every lifeless thing, there is an aspect of the Deity. Before creation was, God was; but neither was He Light, nor Word, nor Spirit, but some other ineffable thing; these--light, Word, Spirit--being were dispensations, modes or expressions of pre-existing Deity.Dialogue I, 4. The Spirit of God is the universal agent; it is in the air we breathe and is the very breath of life; it moves the heavenly bodies, sends out the winds from their quarters, takes up and stores the water in the clouds, and pours it out as rain to fertilize the earth.
Christ is, as it were, the voice of God enunciating to mankind the will of the Universal Father.Ibid., p. 49.
While we find obscurities here and there, we find also glimpses of true doctrine that for that time and for his youthful state are nothing less than wonderful as this on Creation: God created the world of Himself, of His substance, and as essence He essentiates all things.Dialogue II.
Justification by faith, he maintains, comes not by belief in the merits or sufferings of Christ, but by belief in His worth or dignity as Son of God.De. Trin. Err., p. 82.
It is significant as a sign of the darkness of the times that though these works were extensively read and though they caused a great excitement in Protestant Christendom, they were universally rejected as the heresy of heresies, Luther speaks of his book as a fearfully wicked book, but that was perhaps but natural since Servetus had declared in it that Lutherans are ignorant of what justification really means. The mild Bucer, of Strasburg, attacked it from the pulpit, declaring that the writer of such a, book deserved to be disemboweled and torn is pieces. (Calvin and Servetus, p. 43.) colampadius opposed him with great bitterness. Melanchthon seems to have given a great deal of thought at one time to Servetus, as he writes to a friend:
At his first appearance in Paris in 1532 Servetus, as Villenenve, had made the acquaintance of Calvin, then studying in that city, and had become involved in theological arguments with him, and he kept up for a long time afterward a correspondence with him. It seems that despite his devotion to other studies, theology always occupied with him the foremost place. In Charlieu, in the year 1539, being now thirty years old, he thought that, as Jesus was baptized in his thirtieth year, so it was incumbent upon him to follow His example. He urged the same on Calvin in a letter that has been preserved. After his removal to Vienne, his time not being fully occupied with his professional duties, he resumed his literary occupations, and in 1541 he saw through the press a second and revised edition of Ptolemys Geography, and in 1542 a new edition of what purported to be Pagninis Latin version of the Sacred Scriptures, amended by Pagnini himself, but what was in reality a reprint of the revised edition of Novesianus of Cologne. He probably sought by this trick to transfer to the amended version and to his annotations, the sanction which the Popes Adrian VI and Clement VII had given to Pagninis version. In his annotations to the Psalms and Prophets we find the peculiarity that, while he acknowledged their ultimate reference to the LORD, he carefully sought to find out and indicate their relation to the historic characters of the times in which they were written. This work was received unfavorably in Lyons, Madrid, and Rome. At Lyons the book was forbidden, in Madrid it was allowed to be used after expunging the greater part of the annotations, but in Rome it was placed upon the Index prohibitorius.
After completing this work Servetus translated several Catholic works into Spanish for Frelon, a publisher of Lyons and a personal friend of Calvin, through whom also some of the correspondence between Servetus and Calvin passed. This correspondence, especially that of a later date, proved in the end fatal to Servetus, for Calvin, jealous of his authority and extremely sensitive to everything savoring of disrespect, would naturally resent the familiar address and lack of deference appearing in them, not to mention the disparaging and unseemly epithets with which Servetus at times pelted the irritable reformer and his irrational dogmas, especially in his later epistles. To put an end to this unsatisfactory correspondence, Calvin referred Servetus to his great work, the Institutiones Religionis Christianae, a copy of which he forwarded him. But Servetus sent back the work profusely annotated on the margin with passages from the Sacred Scriptures and from the Fathers in opposition to the tenets there advanced. Calvin, in speaking of this work to a friend, writes: There is hardly a page that is not defiled with his vomit. This was in Calvins eyes the crowning piece of infamy, and seemed to stir up that implacable hatred which would be satisfied by nothing but the torments and death of his adversary. About this time Calvin wrote to Farel the letter, still preserved, in which he says: Servetus lately wrote to me and sent with his letters a great volume of his ravings, saying that I would see there things stupendous and unheard of till now. He offers to come here if I approve, but I will not pledge my faith to him. For should he come, if my authority avails, I should never suffer him to go away alive. The original of this letter is still extant in the Paris Library (see Servetus and Calvin, p. 168).
Servetus, who had probably preserved a copy of the book, endeavored to get it printed first in Basel, and, on its being refused there, he, by a princely remuneration, induced Arnoullet, a publisher of Vienne, to have it printed in secret for him in Vienne in 1553. The books were baled up to be sent in bulk to Italy and Germany, and all but four or five seem to have been destroyed by the vigilant care of Calvin, and of these copies only two have come down to us. Calvin seems to have had for Servetus the irresistible attraction which the light has for the moth, and, despite the rebuffs he had received from Calvin, the first copy sent out after its publication appears to have been forwarded to him, thus giving Calvin an opportunity to at once compass the destruction of author and book.
The title-page of the book was, of course, Latin, as the whole of the work, but instead of the name of author or printer, it had a Hebrew and a Greek inscription, the former being taken from the book of Daniel: At that time shall Michael stand up, the prince, Dan. Xii, 1, and the later from the Apocalypse: And there was war in heaven, Rev. xii, 7.
The acknowledgment of God in Christ appears most vivid in his invocation prefixed to the Christianismi Restitutio, which is as follows:
O Christ Jesus, Son of God, Thou who wast given us from heaven, Thou who in Thyself makest Deity visibly manifest, I, Thy servant, now proclaim Thee, that so great a manifestation may be made known to all. Grant then to Thy petitioner Thy good Spirit and Thy effectual Speech; guide Thou his mind and his pen, that he may worthily declare the glory of Thy Divinity, and give pious utterance to the true faith concerning Thee.
The Logos--Divine Word, Divine Wisdom, God Himself, in factit is that is revealed or manifested in Creation, as in the fullness of time it also became incarnate in Christ, for, even as before Creation the world existed ideally in God, so before the incarnation was Christ potentially present in the Divine mind as the Divine word, in the same way us the future plant is extant in the seed. From the beginning, therefore, it was a virtual or potential Son, not any actual co-eternal Son, who existed beside the Father, the Son first acquiring, form and substance in the womb of the Virgin Mary and being made participant of the Holy Spirit at the moment of His birth when He began to breathe.Servetus and Calvin, p. 200.
At times it would seem that the unity of God after the birth of Christ was obscured with Servetus, as where he says: As the Father is true God, so, in bestowing His Godhead on His: only Son, did He cause it to be that the Son should be true God. But he elsewhere seems to plainly see God in Christ, as in the following: No one knows God who is ignorant of the mode in which He has willed to manifest Himself to us, plainly exposed though it be in the sacred oracles. These, however, the Sophists do not believe, because they will not see God in Christ. (Christianismi Restitutio, p. 111.) In the Word made flesh, in the face of Jesus Christ it is that we see the Light--God Himself--shining upon us. In thinking of the engenderment of Christ, and His appearance on earth, the veil of any intervening time is to the rejected; Christ being to be conceived of as having been eternally engendered in the mind of God, but only begotten of his substance in time in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The man Christ is therefore, and because of this, fitly spoken of as the Son of God, begotten before all worlds, substantially visible before Creation and possessed of eternal substance (Ibid., p. 56, 57, see Servetus and Calvin, pp. 203-4).
As to the connection of God and His Creation he declares: It is God who gives its esse or essential being to every existing thing--to inanimate creation, to living creatures in general, and to man in especial. (Servetus and Calvin, p. 205.) As to the relation of the Word and the Holy Spirit he says:
As the essence of God is the Word in so far as manifestation is made in the world, so, and in so far as communication is made, it is Spirit, manifestation and communication, however, being ever co-ordinate and conjoined. It is spirit that is the archetype, eternally present in God, from whom it proceeds.Christ. Rest., p. 163.
It is somewhat peculiar to Servetus that he illustrates his theology by constant reference to anatomy, and quite unexpected it is to find in his work, published in 1553, a description of the circulation of the blood from the heart to the lungs, and of its purification in the lungs and its return to the heart. It may also be interesting to the student of Swedenborgs scientific works to know that Servetus recognizes a trine in the blood, namely, a natural spirit, primarily associated with the blood and communicated from the arteries to the veins by their anastomoses, the vital spirit, whose seat is the heart and arteries, and the animal spirit, comparable to a ray of light, and having its home in the brain and nerves. (See Servetus and Calvin, pp. 206-211.) In the light of these discoveries we are not astonished that Dr. Willis sees in him the Physiological Genius of his times. (Servetus and Calvin, p. 213.)
Faith with Servetus is belief in the man Jesus Christ as the Son of God. (Christ. Rest., pp. 297-300.) The end of the whole New Testament is to lead men to such a belief, whereby they are reconciled and made acceptable to God, conceive a detestation for sin, and become exemplars end exponents of the Christian virtuesLove, Hope, and Charity.
To Baptism he attributed a great importance as a preliminary to Regeneration, but he had no idea of allowing that unbaptized children are lost, for, says he, the little children whom Christ blessed were not baptized. How should the most clement and merciful LORD condemn those who had never sinned? (Ibid., 218.)
In his opposition to Romish usurpations he is equally outspoken with the reformers: He attacks the Papacy in terms of measureless reprobation, likening the Pope to the Antichrist of the Apocalypse, calling him the son of perdition, and speaking of his dominion as the reign of Gods opposite on earth. (Ibid., p. 220.) Though not opposed to the celibate life, which he himself had chosen, he is most vehemently opposed to all monastic vows, and more especially does he abhor the mendicant friars, whom he likens to locusts. The locust, be says, has by nature a sort of monks cowl; add to this a wallet, and you have a begging friar complete; in other words, a hooded devil. (Ibid., p. 220.)
With respect to the Holy Supper, Ire was opposed as well to the materialistic transubstantiation of the Catholics as to the merely memorial and significative conception of the Calvinists and the rigid literalism of Luther, but he evidently believed that the body and blood of Christ were really partaken of in the Christian Communion. (Ibid., p. 222.) In a letter to Calvin he says: In the Supper we, nourished by immortal food, for a terrestrial have a new celestial life imparted to us, and how should he perish who has once partaken of Christ? (Ibid., p. 189.) Despite of his opposition to the Romish hierarchy, he recognizes fully the function of ministers, and this even to the power of absolving men from their sins and reconciling men to God. Concerning this Dr. Willis remarks: This we can only conclude is said because of what he found in the Sacred Text, no word of which, as me know, would he gainsay. (Ibid., 223.)
To the main body of his work were added thirty of his epistles to Calvin. Among the many interesting things in these epistles, most of which are already set forth in the delineation given above, our space allows us to point out only one in addition, respecting the Church:
Where is now the Church? Ever present in heavenly spirits and the souls of the blest, it fled from the earth as many as one thousand two hundred and sixty years ago.... Invisible among us now, it will again be seen ere long. We with ours, the congregation of Christ, will be the Church. Toward the restoration of this Church it is that I labor incessantly, and it is because I mix myself up with the battle of Michael and the Angels, and seek to have all the pious on my side, that you are displeased with me. As the good angels did battle in heaven against the Dragon, so do other angels now contend against the papacy on earth.--Epistle XX to Calvin. Servetus and Calvin, p. 180.
The twelve hundred and sixty years of Servetus would bring the overthrow of the truly Christian Church to the year 297, while the Writings give 325 as the exact date, a remarkably close agreement, and Servetus was the only reformer, so far as we know, who had the penetration to see this long-continued decay of the Church. Michael Servetus seems to have thought that he was the Michael on earth who should co-operate with the Michael of heaven. (See Servetus and Calvin, p. 182.)
The Epistles to Calvin are followed by Sixty Signs of the Reign of Antichrist, and of his Presence Among Us, and to this is added an address to Melanchthon and his colleagues on the Mystery of the Trinity and the Discipline of the Ancient Church, in which he handles the prevailing opinions and doctrines of Catholics and of Protestants with an equally severe and impartial hand.
The position of Servetus is singular and unique. With the exception of some minor and unimportant errors, as, e.g.; his belief in the revolt of angels and his rejection of infant baptism, he represents quite fully as to his general teaching the Heavenly Doctrines of the New Jerusalem, viz.: God in Christ, and the conjunction of Faith and Charity; and with the exceptions mentioned above, the doctrines taught by Servetus are in general agreement; with those enunciated in their fullness, and with innumerable particulars, by the LORD at His Second Coming. The attitude of the reformers with respect to the truths he taught, therefore, really shows to us their attitude toward heavenly truth and their receptivity; or rather non-receptivity, of it. Nothing really so defines and proves the spiritual state of men as their treatment of the truth when revealed. The Jews crucified the Word become flesh, the Divine Truth incorporate, and thereby showed that they were the willing instruments and fellow-workers of the evil spirits of hell. Servetus, who came to bear witness of the divinity of the LORD, met a similar fate at the hands of Calvin, and the other reformers stood by and said, Well done!
The instrumentality of Calvin is now revealed, and we have documentary proof of it, which, with all who do not shut their eyes to it, puts the matter in the open daylight.
When Calvin received and read the Restoration of Christianity, he seems at once to have made up his mind to denounce Servetus as a heretic and a blasphemer, one who equally opposed Catholicism and Protestantism. There was at that time living at Geneva a native of Lyons, a convert from the Romish to the Calvinistic faith, William Trie by name, well known to Calvin. A relative in Lyons, Arneys by name, frequently reproached Trie and endeavored to bring him back to Catholicism. He had consulted with Calvin, and had been aided by him in framing his replies.
In all that concerns the faith, he yet begs to say that he submits himself entirely to his holy mother, the Church, from whose teachings he has never wished to swerve. If there be some things in the papers before the Court open to objection, he must have written them inconsiderately, or only advanced them as subjects for discussion.Servetus and Calvin, p. 255.
After two meetings of the inquisitorial board, while the Inquisitor had little doubt of securing his conviction, Servetus disappeared, evidently not without the connivance of some of the more humane of his judges. Servetus, as other prisoners of position, was allowed for exercise and other purposes to go into the garden attached to the jail. Having risen at four oclock on the morning following the second interrogatory, Servetus, in his morning gown and cap, obtained from the gaoler the key to the garden, and when he saw the coast clear he put off his gown, under which he had concealed his full dress and hat, and leaped from the terrace to the roof of an outhouse, and jumping down thence he gained the open courtyard, whence he passed through the Gate of the Rhone into the country. It was two hours before his escape was noticed, but all pursuit proved vain. We may, in fact, doubt the thoroughness and earnestness of his pursuers, for both the Mayor and Archbishop of Vienne had long been intimate friends of Servetus. Nor did they seem very much enraged, for the gaoler was not dismissed, end Arnoullet was, for the present, set at liberty. On information obtained somewhat later, most probably from Geneva, a private printing establishment of Arnoullet was discovered, as also the hooks stored in Lyons; and Servetus, having escaped, was ordered to be burned in effigy, with his books. Arnoullet was imprisoned, as also a priest who hall served as a messenger between Servetus and the bookseller in Lyons.
Servetus, in the meanwhile, having escaped on April 7th, 1553, first sought refuge with his friends in Lyons, but not deeming this safe enough, endeavored to reach Spain, but finding the gendarmery in his way, he concluded to go to Naples through Switzerland, and reached Geneva in the middle of July. Being on Protestant ground, he no doubt thought that he was safe if he should keep quiet during the few days he desired to rest. Entering the city on foot, and lodging at an obscure inn near the lake, he stayed there till the middle of August. It is probable that His presence was known to some of the opponents of Calvin, and that he was encouraged to remain by promises of their protection. But venturing out to church in the evening of the 13th of August, he was recognized and denounced to Calvin, who at once caused a warrant to be issued and had him thrown into jail. The time of Servetus arrival was a time of bitter conflict in Geneva between the liberal faction, who had become restive under the tyrannous oppression of Calvin, and his Consistory. The Greater Council at this time contained many of his enemies, and, despite the violent protests of Calvin, had excluded the ministers from its sessions and deprived the Consistory of their much-abused power of excommunication, which had been transferred to the Minor Council of State. Calvin had easily secured the warrant for Servetus imprisonment; but, in order to keep him there, articles of impeachment had to be handed in to the Lieutenant of Criminal Process within twenty-four hours, and the prosecutor had to hind himself to prosecute the suit to conclusion; he had to go to prison as well as the accused, and engage, if his charges were not made good, to undergo the penalty which would have fallen on the accused.
Thus the prosecution was inaugurated, and Servetus made answer in particulars to all the charges of heresy brought against him. The fact that there was a prima facie evidence of the criminality of the prisoner was certified by the Lieutenant Criminel to the Syndics and Grand Council, before whom the cause was thereafter Conducted. It was here on the 16ith of August that Berthelier, the chief opponent of Calvin, and thence a friend of Servetus, showed his favor to him by a violent charge on Colladon, who appeared as counsel for De la Fontaine. It was this action which caused Calvin in the afternoon to appear personally before the Council, demanding to be heard. The temper of the judges was evidently moderate and conciliating, for they advised Calvin to visit Servetus and to show him his errors, and thus assist him; and accordingly we find Calvin, later on, with the other ministers of Geneva, calling upon Servetus, without, however, changing his convictions. On the 17th of August Calvin appeared against Servetus, and the other ministers also appeared to convict the prisoner of his errors. The contest was acrimonious and bitter, and Calvin did not fail to bring out all the views of Servetus, which were most antagonistic to those held in Geneva, and thus to present him in the most unfavorable light to the Council.
At this point Nicolas de la Fontaine: who had been already liberated from jail by the bail of Calvins; brother Anthony, was at his petition discharged from further liabilities, and the prosecution was handed over to Claude Rigot, the Attorney-General of Geneva.
Rigot, the Attorney-General of Geneva, evidently without the direction of Calvin, in his accusation of Servetus, turned chiefly to his private character, charging him with disturbing society through immoral teachings end a dissolute life. It was easy for Servetus to prove his innocence of all such charges, and in turn he sent in a petition in which he asked to be relieved of the criminal charge, as it had been shown to have no foundation.
This sentence was not communicated to Servetus until the next morning, end seems to have come to him totally unprepared. Be had, indeed, fully realized the unrelenting hatred and vindictiveness of Calvin, but, conscious of his innocence, he had thought his life safe in a Protestant stronghold, especially as the leading liberals had ever assured him in private of their sympathy and support. Dumbfounded at the sentence, he groaned and sighed aloud as if his heart would burst, and when he recovered speech at length, it was only to rave like one demented, to strike his breast, and cry in his native Spanish, Misericordia! Misericordia! (Servetus and Calvin, p. 476.)
As he recovered his self-possession, he grew more calm, and requested an interview with Calvin; but this was not; to recant or to retract, nor to ask for the intercession of his implacable foe, but simply to ask his pardon for not having treated him With all the respect due to a theological opponent.
From the porch of the Hotel de Ville, where the sentence was pronounced, the solemn line proceeded to the place of execution, Servetus being attended by Farel, the familiar friend of Calvin, who in vain endeavored to move Servetus to a recantation. When the torch was applied, one shriek of anguish was heard, but though the green wood provided burnt slowly, for the rest he was bravely silent for the long half-hour which elapsed before he ceased to show signs of life. Immediately before giving up the ghost, with a last expiring effort, he cried aloud: Jesu, Thou Son of the eternal God, have compassion upon me! (Ibid., p. 487.)
The thirst for blood on the part of Calvin and his Consistory was not yet satisfied, for only three days after the execution of Servetus, they brought forward an indictment against Geroult, Arnoullets foreman, under whom the book of Servetus had been printed, and who had taken refuge in Geneva. But the public conscience had at last been aroused, and the Council, refusing to again soil their hands with judicial murder, quashed the indictment. The fortitude shown by Servetus had left the belief with many of the citizens that no one could thus undergo torments unless supported by God.
The followers of Calvin in later days have endeavored to minimize Calvins accountability for the execution of Servetus. DAubigne in his History of the Reformation in the time of Calvin, makes a point of the fact that there is not a, word [in the records of the Consistory] about the trial of Servetus in 1545. It would have been strange if there had been, since the trial did not take place before 1553. Other biographers of Calvin find it best to pass over this incident very cursorily, lamenting it as the fault of the age in which he lived. It is to be remarked, however, that nowhere else, even in that age, did Protestant ministers stain their hands with the blood of innocent men, who differed from them in religious views. This would seem to show that it was the quality of the doctrines, and of the man who proclaimed these doctrines in Geneva, as also the fact of the undisputed sway of Calvinism in this city, which were the causes of this judicial, cold-blooded murder.
With the new light that has lately been thrown on Calvins character and actions, it is easy to understand what the Writings say of him, and of his final lot, namely: that though he was for some time in a society of the imaginary heaven, yet still he was at last rejected below. We read of him in the True Christian Religion:
Whenever he quoted the Word, he did it for the sake of the common people, that they might favor him with their assent.T. C. R. 798.
Also that at last there was read before him the doctrine of the Calvinists, as presented in the Formul Concordi, concerning the Worship of the LORD, and concerning Predestination, as follows:
That it is damnable idolatry if the trust and faith of the heart be placed in Christ, not only as to His divine, but also as to His human nature, and the honor of adoration be directed to both. And concerning predestination this: That Christ did not die for all men, but for the elect. That God created the greatest part of men for eternal damnation, and is unwilling that the greatest part should be converted and live. That the elect and regenerate cannot lose faith and the Holy Spirit, although they should commit great crimes and sins of every kind. But that those who are not elected are necessarily damned, and cannot attain to salvation, although they should be baptized a thousand times, and come tot he Eucharist every day, and, besides, lead as holy and blameless lives as ever can be done. Pp. 837, 838 of the Leipsic edition, published in the year 1756.) After reading the above, he was asked whether the things which are written in that book were from his doctrine or not, and he replied that they were, but that he did not remember whether those very words flowed from his pen, although they did from His mouth. On hearing this all the servants of the LORD retired from him, and he hastily betook himself to the way leading to a cave, where those were who had confirmed in themselves the execrable dogma of predestination.... Those that are imprisoned there are forced to labor for victuals, and are all enemies to one another; every one seeks a cause of doing evil to another, and they also do evil whenever they find any slight cause, and this is the delight of their life.T. C. R. 708.
The Reformation in England under Henry VIII.Scotland.
THE Reformation in England proceeded on lines somewhat different from its advance in Germany and Switzerland. The religious reformers did not, in England, form the central controlling figures as Luther did in Germany, and as Zwingli and Calvin did in Switzerland. Archbishop Cranmer, Bishop Latimer, and Cromwell, while Chancellor, were important factors in advancing the English Reformation, but Henry VIII himself controlled it, and he checked or forwarded its movements as it might agree with his matrimonial and political relations. As David Hume correctly observes:--
Henry VIII, by being able to retain the nation in such a delicate medium, displayed the utmost power of an imperious despotism of which any history furnishes an example. To change the religion of a country, even when seconded by a party, is one of the most perilous enterprises which any sovereign call attempt, and often proves the most destructive to royal authority. But Henry was able to set the political machine in that furious movement, and yet regulate and even stop its career. He could say to it: thus far shalt thou go, and no farther; and he made every vote of his Parliament and Convocation subservient, not only to his interests and passions, but even to his greatest caprices; nay, to his most refined and scholastic subtleties.Humes History of England, ch. XXXI.
There was, indeed, in England, as throughout the whole of Western Christendom, a fermentation going on among the scholars and thinkers in the beginning of the sixteenth century. The Reformation, begun in Germany, therefore found a ready response with the advanced thinkers it the Universities in England, and especially at Cambridge. Some of these, as Tyndal, visited the seat of the new movement at Wittenberg, and endeavored to spread the Reformation also in their own country.
But they had to act cautiously and in secret, for Henry VIII was bitterly opposed to the spirit of the Reformation, and had, in 1521, written a book in answer to Luthers Babylonish Captivity; this reply had found favor in Rome and had earned him the title of Defender of the Faith. This step both showed the tendency of the King and confirmed him in the Catholic dogmas.
The King was thus in earnest league with Rome against the Reformation; but His personal interests soon after caused a lukewarmness to come over this relation. Henry VIII desired to be divorced from his wife, Catherine of Arragon, the aunt of Emperor Charles V. Pope Clement VII was, however, unwilling to offend the great Emperor, in whose power he was at the time. The Popes refusal to grant Henrys request was the first cause of the breach between England and Rome. On receiving the refusal, Henry appealed to the universities of Christendom to decide whether it was within the Popes prerogative to grant any one a dispensation to marry his brothers widow. An objection had been made to the validity of his marriage, and this was the chief reason given why Henry desired another wife, though the additional reason was adduced that he had no living male offspring from Catherine.
When Henry, at last despite the opposition of Pope and Emperor, married Anne Boleyn, he appealed from the impending excommunication to that usual refuge of the opponents of the Popesa General Council of the Church. To further secure himself against the assault from the Pope, Henry caused the clergy of England in their Convocation of 1531 to recognize the King of England as the head of the Church; this action was also ratified by Parliament in 1533. Nevertheless, the King did not on that account given up the Popish dogmas. The reformer Latimer, indeed, was made one of His chaplains, and was allowed considerable latitude in his preaching, but at the same time Bilney, Bayfield, Tewkesbury, Bainham, and Fryth were burned for preaching the reformed faith and for circulating the New Testament. But when, in 1534, the separation of England from Rome became a fixed fact and the Catholics were compelled to renounce their allegiance to the Pope, those that refused were in their turn made to feel the tyrannical and bloody hand of the King.
Still, Henry entered into communication with the Protestant princes of Germany. His first advances, which were made rather as a threat to the Catholic princes than as a serious political measure, were promptly rejected; but later, when Henry feared a confederation of all Catholic Europe against England and sent commissioners in good earnest, his advances were met in a more friendly spirit. The Protestants, however, as well as the Catholics, were shocked by the cruel execution of More and Fisher, and it was at last, not from any confidence in Henry, but only through reasons of policy, that they, on the 25th of December, 1535, entered into a treaty with him.
About this time Henry, through his Chancellor, Cromwell, who thence was called the Hammer of the Monks, instituted a visitation of the convents of his realm with a view to their reformation, or, as others supposed, with the purpose of seizing them for the crown. The commissioners found the monasteries, especially the smaller ones, steeped in drunkenness, sensuality, and all manner of iniquity, only few honorable exceptions being met with.
The Queen, Anne Boleyn, was in the minds of many identified with the reformatory movements, for she was an earnest friend of the Reformation. But being accused of infidelity to her marriage vows, she was condemned by the servile nobles who formed the jury of peers. As Hume observes:
Trials were mere formalities during this reign.Hume, ch. XXXI:
Though doubtlessly innocent, Anne Boleyn was beheaded at the Tower on the 18th of May, 1536. And thus,
The King made the most effectual apology for her by marrying Jane Seymour the very day after her [Queen Annes] execution.Hume, ch. XXXI.
The friends of Catholicism felt greatly encouraged by this change, and the Pope renewed his endeavors to win back the English King. Henry in the same year issued a dogmatic paper entitled Articles about Religion, set out by the Convocation, and Published by the Kings Authority, in which he sanctioned the Romish dogmas of Tradition, Baptismal Regeneration, Auricular Confession, Absolution, the Adoration of Images, Prayers to the Virgin and the Saints, Purgatory, Exorcism, and other Romish ceremonies, thus accepting all the teachings of Rome, except submission to the Popes authority. Archbishop Cranmer, the great support of the Reformation, during this retrogression of the King, did as he had done before--he yielded to the storm that threatened to prostrate the cause he loved, but he sought to counteract the evil effects of this Romish Confession of Faith, as far as he could, by causing the Convocation to petition the King to permit his lay subjects to read the Bible in English, and to order a new translation to be made, which petition was granted.
The separation from the Papacy and the secularization of the monasteries was not, however, effected without some commotion. On the excommunication of the King in 1534, the Irish nobles combined in an insurrection, which was only suppressed by great efforts in 1535. In October, 1536, the common people of Lincolnshire, instigated by the monks and priests, rose to the number of twenty thousand, demanding the restoration of the monasteries and the dismissal of heretical bishops. But being without organization and efficient leaders, the insurrection was soon quelled end the rebels dispersed. A more dangerous insurrection immediately followed in Yorkshire. The leader was a lawyer, Robert Aske, who was supported by the Lords Darcy, Latimer, Lumley, Scrope, Conyers, the Earl of Westmoreland, and the heads of nearly all the great families of the North, and some thirty thousand well-armed men, who moved southward to restore the supremacy of the Pope. But being met on the part of the King by the Catholic Lords, Norfolk, Shrewsbury, Exeter, Rutland, Huntingdon, Talbot, and others, they, in the end, contented themselves with laying their demands and grievances before the King. As the regard was not paid to them, which they had expected, there arose new outbreaks in various parts of the North. But on this occasion the Kings forces were ready for them. The new leaders being without skill or following, the risings were crushed before they gained any headway. The leaders were hanged, and Lords Darcy and Sussey, together with sake, though they had taken no part in the new rising, together with a number of abbots, priors, and priests, were executed in different places. (See Froude, ch. XIII, XIV.)
About this time, on the 6th of October, 1536, Tyndal, who had devoted His life to a careful and conscientious translation of the Bible, having been hunted down by his Papist enemies, was executed at the castle of Vilvorde, in the Netherlands;
When Jane Seymour died, on the 24th of October, 1537, after having given birth to a son, afterward King Edward VI, Henry gravitated back to a league with Emperor Charles, and negotiations were entered into for the marriage of Henry with Christina of Denmark, niece of the Emperor, and in consequence religious changes were again at a discount.
This shrine had a European celebrity, and there was scarcely a princely or a noble family on the Continent some member of which had not at one time or another gone thither on pilgrimage, and whose wealth had not contributed something to the treasure which was now seized for the royal coffers.Froude, Vol. III, ch. XV.
This act was the signal at which the guns of the Roman Catholics, which had long been loading, were discharged. Pope Paul III issued his Bull of Deposition against Henry, Cardinal Pole published his bitterly personal book against the King, which he had been for years preparing, and the Emperor at last for many broke off the marriage negotiations. Al the beginning of 1539 the Emperor recalled his ambassador from London, and laid all English ships in Flanders under arrest. The Irish Earl of Desmond offered to raise Ireland for the Pope, and the Marquis of Exeter, allied with the families Neville and Pole, who, after Henry VIII, had the nearest claim to the throne, intrigued for an insurrection in the South of England.
The hostility of the Catholics drove Henry to another alliance with the German Protestants, and a. party of Lutheran divines, having been invited to England, discussed the terms of their confession with the English bishops, and though they could not agree on the doctrines respecting Purgatory, Episcopal Ordination, and the Marriage of the Clergy, yet a more cordial relationship was established. (See Froude, Vol. III, ch. XV.) Still, to emphasize his orthodoxy and his belief in the real presence of the body of Christ in the sacrament of the altar, Henry had Lambert, an earnest reformer, solemnly tried in his presence, and after his condemnation burned at Smithfield. In agreement with these anti-reformatory proceedings, the King had the Six Articles passed by Parliament, which declared, (1) The real presence, (2) the non-essential nature of wine at communion, (3) that priests should not be married, (4) that vows of chastity were of perpetual obligation, (5) the use of private masses, and (6) the necessity of Auricular Confession, and the most severe pains and penalties were threatened to all who would openly or secretly oppose these articles and their immediate enforcement. Melanchthon sent an animated protest to the King against this barbarous decree. This remonstrance had no immediate result, yet the King (or Cromwell) took care to immediately cool the persecuting ardor of the bishops.
To more fully separate the King from the Catholic power, Cromwell favored the Kings marriage with Anne of Cleves, a Protestant princess. To make this marriage more acceptable to her relatives, they were assured that the persecution on account of the Six Articles had ceased and toleration was being practiced. The negotiations were accordingly concluded, and Anne of Cleves was escorted over to England and met Henry in Rochester on New Years Eve of 1539. But Henry was not at all pleased with her personal appearance, which had been represented to him in colors far brighter than the reality.
The graces of Anne of Cleves were moral only, not intellectual and not personal. She was simple, quiet, modest, sensible, and conscientious, but her beauty existed only in the imagination of the painter.Froude, Vol. III, p. 461.
Henry would, even at this stage of affairs, have gladly drawn back, but, afraid of offending his German allies, the marriage was celebrated on the 6th of January, 1540. Relying on his German alliance, Henry quarreled with the Emperor and opened negotiations with the King of France, but only to find that both France and the German Protestants were unwilling to break with the Emperor. Thus, Cromwell failed, both in the affair of the marriage and in his foreign policy; still, the King showed him favor and created him Earl of Essex.
Having pensioned off Anne of Cleves, Henry married without delay Catherine Howard, the niece of the Duke of Norfolk, the leader of the Catholic party. But she did not occupy her place very long. Being accused and convicted of infidelity, she was executed on February 13th, 1542, and the place thus made vacant was filled by Catherine Parr. But though her inclination was toward Protestantism, the King was not so far swayed by her as not to league himself with the Emperor in his war against France. This had its influence in England to keep back the progress of the Reformation. The enemies of progress, with Bishop Gardiner at their head succeeded in limiting the general permission which had been given for the reading of the Bible. By a law passed in 1543, farm servants, journeymen, apprentices, women, and children were forbidden to read the Bible, and had to content themselves with learning about it from their masters or the heads of their families. (Froude, ch. XXI.) Gardiner also intrigued for the fall of Cranmer, but Henry checked his activity in this direction, though he allowed him to burn three Protestants who were obnoxious to him. Still Dr. London, who had been Gardiners tool in these persecutions, being convicted of perjury, was exposed in the pillory and died in prison.
In 1544 the foundation had been laid of the English Prayer-Book by the publication, by order of the King, of an English litany to be used throughout the kingdom. To this was added in the following year a collection of English prayers, Services for morning and evening, and the Burial Service, and thus the English Prayer-Book approached its completion, though even in its rough draught it was not completed before 1648, and it was only adopted before the beginning of 1549.
In furtherance of Henrys general plan of centralization, and owing also to his need of money, all the properties vested in colleges, hospitals, fraternities, and guilds were at one sweep vested in the Crown those deemed useless were suppressed, while those that were thought useful were refounded on a fresh basis. Nevertheless, though Henry was one of the most tyrannical of English kings, his conflicts with the Pope, who was supported by the clergy and the majority of the peers, had compelled him to rely on the Commons, and the House of Commons had been gradually in his reign invested with powers superior to those they had exercised before. So long as a king of the iron grip of Henry VIII occupied the throne, the Commons, indeed, were satisfied to execute his behests, but when this repression was removed, they used their newly grained powers for the enlargement of civil liberty, arriving thereby at that eminence in free speech and consequent free thought which is described in the Writings, as follows:
With respect to the English nation, the best of them are in the centre of all Christians, because they have interior intellectual light; this does not appear to tiny one in the natural world, but it appears conspicuously in the spiritual world; this light they derive from the liberty of speaking and writing, and thereby of thinking; with others, who are not in such liberty, that light, not having any outlet, is obstructed. That light, indeed, is not active of itself, but is made active by others, especially by men of reputation and authority; as soon as anything is said by them, that light shines forth.--True Christian Religion, 807.
SCOTLAND, from its greeter distance from the centre of Protestantism, and from its more scanty communication with Germany, was reached later by the waves of the Reformation, though in the end it was received in its most radical, Calvinistic form. Wiclifism had, indeed, found a martyr there in the person of Resby, who was burned at Perth in the year 1407, for declaring that title Pope is nothing and Christ is all. The Hussite movement also sent its martyr, Paul Crawar, a Bohemian, who was burnt in 1421 for expounding the Word of God at St. Andrews. Despite these persecutions, the love of the Gospel had spread. So we find John Campbell, the Laird of Cessnock, in 1512, reading the New Testament with his household, and though he was accused: by the monks, he was justified and upheld on his appeal to James IV.
Less successful, in an external sense, was Patrick Hamilton, of the blood royal, who had in his early youth been made Abbot of Ferne. He had studied with distinction in Paris, and had become acquainted with Luthers writings in 1520. In the year 1524 books of Luther and other reformers were brought by ship to Scotland, scattered over the country, and eagerly read.
The martyrdom of Hamilton the cousin of the King, instead of causing terror, produced a more general awakening of interest in the new movement. The bishops, however, encouraged by their success, became more bold and insolent. They even deprived the nobles of their former rights of jurisdiction, and arrogated them to the Church, thus making the nobles hostile to Rome, and, in consequence, friendly to the Reformation.
When David Beton was created Cardinal and Archbishop, the persecutions in Scotland assumed the peculiar aspect that by the confiscation of the goods of the heretics, the exchequers of the King, of the Cardinal, and of their subordinates were filled. This made continued persecution and confiscation a policy acceptable to those who ought to have been impartial judged, and persecution became the unfailing means of supplying their wants. The number of martyrs and of refugees steadily increased; nevertheless, both among the nobles and the commons, the number of those in Scotland who were favorable to the Reformation increased as steadily. Henry VIII endeavored to free James V from the influence of the Popish party, and he was assisted by the Scottish nobles, but the Cardinal succeeded in frustrating all their endeavors, even so far as to make James break his appointment to meet Henry at York in 1542. This at last exhausted the patience of Henry, and he prepared for war. The Scotch prelates, indeed, supported James with money, and he at, first won a slight advantage at Halidon on August 24th, 1524, but the nobles refused to pursue their advantage and to follow the King into England.
The Reformation under the regency of Hamilton, Earl of Arran, could more freely raise its head, Cardinal Beton having been imprisoned in January, 1543. A treaty of peace was made with England, which stipulated that Mary Stuart was to marry Edward, the heir of Henry VII; the reading of the Sacred Scriptures was also to be free to all.
George Wishart, an eloquent reformer, had endeared himself to many by his preaching and his noble charity to friend and foe. He was seized by the Cardinal, and, though the Regent refused his consent, Beton, with other ecclesiastics, tried him for heresy, and Wishart was publicly burnt in 1546. But Betons downfall was at hand. To avenge the murder of Wishart, a few months afterward a conspiracy was formed against the Cardinal, and he was murdered in the fort which he was at that time constructing, and with Beton the active persecution of the reformers came to an end. Among the slayers of Beton was ah intimate friend of Wishart, John Knox, who was to become the chief champion of the Scottish Reformation.
Progress of the Reformation in Germany to the Council of Trent.Scandinavia.
WHILE the Reformation had thus spread into the countries round about Germany, it had not stood still in the place of its origin. Although opposed by an Emperor of the great power centred in Charles V, who, besides occupying the imperial throne, was King of Spain, of Naples, and of the Netherlands, the new movement was nevertheless making continued progress, especially in Northern Germany. This progress was most rapid in the great cities. Magdeburg had early received the Reformation, and to it there were added the leading cities of Brunswick, Goslar, Goettingen, Hamburg, Bostock, Bremen, Lubeck, and others, which severally about this time put an end to Catholicism, and received the Lutheran doctrines and worship.
The Reformation in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway was, as it were, an extension of the Reformation in Germany. The ships of the Hansa cities brought to these northern kingdoms the first tidings of the new movement, and they conveyed to them also the pamphlets and books of the reformers. More than this, John Tausen, the chief reformer of Denmark, and Olaf Petersen, the great apostle of Lutheranism in Sweden, studied under Luther at Wittenberg, and later on, assistants were sent from Wittenberg to help on the work in both places. The Reformation in these countries was therefore from the very beginning essentially Lutheran. It was also similar in this, that the movement was favored and forwarded by the civil authorities, and that the Church was subordinated to the State. In both Norway and Ireland, which were at that time subject to Denmark, the Reformation was essentially a government measure. There was one external difference, however, in these northern countries;
Providence also raised up for the Reformation supports from without Christendom. When the jealousies of, Catholic powers, before mentioned, were insufficient, the LORD made use of the power of the Moslems from without. That the LORD protected the Reformation, and this especially on account of its resuscitation of the Word, we find repeatedly stated in the Writings. Thus we read in the Invitation to the New Church:
The LORD raised up at the same time many men to the attack [on the Catholic Church]. He roused Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and England to reception, and that it [the Reformation] might not be extinguished in Germany by the Pope, He raised up Gustavus Adolphus, who took a stand for the Reformation and resisted.Invit. To the N. C. 24.
As at the later occasion here specified, so also in the time that we are treating of, the hand of the Divine Providence is plainly manifested in the protection vouchsafed to the Reformation whenever it seemed about to be crushed. In the year 1529, Suleiman had ravaged Hungary, and having subjected it, even laid siege to Vienna. The pressure thus brought on Austria had given a respite to Protestantism. The attempt of Ferdinand of Austria, in 1530, to win back Hungary by a treaty with Constantinople failed, and instead of a favorable answer the Sultan threatened to take from him what he yet possessed.
King Ferdinand would, indeed, have preferred to make his peace with the Porte end fall upon the infidels at home, and he sent ambassadors with the most tempting offers to Suleiman, but these found him in April, 1532, already on the march at the head of two hundred and fifty thousand men, surrounded by the highest splendor and pomp, determined to conquer the world.
The Diet opened at Regensburg on the 17th of April, of the same year. The Emperor wished an increase of the number of men voted before--forty thousand infantry and eight thousand cavalry--to sixty thousand men, and offered in that case to put thirty thousand men into the field himself, but the Diet refused the increase. The dependence of the Emperor on the Protestant powers was shown by the fact that when he raised his own force, he had to call on the Protestant cities of Strasburg, Augsburg, Ulm, Nuremberg, Constance, and Frankfurt for cannon and ammunition. The Moslems were well aware of the dissensions among the Christians, and when the ambassadors sent to them spoke of the love and affection of the German people for their Emperor, they were asked whether he had made peace with Martin Luther.
The Protestants were not willing to join in the Turkish war without the promise of the cessation of all proceedings in the Imperial Chancery against Saxony and its allies; the Catholic majority, on the other hand, were equally unwilling to give up this effective weapon; the nearer approach of the Moslems compelled the Emperor in his negotiations with the Protestants which were carried on at Nuremberg, to promise this cessation on his own behalf, and thus to run counter to the majority, who on their side now offered him an opposition to which he had not before been accustomed.
A peculiar result of the stress of the war was that the Pope seriously considered a reconciliation with the Protestants on the basis of the Confession of Augsburg. In the month of April, 1532, he laid this Confession before moderate Catholic theologians in Rome, who found in it some things that were true Catholic doctrine, others that might be explained in consonance therewith, while they thought that an agreement might he reached as to the remainder. The Pope, in consequence, requested the Emperor to reconcile himself by all means to his opponents, for though these were Lutherans, they were still Christians. (See Ranke, Vol. III, p. 207.)
The old Elector; John of Saxony, died just after the favorable conclusion of the negotiations, which brought on a truce between the contending religious parties, but in Elector John Frederic, who succeeded him, the Protestants found an equally enthusiastic head.
Suleiman being delayed by the heroic resistance of Niclas Jurishitz in Hungary, the Emperor gained time to gather an army of some eighty thousand men, the greater part Germans, the rest Spaniards and Italians. Finding such a powerful army before him, Suleiman did not meet it in open battle, but turned into Styria, sending a body of light-armed troops to ravage Austria. These having been defeated and destroyed, he fell back without daring to risk a battle. King Ferdinand desired to improve the occasion for the recovery of Hungary, but the troops of the Empire declared that they had only been collected to defend Germany, and not for the conquest of Hungary; accordingly, after the retreat of Suleiman, they returned home.
The next important event in favor of the Reformation was the restoration of Duke Ulrich to the throne of Wurtemberg. This was effected in the year 1534 by Philip of Hesse with the moneyed assistance of the King of France, and the connivance of the neighboring German princes. The Austrians, being defeated in the battle of Laufeu, were forced to give up this new acquisition. The restoration of the Duke was facilitated by the dissolution of the Swabian Confederation, which had been very hostile to Ulrich, as well as to the Reformation. On his restoration, Ulrich at once commenced the introduction of the new doctrines into his dominions.
But another enemy of the Reformation now approached, not from without, but from within. A new movement in religion is frequently accompanied with one or more pseudo-movements, which, though clothing themselves in its garb, really tend to destroy it. We have seen such a movement under Carlstadt and the Zwickauer enthusiasts in Wittenberg.
All these changes went forward while the Anabaptists were closely besieged. Still, they found time to devote to dogmatic studies. They again developed the idea, that Christ was not born of the Virgin Mary, but that He had assumed His Human miraculously. They also taught that Christ, in the baptism of adults, gave them the power to do His will. Having introduced a communion of goods, they did away with buying and selling, laboring for money, usury, etc. Lastly, they did away with all civil power, teaching that the Kingdom of Christ was then and there to begin by an overthrow of existing governments and by the establishment of Jan Bockelson, also called John of Leyden, on the throne.
On the 14th of August, 1534, the allied forces of the Bishop of Munster, of Cologne, and of Cleves endeavored to storm the city. But the citizens were so well prepared that they drove back the assault with great slaughter, without calling on their reserve. The Bishop had to content himself with surrounding the city with forts and with endeavoring to starve the inhabitants into submission.
In the meantime the Anabaptists, who were found in great numbers, being stirred up by emissaries from Munster, produced more or less commotion in Prussia, Saxony, Moravia, Wurtemberg, Anhalt, Switzerland, and in the cities of Ulm and Strassburg. In the territories of Cologne and Cleves mounted patrols had to pass continually through the country to prevent Anabaptist gatherings. But it was chiefly in the Netherlands, whence many of the Anabaptists of Munster had come, that large gatherings were held in their favor and attempts made to overthrow the constituted authorities.
The revolution in Munster was not the only one resulting from the reformatory efforts. Since the reforms were generally favored by the lower classes and opposed by the higher, they naturally tended, when successful, to give the lower classes a greater influence in the government. But Munster, in Westphalia, and Lubeck, on the Baltic Sea, were the only places where the old Councils were for a time altogether overthrown. The democratic endeavors were in the end everywhere unsuccessful, not only in the peasants insurrection, but also in Munster and in Lubeck.
Though the cause of Protestantism received a set-back through the Anabaptist movement, the Reformation, nevertheless, continued to spread, and the Protestant princes succeeded in gaining immunity from persecution also for the new members who had joined the Union of Schmalkalden, namely, Pomerania, Wurtemberg, and Anhalt and the cities of Hamburg, Hanover, Augsburg, Frankfurt, and Kempten. In 1537 the Pope called a General Council to meet in Mantua, but the German Protestants unanimously refused to submit to what they considered an ex parte judgment, end demanded a free Council to be held in Germany. This refusal, and the threatening power of the Turks, who with their fleets swept the Mediterranean Sea, and on land were preparing to again invade Hungary, caused a postponement of the Council; for the Emperor needed the assistance of the Protestant princes and cities of Germany to drive back the Moslems, and was also in continual apprehension of their leaguing themselves with France.
In April, 1539, Duke George of Saxony, one of the most zealous supporters of Catholicism, died, and his brother, Duke Henry, at once extended the Reformation in his domains, and as the new Elector of Brandenburg, Joachim II, and the other minor princes were also favorable to the Reformation, the whole of Northern Germany, with the exception of Brunswick, was now devoted to the new Faith.
During all this time the Emperor remained on the most friendly footing with his Protestant subjects, as he needed and received their assistance, first in1542 against the Moslems, in Hungary, and in the year 1544 against France. The Catholic Duke of Brunswick, who had in 1542 been defeated by the Protestants as he was making war against the cities of Goslar and Brunswick, renewed the war in 1545, but was again defeated and taken prisoner. Thus the Catholic power was completely waning in the north. The Emperor, who had been compelled to ignore the progress of the Reformation while pressed by France and the Turks, when he saw that it was spreading also in the Netherlands, made a truce with the Turks and the French and turned his attention to meet this internal foe. His first endeavor was to secure some assistance from among the Protestants themselves, for he hesitated to attack them in their united strength. The ambition of Maurice, Duke of Saxony, who desired the sovereignty over the Chapters in Meissen, Merseburg, Magdeburg, and Halberstadt, and the Electoral dignity, gave him an entering-wedge;
The proximate cause of the outbreak of the war was that the Protestant princes and cities refused to be bound by the decisions that should be made by the Council of Trent, and demanded that the Emperor should guarantee them against its decrees, because, as they correctly stated, it was not the impartial and free Council they had asked for, but a Council altogether dominated by the Pope; who was one of the parties interested, and who would thus be made both judge and jury; this Council also was by no means general, being composed chiefly of Spanish and Italian bishops. When the Protestant princes observed the warlike preparations of the Emperor and asked their meaning, they received the answer that he intended to let those who would not obey him feel his power. This plain answer united the Protestants and caused them to assemble their forces in July, 1546; but though first ready, their divided counsels did not avail against the united power of the Emperor. The Catholic army could not, indeed, make any impression on the combined army of the Protestants; but when nuke Maurice of Saxony joined Ferdinand of Austria in attacking the lands of the Elector of Saxony, in November, 1546, the Protestants separated, and the Emperor gained the imperial cities of Heilbronn and Halle, and then also Ulm, Reutlingen, and Esslingen.
But the contest was by no means decided, so long as Elector John Frederic of Saxony and the Margrave of Hesse were in the field. The Elector had on his return to his domains brought with him an army of twenty thousand men, and easily succeeded in driving out the feeble forces of Maurice, and even in suspecting to himself part of the territory of Maurice and of the disputed Chapters. Ferdinand of Austria at the same time found his hands full in Bohemia, where the Protestant cities and nobility rose in insurrection, refusing to move against the Elector of Saxony, their brother in the faith. John Frederic continued his advance and occupied most of the duchy belonging to Maurice. This compelled Charles to come to the assistance of his allies. Advancing with thirty-seven thousand men, he, on the 24th of April, 1547 fell unexpectedly on the Elector, who had scattered his forces, and had only some six thousand men with him. The Emperor crushed the little Saxon army and took John Frederic prisoner. Landgrave Philip, of Hesse, being thus left; alone, was compelled to capitulate. But when, on the 19th of June, he came to Halle to submit himself to the Emperor, he was, in violation of the terms of capitulation, as he understood them, taken prisoner.
Thus Charles V had conquered, and all his enemies had surrendered, and he could now, as he had threatened, make them submit to whatever the Council of Trent might decree. And yet the victory of the Emperor was not as absolute as it seemed. It was modified by the fact that he in great part owed it to the alliance or neutrality of some of the Protestant princes to whom he had made private promises of religious toleration. Then the great cities and Wurtemberg had before their surrender received similar promises, so that though physically victorious, the Emperor was nevertheless bound to moderation and toleration. Another disappointment was that he could not bring the Council of Trent to make any concessions or reforms through which he could hope to win the acquiescence of the Protestants to its decrees.
The Council was presided over and instituted by the Legates of Pope Paul III. In discussing questions, it was so subdivided into congregations as to make any combined opposition to the Popes wishes impossible, and Emperor Charles was thus deprived of all the influence he had hoped to exercise on its deliberations. Notwithstanding that the Constitution of the Council was so favorable to the Roman See, the Pope endeavored to induce Charles to consent to have the Council disbanded or prorogued. Irritated at his refusal and incensed at the private concessions the Emperor had made to the Protestants, Pope Paul, against the Emperors express desire, transferred the Council to Bologna, the minority only, at the request of Charles, remaining in Trent. In consequence of this division, the Emperor refused to recognize the decrees passed at Bologna, and the Council was suspended by a Papal Brief. With repeated adjournments and recalls by successive Popes, it was nut before December 4th, 1563, that the Council concluded its labors.
The reforms and changes wrought by the Council of Trent in the Catholic Church, as well as by the new power of Jesuitism then invoked for its support, the religious wars that followed in Europe, and the further development and changes of doctrine and life in the Protestant countries, up to the Last Judgment in the year 1757, will form the subject of our next number.
NOTES AND REVIEWS.
IN the early part of 1852 there appeared in the New Church Independent four essays upon the opening of the interior degrees of the human spirit, and the descent or the LORD into ultimates.*
* Preface to letters on Spiritual Subjects, etc., by Wm. H. Holcombe, p. v.
These essays were from the pen of Dr. Wm. K. Holcombe. Following these there have appeared successively in the same periodical a great number of Letters on Spiritual Subjects, and more recently the four essays, and forty of the Letters or select parts of them have been published for the author in a medium octave volume of about four hundred pages, by Porter & Coates, of Philadelphia. The contents of these Essays and Letters and kindred papers are so extraordinary, that we feel it due to the readers of Words for the New Church, to notice them briefly in our columns.
It will be impossible to treat the subject-matter of these Essays, Letters, and Papers, without departing from our usual course, and speaking of the principal characters by name, for the claims are of a character so personal that in writing of them the one cannot be separated from the other. But in mentioning persons and commenting upon their principles and claims, we wish our readers to understand that we are as far as possible from a desire to judge of the internal quality or character, or the probable future destiny of any one. These are known to the LORD alone. We are grieved that our friends ire in bad company--the company of evil spirits--and our object is, if possible, to assist them out, and to warn others, and by the power of truth to guard them against falling into the same pit.
The first Essay, which is a key to the right understanding of all the essays and letters that followed it, and of those which continue to be published by the Doctor in the same periodical, commences thus:
OPENING OF THE INTERIORS.
I prayed earnestly to the LORD to illumine my mind in relation to the method of the LORDS Second Coming and the inauguration of a new life in the world. That night I dreamed much about those subjects.
It is a well-known law that the first of a series enters into and qualifies all that follow. In the beginning God created, flows into and gives Divine Character to the whole Sacred Scripture. The blasphemous expression of Ingersol as the opening sentence of his first lecture on The Mistakes of MosesAn honest god is the noblest work of man--is the essential spirit that runs through all his addresses on kindred subjects. The beginning ever runs through and qualifies all to the end.
The Essays and Letters under review are no exception to the operation of this law. Dr. Holcombe has for many years been known in the New Church as professedly a believer in her Doctrines as revealed in the Writings of Swedenborg. These Writings teach from the LORD and very plainly, The method of his Second Coming and the inauguration of a new life in the world. And among other things they teach that
It is conformable to those laws [of the Divine Providence] that there should not be any immediate influx from heaven but mediate through the Word, through doctrines and preachings. (D. P. 259.)
The ninth law of the Divine Providence is That the LORD does not immediately teach man truths, either from Himself or by the angels, but that He teaches mediately by the Word, by preaching, by rending, by discourse, and by communication with others, and thus by thoughts in private from what is taught and that man is then enlightened according to the affection of truth grounded in use; otherwise man would not act as of himself. (Ap. Ex. 1173.)
It is indeed true that--
The Lord flows in into the interiors of the mind of man, and through them into his exteriors; also, into the affection of His will, and through that into the thought of His understanding. (Ap. Ex. 1173.)
But this influx is not an influx of truth or of thoughts giving instruction, but an influx through the affections of the will into the thoughts of the understanding. The thoughts of the understanding must be there as vessels to receive the influx. And these are formed of truths from the Word, preachings, etc.
Man knows nettling at all of what flows in into the interiors of His mind, nor of what flows into the affection of his will. (Ap. Ex. 1173.)
It is provided of the LORD that nothing of troth enters by influx through mans internal, but only through His external. (A. C. 2557.)
The LORD teaches every one by the Word, and He teaches him from those knowledges that are with man, and does not immediately infuse new ones. (T. C. R. 208.)
Pages teaching that truths do not come by influx from within might be quoted. The Writings also declare themselves to be the Second Coming of the LORD, the method of whose coming the Doctor prayed to know.
They shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory (Matthew xxiv, 30). By the Son of Man is meant the LORD as to the Word.... The Doctrine of truth derived from the Word. (Doct. Lord, 19, 22, 25.)
By the coming of the LORD in the clouds of heaven, with power and glory, is meant the presence of the LORD in the Word and Revelation. (S. S. 14.)
It has pleased the LORD now to reveal the spiritual sense of the Word, and to show that the Word in that sense and through that in the natural sense treats of the LORD and of the Church, yea, of them only, with many other things by which the light of truth derived from the Word that was well-nigh extinguished might be restored. (S. S. 112.)
This Second Coming of the LORD is a coming not in person, but in the Word, which is from Him and is Himself. (T. C. R. 776.)
This Second Coming of the LORD is effected by the instrumentality of a man, before whom He manifested Himself in person, and whom He filled with His Spirit, to teach from Him the Doctrines of the New Church by means of the Word. Since the LORD cannot manifest Himself in person [to the world], and yet He foretold that He would come and found a New Church, which is the New Jerusalem, it follows that He will do it by means of a man, who can not only receive the Doctrines of that Church in his understanding, but also make them known by the press. That the LORD manifested Himself before me, His servant, and sent me on this office, and afterward opened the sight of my spirit, and so let me into the Spiritual World, granting me to see the Heavens and the Hells, and also to converse with angels and spirits, and this now for many years, I testify in truth; and further, that from the first day of that call, I have not received anything relating to the Doctrines of that Church from any angel, but from the LORD alone while I was reading the word.
To the end that the LORD might be constantly present, He disclosed to me the spiritual sense of His Word, in which Divine Truth is in its light, and in this light He is continually present, for His presence in the Word is from no other source than by means of the spiritual sense, etc. (T. C. R. 750.)
The Arcana which are revealed in the following pages are such as relate to Heaven and Hell and to the life of man after death.... It is now granted me to describe the Heavens and the Hells from things seen and heard. The reason that such immediate Revelation is made at this day is, because this is what is meant by the Coming of the LORD. (H. H. 1.)
Wherefore Swedenborg says: Upon all my books in the Spiritual World is written THE ADVENT OF THE LORD. The same I also inscribed, by command, upon two copies in Holland. (Eccl. Hist. of the New Church.)
That with pages of such instruction before him, in the Writings, which the Doctor professes to believe, he could pray to the LORD to be illumined in relation to the method of the LORDS Second Coming, and then depend upon perceptions derived from dreams experienced during the night following, for his belief that the secret and solution of the whole matter lay in the opening of the interiors, seems very strange. Earnest prayers to the LORD for grace to look to and understand the Revelations which are that very Second Coming would have seemed to us more sensible.
But the insane desire for an opening of the interiors, and to be instructed by celestial influx which is so gratifying to enthusiastic spirits, because it opens a door by which they can how in and obsess men, has been and continues to be one of the principal sources of heresy in the New Church, and especially of that most seductive form of heresy which others as well as the Doctor have called New-Church Spiritualism, and which has infested the New Church from an early period.
This lusting after instruction from the interior instead of receiving it from the Revelations given to us by the LORD in His Second Coming, is a state of mind which infernal spirits take advantage of to assault the New Church through professed friends. All the hells hate the LORD. They hate, the New Heavens and the New Church. Their supreme effort is to undermine and destroy them. And their insane joy is in proportion to their apparent success.
The Dragonists and Babylonians in the spiritual and natural world have, from the first promulgation of the Heavenly Doctrines, sought to destroy the woman and her man-child. They have sought to do this by open warfare; by casting from their mouth a flood of waters, of false reasonings against her, and they have failed. They have come in the guise of spiritism, and have sought kinship, that, with a Judas-kiss, they might betray. They have sought through professed friends to undermine the Holy City by ascribing to its Doctrines the imperfections of the human instrument through whom they have been revealed. They have sought to sow the seeds of discord among her citizens by crying Charity, charity; peace, peace; while exercising no charity and allowing no peace. While they have excited fermentation and more or less division, they have been unable to destroy. And now they come in a more subtle form of infestation. They put on the garb of the Celestials. Professing in general to accept the Revelations given through Swedenborg, they assume to correct his mistakes by the celestial perceptions of G. W. Christy and others; as set forth in the columns of the Independent in Essays and Letters on Spiritual Subjects, from the ready pen of Dr. Holcombe. They clothe themselves with the garments of heaven, even the truths of the New Church, that they may deceive, if it were possible, the very elect. They fill page after page with honeyed sweetness, with charming thoughts, clothed in beautiful language, but containing within the deadliest poison. Professing to pay the greatest respect to the Writings, and to be in harmony with them, and quoting largely from them, they endeavor to sap their life and destroy their power by assuming that the teachings of W. H. H., who interprets the celestial perceptions of His friend G. W. C., though frequently contrary to the Writings, are a step forward in the progress of the New Church.
If the Foundations be destroyed, what can the just do? Ps. xi, 3. By Foundations are signified doctrinals. The Church is founded upon Doctrine, for doctrine teaches how we are to believe and how we are to live. Ap. Rev. 902.
The Doctrines of the New Church, as we have seen, are revealed by the LORD Himself in the Writings of Swedenborg. And if these can be invalidated, cast aside, the troth of them justly questioned, and the celestial perceptions of some self-constituted teacher set in their place, the foundations are shown to be defective--not rock, but sand--and not to be safely built upon. If any one statement of doctrine or fact in the Writings is not true, is a mistake, is not from the LORD as a part of His Second Coming, then any or all other things in the Writings may be asserted to be mistakes, arising from Swedenborgs imperfections, and may be set aside by some celestial perceptionist who may come hereafter. The tendency of the compositions of Dr. Holcombe and his friends must, therefore, be manifest to all.
The LORD is One. All truth is from the LORD, and, therefore, in its origin is One.
Truths descend from highest to lowest by discrete degrees, Celestial, Spiritual, and Natural, and while infinite in variety and explanatory of one another, are never contradictory. If, then, the perceptions and declared experiences of G. W. Christy, or Chester E. Pond, or T. L. Harris, or any other celestialist, and the reasonings thence of Wm. H. Holcombe, are not in harmony with the Writings or with each other, and more yet if they are opposed to the Writings, or contradict each other, it is an evident proof that such perceptions, experiences, and reasonings are not from heaven but from hell.
Concerning the New Movement, Dr. Holcombe says:
There are now occurring in different centres openings of the interior degrees of life, and from these centres the spiritual life presses powerfully downward to plant itself firmly in externals and mold the externals to its own laws and order. This is the New Life in the New Church, etc. Letter XLIX, in the Independent for November, 1884.
Again he says:
I have repeatedly openly asserted that G. W. C. is a man who has been opened consciously into the celestial degree of life while living in this world. Letters XXXII, Independent, March, 1884.
While it is true that in man there are three degrees of life, natural, spiritual, and celestial, it is also true in the very words of the Writings, that,
So long as man is living in the world he knows nothing of the opening of these degrees in himself, because he is in the ultimate or natural degree.... and communication of the three degrees with each other is effected only by correspondences. D. L. W. 235.
Men cannot be taught by influx from the higher degrees because,
The differences of love, wisdom, and use (in these degrees) are that they have nothing in common by anything of continuity. (Ibid.)
It follows that if any one while living in this world imagines that the interior degrees are opened in him, so that he is conscious of such opening, and thinks that he lives and acts consciously from such an opened interior degree, or that he is instructed by perception therefrom, he is mistaken, is deceived, is the dupe of evil spirits operating into his proprium, exciting self-conceit, sometimes aping excessive humility. That one is consciously operated upon by spirits, hears them speak, or sees them, or that they possess him so far as to write and do other things through him, is no evidence that the interior degrees of even his natural mind are opened, much less the spiritual and celestial degrees. The opening of one or more of the senses of his Spiritual Body so as to be conscious of the presence and operation of spirits may take place with the evil, even the worst of men, as easily as with the good, and has nothing whatever to do with the opening of the interior degrees of the spirit itself. Conversing with spirits and being consciously affected by them, is an indication that man is a spirit or that spirits are men, and that by the operation of certain physiological and psychological laws the closed conditions which prevail with the great majority of men, have in such cases, given place to conditions more or less fully opened,--not opened into Heaven by the opening of the interior or heavenly degrees of the mind or spirit, but opened into the Spiritual World, in which world are the Hells and the World of Spirits as well as the Heavens. That the evil or unregenerate in whom none of the interior degrees of the spirit are opened, may yet have one or more of the senses of their Spiritual Body opened so as to see into the Spiritual World, or hear voices there, is evident from the case of the Israelites at Mount Sinai, as it is written,
The LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, etc. Deut. iv, 12.
And in the Writings,
When the LORD appeared to the whole congregation on Mount Sinai that appearance was a vision which was different with the people from what it was with Aaron, and different with Aaron from what it was with Moses. A. C. 1786.
Here two of the senses of the Spiritual Bodies of Moses, Aaron, and the congregation of Israel were opened, so that they saw the fire and the cloud and the thick darkness, and they heard the voice. (Deut. v. 22, 23.) No one can suppose that Moses, Aaron, and the whole congregation of Israel were celestial or that they had the interiors of their spirits opened. We are taught indeed that they were a stiff-necked and wicked people; and within a month after hearing and seeing this vision, they had made and were worshiping a golden calf.
Swedenborg speaks of Visionaries, and then says:
Enthusiastic spirits are of a similar nature; but they have visions about matters of faith, by which they are so firmly persuaded and persuade others, that they will swear what is false to be true, and what is fallacious to be real. (A. C. 1968.)
When once the barrier is removed, or the door is opened, and spirits become aware that they are with men, and can operate into and upon them, then comes mans terrible danger, for the spirits enter into all his memory, perceive his thoughts, excite his affections, put on any character to suit their purposes, and lead the subject at their will.
It was shown me to the life flow spirits flow in with man: when they come to him they put on all things of his memory, thus all things which the man has learned or imbibed from infancy, and the spirits suppose these things to be their own; thus they act the part of man with man. A. C. 6192
Spirits lie, and are extremely fond of fabricating.... On this account the state of speaking with spirits on this earth is most perilous, unless man be in true faith. They induce so strong a persuasion that it is the LORD Himself who speaks and who commands, that men cannot but believe and obey. (S. D. 1622.
Notwithstanding the deceitful character of spirits, and the extreme peril to the soul of having open intercourse with them, some imagine that New Church men can safely do so because they are in true faith. A true faith is a faith of the life and not of the intellect only, and if any one is in the conceit that he can safely come into open intercourse with spirits because he is a believer in the New Church, he is just the one to be deceived by them. The worst of devils can assume to believe the Heavenly Doctrines, and when by some means one who believes the New Church doctrines, comes into open intercourse with spirits, the spirits will at once put on his states of life as found in his memory and perceived in his affections, and make their dupe believe that he, being in true faith, can not come among evil spirits, that they are good spirits, New Church spirits, and they will even preach to him New Church truths, will fill him with celestial ecstasy, and make him believe that he and others like him are the most advanced of the New Church, and are to be of immense use in opening a more interior degree of life than has heretofore been known.
What has Swedenborgs standpoint to do with this? Did he make the revelation to the New Church? It is not the LORDS revelation made from the Divine standpoint? Where in the Writings is there anything to justify the assumption that the Revelations given by the LORD through Swedenborg, are not for the establishment of a Celestial, as well as a Spiritual and a Natural Church?
Hear the Doctor again:
The Writings of Swedenborg, so far as they unfold the spiritual sense of the Word, and the Doctrines of the New Jerusalem, are of supreme and unimpeachable authority. Letters, p. 352.
How about the Celestial Sense of the commandments, and other portions of the Word which he unfolded? Let us hear the Doctor again:
We may enjoy in future innumerable multiplications of truths and revelations of things never heard or seen by Swedenborg. Letters, p. 352.
Of course, these innumerable new things that are to come to us through Christy, Harris, Pond, Holcombe, etc., will claim to be in thorough and organic harmony with all he has uttered. (Ibid.)--But all these things, and more that we will show further on, only make it manifest that all theories growing out of the perception that one imagines has come to him while in interior states must be, not celestial, but the opposite.
The theory of the conscious opening of the celestial degree of humanity, and the pressing dean of celestial good to be married to the spiritual truths revealed through Swedenborg, involves the total inversion of the true order of the heavenly marriage--makes it necessary that celestial good should press itself down by influx through the interiors and be married to the truths of the degree below.
I am sure we would all better understand the nature of the Coming Church, and indeed of all Churches, if we would study the great law enunciated by Swedenborg as to the heavenly marriage of good and truth, which really constitutes the Church in man. That great truth or law may be thus stated: The conjunction of good and truth, or the heavenly marriage, is not effected between good and truth upon one and the same plane or degree as between natural good and natural truth, etc., but between good and truth of a superior and a lower degree, as spiritual good and natural truth, celestial good and spiritual truth, etc., being ruled and determined by influx. See A. C. 3952-3516, 3098.Letter XX, Independent, Oct., 1883.
There will be a gradual but ever-increasing development of the regenerate life of the Church, a marriage of the spiritual truths of the Word already revealed to us, and the celestial goods which are now descending from heaven. Letter IX, Independent, April, 1883.
We have now arrived at a point in human evolution where a discrete step is to be taken, a new degree opened, etc.... How is this to be effected? By the operation of conjugial affinities existing between spiritual truths and celestial goods, etc. Letter XX, Independent, Oct. 1883.
And in a communication to the New Church Life, in answer to a criticism of his Aphorisms, he says to the editors of that paper:
You forget that the marriage of good and truth--the heavenly marriage--does not take place between good and truth of one and the same degree, but between the inferior of the one and the superior of the other. (A. C. 3952) Thus the natural truths of the Word are married to the spiritual goods of a superior degree, and this produced the spirituality of the first Christian Church. So the spiritual truths of the new Church in us must be married to the celestial goods of the degree above, and that will ultimate the celestial life in the world. N. C. L., Aug., 1883, p. 123.
Now let us see what the number (A. C. 3952), to which the Doctor twice refers and which he pretends to quote, does really say about this marriage:
The heavenly marriage, as was said, is that of good with truth and of truth with good, yet not between good and truth of one and the same degree, but between good and truth of an inferior degree and of a superior, that is, not between the good of the external man and the truth of the same, but between the good of the external man and the truth of the internal, or, what is the same thing, not between the good of the Natural man and the truth thereof, but between the good of the Natural man and the truth of the Spiritual man; it is this conjunction which constitutes a marriage. It is similar with regard to the Internal or Spiritual man between the good and truth of the Spiritual man there subsists no heavenly marriage, but between the good of the Spiritual man and the truth of the Celestial man, for the Celestial man is respectively in a superior degree. Neither does the heavenly marriage subsist between good and truth in the Celestial man, but between the good of the Celestial man and Truth Divine which proceeds from the LORD. Hence, also, it is manifest that the essential Divine Marriage of the LORD does not subsist between Good. Divine and Truth Divine in His Divine Human, but between the Good of the Divine Human and the Divine Itself, that is, between the Son and the Father, for the Good of the LORDS Divine Human is what is called in the Word the Son of God, and the Divine Itself is called the Father. A. C. 3592.
The true doctrine is thus seen to be that the truth of the higher is married to the good of the lower degree; while Dr. Holcombe, perhaps unconsciously, inverts the order in the passage quoted, making Swedenborg to say, that the marriage that constitutes the Church takes place between the good of the higher and the truth of the lower, being just the inverse of what he does say. Dr. Holcombe joins spiritual goods with natural truths, celestial goods with spiritual truths; and logical sequence would compel him to go on and say that Divine good is or is to be married to celestial truths, that is, the Essential Divine Good to be married to the finite truth of the angels! Which would be their annihilation by the Divine Fire.
In the same letter (XX) he congratulates his correspondent thus:
I am glad, my dear sir that you see so clearly that the things received by Swedenborg from the LORD alone were Swedenborgianized in their passage through His mind.
And in another letter he says:
The things received from the LORD alone became, after they passed through the mind of Swedenborg, nothing more the mind of Swedenborg, nothing more than the things of the LORD as they appeared to Swedenborg. Letter XVIII, Independent, Sept., 1883.
That he supposes that The things received by Swedenborg from the LORD alone were Swedenborgianized in passing through his mind is perhaps a reason why he does not hesitate to correct them (!) by the superior perceptions of his friend, G. W. C., of whom he says: G. W. C. is a man who has been opened consciously into the celestial degree of life while still living in the world. And further: G. W. C. knows nothing but the LORD. He has got entirely rid of all exaltations of the proprium. He asserts a thing to be so or not to be so from his own private states of celestial perception. (Letter XVII, Independent, Aug., 183.) G. W. C., whose experience with the hells, under the protection of the LORD, and for the purposes of use, have been more varied, extensive, and persistent than that of Swedenborg or ally other Seer. (Letter IX, Independent, April, 1853.) G. W. C. has no desire to teach, it is I who teach, I take his perceptions, utterances, representatives, visions, etc., pass them through the will of my rational faculty, and bring them forth in the shape of such spiritual food as you find in the Independent, etc. (Letter XVII, Independent, Aug., 1883.) Much of this food is sweet and pleasant to the taste. Much of it is in apparent, harmony with the Writings. Much that is said, abating a most exaggerated style, appeals to the sympathies of a certain class of those who desire to see good soon prevail upon the earth.
What now is the real guide set up for the admirers of these Letters to follow? Evidently, as appears from the above extracts, the perceptions, utterances, representations, visions, etc., of G. W. C. passed through the mill of the rational faculty of W. H. Holcombe. Simply that, neither more nor lees. How little such imaginary celestial experiences and perceptions can be depended upon may appear from what has already been said and from their contradiction of the Heavenly Doctrines, and their disagreement between themselves. Of these contradictions and disagreements we have neither time nor space to notice more than a few, nor does our duty seem to require more. To follow up the wanderings of these spirits and call attention to every false notion to be found along their paths would be an endless task, and profitless. If they disagree with the Writings and contradict each other, they are false. And a few examples will serve as well as many to show this to those who have eyes to see; to others a thousand would be of no use.
We have already noticed two instances in which the Doctors statements are in direct opposition to the statements of the Writings. The Doctor says: I have repeatedly openly asserted that G. W. C. is a man who has been opened consciously into the celestial degree of life while living in this world. (Letter XXXII.) There are now occurring in different centres openings of the interior degrees of life, etc. (Letter XLIX.) And in other places the subjects of these openings are declared to be conscious of such state. Now the Writings say:
So long as man is living in this world, he knows nothing of the opening of these degrees in him. (D. L. W. 238.)
The other instance already noticed is the Doctors statement concerning the order of the heavenly marriage, directly the opposite of Swedenborgs, and which we need not repeat. The Doctor furthermore claims that the opening of the Celestial degree Is the true key to the extraordinary revival of religious life in the Quietists, Moravians, Quakers, Methodists, and others for half a century antecedent to, Swedenborgs spiritual intromission.
No other than enthusiastic spirits speak with enthusiasts; also, no other than Quaker spirits operate upon Quakers, and Moravian spirits upon Moravians; the same would be the case with Arians, with Socinians, and other heretics.... And what is ridiculous when man believes that the Holy Spirit speaks with him, or operates upon him, then also the spirit believes that he is the Holy Spirit. (Ap. Ex. 1182.)
Concerning the origin of these enthusiasms, we are taught as follows:
The hells from the men of the Noetic or Ancient Church, for the most part, consist of magicians, who have huts and places of entertainment scattered through the desert. They wander about there with staves of various forms in their hands, some of which are stained with necromantic juices. By these, as in former times, they still exercise their arts, which are effected by the abuse of correspondences, by phantasies, by persuasive assurances, which formerly gave rise to miraculous faith and miracles, and also by exorcism, incantation, fascination, and sorcery, and several other infernal contrivances, by which they present illusory appearances, as if they were real. Their greatest delight is to utter prophesies and prognostications, and to be familiar spirits. These chiefly have given rise to the various enthusaisms of the Christian world. (Cor. 45.)
Thus we see that so far from the opening of the celestial degree being the true key to the extraordinary revival of religious life among the Quietists, Moravians, Quakers, Methodists, etc., those enthusiasms evidently had a very different and infernal origin.
We are told by Swedenborg that The internals of the Christian Church were precisely similar to the internals of the Ancient Church. (A. C. 1083.)
This being so, their hells would also be of similar character, and they would net together. And we should expect that when the Christian Church, through evils of life and falses of doctrine, was coming very near to its end--a half-century antecedent to Swedenborgs intromission--these hells would be opened and become very active, and would give rise to very remarkable enthusiams in the Christian world. Now let us see what Swedenborg says of the spirits from which the Quakers and similar enthusiasts receive their emotional states.
Conversation was had with Quaker spirits, who are somewhat elevated in front. They thence spake with me, saying that they were spirits from eternity, thus the Holy Spirit....
It was manifested what kind of worship they induced upon the Quakers, which is known to themselves alone, being kept carefully concealed from others. (S. D. 3765.)
The abominable things of their worship we do not repeat. Those who are curious to know can read the whole of the numbers from the Spiritual Diary, 3762 to 3815. But we give a few sentences: It was said also that their hell was deeper than the hell of others, where they become the filthiest excrement, such a hell is that of their Holy Spirit. They also acknowledge the Word, but they do not regard it, for they say that they also are actuated by the Holy Spirit. And in Spiritual Diary, 3815, is the following:
Certain Quakers spake concerning those who at first became Quakers in such abundance (saying), that their spirits could not then have been from Quakers; thus, that they were of no other character; but it was answered that almost all the spirits of the World of Spirits were such as were bent upon possessing, yea, obsessing, man, and I know that every one of them wishes to be called the Holy Spirit, provided only that there are subjects who may acknowledge and worship them. Those who then possessed them were from the World of Spirits in general; they were also then wrought upon by more enthusiastic motions, which happens, moreover, to all kinds of enthusiasts. But afterwards Quaker spirits succeeded, when they became such, etc. See also Continuation of the Last Judgment, 83-85.
They who had been ensnared in adulteries, more than others, wish to obsess men in another life, and thereby to return into the world, but they are withheld by the LORD in hell, so as not to come among those spirits that are with men. Most of these are from the Christian world.A. C. 2752.
There are very many spirits at this day who are desirous to not only flow into mans thoughts and affections, but also into his speech and actions; thus even into his corporeal things.... To flow into mans bodily things is to obsess him. The spirits who will and intend thus are those who in the life of the body had been adulterers; that is, who had perceived delight in adulteries, and persuaded themselves that they were allowedA. C. 5990.
Whenever in the meetings of any kind of enthusiasts, we hear them speak of being moved by the Holy Ghost, or of feeling in their hearts the fire of the Holy Ghost, we may know from the above extracts what kind of a Holy Ghost they feel moving within them.
The Celestials do not teach, as even the Doctor admits, when he says:
They will enter states of perception of truth,... but will have no desire to speak of them, and a genuine aversion to teaching or preaching them.Letters, p. 273.
The celestials never teach nor preach, as the spirituals do. They never discuss truths, and even dislike very much to speak of faith or doctrine. They never pray with the methodistic spiritual-natural fervor that Mr. M. exhibits.Letters, p. 243.
The enthusiastic sects before named have been noted for their active teaching, preaching, praying, and missionary zealanything but celestial characteristics. Celestials, or those in whom is opened the celestial degree of life, would perceive all the goods and truths of heaven. (A. E. 739.) So if these enthusiasts really had the celestial degree opened in them, and thus were in a celestial state, they would perceive truth from good without assistance or discussion (Letters, p. 243), and thus they would perceive all the goods and truths of heaven. Do they? If so, where, then, was the necessity for a Second Coming, a General Judgment, or a Revelation of the Spiritual Sense of the Word through Swedenborg? There being a half-century antecedent to Swedenborgs spiritual intromission several sects actively at work, who, as celestials, should have known all the goods and truths of heaven. According to Dr. Holcombes introductory statement, this opening of the interiors is the secret and solution of the whole matter. We may therefore be pardoned if we give it a little more attention. According to Dr. Holcombes the interiors from highest to lowest are opened from above downward whether man will or no; for he says:
The Second Coming of the LORD is the transflux of the Divine Humanity from primaries to ultimates, through the three heavens in successive order; and its corresponding transflux through the degrees of the human mind in simultaneous order from centres to circumferences. It will be a successive opening of the celestial, spiritual, and natural degrees of human life; and a corresponding simultaneous development of religious affection, thought, and conduct. It will be the reappearance of this same Jesus on the ultimate plane of the human mind. It will be the unfolding of the New Jerusalem from God out of heaven.Letters, p. 359.
He is coming without the leave, indeed without the knowledge of scorners and skeptics; and His coming means the presence of the LORD in ultimates with angelic states of life as gifts for His children.Letters, p. 169.
This involves a prolongation of the Last Judgment begun in 1757.... This Judgment is now going on in the World of Spirits, with ever-increasing rapidity. It is entering the interiors of the natural man, and they will be progressively laid open, so that the interior man will be compelled to utter himself externally, regardless of all restraints or bonds, social or legal. The process of putting off our external states and appearing in our real characters will take place before death just as they now do after.... The celestial and spiritual forces evolving from within, will work their way downward and outward, creating external forms in correspondence wit themselves; and during this stupendous process all opposing things will gradually give way, etc.Letters, p. 364.
Now concerning the Last Judgment we are taught:
This Last Judgment was commenced in the beginning of the year 1757, and was fully accomplished at the end of that year.L. J. 45.
The LORD also at this day is accomplishing a redemption, which was begun in the year 1757, together with the Last Judgment, which was then executed.T. C. R. 115.
So that the notion of the going on of the Last Judgment, with ever-increasing rapidity, is a fallacy.
The subjugation of the hells, the arrangement of the heavens, and the establishment of a New Church, constitute Redemption.... The parts of that process also follow each other in order; for it is necessary that the hells should be subdued before a new angelic heaven can be formed, and this must be formed before a New Church on earth can be established.T. C. R. 115.
The first part or process of the Redemption effected by the LORDS Second Coming the Last General Judgment begun and fully accomplished during the year 1757, by which the hells were subjugated and reduced to order. The second part--the formation of a New Heaven--followed after. In the True Christian Religion, published in 1772, Swedenborg says:
There is at this day a new angelic heaven forming by the LORD. (T. C. R. 108.) In proportion as this new heaven, which constitutes the internal of the church in man, increases, in the same proportion the New Church comes down from that heaven; so that this cannot be effected in a moment, etc.T. C. R. 784.
These second and third parts of Redemption are going on, but the first--the Last Judgment--is accomplished, and what is said in the Writings in regard to the Last Judgment being prolonged must be understood as relating to the removals and changes in the states and relations of societies in the process of forming and arranging the New Heavens; to the successive separations of the upright from the non-upright among Christians, and to the judgment through which every one passes after death.A. E. 624. See also A. E. 706.
The effect of the Last Judgment, i. e., the removal of the hosts of evil spirits from the World of Spirits and their subjection to order in hell, was to restore to man spiritual liberty. Hence we are told that:
The slavery and captivity in which the man of the Church was formerly, are removed, and that now, from restored liberty, he can better perceive interior truths if he wills to perceive them, and thus to be made more internal if he wills it.L. J. 74.
All illustration comes to man from the LORD through heaven, and enters by an internal way. So long as there were congregations of such spirits between Heaven and the world, or between the LORD and the Church, man was unable to be illustrated.... Wherefore, if anything had been at that time revealed by the LORD, either it would not have been understood, or if understood, still it would not have been received, or, if received, still, it would afterward have been suffocated.... Hence it is that after the accomplishment of the Last Judgment, and not sooner, Revelations were made for the New Church. For since communication has been restored by the Last Judgment, man can be illustrated and reformed; that is, he can understand the Divine Truth of the Word, receive it when understood, and retain it when received,... for the interposing obstacles were removed.Cont. L. J., 11, 12.
But this new condition of things since the Last Judgment does not involve that men are to be instructed in new truths by influx through opened interiors, but that by reason of the removal of intervening spirits and the restored influx from Heaven men now are in a state of mental freedom to receive and understand and retain the new truths revealed by the LORD in His Second Coming in the Writings of Swedenborg for the especial use of those who will be of the New Church. (See H. D. 7.) And now we say that it is only by an acquired knowledge of these truths, and a free and voluntary or self-compelled obedience to them, that the interior degrees of the individual, and thus of the Church that is composed of individuals, can be opened. The degrees are opened indeed from above down. The LORD stands at the door, upon the upper side and knocks. But the LORD does not with violence nor against mans will push the door open and descend. Only when man in freedom opens the door can the LORD, come in and sup.
Two things are in the free-will of man from the perpetual presence of the LORD, and from his perpetual will of conjoining Himself with him. The first is, that he has the ability and the faculty of thinking well concerning the LORD and concerning his neighbor, for every one can think well or ill concerning the LORD and concerning his neighbor.... The other thing, which is in the free-will of man from the perpetual presence of the LORD with him and from his perpetual will of conjoining Himself with him, is that he can abstain from evils, and in proportion as he does so abstain, the LORD opens the door and enters, for the LORD cannot open the door and enter so long as evils are in the thought and will of man, inasmuch as these oppose and shut the door.Ap. Ex. 248.
Thus the LORD in his Divine Human does not force Himself down into the general body of humanity against mans will, but only when man by obedience to revealed truths, shunning evils as sins against God, opens the door. By revelation truths are made known; when in freedom man obeys them, His natural wind is reduced to order so that the interiors can be opened and the LORD and Heaven flow in. The angels must go up the Ladder--the Way with steps--discrete degrees--of Divine Truth leading up the mount of GOD to the LORD above it, before they can come down upon it. They must ascend upon the Son of man, before they can descend upon Him. (John i, 51.)
So we are again taught that:
Since the Last Judgment was accomplished, it has been provided and ordained by the LORD that none hereafter should have conjunction with Heaven but those who are in spiritual faith, and spiritual faith is procured by a life according to the truths of the Word, which life is called Charity.A. E. 737.
What is the Divine Operation in internals without mans co-operation in externals as from himself!--A. R. 451.
He who believes himself to be just, and consequently in the good of life without the aid of truths according to which he may live, is much deceived; for man cannot be reformed and regenerated, and so made good, but by means of truths and by a life according to them.A. R. 815.
Whoever conceives, therefore, that he or others can become good by an opening of their interiors, or be reformed and regenerated, and thus come into conjunction with Heaven and the LORD, by any descent of the Divine Sphere from primates to ultimates, except so far as the door is opened by a previous knowledge of revealed truth and obedience to it, is much mistaken. For, as we also noticed in the previous part of this paper, Nothing of truth enters by influx through mans internal but only through his external. The doctrine, that truths must be joined with good in the opened or regenerate man, is so fully and plainly taught in the Writings, and so manifest to any rational man, that the Doctor does not attempt to deny it, but he is compelled by his theory of Celestial goods pressing down through the opened interiors of organically prepared subjects to invert the Divine order of the heavenly marriage of goods and truths, as we have already noticed. He will be compelled, in order to maintain his doctrine, to continue to assert, and by fallacious reasonings endeavor to maintain, that in some way the goods of the higher must be married to the truths of the lower degree, notwithstanding what the Writings say to the contrary. It would not be a surprise were he even to endeavor to overcome the difficulty by asserting that the good of one degree may be married to the truth of the degree above, and also to the truth of the degree below it at the same time. But he will not be likely to tell us which of the two will be the wife and which the concubine.
After this paper was writtenwhat precedes and more that follows--we received through the mail advanced sheets of the Independent for November, containing Letter XVII (New Series); on Spiritual Subjects, in which the Doctor treats again of The marriage of good and truth in discrete degrees, etc. And we insert here a few words occasioned by the reception of this letter. In it, as we anticipated, the Doctor attempts to maintain by what we must consider most fallacious reasonings his inverted position. He reasserts his former statement, that The spiritual truth of the New Church in us must be married to the celestials goods of the degree above. The letter appears to be addressed to some one who has conversed with him or written to him in opposition to his view as thus expressed. He says:
You are strongly, even bitterly, opposed to this statement. You characterize it as a falsity, and say that it teaches spiritual adultery. The secret of your animus seems to be that you repudiate the idea that the New Church is a celestial Church, or that any celestial life is going to be unfolded in the world.
The Doctor here seems to imply that an opposition to His inverted view of marriage must spring from a rejection of the idea that the New Church is to be a celestial Church. As far as we are concerned, this supposition is entirely gratuitous. Undoubtedly the New Church is and is to be a Celestial as well as a Spiritual and a natural Church. It is and is to be the crown of all Churches, and must, therefore, include all within itself. The Doctor quotes a part and alludes to the whole of A. C. 3052, in which Swedenborg treats of the heavenly marriage as existing between the truth of the higher and the good of the lower degree, and then goes on to say:
He does not allude to the converse or descending marriage of good and truth (which is no proof of its non-existence), because it was not necessary to the spiritual sense, and because it is an exceedingly difficult subject, transcending in some of its elements the understanding of men and angels.
To this he adds:
Whoever will study the spiritual sense of the marriage relations of Abraham and Sarah, and especially of Isaac and Rebecca, will not only see that good of every superior degree flows into the truth of the lower degree, elevates it, and conjoins it to itself, but will realize the extreme difficulty of a clear comprehension of the subject.
The Doctor thus admits that Swedenborg does not allude to the converse or descending marriage of good and truth, and gives as one of the reasons, because it is an exceedingly difficult subject, etc., he also admits the extreme difficulty of a clear comprehension of the subject. Now we suppose that the reason why Swedenborg did not allude to the converse or descending marriage of good and truth, was because no such marriage exists, except in the inverted ideas of the Doctor, and these are there because necessary to sustain his theory of the manner in which celestial goods are to descend to form a new life upon the earth. The Doctor attempts to explain the matter and to confirm his view of it. But me have neither time nor space to follow and show the fallacy of the reasonings of a man who attempts to explain a subject that he admits Swedenborg did not allude to,... because it is an exceedingly difficult subject, transcending in some of its elements the understanding of men and angels.
In it four persons are conspicuous: G. W. Christy, Chester E. Pond, T. L. Harris, and Dr. W. H. Holcombe. The first three are declared in the Letters and other kindred papers to be subjects of the new descending influx to that degree that their interiors are consciously opened to the LORD; and that they are so fully receptive of the celestial sphere that they sensibly experience in themselves the unitization of sex, their spiritual conjugial partners having become consciously one with them.:
Thus we read:
When I tell our New Church ministers that my friend G. W. C. feels, hears, sees the woman in himself, blending her life with his life into one sensational life, etc.
Where another New Churchman assures us that he has entered into such a state of conjugial love that his interiors are open all the way to the LORD (A. C. 2737), and that he feels his conjugial partner pervading every atom of His body, etc., etc.Letter IV, Independent, December, 1882.
By G. W. C. is meant G. W. Christy, of New Orleans, and by another New Churchman is meant Chester E. Pond, of Philadelphia. And the same state in T. L. Harris is alluded to find confirmed in the following:
Harris put away his external wife, having entered into conscious association with a conjugial partner in the other life.Letter XVII, Independent, August, 1883.
A sympathizer in the new movement, writing in the Independent, says:
We now have three witnesses to the truth of the unitization of sexes, not only in the other world, but even here on earth while living in the flesh. These three witnesses are three wonderful men, whose force of character and lives we cannot question for a moment.... These three men are Harris, Christy, and Pond.Independent, August, 1854, p. 300.
Three such wonderful men, so interiorly opened into and filled with the sphere of the celestial heavens, if the state were real and not phantastic, would agree in their perceptions, and their spheres would be harmonious. But how is it with this Celestial trio?
From that period also G. W. C.s own counterpart became implacably resistant to the sphere of Harris and His counterpart, and this repulsion of the sensitive female element of G. W. C. has never subsided.Letter XVII, Independent, August, 1883.
So these celestials not only become implacably resistant to each other, but hold grit well, their repulsion has never subsided. That these three persons and perhaps others are possessed with the phantasy that they are sometimes male and sometimes female, and sometimes both together, is quite possible. When persons of certain physical and psychical conditions give themselves up to seeking for inner breathings and come in to sensible intercourse with spirits, they are almost certain to be led into all manner of fallacies. And if they at the same time have a little knowledge of and intellectual leaning toward the New Church, these fallacies and phantasies are likely to take the form, of a perversion of some of the Doctrines. It seems to be so here. These three wonderful men were all of them more or less acquainted with the Doctrines of the New Church before they professed to be opened. And it was most natural that when they were opened to impressions from within, they should come under the influence of spirits who were in similar states of life, and that a phantastic perversion of the true doctrine of marriage should seize upon them.
The Doctors doctrine of the unitization of sex as indeed his whole doctrine upon the subject of the masculine and feminine their nature and relations, is inverted--bend downward, or inside out--as seen in the light of the Writings. For there we read:
The inmost in the masculine is Love, and the covering of this is Wisdom, or what is the same Love veiled with Wisdom the inmost in the Female is that Wisdom of the Male, and its covering is the Love thence; but this love is feminine Love, and is given by the LORD to the wife through the wisdom husband, and the former Love is masculine Love, and is the love of becoming wise, and is given by the LORD to the husband according to the reception of wisdom; from this it is that the Male is the Wisdom of Love, and the Female is the Love of that Wisdom.--C. L. 32.
Thus the male is internal to the female always and everywhere in all degrees of life. Influx is ever from internal to external, from the essential to the formal, from masculine to feminine. But instead of this we are told:
When my friend G. W. C. is in certain states of celestial perception or consciousness, he frequently exclaims There ale no women in the world, but only men with women inside of them.... Womens place in creation is at the very centre. She first receives the LORDS life, the source of conjugial and all other loves, and communicates it to man, womans organic condition being interior to mans.Letter III, Independent, February, 1885.
This would be pleasant doctrine to a class of women who wish to be as men, and who claim masculine endowments, for it would necessitate the doctrine that the Essential Divine is a female, and should not be called He, but She; and this doctrine was probably the origin of the notion of C. E. P. of the Divine Motherhood, to which we will call attention presently. But it may be well for the sake of some readers to place this subject, if possible, in a clearer light by giving from the Writings a more full statement of the true doctrine.
The Truth of good or Truth from good, is masculine, and the Good of truth, or Good from that truth, is Feminine.... Wisdom cannot exist with man but through the Love of being wise; ... Wisdom from this love is understood by the Truth of good, or by truth from good; but when man has from that love procured to himself wisdom, and loves it in himself or himself for it, he then forms a love which is the Love of Wisdom, and is understood by the Good of truth, or good from that truth; there are therefore with Man two Loves, whereof one which is prior is the Love of being wise, and the other which is posterior is the Love of Wisdom; but this latter Love if it remain with Man is an evil love, and is called pride, or the love of His own intelligence; it was provided from creation that this Love should be taken out of the Man lest it destroy him, and be transcribed into the Woman, that it might become conjugial Love which makes him whole again.--C. L. 88.
Conjugial unition, by which two congenial souls are so conjoined as to increase and multiply goods and truths within them, is entirely a different thing from the unitized sex-doctrine. It is thus spoken of:
That Marriages in the Heavens are without prolification, but that instead of this, there is spiritual prolification, which is of love and wisdom, is because with those who are in the spiritual World, the third, which is the natural, is wanting, and this is the containant of spiritual things, and spiritual things without their containant have no consistence like those things which are procreated in the natural World: also spiritual things, considered in themselves, relate to lope and wisdom: wherefore, these (love and wisdom) are what are born from marriages in the Heavens. It is said these are born, because conjugial Love perfects an Angle, for it unites him with his consort, whereby he becomes more and more a man, for, as was said above, two Consorts in Heaven are not two, but one Angel; wherefore, by Conjugial unition, they fill themselves with the human, which is to will to be wise, and to love that which it of wisdom.--C. L. 52.
Such conjugial unition is of use, perfects the angels, and thus the Heavens, while the doctrine and experience of Harris, Christy, and Pond, seem to be a false conceit or phantasy induced upon them by the spirits who have taken possession of them.
The state of some of the higher angels who are in conjugial love so perfect that they feel themselves united though separate, and of which there may be rare" cases upon earth (C. L. 175), can hardly be cited as evidence that a man on earth who will put away his external wife because he has entered into conscious association with a conjugial partner in the other life, is in the celestial condition claimed by these men.
Swedenborg indeed speaks of a conjugial pair appearing as one, when at a distance they were in a chariot descending from heaven; but when they came near they appeared as two, and conversed with him as a pair. (C. L. 42) So he speaks of seeing a company which at a distance appeared as a flock of sheep and goats, which, as he approached near to them, appeared as men. (T. C. R. 506.) Their appearance at a distance was representative of their spiritual character. So of the pair he saw. At a distance they appeared as one, for they were one in spirit. But they still retained their personal individuality, and so appeared when near.
Another instance in which the celestial perceptions of these men antagonize each other is the following. In the Independent for October, 1553, is an article from Chester E. Pond, in which he sets forth and advocates the doctrine of Duality of sex in the Divine Being, and repeats a form of address in prayer which he says was given him from Heaven. O thou Divine Mother in our Heavenly Father,--Our Mother in Jesus our Saviour, etc.,--and he adds, Such language as this seems to be eminently suitable to express the Divine Fatherhood and Motherhood of God. But now see what G. W. C. says of his brother celestial:
DEAR FRIEND:--When G. W. C. read your article on the Divine Motherhood in the October number of this Journal, he exclaimed: This doctrine of a Divine Father and a Divine Mother--a divine two in one-taught by Harris and here seen and felt by Pond, is more abhorrent to me than the three persons in one God of the Old Church. It is utterly false, phantastic, and degrading.Letter XXV, Independent, December, 1883.
Harriss doctrine of the LORD two in one, a Saviour and a Saviouress, my Lords day and my Ladys day, etc., is a phantastic and unwarrantable extension of the unitization of sex upward, etc.Letter XVII, Independent, August, 1883.
Thus the celestial perceptions of the three witnesses--the three wonderful menare as antagonistic as are the conceits of common mortals. And their disagreement gives abundant evidence that they originate in a region quite opposite to the celestial heavens.
We intended to notice the delusion of Christy and others that the LORD is about to redeem and regenerate the hells--lies, indeed, already commenced the work by allowing Christy and others who are organically prepared to go down to these evil spirits--or the evil spirits to come up and into them--in so full a manner that they again live in the natural World through them, and thus have given to them a second probation or trial. But neither time nor space allow. That evil spirits possess them, sometimes to such a degree that both subject and spirit are conscious of it, we do not doubt. And that they are very subtle spirits, who appear sometimes like the most beautiful angels, and at other times like poor, miserable wretches, who plead to be allowed to work a little at some mean employment, that they may learn to do well, and by these hypocrisies deceive those who are possessed by them, all that we have learned from published and unpublished Letters and papers fully confirms.
Swedenborg somewhere speaks of mussitation as an art practiced by a class of evil spirits. This magical art consists in mumbling, muttering, and repeating continually over and over again certain words and phrases of uncommon sound and mysterious import, thereby keeping the mind of their subjects continually intent upon their words and sayings, without retaining ought from them, thus they are held in the thought of the speaker and not allowed to think for themselves, but held bound by the sound. (See A. R. 462.) Whoever has read the Letters, etc., must have observed how their style seems to flow from one who is influenced by such mussitating spirits. Uncommon words and phrases, strange sounding and of mysterious import, especially grand adjectives repented over and over again--Stupendous fact, stupendous system, tremendous difficulties, tremendous progress, stupendous processes, amazing phenomena, incredible, incomprehensible, great unfoldings, conjugial influxes, magnificent sentences, tremendous harm, interior openings, interiors to ultimates, primates to ultimates, centres to circumferences,
As we are about going to press there comes to us, through the mail, another installment of the tremendous prognostications from those mussitating spirits, in the shape of advance sheets of the Independent for December, containing number xix (new series) of Letters on Spiritual Subjects, by Dr. Holcombe; and we notice some of his sayings in a few words. He says:
But if the phenomena presented by G. W. C. were to be pronounced utterly phantastic, still the tremendous truths of the new movement, as announced in the Four Essays appended to the Letters on Spiritual Subjects would remain the same; for they are centered and grounded in the truths of the Word and the Spiritual philosophy of the New Church. The unfolding of the Celestial life does not depend open G. W. C., or any one else. I have been profoundly indebted to G. W. C.s wonderful experiences, perceptions, and suggestions, for my knowledge of spiritual things; but I submit them all to the analysis of my own rational faculty, and compare them diligently with Swedenborg and the Word. He is, therefore, no Sir Oracle with me, as many believe. We sometimes differ in opinion, and I sometimes question His positions and repudiate His conclusions.
The new movement is nothing, unless it is tremendous! the unfolding of Celestial life! and is profoundly indebted to G. W. C.s wonderful experiences, etc., etc. A debt is, in some cases, a very profound thing, no doubt; but, except with magical spirits and those who are sphered by them, there is nothing so very tremendous, nor Celestial, nor profound, nor wonderful in the experiences of either of the three wonderful men who figure in this new movement.
That any one should come into such abnormal conditions is a sad thing, and that the Doctor has fallen into the quagmire into which the magical and enthusiastic spirits described by Swedenborg, as already noticed, have drawn Harris, Christy, and others, is deplorable. As long as there is life there is hope, and, therefore, there is still a possibilitya possibility--that the Doctor, and those who are influenced by him, may be delivered from the delusive sphere which seems to have almost overwhelmed him.
The inconsistencies and contradictions that so frequently occur in the Letters, some of which we have already noticed, are enough to characterize the new movement as anything but orderly and heavenly in its internal and real nature, however beautiful it may to some appear in its specious and wordy external.
The Doctor scents to have progressed and become more independent of his friend, G. W. C. than formerly. Formerly he took the Celestial perceptions, etc., of G. W. C. and passed them through the will of his own rational faculty, and as thus brought down from the Celestial degree by the Doctors spiritual, rational faculty, and thereby accommodated to common mortals, gave them forth as food such as found in the Letters in the Independent. But now G. W. C. is no Sir Oracle with him. We sometimes differ in opinion, and I sometimes question his positions and repudiate his conclusions. Really, can the Doctor climb much higher--in his own estimation? He, as professedly only on the spiritual plane, questions the positions and repudiates the conclusions that come down from the Celestial Heavens! Can he do more? Yes. He can compare them diligently with Swedenborg and the Word. And then what? If he cannot twist and pervert Swedenborg and the Word to support His notions, he puts his penknife through Swedenborg. And, as to the Word--when the LORD says that adultery is a just cause of divorce (Matthew v, 32; xix. 9) he very complacently says that In the spiritual degree of the Church He (the LORD) was about to establish, only one cause of divorce was admissible; and that was not adultery, as is commonly supposed, but prostitution. The Celestial man occupies a still higher plane. In the Celestial degree, separations are, therefore, impossible. (Letters, p. 178.) From the Celestial standpoint, no ground of divorce is admissible, not even adultery. (Independent for April, 1883, p. 153, bottom.) Thus we sec that all the talk about comparing with Swedenborg and the Word is were sham, a blind to deceive the simple and to hold on to those whom he has captivated by an appearance of regard for the Word and the Writings which does not exist, except so far as he can make them confirm the phantastic notions that possess him.
The New Church has been infested by this sort of thing, in some form or other, from the beginning both in this country and in England and France. The sad case of poor James Johnston, who was compelled by professedly New Church angels to dole out to others his scanty pennies, is but one of the several in England. And a few of the elders still living will remember the sad experiences in Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, and New Orleans some thirty to forty years ago. The spirit at the bottom of it all, so far as it is in any may related to or affects the New Church, is, as we have seen, the interior opposition of the hells to the LORD in His Second Coming, and their desire to undermine and destroy the New Church which He has come to establish.
The things received by Swedenborg from the LORD alone were Swedenborgianized by their passage through His mind; or that they were nothing more than the things of the LORD as they appeared to Swedenborg.--Letter XVIII, Independent, September, 1883.
Or that they would use a penknife to remove some things in the Writings that offend them. But the subtle spirit lurks in every insinuation or implication that the Writings are not in every instance to be relied upon as truths continuous from the LORD, but are to be corrected here and there by the superior intelligence of the wise men of this time, or by the celestial perceptions of the favored ones whose interiors are opened. The Writings are true or they are not. If true they cannot be corrected. If they constitute the Second Coming of the LORD, He will not come again through any one else to mend the mistakes He made, or to add things that He forgot.
The Ministry of Sacred Things Among Men.*
* New Jerusalem Magazine, July, 1885.
AN ADDRESS DELIVERED MAY 7TH, 1885, TO THE GRADUATING CLASS OF THE NEW CHURCH THEOLOGICAL SCHOOL, BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SCHOOL, REV. JOHN WORCESTER.
The attention of the Editor of the New Jerusalem Magazine is called to the fact that the school of which the Rev. John Worcester is the President is not The New Church Theological School. And the Board of Managers of the Theological School of the General Convention are reminded of the fact that there exists a distinct understanding among those concerned, to the effect that measures were to be taken to change the style of the School as soon as its location should be determined. Good faith demands the fulfillment of this understanding. Delay can only lead to complications and render more difficult the unavoidable change.
The Address of President Worcester to the graduating class of Theological Students, prepared, as it undoubtedly was, with the purpose of impressing on the minds of the young men who were about to enter on the duties of the Priesthood certain principles that ought to govern in the Ministry of Sacred Things Among Men, seems to go so far out of the way of things revealed that we deem it our duty to subject it to a brief examination.
The weight of our objection to the Address lies in the fact that these students of New Church Theology, who are about to become public teachers of its truths, are not directed to that Theology itself, as provided by the LORD for their instruction and further study in the things of their ministry, but to the letter of the Word, the key to open which He has given in the Doctrines of the New Church, and to the preparation of their hearts to feel, and of their eyes to see the Love and Wisdom of the LORD in the Word, to the end that they may then bring forth what they feel and what they see to bless the lives of men, to touch their hearts with the Divine Goodness, and to enlighten their eyes with the light of truth.
This passage, and a brief clause of a subsequent sentence, furnish the only references to the distinctive Theology of the New Church to be found in this address to young ministers. And here they are not directed to the Doctrines of the New Church as the LORDS own opening of the letter of the Word, but as the key by which they are to open the letter of the Word, so that they may bring forth what they feel and see to bless the lives of men.
In the books written by the LORD for His New Church there is given Divine instruction on the subject of this Address, so clear, so plain, and so direct, that we ask with right how it is that what the LORD says is not noticed, and that what He does not say is given to these young men to be their leading and guiding thought in the work of the ministry?
It is not necessary to establish the point of our objection by full citations from the Theology of the Church; a few explicit statements of the Divine teaching will suffice to place the matter in a light sufficiently clear to enable the reader to form his own judgment of its force. In the Heavenly Doctrines, 315, as in the Arcana Coelestia, 10,794, we are taught that it is the duty of Priests to teach men the way to Heaven, and also to lend them; they are to teach them according to the Doctrine of their Church from the Word, and they are to lead them to live according to it. It is not said that Priests are first to live these Doctrines themselves, and then to bring forth what they feel and see to bless the lives of men, but that they are to teach what the LORD gives to all men, to laymen as well as to Priests, that it may be to them the law of their lives. And the Priests who teach truths and lead their flocks thereby (i. e., by the truths of the doctrine of the Church from the LORD), to the good of life, and thus to the LORD, are good shepherds of the sheep, but they who teach and do not lead to the good of life, and thus to the LORD, are evil shepherds.
In A. C. 4713 (and elsewhere): The shepherd or feeder is one who teaches and leads to the good of charity, and the flock is one who learns and is led. In A. C. 5201: To feed signifies to instruct..... because it was customary to call teachers Pastors or Shepherds, and learners a Flock, therefore it is also among the received forms of speech to speak of feeding when there is discourse of preaching, or of instruction from doctrine or the Word, but this is done comparatively, but not significatively, as in the Word, etc. (See also 3795, 6044, etc.) A. C. 6277: Men are instructed concerning good by truth, and when they do according to the truth, in which they are instructed, then that truth is called good. The truth is the LORDS, and His only, and in the Church on Earth, as in Heaven, man is fed by the food which comes from the mouth of the LORD, by which alone spiritual life is sustained. (A. C. 68.) It is not the Priests truth, nor is it the LORDS truth made into the good of the life of the man to whom is adjoined the office of the Priesthood.
Let the reader consult A. C. 6999, etc., concerning the representation of Aaron as doctrine and of Moses as Divine Truth immediately proceeding from the LORD, which cannot be understood by men or angels, then let him consider the teachings that here follow, and we believe that he will see more clearly the force of our objection to the evident undercurrent of thought in the Address under examination. In the Universal Theology of the New Church, No. 226, the LORD teaches that the Word is unintelligible without doctrine. In Nos. 779 and 780, that to the end that we might be continually present He revealed to me (Swedenborg) the spiritual sense of His Word, in which Divine Truth is in its own light, and in this He is continually present; that this revelation was from the LORDS manifestation of Himself in Person before a man, and filling him with His Spirit for the teaching of the Doctrines of the New Church by the Word from Him, and that by this He made His Second Advent; that the spiritual sense of the Word, which is the Word itself (A. C. 1540), is at this day laid open by the LORD, because the doctrine of genuine truth is now revealed, and this doctrine concords with the spiritual sense of the Word (S. S. 25), and that these Doctrines bring to the light the Divine Truths of the Church, of which the spiritual sense of the Word consists. (T. C. R. 207.) These things being so, is it not the first duty of those who are to minister in sacred things to study the Doctrines in which the LORD has given the Divine Truths of the Church, to the end that they may teach these to men from the mouth of the LORD, and not man-made images of them from their own mouths?
In his Address, President Worcester passes by all this, and directs his hearers to the letter of the Word, with the added statement that the key to open it He has given in the Doctrines of the New Church.
President Worcester says: It was the office of the Priest in these consecrations to prepare the fire and to place the of bring upon it, end so it is the office of the Christian Priest to prepare the heavenly fire by which all the innocent affections of men may be vivified, as by the living presence of the LORD. We do not find this statement verified by the word, in the letter, or in the Spirit, as the Spirit is laid open in doctrine. From the Word we learn that the fire was from the LORD, and that the Office of the Priest was to keep it perpetually burning on the altar, and from doctrine we learn that this was to represent the Divine Love celestial, and in the supreme sense the Divine Love (A. R. 395), because all worship (which was represented by the altar) is from the LORD, for it is the Divine which is communicated to man from the LORD, in which Divine is the LORD Himself (A. E. 391), and because the Divine Love is perpetual. When the Jewish Priest gave (or put) the fire on the altar (see Levit. I, 7) he represented the LORD and not the Christian Priest, and his act represented the LORDS work of saving man by the good of love from Himself when man lives according to the Divine Law, which living is true and essential worship. (A. C. 9809, 8680, 8936, etc.) The good of love is perpetually in all true worship, for this ascribes merit to the LORD alone, and by this man is purified from the evils of his proprium by means of truths applied to the life.
The LORD gives the fire when He from His infinite Love disposes man to receive the truth and to follow the truth. This he does perpetually; and this fire is kept perpetually burning on the Altar of a mans life by the teachings of the truth, which successively show to him how to do what the LORD disposes him to do; in other words, which lead him to the good of life. And as the truth is the LORDS and is adapted by Him and accommodated to the state of mans life, so when the Ancient Priest removed the ashes and cleansed the altar and when he laid the wood on the fire and arranged the offering on the fire, he represented the office performed by the LORD in teaching and leading man by His truth. And the Christian Priest, when he teaches truth from the LORD, explaining and expounding it for the acceptance of man and further application of it to their lives, represents the LORD now, as the ancient Priest represented the LORD in former times in the doing of this work, for the LORDS work of reformation and regeneration is the same at this day as in the days of old. There is no warrant whatever for affirming that the Jewish Priests duty in respect to the ceremonial of consecration prefigured the duty of the Christian Priests to enter into the life of the LORD, to keep always burning before them (i. e., men) the fire of His love for good human life, etc. The LORD alone gives the men the fire of His love, and the LORD alone keeps perpetually burning before men the fire of His love. What the ancient Priest did in respect to the fire on the altar represented in external form the LORDS way and manner of making His gift effectual and actual with man when in the state of life represented by the altar and by worship. No Christian Priest can prepare this fire or keep it perpetually burning before men. Nor is it possible for any Christian minister to interpret the merciful love of the LORD and to throw its light upon all the duties and circumstances of life, according to the Address before us. None but the LORD can interpret His merciful love, for this Love is infinite, and no wisdom short of infinite wisdom can make it clear and plain to man, for no one hath seen God at any time; the Only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath brought Him forth to view. (John i, 18.) The Divine Love of the LORD, which is the Divine Good or His merciful Love, cannot be received by man, not even by an angel, but only by the Divine Human of the LORD (A. E. 4186), in which and by which that Lode appeared once as the Divine Truth from the Divine Good, as the Word made flesh, and in which and by which that Love appears again as the Divine Truth from the Divine Good, as the Word opened in an immediate revelation from Himself This revelation is the very doctrine of the New Church, without which the Word is unintelligible, and without some perception and understanding of which no faintest conception of the merciful Love of the LORD can be formed by any human mind. It is the duty of the Christian minister to interpret this doctrine, in which are the Divine truths of the Church; and in which the LORD Himself brings His merciful Love to the light, and by which He casts light upon all the duties and circumstances of life.
This same leading away from the LORDS own teachings in doctrine to the Priests interpretations of the letter of the Word, appears again toward the end of the Address, and follows close upon a series of statements with some of which we can cordially agree. President Worcester says: It is by means of these uses--by the explanation of the merciful Providence, the purpose, and the precepts of the LORD, and by expression of the answering states of men, whether of prayer or confession or praise, and by the interpretation of the Love with which the life of the LORD among men was filled, and by which He enters the hearts of men, that Christian ministers may increase the things of heaven among men. It is of their office to provide for things Divine among men; and it is altogether true, that the sacred influences are not theirs. But when President Worcester adds, their dirty is to receive them from the LORD and to bring them to men, we ask, how can one man bring an influence to another? The LORDS influence, or inflowing, is perpetual with all men. One man may affect another by his state of affection and thought. One man may present an idea, a truth, to the mind of another, which, if accepted, will form in him a plane receptive of sacred influences; but to claim it to be the duty of a Christian minister, or that it is possible for one man to bring to another the influences themselves, is to put such a one in the place of the LORD, who inflows and who gives life to all by His perpetual inflowing. And when the author of the Address continues in these words: The Holy Spirit is not of them, yet it is felt by men according as they are faithful to their ministry and their ministrations are faithfully received, faithfulness to the truth and utter certainty of the Divine power to save and bless in spite of the errors and wrong doings of evil shepherds demands of us this comment: the reception of the Holy Spirit depends on the state of the man to whom the Holy Spirit comes, on his acknowledgment of the LORD, and on his willingness to be led by Him; the LORD will not suffer his salvation to be determined by the faithfulness or unfaithfulness of the minister.
Some years ago the New Jerusalem Magazine, or perhaps it was the New Church Magazine, also published in Boston, assailed the idea of a Priesthood in the New Church, chiefly on the ground that it involved the conception of a merely human mediation between the LORD and man. Is such a conception really taking form in the mind of the Church? And does it now appear in the New Jerusalem Magazine as a leading idea concerning the Ministry of Sacred Things Among Men?