페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

the culture and capacities of such men as Bacon, Locke, Cudworth, Spinoza, Descartes, and Berkeley ; but tried by the spiritual culture of the last twenty years, the giant be comes a dwarf, and their perceptions of the mental and inner life little better than surface glances at profound truths. The majority of reputations in philosophy are of men versed in truth skin-deep, who made an art of their shallowness, and a merit of their incapacity to see the deep things of God. Their philosophy was little else than playing with words ; displaying much ingenuity, but with little benefit, save the consecration of the use of terms, and of the facility of reasoning from false premises with wonder ful sophism. It is otherwise with Swedenborg. Examine all the philosophical systems extant, and take all the religious literature of the past, and place them in one scale; and take the voluminous works of Swedenborg—those on God, Nature, the Divine Providence, Regeneration, of a Future Life, on Congugality, on the Government of the World, and kindred subjects of Deity and Destiny and place these in the other scale, and the philosophy and libraries of the world will kick the beam.

The incomparable depth, splendour, and vastness of Swedenborg's genius are shown in this ---that he alone has ever dared to tread the threefold realm of natural, mental, and spiritual philosophy. He alone rises above the mere naturally scientific world into the realm of pure causation. He alone gives to nature, human and spiritual significance, by relating it with its perpetual sustainer and recreator. The fundamental distinction between his insight into nature and that of other great philosophers is, that while they separate the universe from God, and divorce natural forces from antecedent and spiritual forces, and thus construct a gross materialism,-he relates the objective world with the spiritual and subjective world, and unites natural forms to spiritual forces, and consequently constructs & philosophy (with its accompanying theology) which places God always within the world as the life-imparting, formcreating, and life and form-sustaining Creator. As it is impossible to comprehend this distinction without a clear perception of Swedenborg's doctrine, I shall make no apology for attempting to familiarise you with the leading principle of his theory of creation, which is that nature everywhere is pervaded more or less by spiritual forces or

motions, more or less perfectly pronounced, according to the form containing the force. Those of you who have read Swedenborg's "Principia," and the “Divine Love and Wisdom,” will certify how virtually he rectifies our intellectual methods of viewing creation, by giving us a right and rational apprehension of its forces and forms, and how he truly promotes a real scientific cosmology. There is nothing so arbitrary and irrational in the construction of current philosophy or past theology, as the cosmology of the orthodox.

The philosophy of past ages has been chiefly of the earth, earthly-busied in the laws, inechanics, and effects of nature ; and has viewed all these as final and divorced from God-complete, and independent of unseen forces. To Swedenborg was reserved the high honour of proclaiming, and the splendid art of demonstrating, that this world of Nature is not independent and isolated_not the real world any more than our bodies or our apparent self is our real self. He asserts that the world is the effect answering to an efficient cause superior to itself ; that the natural world bears the same relation to the spiritual world which the body bears to the soul, the shell to the kernel-viz., the relation of an image to its protecting substance. The body is but an image of its spiritual substance, the soul ; so the natural world, the realm of sense, is an image, form, and reflection of the spiritual world. Nature is thus but the stupendous mirror of superior or spiritual modes of existence; and therefore the natural world, which is the world of phenomena, pre-supposes the spiritual world, as the image in a looking-glass pre-supposes the reality and cause of the image. Of course, so long as we foolishly hold nature to be destitute of this higher significance, and the temple of higher forces,--so long as we hold the natural world to be essentially a negative and dead form, as not the mere mirror of the real and substantial, but as the real itself,—we shall remain utterly incapacitated to know Swedenborg's doctrine, and continue to be the prey of the dull and stupid despotisms which, under the names of philosophy and theology, drink up the true life of insight and rationality.

Listen to what Swedenborg, in his “Principia,” page 36, says :-“NATURE is only a word which expresses all the motive forces proceeding from the first motion of the infinite.

They, therefore, are mere children who have

seen.

scarcely reached the first threshold of true philosophy, who ascribe to Nature the origin of all things. Nature is only an effect-a causeate, or thing caused--the Infinite being its efficient or cause. Nature seen in her own light is mis

When seen from the glory that excelleth, or from the spiritual world, then we are seers. Exactly here, in truth, lies the imbecility of all our existing theologies and philosophies. They fail to discern the Divine operation in nature; because, instead of viewing nature as a mirror of the Divine creation, and therefore seeking a knowledge of the image she reflects, by means of a light superior to our exhausted and fashionable philosophy, men rest in the natural, and ignore the spiritual. The service which Swedenborg has done the rational and scientific mind is incalculable. He constantly protests against the popular habit of regarding time and space as the real existences, and declares that they are only the expressed forms of higher life. The natural world is implied in the spiritual world, just as the affection or sensation of pleasure or wit is implied in the smile, or as the foundation of a house is implied in the superstructure, or the shell of a nut is implied in the kernel. Whatever of splendour or deformity, of comfort and of beauty, the natural world exhibits, is tributary to the spiritual world. Precisely on this point philosophy signalises its inherent incapacity to furnish us with a true doctrine of nature. Utterly unscientific is the jargon of the schoolmen on this theme. Our popular philosophers and theologians having denied or disguised that nature is a correspondence of the spirit, and having concluded that the natūral world is an independent existence, existing for its own sake, have rushed with dark souls into the wide solitudes of cold Naturalism. Otherwise with the dignified and luminous Swedenborg: He declares that this world is married to the spiritual world ; that the interior is copulated with the exterior—the internal spiritual world married to its specific form in the natural world. Everything that has form, presupposes some precedent thing or state out of which it grows, or by means of which it is made to appear. The various forms of nature and phenomena everywhere ob servable by our senses, suppose some precedent source by virtue of which they themselves become manifest. They each suppose some sensible background, giving it objective unity and marriage with the subjective substance. But

from this stern and close logic, it follows that the objective things of earth do show forth in some measure the invisible things of the spiritual world, “The invisible things of God are clearly seen in the things that are made." Thus the universe is a pervaded force, or temple of living forces. It is the expressed poem of the spiritual world ; the objective and dramatic image of causative and cumulative powers unseen and eternal. I think I hear some of my audience ejaculating a responsive and hasty Amen to all this, in order to induce me to proceed to another part of this review ; but I feel rather disposed to disabuse your excellent understandings of certain fallacies and prejudices engendered by the “Old Theology" on this point; and I solicit your indulgence for a moment longer. If we view the world as a mere literal and final effect, it becomes nonsense, since it exhibits the Divine Being as creating mere natural existence. Natural existence is not the real or absolute existence, Nature, as we remarked before, is a pure seeming, wholly phenomenal. The sensible world is purely

formal, not essential; it is, and ever will be, the realm of shadow, not of substance-of seeming, not of being. It is not the theatre of God's Divine or spiritual creation, but of the effect of Divine creation ; or, to use Swedenborg's language, “a sphere of effects, not of ends.” How magnificently grand does the creation become when viewed in this light! Nature is not an independent existence, as she seems ; she is, in fact, the shadow or image of profounder realities projected upon the field of sensuous and objective vision ; she is the index of sublimer homes for the spirit, higher thought-worlds for the intellect, vaster playgrounds for the spirit-man within us, and a sublimer university for the spirit when it leaves this phenomenal world, and enters into that higher place and estate of being called spiritual existence. If this be sound argument, and truthful logic, and rational reasoning, then our day and night, our summer and autumn, our flowers of earth and stars of heaven, the balmy breaths of orient climes, the sweet music of running streams, the grand melody of anthem and psalm, the soul-stirring scenes of earth and sky, are so many graduated effects from interior spiritual causes, precisely as we regard a blush upon the skin, or a sudden pallor, as an evidence of heightened or depressed vital action.

Here, then, we are invited to believe in a world above

and beyond this, which is real and lovely, and of the spirit's holiest play--with its blooming landscapes, and terraced mountain slopes, and verdant meadows, and transcendently gorgeous scenery, and rivers streaming in the brightness of an All Father's smile, and stately and tall trees, and grand enjoyments and employments for the perfected spiritual body. As this future home and world is more real than this phenomenal world, the body adapted to it must be correspondingly more real and complete in its parts and sensations than that which we inhabit now. Swedenborg affirms-and we believe the affirmation to be philosophically true—that man, as to his interior structure, is more complete and consciously more manly after he leaves this natural world than he is while in the world. He continually endeavours, in his philosophical treatises, to disenchant us from the delusion that we are men solely by reason of our bodies. He tells us that the internal is the me the external body the mine. The spiritual body, is the ME, the body objective, is MINE; therefore the body is not the man or conscious me.

The spiritual body has its complete adaptation of parts and passions, its senses and perceptions, all admirably adapted to the world in which it is eternally to live; while in terrestrial conditions the powers of this spiritual manhood and womanhood are not consciously seen and felt as those we see and feel in natural conditions, yet they are certainly as real in fact and active in reality as our fleshly senses and appetites. The spiritual man resides within the natural man, and uses the natural functions and faculties as his servants, while sojourning in the natural world. The natural eye is the eyeglass of the spiritual eye, by which it sees into the objective world ; the natural ear is the sounding gallery for the corresponding spiritual organ to hear the sounds of the natural world ; and the whole anatomy of the man is an admirably-arranged adaptation for the spiritual being within, who inhabits the body as its splendidly-furnished apartment.

Swedenborg crosses, in his culture and insight, the Rubicon between the age of natural science and that of spiritual philosophy. By a more reliable navigation than Columbus, he planted the standard of discovery on the spiritual world, and brought spiritual facts, sublime as heaven and terrible as hell, into the open light and com

« 이전계속 »