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in the Infinite All. He was held as a mere metaphysical abstraction, loveless, lifeless, inane, of whom nothing could be affirmed personally. Nothing of this could take hold of the common mind, or make
“ Peor and Baalim
Forsake their temples dim ;" or throw down the altars of superstition. The heart cannot feed on sublimities and abstractions ; it cannot make a home of cold magnificence; it cannot take immensity by the hand.
For the regeneration of man and the redemption of the world, it was requisite that the Divine Being should be known not only as an abstract cause, but as the infinitely Divine Personality-the essence and form of all excellence and beauty ; not as a distant Providence of boundless
and of uncertain and inactive will, but as God, the "Divine Man,” personally related to the race and the universes. The theologies and philosophies of the age prior to Swedenborg were utterly incapacitated to respond to the longing in men's hearts for a personal God. From the third century, when theology committed suicide on the question of Deity, philosophy ever since has been its unhappy ghost, disturbing the hopes and souls of men. Swedenborg, gives royai testimony to the nature and perfection of God. He alone, of all theologians, reveals the true and personal conception of God, and in such a form as refutes the mighty systems of Spinoza, Naturalism, Fetishism, Pantheism, Fatalism, Optimism, and Tritheism. His doctrine is substantially this :-That God is perfect love and perfect wisdom, and the sole, universal, and Divine substance; that God is infinite Divine love and wisdom in an intinitely Divine human form or personality ; feminine as to His love, and therefore ever actively creating ; masculine as to His wisdom, and therefore perpetually formative and making. He shows how GOD works in nature, and unfolds the mode of His access to man—by which He clothes with beauty the grass that perishes, and weaves the many-coloured robe of space and time ; how God's omnipresence is the omnipresence of influx to every created form, and His omnipotence the omnipotence of love to every receptive heart and mind in the universes. Swedenborg's doctrine of the “Divine Love and Wisdom” is
the most wonderful exposition of the nature of our Heavenly Father that I have ever studied.
To those persons now struggling in the chaos and confusion of speculative thought and faith on the question of Deity, we recommend the reasoning and wisdom of Swedenborg. To the common thought, and even to the most philosophical mind, there is something enormously repulsive in the ordinary views of Deity, Swedenborg remarks that God is a "Divine Man,” therefore a Divine Personality. In this Divine Personality there exist three degrees of infinitude--His love, wisdom, and proceedingcalled respectively Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In philosophical terms these three degrees of being are-Esse, Existere, and Procedere ; Divine good, Divine truth, and Divine operation, Divine infinite love; infinite Divine wisdom, and infinite Divine effectuality: all these denote the one God in His three hypostases, or infinite discrete degrees. The Divine Being is, according to this doctrine, seen to be not an abstract unity, but a Divine organism of eternal hypostases, distinct, but mutually one. The reason for this threefold hypostases is obvious : as it requires to constitute a perfect man, the love-principle, and its wisdom counterpart, and the effective embodiment of both, knit together in that thorough oneness which is represented in the nuptial relation,---so God, who has fashioned man in His own image and likeness, in Himself exists. There is the same distinction in the Divine Nature that there is in the faculties of man. There is love in GOD,
first and highest—the creative fountain of His nature; but this must have an intellect or wisdom-form into which it may flow, and run down into the moulds of beauty and beneficence; and the operation of such love and wisdom is the Divine effect. There is thus gradation in the Divine even as in human nature, from the highest or inmost, which no man can approach, to the outermost, where God comes down into a lower self-consciousness, and accommodates Himself to all exigencies and affairs. As Dionysius says somewhere—“The efflux of the mind, which from men is derived from the heart into the tongue, where it becomes another reason differing from that of the heart, and yet do both these mutually exist in each other, they belonging to one another; and so, though being two, are one thing. Thus are the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit one thing, they being said to exist in each other.” This conception of the Divine nature utterly emancipates us from the discords and perplexities of Tritheism. Such a conception is mainly redemptive, and it loses nothing of its forcefulness or philosophy by plain affirmation. The doctrine of God given by Swedenborg throws the foul and carnal views of God backward to the place whence they originated, and bids us look upward to a Our Father in the Heavens," as the purest, noblest, most exalted Being, who is ever merciful and always loving, not because we deserve mercy or love, but because these qualities in Hiin are infinite.
I am free to declare that I find this conception of Deity superior to any other theological notion of God in the schools or churches, and I shall cherish the most hearty atheism towards every Deity and notion of Deity which does not illustrate the splendid doctrine expressed through Swedenborg. Any other representation of God is treasonable to our manhood, and a flagrant dishonour to the Divine Name. I verily believe that all Atheism and Scepticism will inwardly worship and loyally acknowledge such a God as Swedenborg describes, full of love, ever active in wisdom, and perpetually dwelling in redemptive influence with the sons of men. Until we have recovered the metaphysics of the Evangelists and Apostles and Fathers on the nature of God, we are not in a position to dogmatise. The metaphysics of the ancient school-of such men as Plato, Origen, Tertullian, Justin, and Clement of Alexandriapointedly and clearly set forth the view of God which Swedenborg more philosophically propounds. But this reminds me that I am to speak of Swedenborg as a metaphysician.
Metaphysicians, since the sixth century, have all agreed that the Divine Being “is without body, parts, or passions”
_that He is a Divine simplicity-Divine essence or unity. The assertion that God is without parts, passions, and body, amounts to the bold and blank declaration that "there is no God." It is this doctrine of the metaphysicians that is the basis of all that extreme imbecility exhibited and generated by the school-men and hood-men respecting the nature of God and the faculties of man. The only genuine mystics have been these metaphysicians. Though they lost the play of wisdom and insight, they endeavoured to retain
its gravity. They clutched at the reputation of being wise on the subject of Deity, and still they profess to know nothing of Deity! They builded upon denials and assertions ; and, in the words of the incomparable Droll
“ They knew what's what, and that's as high
As metaphysic wit can fly.” To every human note of inquiry they answered“Mum!" To the painful utterances of struggling souls—to the voice wailing after God, “O that I might find Him”-these-cold men of the schools replied—“The substance of all our knowledge concerning God is the knowing what He is not, rather than what He is,” and more modernly expressed by Bishop Beveridge-“We cannot so well apprehend what God is, as what He is not.”
God is represented on the one hand as a "pure idea," and on the other as a pure Divine simplicity ; now, as a "" luminous abyss, without bottom, without shore, without bank, without height, without depth, without laying hold of, or attaching itself to, anything-pure infinity ; then as
-“ formative appetency," “ metaphysicialens,” an "" infinite point,” “ the great ether of the universe.” And solemnly let us repeat it, the framers of these definitions request that we cannot do better, when thinking (?) of God, than to think of Him after the fashion indicated above! Think of a luminous abyss, of a bottomless, fathomless, shoreless, bankless, depthless being! Truly this is a mockery to the thought.
In striking contrast to this medley of absurdities, Swedenborg comes as a liberating angel, giving us, if not the absolutely true or final views, at least such views of God as redeem the nature of the Divine from the misapprehensions of a dull
, scholastic theology, and an imbecile metaphysics, and shows how God in Himself exists, and what attitude He maintains to man. He clearly demonstrates that a being without body, parts, or passions, is not a being at all. His reasoning on this point, though more profound and less rationalistic and materialistic than John Locke's, is substantially the same. This great and gifted English philosopher has stated that whatever “has no form and parts has no extension, and having no extension has no duration, and thus no existence.” This is the severe logic of material reasoning; but it contains a spiritual application. Apply this reasoning to the doctrines currently taught about GOD. If GOD “is without body, parts, and passions,” He has no existence ; for, as before observed, that which has no form, extension, and no duration, has no existence-no being—is not. When we say, “Our Father who art in the Heavens, we are, according to the stern logic of the preceding argument, addressing a nonentity. Do not mistake us. We are not insinuating for a moment that God has material parts or passions ; all we are bent on advocating is, that God is a Personality—is the infinite Divine Substance-is the only real substantial Being, with parts, and affections, and form in ever hallowed and sublime activity. And this is Swedenborg's doctrine ; yet without a knowledge of his doctrine of discrete degrees, and the nature of life, influx, and form, it is impossible in the brief space allotted to a lecture to give you anything approaching a clear and candid view of his position. Sufficient, however, has been advanced on the nature of God, as stated by Swedenborg, to quicken thought and suggest volumes for meditation.
Permit me here to address you on the subject of Man, or the metaphysics of the human being. Tomes of almost indefinite expansion have been written on the subject of the human mind, and yet it may be justly questioned whether much has been written to any great or good purpose. Vague classification of its parts, and a not by any means clear or accurate definition of terms, can do but little towards unfolding its wonderful and mysterious powers. It is not only indispensable that we should make ourselves conversant with the faculties of which the mind is composed; but we ought also to be able to sound its depths, and discover the relation one element or part sustains to another-how each is dependent on the other. No man has ever done so much to clear the vision leading into the soul of man as Swedenborg. He proceeds upon the premise already adverted to, that “man is made in the image and likeness of God;" and from this fundamental statement argues that man must have two predominant and primal elements in him corresponding to the love and wisdom principles in God. To be an image and likeness of God, a man must have an understanding, and an affection or will. The human mind is composed of these two departments of will and understanding; or, what is the same thing, of the leading functions of the affections and intel.