« PrécédentContinuer »
from the constant contact of the water, and soon bleach into melancholy films. Ponds, rivers, even ditches, have their special vegetable inhabitants. Where the water is clear and still, there are water-lilies, anchored far from the land, and often with beautiful spires and campaniles of other plants rising among them, like a floral Venice. No timorous hand reaches these. As “faint heart never won fair lady," so may it be said of the water-lilies. To secure these, it is of no use to stand on the brink and sigh. Ingenuity and perseverance will, nevertheless, bring them to land, and then how lovely and pure a form! The white water-lily is closely allied, both in form and nature, to that mystic Lotus of the Nile, representatives of which, carved in stone, are still preserved upon the monuments of Egypt, where, doubtless, the plant was regarded by the light of “correspondence,” and its purity and lustre viewed in their right and ample meaning.
The water-lilies never grow in foul water, and always prefer that which is in steady though slow movement, loving especially the little bays along the edges, where they can spread their broad leaves upon the surface undisturbed, and expand their argent cups, brimming with golden stamens, to the light of the sun. Towards evening they close their petals in a kind of sleep, and during the period of their highest life, which is that of the preparation of the seed that is to renew the plant, they not only close, but sink below the surface of the stream. In many kinds the odour is rich and delicate, and some sorts yield eatable seeds. The Egyptian Lotus bore a rose-coloured flower, our own being white, but that does not interfere with the beautiful concordance of these plants with the ideas of truth and chastity, rather does it so much the more confirm the correspondence. Clear and moving water, broad and elegant leaves, pure white or rose-coloured flowers, odour, modesty of life, and withdrawal in times of darkness, how beautifully all these characteristics of the water-lily and the lotus combine to shew us what they signify in the language of nature !
What a contrast with the sea-weeds is found in trees! Here in the north all our trees are much branched, and when full grown form grand umbrageous sun-shades, to which we can retire for shelter when the summer heats fall fiercely upon our cheeks; their boughs in many cases decline elegantly towards the ground, so that we can reach their nuts and acorns; and in winter, when they have cast aside their foliage for a while, we see a wonderful diversity in their styles of architecture;some are massive, and seem to belong to the heroic ages, as the oak and the chesnut; others are graceful and delicate, and seem feminine companions of the manly ones. In the tropics, on the other hand, there are not only branching trees such as those of the north, though enormously greater in their development, but trees that are wholly devoid of branches, rising like tall pillars of wood, perfectly erect, and to a prodigious height, with a crown of immense leaves upon the very summit. These are the palm-trees, the princes of the equatorial zone, as the pine and cedar trees are the princes of the temperate zones. In England we only see them in conservatories, as at Kew and Chatsworth. They want much more light and natural atmospheric warmth than are ever rendered to them in Britain, and thus form a peculiar and magnificent characteristic of the tropics, filling the traveller with admiration, and awakening all his sense of tropical grandeur of vegetation.
Yet who in Indian bower hath stood
To gaze upon her oaks again ! In the extreme north of Europe, and also in the northern parts of America, there are forests consisting exclusively of pines and firs, and of such yast area that many days' travel is required to traverse them. They are evergreens; the animals and birds inhabiting them are very few; human habitations are scarcely known, except upon their borders, where they adjoin cultivated or pasture land; and hence they form at once the most monotonous of woods and the sublimest of solitudes. It is here, as during the darkness of night, in solitary places down by the sea, when we have wandered away from the sound of men and the view of lamps, that we feel the littleness of ourselves and the brevity of this temporal life. Everything around is grand, solemn, and perennial, and we are driven inwards upon ourselves, living for the time in that little secret chamber which we all have in the inmost of our hearts, into which only God and ourselves can enter, and where we meet face to face. Even our English woods, in their green depths and inexpressible seclusion, give much of this feeling when we push in to them alone; and it is good to do so, if only to secure it. Our English woods differ greatly from those silent pine-woods in the abundance of their living creatures, and equally so in the plenty of their flowers and ferns. Hence there is much to attract the eyes and thoughts; but over and above all, there is the inexpressible feeling of the isolation, and the nearness of Him who made them all. It is well to visit these great solitudes, for no places so powerfully compel us to say with the disciple of old—“Have I been so long time with thee, Philip, and thou hast not known me?”
Thus beautifully do we find in all countries of the world, upon land and in water, plants appropriate to their several stations, and rendering every place cheerful.
What would have been the case had plants all required an equal amount of warmth and protection, or an equal amount of moisture! Many spots would have been barren, and the enjoyment of man reduced in proportion. But go where we will, we meet with new illustrations of the Divine Benevolence;—the true idea of the omnipresence of God is that in every place we find the manifestations of His providence.
SHORT ARGUMENTS ON GREAT SUBJECTS.No. 1.
Man's FREEDOM. God desires the happiness of His creature-Man. This is a fundamental axiom, the denial of which must preclude all profitable or possible reasoning. Desiring man's happiness, if man were not free, God would compel man to be happy. The existence of misery evidences the non-existence of such compulsion, and the non-existence of the compulsion proves the possession by man of freedom. God is good (another fundamental axiom). Being good, He must desire man to do and be good also. Desiring man to do good, if man were not free, God would compel him to do good. That man does evil, proves that no such compulsion exists, and the non-existence of the compulsion proves the freedom of man. As God is benevolent-i. e., desires the happiness of His creature—the existence of misery must frustrate His object; and as God is good, the existence of evil must subvert His designs. Man is, therefore, so free as to be able to violate God's law, to impede the progress of God's will, to frustrate God's objects, and to subvert God's designs! Must he not, consequently, be free enough to obey that law, to accelerate the progress of that will, to coöperate in that object, and to suffer those designs to work in him, and through, and by him? If man were a slave, at least his master would extort obedience, and compel order and exact submission. The existence of disorder and rebellion, which have been cited to show man a slave, only proves how terribly free he is and has been. His woes are witnesses against his bondage, and in favour of his liberty; for his woes bave been selfentailed- and self-entailed, too, in spite of Divine warnings, Divine directions, Divine assistance, the sending of prophets, the establishment of churches, and finally of the Lord's own advent into the world, with the view of persuading the free prodigal to return to his Father's arms, and heart, and home. Man being free to be miserable in spite of God, surely he is free to be happy with God's assistance! Man being free to do evil and subvert God's plans, surely he is free to do good in coöperation with God's purposes! The denial of the conclusion can only be combined with wilful blindness, or voluntary atheism.
PROGRESS OF NEW CHURCH DOCTRINES IN SWEDEN.
Dear Friend,—There may, perhaps, be some members of the Swedenborg Society in London who would wish to know what, progress the New Church doctrines have made in Sweden from Swedenborg's time to our own days; I therefore take the liberty of sending you the following brief notices on this matter, thinking you may deem them suitable to be inserted in your valuable Magazine.
In the eighteenth century the Swedish people seem to have been but very little receptive of spiritual truths. Among Swedenborg's countrymen there were but few who, following Beyer's and Rosén's example, embraced his doctrines. This want of religious feeling and this unbelief of the nation at that time, did not escape Swedenborg's attention. In the 5034th and following sections of the Spiritual Diary, where he describes the different geniuses and various propensities of many peoples in the spiritual world, he gives, as we see, no favourable testimony regarding the moral character and mental constitution of his countrymen in general. He says that “the Swedes profess Christianity with the mouth, but in the heart they are anything but Christians.”
Respecting the intellectual capacity of the Swedish theologians and clergymen, Swedenborg's words are indeed not much milder. We are convinced of this by one of his letters to Dr. Beyer, dated Stockholm, 30th October, 1769, and printed in Samlingar för Philantroper. (Stockh. 1787, 1 Häfte.) In this letter Swedenborg says—“I have here communicated the little treatise Summaria Expositio Nova Doctrinæ (Summary Exposition of the New Doctrine) only to Bishop Benzelstjerna, and with strict reservation that it be not delivered to any
person. The reason is, that in Sweden there are but few who admit the understanding in any theological subject; wherefore no illumination can be derived from the Word of God; as, for instance, that in Rom. iii. 28, and Gal. ii. 16, is not understood a faith imputative of the merit of Christ, but faith of Jesus, that is, faith from Jesus in Jesus; nor the works of the law of the Decalogue, but the works of the Mosaic law, which were only for the Jews,—and so forth. But this and more shall be fully demonstrated in the work itself (Vera Christiana Religio), which is to be published two years hence. The Summary Exposition, as a forerunner, is to prepare the way for receiving it. This little tract is to be found everywhere in Christendom, save here in Sweden, because theology is now in its winter, and here in the north there is longer night [Enl. Series.—No. 104, vol. ix.]
than in the southern countries ; wherefore they in their darkness might spurn all that is intellectual or rational in the New Church.; yet due exceptions are to be made in the ecclesiastical order. I also apply to myself what the Lord said to His disciples—Matt. x. 16."
The remark of Swedenborg that the Summaria Expositio was, as early as at the end of October, 1769, to be found "everywhere in Christendom," is confirmed by a contemporary and friend of Swedenborg's, John Chr. Cuno (David Paulus ab Indagine), in his Aufzeichnungen über Swedenborg, published by Dr. August Scheler, Hanover, 1858. In this little book, page 146, Cuno tells us, more in detail than Swedenborg himself does in his letter to Dr. Beyer, that “ before the end of the month of January, 1769, Swedenborg's Epitome Novæ Doctrine, was already printed, bound, and sent to preachers and priests of all sects, and at the same time disseminated through all the towns and universities of Holland. To myself alone ten copies were delivered.”
It were easy to find the reason why Swedenborg distributed the copies of his Summaria Expositio so openly and copiously in one country and so cautiously and secretly in another, even if he had not told us himself. He was wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. He did nothing without due reference to persons, times, and circumstances. Wherever be supposed the scholars to be adapted to make a reasonable use of his Epitome, he dealt it out among them, for he was as warm a friend of spiritual light, dogmatical progression, and religious reformation, as he was a declared antagonist of zealous and fanatical sectarianism; and therefore, wherever he thought that the little tract would occasion religious schisms and strifes and ecclesiastical disorder, he would in no wise give occasion to such troubles. Certainly, Swedenborg was very well aware that the spiritual ideas and dogmatical tenets which his writings disseminated over the whole Christian world, would sooner or later serve as a motive power to cause many changes within the sphere of theology, and many reforms in the ecclesiastical organizations of the established churches. But his intention was, that these reforms should be executed in the way of reasonable faith and spiritual knowledge, without any of the persuasiveness of proselytism, by that mildness and toleration which our Lord preached and His merciful Gospel commends.
As Swedenborg did not separate himself from the Swedish national church, his admirers and friends after him in his country have also, even to our days, embraced the principle of non-secession, and rested tranquil in the external position of the old church, respecting its order