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question must be treated as one altogether improper, for the reasons already assigned ; and on account of its impropriety, it must be deemed unworthy of a direct answer, (if, indeed, it were possible, which it is not, to give one,) for a question obviously improper to be put, because of its absurdity and unreasonableness, is, on the same account, not entitled to an answer, nor even to a respectful notice, beyond the attempt (rather difficult it must be admitted) to show the objectionable character of the question, without wounding the self-complacency of its propounder, and this we have endeavoured to do. We have only now, therefore, with all due respect, to recommend our questioner to withdraw his question ; never to ask it again; nor suffer it for a single moment to dwell upon his mind. We verily believe its first origin (for it is a very old question) was—the abodes of darkness!
Under the influence of this conviction, we must take the liberty of passing by An INQUIRER's question-What caused the abuse of freewill ?—as altogether out of place. As already observed, we are convinced that in giving the answer of Mr. Clowes, we have gone as far as the nature of the human faculties allow, and we doubt whether if An INQUIRER could have an interview with the spirit of the first man who “inclined to proprium," that spirit could conduct him a single step further, supposing the question to be put to him,—“What caused you to incline to proprium ?” And supposing him to reply,—“Nothing but my own perverseness,” and then he should be further pressed by being asked, “But what caused your perverseness ?” in this case, what answer could he give, by any posibility, but what substantially is the reply of Mr. Clowes, “I created this perverseness on myself by the abuse of my free-will.”* And if this closely questioned spirit, finding his questioner still dissatisfied with his answers, should add—“I see how it is, you are laying a trap for me to tempt me to palm my fault upon God, and therefore I will have no more to say to you,” he would do precisely what we should be disposed to do, standing in his place!
We verily believe, that it is under the cover of this demand, that those who, in their hearts, have a leaning to Calvinism, seek dexterously to shift the question by insinuating, or drawing on, the further question, “With whom was the origin of Evil ?" It is true that to this question the Calvinist himself would reply, “Not, certainly, with God, but altogether with man;" but while he thus readily replies in words, it appears to us that, in thought, he really does attribute the origin of evil to God, for he argues that God could have prevented the entrance of
* We are not sure that the supposed spirit might not reply to the first supposed question,“ I abused my free-will in consequence of making a mistake in estimating the relative value of things internal and things external.”
y.s. NO. 51.-VOL. V.
evil, and most assuredly if God could have prevented this, and did not, according to every sound maxim of justice, he was the real though secret author of man's fall. Weak minds may be prevented by their fears from expressing this conclusion even to themselves, but, for our parts, we regard such a conclusion as absolutely inevitable. Indeed, some bolder Calvinists have fully admitted this; as, for instance, the writer heard Mr. Vaughan declare from the pulpit, that “God not only purposed but actually contrived man's fall,—all for his own glory." Such an assertion is, in fact, nothing more than a fair and honest carrying out of the Calvinistic principle.
By regarding, as we must, the question,“ What caused the abuse ?" as merely the question, “ Did God cause the fall ?" in a covert form, we must further declare, that we should regard this question, if put openly, as an insult to our common sense, and, consequently, we can have no more friendly feeling towards the disguise it assumes. We reject this question, whether open or disguised, as only tending to bring the Divine Goodness into doubt. This we cannot allow, because the truth that declares the Divine Goodness is as much a self-evident truth, as the truth which declares that God is eternal. Suppose An INQUIRER were arguing with an Atheist, he would take leave to assume that God is eternal, for he
fact that begins to be must stand related to some cause. We submit, then, that we have an equal right to assume that God is infinitely good, and therefore to reject the question, (What caused the abuse ?) because, if it have any meaning at all, it can have no other than that of insidiously seeking to undermine this fundamental truth. On the same ground we are entitled to assume the further right of rejecting every Calvinistic predicate of God, by which the proper idea of the Divine Goodness is brought into question. It is precisely on the same principle that we are obliged to stop the cavilling of the Atheist, in his demand to know the Origin of existence, (which he puts forth in support of his denial of a God) by the affirmation of the self-evident fundamental truth, that God is the First Cause; and that we are compelled to put a stop to the cavils of the Predestinarian and Fatalist, in their demand to know the Origin of evil, by the affirmation of the self-evident fundamental truth, that God is INFINITELY good, and, consequently, cannot be the originator of evil, as the Calvinistic predicates make him to be.
And has our questioner any right to exult over us because he cannot obtain from us such an answer concerning the Origin of evil as he is pleased to pronounce satisfactory? Can he furnish a better? If he refuses to adopt the explanation that the Origin of evil is from man, through the abuse of his free will, is he prepared to affirm the only other alternative, that the Origin of evil is with God? If he is not prepared to affirm this, and yet thinks that he has any advantage, we cannot congratulate him on his freedom from cynicism.
We have declined to grant admission to his strictures, references, and reasonings, because we think it is our duty not to trouble our readers with what cannot profit them, or to immerse their minds in what appear to us nothing better than dusty subtleties, the natural food of the serpent since the fall. If our readers have a taste for exercising themselves in such contemplations, they know where to find them; they know that in Calvinistic metaphysics their is afforded plenty of scope for the exercise of that intellectual quibbling, (we mean no disrespect to our correspondent,) which too often passes for the legitimate exercise of
(To be continued.)
NOTICE OF SWEDENBORG IN THE AMERICAN
SOUTHERN QUARTERLY REVIEW.
“It is but a few months since (says the Editor of the above work) we had occasion to speak of a very favorable notice of Swedenborg published in the Christian Examiner, Boston. We have now the satisfaction of stating that a similar notice appeared in the last number of the Southern Quarterly, published in Charleston, South Carolina. The receivers of the doctrines of the New Church cannot fail to be highly gratified, in seeing the claims of Swedenborg, so candidly and fully set forth in some of the leading periodicals in the country; and we trust that the aim of the writer of this article may be answered, in contributing to a juster appreciation of the character, both of the philosophical and theological works of Swedenborg. The time must soon come, when this will be realized. It cannot much longer be regarded as excusable in the learned to be ignorant of the writings of Swedenborg, nor as in good taste to refer to him only with a sneer, as mystical and unintelligible. And such notices as that presented in the Southern Review, will help to prepare the public mind for the change. In order to give our readers some idea of the general tone and style of the Review, we shall insert a few extracts. The following are the introductory paragraphs:
“ Little is known in this country, particularly in the Southern States, of the great Swedish philosopher and theologian, Emanuel Swedenborg. It is time that his character and writings should be better understood. Few individuals have ever arisen and performed a conspicuous part on the theatre of life, whose claims to an attentive consideration were greater, and few, we regret to say, have actually received less. Persuaded as we are, that his writings, covering a very extensive range of philosophical, scientific, and theological inquiry, possess a high order of merit, and that the views which he has promulgated in the last named department especiallythat of theology-however slow their progress may have been in times past, and in however little popular favor held, are yet destined to impart a new impulse to social progress and infuse new life into the body politic and theological, we cannot hesitate to assign to them that prominence which they seem to us fairly entitled to claim at the hands of patriots, philanthropists, and christians. Their influence, even now, is beginning to be more deeply felt than is generally imagined. Some of the most masterly writers of our day and country are deeply imbued with the spirit and general tone of thinking of the Swedish seer, appear to have sounded the depths of his spiritual philosophy, and to have slaked their thirst with liberal and refreshing draughts from the overflowing fountain of his writings.
“ Still, there has been a singular timidity evinced, even by bold thinkers, in respect to the very perusal of his works. They have been read by stealth, away from company-free from the curiosity of the prying eye. Persons have been afraid, as if they were engaged in some necromantic orgies, to breathe a word to their friends of their peculiar and forbidden occupation. They have come to their teacher, as Nicodemus came to the Saviour, in the night time, and have listened to his instructions with equal incredulity and equal wonder. The ridicule levelled at the celebrated Swede, by Dr. Southey, more than a quarter of a century ago, in his 'Espriella's Letters,' has led manyį to turn with indifference and contempt from his works -works full of light and consolation-lest they, too, if detected in their perusa should come in for a share of the sarcasm of some lively and witty satirist. The style in which these compositions are clothed—in some degree eccentric and unique
- but deriving its singularity rather from the elevated character of the subjects treated of, than from any want of tact and skill in the writer, has deterred others, who have commenced the examination of them, from proceeding much beyond the threshold. Prescriptive authority-educational biases-pride of opinion-of opinion imbibed in other schools-long entertained, and mistaken for truth - these have stood in the way of others. Then the pretensions of Swedenborg, scarcely less lofty than those of a prophet, though preferred with a modesty and even a humility, which, taken in connexion with the solemn and startling developments he has made, and the unblemished purity of his life and manners, forbid the slightest suspicion of imposture-these pretensions, we say, have led others to affirm, that his mind may have been shattered and warped from its healthful tone -- a charge, we know, once preferred against a greater than Swedenborg. But to those who are inspired with a larger share of courage - who can recognize intellectual superiority, in some cases, where there is more than a slight divergence from old and beaten pathswho have been willing to say to worldly considerations, 'Get ye behind me,' and to authority, 'Thou art not my master in matters of this nature;' - to those who have been animated more by a love of truth, than alarmed by fears of reproach and contumely ;-to those, who, like the wisest of sages, could send up, from the inmost depths of their being, the earnest entreaty, ‘Give me understanding,' to suchand there are not a few of them the works of the author under consideration have proved a rare treasure.
“We are not fully aware of the estimate placed upon the works of this remarkable man, nor have we any statistics before us, which would authorize us to speak with confidence of the progress of his doctrines, or the number of his followers—or rather of those who acknowledge the truth of his theological system, (since he disclaims all pretensions to be placed at the head of a sect) in Europe. We only know from unquestionable authority, that he was held in high estimation for his genius, scholarship, philosophical and theological writings in his own country, where, as we shall see, he was elevated to various eminent official stations, scholastic and political, and that there are numerous societies which bear his name, collected in Sweden, in England, in Germany, and various parts of Europe. It was not to be expected that doctrines of the character of those which he inculcated, should rapidly gain converts anywhere. Our surprise would, on the contrary, have been roused, if they had acquired a sudden and universal popularity. Opinions, profound rather than obvious, and which require for their comprehension a degree of moral and mental elevation not to be found in every age nor in every class of society, necessarily make slow advances, and require time to take deep root, and to secure a firm and lasting hold on the general mind. In our own country, the progress of these opinions has certainly been remarkable, considering the unsettled state of society which prevails in a new country ;- the sparseness,' particularly in the Southern States of our population; the voluminous character of the works themselves, in which those opinions are recorded; the difficulty and expense attendant on the procuring them, at all, in places remote from cities, and finally the prejudices arising from various causes, which their advocacy has had to encounter;-considering all these circumstances, we say, the progress of these doctrines and the present respectable and even imposing position of this denomination in America, is little less than miraculous, or, if not actually so, the causes which have produced results so striking, are at least inexplicable, and do not appear upon the surface of things. For the last twenty years, we have noticed the silent but sure advances of this church among us, rather with the curious eye of a spectator, than the sympathy of a votary, and during that brief period, we have seen at least fifty societies collected in the United States, professing these views, embracing thousands of intelligent and well-informed persons, and among them not a few of our most gifted minds— all ardently attached to their principles, but who have adopted no extraordinary means to extend the circulation of them, under a conviction, and probably a very just one, that truth will ultimately secure its own triumph, and that opinions embraced voluntarily, without pomp or circumstance, will retain a more secure possession of the mind where they have once obtained a lodgment, than such as depend for their success on the Auctuations of popular entbusiasm, or upon the cencentrated efforts of an ardent sect, ready and over zealous to adopt any measures even of doubtful expediency, that may be calculated to promote its fortunes. In pursuing this unostentatious course, so different from the turbulent demeanour and dogmatical assumption which have characterized the movements of some of the sects, they have, upon the whole, acted cautiously and wisely, since the little leaven of truth in the community - if it be truth - workivg silently and effectually by night and by day, will, in due time, leaven the whole lump, even though no loud clamour be raised in the meantime, as to the secret process of nature by means of which the consummation is effected.
“ That principles apparently novel and startling, and which contemplated nothing less, in the end, than a complete revolution in various religious systems, by the