Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

examining of children in their Catechism, and in expounding of the several points and heads of it.”

Now, perhaps it may be asked, wherefore this array of authorities for the purpose of proving the propriety of catechetical instruction to members of the New Church? We answer, that there are many members of the New Church whose neglect of this mode of instruction shews that it is desirable that proofs of its usefulness should be brought prominently forward ; and probably all will feel that a means of good, so completely within the reach of every one of us, should be more extensively employed amongst us than it has hitherto been. For ourselves, we are free to confess that we are conscious of having done much less of good in this mode than we ought, and we feel thankful that in the order of Providence we have been reminded of our deficiencies in this respect.

In those Societies where there are Sunday Schools, and especially in those Societies where the pastors attend to their Sunday Schools, and where the children of the members are regular attendants upon

them, also either as teachers or scholars, or both, this mode of instruction, of which we are speaking, has been pretty fully taken advantage of. But, my dear brethren, in how many Societies is there not room for improvement in both these respects? We know that, in the

present condition of the Church, our pastoral duties are in many instances necessarily performed by those whose weekly engagements make it absolutely necessary that the periods before and after the morning service on the sabbath should be devoted to preparation for the exercises of the pulpit, and thus they are prevented from acting as catechists. In this state of the Church, then, would it not be wise of us to follow the example of the early Christians, and institute catechists in every Society, and not only in every Society, but in every family also to take care that all our own children shall receive catechetical instruction ? Nor would this be at all difficult. Every Society, and almost every family in the Church, possesses amongst its members individuals perfectly competent to undertake this office. And the New Church, considering its recent existence in these realms, and the paucity of its members, possesses a body of Catechisms, which is a ground for devout thankfulness to the Lord.

Passing over Mr. Clowes's Church of England Catechism Explained, Mr. Sibly's Catechism, and Mr. Rendell's Catechism, of the last of which we have heard only, never having seen a copy of it, we have now the following works in a catechetical form, which are everywhere available for the use of the Church :

1. A First Catechism, prepared by the Secretary of the Committee on Education, and to be now had of all the New Church booksellers, which is especially adapted to the minds of young children. It is short, it is couched in simple language, chiefly in that of the Scriptures, is printed in large type, and is intended to teach especially the doctrine of the Lord and the doctrine of life, so far as those doctrines are apprehensible by the infant mind. Two thousand have been printed; and as every hundred furnished to the booksellers is only one-twentieth of the entire cost of the whole edition, they are enabled, after adding their first profit, to sell it at the lowest possible price.

2. The Conference Catechism, which is an admirable exposition of New Church truth, adapted to the wants of children above eight or nine years of age.

3. The Conference Catechism, with Scripture Proofs, excellently calculated to confirm the tenets of our most holy faith, and to give them such a basis in the mind as to render their ultimate rejection improbable.

4. Religious Instruction for Young People, by the Rev. W. Mason, in which the truths of the New Church are displayed in a form calculated powerfully to impress young persons.

5. Questions on the Four Leading Doctrines, prepared by Mr. Butter, and so arranged as to be answered in the very words of Swedenborg. This is a book which is too little known in the Church; for it is calculated to be eminently useful, and to afford not only a useful acquaintance with the four leading doctrines themselves, but by inducing a familiarity with the style of Swedenborg to prepare the way for a more extended perusal of his writings in after life.

Besides the foregoing, which may be regarded as doctrinal Catechisms, we have also, in Mr. Clowes's works for the young, a series of little books, the value of which, for pupils from the age of ten or eleven years or upwards, can scarcely be too highly estimated. Besides The Young Prince, Jacob's Ladder, and The Catterpillars and the Gooseberry Bush, which might all be usefully employed, we have in Mr. Clowes's Scripture Histories, Miracles and Parables, a number of expository and practical Catechisms, which might be extensively useful, not only in childhood, but in that period which intervenes between childhood and adult age. And how useful would catechising not be in our Churches themselves, and before the whole congregation, if such works as these were extensively employed, and examinations in them well conducted ? How many are there not of those amongst us whose ordinary occupations occupy so large an amount of time as to preclude any considerable extent of spiritual reading, besides that of the Holy Scriptures themselves, who would not be thus enabled to arrive at

clearer views of the Divine Word, and a more extended acquaintance with its internal sense ?

If our present notious would not admit of a more frequent catechetical examination, it might be employed once a month before the whole congregation, and if well conducted it would conduce to the edification of all. If every Sunday, which is highly desirable, a small portion only of the catechetical exercise might be given at a time, and if this were preceded by singing, prayer, and the reading of the Holy Word, and were followed by a short lecture on some parts of the Lord's Prayer, the Decalogue, the Creed, or the Miracles, Parables, or other portion of Scripture on which the children had been examined, such an exercise would present sufficient variety, and a sufficient amount of instruction, to interest alike the young and the old.

We have before shewn how well provided the New Church is with Catechisms; and we need only remark, that it is almost as well provided also with catechetical lectures. Mr. Clowes, Mr. Sibly, Mr. Arbouin, and Mr. H. A. Worcester, have all published sermons on the Lord's Prayer. Mr. Clowes has also published sermons on the Parables of the Ten Virgins, and on the Marriage of the King's Son, and on the Decalogue; and another author, whose name is a security for the excellency of the production-Mr. Noble-is now about to give to the world a volume of discourses on the same subject. *

It is possible that our ignorance of New Church literature may have been the cause of our passing over other productions equally adapted for catechetical lectures; but the attention of our friends having been drawn to the subject, we trust enough has been said to demonstrate that we are in a condition to commence this good work in right earnest, and we trust that “the zeal of the Lord of Hostswill be received with sufficient affection by the members of His new and living Church, to excite them to do all that is necessary for the fully carrying out of His command to Peter—to all who have faith in Him,—“Feed

my

lambs."

H. B. Islington, June 1, 1844.

* The Lectures by Mr. Noble, now in the press, are not on the Decalogue, but on various important subjects of Christian Doctrine.-ED.

EXTRACTS FROM SWEDENBORG'S SPIRITUAL DIARY.

(Now first translated from the original Latin ; continued from page 2]4.)

Concerning those who live without performing any uses, and concerning

their hell. 4548. There are those who do not live on account of any use, but who live to themselves only, caring nothing about the public good; still less have they any pleasure in performing the duties of any office or function. What they do, they do from constraint, that it may appear that they are capable of being in office. Moreover, all their pleasure consists in frequenting company, in eating, drinking, and being honored. When such persons come into the other life, they cannot be received into heaven, because heaven is a kingdom of uses, and every one receives joy and happiness according to the quantity and quality of the use which he had acquired to himself in the life of the body. Such are in hell deeply behind, and correspond to the obstructions of the brain about the juncture of the suture, on the vertex of the brain. I felt this obstruction, during a whole night, from such spirits, for I perceived whence it came; I was as though I should have died, unless I had been delivered by the Lord. Such spirits are very numerous at the present day. In a word, every one receives joy and happiness in the other life according to the quality and quantity of the use in which he is. For the kingdom of the Lord is a kingdom of uses; nor can heaven or angels flow into those who are averse to all uses for civil society, for their country, for the church, and the Lord. As this is the case in civil life and in the republic, so that no one is tolerated unless he perform some use, how much more must this be the case in the Lord's kingdom!

Concerning that Council in which a distinction was made between the

divine and human nature of the Lord. 4551. I was permitted to speak with those who were in that council, in which it was concluded, that a distinction (or separation) should be made between the divine and human nature of the Lord. They were to the left forwards at a distance. They said, 'that they who had the greatest influence in that council, were together in a dark chamber; and that they concluded that dogma principally because the papal throne could not otherwise subsist. For if they acknowledged the Lord as one with the Father, as He Himself said, the Pope could not be His vicar upon earth. For schisms at that time existed, by which the papal power would have fallen and have been destroyed ; on which account they agreed to distinguish, or make a separation, between the divine and human nature of the Lord; and in order to corroborate this dogma, they procured confirmatory things from the Word, and thus they persuaded others. They said that they knew otherwise from the Scriptures, but that they could not receive what the Word teaches on this subject, on account of that cause. Moreover, they said that in their hearts they did not believe in the Lord, but that this they dare not declare, for if they had, they would have been either expelled or slain; they stated that they could thus rule in heaven and on earth, because they knew from the Word that the Lord has all power in heaven and on earth, and that thus they could rule over souls, and in this case they could also rule over other things belonging to men. It was said, that they would not have been content with this, but that they would also wish to possess all things upon earth ; it was replied, that thus they would have been

in full power.

Concerning those who place merit in their works. 4560. Deeply under those who cut wood, (concerning whom we have before spoken,) in a certain hell, are those who have placed merit in their works. I was thinking about Bezaleel, who made those things which belonged to the ark. Hence a certain spirit came, with whom I conversed; he said that he had done many good things, and that in the other life he obtained nothing for them, but that he was in hell with his like, where he suffered severe things. I perceived in every particular of his thought, if he only thought any thing good, or spoke any thing good, and still more, if he did any thing good, that he desired to be remunerated, so that remuneration was in every particular [of his mind]. It was permitted me to ask him what remuneration he wanted, since he was of such a character [as to seek remuneration in all that he did]; he said he wished to be in heaven, and there to be placed over others. I said, that he could not be with the good, because he would inspire them from himself with a similar [lust], and thus he would do evil to them who think nothing of the kind; for they well know, that they have nothing of merit, but that all things are of grace and mercy, and thus he would injure them. Moreover, he would never be content; for he would be continually thinking about remuneration, and whatever he might obtain, would not [in his view] correspond to his merit; thus he would aspire to dominion over others, and wish to be a god, and even above God. Wherefore it could not be otherwise than that he should be amongst those who are in a similar insane state of mind. He insisted that he had done many good works, but it was said, that he had

« EdellinenJatka »