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indeed seem to teach that the New Church is to have a priesthood, and to be governed by it; but what must we say to the following passage, which "Argus," " for the sake of brevity,” has omitted to quote ?
“ It is not to be understood that the priesthood is to be loved in a superior degree, and from it the church, but that the good and truth of the church should be loved, and the priesthood on their account; this only serves, and as it serves is to be honoured.” (T. C. R. 415.)
Here is a passage apparently opposed to the former one, for while he there says that the priesthood is to rule, he says in the latter passage that it is only to serve. Does the author here contradict himself ? Did he write loosely, without knowing or considering what he said ? Certainly not. He is here consistent with himself, and can easily be shewn to be so.
He never meant, he never could mean, that the New Church, in its normal state, should be subjected to priestly government. On proceeding to shew his consistency, we will quote, along with the paragraph which speaks of priestly government, a paragragh preceding it. Swedenborg says, in H. D. 312
“ Order cannot be maintained in the world without governors, who are to observe all things which are done according to order, and which are done contrary to order; and are to reward those who live according to order, and to punish those who live contrary to order. If this be not done, the human race must perish; for the will to command others, and to possess the goods of others, is hereditarily connate with every one, whence proceed enmities, envyings, hatreds, revenges, deceits, cruelties, and many other evils: wherefore, unless men were kept under restraint by the laws, and by rewards suited to their loves, which are honours and gains for those who do good things; and by punishments contrary to those loves, which are the loss of honour, of possessions, and of life, for those who do evil things, the human race would perish.
314. “ Governors over those things among men which relate to heaven, or over ecclesiastical matters, are called priests, and their office the priesthood. But governors over those things among men which relate to the world, or over civil concerns, are called magistrates, and their chief, where such a form of government prevails, is called the king."
Here he plainly gives the reasons why there must be priests and kings to govern in society. It is because men are so depraved, so vicious and disorderly, that without such governors, to restrain men's evils, society would perish. But it is equally evident that if those reasons did not exist, such governors might be dispensed with. They are a necessity, and nothing more. This is seen from a note to H. and H. 220, where the author says—“When the loves of self and the world began to prevail, men were compelled for security to subject themselves to governments.” This is plain enough; it is plain that if evils did not exist, or
if men could be kept in order without the government of kings and priests, it would be orderly for those officials to be dispensed with. They would not be necessary, because their occupation would be gone.
There is, however, one difficulty, which needs to be considered. Our author requires priests as well as magistrates in the work of keeping order and restraining evils. But priests have to do with the church, and the church is composed of men who are orderly, or if not so, they are expelled from membership. We see no need of governors to punish evil-doers in our societies. Did Swedenborg mean his remarks on ecclesiastical government to apply to the New Church? It certainly seems so, for they are in a chapter connected with others which describe the doctrines of the New Jerusalem. Some persons have held that this chapter is for the Old Church, because the author's remarks are opposed to the genius of the New Dispensation, as well as to his teachings elsewhere to the effect that all men are to be equal, and be brethren, and servants to one another; also from one particular passage, where he says that priests are to teach “according to the doctrine of their church." (H. D. 315.) Here is the difficulty just mentioned, which we think can be satisfactorily solved in one, and only in one way. This way of solution is by considering that Swedenborg did not contemplate the New Church as a separate sectarian party or denomination, but that he had especially in view its principles, and thought of the most probable and practicable mode in which they would be gradually adopted among the mass of men. We do not mean that he would forbid receivers becoming a separate class of worshippers, but only that he expected they would remain, at all events for a while, with their previous religious connections. We verily believe that he thought in this way, for it is certain that it was not given him to know the future of the New Church, and that he was in principle opposed to sectarianism. He thought that his principles would silently, and by little and little, permeate other systems. Hence he spoke of what would be in future the general state of things. He said that the world would outwardly continue the same in its ecclesiastical and civil affairs. He was not, as a rash man, going to turn the world upside down; not going to disturb governments. He was a man of conservative, prudent, practical principles. He was for peace and order, and sought to save and not destroy. He would only insinuate into men's minds ideas which should really benefit them, and which should, in a quiet way, work and work until men would outgrow their institutions both in church and state, and then such institutions might be changed at pleasure, as men change their dress.
His teaching relative to governments was to have a general application. As to the church, he saw that in various countries there were ecclesiastical establishments, and that the people attending their places of worship were in a low condition. They could not govern themselves from the Lord alone. They needed to be governed by ecclesiastics, who should restrain their evils, and punish them if necessary. Hence there were ecclesiastical courts; there were pains and penalties; men did penance by standing in white sheets, and by exposure in the stocks. But since then these things have been changing, because order can be maintained in churches without them. Among Romanists we see in a striking manner the use of priestly authority, for a priest can quell a mob, when the civil officers can do nothing; and in various other ways he can restrain evils in his flock. Such priestly rule is most useful among men in a low and depraved condition.
But suppose we admit that our author's teachings are meant for the New Church as a separate denomination. The reasons for this ecclesiastical ruling are still in force, because it only applies to cases where people are so low and vicious that they cannot be kept in order without it.
The reader must now see the consistency of Swedenborg's teaching relative to the priesthood and priestly government. Like as kings and magistrates, prisons and punishments, must cease when men can live in order by self-government from God alone, even so priests must cease to be governors in ecclesiastical matters when church members can govern themselves. In this case priests and all others must become servants one to another. The church will then be in that normal state which he refers to in the passage where he says of the priesthood that it “ only serves, and as it serves is to be honoured.”
In using the terms priest and priesthood, in this paper, it is not to be understood that such names should be substituted for those of ministers and ministry. They are simply used here in a generic sense, as Swedenborg himself has used them.
Nothing can be more out of character in a Christian minister than claiming honour, dignity, and power in the church. If Swedenborg has said that priests are to receive honour, he has certainly not said that they are to claim it. No doubt he wished them also to deserve the honour they receive, and the way to deserve it is to practice the doctrines they preach. It is to shun self-exaltation; to be meek and lowly; to want not the name of Rabbi, nor the chief seats in synagogues; to be fuil of love to others; to be intelligent and useful; to be brethren among brethren, or servants among the servants of God. Such men will always be loved, and if loved then honoured too, and honoured in a proper way.
Swedenborg says—"Love honours, and honour cannot be separated from love."—(C. L. 331.) Also he says that in heaven "no one is esteemed except according to good and truth.” (H. and H. 407.)
It is but due to say of our ministers, that as a body we believe they have but little sympathy with Argus and his papers. They have no difficulties with the Conference or with societies. Even the changes complained of originated with some of them, because they saw it would be useful to make them. They are at peace with their brethren the laity, and want no controversies such as Argus has raised, which are uncalled for and needless. In view of some of his assertions, they may say—Save us from our friends.
There is much remaining to be said against what is in the papers of Argus, but at present we have written at sufficient length. Our principal aim in this paper has been to shew that the New Church is not to have a ruling priesthood.
ASSYRIA AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE IN THE WORD OF GOD,
(Continued from page 454.) THE BABYLONISH PRINCIPLE IN THE CHURCH. This Babylonish principle is so contrary to the heavenly spirit, that the Lord will not acknowledge it as at all belonging to his church, yet his church in its low condition may be captive in Babylonhis church, as represented by Judah, not as represented by Israel. They whose understandings are occupied about religious truth can hardly be brought to such submission, their danger is from Assyria ; but such as are the subjects of religious feelings, and whose simple minds do not enter into subjects of faith, being principled rather in obedience, even Babylon can be a safe refuge for them, until the descending light of heavenly truth shall disclose her abominations, and call upon them to come out of her, that they partake not of the plagues that must come upon her. We may see this profane principle abounding more in one portion or denomination in Christendom than in any
other, but it does not exist exclusively in any; perhaps no association of Christians exists altogether free from it. They whose doctrines call forth their rationality into superior exercise have reason to beware of introducing among them this spirit of Babylon, lest it should increase,
ASSYRIA AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE, ETC.
and at length take the more humble-minded into its captivity. And those who feel no tendency to this have also to take care that their rationality becomes not perverted ; for perverted reasonings, as we have before observed, will induce insanities and follies, and bring on the destruction of the rational principle, and thus leave the influences of a profane self-love unchecked, or Babylon to set up its dominion, for in these ways Assyria can become the country of Babylonian dominion.
The Scripture record does not give an account of Babylon's destruction. Daniel tells of its being taken by Darius, the Median, on the night of Belshazzar's impious feast, and speaks likewise of Cyrus, the Persian, as the sovereign of Babylon. The prophecies foretell it, and describe its desolation in striking language :-“ Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling-place for dragons, an astonishment and a hissing without an inhabitant. Her cities are a dry land, wherein no man dwelleth. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire.” According to the historians, Cyrus, after his defeat of Babylon, made it his winter residence, and the third capital town of his kingdom; but in consequence of a revolt, the walls and gateways were broken down, and the population soon decreased so greatly as to make it necessary to supply it with women from the surrounding country. At the time of Diodorus and Strabo the greater part of Babylon lay in ruins, and there were cornfields within its ancient precincts. Other cities, in places not too distant, were partly built of materials taken from the ruins, so that it became indeed a waste. Thus was ancient Babylon destroyed. Equally complete shall be the downfall of spiritual Babylon prior to the full establishment of the New Jerusalem. “ A mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city, Babylon, be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.”
LECTURE VI. In regarding the subject of Assyria as affording useful instruction in the Science of Correspondences, and endeavouring by means of the many points of interest it presents to elicit information useful both to our understandings and our hearts, we have been led to consider the origin of Assyria as one of the principal representative nations treated of in the Holy Word; to look at the combined testimony of the literal sense of the Word and of the exhumed sculptures,—to the fact of its being a proper representative of the rational principle, and by its moral decline becoming a fit representative of a perverted rationality; and we