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I. It is we are well aware, (and it may be expedient, first, to meet that objection with a few remarks,) a great offence with many in this Sadducean age, that our Author should profess to have had open communication with the spiritual world; to have been so in the spirit,—and this, as he declares, not when he was asleep but when he was wide awake,-as to be able to communicate with those in the world of spirits, or the first receptacle of souls after death, and occasionally with those in heaven and with those in hell; as also, to behold the appearances which exist in all those places and states respectively.* But what is there in his pretensions on this subject, which is not sanctioned by the experience of those who have formerly filled a similar office? Did not the Apostle Peter behold as extraordinary a vision as any that is detailed in the "Memorable Relations" of Swedenborg, when he beheld "a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet, knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth; wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter, kill and eat."t Does not the Apostle Paul declare, that, to him revelations from heaven were things of common occurrence? He says, and states it among his claims to respect and attention, not as what ought to involve his pretensions in doubt and denial,
"I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ, [meaning himself,] about fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body
*It was this which the writer of this Appeal found most repulsive, when first, by the kindness of Providence, the writings of Swedenborg came into his hands. Accustomed, as is so commonly the case at this day, to consider the other world and this to be separated by an impassable barrier, I could scarcely believe it possible for an inhabitant of the natural world to have any open communication with the spiritual,-not even by the special gift and providing of the Lord. Hence I at first ridiculed what I read (for the first book I opened was the treatise on Heaven and Hell), beautiful, sublime, and affecting, as were the views presented. But examining further, the superior views on all the subjects of religious doctrine which the writings of Swedenborg everywhere exhibit, and the luminous explanations they offer of the Word of God, entirely convinced me, that, in these respects he was truly an enlightened and safe guide.
† Acts x. 11, 12, 13.
I cannot tell; God knoweth;) such a one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man (whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell; God knoweth;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not possible for man to utter. Of such a one will I glory.—And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. ""* Communications with the spiritual world, then, were common with the apostles, and were regarded by them as properly belonging to their office: and specific examples of them abound throughout the Scriptures both of the Old and New Testament. So, if we are to give any credit to the unanimous assertion of all the primitive fathers, similar communications were extremely frequent in the early ages of Christianity. But, without adverting to these, the possibility of such communications cannot be denied by any believer of the Scriptures. Surely then we may say, that, standing in the situation in which Swedenborg asserts he did, he would have been but half qualified for his work had he been without them. His pretending to them does not, indeed, afford proof that his other pretensions are true; but it makes the whole consistent, and thus it gives to the whole the character of higher probability. In him, as the instrument for restoring the true knowledge of religious truth, they were entirely in place. Without them, all that he advances besides would have lost half its claim to attention. And if the information communicated by him is far more distinct than had ever been made known on such subjects before, this, also, is precisely what, under the circumstances, was to have been expected. If the knowledge respecting life and immortality brought to light at the first promulgation of the gospel, greatly exceeded in clearness what the world previously possessed; it surely was to be expected, that the knowledge on the same subjects unfolded at the Lord's second advent, would rise in distinctness above that communicated at his first, in the same ratio as this transcended the mere shadows afforded under the Mo
* 2 Cor. xii. 1 to 5, 7.
saic dispensation. Is it then the part of sound reason to reject the information communicated, for being what, if true, it assuredly ought to be? Is it the part of sound judgment to conclude, respecting Swedenborg, from the mere fact of his asserting that he had such communications with the spiritual world, as, if his pretensions were true, he ought to have had, that therefore his pretensions were false? We surely cannot justly come to such a conclusion, till, after having weighed all that he offers as the result of his communications in the balances of Scripture and Reason, we have found them wanting.
II. To induce a condemnatory decision respecting the subjects of Swedenborg's spiritual intercourse, the author of the Anti-Swedenborg has brought together, as before observed, such a collection of Sundered Scraps as he deemed most likely to make an unfavorable impression on the reader: and he prepares for them by a Section headed On Heaven and Hell; in which he states, in his own way, that is, in the way he thinks best calculated to generate prejudice, such particulars as will most easily admit of misrepresentation. To create odium, he imputes to us on a former occasion, as noticed above, the denial of "a future reckoning day and an hereafter of rewards and punishments;" so now, for the same purpose, he falsely represents us as abolishing the difference between heaven and hell. "The Baron," he affirms, "by his descriptions of the invisible world, has gone a great way towards making those who will believe him, neither very anxious for heaven, nor much afraid of hell, which, wherever such a feeling obtains, is a dreadful mental disease. For the sanctions of rewards and punishments do mightily restrain from vice, and promote virtue and piety. We are all naturally too remiss in religious duties: there is therefore little need to bereave us of those two great stimulants, hope and fear." So then, Swedenborg deprives virtue and vice of their sanctions:-a serious charge indeed, were there a grain of truth in it! To be "afraid of hell," however, in its most proper sense, is to be afraid of evil; for though hell is a place and state of misery, the essence of it is evil. The fear of hell which is not accompanied
* P. 66.
† P. 67.
with the fear of evil is but a spurious and Pharisaic kind of feeling, productive of little benefit either to the individual or to society. A man may be afraid of hell in the manner recommended by Mr B.,-even of " the Mahometan's hell," the description of whose terrors he quotes, (for he here again refers, for the third or fourth time, to his favorite standard of orthodoxy, "the Mahometan's Creed!"-without being much afraid of evil: and Mr B. seems desirous to evince this by his own example; for surely it is no light evil continually to sin, as he does, against the commandment, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."
That any man who has ever looked into Swedenborg's treatise on Heaven and Hell, and by making references to it, as Mr B. has done, wishes it to be believed that he has read it, should be capable of advancing such a calumny as to say, that the Baron's descriptions of the invisible world tend to make men neither very anxious for heaven nor much afraid of hell; to take away from virtue and vice the prospect of reward and punishment; and to deprive men of those stimulants to good conduct, hope and fear; is truly a deplorable example of the power of theological prejudice; for, most assuredly, never before was heaven represented under so truly attractive, exalted, and glorious an aspect; never was hell depicted so morally appalling, so repulsive by credible horrors.
Is there nothing calculated to render us anxious for heaven, to make us regard it as a reward of virtue desirable in the highest degree,-in the assurance offered by Swedenborg, that he who enters heaven comes into a scene, where every object that can impart delight salutes his new-quickened sensations; while yet it is not in anything imparted by outward objects that his happiness essentially consists, though they contribute to its fulness, but in that ineffable sense of blessedness which fills his whole mind, and which is inherent in that life of love, wisdom, and use, by which he is inwardly animated, and into the full activity, and completely developed enjoyments of which, he now finally enters? He is immediately, according to our Author, surrounded by kindred angels, all ready and eager to shew him the most winning offices of attention, and in whose society he feels at once
entirely at home, as if he were among friends and relatives known to him from infancy; whence his spirits expand, and his life is exalted, being conjoined with the life of all around him; which being all in harmony with his own, and not the slightest disagreement creating an opposing or uncongenial sphere to be felt, occasions such a sense of fulness of delight, as can never here be experienced, nor even conceived. Nor can any description ever exalt the imagination even to the threshold of the state requisite for apprehending it; for it can only be apprehended, as it is, by those in the spiritual state belonging to angels, and which cannot be perceptibly communicated to man in the natural world. Of man in
his natural state it will ever be true, as Divine Truth hath spoken, that "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Nor does the experience of our author form any exception to this statement; for it was not to the faculties of his natural part, by which he lived as a man in the world, that the experience was communicated, but to those of his spiritual part, which properly belongs to the spiritual world; and he constantly declares that he can give no description of what it was thus granted him to perceive, that can convey any adequate idea of it to man in the world: all that he sketches therefore, and all that we can apprehend, is to be regarded but as a faint approximation to the reality. But we must not attempt to enter into particulars here. Let those who feel sufficient interest in a subject interesting above all others, consult our Author's work on Heaven and Hell; and if they do not, on a serious examination, find his representations of the heavenly state to be heavenly indeed; to be, to the truly rational and justly feeling mind, pre-eminently attractive: and to bear so distinctly the stamp of truth as to indicate that they could only have been derived from positive knowledge; we will admit that he has no higher claim to superior illumination.*
* Let any one turn in particular to the chapters on the Wisdom of the Angels of Heaven, on the State of Innocence of the Angels of Heaven, on the State of Peace in Heaven, and on Heavenly Joy and Happiness; and it may surely be affirmed, that if anything can affect him, and awaken in his bosom any heavenward aspirations, he