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The Secretary next read the Report of the Committee for the year 1875-6, as follows:-
of the press.
The ample balance remaining in the hands of the Treasurer after the last audit has enabled the Committee in some considerable measure to complete the important undertakings which were suggested for the disposal of the Attwood Gift. That the action of the Society in recent and past years has not been lost in the world may be inferred from the following extracts. The first is from the January number of the British Quarterly Review, in a notice of the 1st vol. of the Documents :English Swedenborgians are certainly indefatigable in their use
Their propaganda, indeed, has from the first taken a literary form, and in this they are worthy of all praise. They subject their dogmas to the most severe of all intellectual tests."
The Edinburgh Daily Review of December 24th, 1875, in a notice of “ Christian Psychology,” had the following paragraph :
“ The name and system and historical significance of Swedenborg have of late years attracted to themselves an increasing amount of attention. In Germany translations of his writings have met with a ready sale, and in our own land and in America, owing mainly to the persistent efforts of the Swedenborg Society, a number of his most important works yearly pass into the hands of the reading public. With a perseverance and a zeal worthy of a better cause, the Swedenborg Society spares neither time nor thought, nor strength nor money, in their attempt to spread the doctrines and opinions of their master. It is greatly through the efforts of this Society that here and on the Continent the name of Swedenborg has become so well known; and the number of his works which they have translated into English is so great that any one so inclined may become acquainted at first hand with the system of this remarkable man.
It will be admitted that the general tenor of these notices is in advance of that which characterized those made a few years back. To combat the ill-formed opinions still existing in educated minds, and to add to the number of the approximations to the teaching of Swedenborg's theology, now so frequently met with, the Committee has bent all its energies during the year now past. Immediately after the last Annual Meeting, a comprehensive abstract of the Report and a brief account of the meeting was printed as a newspaper slip, and posted to the editors of nearly all the newspapers and periodicals of the United Kingdom, amounting to some 1500. By the courtesy of the editors this abstract was transferred to some of the papers in full, while in others it was somewhat shortened. Four publishers wrote offering to review any works which the Committee might send. The Daily News of the 17th June, two days after the meeting,
contained a leading article, in which attention was drawn to the operations of the Society, and reference made to the state of the moral world during the lifetime of Swedenborg in the following important remarks :-“It coincided with the sceptical, and in philosophy the most materialistic age of thought. But there were three men in Europe, at that time, who in their several ways were helping to restore to Europe the belief in a spiritual life, in a spiritual world, in the existence of things not seen, and the possibility of hope and faith. These three were Kant, Wesley, and Swedenborg, all working in very different fields, but all sowing the seeds of the present state of thought—the state of thought which is widely interested in the works of Swedenborg." The entire article was reprinted in the y Intellectual Repository, with the Report. The value of such a notice in a leading paper it is difficult to estimate. As also the probable result of addressing the abstracts of the Report to a body of men so intelligent and well informed as are the editors of our independent and well-conducted press.
That this is true appears also from the tone of thought contained in, and the mode of argument on, religious subjects adopted by most of the periodicals of the present day. For instance, The World of February 16th printed an article, entitled “ Concerning the Devil,” in which the writer says :
“ When we turn to the great Master's utterances, we never find the devil spoken of as an article of belief, but rather alluded to in the same strain in which He spoke of many of the follies and superstitions of His age. . . . . It would be well, indeed, if the present foggy ideas of Satan's materialistic personality were promptly dissipated as cobwebs of the past, causing, as they do, much ridicule and unbelief on the part of those who cannot swallow mediæval myths ; and in their stead were set up a far nobler standard of morality, and unflinching regard to truth both in trade and the ordinary affairs of life, and a holy horror of the spirit of lying which pervades society, religion, art, commerce, and literature, whether in the shape of shams, veneer, humbug, or dissimulation.”
We may also record the reference to the “ spiritual significations of the Swedenborgians in a leading article in the Duily Telegraph of February 22, on Mr. Ruskin's lecture on Heraldry; and also to Mr. Buchanan's letter in the Daily News on the works of Walt Whitman, the American poet, recommending a “gratuitous, or partly gratuitous, distribution on some such plan as that adopted and admirably carried out by the Sweden borgian Society.”
In the Leamington and Warwickshire Chronicle of February 5th, the London Correspondent, commenting upon a lecture on “Remarkable Animals of the Past," by Rev. J. F. Blake, M.A., F.G.S., makes the following important statement in reference to the first chapter of Genesis :-“ Literally, the statement of this chapter is the childish conception of how things came about ; but look at it spirituallywhat does it mean? "The evening and the morning were the first day.' Would anybody in their senses so describe as a day, what is
in reality a night? We all should say the morning and the evening. Then what does this mean? It means the awakenment of the mind from darkness into light, as a period or step on the staircase of knowledge.” This is an important advance toward a right interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis, with which we may notice the great truth which is laid down by A. Smee, F.R.S., in his work, The Mind of Man, “as the first element of pure religion,” viz., “ the idea of the Almighty.” In Mr. Wilkie Collins' new romance, The Two Destinies, the union of two minds, born for each other, is assumed as the basis for a true marriage ; and one of the chapters has the curious heading of “Swedenborg and the Sybil,” evidently showing that the doctrine of Swedenborg on this subject is finding its way into popular literature, however imperfectly.
Enough, perhaps, has been said for the present to show that old forms of thought are rapidly passing away, and that the old bottles cannot hold the new wine of the kingdom.
With a view to the offer of the Apocalypse Revealed gratis to ministers during the new year, the Committee discontinued the advertisements respecting the True Christian Religion. But applications continuing to be made for that work, the Committee unhesitatingly granted them. They number 806 to 1st May, which, added to 3963 last year, makes a total of 4769 vols. of this work presented to the ministers of the various denominations. These facts point to an interesting feature in the present attitude of the religious teachers of the day. To quote from a letter by an eninent and popular preacher in the North :- “ The New Church is bound to increase. And bit by bit the old Churches will be leavened with true doctrine, till they become streets in the Holy City itself. Thirty years ago I should have been deposed for preaching as I now do.”
The success, therefore, which attended the presentation of the True Christian Religion to ministers, and the resources at the command of the new Committee, were considered sufficient in themselves to justify the preparation of an edition of The Apocalypse Revealed in one volume, and the offer of the work gratis to the ministers of the United Kingdom. This work has been carefully and thoroughly revised by the Rev. W. Bruce, and now forms a handsome 8vo of 920 pages. For the present the price is fixed at 2s. 63., the same price as the True Christian Religion, although it is 105 pages larger. In 1834 the price of Apocalypse Revealed, in 3 vols. 8vo, was reduced from 24s. to 21s. In the same year the price of the True Christian Religion, in 1 vol. 8vo, was 16s. The arrangements made for offering The Apocalypse Revealed to ministers are different from those adopted for the True Christian Religion. That work was offered by advertisement--this by circular, of which the following is a copy:
The Committee of the Society for printing and publishing the Theological Writings of the Hon. Emanuel Swedenborg have resolved to present to every clergyman and minister in the United Kingdom, who is willing to receive it, a copy of that author's work, entitled The Apocalypse Revealed.
The distinctive character of this interpretation of the Book of Revelation may be judged of by the following extract from the author's preface :-“Not a few have laboured at the exposition of the Apocalypse, but, as the spiritual sense of the Word has hitherto been unknown, they could not discern the arcana which it contains, for these can only be unfolded by the spiritual sense Expositors have, therefore, formed various conjectures respecting it, in many instances applying its contents to the states of empires, blending them, at the same time, with ecclesiastical matters. The Apocalypse, however, like the rest of the Word, in its spiritual sense treats not of mundane, but of heavenly things; thus, not of empires and kingdoms, but of heaven and the church.”
A clergyman of the Church of England speaks thus of the work :-“The Apocalypse Revealed, which was published in 1766, has now (1851) been upwards of eighty years before the world; in the course of which time numerous works on the Apocalypse have appeared and many disappeared; some of them meeting at first with extensive reception, then as gradually declining in reputation, and not a few finally sinking into oblivion. The contrary has been the case with Swedenborg's Apocalypse Revealed. Beginning only with a small circulation, it has been gradually extending its sphere of reception : instead of sailing down for a time with the stream of popular favour, it has always been sailing up against it; and by the innate force of its statements, has made its way in the minds of thousands through every opposition, gathering fresh strength the farther it goes.
The same writer gives the following outline of the subject-matter of the Book of Revelation, as explained in The Apocalypse Revealed:
:-“First, that before the First Advent all things had fallen into disorder; that our Lord became incarnate that by redemption He might reduce all things to order; that this was effected by a process of judgment and creation, constituting that ávakepalalwors or gathering together into one, in the fulness of times, which was spoken of by the Apostle Paul in Eph. i. 10; the result of which was the making of all things new at the First Advent, such as a New Heaven, a New Earth, and a New Church.
Secondly, that after this reduction to order the church fell again into disorder, till, having lost its unity, it lost its being; that this was foretold by our Lord in Matthew xxiv., in which chapter He likewise promised to come again in clouds, and a second time to restore all things to order; or, in other words, in the fulness of times again to gather them together into one or under one head ; so that the Apocalypse relates to an avakepalaiwors of the same kind as that mentioned in Eph. i. 10. Hence,
Thirdly: that this second avakepalaiwors was in like manner a process of Judgment and Creation, and that it is in reference to this that our Lord assumes the title of the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, the First and the Last.
Fourthly: that this judgment and new creation were accomplished by a Second Advent of the Word, or of Divine Wisdom coming in clouds of glory, which are those of the Scriptures; and which imply a new manifestation or revelation of Divine Wisdom.
Fifthly: that the scene of the dvakepalalwors at the Second Advent, in the Apocalypse, lies primarily in the spiritual world and subordinately in the natural; in like manner also as at the First Advent.
And lastly : that the result of the whole process of judgment and creation are New Heavens, a New Earth, a New age or economy, and a New Church, called in the Apocalypse the New Jerusalem.
Copies of this circular have been sent to the clergymen and ministers of the following denominations in the United Kingdom, and the applications to 17th June are annexed :
* The Spiritual Exposition of the Apocalypse." By the Rev. AUGUSTUS CLISSOLD, N. A., formerly of Ex. Coll., Oxford. Preface, p. v.
Church of England
1966 1951 1915 1760 1387 964 771 644 347 307 227 204 168 130 65 48 45 39 29
The ready acceptance of the offer of the True Christian Religion last year by the students of the colleges determined the Committee to offer them copies of this work also. The number of applications is 253, they are not yet completed. To correctly estimate the percentage of the applications it must be borne in mind that the directing and posting the circulars to the clergymen of the Church of England was not completed until the 15th June.
Copies of the work for review were sent to the Daily News, Figaro (the Editor having offered to notice it), Leamington Chronicle, Church Review, Guardian, Church Times, National Church, Record, Christian World, Nonconformist, Baptist, Freeman, Methodist, Methodist Recorder, Watchman, English Independent, Bible Echo, Primitive Methodist, Christian Standard, Christian Age, Inquirer, Friend, Unitarian Herald, Coventry Herald, Colchester Mercury, Folkestone Ecpress, Peterborough Standard.
The cost of printing, folding, and directing these circulars will be about £110, and when it is borne in mind that but few of the circulars have been returned, it is probable that never before has the large and influential body of religious teachers in the United Kingdom