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tion with his like, and the subject of their influences, these must be as diversified as are the differing principles of the branches of the human family, and especially so in what relates to religion, the seat of the elements of religious thought lying in the inner recesses of the understanding. Hence the first use of baptism is, that it places around those who have been baptized a kind of spiritual cordon, whereby they are shielded from the approach of religious influences other than Christian and receiving a bias inimical to Christian faith. By the same means the mind is more fully prepared, through the angelic ministrations environing it, to receive the Christian instruction imparted from without. Hence the second use of this ordinance arising out of the foregoing, is that man is placed thereby in a more favourable position for receiving the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Redeemer and Saviour, acknowledging and following Him.
The final use of baptism is that man may become regenerate. To sum up the uses of baptism in the words of Swedenborg
“From what has been said, it may be plainly seen, that the three uses of baptism cohere together as a one, like a first cause, a middle cause, which is the efficient, and an ultimate cause, which is the effect, and the end for the sake of which the former causes were produced. For the first use of baptism is that a man may have the name of Christian ; the second, following as a consequence from the first, is that he may know and acknowledge the Lord to be the Redeemer and Saviour ; and the third is, that he may be regenerated by the Lord, and when this is effected he is redeemed and saved. As these three uses follow each other in order, and join with each other in the ultimate use, and, consequently, in the idea of the angels cohere together as a one, therefore whenever baptism is performed, read of in the Word, or named, the angels who are present understand not baptism but regeneration.” (T. C. R. 685.)
This view of baptism removes many of the difficulties which have proved a source of perplexity to theologians. It teaches that, although baptism is not to be confounded with regeneration, it has, nevertheless, an important bearing on the subject. Neither does regeneration necessarily follow on baptism; this supplies, notwithstanding, important aids towards its realization. It protects the mind from the operation of religious influences adverse to Christianity, and preserves it in a fuller capacity of becoming regenerate. It promotes a disposition to receive and acknowledge Christian truth when presented, and favours those spiritual conditions which culminate in the new birth. It farther disposes of the controversy so long existing in the Church on the question of infant baptism; for it teaches, not only that by virtue of its representative character it may lawfully be administered to infants, but by reason of its uses it is of the highes
importance that infants, the offspring of Christian parents, should receive the rite. In Swedenborg's own words :
“So soon as infants are baptized, they are placed under the guardianship of angels, by whom they are kept in a state of receiving faith in the Lord ; but as they grow up, and become capable of thinking and acting for themselves, the guardian angels leave them, and they draw into association with themselves such spirits as make a one with their life and faith.” (T. C. R. 677.)
In a subsequent paragraph (678), he explains that, “ without the Christian sign of baptism, some Mahometan, or some idolatrous spirit, might apply himself to new-born Christian infants, and also to children, and infuse into them an inclination to favour his religion, and so draw away their minds and alienate them from Christianity, which would be to distort and destroy spiritual order,"-in other words, the influences from within would not only be opposed to the instruction communicated externally, but a collision would ensue highly injurious if not fatal to the religious state.
Viewed under this aspect, Christian baptism acquires a practical importance not easily over-estimated, and a community or nation of Christians whose offspring grew up unbaptized might prove a national calamity.
It might possibly be thought that a benefit would be conferred on the infants of Mahometans and Pagans by subjecting them the ordinance of baptism. Careful reflection will however suffice to show, that a similar collision would arise between the Christian influences within meeting antagonistic principles with which the mind of a Mahometan or Pagan child would be imbued, both by the religous instruction it would be placed under and its surroundings.
Some of our friends have carried their views of baptism to an extent to which we cannot follow them, holding that no baptism is valid which is not administered in connection with the New Church.
If only such baptisms were efficacious as have been administered by New Church hands, the Christian world would be in a sorry plight. The efficacy of baptism does not rest on the peculiar views of the party who officiates, but on the intrinsic virtue of the ordinance itself, and the power of the Word. Swedenborg gives no countenance to thus narrowing the use of the sacrament, but recognises the “ baptism at this day administered among Christians as representing the cleansing of the internal man, which is regeneration,” and thus as containing in itself all the valid elements of the rite. (T. C. R. 690.)
It only remains to be observed, that baptism, by reason of its uses
and correspondence, is also a standing memorial in the Church, that those who have been baptized are intended to become regenerate. Hence the importance of possessing a clear conception of the nature of its uses and signification, otherwise it fails in one of its practical uses. Rightly understood it is a divinely appointed memento, admonishing those who have experienced its first use to seek, by the divine aid, to realize those which are intended to follow, and that, as they were admitted into the Christian Church by a rite symbolic of spiritual washing, or the purification of the internal man, so it behoves them to cultivate the graces of Christian knowledge and Christian life,in the language of scripture to wash their heart from wickedness. Being thus purified, they will experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire ; be renovated into perfect newness of life, and incorporated into that Church which is described as “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish."
The length to which this article has extended necessitates my deferring the question of the Holy Supper to the next number.
Reviews TRANSITION : OR, THE PASSING AWAY OF AGES OR DISPENSATIONS,
MODES OF BIBLICAL INTERPRETATIONS, AND CAURCHES ; being an Illustration of the Doctrine of Development. By the Rev. AUGUSTUS CLISSOLD, M.A. London: Longmans, Green & Co.
1868. The question of development is daily assuming more importance in all theological discussions and inquiries pretending in any degree to a methodical character. Since the publication of the celebrated essay of Father Newman on “The Development of Christian Doctrine,” this subject has never ceased to receive the attention it so well deserves from all those whose pursuits and studies lead them into the region of the higher theology. The Bible is pre-eminently the record of development in its highest aspect. It is the origin of all real progress in theological thought, and the test of all speculations and theories relating to the subject. In one sense, then, the study of the Word of God is the study of the question of development.
The work before us is professedly an illustration of this doctrine, and was written to support the following resolution moved by the author
on the occasion of the Fifty-eighth anniversary of the Society established for printing and publishing the writings of the Hon. Emanuel Swedenborg :-“That in the opinion of this meeting, as the church exists from the Word, and the quality of the church with man is according to his understanding of the Word; so there is reason to believe that, in the present day, by a more spiritual interpretation of the Word, the Lord is effecting a transition from an old to a new church, and thus resuscitating the most ancient church."
It is almost needless to remark that theories of development must necessarily partake of the esential character of the theological systems to which they stand related. The principles assumed in the above resolution indicate that, in the author's view, development of the church takes its origin from development of the Divine Truth derived from the Word, and received in the minds of the members of the Church. This aspect of the question differs widely from that advocated by some who have written on this subject ex. gr. Father Newman, who avers that “ The holy apostles would know without words all the truth concerning the high doctrines of theology which controversialists after them have piously and charitably reduced to formulæ and developed through argument." It is plain that this fanciful view of the subject is altogether untenable. It has the effect of turning the minds of those who accept it away from the Word to the personality of the apostles, and thus makes the Church and not the Word the source of increasing divine life in spiritual things. The question, then, between the exorbitant claims of the Roman Catholic Church over the Word, and those who profess to build the Church solely on the Word (Vid. vi. Art. of Church of England). lies here in a very small compass. In the terms of the resolution, the Church exists from the Word ; according to the doctrine of Father Newman, the Word exists from the Church.
Bengel, in the preface to his Gnomon, finely says in his own peculiar terse style, Scriptura ecclesiam sustentat: ecclesia Scripturam custodit. Quando viget ecclesia, Scriptura splendet : quando ecclesia ægrotat, Scriptura situm contrahit. Itaque Ecclesiæ Scripturæque facies simul vel sana solet apparere vel morbida : et ecclesiæ constitutioni subinde respondet TRACTATIO SCRIPTURÆ.
If this be admitted it will be easy
see, from the manner in which the Scriptures are handled in the work under consideration, that a new era for the Church is dawning. In other words, a new state of the Church is being gradually developed, or in still other terms, a Church altogether new in its essential characteristics of doctrine and life, is actually in process of formation. Old things are passing away as a matter of fact; and from various directions, in manifold forms, the Divine Voice is causing itself to be heard—“Behold, I make all things new.”
It has already been observed that views of development will vary as the theological principles from which they take their rise. It is the conviction of the author that in the approaching contest the alternative will be between modern scepticism and that view of divine inspiration given in the writings of Swedenborg. Accordingly the Arcana Celestia is taken as his theological text-book; and from this source are derived the principles of development advocated. These may be reduced thus to one general expression :—The state of the Church successively changes according to fixed laws throughout the course of the ages; but the nucleus of Divine Truth is always preserved in the remnant, by means of THE WORD.
It is but right, however, to give the scope and aim of the work in the author's own language. They are as follows:
“With respect to the doctrine of Development, my object has not been to trace the development of particular doctrines within the Church ; but the development of the whole dispensation, of the Church itself, and of its mode of Biblical interpretation, from out of a lower form into a higher ; for such a view alone can be commensurate with the extent of the transition which is now being effected.”—(Vid. Pref.,
This is to go to the root of the matter. The position here taken is at once the most central and the most elevated. It commands the largest view, and the footing is secure. The examination of the question from such an eminence and with an horizon so enlarged, involves every minor variety of the development doctrine worth consideration. The mind is relieved from the obscurity which inevitably arises from partial views and irrelevant details, and rejoices in the possession of that freedom which is to be found only in the sphere of great universal principles. It is as if a naturalist turned from the world of dead nature to that of life, from the investigation of the qualities of inert matter to the contemplation of living forms.
Development implies of course transition, or the passing from one state of existence to another. Transition ought not to be confounded with transmutation. Where there is transmutation, it is of things accidental, not essential. Something always remains—as in natural things, the transition from the acorn to the oak, from one musical chord or key to another : the plant subsists; the flow of the harmony is unbroken.