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to do. I have also dwelt at greater length on the bright than on the dark side of the magnificent Vision of the Apocalyptic Seer, as unfolded by the Seer of the New Jerusalem, without, however, designedly leaving either the meaning obscure or the lessons uncertain of those parts which have been more briefly treated.”
It would, of course, be impossible to do more than indicate the general features of a work like this in a review; and in any case we should have been disposed to leave our readers to become acquainted with its merits in the most direct manner. Mr. Bruce's task is in several respects much more easy than were those of the distinguished scholars and theologians who have recently been examining the same work. He accepts the text as he finds it, and leaves to others the examination of etymological difficulties. Nor does he pretend to have discovered any new principles of interpretation; on the contrary, his principal object is to show the practical application of the doctrines he has studied with such zealous care in the works of Swedenborg. It is unnecessary to say that the author is never unmindful of the sublimity of his subject, and that he invariably guards against interfering with the awe-inspiring effect of the literal sense of the narrative of John's visions of the other world. But as in his other books Mr. Bruce is most of all desirous to bring home the practical lessons of Divine truth to his readers, the commentary indeed abounds with instructive passages of this kind, some of which might be read from the pulpit, so simple is the style, so direct the application. The book may be opened at any page without doubt of the reader's interest; clear and consistent statements of the real characters of the Lord's relation to His people, of the ends and aims of creation, of man's nature, of the necessity of regeneration, and the meaning of repentance, frequently occur, and the simplest minds may read with understanding. The Word in its literal and spiritual senses, and the nature and influence of the Lord's Second Advent, are not less ably described and discussed. Definitions of faith, charity, and freedom; impressive expositions of the deadly effects of sin; admonishment, counsel, and warning, by turns appear in this valuable commentary ; and, as might be anticipated, we are not seldom reminded that happiness in the future life can only be secured by living the life of heaven in this world. It is difficult to select passages for extract from a work like this, but the following may be accepted as a fair specimen of the author's style and method of explanation :
“There is a general and great misapprehension among Christians respecting the nature of forgiveness. Pardon is supposed to be a Divine fiat, like that of an earthly sovereign, remitting the punishments which the law has awarded for some criminal act. In the Divine economy sins are forgiven when they are removed. But what of past sins ? Past sins are forgiven when the sinful inclination which committed them is removed. There is no other way of forgiving sin. Sin once committed cannot be undone; but when the sinful lust is rooted out from the heart, the law is satisfied, because it is obeyed. Evil is removed so far as it is hated and shunned ; good is acquired so far as it is loved and practised. But good can only be loved and practised in the degree that evil is hated and shunned. The very beginning of actual religion, therefore, is repentance. We must, it is
true, have as much faith as convinces us of the necessity of repentance. But faith is as much dependent on repentance as repentance is on faith.
They grow and strengthen together. They act and re-act upon each other. Without repentance faith is fruitless. Even when it does good, the good it does is not genuine ; for unrepented evils lurk within and defile it. These unrepented evils are the devils which the unregenerate worship; for every one is a worshipper of that which he cherishes in his heart; and devils mean, as personally they are, evil desires. This is the idolatry so much treated of, and so severely condemned, in Scripture.”
The following concise summary of the history of the successive Churches is from the account of the vision in the eleventh chapter :
“In the several dispensations of the Church, the Adamic, the Noetic, and the Israelitish, which successively existed prior to the Lord's Coming into the world, revealed truth was necessarily more and more infolded, and thus obscured, until
, in the Israelitish Church, its spiritual character was almost entirely concealed in the civil and moral laws in which it was contained, and its eternal sanctions were almost entirely lost sight of in the temporal ends by which obedience to them was enforced. The Coming of the Lord was the commencement of a new ascending order, in which the truth could be more and more unfolded, by removing the coverings of the letter of the Word, and bringing more and more into view the spirit and the life that dwell within. Our Lord did this with the old law, and by revealing new spiritual truth, so far as the human mind was able to bear it. For even He taught in parables. He declared, however, to His disciples, that the time would come when He would no more speak to them in proverbs, but when He should show them plainly of the Father. The promised time was that of His Second Coming. The Lord's Second Advent was to complete the plan of human redemption, not by bringing the world to an end, but by ending the first dispensation of the Christian Church, and commencing a second, in which the principles of the Christian religion would be more perfectly developed than in the first. Some, indeed most Christians, believe that religious truth admits of no expansion. Yet, why should this be so ? Science knows no limit, because the works of God can never be known to perfection. Is the Word of God less profound or more fathomable than His works? Truth, like the human mind, which was created to receive it, knows no finality, but may go on to infinity. And this infinity is simply an image of the Infinite."
We must be content with one more extract; the subject, it will be seen, is one of general interest, and is a pleasant evidence of the author's intellectual breadth.
“ Will the New Church have a separate existence as an ecclesiastical body? or will she only exist in the minds of those who receive and nourish her, and extend her influence silently and invisibly, until she make the Churches of this world the Churches, or rather the Church, of our Lord and of His Christ? Perhaps this is one of those questions we try to settle, which may safely be left to settle themselves. Future generations will not consider themselves bound to act according to our theories. One use of forming some opinion on the question is, to guide our own practice at the present time. Every recipient of the prin. ciples of the New Church must earnestly pray that they may gradually permeate all existing Churches, and ameliorate, and if possible change, all existing systems. But while they pray for this, and rejoice that there are signs of its commencement and progress, they may, we believe, in perfect consistency with the catholicity of the principles of the New Jerusalem, form themselves into an ecclesiastical body, and call that body the visible Church. But this belief may be held and acted upon without any spirit of sectarianism; but with the perfect and joyful conviction that God is no respecter of persons, but that in every Church, as in every nation, he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him.”
If in future editions both of this and the author's earlier commentaries, the successive chapters of the book under examination were given without break at the beginning of the explanatory comments, the reader would be grateful for the increased convenience; we do not forget, however, that the Bible is happily the most attainable of all modern English books. The book is clearly printed in large type, and ought to be on the shelves—not however to remain there—of every New Church householder.
A tribute to the late CHARLES TOWNSEND Hook, Esq., of Veles,
Fond son and brother;
Sisters and mother.
Foldeth not ever;
Now and for ever.
He is translated :
Of blossoms the whitest,
In dædal brightness.
Bright and immortal,
To Heaven's portal.
Fond son and brother;
A. M. W. CLONTARF, DUBLIN.
THE BASKET OF FIRSTFRUITS.
Lo! a Syrian perishing
Was our Father once on earth,
Israel's name in fields of dearth.
(To the Editor of the Intellectual Repository.) DEAR SIR,—Will you permit me to make a few remarks on the article which appears in this month's Repository on “The Nature and Extent of Swedenborg's Illumination.” Mr. Bruce, the author of the article, in quoting from A. C. 931, has the following : “ Hence it may be seen that the earth will not endure for ever.” This is a correct quota