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How is this state of similitude to be obtained ? This is a most momentous question. Happily it is one that is easily answered, and the answer to which lies side by side with the great truth which leads to it. “Ye have heard,” saith our Lord, “ that it bath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Poor frail human nature might well say to this, as the carnal Jews said to another truth delivered from His
-" This is an hard saying, who can hear it?” The natural mind recoils against it, for one of the sweetest satisfactions of self-love is retaliation. But not only to refrain from persecution or vindictiveness, but to love where our nature so strongly prompts us to hate,—this is a hard duty. The too common practice of mankind shows that they regard it so. But Christianity was given to teach us to overcome our natural impulses, and correct our natural practices; and to have other and better feelings implanted in our hearts, and other and better habits confirmed in our lives.
Nor let us suppose that the Christian religion teaches a duty that we cannot perform. We must not imagine that the Lord teaches us a duty only to convince us that we cannot do it. It appears difficult, indeed, to see how we can love simply in obedience to a command. We can easily see how duty can spring from love, but we find it difficult to see how love can spring from duty. And yet if we reflect, we shall see that the one is not more difficult than the other. Love and duty are parts of the same whole. There is no love without duty, nor is there any duty without love. Duty is the fouridation on which love rests. The Christian builder commences his house in heaven by laying the foundation of obedience deep in the ground of humility. Yet the first stone is laid from the promptings of love. For the first act of real obedience is an act of homage to him who commanded the duty; and in that homage there is love, because there is a voluntary subordination of the natural will of the doer to do the will of him who commanded the deed. Every successive stone that is laid, though it may be laid with much labour, raises the sacred edifice higher in the region of the Christian graces, which are added one by one as the living stones of the temple of the Divine presence, till love, the last and crowning stone, is raised with shoutings of “Grace, grace unto it!" For love is the complex of all the graces, of which duty is the first instalment. Duty is the beginning
and it is the ending of our activities in Christian life. It is the first thing by which love is attained, and the last by which it is manifested; and no state of the spiritual or new life can be commenced or completed without it. Hence the words of our Lord—“He that hath my commandments, he it is that loveth me.” There may indeed be obedience without love, as there may be love without obedience. But such obedience is either forced or hypocritical, and such love is natural and not spiritual.
But the Lord taught us this lesson by His example as much as by His precepts. His life and His death were the exemplification of His tender mercy even towards His enemies. His last prayer was for those who hated Him, even while they were venting their cruel hatred upon Him. But this need not surprise us, however greatly it may affect us. Christianity owes its existence to the love of enemies. The Lord came to seek and save that which was lost. “ While we were yet enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son." It was not, therefore, the particular enmity of the Jews, but the general enmity of the human race and of the human heart to which the Lord was merciful and forgiving, and for which He suffered and died. When we only glance at this subject, how poor and miserable do our greatest provocations become, and how poor and small our greatest acts of forgiveness ! Yet if we desire earnestly to learn of Him who gave Himself for us, we shall find the imitation of His blessed example a never-failing means of improvement.
REVIEWS. SCRIPTURA SACRA ... EX LING. ORIG. IN LATINAM DUCE E. SWEDEN
Accedunt Sensus Spiritualis Explicationes ex ejusdem Operibus collectæ. Recensuerunt, suppleverunt, Notas adjecerunt J. F. S. LE BOYS DES GUAYS et J. B. A. HARLE'. Pars
Quarta. ESATAS. Sancti Amandi. 1862. It is of itself no small commendation of this work, merely to state the rather complex objects which it endeavours to compass; for, to do so enables the reader to estimate how appropriately each of these conduces to bring into a focus every scattered ray of light which Swedenborg has, in any page of his voluminous writings, shed on the text or the interpretation of Isaiah; and to discern a very appreciable advance in the acknowledgment of the importance of the ancient learned auxiliaries of Biblical interpretation.
The main objects of the work are two-fold: to collect together Swedenborg's Latin translation of Isaiah, and to accompany it by his elucidations in a connected series; but, as neither of these objects--and especially not the first of them—can, if any width and exactness of view is desired, be simply and immediately attained, it has been necessary to embrace several subsidiary aims at the same time, all of which tend to enhance the value of the results. In conformity with the main purposes, every page is divided into two columns, each devoted to one of these functions. The first column, then, exhibits that Latin version of the Prophet which Swedenborg has expressly sanctioned. But, as he has given no continuous translation of a single chapter, this version is of necessity a tesselated work, gathered together piecemeal from the incidental citations throughout his writings. The editors have laboriously collected these scattered passages; they have inlaid them in consecutive order; they have filled up the inevitable gaps in this text by intercalations of the missing words from the translation of Schmidt chiefly; and they have been diligent to indicate by typographical signs what exact portion of every verse is given in the words which Swedenborg has used, and how much is complemented from Schmidt, or their own emendation. Next, they give, under each verse, references to the respective paragraphs of his works from which they have derived his version of that verse or its parts, or in which that verse is cited; and—which is a noticeable feature of this part of their plan-they have taken pains to indicate, by special marks and references, the particular authority for their adopting, among the discrepant renderings which Swedenborg has employed in different places, the select rendering which they have admitted into the text; and, not even content with that, they subjoin, with references to the places where found, those various renderings of Swedenborg which they have thought fit to exclude from the text. The principles which have guided them in such election between discrepant renderings have, of course, been nearer conformity to the Hebrew original, or stricter accordance with his deliberate exposition. For those passages which he cites and illustrates ex proposito-in which, therefore, his peculiar translation seems essential to his interpretation-are more authoritative for a given rendering, than any incidental citation exhibiting variation, in cases in which the sense of that particular word is not the one on which the gist of the quotation depends. Lastly, each verse, as special occasion requires, is furnished with brief notes explaining peculiar Hebrew words by reference to other places in the Word where they occur; and with some indications whether the LXX., or other ancient Greek versions, or the Peshito, or the Chaldee Paraphrase, or the Vulgate, or Schmidt, countenance or repudiate some doubtful rendering. So laborious and comprehensive is the scheme which the editors have adopted for bringing
together Swedenborg's translation in its most reliable exactness, and for supporting it by appeals to the original Hebrew, by the criteria of the light shed on the true rendering by the true interpretation, and by the authority of standard versions and other acknowledged critical auxiliaries; and so conscientious is their effort, in this portion of their task, to give the reader the liberal and candid use of all that Swedenborg has done for the intelligence of the literal sense of Isaiah !
The second column is devoted to Swedenborg's Exposition of the Prophet, and presents three kinds of elucidations derived from him. First, his "Summary Exposition of the Internal Sense,” which contains a coherent exhibition of the whole Prophecy, is broken up into segments and disposed at fitting intervals. Then succeed special explanations of each verse, derived from those passages of his works in which it occurs incidentally and is illustrated. And these explanations are so appositely chosen, and so economically proportioned, that they run nearly parallel with the verses in the other column; and not only all indicate whence they have been derived, but are followed by abundant references to other passages in his works, which also contribute to illustrate the same difficulty. Thirdly, supplementary illustrations not specially referring to the verse in question, but reflecting some light on the Word generally, and thus derivatively on the passage before us. Lastly, this column also has some concise annotations, in which the editors pertinently illustrate terms used in the Hebrew text or in Swedenborg's exposition.
The comprehensive plan of this work, and its diligent and-as far as we can judge—faithful execution, make it an invaluable aid to those who wish to avail themselves, in ever so slight or ever so profound a degree, of what Swedenborg has written to illustrate this Prophet. For while the editors have wisely restricted the elucidation which they have given textually in his own words, to the measure of what is appositely yet concisely appropriate, they have furnished such liberal references to his works, including his posthumous writings also, as to render a minute research into his views of a passage a comparatively easy task. Their own annotations also offer welcome assistance towards the intelligence both of the original text and of Swedenborg's exposition, and shew signs of the approaching reconciliation of the new theology with the old critical learning
The above-mentioned more favourable estimate of the uses of critical learning, is avowed in the Preface, and is to be seen in effect throughout the work. In the Preface, the editors say that they have already elsewhere (in La Nouvelle Jérusalem, for 1843) shewn, and will more fully shew, that Swedenborg's writings invite a diligent reader to critical, as well
as to spiritual studies. They add, that—besides frequently correcting Seb. Schmidt's version, from a deeper intuition of the sense—he has occasionally not only restored the interpretation, but sometimes even the reading, in cases in which an appeal for confirmation of his view cannot be made to the original Hebrew exclusively, but to other documents of the primitive text,—namely, to the ancient versions. And in the body of the work, they often call attention to the facts that Swedenborg has preferred a keri or a ketib, or that some ancient version supports the reading he adopts. It is also the same encouragement of the critical spirit that induces the editors to give the discrepant renderings which Swedenborg has occassionally offered of the same word; for the juxtaposition of bis variations renders an appeal to the critical faculty imperative, as the reader is called upon to elect between them.
Now, it is undeniable that the critical spirit has often been so grievously perverted to functions utterly beyond and above its scope, that the popular tendency is rather to dread, than to trust, its even legitimate use. This popular judgment, however, like many other sentences of the same tribunal, is prompted by a good instinct, but rests on an entire ignorance of the main facts in the literary history of the Old Testament.
For, first, the common editions of the Hebrew text exhibit many hundred various readings, known by the names of keri and ketib (which are passive participles, meaning read and written). The date of these emendations is a much disputed point. Some Jewish writers are inclined to carry those of the Pentateuch as far back as the time of Moses, and those of the later Biblical books, to that of Ezra. It is certain, however, that
many of them are noticed in the Talmud, and must therefore be older than the sixth century. But whatever their date and origin may be, the Massorites, who, after the completion of the Talmud, dedicated their labours to the conservation and critical emendation of the text, have collected these various readings, and have transmitted them to our times. * The far larger portion of these corrections and variations—like the majority of the still more numerous variants in the New Testament—turn, we need hardly say, on extremely trifling discrepancies,
* These critics punctiliously preserved every letter of the transcript which they considered most accredited, but indicated by marks those words in the place of which they wished others to be substituted in the reading. Thus they still retained the ketib in its place in the text, but they placed a mark over it, to direct the reader to the margin, whither they relegated the keri, the word to be read there. These emendations have been transmitted in all critical manuscript copies, and the printing-press has now perpetuated them.