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In the course of the service, there are two brief and general references to the nature of marriage, as signifying the union between Christ and his church. Beyond these, there is not the slightest reference to the subject; not even in the notes by Mant and D’Oyley. Indeed, we once heard a clergyman say, that even these brief allusions savoured too much of mysticism, and ought to be omitted. The result is, that in the Church of England, which professes to be the guardian of national morals, the real nature of the conjugal life has been left without any explanation. To affirm that the matrimonial state is sacred, and yet not to instruct the mind wherein consists its sanctity, is only to leave the subject where it was before the introduction of Christianity; and the result must shew itself, as it actually does, in large multitudes going to church and being joined together by the clergyman, with no more knowledge of the real principles of conjugal life, than if they were so many cattle. A late clergyman of the Church of England, with whom we were acquainted, was so impressed with the stupid ignorance of multitudes who came to church to be as they called married, that he resolved to do what he could to stem the torrent of brutish ignorance, and, accordingly, took every occasion to disseminate a little tract upon the subject, by Jeremy Taylor. This is the only instance we know, in the course of an experience tolerably extended, in which any one clergyman has ever made anything like a systematic attempt to remove the public ignorance upon this subject; and that one clergyman had been induced to do so, in consequence of the deep impression of the sanctity of the marriage state which he had received from reading the works of Swedenborg. What then must be the result of this awful ignorance of the nature of conjugal principles? That many of the sins committed against them, must often be, more or less, sins of ignorance; and that those ministers who are loud to condemn them, are frequently themselves also highly to blame : since they who are professedly the guardians of public morals, have ceased, either through neglect, or through ignorance, or through both, in
consequence of their solifidian doctrines, to become the sources of public instruction.
Here, however, is another evil resulting from an ignorance of the principles of the conjugal life. Where the real nature of a virtue is not known, the real nature of the corresponding sin cannot be known. The sinfulness of the sin, therefore, in this case, cannot be known from its intrinsic nature; it can be known only from its xternal relations; in fine, from the punishment attached to it. Accordingly, in denouncing fornication and whoredom, the Church of England has
had recourse to the terrors of the Law and the terrors of the Lord. It naturally does this, because it has no other resource.
But we are not, therefore, justified in presuming, that these tremendous denunciations of sin necessarily proceed from a moral perception of its heindusness; but often rather the reverse, or from not perceiving it. For the intrinsic evil of the sin being unknown, because the real nature of the divine law which is transgressed is unknown, the thunders of divine vengeance are resorted to, not to express the infernal nature of the sin, but as a compensation for the inability to express it. Hence the moral turpitude of the sin being unperceived, and the punishment being the only thing that is perceived, the consequence is, that in course of time, the punishment of the evil is put first, its moral opposition to the divine law, second; till at length, the latter is omitted altogether, and the sin becomes known only by the curses which are denounced against it. Hence it happens, that he who does not employ himself so much in denouncing the sin as in enlightening the conscience to perceive the awful iniquity of its nature, is considered as being far too lenient, if not as tacitly sanctioning the crime; particularly if, in consequence of the ignorance prevailing upon the subject, he should exhibit the slightest clemency towards those who had lived in darkness, or should explain the nature of the evil on principles which were unknown or else rejected.
We have a very apt illustration of these remarks in the original and standard Book of Homilies. We are there told what a deadly execution has been wrought, even by earthly kings and princes, upon whoremongers and adulterers; how for these sins God sent a flood which drowned the whole world; how by the law of Moses the transgressors were put to death, and hanged upon gibbets openly that every man might see them; how their part is in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched. “Oh,” says the Homily, “whose heart distilleth not drops of blood, to hear and consider these things ? If we tremble and shake at the hearing of these pains, oh! what shall they do that feel them, that shall suffer them, yea, and ever shall suffer, worlds without end ! God have mercy upon us.” Thus are we told how great is the damnation that hangs over fornicators and adulterers. Having thus exhausted the terrors of the Lord in denouncing these sinners, what has the Homily to say on the sinfulness of the sin as arising out of its opposition to the divine law of marriage ? Not one single syllable ! No where is the essential nature of the marriage covenant explained ! No where is there made the slightest reference to the principles of marriage stated by St. Paul! The whole is left a perfect blank! The people are left to grope in utter darkness !--Now, certainly, if the opposition of a church to a sin, is to be measured by the fierceness of its denunciations against it, one would suppose
among its members there must prevail a proportionate purity of life. Yet what does Swedenborg affirm, and how is his testimony supported ? Swedenborg says, that “those who come into the other life from the Christian world are the worst of all, hating their neighbour, hating the faith, and denying the Lord : for in the other life the heart speaks, not merely the lips. They are besides given to adultery more than the rest of mankind" (Arc. Cal. n. 1885; see also Ibid, n. 916). Now in what manner is this testimony supported? “You have been taught," says the Book of Homilies, in the Sermon against Adultery,—" you have been taught in the first part of this sermon against adultery, how that vice at this day reigneth most above all other vices.” But how are we taught it? Let us read the first part of the sermon.
“ Although there want not, good Christian people, great swarms of vices worthy to be rebuked (unto such decay is true godliness and virtuous living now come), yet above other vices the outrageous seas of adultery or breaking of wedlock, whoredom, fornication, and uncleanness, have not only burst in but overflowed almost the whole world, unto the great dishonour of God, the exceeding infamy of the name of Christ, the notable decay of true religion, and the utter destruction of the public wealth : and that so abundantly, that through the customable use thereof, this vice is grown into such an height, that in a manner among many it is counted no sin at all, but rather a pastime, a dalliance, and but a touch of youth; not rebuked, but winked at; not punished, but laughed at.” Such is the testimony of the Book of Homilies, the grand expositor in the Church of England of the doctrine of Solifidianism! Good Christian people ! if the extract we have given from Mosheim, and the extract given by Mr. Smithson from Luther, be true, as doubtless they are, you must have been very few in number; and the reason of it, though perhaps not to yourselves yet to others, must have been very plain! To this account we need add nothing; it might be useful however to suggest the melancholy continuance of anti-conjugal principles as evidenced in what may be termed the awful Reports which are issued by the Society for the Suppression of Vice, and other societies. Indeed, in consequence of the Solifidian doctrine, the real principles of morality have come to be so thoroughly unknown, that often the only way of repressing the breach of the fundamental laws of society has been only by a recourse to the law, or by a perpetual discharge of spiritual artillery from the pulpits. In the works of most of the great divines of the Church of England the subject of marriage has been a perfectly dead letter. Amid the heaps of sermons which issue from the press in the present day, how seldom are the principles of conjugal life even once adverted to ! How few in the present day are the parents who instruct their children upon the subject! How few are the churches from whose pulpits any religious information upon it can be derived ! Thunders loud enough may be heard launched against the adulterer and the whoremonger; but what minister explains the spiritual nature of the conjugal life? Yet had our Saviour come into the world and dealt merely in fierce denunciations against sin, without explaining the real nature of Christian virtue, in what respect would the world have been benefited ? As prevention is better than punishment, so is instruction better than imprecation ; and he whose mind is enlightened to see the spiritual nature of the social virtues, and is inspired by their heavenly influences, is more strongly armed against vice, than if he had been taught to declaim against it in all the thunders of Solfidianism.
We see, then, that both in the Church of Rome and in the Church of England, the spiritual principles of the conjugal life are unknown. As explained by Swedenborg, they are considered in the Church of England as mere mystical imaginations, or as nothing. Consequently in the mind of a member of that church, all that Swedenborg says upon this subject passes for nothing; the only portion of the treatise therefore that is left is the carnal, and hence this alone passes for something. The carnal mind consequently sees only the carnal, which is thus separated from the spiritual ; and hence the judgment it passes upon the treatise of Swedenborg is the mirror of its own enmity to God; it would consider the pure, the chaste, the holy mind as only such a one as itself. Now Swedenborg analyses the scortatory principle from the chaste ; that is to say, in the mind of a member of the Old Church, he examines it from nothing ; and since an unchaste mind alone could do so, therefore it is concluded that he examines it from an unchaste principle. Such is the real exposition of this infernal fallacy.
The Church of Rome denounces whoredom, but herself is a harlot ; and that which has made her such is her Babylonian pride, her lying wonders, her love of spiritual domination. The Church of England has in these days but too much reason to beware how she follows after such a mother of abominations. That those who adopt the principles, though not the profession, of the Church of Rome, should rail at the principles of chastity, as if they were unchaste, is not to be wondered at; for, not knowing what is chaste, they cannot tell what is unchaste; nay, they believe chastity to be unchaste, because they believe unchastity to be chaste. In maintaining her principles, the New Church must consent to bear and to forbear; till the adultress be finally excluded, the Bride of the Lamb must suffer persecution. Fear not, however, we say to the daughter of Jerusalem,- The Lord thy Maker is thy Husband. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder ; the
young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion. Be thou ruler in the midst of thine enemies.
AN ADDITIONAL USE OF THE BAPTISM OF INFANTS.
It is common for Baptists to scoff at Infant Baptism, by asking, “ What good can it possibly do to the poor unconscious infant ?” To this it may be replied, “Is it of no use to the child that its parent solemnly dedicates it to the Lord's service, and engages in the face of his church to do all that lies in his power to promote that purifying process of which the ceremony of baptism is a type ? Is not the parent, if duly informed of, and impressed with, the nature of the act he is performing, more likely to bear his duty in mind, than if he had never made any such solemn and public engagement ? Is it not the tendency of a solemn religious ceremony, such as the baptism of an infant when rightly understood, to make a salutary impression on the parent who thus dedicates his child to the Lord, in the presence of those who have, in like manner, previously dedicated their children ? And, Is it not likely to have a beneficial effect upon the parents in the congregation, by calling to their remembrance the solemn engagements they severally made to the Lord and the church, to train their little ones to walk in the good and the right
It may be worthy of consideration, whether this important use of baptism might not with advantage be more prominently presented than it has been in our liturgical service. Parents might very properly be asked, whether they had duly considered that, by bringing their children to be baptized, they gave a solemn pledge before God and the church, that they would, to the best of their ability, promote the great and all-important ends which the ceremonial implies, by teaching their
N. S. No. 25.-VOL. 3.