Noble's 'Appeal': IV. The Last Judgment.:
D. The Last Judgment actually accomplished.
having, in the previous parts of this section, given, I venture to hope, sufficient evidence of the truth of our first general proposition,—That, according to the Scriptures, the scene of the Last Judgment was to be, not in the natural world, as commonly believed, but in the spiritual;—having shown, in connexion with this truth, that there is strong proof of the fact, that more than one General Judgment has already in that world been accomplished; and that there is, in that world, an intermediate region which is the specific scene of all General and Particular Judgments:—We are now to proceed to the confirmation of our second general proposition; That the Last Judgment has, in the spiritual world, been executed accordingly.
Here I am to endeavour to show, that, independently of the assertions of Swedenborg, there are various considerations tending to evince, that the Judgment has been accomplished.
First, be it observed, that according to our views, there always exists, how little so ever men in general may be aware of it, the closest communication between the spiritual and the natural worlds. Man, as to the interiors of his mind, is a spiritual being, and in constant connexion with his like in the spiritual world; though of this he cannot, except in very extraordinary cases, be sensible, while his spiritual part is invested with a natural covering, which is the seat of his conscious perceptions while he lives on earth. This is, in fact, only a different way of stating the doctrine generally received among Christians, that man receives influences both from heaven and hell: and how can it be otherwise, if the Apostolic declarations are true, that angels "are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation;" and that "the devil," or the infernal powers in the aggregate, "goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he shall devour." But though the springs of all man' thoughts and actions are thus either in heaven or in hell, his most immediate unearthly associates are spirits in the intermediate state or region between heaven and hell; all of whom belong, indeed, either to the heavenly or to the infernal kingdom, and are, as to their interiors, either angels or devils, though, not having yet entirely put off their external state, they have not entered into their final abode. Man himself, as to the interiors of his mind, is a spirit of this kind; with this difference, that although he is every moment of his life in connexion, according to the nature of his ruling inclinations, with heaven or with hell, he is not yet irrevocably bound either to the one or to the other: so long as he remains here his ruling love may be changed: and thus he is associated as to his internal part with spirits of both classes, and is not, as they are, incapable of altering his inward state.
If then this view of the subject be correct (and that it is so, will probably further appear in the sequel of this Appeal; and surely i( is a view that is highly agreeable to reason); if man be thus so closely connected with the inhabitants of the spiritual world, particularly with those of the intermediate region; it necessarily follows, that any great change in the state of that world, particularly of the intermediate region, must make also an extraordinary change in the state of man as to the interiors of his mind, and induce great alterations in his modes of thinking. It may also be expected, that the effect of such an operation in the spiritual world as that of the General Judgment, must be felt in the natural world also, and that judgments answering to it in importance would take place in the civil affairs of the world, particularly among the nations belonging to the professing church. If it be true, as would follow from the above statement, that the interior causes of all things are in the spiritual world, it will follow, that the performance of such a work as the Last Judgment there, must, sooner or later, be marked in the natural world also with corresponding effects.
In the second place, I would observe, that the conclusion respecting the effects, in the natural world, of the judgment in the spiritual, thus arrived at theoretically, has been practically confirmed in all former instances. As far as the annals of mankind enable us to determine, never was a judgment performed in the spiritual world, hut corresponding effects resulted in the natural world also. If it be true, as generally believed, that the last posterity of the Adamic church was swallowed up by a flood, here was a catastrophe in the natural world indeed: and if, as noticed above, there is reason to conclude, that by the history of the flood is not meant that a flood of waters really overwhelmed the world, there still cannot be a doubt that great calamities, of which, in a figurative natural sense, a flood of waters is an expressive emblem, did overtake the abandoned nations. So, at the consummation of the Noetic and establishment of the Israelitish church, when a representative coming of the Lord was exhibited by his presence in the cloudy pillar, great judgments were literally executed on the Egyptians and the Canaanites, at that time the principal nations of the consummated Noetic church; as had previously been executed, soon after the calling of Abraham, on Sodom and Gomorrah. But here again we find our most unequivocal example in the judgments that fell upon the Jews. We have seen that a judgment was certainly executed by the Lord in the spiritual world while he abode personally here: and we know that, some time afterwards, the most dreadful calamities overtook the whole Jewish nation; indeed, the whole face of the world was soon afterwards entirely changed. "We may conclude the judgment in the spiritual world to have been finished at the Lord's ascension: and thirty years after this event, the troubles broke out in Judaea, which issued in the destruction of Jerusalem, the desolation of the whole country, and the end of the national existence of the Jews. It is to be expected, that the changes in the natural world, which is the world of effects, must be some time subsequent to the changes from which they proceed in the spiritual world, which is the world of causes: and from this example it would appear as if about thirty years were the period, in which a judgment in the spiritual world begins to give rise to corresponding judgments in the world of nature.
Now as we evidently see, that sooner or later, such judgments in the spiritual world, have, in all former instances, been followed with great troubles in the natural world, we may reasonably conclude, that the performance in the spiritual world of the last judgment of all, would, in due time, be followed by the usual visitations in this scene of existence.
Have then any visitations that may probably be supposed, by their magnitude and extraordinary character, to have had such an origin, been experienced, within the last half century, by the nations of Christendom ? for to them, more particularly, as forming the professing church, must such judgments belong. Do not the recollections of every person who has lived so long immediately rush forward with an affirmative answer ? In the wars, and other dreadful calamities, which began with, and rose out of, the French revolution, has not every serious observer of passing events noted features very different from those which attended the wars and convulsions of former times, —of all times later than the first full establishment of Christianity ? Will he not allow them to have been such as are fully commensurate with the ideas suggested by the "distress of nations and perplexity, causing men's hearts to fail them for fear," announced by the Lord as among the signs of his Second Coming ? which coming, we have seen, in the natural world, is a consequence of the judgment performed in the spiritual. There was one feature in those contests so entirely peculiar, that it well deserves to be particularly noted; and that is, that the war at last raged in every nation on the whole face of tha globe that bears the Christian name; a circumstance which never occurred before since Christianity began. Not only did Europe, from west to east, from north to south,—from France to .Russia, and from Naples to Sweden,—heave the billows of her population against each other in more enormous masses than were ever before assembled for the purpose of mutual destruction; but the American world, where the religion of Europe had been transplanted, was equally seized with the destroying mania; till from one extremity to the other of that vast continent,—from Canada to Chili,—the flames of war raged with as great violence, in proportion to the number of the people, as in the western hemisphere. In Asia and Africa too, wherever Christians had planted colonies, the demons of carnage were let loose, whilst, likewise, the waters of every sea were swelled with human blood, poured into it with a profusion beyond all that had ever, in former ages, discoloured its waves. Never before, since the Christian religion was vouchsafed from heaven to be a blessing to mankind, was the whole mass of its professors thus raised by a simultaneous impulse, and arrayed against one another; as if they had all agreed as one man, while disagreeing in every tiling else, to disown the empire of the Prince of Peace: never indeed before, since the world began, was any war excited, which deluged the surface of the globe with such wide-spread desolation. Posterity will read of the events which the elder portion of the present generation have witnessed, with greater wonder, than that with which we in our childhood used to read of the innumerable hosts of Xerxes and the exploits of the Greek and Roman conquerors: all the surprising histories of antiquity will appear but records of insignificancy, when compared with the history of our times. There have, it is true, been wars in all former ages; and if the late tremendous series of conflicts had been of a common description, I should not think of urging them as an argument on this occasion: but if all must allow them to be of a totally unprecedented character, my readers cannot think that I press them too far in calling upon them to refer such events to an adequate interior cause. What adequate cause of such wonders can be assigned, but some great convulsion in the moral and spiritual world, displaying itself in corresponding events in the world of nature ? what, in fact, but the performance of a judgment there, whence flow, as a necessary consequence, natural judgments here ?
And if the war was of so astonishing a character, what have been its effects upon the states of Christendom ? During its continuance, repeatedly, several were swept from the map of Europe in a single campaign: and though the most considerable were restored at the peace, it was with such great alterations, both in their internal polity and external relations, that it is strictly correct to say, that the entire face of the European, yea, of the whole Christian commonwealth, has been completely changed. To apply the prophetic phrase in the sense which commentators usually assign to it;—the former heaven and earth of every state of Christendom have passed away; and they have been, with scarce an exception, so entirely new-modelled, that they have received, politically, a new heaven and earth in their place.
Now it may be observed as at least a remarkable coincidence, that the troubles which have had so extraordinary a career. and termination, broke out at exactly the same distance of time after the date assigned by Swedenborg for the performance of the Last Judgment in the spiritual world, and of which he published his account in the year 1758, as that which intervened between the conclusion of the judgment performed by the Lord while in the world and the troubles which led to the destruction of Jerusalem.
But if the political changes experienced by Christendom have been so great, how has it fared with her ecclesiastical constitutions ? Are we not here particularly struck with the change which has been effected, almost before our eyes, in the state of the Papal Power, once, so terrific and irresistible ? It is a fact acknowledged by the Protestant interpreters of Scripture (and indeed the features of the portrait are so plain, that nothing but strong prejudice can close the mental eye against a recognition of the original,) that the great harlot,, whose name is mystical Babylon (Rev. xvii.), is a personification of the Roman Catholic religion: consequently, the judgment denounced upon her (chaps. xvii. and xviii.) must denote, primarily, according to our view of the nature of the Last Judgment, the removal from the intermediate region of the spiritual world to the regions of despair, of those who were confirmed in the evils of that religion: that is, of those who made religion a pretext for establishing their own dominion over the minds and bodies of men. Now the consequence of such a judgment in the spiritual world must be, the diminution of the power of such persons in this world, and the loosening of the influence of that religion over men's minds. Do we not then behold manifest proofs, which multiply around us continually, that Babylon, even in this world, has received her judgment; and, consequently, that the Last Judgment in the spiritual world, which is the cause from which the other is an effect, has been performed ? The Roman Catholic religion, so far as it consists in the holding of certain doctrines and practising of certain forms of worship, may probably continue for ages; just as the Jewish religion, though the Jewish church has long since undergone its judgment both in the spiritual and the natural worlds, continues to this day; but the Romish religion as to that essential part of it which procures for it in the divine Word the name of Babylon,—that is, considered as a system for tyrannising over men's minds by the prostitution of sacred things for that purpose,*—has received its final judgment, and never can become formidable any more. We have not, indeed, heard for ages,—in fact, not since the Protestants succeeded in fully establishing their independence,—of any attempt on the part of the Popes to exercise the power, which they formerly claimed, of dethroning princes and transferring at pleasure their dominions to others: still, such a dissolution of their power as is included in the denunciation, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen," was an event reserved for our times. The influence of the Romish hierarchy remained very great, in all the countries which continued to profess that religion, till within a recent period. We have seen the Pope himself dragged from his throne, and degraded into a mere tool of the ambition of Napoleon: and though he was afterwards restored by the allied sovereigns from motives of policy, yet is he shorn of his beams: his influence is annihilated; and he now sits in St. Peter's Chair (as they call it) more as a puppet than a prince. His desires may perhaps be as capacious as ever; and to promote their aims he has restored the order of the Jesuits, formerly the right hand of the papal power; but never can he restore the causes from which that order derived its efficiency. The spirit and soul of Jesuitism are gone, in the removal from their immediate connexion with the human race of those who constituted Babylon in the spiritual world; and hence, however good may be the will of the Pope's new myrmidons, being no longer supported by the same influence from the world of causes, they never can revive touch more of the old Jesuits than the name. Thus the restoration of the Pope to his throne is by no means synonymous with the restoration of his power. The spell which bound the minds of men to his sway, has been broken, and can never be renewed. We are continually hearing of new circumstances which demonstrate, that his authority is no longer much respected, even by nations which continue to profess his religion. The events of the last few years in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, evince that, by great numbers, in those countries, once the chief seats of his influence, it is now entirely despised: and the new States of South America, the inhabitants of which were so long among the most devoted slaves of the Roman see, have shown a disposition, though since temporarily checked, to follow up their rejection of civil with the abolition of ecclesiastical tyranny, and, by allowing freedom of worship, to give the fatal blow to priestly domination. Who would have expected ever to behold an accredited envoy from Mexico making a speech at a Bible Society's meeting,* avowing it to be the general wish of his countrymen to read the Scriptures in their own language, and their joint conviction, that civil and religious liberty are as essential to the welfare of a people, as are, to the support of life, the two gases which compose the air we breathe ? Even the priests of those countries seem resolved to be popish priests no longer; for, in contradiction to a main characteristic of that hierarchy, many of them have distinguished themselves amongst the most active promoters of information and general improvement. Here are new moral phenomena indeed. Evident tokens are everywhere springing up, evincing, that the pretension on the part of any fallible man to the power of opening and shutting heaven at pleasure, which has been the grand engine by the use of which the Roman pontiffs attained such extraordinary influence, will soon be scouted as ridiculous through every country of Christendom, and that men will soon everywhere wonder by what strange infatuation their fathers could have submitted to such palpable arrogance and blasphemy. The cause of that infatuation, according to our views, was, that multitudes of those who, in this world, had promoted the Romish ecclesiastical corruptions,—of priests and monks and their adherents,—had established themselves in the intermediate region of the spiritual world, acting as clouds by which the light that is ever in the effort of flowing from heaven into the human mind was in great part intercepted, and instead of it were substituted such influences as tended to uphold the domination which such spirits, and their like in this world, affect: and the reason why such infatuation prevails no longer, is, as we are convinced, because, by the Last Judgment, those spirits are removed, and light from heaven, thus gaining new access to the minds of men, exposes, as one of its first effects, the absurdity of such pretensions. Can any one look at the wonderful change, in this respect, which is everywhere experienced, and not acknowledge the cause which we assign for it to be the most worthy, yea, the only adequate one, that can be conceived ? Can any one, on its being suggested to him, fail to recognise, in these surprising events, plain signs that the Last Judgment is accomplished ?
* The annual meeting at Norwich, Sept., 1825.
Here also, it may be observed, we have a clue that would guide to a sound decision of the famous Catholic question. The opponents of Catholic emancipation consist of those who draw their opinion on the subject from theology and ecclesiastical history; who thence know what are the tenets of that religion, which a church that professes to be infallible cannot explicitly revoke, and what are the enormities to which those tenets have lent their sanction. These resist the Catholic claims under the apprehension that the moment Protestants cease to tread the Catholics under their feet, they will mount over their heads, and will, sooner or later, relume the fires of Smithfield. Nor do those who take this view of the question merit the ridicule which is sometimes thrown upon them. If they are practically wrong, they are not wrong without a reason. Their opinion is founded on the ample experience of former times. It would unquestionably have been the right opinion much less than a hundred years ago: and as they know nothing of the great spiritual cause which has intervened to invalidate the deductions from ancient experience, it is not to bo wondered at if, dwelling as their thoughts do upon positive facts, they fear to trust to the altered state of feeling which is everywhere apparent. On the other hand, the advocates of Catholic emancipation consist of those who allow themselves to be carried along by the spirit of the present times. Though unacquainted with the true cause, they feel that the facts on which their opponents' arguments are grounded, are grown obsolete. They perceive that the state of the human mind, among Catholics as well as Protestants, has undergone a great change; and that were the Romish priesthood again to urge the pretensions to unlimited dominion, which made them once so formidable, and which lay at the source of all the wicked deeds which they perpetrated in the name of religion, it would only deprive them of the share of influence which they yet retain, and make them universally, among Catholics as well as Protestants, objects of execration. Practically, as we conceive, these are right, though they know not the reason. They see so plainly one of the consequences of the Last Judgment, as to be willing to legislate upon it, though not aware of its true cause. And is not the extent to which this acknowledgment of one effect of the Last Judgment is forcing itself upon the minds of men, another effect of that judgment, and an additional argument that it has been performed ? *
* The above paragraph, was in the first edition of this work: the legislature has since acted in conformity with what it suggests.
But not only do the effects in the natural world of the accomplishment of the Judgment in the spiritual display themselves in the way of visitations, but also in direct dispensations of mercy; for the sake A which, indeed, all divine judgments are performed. The calamities with which they are accompanied, are only designed to remove obstructions out of the way, and to make room for the reception of the benefits which the Divine Judge ever has in view. If the wicked who occupied the intermediate region of the spiritual World, were, by the judgment there, cast into hell, it was, that the good who were mixed with them, or reserved in the lower parts of the spiritual world on account of them, might be raised into heaven; and also, that the divine efflux of spiritual life and light, which they intercepted in its passage to men on earth, might have free course: in like manner, if Christendom has been visited with tremendous troubles, as a first consequence of the performance of the judgment in the spiritual world, it is that a second consequence may follow, and that the divine outpouring of spiritual life and light may product the blessings for which it is bestowed. If then we see in the world around us marks, in this way, of the activity of this divine efflux, they are sure signs that the judgment in the spiritual world has been performed. In what we have already noticed, even such marks are palpable. But how evident is the change, and that a change for the better, which, in many other respects likewise, has passed upon the state of mankind;—a change so obvious to all, that we can scarcely take up a magazine or newspaper, or any new publication whatever, without finding it adverted to with admiration. How constantly are some of the features of this mighty alteration dwelt upon, in almost every public meeting, political or religious I 1 had asked above,* "Does not every voice confess that we are living in a most extraordinary era of the world ? Is not every mind impressed with the conviction that there is something almost preternatural in the character of the present times ?" And I had asked further, respecting the improvements everywhere springing up, whether they are not "continually calling forth from every quarter exclamations of surprise, and expanding every bosom with the hope, that the opening of a new and happier day than the world has ever before seen, is now dawning on mankind?" Every reader who is at all acquainted with the modern press, or who has made any observation on passing events for himself, will be ready to give these questions an affirmative answer. Multitudes of extracts from periodical and other publications, returning such an answer, might be easily adduced; but their frequency makes it unnecessary to cite them: I will only take, as a sample, a short passage from the prospectus of a new literary undertaking, + which came into my hands while writing this section, and which is, in part, a perfect echo of my above-cited questions: "The most unthinking, as well as the most prejudiced," says the well-informed writer of this paper, "must be struck with the fact, that the period in which we live is extraordinary and momentous. Amongst the great body of the people an unparalleled revolution is at work: they have awoke from that ignorance in which they had slept for ages, and have sprung up in their new character of thinking beings, qualified to inquire and to discuss; and despising both the despotism and the bigotry that would prohibit or impede their improvement.—The intellectual spirit is moving upon the chaos of minds, which ignorance and necessity have thrown into collision and confusion; and the result will be, a new creation. Nature (to use the nervous language of an old writer) 'will be melted down and re-coined;' and all will be bright and beautiful." It is thus that every attentive observer is impressed by the character of the present times. Consider then, my reflecting readers, whether so great an effect can be without a cause! And to what cause can it, with any degree of reason be assigned, but to that mighty change in the interior sphere of human minds effected by the performance of the Last Judgment in the spiritual world, and to the pouring thence of new energies from heaven into the awakening faculties of man ?
* P. 26. + The London Encyclopaedia.
Let us here ask, How might such a pouring of energies from heaven, and of light thence into the minds of men in general, be expected, in the first instance, to operate ? What the writer of the above quotation calls "the intellectual spirit moving upon the chaos of minds," is what the Scripture calls "the Spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters." The ultimate object of the divine movement is, that man may be made in the image and likeness of God; in other words, that man should rise to the full dignity of his nature, as the recipient, without perverting them, of love and wisdom from God; for it is only such a being as this—a being in whom the spiritual faculties as well as the natural endowments belonging to human nature are properly developed—that the Word of God emphatically denominates a man. Nevertheless, though it is as a spiritual being that man is last perfected, it is as a natural being that he first comes into existence; and his natural faculties, from the lowest to the highest of them, are successively unfolded before his spiritual ones are opened. Hence the operations of the Divine Spirit, in Genesis, consisted in calling into birth all the lower parts of the creation, beginning from the lowest of all and advancing to the higher, before man himself was produced; all which inferior objects are exact images of the various faculties that belong to the natural part of the human constitution; while that which is called man— the image and likeness of God—is man considered as to his spiritual part—a receptacle of love and wisdom from God;—to which it is given to reign over the lower powers. Such was the order in which the Divine Spirit proceeded at first: such then is the order in which the new out-pouring of divine influences might be expected to operate now:—and accordingly, such is the order in which it is now working its wonders anew among mankind.
Hence, then it is that we see in every direction, such astonishing improvements in whatever has for its object the well-being of man as to the natural part of his constitution. Look at the extraordinary manner in which the science and practice of agriculture have, during the last thirty or forty years, been advanced; which has boon such, that although the population of the globe, especially of the Christian part of it, has increased in a ratio beyond all that was ever known before (a circumstance which itself is a most striking result of the increased energy with which life, from the first Source of life, is flowing into nature), the earth has not proved incapable of supplying food for the increasing multitude, but has poured forth her productions with corresponding profusion; proclaiming the fact, that the divine command requiring her to bring forth her increase, —in other words, the divine energy producing it—has gone forth anew. Behold, again, the wonderful manner in which manufacturing skill and power have been augmented;—the astonishing perfection given to machinery; which is such, that wood and metal appear to be informed with human intelligence, whilst they are actuated by a force imparted by inanimate agents immensely beyond any that could be yielded by animal strength. Hereby every production of human ingenuity required for the necessities, comforts, or convenience of man, has been multiplied to an extent which not long since would have been deemed impossible; and so reduced at the same time in price as to be made attainable by all: in which, again, we behold a new outpouring of divine energies, rendering, in an unprecedented manner, the hands of men productive. Look, also, at the amazing improvements, in many other things; such as the banishment of night from our streets by the introduction of gas-lights, and the splendour added by the same invention to our saloons and public edifices; or the amelioration in ways and roads, and in the facilities for conveying goods and travellers by land and by water; which are such that, in a great degree, as to its separating power, space is annihilated, and the remotest parts of the globe are brought into vicinity. Here, again, who can fail to see some extraordinary agency at work, giving an unwonted impulse to human energies, and exhibiting in its extreme or lowest effects, the increased action of the world of life and activity.
But if we proceed to a slight view of some of the moral phenomena of the times, greater wonders, if possible, will demand our admiration. Observe, then, the surprising advance, on the one hand, of science; and, on the other, the universal increase of the desire for knowledge, combined with the extraordinary multiplication of the means for its diffusion. Since the time at which we believe the Last Judgment, in the spiritual world, to have taken place, every branch of Science has been improved to a most unexpected extent, whilst many new ones have been added, and others have assumed a form which makes them virtually new: thus Geology, whose discoveries are so highly interesting, whose conclusions are so momentous, and whose practical uses are so eminent, is entirely the offspring of modern times: whilst Chemistry, which is so continually astonishing us with fresh wonders, has undergone, in our times, a change equivalent to a new creation.*
* Speaking in company, in the year 1825, of the great modern improvements in Science as one of the effects of the light flowing from the spiritual world in consequence of the accomplishment of the Last Judgment, a scientific friend, who was struck with the idea, was so kind as to send me, soon afterwards, the following list of "Improvements in Natural Science made about or subsequently to the era, of the Last Judgment, 1757.
"The distinct classification of natural beings and substances of all kinds,— the determinate recognition of their respective specific identity, and denotation of that identity by names,—which have effected so many subordinate improvements in science, were not made until about the above era.—The Linnssan system of natural history, which was materially concerned in the improvement just noticed, was promulgated from about 1735 to 1778, and came into full reception about the latter period, or perhaps somewhat before.—The doctrine of the regular succession of the stratified masses constituting the crust of the globe, forming the foundation of the modern science of Geology, was first delivered distinctly, and to a considerable degree demonstrated, by Lehman in 1756, and by Mitchell in 1760.'—Five primary planets, and eight or ten secondary planets or satellites, have been discovered since 1757. No addition to the former class of heavenly bodies had been made from time immemorial; and none, I think, to the latter, for a century before; but of this I am not certain.—Many departments of mathematical and physical science which had scarcely any existence before, and some which were absolutely unknown, have risen to great importance since 1757. Among the former are several branches of mathematical analysis, which, in the investigation of problems in physics, have nearly superseded the old and tedious geometrical methods. The sciences of mineralogy, chemistry (see below), and electricity, have assumed a form since 1757, altogether distinct from that which they bore in the previous period. It would seem indeed that a new discrete degree was developed in the sciences at that era; a marked character of which was the improvement first noticed in this list. A great variety of truths, merely suspected in the latter part of the seventeenth century and former part of the eighteenth, were seen in the clearest light after the above era. The entire science of Galvanism, or Voltaic electricity, which has exerted so great an influence on that of chemistry, as well in theory as in practice, and given rise to so many discoveries in it, has arisen since the era of the last judgment: it was absolutely unknown before. The true nature of thunder and lightning was discovered about 1750, by Dr. Franklin. Is it in correspondence (thunder and lightning being used as figures, in Scripture, of the revelation from heaven of Divine Truth) that this discovery should have been made at the same time that the spiritual sense of the Scriptures was being revealed to mankind ? [The first volume of Swedenborg's theological works was printed in 1749.]
"The steam engine was invented (as a machine for use) about 1700, or a year or two before: but it received its grand improvements about 1764. The application of iron as a principal article in civil and naval architecture, did not take place until after 1757. It was employed in arms and machinery for ages-before.
"The following are a few of the particular discoveries in chemistry since the year 1757:—The constitution of the atmosphere.—The composition of water. —The existence of latent or combined heat (that is, of certain phenomena referred by philosophers to such an origin: great fallacies, no doubt, are involved in the prevailing doctrines on the subject; but these phenomena were unknown, in the science of heat, before).—The radiation of terrestrial heat; that is, the passage into space in right lines of the heat obtained from artificial sources, independently of the solar beams; as well as of the heat any substance has previously imbibed from the sun. By this property every substance in nature emulates the sun, as to his diffusion of heat.—The doctrine of the mutual relations of the regular geometrical forms assumed by almost every substance, or the science of crystallography.—The doctrine of the definite proportions in which bodies mutually combine; by which every substance in nature, whether simple or compound, is shown to combine in a quantity represented by a certain number, which number represents the substance in all its relations; called the atomic theory. —There is some difference of opinion amongst chemists, as to what truly constitutes the metallic nature; but there are probably about thirty-nine metals, of which twenty-four have been discovered since 1757. How immense an addition to the science this is, is evinced by the facts, that not one new metal was discovered between 1541 and 1732, and only four between 1732 and 1757.—The polarisation of light, discovered within these few years, forms a more important addition to the science of optics, than any single improvement it ever received.
"It is of course to be understood that most of the new doctrines in science to which a date has been here assigned, did not come into full reception in the .minds of philosophers until a few years subsequent to their date."
Nor is the progress that has been made by elegant literature of all kinds less rapid and extraordinary; whilst of late, particularly, a great proportion of the new works which appear have a moral aim in view, and are adapted to assist in promoting the best interests of mankind.*
* I cannot here refrain from citing the following just and striking remarks, on this subject, from the Literary Gazette, of Nov. 12, 1825, which met my eye almost while writing the above (for the first edition). "—Even the cheapest little sheet that issues from the press is good of its kind. Fifteen years ago— ten years ago, it was hardly possible to lift up a periodical paper without pollution. The press teemed with what was desperate in politics, destructive in morals, ruinous in social relations, and horrible in religion: the ignorant were deluded, the irresolute perverted, the firm shaken, by almost every act of this tremendous engine."—This however, like the political convulsions which have shaken the world, was equally a consequence of the increased influence poured from the spiritual world, and from the Lord himself, into the world of nature, which is received by every one according to his state, and at the presence, therefore, of which, the evil bring forth without reserve what they before strove to conceal; and it was thus that, in the spiritual world itself, the evil were constrained to discover themselves at the period of the judgment. This effect of the wonderful operation appears now, however, in a great measure, to be passing away. To continue our quotation: "The change, now, is as delightful as it is extraordinary. Except in the newspapers, there is not one among fifty periodical publications which is not well disposed, and useful to every rank in life—not one in hundreds of an injurious tendency to the best interests of mankind. And we do not speak of works in extensive circulation, and of course well known; but of multitudes which fill their narrow circle only, but fill it in a way which half a century ago would have attracted general applause. In excepting the newspapers, too, we would be understood as not undervaluing those powerful, and, when rightly conducted, admirable productions. The extent and variety of their information is astonishing; the style in which their original remarks are written, and the character they display, are such as challenge almost unmixed admiration, when we consider the circumstances under which they are brought forth."—'Consider," says the divine prophet, in reference to the present times, — "Consider the fig-tree: when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh."
Whence can such an increase of natural light result, but from a new outpouring of light from heaven, of which, when received in the natural faculties of the human mind, improvements in science are the natural offspring? And while every kind of mental food is thus provided in such abundance, the appetite for its appropriation is not less remarkable: and institutions which have for their object to produce this appetite, and to supply it with the means of obtaining satisfaction, are everywhere springing up. The discovery of the systems of Bell and Lancaster, followed, as it has been, by various other improvements, has formed a new era in the science of education; the advantages of which are now imparted to multitudes at a less expense than was formerly incurred in bestowing them on a few; and, by establishments having this for their obj ect, those advantages are being diffused, not only throughout this favoured country, but nearly through the whole globe. To these laudable establishments, the new and admirable institution of Infant Schools is becoming a powerful auxiliary; which, by commencing the culture of the human mind at its first dawn, withdraws it from the consequences of parental neglect and the contagion of parental depravity, and must effectually prevent ignorance and barbarism from being much longer the necessary inheritance of the poor. Nor is the love of knowledge and of diffusing it, which in the present age is so conspicuous, satisfied with providing for the instruction of the young. The man desires to perfect what the child began; and thus Mechanics' Institutions, and Literary Societies of various kinds have been founded, and are spreading through the land: whilst by publications containing the elements of science in a cheap and popular form, and by cheap editions of literary works of established reputation, intellectual cultivation of every species is made accessible to all. To all, from the infant to the man, and from the peasant to the prince, the flood-gates of knowledge are set open: and the nations rush eagerly to imbibe the mind-informing streams. Can we behold such truly astonishing changes in the intellectual condition of mankind, without referring them to a spiritual cause ? Can we fail to see in them the effect of a new outpouring of light and life from heaven, preparing the way, by raising and cultivating the rational faculties of man for his spiritual improvement ?
Allow me here to add a passage from a high-church publication, which fell under my observation while this was going through the press (in the first edition), and which evinces, that those effects of the Last Judgment that we are here noticing, have powerfully forced themselves upon the attention even, of those whose natural prejudices and interests (I do not say this invidiously) most indispose them for admitting their reality, and even incline to regard them as an evil. The following strong statement is from the Quarterly Theological Review:* "It is now too late to press objections, be they strong or weak, against universal education—against that (if we may speak chemically) hyperoxygenated passion for imparting knowledge, which is so prevalent in our times. "We are not left to argue and debate upon what might have been better or worse; we must act upon what we find in operation. The fountains of the great deep have been broken up, and a deluge of information—theological, scientific, and civil—is carrying all before it, filling up the valleys, and scaling the mountain-tops. A spirit of inquiry has gone forth, and sits brooding on the mind of man. The effect may be good or it may be bad; much will depend on right regulation and direction."— Wherefore, the writer presently adds, "Let the objectors to general education tell us it is a fierce forerunner of anarchy, insubordination, and infidelity, a whirlwind whose desolating effects we shall live to rue. In reply we would say: Be it what they please; it is for the Clergy of the National Church to ride that whirlwind, and direct the storm; to moderate and guide its force, that like every other apparent evil permitted by Providence, it may conduce to some good end."—Can anything stronger than this half-reluctant but most decided testimony to the truths we are advocating, be conceived ? They who view the event with trembling, nevertheless acknowledge, that "the fountains of the great deep have been broken up!" who can doubt, that it has been effected by a similar divine interference to that which was exerted in the days of Noah ?—It was, we may also add, exactly in the spirit of these remarks, that the Bishop of London,+ in his famous Charge, some years since, warned his clergy, that if they wish, in these days of rapidly increasing knowledge, to retain the consideration they enjoyed in former times, they must allow the current, since it cannot be resisted, to carry them along with it, and be careful, by their increased attainments, still to keep in advance of the general knowledge of the age. This is excellent advice: but it will not be sufficient, unless the clergy allow the improvements to he extended to their Articles and Liturgy. The advancing intelligence of the age must renovate the doctrines they preach as well as embellish their mode of preaching them: they must permit the energies which are now operating from heaven for the enlightening of the human mind, to enlighten it in the most important points of all: and then they will retain their ancient consideration unimpaired, and will be respected by all as the heaven-commissioned ministers of heaven-born truths. Thus only will they be qualified "to ride that whirlwind, and direct the storm."
* No. IV. p. 399. This work is since incorporated with the British Critic. + Dr. Howley, late Archbishop of Canterbury.
Nor is it only of natural knowledge that the streams are thus set flowing: by that truly extraordinary, that greatest of modern benevolent establishments, the British and Foreign Bible Society, we also behold dispensed, with a copiousness unknown to former ages, the streams of salvation. The formation of such a society is itself a phenomenon; and its operations have been a series of wonders. When we behold men of all Christian sects, abandoning their particular differences, unite to distribute the Scriptures free from the glosses and corrupt expositions which most sects have appended to them; who can fail to discern in the work the mighty finger of God ? When we see, by the exertions of this society, not only all Christendom supplied with the inestimable treasure, but almost all the nations of the earth, the multitudes of a thousand tongues, who never knew before that God had given such a revelation of his will, enabled to read the Word of God in their own languages, and presented, in their own languages, with the Word of God to read; who can help exclaiming, "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?" Who can fail to discover in it the effects of a new divine influence, providing, more extensively than ever, the means of human salvation ? Nor are the efforts which are making by Missionary Societies, and the success which, in some instances, has attended them, unworthy of being noticed in this sketch of the signs of the present times. If the theology which the Missionaries teach is not such as we can regard as pure, its effects upon the degraded idolater are highly beneficial: and who can fail to recognise the divine energies which are now pouring forth for the improvement of the human race, when he beholds, among their results, the Hottentot reclaimed from his filth, and the Otaheitan from his impurity,—the barbarian brought within the circle of civilised humanity,—the savage elevated to the man!
Here, I think, I may close this Section. Were I to attempt to enumerate all the symptoms of the mighty change that has taken place in the state of mankind, I might write a volume on this subject alone. Allow me then, ye Candid and Reflecting, to request your serious attention to the instances which have been adduced, the number of which your own recollections will readily augment. Is not every one of them, taken singly, of sufficient magnitude to excite surprise, and to awaken serious meditation on the subject of its cause ? But when such hosts of them press on our notice together, are we not compelled to refer the cause to something of a very extraordinary nature indeed ? Here are multitudes of phenomena which every observer sees and owns; and every one who observes them owns likewise, that "the most unthinking, as well as the most prejudiced, must he struck with the fact, that the period in which we live is extraordinary and momentous;" and not only, that "amongst the great body of the people an unparalleled revolution is at work,"—that "the fountains of the great deep have been broken up,"—but that the main seat of the revolution is in the mental part of man,—"that the intellectual spirit is moving upon the chaos of minds,"—that "it sits brooding on the mind of man,"—and this with such energy as to authorise the expectation, that "nature will be melted down and re-coined." Where, I repeat, can the cause of such a simultaneous alteration in human minds be looked for, but in the world of minds itself,—in other terms, in the spiritual world, with which man, as to his mind, is most intimately connected ? And what change there could be adequate to the production of so great a change as we are witnessing here, but the performance of the Last Judgment,—the entirely new state which is thence induced on the intermediate region of the spiritual world, the seat of man's most immediate spiritual association,—and the consequent outpouring from heaven of new streams of light and life into the world of nature ? The illustrious Swedenborg, so long ago as the year 1758, declared * that, by the Last Judgment, then just accomplished, spiritual liberty was restored, and the state of servitude and captivity in which men's minds were previously held, in regard to spiritual subjects, was removed; and in the year 1763 he added,+ that the efflux of divine energies from heaven into the world, which had been in a great degree intercepted by the presence of those called the dragon and his angels in the intermediate part of the spiritual world, was, by their ejection, restored. These assertions were made, when no remarkable effects of the change had yet begun to manifest themselves in the world, and when, consequently, they could not be corroborated by acknowledged facts: but how wonderfully have they thus been corroborated since, and what striking confirmations of them does every day's experience now bring with it! Am I then doing any more than anticipating the suffrage of many of my readers, when I conclude, that our Second Proposition is sufficiently established;—that, independently of the assertions of Swedenborg, there are various considerations tending to evince, that the Last Judgment has, in the spiritual world, been performed ? Will not all acknowledge, that the spiritual cause thus assigned for the astonishing change in the state of mankind, is, at least, likely to be the true one ? and since no other can be conceived that is adequate to the effect, will not the Candid admit it to be at least highly probable, that the Last Judgment, so long looked for and so much misunderstood, has, at length, actually been accomplished ?
* In his work on the Last Judgment. + In his continuation of the former work.