An excerpt from "Heresies Exposed"
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God?"
(1 Corinthians 6:9).
by William Hoste, B.A.
Concerning the book:
compiled by William C. Irvine
An excerpt from "Heresies Exposed"
by William Hoste, B.A.
hat simplifies our examination of
Swedenborgianism is its claim to be, not a mere new sect or offshoot of Christianity,
but a new dispensation, as distinct from Church Christianity as that was from Judaism.
The old Church is affirmed to have come to its end in 1757 when, as some will be
surprised to learn, the last judgment took place. Swendenborg says he was present;
though why he was not judged himself does not appear clear. However, all this is
opposed in Scripture and facts. The Lord promised that "the
gates of hell should not prevail" against His Church [Matthew
16:18], and we know we have received
"a kingdom which cannot be moved, [Hebrews 12:28]" and a succeeding dispensation of Christianity to the Church dispensation
is a pure invention without foundation. Is it not too much to ask us to believe that
there has been no true Church testimony on the earth since 1757, except that of a
little handful of self-commended Swedenborgians?
If, however, a new dispensation did begin in 1757, might we not expect it to be marked by an increase of spirituality, holiness of conduct, submission to God's Word and separation from the world? None of these marks is apparent. Swedenborg's heaven reminds one of the heaven of the Spiritists- a replica of earth with spiritual cigars, whiskey, armchairs, debating societies, lending libraries and- the antipodes of the heaven of the Apocalypse, neither holy nor happy, but "earthly, sensual, devilish, [James 3:15]" for even the devils and the lost make raids into it. Swedenborg once saw "an execrable rabble in heaven" (Swedenborgianism Examined, p.91).
But is the system marked by special holiness? The predominant subject in the teacher's mind was "conjugal love," which was indeed in his view "heavenly love in its highest form," and is, according to him, a great subject of interest and conversation among the angels (from Areana Celestia, pp.2735,5053, and Conjugal Love, pp.54, 64-65, 229, 367, 457 as quoted by Dr. Pond, p.150.). In spite of our Lord's denial, they do "marry and are given in marriage" in heaven!
There are passages in Swedenborg's writings so grossly indelicate, Dr. Pond assures us, that they ought never to have been translated
Swedenborg gives 55 cases in which a married man may judge himself free to be unfaithful to his marriage vows; and in certain cases he permits and even recommends flagrant immorality (Swedenborgianism Examined, pp.163-167).
Is, then, Swedenborgianism subject to the Word of God? By his fanciful system of "correspondences"- which Swedenborgian writers (e.g., Mr. Tulk, see Swedenborgianism Examined, p.65, footnote) themselves being witness, no one can rightly interpret the Scriptures can be made to mean anything or nothing. One instance must suffice. The story of the 42 children destroyed by bears in 2 Kings 2:24 is thus interpreted: "Elisha represented the Lord as the Word. Baldness signifies the Word, devoid of literal sense, thus not anything. Forty-two signifies blasphemy. And bears signify the literal sense of the word, real indeed but not understood." (Apocalypse Revealed, p.573). I hope my readers are edified. To some such interpretations must appear as the ravings of a disordered mind. And why all this talk about the literal word, when Swedenborg rejected Ruth, Job, Chronicles, Nehemiah, Ezra, Esther, Proverbs, in the Old Testament, and all but the four Gospels and the Apocalypse in the New,
only because these books could not be made to work out on the "correspondence" system. But, alas, a disordered heart beats behind a disordered mind! Swedenborg's antipathy to the doctrines of grace amounted almost to a monomania. He never ceased to travesty and vilify the doctrine of the Trinity, accusing his opponents of being tritheists: he replaced it by a Unitarianism which made the Lord Jesus Christ, the one God, substituting for the glorious Three in One, Father, Son and Spirit, a nominal Trinity, "essential divinity, divine humanity (sic), and a divine preceding" (see notes on pp.160,161).
The Lord Jesus is not honored by such daring perversions of the truth, but profoundly dishonored. In fact, what remains when the divinity of the Godhead has been destroyed?- not Jesus, the Son of God, but "another Jesus." In reality, His Person is denied
(1) in His essential Deity, for He could have no existence as the Eternal Son without the Father: (note: I am well aware Swedenborg strenuously denied the eternal Sonship of Christ.)
(2) in His true humanity, for the divinity took the place of the human spirit:
and (3) in His intrinsic holiness and sinlessness, by the blasphemous attribution to Him of "great moral impurities and imperfections." "We are therefore called upon to work in ourselves, in our human nature, the same kind of work which He wrought in His." (See Swedenborgianism Examined, p.83.)
He was equally opposed to the atonement in any vicarious sense. To him it was "a subjugation of the powers of evil," or, as one of his followers puts it, "the reconciliation of the human nature to the divine;" but Christ bearing our sins and judgment, shedding His blood to make atonement to God on account of sin, all this was anathema to Swedenborg, and is to his followers today.
This antipathy to spiritual doctrine meant in his case a corresponding dislike to the most precious saints of all time who have been used of God to establish these truths, and whose memory is fragrant in the Church. He professed to see David and Paul, for instance, in the unseen world, associated with the worst of devils;
from Luther and Calvin and other well-known servants of God he affirmed to have heard the most abject confessions of hypocrisies and heresies;
in the case of his own contemporaries, the Moravian brethren, devoted
missionaries for the most part, many of whom had laid down their lives for Christ's
gospel, and "of whom the world was not
worthy" [Hebrews 11:38], he did
not scruple to affirm that he saw them choosing hell, so great had been their hypocrisies.
How far could Swedenborg adopt the language of the apostle: "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we
love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death" [1John 3:14].
But, perhaps, the system has a high standard of devotion and separation from the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. It deprecates all such extremes. "They who renounce the world and live in the Spirit procure to themselves a sorrowful life, which is not receptible of heavenly joy." (Heaven and Hell, p.528.)
Men must "live in the world"
and enjoy "the concupiscences of the body and the flesh" (sic).
Besides this, Swedenborg recommends the following "diversions of charity," "the delights and pleasures of the bodily senses... convivialities, feasts, entertainments, and all kinds of merry-makings, games which are played at home with dice, billiards and cards." (Charity, p.117.)
Such morality might suit well some Mr. Facing-both-ways of Vanity Fair; one fails to recognize it as Christian ethics. Certainly if this be heavenly-mindedness, few need fail to attain the standard.
To accept this evil system, we are asked completely to revise our doctrinal and ethical standards, and to do so on the sole ground of Swedenborg's visions, backed up by no miracles or signs, and by no testimony but his own.
They do not bear a moment's investigation from the astronomical or scientific standpoint, being full of absurd blunders and mis-statements of the science of the day. He did leave two tests, which he urged his adepts to follow up. He asserted that "the most ancient Word" written by Noah would be found among the inhabitants of Great Tartary, and that there exists in Central Africa an important branch of the New Church (Swedenborgianism Examined, p.199). But neither the one nor the other has ever been proved to have any real existence. We may be sure that the master's visions of the heavens and the hells, and the accounts of his visits to the heavenly orbs have no higher claim to our consideration.
The question may be asked how such an unchristian system can ever have gained adherence or have persisted to the present day. I think the answer is plain. The system responds in a very marked way to three dominant factors in the natural heart of man: his love of the marvellous, his dislike for the doctrines of grace, and his craving for pleasure;
especially when there are found combined in a religion of high pretensions under the imposing title of "The New Jerusalem descending out of Heaven from God."
[Editor's Note: We received a letter from an official of The Swedenborg
Society of India in which he says: "The delay is mainly due, however, to there
being hardly a single statement in the article that can be allowed to pass unchallenged;
indeed there are instances of single words (in quotations) even being refutable,
as, for example, where 'proceeding' has been substituted for 'preceding' and 'conjugal'
for 'conjugial' (the latter word having no reference to the carnal side of marriage,
which, like Mr. Hoste, (his italics) the Sadducees of Christ's time had in
mind; conjugial love is spiritual, and comes from a marriage of minds)."
Beyond general charges, these are the only definite "mistakes" pointed out. We sent the letter to Mr. Hoste, amongst other things he says: "As for his quibbles about misrepresentations and garbled quotations, unless he lies, he cannot bring any forward. Probably one or two misprints may have crept in, but what I am supposed to gain by substituting 'preceding' for 'proceeding' I do not quite see. There is no such word as 'conjugial' in Webster or, I believe, in the English language. Swedenborg's mind was full of the 'conjugal' question. He can't invent words and ask his critics to differentiate."- Ed.]
Verses that would be helpful:
1 Cor. 7:4-9 "The wife
hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath
not power of his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent
for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together
again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. 6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.
7 For I would
that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God,
one after this manner, and another after that. 8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good
for them if they abide even as I. 9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better
to marry than to burn."
1 Cor. 7:35-40 "And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. 36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. 38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better. 39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. 40 But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God."
1 Cor. 6:9-10 "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the Kingdom of God."
2 Pet. 2:12-15 "But
these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the
things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;
13 And shall receive
the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day
time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings
while they feast with you; 14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from
sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous
practices; cursed children: 15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following
the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness."
Proverbs 28:10 "Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession."
3 John 1:11 "Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God."
Concerning Emanuel Swedenborg ---New Window
In reply to one of our readers.
by Tom Stewart
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