Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/61

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THE LIBERTY OF PROPHESYING.

many other venerable names (among whom Tertullian and Origen are witnesses to the same truth afterwards), Eusebius, Cyprian, Lactantius, still lower down, declare that extraordinary divine manifestations were not uncommon in their days. Cyprian is very express on this subject, praising God on that behalf, with respect to himself, to divers of the clergy and many of the people, using these words: "The discipline of God over us never ceases by night and by day to correct and reprove; for not only by visions of the night, but also by day, even the innocent age of children among us is filled with the Holy Spirit, and they see and hear and speak in ecstasy, such things as the Lord vouchsafes to admonish and instruct us by." Epist. Rom. 16.

"Where there is no vision," says the Wise man, "the people perish." And therefore it is promised in Joel that the Lord's Spirit shall be upon all flesh in the latter days: "Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit." What else did Joseph mean or claim for himself, when he said to his humiliated brethren: "Wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?"

No evidence as to personal character of the author could establish a new system of theology, though it might go a long way towards overthrowing one. Nor will it be pretended that the average clergy of any sect or denomination have furnished any higher evidence of their call to be the special interpreters of God's love to men than we find in the life and work of Swedenborg. But it is pertinent to the subject in hand to say, that of the vast army of Christian clergy throughout the world there are comparatively few who on taking orders have not solemnly proclaimed their conviction that they were "called to the order and ministry of the priesthood by the will of our Lord Jesus Christ." This language may, to a certain extent, have degenerated into a formula, but it once expressed a dogmatic conviction, that the ministers of Christ's church were called in the same way, to the same uses, and by the same voices as the apostles had been called. Whether Swedenborg did hear the Saviour's