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A Glimpse at Toronto
30th Jun 2016Posted in: Others, Post-Confederation 0

A
GLIMPSE AT TORONTO
IN THE 20TH CENTURY,
WITH A RETROSPECTIVE GLANCE.


Recited at the 11th Annual Festival commemorating the formation of THE TORONTO SOCIETY OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH.

PRINTED FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION ONLY.


TORONTO:
April 6, 1875.
[unnumbered page]

A
GLIMPSE AT TORONTO
IN THE 20TH CENTURY,
WITH A RETROSPECTIVE GLANCE.


Recited at the 11th Annual Festival commemorating the formation of THE TORONTO SOCIETY OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH.


PRINTED FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION ONLY.


TORONTO:
April 6, 1875.
[unnumbered page]

[blank page]

IT is the evening of Tuesday, the 2nd day of April, Anno Domini 1934.
The 70th anniversary of the formation of The Toronto Society of the New Jerusalem Church, is being celebrated in the Educational Metropolis of the Dominion of Canada. It is in the spacious lecture-hall of the University on Swedenborg Street, and almost in the centre of the great city of 300,000 inhabitants.

The scene is a brilliant one; upwards of 5,000 persons are assembled. The leaders and workers in all the useful professions; in arts, science, and learning are represented; [unnumbered page] and the chief servant of the people, who is the Ruler of the Dominion, by special request, occupies the chair. The soft, but brilliant electric light illuminates the hall, and lights up the lively, intellectual, and comely countenances of the assembled thousands. The varied, but decorous costumes of the 20th century are seen to full advantage, and the decorations of the hall glow with the living beauty of flowers, in clusters; with rich and artistic painted landscapes and portraits, and groups of truthful statuary symbolically arranged.

The musical composers, who are also the poets of the New Age, have given their symphonies to the world; and in well-trained harmony the choir executes some of the most choice selections, accompanied by the tones of the grand organ; and every chorus is a hymn of praise, in which the audience unite. [page 4]

Speech—“short and sweet”—succeeds to speech; the recent past is reviewed; the duties and orderly delights of the present are pointed out; and plans projected for the future; each speaks in kind and pleasant tones, and some in bursts of eloquence. It is a happy, hopeful, loving gathering, a picture true, of scene oft seen in Paradise.

And now, and aged man the rostrum mounts;
His hair is white with fourscore winters’ tinge;
But firm his stand, and bright his beaming eye,
As thus, the stranger speaks in accents clear:—
My friends, my brothers, and my sisters dear,
It glads my heart to see, to meet you all.
With joy I hail the progress you have made;
Th’ advancing march of New Jerus’lem truth;
The old things gone, and all things new become.
As shown, not by this brilliant scene alone,
But also by the works I see abound.
This noble University, endowed
With all the aids that wisely laid out wealth
Can bring to minister, in healthful mode, [page 5]
To intellectual growth in virtue’s paths.
Prizes for worthy youth of sexes both,
To help them upward, to grand spheres of use,
In science, commerce, and in this new age
The sacred trusts of priesthood and of school.
For this college tributary is,
The whole school-system of your favoured land.
While blessed of the Lord, and based upon
His truth, to man made known in latter days,
All seats of trust, in legislative hall,
On bench judicial, and official place,
Are filled by men of honour and high parts,
Ev’n to your high Exec’tive, who presides
At this, the annual feast, where Reason guides,
And soul to soul flows forth, in mutual love.
And ‘tis in my time that this change has come.
To me, returning to my native land,
From stay prolonged, in Afric’s fervid zone,
Where darkness spiritual doth linger yet,
The change seems as when murky mist obscure,
Breaks at a lake-lapped, sloping mountain’s base,
And lifting up, like to a veil, reveals
A landscape fair, lit by the sun’s warm beams;
Where healthy industry is seen to thrive,
’Mid groves, and meads, and orchards bearing fruit, [page 6]
And trout-stocked riv’let murm’ring on its way:
The banks flower-clad. And sprightly children, free,
Sport in the shady nooks.— With lambs at browse.—
And birds of plumage gay, in green trees’ shade,
Sing their sweet songs of innocence and praise.
Come back, in retrospect, to years gone by;
When I in youth, dwelt ‘neath an humble roof,
Upon the banks of Don; “the classic” now;
But in those days, which are not yet remote,
And corresponding with The Church’s state,
Then termed “the sluggish and the slimy Don,”
That lazily, its filthy waters lost,
In treach’rous, reedy marsh malarious,
Where broke the waves of broad Ontario’s flow.
Four landmarks I recall, that reared their walls,
Their well-built walls, on sites approximate:
And still those structures stand, though changed their use,
To purposes beneficent that mark
The advent here of civ’lization true.
Th’ associations that their names recall,
Names that have almost died from memory,
Now flash upon our minds with grievous pain,
To be replaced by joy, when we reflect, [page 7]
That now I speak of times forever past,
Of states removed to the circumference.*
“Distillery” and “Gaol” are known no more.
And “House of Providence” and “Hospital”
Are also of the past, in this respect,
That now is practically shown and proved,
The proverb’s truth—that to prevent an ill,
Is wiser course, and better far than cure.
Who here, with me, remembers Seventy-Five
Of the last century? ’Twas on the sixth
Of this, the present month, that in that year,
Was held th’ eleventh annual mental feast
Of this society; and I was there,
A well-grown youth, just ent’ring manhood’s life.
The base of reformation then was laid;
But scarce was promised, what I live to see.
Yet social union ’twas, of church and school,
Adult with youth was met in festival;
And much, now realized, was shadowed forth,
In orderly arrangement, speech and song.
We met; not in this spacious, beauteous hall,
But in an humbler temple, unadorned,
Though dedicate to Wisdom and to Love;
And to the Lord, essentially their source.
*Arcana Cœlestia, 3436 and 9164. [page 8]
A lowly band they were, that crept their way,
With must obstruction hind’ring them without,
And many “snags” to stay their course within.
No great ones of the land e’er entered there;
And as the crowds to other churches passed,
Side-looks were cast, upon the structure small,
Where “sect” obscure, their doctrines then thought false,
Had dared to publish, and to promulgate.
Steadfast and earnest, but in weakness oft,
The standard had, for years elev’n been raised;
Some fell, and rose, whilst others who did fall,
In this world were not seen to rise again;
For states were mixed, and when new wine was poured
Into the bottles old, its spiritual power
Did burst the vessels weak, and wine was spilled.
And there was new cloth sewed on garments old,
So that th’ unseemly rents were thus made worse.
Nor homogeneous were the minds as yet,
Of those, the few, the scattered, wand’ring sheep,
That gathered into Elm street New Church fold.
That cause which makes the ballads of one race,
To differ from another nation’s songs,
And show divergent genius by their themes,
Did there exist, where diverse minds first met [page 9]
To learn those truths, that love not narrow grooves,
But flow in channels “cosmopolitan,”
A term then known, though more than half despised.
To them the daily, weekly press was closed,
Save that advertis’ments appeared each week,
Announcing subjects “strange” to th’ orthodox,
Who frowned, as they those “wild” announcements scanned.
And Doctors of Divinity, most wise,
Did point the finger at them oft in scorn,
And then would laugh at the conceit absurd,
That one GEORGE FIELD could set them all aright,
In doctrine and theology, and on
The system of the “mystic” Swedenborg!
And some came there, went back, and came again;
And others left, fearful to follow with
Such despised “heretics,” or “simple dupes.”
And families were mixed, and broken up;
Now ’twas the wife, or sister, saw the truth,
Whilst husband, brother, mother kept aloof;
And now, the husband joined with honest zeal,
Whilst wife recoiled with shudder from the band. [page 10]
But few went back, and few there were resigned
Their membership—in permanent remove:
For, ’tis to those, your gratitude is due,
For mighty structure now seen reared, upon
The base they laid, in cold obstruction’s day,
When children sat in market, and did call
Unto their fellows, thus: —“To you we’ve piped,
But danced ye have not. Unto you we’ve mourned,
And our lament gets no response from you.”*
Still, we must always keep this clear in view;
That “if the Lord, Himself, builds not the house,
The labour of the builders is in vain.”
They had the truth, as pure as now ’tis taught,
But till the truth takes form, in outward act,
In life,—it cannot make men free nor wise.
“Work is Religion, and Religion’s work,”
In all the fields this school-world doth afford;
Or, more correctly, it is thus laid down:—
“That all Religion, worthy of the name,
* See Bruce’s (New Church) Commentary on Matthew, xi. ch., 16th and 17th verses. [page 11]
Relation has to life; and that the life
Of true Religion is, to do what’s good.”
Truth there was preached, as never preached till then;
And children there were taught the way of life,
And evils learned to shun as sins ’gainst God.
And books were written and distributed
In this and other lands, by zealous men.
“True Christian Religion”* pastors read,
And led their flocks to pastures rich and green;
Whilst instances, in places few, were seen,
Where flocks their shepherds drew within the fold.
Thus, in the course of time did sects decay.
And now, ’neath grand cathedrals’ lofty spires,
And in the churches “metropolitan,”
The New Church doctrines guard the good within;
And with delight, the grand results we see.
Whilst other lands, as favoured, feel the throbs
That now ye feel, and throughout all the world,
The gospel pure, is preached and publish-ed.
At last, the new life to the race has come;
The life of loving use, and truthful act,
* Swedenborg’s work, so named. [page 12]
And high intelligence in all that’s good.
I’ve carried New Church truths to Africa,
Where beat more fervent, kind, and loving hearts,
Than even here, where truth shines bright, are found:
The night is past, the blessed morn has come,
And sure advance in all True Freedom’s made
To high noon-day of Christianity.
But, sometimes pause to think on other days,
On generations gone—gone, but still here
In all our works, as angels minist’ring.
Who, this day, doubts the soul’s immortal life?
None here! And those, the faithful of the past,
From hills, and vales, of immortality,
With heav’nly thoughts, and loving, humble hearts,
Unite with those on earth, of kindred states;
For now, we know, “THE CHURCH AND HEAV’N ARE ONE.” [page 13]
The old man ceased,—and here we close the scene.
It was a dream,—and yet not all a dream,
Mayhap, dear friends, it was a picture true.

TORONTO, CANADA,
Tuesday, April 6th, 1875.

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