Category — Church
The things which Mr. Groeneveld has said have given me reflection on a point which he presented in an informal talk recently on the way in which the Church should go.
The sign of the First Coming was that the Lord would be born in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, because there was no room for them in the inn. We are told that He could have been born in a palace, in a cradle with precious stones, but there would then have been no correspondence. The palace and the precious stones draw the mind to the Nova Hierosolyma with its precious stones, and to the contrast between the First and Second Coming.
The direction of the Church depends on how we view the present state of the Church, to come to the simple primitive things represented by the manger and the swaddling clothes, or immediately to direct the eyes to the glory of Hierosolyma. If we see the Nova Hierosolyma as just around the corner, or if we see the First Coming of the Lord as a coming in glory, with all the universals and all the magnificent things of the Church, our direction of the thinking is entirely different than if we believe that the state is such that we must come to the primitive simplicity represented by the Lord in a manger.
To try to look immediately to Nova Hierosolyma or anything universal containing all the goods and truths of the Church would be to skip over the essential of the First Coming into an imaginary Second Coming. For we might speak of the First Coming and make it a thing of glory such as described in the Second Coming.
To go to the Second Coming or to the Lord appearing in glory, and not go through the things involved in the First Coming would have a similar effect as to return to the paradise of the Most Ancient Church and transfer that to the Second Coming. If we don’t come to the simple primitive things of the First Coming, the Church will take a wrong direction, and come into phantasies of all kinds. What can we think of the state signified by the Lord as an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger? The swaddling clothes are the bindings of a new innocence, in which man is as an infant, scarcely able to speak. What are those simple truths of a new innocence by which the Church can be saved? To see this we have to see it in contrast to the opposite. The opposite is illustrated particularly by a false idea of the priesthood. In ordination into the priesthood there is a promise of the Holy Spirit. There is some doubt whether that ought to be in the Liturgy. What does ordination really mean? Just as baptism is a sign and memorial that man must be regenerated, so ordination is a sign and memorial that if man is regenerated in the work of the priesthood, he will receive the Holy Spirit. Ordination must not be regarded as anything more than that. The Holy Spirit proceeds in the clergy, but nothing is more rare than for a priest to speak from the Holy Spirit. For the priesthood to imagine that they are in the fulfillment of that promise because they are priests leads to the greatest of phantasies. The danger is that a priest will think that his many scientifics are truths. A scientific becomes a truth only when genuinely applied to state. A living application to state in a genuine way makes the scientifics to be truths. If applied wrongly to the state, they become falsities. So it was with the Priests, Scribes and Pharisees signified by the inn. They had great knowledge, but applied it wrongly to the state, because they desired a Messiah who would rule the world.
With the priests there is the danger of wishing to be god of gods. The whole nature of his function is such as to make him able to exalt himself in this way. Does he recognize this in himself? Is his primary concern to fight against that thing? By overcoming that, and by coming to a new innocence he comes to that meant by the swaddling clothes. By recognizing the terrible pride and vanity that rules in every priest, and shunning it, he comes to that new innocence. In that connection, a minister raises his hand and says, “In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ” at the beginning of a sermon. A young man doing that is apt to think it is a sign he is in the Holy Spirit, or he feels that he is. Now we are told that a priest must preach according to the Doctrine of his Church from the Word. If he belongs to a Church which he believes to be a living Church, and that there is genuine Doctrine in the Church (and otherwise he should not belong to that Church) and when he says “The Name of the Lord” , he should think of that Doctrine, and not ascribe the Holy Spirit to himself. That Doctrine is the Name of the Lord, and his preaching should be according to it, for we are told that the Nome represents the Word and the genuine Doctrine of the Church out of the Word. There is the danger that a man might ascribe the Holy Spirit to himself on account of his office. That is the Catholic evil, that has in it the inmost love of self and its pride. Such things have been very dominant in the Church, and we must bind ourselves to come to a new innocence by shunning those terrible evils. We should be willing to be bound by the first truths of repentance, to the first things of the truths of innocence, like a baby bound in swaddling clothes.
In the beginning of the Lord’s New Church which is Nova Hierosolyma there were living states of perception. There were living applications of the scientifics of the Word to the state of the Church. But also many scientifics were developed that were not seen in genuine light. Thus there came a great mass of knowledges represented by the rich man at whose door was Lazarus. We have a fantastic wealth of knowledges which has nothing of genuine wealth in it.
There has been that phantasy particularly on the part of the priesthood, particularly where there is not that feeling of repentance and recognition of actual evil and a consequent humbling of oneself before the genuine spirit of the Word and of the Doctrine of the Church.
Another danger is to look to what is called charity, or to look to the good in another. To talk of charity without qualification is a dangerous thing. We are told that good before repentance is spurious good. Now if we sау to look to the good in a man, to the things of love, and do not make a distinction between good before repentance and after, we commingle things of heaven with those of hell and call it all charity or love. There must be a judgment. There is nothing of charity when we commingle our own good before repentance with the good of our neighbour before repentance. There has to be judgment, and this has to be made in the greatest spirit of humility and prayer to the Lord for enlightenment, that we may be conjoined only to the things of charity which are the result of a broken heart, the shunning of evils as sins against the Lord.
The false idea about what ordination does also creeps in about baptism. Because a person has joined the Church by baptism, some think he is in the things represented by the baptism, whereas it is only a sign and memorial.
The only way for the Church to come is to leave all this wealth of knowledge about the Word and the Doctrine, which for the most part is fantastic, and come to the simple laws of repentance, looking and praying to the Lord that there may be given a new innocence. Otherwise the Church will be destroyed, and the Church itself transferred to others.
(during the discussion of Rev. Pitcairn’s speech, he said): I spoke of coming to a new innocence. Mr. Barnitz spoke as if I had often spoken of this before. But the innocence I referred to is a thing that came to me during these meetings aid is not to be confused with things I have said about innocence at previous times. There are different degrees of innocence. There is that innocence when a person first comes to the Church. Also every state of the Church must begin with a new infantile state. That you had in the beginning of the Academy; and that you had come into existence when the Doctrine of the Church was as it were born.
I have a feeling that there is now a new state. In 1947 I felt that the Lord was as it were descending into the natural, which was involved in the things seen in that Assembly, but that that was not manifest in the Church, I compared it to the ministry of John the Baptist when the Lord was in the world but had not yet manifested Himself. Therefore if there is as it were the Lord for the first time become visible in a new way in the Church, then we see for the first time what is involved in the birth of the Lord. And it was in this connection I used the word innocence.
Mr. Barnitz spoke about the sensual. Every infantile state has its basis in the sensual, but the sensual which is represented by the seeing as it were of the Lord in the manger is a very different sensual than that of previous states of new birth. It is very difficult to give an idea of what one feels is the birth of the Lord, because it is something so tender and has so little form to it. Therefore my remarks were directed largely to those things that might prevent us from oozing to see what it is. My remarks about giving up one’s wealth of scientifics was not directed against one, but against all, particularly all the priests. My point there was that we should acknowledge that for the most part we have only scientifics, and only a remnant of living truths seen in application to a genuine state. We might compare this with a person coming to the New Church. They may have a great knowledge of the Old and New Testaments. That knowledge still remains, but they realize that it has not been opened, and therefore in relation to their new state they have hardly any truths.
It is the acknowledgment of having no living cognitions that is important. You have people who come to the New Church and who say that they have always known that, and have always acknowledged that, but if they feel that way it means that they are bringing the new things into their old state and mixing then.
And that is the point. If we begin to perceive what the Coming of the Lord is, then we realize we have no cognitions. Just as with the Jews. They had a great knowledge of the Law and about the Coming of the Messiah, but when the Lord actually came those things had to be left in the form in which they had existed with them to come to an entirely new idea of the Messiah, for instance the shepherds had a tradition of the Church about the Coming of the Messiah, which they believed with a certain innocence. But that former innocence in their cognitions had to be left to come to a new innocence represented by seeing the Lord in the manger.
We have to acknowledge that there are those things in us which are represented by Herod when he slew the infants of Bethlehem, and we must acknowledge that we have those former states of innocence which are slain by the evils in man till he comes to the state in which there are only certain remains which can come and receive the Lord as an infant. I cannot express at this time what I actually feel and see as the actual birth of the Lord. It is in too primitive a form. But we must see that pride and vanities and ambitions are things that must be fought against, and that these are the things which like Herod have destroyed the former states of innocence, in fact in relation to interior things. It speaks of Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted because they were not. There must be grief at the loss of innocence, before coming to see the primitive new beginnings which I believe are beginning to be vaguely visible in the Church.
For me the whole relationship is in relation to the human in which we are born and the relation to the Divine Human. In the beginning the Divine Human is as it were not present in the human of man. Still, in the beginning there is a relationship between his internal and his external. But the whole question is then, and now I speak only on the side of the human of man, that in the beginning there is a certain human in which the internal can be present. But that state comes to its fullness. And then the simplicity is that he feels that in the more interior he is lacking everything. Now, that lacking everything in relation to his thinking and willing, lacking everything in relation to the internal, that again he has to go to it till at last his human is in relationship with his internal, till really the internal in which the Lord has been present, in a certain way, comes into his human itself, that is for me the birth of the Lord. Because then you feel that your whole human from the rational to the outside, that everything is nothing in relation to what the real Divine Human is. And that is the first thing. And then for me in that relationship the birth of the Lord is a feeling of anything in the human of man that it is nothing, that he feels that there is nothing of him, that he feels of himself that he is lacking everything. Now in that state he is not in such a state that he is in glory, but he feels just the opposite, and that the thing is that he see what the real thing is which has to come into his human, and that a real thing of the Divine Human has to be present in him. Now that is for me the First Coming of the Lord.
But for me in relation to the state of the Church, they must go first through those states to see that the Divine Human has to come in them. But the danger is that in relation to the planes in which they are in willing and thinking, that in a certain way the willing and thinking remains where they are, because they have had a feeling in that, and they make out of the feeling the reasonings. But if the other thing is opened, then that would be stopped; they would see the locking of everything in it. And that is a going open of the pure human things in relation to the internal, that for the first time the internal will be seen, because in the beginning only the external, in a certain way, but not the internal, is seen.
Now for me the whole direction of the Church is that they must see what the real internal is in their own human, that they see the Divine Human as their own human. Now, that is for me a leaving of different planes in which man is. And there must be a leaving. That in the beginning was a difference here in relation to Durban. But that thing of leaving is a real thing, for otherwise you never come into contact with the internal. Never. Now that real thing in relation to a society is a very difficult thing; you can never bring a man from one thing over another; that all depends on him. But that the whole direction is seen, that the individual man, in everything in which he lives, that in relation to the internal he is not in connection with it, and that he has to come that the real internal comes into the human, and that never before any real thing existed, (only you can say that it existed representatively, but not the real thing,) that is for me the question. And then it is not a question of Doctrine and Life, but has more in it; because when they speak of Doctrine and Life it is always in such a relation as if the Doctrine has nothing in it. There must be something else. There must be a leaving of the human itself. And that is for me the question in relation to the priesthood, that they have a feeling as it were of the human itself what they have to leave, to see and point out that human. Just as I heard from Philip Odhner on the Nineteenth of June, that is the thing) they must feel if they come to the Church, and if they want to be regenerated, that there must be struggle, and a real struggle. They must not think, Yes, we are in the Church, now we are all right. That gives always a wrong idea. That makes always a plane which later comes to obstruction, to rebellion.
Now the work of the priesthood, the direction in relation to those things, that has not to do with simplicity, and the fewness of things, but it has to do in the few things to see that in relation to the human internal is wrong because if their idea of an interior human is still present and remains present, then at last the outmost things in which they first had a feeling become nothing and will be perverted. Now this feeling, and what the real approaching, openness, is, to see that plane as a general where the universals are, in that relation I see as a universal, and I think that everything of thinking and willing in the plane, in which man is, is a universal. Now everything in that must be seen in relation to the internal in which they have to come because they think they are in that internal, that it is present. That is for me the whole thing. They think they are in the internal, but they must feel that they are in an external, and that they prevent themselves that the internal can come down, and that the Lord can be born.
Now for me the whole state of the Church must pass through all those things unless the real internal can be present, and then we have the most universal in relation to the coming and development of the internal in the external. That is quite another thing, if you will develop the external itself but if the internal itself has no forms in the external, then you are always in difficulties.
Now the whole question is, Can they come to a real obedience in relation to the internal, that there is an internal? And that does not take away that in every man there can be an internal but that internal is not open-present.
If they think and speak out of the plane in which they are, and they think it is the internal, then you start with the wrong thing. Because the internal can only come gradually present.
And so for me the whole question is directed of the priests in relation to that human in which they live, and they think that is the real thing. The direction is an approaching and loving to see for themselves what is the Divine Human in those things. Now as I have already said in relation to that, what is really the feeling of the priesthood? When goes the mind open to hear a sermon or such of a priest? Then I feel in that relation what is said in the Word about those preachers who come into the celestial heaven, for there must be in that something that their mind is touched in relation to what must go away from the human in which they were afraid to come in; and they bring again up that real thing, that the internal alone has to live in the human. Now that is for me the whole question and the whole disturbance; and that will always be the disturbance unless the priest himself makes that more and more clear in that relation, in which human they live, and in which that first internal has come to be present with them, and that they must not see that external, the human in which they live, that that internal is present there directly.
That is for me the whole question. And unless those things start, there is not the first starting point for the most external approaching. Because when we speak of the most external approaching, that is for me the most external approaching in relation to that. Because I see only also the first external approaching in the Church; but the question of that external approaching depends on how you see that in relation to the internal. You can make an external, making without this as it were there, that this must be changed and changed to come to that. They think that this is present there, instead of the opposite. That is for me the whole point. Because otherwise never anything of real truth can enter there, because ever truth will be changed to the plane on which they are.
Thus there must be another thing present in the priesthood, a quite other thing present as to a reigning in the people, because a real truth can be present with them. Because always it will be seen from the outside and the real inmost thing of feeling is lacking. And then you get all difficulties.
It is needful for the Church to consider the interior causes of the laws of divorce given in the Word. By this all may come to a deeper understanding and love of the Conjugial, and of the uses of marriage, and hy this the Church may he protected against doubts and false reasonings about those laws. Doubts may arise because the laws of divorce are very strict, and in some cases their severity appears to bring much hardship on men. False reasonings about those laws may arise especially from this, that the laws of divorce in the World of Spirits are altogether different from those given for this world; from this some may suppose that in an interior state of the Church with man, the laws which apply there should take the place of the laws which apply in this world. An understanding of the interior causes of the laws of divorce will protect the Church from such doubts and such reasonings.
First we would draw your attention to the distinction between the Conjugial which must be received from the Lord in every man of the Church and the Corljugial union which may be formed between husband and wife. That there is such a distinction is well known from the teaching that Love Conjugial may be given with one married partner and not at the same time with the other. (C.L. 226, 531.) For the most part, however, this distinction has been overlooked in the past. Whenever the Conjugial, or Love Conjugial, has been mentioned, the thought with most has been only of the Conjugial union between husband and wife. As a consequence, the importance which the Word places upon the Conjugial which is to be received and formed in each man of the Church has not been noticed; many teachings which apply in the first place to the Conjugial in each man, have been applied only to the Conjugial union between the married partners.
Consider the following teachings of the Word about the Conjugial in each man:
That the Conjugial is the desire of living with one partner, and that every step made from religion and into religion is a step from the Conjugial and into the Conjugial. (C.L, 80.)
That Love truly Conjugial is from the Lord, and is with those who approach Him directly, and who love the trues of the Church and do its goods* (C.L. 70.)
That this Conjugial is inscribed on the minds of those who acknowledge the Lord and His Divine. (C.L. 338.)
That this Conjugial is the precious jewel of human life and the repository of the Christian Religion. (C.L. 457, 458, 466, 531)
That it is chief among the essentials of human life, and that so far as a man is in this love he is spiritual, and so far as he should lose this love he approaches the nature of a beast. (First Index to Angelic Wisdom concerning Marriage, under “Conjugial”, and C.L. 230.)
That this Conjugial is guarded in man, whatsoever the state of marriage he may be in. (C.L, 531.)
Read these numbers carefully and you will see that it is the Conjugial with each man that is described in them. This Conjugial is with all men who acknowledge the Divine Human of the Lord in love and faith, and who live the life of religion. It is with all such men whether they in this life are married or not, and if married, whether or not they have been blessed with a Conjugial union with their partner. This Conjugial is of the utmost importance to the salvation and regeneration of the man of the Church. It is the first thing in the natural produced by man’s acknowledgment of the Divine of the Lord. It is the connecting link and bond between the internal things with man and his natural life. It is the principal and beginning of the descent of the celestial and spiritual with man into his natural, and serves as a plane there for the reception of them. No doubt this is one of the reasons why a whole book of the Word is devoted to Love Conjugial. If this Conjugial should be destroyed in a man, nothing of regeneration would be possible.
The Lord has ordered all things of Christian marriage for the reception and protection of this Conjugial with man, and also for the forming of a Conjugial union of husband and wife. The laws of marriage and the laws of divorce are given for both of these precious things. If a man of the Church should violate the laws of divorce, he is in the danger of harming the Conjugial in himself, as well as doing harm to the Church and to society in general. This is evident from what is said about a Christian who enters into polygamy, (C.L. 339), namely, that he profanes the marriage of the Lord and the Church.
Read that number and you will see that the same danger is present with those who obtain a divorce without just cause.
One with whom there is the Conjugial strives wholeheartedly for union with the married partner. Such a one does not put away the partner, even if that union is clearly absent, nor even if it appears to be impossible, but strives for such a conjunction as may be possible. This is evident from the following teaching:
“That these conjugial simulations, with a spiritual man conjoined to a natural, savor out of justice and judgment. The reason is because a spiritual man does what he does out of justice and judgment, wherefore he does not see these simulations as estranged from his internal affections, but as joined with them. For he acts seriously, and regards amendment as the end, and if this does not follow, he regards accommodation, for the sake of order in the house, for the sake of mutual aid, for the sake of the care of infants, for the sake of peace and tranquility. To these things he is led out of justice, and out of judgment he gives them into effect. That a spiritual man so cohabits with a natural man, is because a spiritual man acts spiritually, even with one who is natural.” (C.L. 280.)
A spiritual man, that is, one with whom is the Conjugial, strives for the ammendment of life with a partner who has it not. Although he is not in a union of souls and minds with that partner, he loves the spiritual welfare of the partner, and strives for it. Such a one would never put the partner away except for the causes given in the laws of divorce. To do such a thing would be to act against the conjugial striving in himself, and thus to act against the Conjugial itself.
It should be noted that the love of the spiritual welfare of one’s married partner must lie at the heart of any marriage, for without it there can be neither the Conjugial in oneself nor a Conjugial union with one’s partner. Even in those marriages in which the husband and wife live happily together, no union of souls and minds can take place unless the spiritual welfare of the married partner is held uppermost in the marriage. Without this, marriage would have in it only a natural conjugial, an apparent conjunction of minds arising out of external harmonies alone.
From these things it can be seen that the Conjugial in each man is not endangered by a marriage in which a Conjugial union has not been effected, but that it is endangered by the putting away of a married partner without a just cause in agreement with the laws of divorce given in the Word. This is an interior reason for the severity of the laws of divorce, and for the law that matrimony is to continue to the end of life in the world even though there be colds in relation to the Conjugial.
A further reason underlying these laws is that, except in the case outlined in the laws of divorce, no final judgment is to be made on a marriage in this world, as to whether something of a Conjugial union has been or may be formed within it. This is because the internal similitudes on which the essential conjunction of marriage rests are not primarily attributes of natural birth and native compatibility, but of the new birth of reformation and regeneration. So far as possible the Lord’s Providence Works for the formation of these internal similitudes, and thus for the new creation of the husband and wife for one another, during the whole course of their life in the world. A spiritual man, even though he may see that a Conjugial union is not yet present in his marriage, still would strive toward that union, and would not make any final judgment against its possibility.
From all these considerations it can be understood why it is said in the “Statement as to the Principle concerning Divorce,” that if the Church or the man of the Church violates the laws of order in respect to marriage, the Conjugial itself, which is the precious jewel of human life and the repository of the Christian Religion, is violated, and that then the Divine Human of the Lord, from which the Conjugial descends, cannot be present in the Church.
Respecting divorce in the World of Spirits, the Word teaches as follows:
That married partners meet after death, consociate, and for some time live together as before in the world; this takes place in their first state in the World of Spirits, while they are in external things as before in the world; that successively, as they put off external things, and enter into their internals, they perceive the quality of the love and inclination which they mutually had for each other, and thence they perceive whether they can live as one or not; that if they can live as one, they remain married partners, but if not, they separate; that there is then given to the man a suitable wife, and to the woman a suitable husband. (C.L. 47b, 48b, 49, 50.) In that world divorce is granted when there is no similarity in their affections. (Memorabilia 6027.)
The separation of unsuitable partners in the World of Spirits is according to the law of the Spiritual World that external things must altogether agree with internal things in angels and spirits. They who differ in love and faith cannot live near each other, much less live in the same house. This general law of the Spiritual World is essential to life in that world, and there can be made no exception to it. But the general law of the natural world is that here external things must remain fixed in order that internal things may be changed and formed in man. Any essential change in the spirit or mind of man must be initiated in this world. This general law for the natural world is expressed in this teaching of the Word: “Mutation of organization is given solely in the material body, and is not at all givable in the spiritual body after the former has been rejected.” (Brief Exposition 110.) This law involves the whole reason for our being bom in the natural world.. If the laws governing the Spiritual World were to be applied outwardly to life in this world, if there were no fixed external order, independent, as it were, from the internal states of men, no reformation or regeneration could take place in this life. There would be no freedom of choice possible for man, for there would be nothing by which man could reflect upon his internal things, and by which he could cooperate with the Lord in changing them.
Consider what would take place, for example, if the law that riches in the Spiritual World are in accordance with the wisdom of the angels, were to be applied outwardly in this life. If that law were to be applied here, no man would be free to reject wisdom, and no man would be free to love and receive wisdom for its own sake. If such laws were to be applied outwardly in this life, man would be compelled in the things of religion, which is against the Law of the Divine Providence, All life in this world would in such a case be impossible.
If the laws of divorce in the World of Spirits were to be applied to this world, there would be no fixed order by which the Conjugial in each man could be formed and developed in marriage. And if the Conjugial had already been formed in a man, such an application of those laws to his life in this world would be contrary to his Conjugial longing, and destructive of it. Moreover, by the application of the laws of divorce in the World of Spirits to this life, marriages here would be exposed to all kinds of phantasy and cupidity, and a truly Christian society would be made impossible.
The things brought forward in the “Statement of the International Interior Council as to the Principle concerning Divorce” are vital for the Church. May it serve to awaken all of us to the Life that is in the ’Word, and to our need of being fully instructed in that Life. The Life that is in all things of the Word is the Life of the Lord’s Divine Human. All the laws of the Word, and all things of the Church, look to the ordering of human life in order that the Lord’s Life may be present and may be received within it. It is our hope that this Statement may serve this end.
The Rev, Philip N. Odhner
President of the International Council of Priests
October 17th, I960
Good Friday Service [on the love of self in relation to the things of the Word, the Doctrine and the Church]
“And as they did eat, He said, Amen I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto Him, Lord is it I?
“And He answered and said, he that dippeth hand with Me in the dish, the name shall betray Me… Then Judas, who betrayed Him, answered and said, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.”
If we are to come into the internal use of the Word, we should see that all things of the Word apply to ourselves, and that all the persons spoken of in the Word represent things that are in us.
We read: “The Lord being betrayed by Judas signifies that He was betrayed by the Jewish nation.” (Doctrine of Life 16)
Judas and the Jewish nation signifies the love of self. The Lord, with man, is love from the Lord into the Lord. It is nothing but the love of self which betrays the Lord in us.
The love of self is spoken of in three senses in the Word.
Concerning the favorable sense of the love of self we read: “The man, who is in the good of charity and faith, also loves himself and the world, but no otherwise than as a means to an end. With him the love, of self has regard to love of the Lord; for he loves himself as a means to the end that he may serve the Lord; and the love of the world has regard to love of the neighbor: for he loves the world as a means for the sake of the end that he may serve the neighbor.” (A.C. 7819)
“The reason the love of self and the love of the world are infernal loves, and the reason that man was able to come into them and thus destroy the will and understanding in himself, is that from creation the love of self and the love of the world are celestial; for they are loves of the natural man, which are of service to spiritual loves, as foundations are of service to houses. For from the love of self and the world man wills well to his body: he wants to be fed, clothed, and housed, to take thought for his household, to solicit employment for the sake of use, and even to be honored according to the dignity of the affairs which he administers, for the sake of obedience; and also to be delighted and recreated from the delights of the world. But all these things must be for the sake of the end which is use. For by these things he is in a state to serve the Lord, and to serve the neighbor. But where there is no love of serving the Lord and the neighbor, and only a love of serving himself from the world, then from being celestial, that love becomes infernal.” (D.L.W. 396)
There is an intermediate love of self which, while not good, can yet lead to goods, and there is the infernal love of self which makes hell for we read: “For example: if any one loves himself above others, and from this love studies to excel others in moral and civil life, in scientifics and doctrinal things, and to be exalted to dignities and also to wealth above others; and yet he acknowledges and adores God, performs offices to the neighbor from the heart, and does from conscience what is just and fair – the evil of this love of self is that with which good and truth can be mixed… Whereas, he who loves himself above others, and from this love despises others in comparison with himself, hates those who do not honor, and, as it were, adore him, and feels the delight of hatred and revenge – the evil of that love is that with which good and truth cannot be fixed; for they are contraries.” (A.C.3993.9)
The former evil of the love of self spoken of above can in time be purified and become the genuine love of self. While the latter love of self is totally infernal and must be cast out.
As we are frequently taught, the love of self, when not in the feet, is an infernal love which is the opposite of love into the Lord. If we are to have a further idea of this love we must come to a fuller idea of what love into the Lord is, and from this see the love of self which is its opposite.
We are taught that in the first place we are to love the Lord as to His essence and thence His person, and not the other way around. To love the Lord as to His essence is to love the Lord as to His Divine Love, His Divine Wisdom and as to His Divine use. No man can internally do this unless he is in the things of the Divine love, the Divine Wisdom, and the Divine Uses from the Lord. The Lord says, He that loveth Mo keepeth My Commandments, and the keeping of the Commandments of the Lord in the internal sense is nothing else than being in the things of Divine love, Divine wisdom and Divine use from the Lord.
We are taught that the Lord does more things for man every moment than can be comprehended in any number. While we can not comprehend the things of Infinite love, wisdom and use, which the Lord is doing for us every moment of our lives, we can comprehend a few of such things, and the more we advance the more of these things we can comprehend.
To love the visible Lord, in His Divine Human, is to love the Lord’s working or operation, His changing of our lives by regeneration; His constant effort to lead us away from our own proprial things into the things of eternal life. This is a tremendous work, and if our eyes are open we can see the Lord laboring to save us, out of His Great Love and Wisdom. At first we see this only occasionally, in great events of our life, in times of great joy or sorrow. If we become spiritual we see this in many things, and particularly in the spiritual things the Lord does for us through others, if we are in love to the neighbor. If a man should become celestial he would perceive some thing of the Lord’s love, wisdom and use in the Lord’s working in him from moment to moment. In every least event of his spiritual and natural life, he would perceive the Lord’s Divine Providence, and in this the Lord’s Divine Love and Wisdom. It therefore might be said: to love the Lord is to love His Divine Providence. The Divine Providence works in various ways; inmostly it works in ways that no angel or man can comprehend. The celestial can perceive the Lord’s presence, in the things of love and wisdom which are immediate from the Lord, and the wonder of the working of the Lord in the inmost of their mind.
All churches and civilizations have had their infancy, childhood, and adult age, followed by a decline. When a church comes to its spiritual fall, although it may long continue for many centuries as an external organization, a new church is raised up. At the end of the Most Ancient Church, represented by Adam and his descendants, the church was first cast out of Paradise and then came to an end in an overflowing of evil and false things, represented by a flood, and a new church called Noah and his sons was established. Later a church was established with Abraham and his descendants which, when it fell into hypocrisy, was judged by the Lord, at His Coming into the world, and the Christian Church was established. The fall and judgment of the Christian Church by the Lord, at His Second Coming, are prophesied in the Gospels and the book of Revelation. Following this a New Church is instituted, called, in the book of Revelation, the New Jerusalem or, to use the Greek of the Gospels, Nova Hierosolyma.
The fall of the Noachic Church is represented by what is said about the tower of Babel.
We read: “The whole land was of one lip, and their words were one.” (Gen. 11:1.)
Lips and words signify the doctrine or teachings of the Church, for it is by the lips and by words that the teachings are communicated from man to man. To have one lip, and the words being one, signifies that there was one teaching or doctrine. The church called Noah, which included his descendants, was widespread, and there were many nations around the land of Canaan which belonged to this church. In these nations there was a variety of worship and teachings, yet this variety was a harmonious variety, a harmony which made them one and united them into one church.
As long as there is a spirit of spiritual or real charity, different organizations of the church in different lands make it one, for all have good will and therefore understand each other.
Take two men who are humble and are of good will but who differ as to their doctrinal position. In speaking together, if one points out the error that the other is in, the one who has his position criticized carefully considers the criticism to see whether there is any truth in it; and if, after prayer to God, he finds that there is, he modifies his point of view. He may then point out errors in the other’s point of view. Thus, although the emphasis may remain different, an ever-increasing harmony of thought develops between them. If, however, there is no humility and no good will, antagonism on account of doctrinal difference increases. The same is true of churches. If all churches were in good will and were willing to humble themselves before the Word of God and give up all their cherished ideas which do not agree with the Word of God, there would be internal unity. This, however, does not mean that there should be an ecumenical coming together of churches at the sacrifice or compromising of the truth. For example, if those who believe in the Divine nature of the Word of God —and therefore believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is their Lord and their God—compromise and join with those who believe that the Bible is a human production and deny the Virgin birth and the Divinity of the Lord, they still have nothing spiritually in common. When a compromise is made as to the very essence of faith, those having no faith in the Word of God prevail and all living faith perishes.
The prevailing idea is that charity involves abstaining from a forceful exposure of false ideas. But this is not a Christian idea, for the Lord condemned the false ideas of those with whom He dwelt on earth in the sharpest of language; yet He did this out of pure love, saying, “0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Luke 13:34.)
Union of church organizations may have as its purpose increase of power and influence, protection from a common enemy, improvement of one’s image before others, or reduction in the cost of running a church. Such union has nothing to do with good will or charity, although it may put on such an appearance, just as thieves are friendly to each other in order to protect themselves or for the sake of uniting to carry out their ends.
It is said of those who built the tower of Babel that they journeyed from the east. The east, or sunrise, signifies love to the Lord and charity. To go from the east means that they departed from love and charity.
They said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, . . . and let us make us a name. (Genesis 11:4)
A city signifies doctrine or teaching, and a tower in the unfavorable sense signifies the loftiness that comes from loving one’s self in the first place. “… and its head in heaven” signifies even having dominion over the things of heaven, or the divine things of the church. “. . . and let us make a name” signifies that they desired to have a reputation for power.
It is the nature of a man who has not been born again to long for power and influence, to long to be able to command and domineer over others. In churches the leaders who have such ambitions invent teachings which add to their power and authority. Examples of this in the Christian Church are claims involving the power to admit or not to admit into heaven; also, the idea that one has been called by the Lord to the ministry, when frequently the call was an imaginary response to a personal ambition. Every doctrinal position taken by a church or congregation for the sake of influence or popularity, every political attitude which does not humbly submit to the Word of the Lord, no matter what the consequences, but strives for the prosperity of this world or the increase of membership or wealth, becomes a city and tower of Babel.
When such an attitude prevails, to prevent profanation the Lord is said to go down, confound their lip that they hear not the lip of their fellow. (Genesis 11:7.) This signifies that the inner truth in the Word of God is taken from them and thejr are left “in the letter”—which is not understood and about which they begin to quarrel and dispute, so that there is no agreement and they are deprived of their power.
The literal-minded in the above passages will think of the man Abraham, but those who think more deeply can see that Abraham represents the Lord, whose children we may become. To Isaac it is also said, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the land he blessed” (Genesis 26:4), and to Jacob it is said: “Blessed be he that blesseth thee.” (Genesis 27:29.)
(from the book My Lord and My God by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn)
“Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, as in heaven so upon the earth.” (Matthew 6: 10.)
Before considering our text for today, let us review the first words of the Prayer, “Our Father who art in the heavens, hallowed be Thy Name.” As we said in our last sermon, Our Father, or Father of us, stands for the Lord as the Divine Love, thus the Lord as the Esse, Being and Life of all in heaven and in the Church. To call the Lord our Father signifies a desire to become His children by means of re-birth or regeneration. To become tho Lord’s childron is to be in innocence.
Concerning innocence we read: “The nature of innocence may be seen in a mirror from little children, in that they love their parents and trust in them alone, having no care but to please them; and accordingly they have food and clothing not merely for their needs, but also for their delight; and as they love their parents they do with tho delight of affection whatever is agreeable to them, thus not only what they command but also what they suppose them to wish to command, and moreover have no self regard whatever, not to mention many other characteristics of infancy. But it is known that the innocence of little children is not innocence, but only its semblance. Innocence itself dwells solely in wisdom… and wisdom consists in bearing oneself towards the Lord, out of the good of love and of faith, as do little children towards their parents in the way just stated.” (A.C.6107.)
It is only out of such innocence one can know and believe the Name of the Lord and hallow it. The Name of the Lord, as is known, is the Word and Doctrine thence, that is, it is the Genuine understanding of the Word. None others than those who are in innocence can believe in the Word genuinely understood and hallow and sanctify the true, which is the Lord’s Name. Such alone are in Doctrine which is spiritual from a celestial origin.
When such Doctrine, in the internal of the mind, comes into existance out of celestial innocence, there is a looking towards tho bringing of this Doctrine down into natural life; whorefore tho next words of tho Prayer are, “Thy Kingdom come.” The Lord as the Divine Love is “Our Father who art in heaven.” The Lord as the Divine True of Doctrine is the King. The word Kingdom implies a king who reigns.
The Kingdom consists of all who obey the Lord as the Divine True, thus all who obey the laws of tho Divine True which are the laws of His Kingdom or Church. Man therefore, after saying “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name,” prays for the coming of the Lord’s Kingdom. In this state it is a prayer; for many things must be fulfilled before the Kingdom can come. It is only at the end of the prayer that it is said, “Thine is the Kingdom.” Between the prayer, “Thy Kingdom come,” and the fulfillment “Thine is the Kingdom,” the rest of tho Prayer must be fulfilled, namely, “Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
“Our Father who art in the heavens, hallowed be Thy Name,” is the reception of the Lord in the inmost of the mind. “Thy Kingdom, in the heavens” is the rational as a receptacle of the Divine True of the Lord. “Thy Kingdom, on earth” is the natural as a receptacle of the Divine True of the Lord.
When the rational mind, not only in generals, but in particulars and singulars, looks continually to the Lord, and His Word, so that all the thinking from day to day and moment to moment is a praise and glorification of the Lord, and is a thanksgiving for His Mercy, then the Lord’s Kingdom is established in the Kingdom of heaven, which is within him. The internal Church is constituted of those who are in this Kingdom of heaven.