Category — Doctrine out of the Word
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
FIRST SERIES. Nr. 14.
September 13th 1891. Reference: H.D. 260.
“John (the Baptist) represented the Word, and by his food, as also by his clothing . . . the Word in the external sense was represented“, A.C. 7643.
Therefore the Word when only seen in the external sense is not the Light which enlightens every man coming into the world. Not the external sense, but “the internal sense is the very Doctrine of the Church”, H.D. 260. “It is to be known that the true doctrine of the Church is what is here called the internal sense, for in that sense are truths such as the angels in heaven have. Among the priests and among the men of the Church there are those who teach and learn truths from the literal sense of the Word and there are those who teach and learn from Doctrine from the Word which is called the doctrine of the faith of the Church. The latter differ exceedingly from the former in perception, but they cannot be distinguished by the vulgar, because the latter and the former speak almost similarly from the Word. But those who teach and learn the literal sense of the Word alone without the regulating doctrine of the Church, do not grasp any but those things which are of the natural or external man; but they who teach and learn from the true doctrine from the Word also understand those things which are of the spiritual or internal man. The reason is because the Word in the external or literal sense is natural; but in the internal sense it is spiritual“, A.C. 9025. Hence that sense is not the light, but testifies concerning the light.
Of what quality John the Baptist taught is signified by that ‘the lesser in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he’ “, A.C. 9372. Therefore “when he spake concerning the Lord Himself, Who was the Divine Truth Itself or the Word, he said that he himself was not anything, since the shade is separated when the Light Itself appears”, A.C. 9372. Hence we are taught that “In the internal sense is the soul and life of the Word, which does not appear unless the sense of the letter as it were vanishes away“, A.C. 1405. For “The things which the sense of the letter are for the most part worldly, corporeal, and earthly, which can never make the Word of the Lord”, A.C. 1540.
Such is the character of that sense of the Word which John the Baptist represents, and it is really that sense which he said was not the Light. Still John the Baptist, or rather, that which he represented, is necessary to testify concerning the Light. Which necessity is thus expressed in the Writings: “Still the sense of the letter represents truths and presents the appearances of truth in which man can be while he is not in the light of truth”, A.C. 1984.
Such is the case when the Word is first presented to us. Such is the use which the literal forms of each Divine Revelation perform with regard to those truths which we do not as yet know, of which there are always an infinity. At first we only see John the Baptist, not the true Light, not the Lord Himself. Thus it is with regard to the Revelation in which the Lord has effected His New Advent. At first in the literal forms thereof we only see a man speaking about the Lord. While we are in this state we do not see the Light of the Lord‘s New Advent, but at most only testimony concerning that Light. We come into the Light Itself only when we see that the Lord Himself in The Divine Human is there present with us. In the text — ” ‘Light’ signifies Divine Truth; wherefore the Lord is there called `the Light which enlightens every man’ ; and `to testify concerning the Light’ signifies acknowledgement of His Divine Human, from which Divine Truth proceeds”, A.E. 27.
Mere testification concerning the Light cannot establish the New Church. If the New Church is to be really formed with us, it must be from the Light Itself, proceeding from the Lord’s Divine Human. We must see that that Human is presented to us in the Evangel of the Lord‘s New Advent if we would really dwell in the Light thereof. Without, there can only be the merely external appearance of a Church, because “the internal of the Word is also the internal of the Church, as also the internal of Worship“, H.D. 260.
“For he who averts himself from the internal of the Word, he also averts himself from the internal of the Church, and also from the internal of worship; since the internal of the Church, and the internal of worship are from the internal of the Word“, A.C. 10460.
“For the Word teaches of what quality the man of the Church must be, or of what quality the Church with man must be, and also of what quality worship with man must be. For the goods and truths of love and faith are what make the internal Church, and also internal worship; those the Word teaches, and those are the internals of the Word“, A.C. 10460. Those make the very teaching of the Church, and they are the particulars which belong to the laws of love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbor, without which, indeed, those laws can only lie understood in a merely natural manner.
The Light of the Word as distinguished from the external sense thereof is also called the glory with which it was prophesied that the Lord would come in His New Advent — That prophesy has now been fulfilled — that glory has been revealed in the Writings. The New Church is to live in that Light and not in the clouds of the Old and New Testament — the clouds in which He made His First Advent and which relatively only testified concerning the Light which was about to come in the consummation of the age. The Light Itself is now presented to us which is the glory of the Lord‘s New Advent. But though, for the New Church the former clouds no longer obscure, yet neither has the Lord come now without clouds, although relatively so. In His New Advent, effected in the Writings, He has manifested Himself in rational statements, literally presented, that is, presented in written form — hence we call them the Writings.
These literal, written, and printed, forms, so far cloud over the spiritual sense which they convey, that that sense is not really revealed therein to any but those who are enlightened by the Lord and thus enabled to receive them rationally, so as to be able to see the glory therein, the Lord Himself in His Divine Human with the Light proceeding therefrom. This is by no means nakedly apparent to everyone who glances at the literal forms of the Writings, nor yet to anyone who studies them merely in the light of self-intelligence; but only appears to those who study them in their own light, really desiring to be taught things which are above and contrary to anything self-intelligence could devise. Only when we come thus to see that the Lord‘s Divine Human is there presented to us, and rejoice in the Light which can proceed from nowhere but His Divine Human, only then can we begin to realize that John the Baptist, that is the external form of the Word which he represents, is not the Light, but only testifies concerning the Light. No Divine Revelation can do more than testify concerning the Light until we see the Lord Himself in such Revelation — then only do we begin to come into the Light Itself.
The things which are in the literal sense are compared in the Writings to the little bits of colored glass which are placed without any order in an optical cylinder, such as we call a kaleidoscope, but which when viewed through the cylinder represent a beautiful form. So is it with the letter of the Word, especially with the Prophetical Word of the Old Testament, when viewed by the light of the spiritual sense. Another illustration is given from the spiritual world:
“There are spirits who are willing to hear nothing concerning the interiors of the Word, yea however much they can understand still they are unwilling. These are especially they who have placed merit in works, and who therefore have done goods from the love of self and of the world, or for the sake of dignity or opulence to be acquired to themselves, and fame thence, thus not for the sake of the Lord’s Kingdom. Such in the other life will more than others to enter into heaven, but they remain outside, for they are unwilling to be imbued with knowledges of truth and thus to be affected with good, by interpreting the sense of the Word from the letter according to their own phantasies, and by producing whatever by assent favors their cupidities. Such were represented by a little old woman of unsightly face, but still pallidly snowy, in which were inordinate (features) by which she was deformed. But in truth, they who admit and love the interiors of the Word were represented by a girl in her first virgin age or in the flower of youth, becomingly clothed, with wreaths and heavenly ornaments“, A.C. 1774.
Such is the difference between those who cling to the external of the Word which is not the light; and those who love to come to the Light Itself which is revealed in the internal sense of the Word.
“The Word in the whole complex is an image of heaven, because the Word is the Divine Truth, and Divine Truth makes heaven; and because heaven refers to one man, the Word is in that respect like the image of a, man”, H.D. 260. In that image and by it “is represented Heaven in its complex, not of such quality as it is, but of such quality as the Lord wills that it may be, namely that it may be the likeness of Himself”, A.C. 1871.
The quality which the Lord wills that heaven may he is that of His Divine Human. It is therefore in respect to that that the Word in its whole complex is like the image of a man.
“The Word of the lord when it is read by a man who loves the Word and lives in charity, even by a man who from a simple heart believes what is written, and neither has formed principles against the truth of faith which is in the internal sense, it is presented by the Lord before the angels, in such beauty, and in such pleasantness, also with representatives, and this with inexpressible variety according to every state of those in whom they then are, that the single things are perceived as it were to have life, which is the life which is in the Word, and from which the Word is born when it is let down from heaven. On account of this cause the Word of the Lord is such that although it appears rude in the letter, still within it conceals spiritual and celestial things, which appear before good spirits andangels when it is read by man”, A.C. 1767.
“Within in the single things of the Word is the spiritual sense, which treats concerning the Lord’s kingdom, and within in that sense is the Divine, for the Word in its inmost sense treats concerning the Lord alone. Hence is the sanctity and life of the Word, and from no other source“, A.C. 8943.
From this passage we can see, not only that there is an inmost sense within the spiritual, here called the Divine, but sometimes called the celestial sense, but that both those senses are given in the Writings, and that not only where they specifically give the celestial, spiritual, and natural senses of the Decalogue, but everywhere they can be understood either in application to the Lord’s Kingdom, or in application to the Lord Himself in the glorification of His Human. The one is the spiritual, the other the celestial sense. Thus the celestial sense is not only everywhere within the spiritual sense as given in the Writings, but it is opened there to all who come into any rational understanding of them. Thus is the Light Itself opened to the New Church.
The Word of the Lord is like a Divine Man, the literal sense is as it were its body, but the internal sense is as it were its soul; hence it is evident that the literal sense lives by the internal sense. It appears as if the literal sense vanishes away or dies”, A.C. 8943 As we have already seen it always must so appear as the spiritual sense is really received, “but it is the contrary, it does not vanish away, still less does it die, but by the internal sense it lives”, A.C. 8943. “The spiritual sense lives in the literal sense as the spirit of man in his body, also the spiritual sense similarly survives when the literal sense passes away, hence the spiritual sense can be called the soul of the Word”, A.C. 4857.
We are taught “that the Word is pure in the internal sense and that it does not so appear in the sense of the letter”, H.D. 260. That it often appears impure in the sense of the letter of the Old Testament is evident from many places which may be recalled. That such teaching also has application to the literal forms of the Writings may also be evident from the way that the Second part of CONJUGIAL LOVE appears to those who have not rationally grasped the spiritual sense which underlies the laws there given. That the Light Itself comes from what is pure there, thus from the internal sense, must he evident, and even those things in the Word which appear impure to those who view them only in the light of the world, are yet holy from the internal things which they involve, and from the Divine Light which is seen by those who are made spiritually rational thereby to shine through. Hence the life, the holiness, and the Light of the Word are from its internal sense, for the sake of which we must be willingto continually recede from the external senseand thus to pass from John the Baptist to the Lord Himself. It is only in this way that we can approach nearer to the Lord and thus to the Light Itself. It is sufficient if, before we recede from John, we accept his testimony concerning the Light and obey his call to repentance. We must ever remember the declaration concerning him, which is concerning the external of the Word which he represented, that he was not the Light, but that he might testify concerning the Light. Each Divine Revelation appears at first only to testify concerning the Light, but if we approach the internal we will learn that every Divine Revelation is a manifestation of the Light Itself, thus of the Lord Himself. Therefore it was that John was enabled to prophesy “He must increase but I decrease”, John III, 30.
December 25, 1960
Rev. Theodore Pitcairn
Lessons: Ex. 2:1-10; Luke 2:4-19; A.E. 706
“The angels said to the shepherds, There is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord; and this is a sign unto you, ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.”
(Luke 2:11,12,16; A.E. 706)
The account of the birth of the Lord is so beautiful and affecting that nearly all are moved by the story, even those who have little or no faith. All children love to hear the account again and again. This is of Providence for the implantation of remains, and as an ultimate basis of faith. But if, when we become adults, the story is not infilled, by an interior understanding of its significance it remains personal. We read: “He who thinks of God from person only, and not from essence, thinks materially.”
“The boys said: ‘We have thought of God from person. Have we, when reading the Word, appeared to any one like dead horses. The teacher said, You are boys, and cannot think otherwise, but I have perceived in you an affection for knowing and understanding.” (T.C.R. 623)
We read concerning our text:
“Since a sign means attestation that they might believe that the Saviour of the world was born, they said that they should find Him lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. … A manger means the Doctrine of the True from the Word, because horses signify the understanding of the Word; and thus a manger, as a feeding place for horses, signifies the Doctrine of the True from the Word; because there was no place in the inn; an inn signifies a place of instruction. Because the Jews … were in mere falsities, through adulteration of the Word, this is signified by there was no place in the inn.
… He is also said to have been wrapped in swaddling clothes, because swaddling clothes signify first trues, which are trues of innocence; and which also are trues of Divine Love; for nakedness, in reference to a babe, signifies the deprivation of trues.” (A.E. 706)
Unless we are in a perception of the internal sense, we are not moved by the internal sense as we are by the literal account of the birth of the Lord; for we do not perceive within the Doctrine of the true from the Word, represented by the manger, the trues of innocence and celestial love represented by swaddling clothes in which is the Lord as a little Babe.
Yet that such a perception is possible can be felt from the following quotation from de Hemelsche Leer:
“The head of the Son of Man is the good of love into the Lord, which is the inmost of the Doctrine of the Church. It is the good of love, from which the Doctrine of the Church comes into existence, for the Doctrine is spiritual out of a celestial origin. … In case of a change of state, there is no love for the essential of the Doctrine of the Church, There is no love for conjunction; the true conjugial is lacking. The external of the Doctrine of the Church, or its literal sense is touched with coarse hands, without feeling the tenderness of what is hidden within. Who is not painfully affected when he sees a small child, and especially a new born child, rudely handled?
Does not one experience a certain fear to touch a new born child with the hands, or even with the mouth? Is one not especially sensitive on such occasions of ones own coarseness and impurity? Does not all movements express a tenderness so as not to hurt the child? Let us then approach also the Doctrine of the Church as having been born from the Lord with humility and with a feeling of our own coarseness and impurity.” (Fasicle 3, P-35)
Bethlehem is said to signify the spiritual of the celestial, which is the same as is said of the Doctrine of the Church.
We also read:”Lo, we have heard of Him in Ephratha, we will come into His habitation, we will bow ourselves down at His footstool. Arise 0 Jehovah to Thy resting place. Thou and the ark of Thy strength. (Ps.132:6-9) Evidently this treats of the Lord, … Ephratha meaning Bethlehem where the Lord was born, and signifying the Word in respect to its natural sense, while Bethlehem signifies the Word in respect to its spiritual sense; and there He chose to be born because the Lord is the Word.” (A.E. 700)
The birth of the Lord is in the spiritual sense of the Word, although we are said to have heard of Him in Ephratha, that is in the natural sense of the Word. The birth of the Lord with us is in the internal sense of the Word of the Third Testament signified by Bethlehem although “we hear of Him” in the natural sense, signified by Ephratha. The Doctrine of the Church, in its essence, as spiritual from celestial origin, is one with the internal sense of the Word. Bethlehem, as shown above, is the spiritual of the celestial, and also the Internal sense of the Word, for these make one. For the essence of the Doctrine of the Church is the internal sense of the Word which has come to perception in the Church.
When the Lord came on earth, He glorified His Human and made a universal redemption. The operation was then from the side of the Lord. The cooperation or reciprocal, takes place when the Divine Human is consciously received, that is in His Second Coming. The Second Coming is only internally received when the New Church comes to a perception of the internal sense of the Third Testament, and makes this of life.
When the Lord was on earth, the things of His life were representative of His reception at His Second Coming.
The shepherds who came to the manger represented those who teach the trues of life and thus feed the flock. As persons these shepherds had no idea of the Doctrine of the true signified by the manger, nor of the first trues of innocence, signified by the swaddling clothes, and they had scarcely any idea of the Christ who was born; although they were under the great impression of the wonderful thing taking place.
The same is true of much of the Gospels; many of the miracles were miracles of healing the bodies, but which were representative of the cures of souls which the Lord would perform in His Second Coming. Even the Apostles understood little of the Lord’s words, for He often spoke in parables.
In general we too have little idea of the Lord’s birth on earth, or of its fulfillment in the Church, in His Second Coming. For, its fulfillment in us, we may be waiting, and we pray and hope that we are faithfully watching, with a modest and contented trust, knowing neither the hour or year when He cometh, but trusting that all is in His merciful Providence.
In our vanity we can easily imagine that we have a truly internal idea of the Lord’s birth, and that it is being fulfilled, or is about to be fulfilled, with us, when we are in reality in no state for its reception with us. The Lord comes to those who are in despair of ever being prepared to receive Him, rather than to those who feel themselves ready to receive Him.
On this day of the year the whole Christian world celebrates the birth of the Lord; many with vanity and some with simple faith. While we can rejoice that some in the world in general celebrate the Lord’s birth in simple faith, we should not enter into the mixed sphere of celebrating Christmas even with such, as are sincere. The sphere of Christmas which is truly of the Lord’s New Church is entirely different. This sphere as yet may be very weak in our midst; we may lack it more than the simple in the Christian world, but it can only come into existence and grow if we are willing to leave the sphere of the world, including the sphere of the celebration of the birth of the Lord by the simple in the world. The prevailing sphere in the old church, is a sphere of worshipping the Lord as to person and not as to essence. It is this sphere that we must leave.
Yet the ultimate account of the Lord’s birth on earth, with the great delight in this story, still must be in our natural mind and its affection, as the foundation upon which all interior ideas rest, for without the childish wonder of the birth of the Lord, all interior ideas are like a temple in the air. We should indeed have a love for all who truly love the celebration of the birth of the Lord as their Saviour, and yet remain distinct from them, not co- mingling our thinking and feeling with theirs; not from a feeling of superiority, which we may not have, but from a feeling for order, and for the possibility of a real development.
We read: “If it had pleased the Lord He might have been born in a most splendid palace, and have been laid in a bed adorned with precious stones; but He would then have been with such as were in no Doctrine of the true, and there would have been no celestial representation.” (A.E.706)
The Lord cannot be born with us in those knowledges of the Word which we have taken to ourselves, and which have put on, in ourselves , and in the Church, an appearance of great splendor. He can only be born in the affection of the true from a humble heart that feels itself poor in all things of the Word, and is willing to be instructed.
Let us pray that we may hear, understand and love the words of the angels: “There is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord; and this is a sign unto you, ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.”
Read the CHRISTMAS SERMON in pdf format
SIX DOCTRINAL CLASSES ON THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE IN VARIOUS RELATIONS AND FOUR SERMONS ON THE TWO GREAT COMMANDMENTS
THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE IN RELATION TO LIFE IN GENERAL
Bryn Athyn, Friday, November 20th 1936
In this series of classes we will treat of:
1. The Divine Providence in relation to life in general.
2. The Divine Providence in relation to a man’s occupation:
a. In relation to a minister,
b. To a teacher,
c. To a man whose occupation is in the world.
3. The Divine Providence in relation to other duties:
a. To the Church,
b. To the country,
c. To a man’s family.
4. The Divine Providence in relation to recreation.
5. The Divine Providence in relation to marriage.
In the Prologue of the Canons of the New Church we read: “In so much as the true things of life become of life, for so much the true things of faith become of faith, and not the least more or less. Some are of science and not of faith”. How easy it is to imagine that we are in the true things of faith when there is so little spiritually living in our daily life; in which case what we believe to be the true things of faith are with us but dead scientifics of faith.
A man must walk with equal step, the true things of life becoming of life and the true things of faith becoming of faith: what is more or less is of evil, for true things of faith, apart from the spiritual good of life, are dead, and the good of life not formed by true things is but a false appearance.
The following are examples of truths of faith and truths of life:
1. The Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, the first three of which are truths of faith and the remaining seven truths of life.
2. The Two Great Commandments in the New Testament, the first of which looks to love and faith in the Lord, and the second to charity towards the neighbor.
3. The faith of the New Heaven and the New Church in the Newest Testament, as found in the opening numbers of the True Christian Religion, where it speaks of:
a. The universals of faith relating to the Lord.
b. The universal principles of faith on man’s part.
4. Also in the Principles of the Academy, the Doctrine upon which the General Church* is founded, we find a similar division:
a. The first two principles are truths of faith.
b. The remaining ten are truths of life.
The internal advance of the Church depends on the increase of the good and the true, called in the Word fructification, or bearing fruit, and multiplication, or on the birth of spiritual sons and daughters. Where there are no births of spiritual sons and daughters, the Church will die just as surely as where there are no births of natural sons and daughters.
The question is this; Is the General Church having an increase of true things of life which become of life, and hence of true things of faith which become of faith? If there is not an increase in the true things of life which become of life, then all intellectual advancement is mere theological speculation, theological scientifics, which are of the memory and not of faith.
Since the coming into existence of the Principles of the Academy, what truths of life have been born in the Church? What new perceptions as to how a man should live? What are the signs of the times? Is the Church becoming more distinctive in its life? More like a heavenly society and less like the world about us? Does the sphere of the world affect us less? On the other hand, is it difficult for us not only to advance in distinctive true things of life which become of life, or even to maintain those set down in the Principles of the Academy?
If the latter is true it is indeed a serious situation, for a Church cannot stand still. If the Church does not go forward it goes backward and this at an accelerating speed; and when the Church starts to go backward it is indeed in a desperate state. While the New Church will endure for ever, history testifies that societies of the Church have a tendency to degenerate. How quickly the early dawn of the Church in England and America passed through noon into evening, until it died, save for the renewal in the Academy.
The great question is, How much do we believe in the Lord and in the Word? To believe is far more than merely to know and acknowledge; to believe is primarily of the life, for we read: “To believe in the Lord is not merely to acknowledge Him, but also to do His commandments; for only to acknowledge Him is solely of the thought out of some understanding, but to do His commandments is also of the acknowledgment out of the will”, T.C.R. 151.
Another great question is, Do we believe in the Divine Providence, not only in generals, but also in particulars and singulars? To acknowledge only the Divine Providence in generals, particulars, and singulars, is not enough; it must also be believed, that is, it must be of the life.
If a man in states of distress or despair, or in states of victory, raises his mind to the Lord and His Providence, and during the matters of his daily life fails to do this, he only believes in Providence in generals and disbelieves it in particulars and singulars, and this is true no matter how much he may think that he acknowledges it. Such a belief in the Divine Providence in generals is similar to deathbed repentance and is not saving. The Divine Providence must be believed in momentarily, or the belief is nothing.
Again, to put the question in a different form: A heading in Divine Providence reads: “That one’s proper prudence is nothing; and that it only appears to be something, and that it also should appear as if it were; but that the Divine Providence out of most singular things is universal”, n. 191. Let every one ask himself, does he merely acknowledge this or does he actually believe this? That is, is this a matter of his understanding only, or is it a matter of daily life? Does he meditate daily that he must act as if from himself, according to what appears like prudence, that his so acting is internally seen to be an appearance, and that in reality man’s prudence is nothing, it merely appears to be something, and should so appear? Is this belief continually ruling, inmostly ruling subconsciously in all the acts of his life, even when his mind is engaged on other things? Such a belief cannot exist without daily prayer and meditation, accompanied by daily repentance.
We are taught that the Lord does more things for every man every moment of his life than can be comprehended in any number. Again we must ask, do we believe this or do we only acknowledge it? If we believe this then every moment of our life our belief gives some little return to the Lord for the infinite things which He is doing for us every moment of our life, and this return from the will is ever present like the beating of the heart, even when the understanding is engaged in other things; this is the constant beating of the heart that is meant by loving the Lord with all the heart. The understanding must also continually give a return to the Lord like the constant breathing of the lungs; this is loving the Lord with all the soul, but of this man is not always aware. A sound heart, a heart of flesh new from the Lord, beats steadily with love to the Lord, and a man in such a state only notices when the heart stops or flutters.
We are told that in Heaven the Angels constantly face the Lord in the east, and this no matter in what direction they turn. So also it must be with the man of the New Church if he is to be truly a man of the Church. He must constantly face the Lord in the east, and this no matter in what direction he turns his mind, whether to the Church, to his business, to his family, to his country, or even to his recreation; he must constantly face the Lord in the east; otherwise the New Church is but a name we have stolen. If there is not a daily turning away from the sphere of the world, in our uses, our duties, and in our recreation, by means of repentance, we cannot believe in the Divine Providence.
We are told in the Word that if a man were to see his proprium he would flee from it as from a monster. Again, the proprium may be compared to a decaying corpse, the stench of which a man’s nostrils must be opened to perceive, if he is to rid himself of its dominion. Do we daily scent something of this?
The celestial Angels are in the greatest humility, and can pray for mercy, for the reason that a thousand times more clearly than others they perceive the disgusting horribleness of their proprium, and therefore they can be held by the Lord a thousand times more free from its influence, than can other Angels.
Concerning those who thus believe it is written: In the first state God seems to be absent; but after this state comes another, which is the state of conjunction with God; in this man acts similarly, but then out of God; nor does he then need, similarly as before, to ascribe to God every good thing that he wills and does, and every true thing that he thinks and speaks, because this is written upon his heart, and thence is inwardly in every action and speech of him. Similarly the Lord united Himself to His Father, and the Father Himself to Him”, T.C.R. 105.
* By the General Church in this work is meant the General Church of 1937 (wed editor, 2014).
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.
A COMPARISON OF DR. ALFRED ACTON’S DOCTRINAL STUDY THE CROWN OF REVELATIONS, THE REV. E. S. HYATT’S SERMONS ON THE WORD, AND DE HEMELSCHE LEER
by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn
These who love the spiritual birth which took place in the Church with what is known as the Academy movement, will rejoice at the appearance of the small work of Dr. Acton The Crown of Revelations.
The ACADEMY and the GENERAL CHURCH are founded upon the belief that the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg are the Word of the Lord. Due to attempts to answer De HEMELSCHE LEER, there appeared to be a danger that the realization that the Writings are the Word in its fulness, holiness, and power, might be weakened in the Church, with the result that a decline would commence in the Church. Not only will Dr. Acton’s study confirm the faith which the ACADEMY and the GENERAL CHURCH have had, but it will assist many, we trust, to come to a fuller realization of the fulness, the holiness, and the power of the “Evangel of the Second Coming”, wherefore we rejoice, in spite of the fact that we regret that Dr. Acton has not entered more profoundly into these things which have been brought forth by Mr. Hyatt and by DE HEMELSCHE LEER concerning the Doctrine of the Church, from the Word.
Dr. Acton commences his study as follows: “Some day, I suppose, there will be written for the New Church a history of Doctrine. Many such histories have been written for the first Christian Church, but naturally they deal with the interpretation of the New Testament, and of the Old Testament in the light of the New; that is to say, with doctrines drawn from these Testaments; such doctrines, for instance, as the Trinity, the Atonement, Faith and Charity, Baptism and the Holy Supper, etc. The genuine doctrine of the Old and New Testaments with respect to these subjects has been set forth so clearly and unmistakably that there is no dispute concerning them among any who accept these Writings as a Divine Revelation. New Churchmen of every school of thought are wholly at one in seeing that there is one God only; that there are lot three Divine Persons but that the Trinity is, in the Lord Jesus Christ; that faith does not save without, charity; that all men are predestined to heaven, etc. etc.”
It is these very subjects which Dr. Acton says, “have been set forth so clearly and unmistakably that there is no dispute” that will be the center round which the most grievous temptations of the New Church will take place. While it is true there can be no dispute as to these truths and their opposite falsities in relation to the relatively external form that they took in the first Christian Church, as to their living application to the New Church and to every man who is truly of the New Church, they must become the center around which ever more interior and grievous temptations take place, as they come to be seen abstractly from the literal sense of the Latin Word which treats of them historically in relation to the first Christian Church. All spiritual truth with man is the result of conquering in spiritual temptation. If a man has been brought up with a love for the first Christian Church, on commencing to read the Writings of Swedеnborg, and perceiving that they are true, he is brought into a state of disturbance and temptation, and the greater has been his love for the old Church the more grievous the temptation, and the more living the truths of the New Church are apt to become in him, if he overcomes in the temptation. What a contrast is his state to one who has been brought up in the New Church, particularly if brought up in a New Church community. To such a one the falsities of the old Church are remote, scarcely touching his life, while he acquires the generals of New Church Doctrine without any effort of his own, still less with struggling and temptation. To such a one it is easier to accept than not to accept these things with which he is surrounded; and they are of such a nature that he readily fills them with the things of his proprium; for before regeneration he is in evil and falsity no matter what truths he may know. What is more delightful to the natural man than to believe that he belongs to a chosen people, what more flattering to the conceit of his own intelligence than to believe that he has a mind which, unlike other people’s, is formed by a rational Revelation. It delights a man in such a state to read in the Word about the falsities of the dead church, which he is not in; not realizing that in so far as he is not regenerating there is not a single falsity of the old church that does not take possession of him, in a more subtle, deadly, and hidden form. If a man will but acknowledge this truth, and in the light of it search for the evils and falsities in himself, in the light of the Word, he will find himself in the densest cloud, for while he can readily see how the Latin Word manifests the falsities of the old church, and may even see how it manifests the falsities that have taken possession of CONFERENCE and CONVENTION, he cannot see how he himself divides the Trinity into three persons, denies the Divine Human of the Lord, believes in the vicarious atonement, and in faith alone, and has no cognition of Baptism and the Holy Supper, etc. If a man will but acknowledge that these are the essential things of the New Church for the sake of his spiritual life, he must come to realize his utter ignorance of all living spiritual truth. And in reading the Latin Word, find himself in such a dark and impenetrable cloud that he despairs of ever finding his way; and he will be kept in this state of despair until he can acknowledge from the heart that, of himself, he can understand not a single spiritual truth, but all is of the mercy of the Lord, and when he makes this acknowledgment fully and from the heart, then, for the first time is it possible for the Lord to appear to him in the glory of the cloud with power and great glory. “These are said to see the back parts of Jehovah and not the faces, who believe and adore the Word, but only its external which is the sense of the letter, and do not penetrate more interiorly, as do these who have been enlightened, and who make for themselves Doctrine out of the Word, by which they may see its genuine sense, thus its interior sense”, A.C 10584. Good and truth can only have an abode in the mind in so far as evils and falsities have been removed. Interior evils are conjoined with interior falsities, wherefore if a man does not make for himself Doctrine from the Latin Word he can not see either interior evils or falsities in himself, and therefore remains in them.
Read the full work “A COMPARISON OF DR. ALFRED ACTON’S DOCTRINAL STUDY THE CROWN OF REVELATIONS, THE REV. E. S. HYATT’S SERMONS ON THE WORD, AND DE HEMELSCHE LEER” by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn
(not edited PDF format)
Read the full work “A COMPARISON OF DR. ALFRED ACTON’S DOCTRINAL STUDY THE CROWN OF REVELATIONS, THE REV. E. S. HYATT’S SERMONS ON THE WORD, AND DE HEMELSCHE LEER” by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn
“‘That the devil may not seduce them and put evils into their hearts; knowing that while they are not led by the Lord, he leads and breathes in evils of every kind, such as hatreds, revenges, cunnings, deceits as a serpent breathes in poisons.” [AE 1148]
As is generally known in the Church the devil in the most general sense stands for hell. In a less general sense as when compared to Satan, the devil stands for the hell opposed to the celestial kingdom, while Satan stands for the hell opposed to the spiritual kingdom. In the abstract sense the devil stands for the love of self; for it is the love of self which forms the hell opposed to the celestial kingdom while it is the love of the world which makes the hell opposed to the spiritual kingdom. To seduce, as to its roots, means to lead aside, or lead astray, that is, to lead off the way. The Lord said: “I am the way.” The Lord Himself is the strait and narrow path which leads to heaven. The moment the man does not live in the presence of the Lord, he is off the path of life, he has been seduced, or led astray.
Inmostly seen it is nothing but the love of self inflowing from the hells, which seduces man, or leads him astray, takes him away from the way which is the Lord. The Lord with a mighty force works to keep man on this holy way, the hells work with all their power to seduce him or lead him out of the way. It is said that the devil seduces them and puts evils into their heart; or what is the same, it is the love of self that seduces men and puts evils into their hearts. Let us therefore consider the nature of the love of self further in order that we may see why this is so.
In order to consider this matter more deeply we will quote again a number from the Journal of Dreams which was quoted in the sermon last week.
“I perceived that I was unworthy above others and the greatest of sinners for the Lord has granted me to go more deeply with my thoughts in certain matters than many others have done; and I perceived that here lies the very fountain of sin viz. in thoughts which are brought to the work; so that in this manner my sins come from a deeper source than in the case of many other persons. Herein I perceived my unworthiness and my sins to be greater than those of others; for it is not enough to call oneself unworthy, for this may be done while the heart is far away from it, and it may be a pretense, but to perceive that one is such this is the grace of the spirit. I thought and strove by means of my thoughts to gain a knowledge of how to avoid all that is impure, but I noticed nevertheless that on all occasions something from the love of self intruded itself and was turned about in the thought; as for instance, when any one did not show the proper regard for me, according to ray own imagination, I always thought ‘If you only knew what grace I am enjoying you would act otherwise’ which at once was something impure having its source in the love of self. After a while I perceived this and prayed God to forgive it… Thus I observed clearly there was still with me that pernicious apple which has not yet been converted which is the root of Adam and hereditary sin, yea, and an infinite number of other roots of sin are with me.” (74, 75)
From the above we can see that the very root of evil called the devil, resides in feeling and thinking oneself superior to others.. This is the first state. In the case of Swedenborg, he recognized and from the Lord he combated against this so that it did not proceed further.
“Knowing that while they are not led by the Lord, the devil will lead and breathe in evils of all kinds such as hatreds, revenges, cunnings and deceits” (A.E. 1148)
The general teaching of the text is that man is, at all times, led either by the Lord, or by hell. This is a well known teaching of the Lord, but one which few believe in the life. Man’s nature is to seek for his own life, which appears to be neither of Heaven or of hell, but such a life is not possible. While we are not led by the Lord we are led by the devil. If we seek a life that is not continually from the Lord, the devil leads. The devil specifically signifies the love of self. A man who loves his own life is necessarily led by the love of self which inflows from hell.
When man permits himself to be so led, the devil inspires or breathes in evils of all kinds, such as hatreds and revenges, cunnings and deceits. It should be noted that hatreds and revenges are the evils of the will. Hatred is of the internal evil of the will, revenge, the external. Cunnings and deceits are the evils of the understanding, cunning, the internal evil, and deceit, the external.
We belong to a nation which is characterized by good-naturedness, tolerance and friendliness, and the whole of education in this land looks to the fostering of these virtues. When we therefore read that anger and revenge are the characteristic evils that the devil inspires, this seems foreign to our very nature.
To many it may appear that they have no enemies, and that they have a friendly feeling towards all. If generally recognized evils are condemned, no one is angry, and yet this apparent friendliness and tolerance is deceptive. What church appeared more tolerant and more in the desire to preserve freedom for the individual than the church in which we were brought up, – and yet how angry and intolerant it became at the manifestation of the internal sense of the Word. From this we can learn a lesson that applies to all.
For the most part, anger and revenge are not aroused by condemnation of what is generally recognized as evil, but by a judgment on what is believed to be good. Particularly is anger aroused when an external good or truth which was originally from the Lord, but in which the Lord no longer dwells, is soon in the light of an interior truth; for such a truth touches the apparent goods and truths which are dearest to a man, and cause him to react with what appears to him as righteous indignation, and appropriate punishment. So does the anger and revenge inspired by the devil appear to the man.
All evil and falsity arise from the separation of a good and truth of a lower degree from the good and truth of a higher degree, while regeneration consists in reducing the apparent goods and truths of a lower degree into subservience to the goods and truths of a higher degree, until they become genuine and servo the higher degree. This process continues in its ascent from one degree to another.
Consider the following illustration. If a man, living in a town near a well-loved and awe-inspiring mountain, beyond which lay a great range of mountains, were to rise on wings to a great height, then the near-by mountain would appear to sink until it appeared like an insignificant hill, while the great range of mountains in the distance would look greater, higher, and more magnificent than from below. If, on his return, he told the people of the town how insignificant and small their beloved mountain looked from on high, compared to the great range of mountains beyond, they would become angry. Hills and mountains represent loves and when from an elevation it is seen that the loves which are near and dear to a man are little and insignificant, compared to the loves that a man has only seen at a distance, his anger is aroused, and this tends to carry over into revenge.
“Thou Shalt Not Steal”
We read: “Amen, amen, I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill and to destroy. I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10: 1, 7-10)
All goods and truths which a man has from the Word and the Church out of his own will and his own understanding are stolen things, in which the Lord is not present, and which therefore lack an internal. Wherefore we read: “If the rational is consulted the Doctrine becomes null and void.” Unless a man has given up the life of his proprial will and understanding he always consults his rational, and then ail things from the Word and from the Doctrine of the Church are with him stolen things, an external without an internal.
Do we not see with every man, that strong tendency to steal. In churches generally, we see an effort to increase the Church in numbers, power and prestige, by appealing to the proprial will and understanding of men and women. Appeals are made to the natural affections, and the intel-lect is flattered. Or where this is not done, threats and anathema, are used to inspire fear, fear of hell, and fear of losing the pleasures of heaven. Let us not think that we are free of such dangers.
We are told that the devils are not averse to worshipping God the Father, but they are averse to the Lord in His Divine Human. The Father is the Lord the Creator, the Divine Human is the Lord the Redeemer. Man is not averse to acknowledging God the Creator, but he is, by hereditary nature, averse to acknowledging the Lord the Redeemer, for he is averse to Redemption. He is not willing, from his proprium, to acknowledge that, “A total damnation stands before the door and threatens.” The door of both his will and understanding, for he trusts in the rationality he has from creation and in his instinctive good feelings, which he has from birth. To give up trust in these is to give up his life, and this he does not easily do.
There is an expression commonly used, “appealing to a man’s better instincts,” such an expression implies a climbing up some other way like a thief and a robber, and not entering through the door, that is the Lord Who is the door. The man of the Most Ancient Church did indeed have human instincts by creation, instincts of love into Good and towards his neighbor, for he was born into the order of his life. We are not born into the order of our life, and if we appeal to man’s better instincts, we climb up some other way, and come to apparent goods and truths, which are only externals without internals. Man’s internals are formed by innocence from the Lord, and a man cannot be in innocence from the Lord unless he believes, that it is solely by the Lord’s undergoing temptation in him, and by His overcoming and subjugating the hells which rule in him, that he can be saved. The moment a man loses this perception he is a thief and steals.
Every young man and woman is given gifts from the Lord: the young man particularly, a kind of youthful understanding of truth, an enthusiasm for it, and a youthful ideal of usefulness.
But the young man begins to steal the understanding of the truths he has been given and make them favor himself, and his own ends. He loses the innocence of youth, and thus the internal is stolen away. He must then look to the Lord for a new understanding in which there can be formed a new good of innocence, and must repent of his theft.
“Man after death continues such as his will or ruling love is. The man who has celestial and spiritual love goes to heaven; while the man who has bodily and worldly loves and no celestial and spiritual love goes to hell.” (H.H. 480, 481)
Much is said in the Word about man’s ruling or dominating love.
We are taught in many places that one’s place in Heaven or in hell, ones place in a society of heaven or hell is according to ones ruling or dominating love, and that after death this ruling love cannot be changed to eternity. This subject is therefore of the greatest importance. Regeneration consists in the change of the ruling love; the rejection of an evil ruling love and the acquiring of a new ruling love from the Lord.
With those in external states the important thing is an obedience to the commandments; but the Lord wills those of the New Church to be internal men and women. Thus to take heed not only to what they say and do, but to take heed as to their loves.
It is often thought that man cannot know the internal of himself and of others, but carefully note the following teaching. We read:
“All the delights that a man has are the delights of his ruling love, for he feels nothing to be delightful except what he loves, thus especially what he loves above all things. These delights are various. In general, there are as many as there are ruling loves, consequently as many as there are men, spirits and angels; for no one’s ruling love is in every respect like that of another.
Only from a knowledge of correspondences can it be known what spiritual delights every one’s natural delights are changed into after death, and what kind of delights they are. In particular it teaches what it is that corresponds, and what kind of a thing it is. Therefore, any one that has this knowledge can ascertain and know what his own state after death will be, if he only knows what his love is and what its relation is to the universally ruling loves spoken of above, to which all loves have relation. But it is impossible for those who are in the love of self to know what their ruling love is, because they love what is their own, and call their evils goods; and the falsities that they incline to and by which they confirm their evils they call truths. And yet if they were willing they might know it from others who are wise, and who see what they themselves do not see. This, however, is impossible with those who are so enticed by the love of self that they spurn all teaching of the wise.” (H.H.487)
All spiritual charity has to do with becoming regenerate and being of assistance to the neighbor in his or her regeneration. And, as we have said; regeneration and thence salvation, consists in the changing and then the perfecting of the ruling love.
We are told that one’s delights are entirely according to the ruling loves; wherefore if a man knows the nature of the delights of himself and of others, he knows the ruling love of himself and of others… But as stated in the above quotation, no one can know this unless he knows the correspondence between spiritual delights and natural delights and is wise.
The leading theses propounded in “De Hemelsche Leer”:
1. The Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg are the Third Testament of the Word of the Lord. The doctrine of the new jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture must be applied to the three Testaments alike.
2. The Latin Word without Doctrine is as a candlestick without light, and those who read the Latin Word without Doctrine, or who do not acquire for themselves a Doctrine from the Latin Word, are in darkness as to all trues (cf. S. S. 50-61).
3. The genuine Doctrine of the Church is spiritual out of a celestial origin, but not out of rational origin. The Lord is that Doctrine itself (cf. A. C. 2496, 2497, 2510, 2516, 2533, 2859; A. E. 19).
DE HEMELSCHE LEER
What is DE HEMELSCHE LEER?
The reader is cautioned that unless he or she has carefully read and reread the ARCANA COELESTIA and DE HEMELSCHE LEER, he or she may find it somewhat difficult to follow the ideas contained in this book.
This is not meant to discourage the reader, as there are important things in the book that one who has a general knowledge of the Third Testament can easily follow.
“The Word without Doctrine is like a candelabrum without light.” S.S. 50
(Candelabrum is an English word taken from the Latin. In ancient Latin manuscripts a candelabrum was a lamp or candleholder- Latin, lampas and candela.
In the Third Testament, as far as we have been able to discover, a candelabrum always stands for a lamp holder or lampstand.
Olive oil was the fuel of the lamps.)
The generals are natural and are an entrance hall to the particulars and singulars. In time, if man has an opportunity to enter into the particulars and singulars of Doctrine in the light of which he can see singulars of the Word, and does not take the opportunity to do so, the generals of the Doctrine more and more become things of the mere letter of Doctrine – dry bones.
Or one begins to fill the things of the literal sense of the Doctrine with false particulars, from which he sees nothing but falsities in the Word. This will be illustrated in what follows.
DE HEMELSCHE LEER, translated into English, is The Celestial Doctrine.
This title was chosen, for the magazine in Holland, because it was seen that the Lord was revealing Doctrine for the Lord’s New Church. It was never, however, taken to mean that everything in the magazine was the genuine Doctrine of the Church, for it is evident that not everything in the magazine is Spiritual Doctrine from a celestial origin.
The more important articles in the monthly magazine were translated into English and were published in English in seven fascicles.
There were important articles published in DE HEMELSCHE LEER in Holland after the seventh fascicle, published in English. These included the Principles of 1939 and 1949, the Principles and Plan of Order and the assembly address of Groeneveld to the 1947 assembly.
To write a fuller treatise on DE HEMELSCHE LEER would take many volumes. We will here confine ourselves to a limited number of important points.
In quoting from DE HEMELSCHE LEER, we will just use numbers. To illustrate: IV:37 2/3 signifies the Fourth Fascicle, page 37, two thirds of the way down: VI:6t signifies Sixth Fascicle, page 6, top of page; while III:4b signifies Third Fascicle, page four, bottom of page.
The first question is: What is the Doctrine and what is its nature?
“Every member of the Church will welcome with great joy the appearance of the new monthly magazine, and be moved by the thought that in the Lord’s Providence, it has been appointed that now for the Church in reality, the Heavens will be opened. After a period of preparation or of the reformation of the Church, which reached its summit in a natural rational understanding of the Third Testament, and on account of which a natural regeneration of the Church was possible, the Church has now come to a state by which a spiritual understanding of the Word and therefore spiritual regeneration of the Church is possible.
“During the state of reformation, the conjunction of the Lord with the Church is from the side of the Lord alone. By the birth of the Doctrine of the Church, the Church has prepared itself, on account of which the conjunction is from the side of the Church as well.
“Just as everything which is has an external and an internal, so the Doctrine of the Church as the Doctrine of the Divine Human of the Lord, has an internal and an external. It is internal Doctrine of the Church or the Doctrine of the Genuine True, which is the Lord Himself, by which the Church is to be built. It is the celestial Doctrine descending from God out of Heaven. This Doctrine is free from all space and time, and purely spiritual from a celestial origin. It is only by this Doctrine that Heaven does come down to earth, and that the Church does become truly Church.
“This Doctrine as a seed will be received by the Church more and more internally, and by the Church it will be made of life.
“This seed from the Third Testament, that is from the Divine Doctrine, will be opened in the rational of the male of the Church and be made life by the female of the Church. By this the Church will come into possession of internal things which never before have been given to the human race. This internal Doctrine of the Church can only be opened by the Lord if rational of the male has been prepared for it, which happens only after heavy combat. It is now by means of the external Doctrine of the Church that this combat takes place and it is the male of the Church which must fight that combat.
“A heavy combat awaits the male, for the hells with all their might will rebel to maintain their power, and even more fierce will b? their assault. They will beset the understanding that it will seem to the male as if its thoughts were taken from it.
The male will continually have to remain impressed with the fact that the Lord alone fights through it.
“After perseverance in this combat, the victory will be certain, as appears from the Lord’s words in the 33rd verse of the 16th chapter of the Gospel o? John: ‘Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ Then the infernal spirits will be cast down to earth and the Lord will be able through the rational of the male to give to the Church the Celestial Doctrine.
“From the side of the female great co-operation is required. It is necessary for the female to give its devotion, by the sacrifice of all love of self and all love of the world…
All its delight of conjugial love depends on the victory in this combat…and when after the combat, the celestial Doctrine will be given to the Church, the female should receive this Doctrine and bring it to life.
“Then will the Church become more and more internal, and then will the most beautiful things be given to it. Then will this new magazine be the place where the Lord will openly speak to us.” I:11 1/2, 12, 13 1/4.
In the above article it speaks of the internal of the Doctrine, which is the Lord Himself, and the external of the Doctrine, and the reception of the Doctrine, that at first, it is received as a seed from the Third Testament.
The seed referred to in the above article is the spiritual sense of the Twentieth Chapter of Genesis in the Arcana Coelestia. The reception of the seed was a spiritual perception of what the Doctrine of the Church is.
In the Twentieth Chapter of Genesis in the Arcana Coelestia Sarah as the wife of Abraham is the Doctrine spiritual from a celestial origin, that is the Divine Spiritual True from the Divine Celestial Good; that is the True which is from a love from the Lord into the Lord.
“Sarah a wife signifies the spiritual true, the Doctrine Itself of true faith is also meant by Sarah a wife, for Doctrine is from trues.” A.C. 2517
In this chapter Abraham, when called a man, is the celestial Doctrine, for we read:
“Abraham…when called a man, signifies the celestial the true which is the same as Doctrine out of a celestial origin.” A.C. 2533
BRIEF SUMMARIES OF STATEMENTS IN DE HEMELSCHE LEER
“The leading thesis of DE HEMELSCHE LEER”
“The Principles of 1949″
The principles in “The Principles and Plan of Order”
“The Three Essentials” and
The Principle of its Doctrine.
(from the book on De Hemelsche Leer by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn)
“Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
Or as in Luke :
“And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us.” (Luke 11:4.)
All things which a man has are from the Lord, whether they are celestial, spiritual, natural, or material things. They are given to man to use as if of himself. Man either uses these things according to Divine order, and then ascribes them with their use to the Lord, or he misuses them and abuses them, and ascribes them with their use to himself. All the gifts from the Lord which he ascribes to himself are debts, and when, from ascribing thorn to himself he abuses them, they become sins
But what is the nature of these debts?
First as to the more interior debts for which man must be forgiven:
A man is given a perception of certain true things of the internal sense of the Word. These true things are impressed on his internal memory and become cognitions there. In a following state a man fails to ascribe these cognitions to the Lord, but instead, by means of these cognitions he strives to acquire further true things from the internal sense of the ’’lord, but from himself. Due to the cognitions he knows he can in appearance do this, but they are stolen things, for which he is in debt to the Lord. They are things gotten by climbing up some other way, like a thief or a robber, instead of entering by moans of the Lord, who is the door.
Every man who is of the internal Church at times does this; wherefore he must come into a state of repentance, and pray, “Forgive us our debts, or our sins”
Again, a man applies the things of Doctrine to his life, but forgets that he cannot do this of himself, but solely from the Lord; wherefore he immediately falls into that which is meritorious, for which he must, after examining himself, repent, and ask forgiveness for this debt which he owes the Lord.
Observe how everywhere we can see stolen things, debts for which forgiveness is often not asked.
A young man or woman is granted an inspiration, which is a common thing in youth, on the basis of youthful innocence; but he soon becomes proud of his abilities; vanity takes hold of him, and he spoils his gifts.
An old man or woman who has experienced much during a long life becomes proud of his knowledge of life, with the result that he becomes more stupid than the young.
See how a man prides himself in his intelligence and how a woman prides herself in her womanly perception or intuition, with the immediate result that the man loses his intelligence and the woman her perception. As soon as a man thinks about his intelligence, and still more if he speaks about it, he becomes internally unintelligent; as soon as a woman from having had perceptions prides herself on her perceptions, and still more if she speaks about her perceptions, all perception leaves her. Wherefore if one does not continually ask forgiveness for one’s debts, one is carried away.
“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.
In the past year abortion was made legal in the United States by decision of the Supreme Court. The legalization of abortion has taken place or is about to take place in many other formerly Christian countries. By this action the civil laws protecting the lives of unborn children have been removed. The right or wrong of abortion is left to the conscience of the expectant mothers, or to their whims, if they have not a conscience.
The conscience of those of the Church on such a matter must be formed from the teachings of the Word of the Lord, and with us this means, in the first place, from the teachings of the Third Testament. Because this subject has not been publicly considered in the Church, the teachings of the Word that have relation to it are not widely known within the Church. Under the present circumstances it is needful that they be brought to the attention of all in the Church.
The Third Testament does not speak directly of abortion, but it does speak of the life of the embryo in the womb, and the teachings on this subject must be considered by those in the Church.
In the Arcana Coelestia 3570:4 it is said: “It is known that the soul of man begins in the ovum of the mother, and is perfected next in her womb, and there is given round with a tender body, and indeed with such that the soul through it can act suitably in the world into which it is to be born” This does not mean that the soul is from the mother. The general teaching of the Word is that the soul is from the father. But the soul which is present in the seed of the father is not the soul of a man until it is conjoined with the ovum of the mother. The beginning of the soul of an individual man is when the soul in the seed from the father is conjoined with the ovum of the mother.
In the work entitled “The Divine Wisdom”, (generally to be found at the end of the sixth volume of the Apocalypse Explained,) in the second chapter, it is said that the Lord has created with man, and afterwards forma with him, a receptacle of love, which is the will, and adjoins to this a receptacle of wisdom, which is his understanding. And further on in the beginning of that chapter it is said: “1. That these forms, which are the receptacles of love and wisdom, first exist with man conceived and being born in the womb.” In the “Divine Wisdom”, chapter III, the summary of the contents of the chapter reads as follows: “1. That the Lord conjoins Himself to man in the womb of the mother from first conception, and forms him. 2. That He conjoins Himself in those two receptacles, in one through love, in the other through wisdom. 3. That love and wisdom simultaneously and unanimously form all and single things, but still distinguish themselves in them. 4. That the receptacles are distinguished into three degrees with man, one with another, and that the two superior degrees are the dwelling-places of the Lord, but not the lowest. 5. That one receptacle is for the will of the future man, and the other for his understanding; and yet nothing whatever of his will and understanding is present in the formation. 6. That in the embryo before it has been born there is life, but that the embryo is not conscious of it.”
Further on in that third chapter, in treating of the first of the above listed subjects, it is said: “All this work of preparation of Himself the Lord does in the womb.” And further in the same section, “While man is in the womb he is in a state of innocence; thence his first state after birth is a state of innocence; and the Lord does not dwell with man unless in his innocence, wherefore especially then when he is as if innocence. Likewise man then is in a state of peace.” And under the sixth subject of this chapter, it is said: .. “That-the-.life, out of which, the embryo lives in the womb is not his, but the Lord’s alone, Who alone is Life”.
Consider all the things said in the second and third chapters of the above quoted Work. Consider also what is said at the end of the Divine Love and Wisdom, number 432, concerning the quality of the initiament of man from conception.
From these teachings it must be clear to all that the embryo in the womb, in its conception and in its formation, is called a man, and has working within it the life that is of the Lord. Nothing on earth can be compared to the wonders that are taking place within it, except the miracle of regeneration by the Lord, through which a man receives the Lord’s life as the life of Heaven within him. Abortion, which is the killing of such a being, cannot be taken lightly, as now it is in the world. Any in the Church who consider themselves to be faced with the question of abortion cannot but regard it as an evil, only to be excused if some worse evil might result without it, such as the death of the mother and the child. And the judgment as to what is a worse evil is a most grievous one, requiring the best available knowledge from the Church and from the doctors.
It is taught in the “Divine Wisdom” chapter 3, section 5, that the embryo has no proper life of its own until the lungs are opened. This teaching has generally been understood to mean that an embryo has no eternal life until it has drawn the first breath at birth, although some students of this subject in the New Church believe that this is not involved in that teaching, and that every embryo has eternal life from its conception. From the idea that an embryo has no eternal life until its first breath at birth, some have argued that the killing of an embryo is in no sense a form of murder. But even if we were to take it for certain that an embryo has no eternal life until its birth, what does this really have to do with the question as to the degree of the evil of abortion? Must we not still face the question as to which is the greater crime, to kill a man after he has been born, and has an eternal existence before him, or to kill that which has been prepared for an eternal existence and which could have an eternal existence, if it were to live?
Some also argue that the killing of an embryo is no worse than the prevention of the conception of an embryo, whether this is done by abstention or by the employment of other means of birth control. The fallacy in this argument appears to me to be that while the male sperm is a potential human soul, it is not in fact the soul of a man until conjoined with the ovum of the mother. A male sperm is not by itself a human life begun. It cannot by itself ever become an eternal being. An embryo is the beginning of a human life, and it can become an eternal being.
There are many human problems which force those who have to face them to consider the possibility of abortion. There is sometimes the danger or even the certainty that a mother will die if a pregnancy is continued: there is the shame of a woman who must bear an illegitimate child: there is the fear of giving birth to a deformed or hopelessly retarded child due to disease or to the influence of drugs: there is the problem of what should be done in the unlikely event of conception following rape; there is the problem of what must be done if a pregnancy would bring about the mental breakdown of a mother. These are heart-rending problems. We do not propose to enter into all these problems in this short paper, but we ask that you consider them and consult with your pastors about them, and with your doctors. Let your conscience be formed from the Word and from the best enlightened knowledge you can obtain from the world. Do this while you are under no pressure from any such problem. Most of you will never have to face any of these problems. But it is best to have your thought, your conscience, formed clearly about them, rather than to face them in a panic, in that unlikely event that you are forced to do so.
It may be said that the Church needs much more light to face such a moral problem as abortion, and that we here are facing it only out of an external understanding, from the sense of the letter of the Third Testament. To this we must reply that the Church and every one in it must face such problems in such light from the Word as we now have. The giving of any more interior light in the Word depends on our living what we see to be true in the sense of its letter. Certainly we need more light, more Love, more Mercy. But if we do nothing, with that which He has given us , how can we by Him be prepared to receive more?
If you wish to see what is represented in the Word by an embryo, consider what is said in the Apocalypse Explained, number 710: “’And having the womb’ That it signifies nascent doctrine out of the good of love celestial lb evident’ out of the signification of to have in the womb when concerning the Church which is signified by the woman, that it is the nascent doctrine of the true out of the good of love celestial. By the womb is signified inmost love conjugial, and thence love celestial in the whole complex. And by the embryo who is in the womb, the true of doctrine out of the good of love celestial; for by him is signified a like thing as by the male son whom she brought forth, concerning whom in the fifth verse following, through whom the doctrine of the true out of the good of love is signified; with the difference that the embryo, because still in the womb, draws more from the good of innocence than after he has been born.”
It is to be feared that the present acceptance of abortion, and the inhuman lack of feeling with regard to it, is an ultimate of the hatred of the hells against all innocence, against the nascent Doctrine of the Church. That cold, cruel hatred works its way into the minds of ignorant men, resting in men besotted with the superficial reasonings of the loves of self, of the world, and of pleasures.
The idea that the teachings of the Latin Word concerning government did not apply to the natural government of the Church and State was first propounded by the Rev. Т.Е. Harris [editor of HL], along with the proposition that what is said of marriage does not apply to the marriage of man and woman. An idea which we all opposed and which Loyal [Loyal D. Odhner, editor of HL] characterised as spiritual sodomy.
When we separated from the General Church the teaching of the Word was emphasized that “In the New Church there will not be an external separated from its internal.” Anything in the natural life of the Church which is separated from its internal and therefore not genuine is merely adjoined to the Church and is not conjoined, and does not pertain to the Lord’s New Church.
In our talks with the leaders of the General church it was pointed out that our concept of the Church organization was totally different from theirs; that they believed in an internal Church, the New Jerusalem, which is the Bride of the Lamb and an external Church which is a human institution; while we believed that the organization of the Church is truly organic and related to the internal of the Church as body and soul, and that otherwise the Lord would not be the God of Heaven and earth, and His Kingdom would not be over both.
You indicated you believe there are sincere men in the priesthood who perform a use. But their uses according to your position would be a separated external even more so than in the idea of the General Church, in which they admit the priesthood is representative, at least in a Jewish sense, for they do not admit of the necessity of the oneness of the external and the internal which characterizes the genuine New Church.
A complaint is made that the Church has followed the practices of the Catholic and Protestant Church, practices which go back to the primitive Christian Church, in having an ordained and set-apart priesthood. Instead you propose that we follow the practices of certain heretical sects, notably the Quakers, to the teaching of which the Word evidently refers in the statement: There were some who have rejected the priestly office saying that the priesthood is universal, thus with all. Some of these have read the Word quite diligently, but as they have lived evilly, they have seized upon abominable dogmas thence. Of these there are many. These have been cast out of heaven, but at the back because they have preached clandestinely. SE 4904
Doctrine is to be drawn from the Word and confirmed by it. Doctrine not drawn from the Word can still be confirmed by it. Wherefore the Word is called the book of heresies.
The question is, has the idea that there is not to be an instituted priesthood been drawn from the Word or is it merely confirmed by certain passages in a disorderly way.
It can be seen that one who wishes to deny the application of the teaching concerning marriage to the marriage of husband and wife and confine it to the marriage of good and truth does so, not from the Word, but from an aversion to marriage relation of husband and wife; having come to such an idea, he can then confirm it by certain passages in the Word, and also by much apparent experience as for example: that there are few if any in the Church who are in conjugial love such as it is described in the Word. If the teaching concerning marriage is confined to its spiritual sense and denied in application to the relation of husband and wife, the relation of husband and wife becomes merely a concubinage, and the same applies to the priesthood which then becomes a vile institution such as you describe it.
Both you and Dr. Hotson maintain that representatives were abolished with the Coming of the Lord, and you quote a passage which speaks of the Jewish representatives being abolished and that in their place the Holy Supper and Baptism was instituted. It is obvious that what was abolished was merely representative worship and not representatives which are also correspondences. It is stated in the Latin Word that nations at this day are equally representative as were those spoken of in the Old Testament. To wish to do away with representatives which are genuine correspondences is to be in a similar state to those in faith alone who would do away with the Ten Commandments on the grounds that the Lord said: For the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. John 1:17.
That the priesthood is a genuine correspondence and not a mere representative such as animal sacrifice, is evident from the fact that it speaks of priests in Heaven, and indeed of a high priest of a Society, indicating degrees of the priesthood. CL 266
It is clear from your letter and from the paper of Dr. Hotson, that the origin of your position in regard to the priesthood in the New Church did not have its origin in the Word but had its origin in the thinking from person, that is the persons who have been ministers in the New Church and the so-called New Church, and that, having come to a conclusion, there is made an attempt to confirm it by the Word.
We read: “Without the Coming of the Lord into the world, no one could have been saved. It is similar at this day wherefore unless the Lord comes again into the world in the Divine True, which is the Word, neither can anyone be saved.” (T.C.R. 3.)
To anyone who has an open mind this is a clear statement that the Writings of Swedenborg are the Word of the Lord; for the Lord made His Second Coming in the Divine Truth, and, as stated above, this truth is the Word.
If the Writings are the Word they must have the characteristics which make the Word to be the Word.
There are four characteristics which make the Word to be the Word.
One: The Word is in a perfect continuous Divine Series. (see A.C. 1659, 2102, 7933, 4442.)
Two: The Word, in every part’, treats of the Glorification of the Lord and the regeneration of man. (see A.C. 3540.)
Three: Every word in the Word opens to Infinity. While I have not been able
to locate the place that says every word of the Word opens to Infinity, this teaching is implied in the following statements: “There are inexhaustible things in every word of the Word.” (A.C. 1936 (2).) “Every word in the Word is from the Lord.” (A.C. 771.) “There is not a single word used in the Word that does not involve a celestial arcanum.” (A.C. 4136. see also A.C. 1869, 1870.)
Four: “Every Divine work is complete and perfect in ultimates.” This is said of the Word in the Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture no. 28.
If we read the Writings in the light of the world, they do not appear to have the above described characteristics which make the Word to be the Word.
They do not appear to be in a perfect Divine series, nor do they appear to treat in every particular of the glorification of the Lord and the regeneration of man.
They appear to treat much of the history of Churches and, at times, of other historical events. They describe many things seen in the spiritual world and in the earths of the universe. They do not appear to be perfect in ultimates, for they have apparent errors of history, of scientific facts, and even at times of words.
Such appearances in the letter are cherubim or guards which hinder those who are not prepared from entering the paradise of their internal sense.
In this respect they are not unlike the Old and New Testament where also we find apparent historical errors, and things not in agreement with scientific facts.
The perfection of the Word in ultimates, lies in this: that it is a perfect ultimate of its internal and this can only be seen to the degree that we are in the light of Heaven.
It has some times been said that the Writings are a different kind of Word, not having the above stated characteristics; but this idea is contrary to the plain teach¬ing of the Word itself, for we read: “That the Book of Job is a book of the Ancient Church is evident, as before said, from its representative and significative style; but it is not of those books which are called the Law and the Prophets, because it has not an internal sense which treats solely of the Lord and of His Kingdom; for this is the one thing that makes a book of the genuine Word.” (A.C. 3540 (4).)
We are frequently warned against the idea that the Divine Providence is in gen¬erals, and not in particulars, and least singulars. The supreme work of the Divine Providence is in the giving of the Word. The Divine Providence in the giving of the Word is not only in respect to the preparation of the mind of him through whom the Word was given, but also as to the historical facts which are in the Word, and the knowledges, acquired by the human race which are brought into the Word, and also in respect to the words of sacred languages in which the Word is written, even to the letters. That the Hebrew letters are of Divine origin is known. That this is true of the Greek letters can be seen from what is said of Alpha and Omega. That this applies to the Latin letters, can be seen from the following:”In the spiritual Heaven, the writing is in Roman letters.” (S.D. 5561.)
It has at times been said that in the Old Testament the basis is even in the letters, in the New Testament in the Words, and in the Writings in the ideas. Words, especially words in a Divine order, signify ideas, and we are frequently told that every word in the Word is significant. Ideas can only exist in the mind; it cannot be said that a book has ideas; although all the words, in the books of the Word signify ideas. The words of the Word in the supreme sense signify ideas, in the Divine Human of the Lord, which are infinitely above the ideas of men or angels.
From its first beginning a decline in the organised New Church set in, a decline into externallism and ignorance. Finally this decline led to what is known as the New England Celestial hereay.
The doctrine so called was in general that a minister preached truth from his own personal goodness. Along with this went a denial of the Divine authority of tha Writings of Swedenborg, and particularly that they are the sole source of truth in the Church.
As will be shown later truth from good is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Thus the New England position set up the Holy Spirit as a thing in the Church separated from the especial Word of the New Church, and the perceptlon of the ministers was in fact placed above the Word and perception was arrogated by the priesthood as their right. In a word the state was identical with that of the Roman Catholic Church which sat up an ecclesiastical authority and claimed to themselves the Holy Spirit as something separated from the Word, and in practice, as above the Word.
The Roman Catholics made works saving, but they were external and meritorious works separated from all the genuine internal of the Word. The Convention in like manner said that charity and works were the primary things of the Church, and brought forth passages from the Writings to confirm this idea. But their idea of charity was an external goodness separated from the internal truth of the Word, and was therefore no more saving than the Catholic idea of works.
While outside of New England, lay rule prevailed in the Church, there was an agreement with New England in an internal denial of the authority of the Writings, a making of human intelligence a judge as to the validity of the things contained in the Writings, and the making of merely external charity and love, which was meritorious, the essential of the Chursh.
This was the prevailing atate of the Church when the Academy took its rise, and the Academy arose as a protest against this state of the Church
Check up also the paper Real Issue.
The real issue between the General Church of the New Jerusalem and the Lord’s New Church Which is Nova Hierosolyma, is frequently misconceived. It is believed by some in the General Church that the issue is as to whether the Writings are the Divine Doctrine and as such the only Divine authority in the Church, or whether, the true authority lies in a Divine Doctrine drawn forth by the regenerating man of the Church.
We hold that this is not the real issue.
We believe equally with the General Church, that the Writings are the Word of God and as such the only authority, and that they are the Divine Doctrine Itself. Nor have we ever said that the Divine Doctrine to be derived from the Latin Word by the regenerating man of the Church is the true authority. The real issue is therefore entirely different.
The real issue is: Is it the Word understood or the Word not understood which has actual authority in the church? It is obvious that if the Church were in total darkness, the Word could not have any actual authority in the Church. When this question was brought up in the ministers of 1933 it was said, “We take the understanding of the Writings for granted.” The real issue is therefore whether the understanding of the Writings can be taken for granted or not.
Every one who has not destroyed the functioning of the rational faculty, with which he is potentially born, can see truth in natural rational light, thus those in the Church can see the truths of the Word and of the Church in which they have been instructed from childhood, and this without any entering into spiritual lights or what is the same without any out pouring of the Holy Spirit. But no development or interior understanding can develop and grow in the Church without an enlightenment, that is without entering into the light of heaven which is above the natural rational light to which a man is born.
The discrete degrees of light are described as follows: “Rational truths are signified by leaves. But according to the species of the trees. The leaves of the olive and vine signify rational truths from celestial and spiritual light; those of the fig, rational truths from natural light; and those of the fir, poplar and pine, rational truths from sensual light.” (A.R. 936.e)
To take the understanding of the Writings for granted is to ignore or deny the degrees of light, thus all that is taught concerning enlightenment and concerning the operation of the Holy Spirit; thus to avoid all the essential struggle by which the Church advances interiorly.
In the early days of the Academy this distinction was commonly made, for we frequently find in the writings of those days a speaking of the seeing the Writings in their own light, which they believed was the characteristic of the Academy and the seeing of the Writings in the light of the world, of which they charged the Convention.
Now whether we say that the Writings must be seen in their own light or in the light of heaven it is the same thing. But to see in the light of heaven always implies a new seeing of truth from the Lord in His Word. When the Church does not see the truths in the Word continuously new, it falls into natural rational light, and no longer sees the interiors of the Word.
Our position expressed in the plain and simple teaching given is: “Those are said to see the back parts of Jehovah and not His faces who believe and adore the Word; but only its external which is the sense of the letter, and do not penetrate more interiorly, as do those who have been enlightened, and who make for themselves doctrine from the Word, by which they see its genuine sense, thus its internal sense…. But those who do not believe in the Word, do not even see the back parts of Jehovah.” (A.C. 10584)
The real issue is therefore whether the understanding of the Writings may be taken for granted, or whether we acknowledge that by regeneration and the struggles of regeneration we are to advance from reading the Word according to discrete degrees of light: – from the rational truths of the Writings seen in sensual light, to rational truths seen in natural light, and thence to the rational truths seen in spiritual and celestial light, and that it is only the Writings seen in spiritual and celestial light that is properly the internal sense of the Word, and that the Writings so seen is the only genuine authority actually in the Church. If a man takes the truths seen in the first light he is given, for granted as being the internal truth itself, he can make no further advance. To this our position the objection is raised that there are passages in the fascicles of De Hemelsche Leer, such as the following, which make the doctrine drawn from the Writings the authority…
See also an earlier paper: Aspects of the Internal History of the New Church
From the earliest days of the Church in Sweden England there were some who perceived that the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg are the Word of the Lord.
In a book by August Nordenskjold in Swedish entitled “Forsamling Formen uti det NyaJerusalem” published inCopenhagenin 1790, we read:
“The Word of the Lord, the Hebrew and Greek well as also the Latin, which the Lord has revealed to us through Emanuel Swedenborg is the most holy thing we have in our church; it Is our most holy book of law and it is the Lord Himself among us. Therefore no one can be regarded as member of our Church, if he does not accept all the books of this Word as the very Word and Revelation of the Lord Himself; and as the very holiness of all writing and speech; as an absolute law, most holy as to each sentence, word and letter, yea as containing the understanding of the Lord, far above any understanding of man and within exhaustible wisdom within wisdom, for angels as well as for men.”
There are many similar statements in this book, and also in an article by August Nordenskjold, “Hints for Forming a Plan of a Consortium Ecclesiasticum,” appearing in 1790 in The New Jerusalem Magazine, published in London, of which magazine Nordenskjold was one of the editors.
Dr. Beyer, August Nordenskjold and Robert Hindmarsh were friends and carried on a correspondence. Dr. Beyer in a letter to Nordenskjold wrote as follows:
“The internal or spiritual sense, which is the interior or spiritual sense or meaning in the Word, is to be found in the Arcana Coelestia so far as regards the whole of Genesis and Exodus, and likewise in the Apocalypse Revealed, and also in all his works wherever the words “and it signifies” are written in connection with some passage taken from the Word. This sense is the Word itself and is the Holy in the Word. The same has been dictated to the Assessor from Heaven, A.C. 6597, equally as the Word in the letter was dictated to the prophets; and therefore effects immediate communication with heaven.”
Dr. Harry Lenhammar, of Uppsala, Sweden, wrote in 1966: “Beyer is attaching a tremendous importance to Swedenborg’s Revelation, as without any hesitation they are put on the same level as the books of the Bible.”
Sven Schmidt was the most outspoken of the early receivers inSweden, and on account of his strong stand he was the most persecuted of the early members of theNewChurch. According to the minutes of the Skara Consistory,December 11,1771, he said: “As the Lord had raised up aNewChurchbody, so the old must perish and there will be a new doctrine from the Lord through the Writings of the Honorable Assessor Swedenborg. In his opinion, these writings are the Work of the Lord, and are one and the same as the Holy Scriptures. This opinion Schmidt had derived from the Lord through the Word.”
In opposition to leaders like Beyer, Nordenskjold, Hindmarsh and Schmidt, there were those who equally strongly opposed the belief that the Writings are the Word. The early church inSwedenandEnglandwas therefore divided as to the position they took in relation to this Doctrine.
In the “Aurora”, a magazine published in London,England, in the year 1799 there is a letter of Roger Benet which reads in part as follows:
“I have in my journeys from place to place, lately met with two different classes of the readers of Honorable Baron Swedenborg’s works:- One class holding it as a fixed principle with them, that the Baron’s writings are really the Word of the Lord, as positively as the writings of the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, as also his Revelation . . . The other class readily allows the Baron to be a person highly illuminated by the Lord, and that his writings are highly useful in opening the spiritual sense of the Word, and thereby of the true nature of the New Jerusalem Church state; but still they cannot allow his writings to be upon an equal footing with the Word itself; for, say they, this would be raising the Baron and his writings rather above their proper place. For none can be the Word but the Lord alone.”
Those who took a negative view to the Writings of Swedenborg being the Word of the Lord prevailed, for a time, until the few who still maintained this Doctrine formed the Academy. This Doctrine became the leading principle of the Academy and General Church, and gave these bodies their distinct character.
In time the question arose as to what was the quality or character of the Writings as the Word; especially as to whether they had an internal sense and a literal sense.
In the year 1891 the Reverend Edward S. Hyatt wrote that the Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture applies to the Writings with reservation. He wrote two long series of sermons illustrating the application of this Doctrine to the Writings. In Mr.Hyatt’s later sermons in these series, he dropped the reservation which he first stated. The first fifteen sermons, in which he spoke of reservations, were published in the New Church Tidings and were known in the Church. These sermons made deep impression on some ministers and laymen. His later sermons on the subject were not published until forty years later.
Read the full book on the Beginning and Development of Doctrine in the New Church