Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33)

Category — New Church

Sermons on the Word by Rev. E.S. Hyatt



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 Lords 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 Lords 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 Lords 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 Lords 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.

Read the full book Sermons on the Word by Rev. E.S. Hyatt







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).

Read all the Six Doctrinal Classes on the Divine Providence in Various Relations and Four Sermons on the Two Great Commandments (DOC)





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.

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(DOC format)


“Thou shalt not commit adultery”


To understand this commandment, not to commit adultery, we must understand the origin of adultery, and in order to understand the origin of adultery we must understand the nature of the marriage between husband and wife.

We read: “There is the truth of good and good from truth from that or truth from good and good from truth; and that in those two there is inherent from creation an inclination to conjoin themselves into one. The truth of good or truth from good is masculine, or the good of truth or good from that truth is the feminine. But this can be more distinctly comprehended if for good we say love, and for truth wisdom. Wisdom cannot exist with men except by the love of growing wise. Wisdom from this love is meant by truth from good.” (C.L. 88).

“With the male the inmost is love and the clothing is wisdom, or he is love veiled over with wisdom, in the female the inmost is that wisdom of the male, and its clothing is love therefrom. But this is feminine love and is given to the wife through the wisdom of the husband. That the feminine is from the masculine, or the woman was taken from the man appears in Genesis. Jehovah took one of the ribs of the man.” etc. (C.L. 30). In diagram I we see the order of Conjugial Love. In diagram II the disorder leading to adultery.

When the man does not come into A – the love of growing wise, he still comes into a kind of understanding of the true, but an understanding, which not having in it substance and life turns into the conceit of his own intelligence. Such a man looks to truth or doctrine alone for his salvation, and he looks to his wife for the flattery of his understanding. But the wife perceiving that there is nothing substantial in his understanding does not flatter it, wherefore his love instead of going forth to his wife returns to himself and then he seeks love elsewhere, where he can find the flattery he seeks.

Observe that if the man skips over the love of growing wise for the sake of life, in the first state of marriage there is still apparent love, but it is a love of his wife for the sake of himself and for the sake of the flattery he receives in the first states of marriage.

In the woman her A is formed by the essence of her husband’s wisdom. If the husband is not in the love of growing wise his understanding lacks this essence of wisdom and the inmost of a woman cannot be formed from it. But whether the husband has such wisdom or not, the wife may still skip over her inmost which is wisdom, and seek conjugial love in B but in this case there is no internal in her love of her husband, she then seeks to bind her husband to the things of her love; she loves her husband for the sake of her self and the love and admiration which he shows towards her; and, because the husband feels the lack of the life of truth which is the soul of a woman in her love, he cannot give her the love and admiration which she demands, wherefore her love returns to herself, and then goes elsewhere, where she receives the love and admiration which she craves.

When this internal disjunction takes place, then the woman accuses the man of only caring for intellectual and doctrinal matters and of neglecting the things of life and of love, and of over looking the natural. While the husband accuses the wife of being in merely natural good, natural loves, and of not seeing the importance of the true, and both are often right.

Read the full doctrinal class on “thou shalt not commit adultery” 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.

Read the full sermon on AE 1148 (year 1952) by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn


Sermon on Heaven and Hell 480, 481

“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.

Read the full paper on Heaven and Hell 480, 481 by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn


Doctrinal Views of the Various Bodies of the New Church Concerning the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

In this article we present the teachings of the different bodies of the New Church concerning the Writings of Swedenborg. In general, there are three distinct doctrinal views in the New Church about those Writings. One is taught by the General Conference and the General Convention. These are two distinct organizations in the New Church, but the distinction is not a doctrinal one, but historical and geographical. The second view is that taught by the General Church of the New Jerusalem. And the third view is that taught by The Lord’s New Church which is Nova Hierosolyma.

In setting forth the teachings of the other bodies of the New Church we recognize that there is a variation of opinion in each of them about the nature of the Writings of Swedenborg, but the general position attributed to each of them does in fact represent their beliefs as set forth in their creeds, books, and periodicals. This contrast of the doctrines of the various bodies is not made with any desire to belittle or misrepresent the beliefs of others, and we welcome any correction that others may have to offer.

The doctrinal view of each body of the New Church about the nature of the Writings of Swedenborg qualifies everything of its faith and life.It determines the interior direction of the Church. It determines the end to which the Church looks, for the attainment of which the Church must strive. It forms the idea of that to which the Lord looks in the New Church and of what He requires of the Church in love and faith. The idea of what the Writings of Swedenborg are in themselves concerns the inmost things of the Church. The question of the nature of those Writings is not to be approached lightly, but in the spirit of the love of the truth for the sake of the truth, for the sake of the good of life and the truth which is therefrom. You can see that this is so from the fact that all who believe in these Writings acknowledge that, in them, the Lord has made His Second Coming, or at least that they are about the Lord in His Second Coming. The idea of what these Writings are in themselves is one with the idea of the Lord in His Second Coming, to Whom the Church is to look and with Whom it is to be conjoined.

The Distinction between the Sense of the Letter of the Word And the Doctrine of the Church.

In order that the different views held in the New Church about the Writings of Swedenborg may be more fully understood, it is necessary to preface the treatment of those views with the distinction made in those Writings between the sense of the letter of the Word and the doctrine of the Church.

The Word of the Lord is the Divine Truth itself accommodated to angels and to men. The sense of the letter of the Word is the Word accommodated to men in the world. This contains within it the Spiritual and Celestial senses of the Word, and within these, the degrees of the Divine Truth which are above the Heavens. In this way, the sense of the letter of the Word contains all the Divine Truth. (See Arcana Coelestia 1870, 4642; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 252-255; Doctrine Concerning the Sacred Scripture 1.)

The Doctrine of the Church, on the other hand, is that Truth which the Church has received out of the Word tinder illustration from the Lord. It is that Divine Truth which those who are enlightened by the Lord receive in the understanding through the sense of the letter of the Word. More particularly, the genuine Doctrine of the Church is the truth of the internal sense of the Word which is drawn out of the sense of the letter of the Word by those who are in illustration from the Lord. The Doctrine of the Church is not all the Divine Truth that is in. the Word. It is that of the Divine Truth which the Church has received out of the Word.
That such is the Doctrine of the Church may be seen from the following teachings:

“That the Doctrine of the Church must be drawn out of the sense of the letter of the Word, and must be confirmed by it.” (Doctrine concerning the Sacred Scripture 50-56.)

“That the genuine truth which must be of Doctrine does not appear in the sense of the letter of the Word to others than to those who are in illustration from the Lord. Illustration is from the Lord alone and is with those who love truths because they are truths, and who make them uses of life.” (Doctrine concerning the Sacred Scripture 57)

“The Doctrine of faith is the same as the understanding of the Word as to interior things, or the internal sense.” (Arcana Coelestia 2762.)

“He who does not know the arcana of Heaven cannot but believe otherwise than that the Word is sustained without Doctrine therefrom; for he thinks that the Word in the letter or the letter sense of the Word is doctrine itself; but it must be known that all doctrine of the Church must be out of the Word, and that doctrine from any other source than out of the Word is not doctrine in which there is anything of the Church, still less of Heaven; but the Doctrine must be collected out of the Word, and when it is being collected man must be in illustration from the Lord, and he is in illustration when in the love of truth for the sake of truth, and not for the sake of self and the world. These are they who are in illustration in the Word when they read it, and they see the truth, and make Doctrine for themselves thence. The cause that this is so is because such communicate with Heaven, thus with the Lord, and thus illustrated by the Lord, they are led to see the truths of the Word such as they are in Heaven, for the Lord inflows through Heaven into their understanding.” (Arcana Coelestia 9424).

“Truth Divine is the Word, and the Doctrine of the Church is truth thence… Truth Divine is the Word, and it is Doctrine out of the Word.” (Arcana Coelestia 9222.)

Read the full paper on the Doctrinal Views of the Various Bodies of the New Church Concerning the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg by Rev. Philip Odhner


Erroneous opinions about the Lord’s New Church P.Odhner

The opinions about this Church which are discussed in these notes have for many years been widely circulated and received in other bodies of the New Church. They have created a silent background of prejudice in which everything coming forth from the Church is rejected before it is even considered. Most of them have not been publicly stated and have come to our notice only indirectly. The members of the Church should know what they are and be prepared to answer them, if necessity should arise.

1. “They think they are regenerated”
The first thing with any member of this Church is to be in the order in which he can be regenerated by the Lord. In no other way can a man be brought to receive the Lord’s Love and Wisdom and genuinely serve Kim and the neighbor. For anyone to hold that we think we have already attained that for which we are striving is absurd.

The most important thing in life is man’s cooperation with the Lord in His work of regeneration. For this reason the Church has sought and continues to seek the trues of the order of regeneration contained in the Third Testament. It seeks to see more and more clearly the steps of that order so that all may understand them and see and shun the evils which attack man in each of them.

The effect of this study and work is not to make a man suppose that he has been regenerated. It is just the opposite. It relieves man from many fallacies as to the state of his spirit. One example of this is that it shows man that he is not in the internal sense of the Word just through reading and believing in the literal sense of the Third Testament, and that there is an extensive order of regeneration through which he must be led before he can be given the perception of the internal trues that are in it. Another example is that such a fallacy as supposing that the rational represented by Ishmael is the wild-ass rational of youth is quickly put aside. The effect of this study is to open the eyes to the immensity and eternity of that Divine operation of the Lord which is called regeneration, and this seeing is accompanied with the acknowledgment that what has been so far seen is only a drop in the ocean compared to that which can and must be 3een in the future development of the Church.

This Church has brought forward from the Third Testament the teaching that the internal sense of the Word can be seen only by those who are regenerated. (Arcana Coelestia 6222:3; 8106, and other numbers.) This applies to all three testaments of the Word. This is no reason for supposing that we think we are regenerated. Would it not rather follow that they who suppose that they are in the internal sense of the Old and New Testaments through the reading and believing of the literal sense of the Third Testament must presume that they are regenerated?

This Church holds that certain essential doctrinal trues which have been seen and brought forward in the New Church are of the internal sense of the Third Testament. They have been seen in that Testament out of perception granted by the Lord, and this perception has been given through the opening of the mind to Heaven. One such truth is that the Writings are the Word. This is seen out of a perception of the Divine in those Writings. That truth was seen in the beginning of that movement from which sprang the General Church.

To say that this truth was seen through the regeneration of those in the Church does not mean that those who were in the Church before that truth was seen and expressed were not being regenerated, nor does it mean that all who accept that truth now are regenerated. Such a truth can be recognized as being in agreement with the Word by those who are not at all in the enlighten¬ment in which were those who first saw it. They receive it externally, but it is of the greatest aid in protecting them from many fallacies and in giving direction to their own understanding of the Word. If this were not the case, the wisdom of those who are wiser in the Church would never be of any use to those who are not so wise. I do not believe that anyone in the General Church would deny the benefits which arose from the seeing and expressing of that truth.

[


Understanding of the genuine natural sense of the Word

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.

Read the full letter of T. Pitcairn on the subject of the genuine natural sense of the letter



History and Origin of the Lord’s New Church. A lecture by Theodore Pitcairn. March 18 and 25, 1971

This is a [transcript of the] recording of a General Doctrinal Class given by the Rev. Theodore Pitcairn at the Hall of The Lord’s New Church, Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, on March 18, 1971.

 The Lord open our eyes to see Thy Divine Providence in the history of the Church.

 This evening I am going to speak of the history of The Lord’s New Church, its origin, and something about the history that led up to it. There are three kinds of history: there is the history that you find in the Word and the Three Testaments…the history of the Jews; the history of the Lord’s life on earth; and, in the Third Testament, the history of the Christian Church in particular is much treated of. We are told that history, when is seen apart from its internals—the history that is given in the Word—does not differ from the other history of that period, you see the internal in it. The history, [that is] historical things, do not enter into Heaven, but they are representative of the things of Heaven. [In the Word] it speaks sometimes of the internal historical sense that is the internal of the Churches…which is said to be in the spiritual-natural sense, the sense that is in the natural Heaven. Rather it speaks of the internal of the Churches, names of people, not in that sense but names of persons who do not give anything to the filling of the Heavens.

We are told that history is a useful subject and as an ultimate of this world has its importance, therefore it seems right that we should have some idea of the history of the Church. To appreciate a country without knowing its history is difficult. A history should give a real idea of a country, and a history of the Church should give an important natural basis in thinking about the Church. Now, if we just remain in the historical, our historical becomes the essential, [and] then it is misleading. The historical is often not of importance by itself, except as a representative. We are told that nations and their wars in the Old Testament represent things, but also that wars at this day are representative, , and certainly warfare in the New Church is a very significant thing. As you [may] know, in coming into its existence his Church  a very violent warfare.

Now, one of the uses of history, the history of a country for instance, is to come to a better understanding, and therefore a love, of that country. We know that the love of one’s country is a highest form of love, an external love of the neighbor. There is love of the individual, love of society, and love of the neighbor, with love of country being a higher love and a higher charity. Above that is the love of the Church, love of the Lord’s Kingdom and of the Lord Himself. In history as taught in the world—and maybe at the present time many historians are not doing that duty—part of the [reason for teaching] is to form a love of country.

Now the teaching of history can be done in the right spirit or in the wrong. History should lead to a greater love of country, but if it is not taught in the right way, it can lead to what is called chauvinism, that is, where a person [is led to] vanity and pride in relation to the power of their country. Any genuine teaching of history should lead to humility before those genuine things which the Lord has given to a country.

[It is the same] with a history of a church—genuine historical facts ought to give a natural basis for the love of the church. A history of a church can be taught in such a way as to increase our vanity, or it can be taught so to result in a love of the church, with a humility, which ought to be our objective in teaching history.

In this talk I will describe the good things of the history of our Church. A history of the world often has to do largely with warfare. The church is called a “church militant,” and very much of the important history is also of spiritual warfare. in that warfare which gave birth to this Church I was compared to one of its generals. ,hen generals describe their wars, they are apt to do it from their personal point of view, and it is not always considered reliable history. I hope that I may be free of that danger, and I will try to do as best I can.

Those of you who have read [the booklet] The Beginning and Development of the Doctrine have some idea of the early history of the New Church, of how the idea that the doctrine is the Writings of the Word was first received by some of the early people in Sweden and England in the New Church, how it developed, and how the majority came to oppose that doctrine—that it did not come into an organized form until the forming of the Academy.

Now the early Academy went through warfare too, in relation to the rest of the Church. It was also very violent. Many cruel things were done, and it was a very trying time. Those of you who remember the Second World War clearly—I don’t suppose there are many here who remember the First World War so clearly, maybe one or two—you know how in warfare emotions are very much worked up. It is very different from times of peace. When you have a country that enters into a major war, and you have a major victory, and all the trials you go through in warfare, or when you’re in danger of losing a war, what a tremendous effect it has on everyone in the country. In spiritual warfare, spiritual-natural warfare, internal warfare, it is always man against his proprium. But in warfare in the external church it is just as violent on its own plane as warfare of a country in military combat.

Now in the early Academy the emphasis was on the Lord speaking to the Church in the Third Testament. There was a feeling that the Lord was present in the Second Coming in the Third Testament, [that] He was speaking to the Church. Therefore the Writings had Divine authority, and the Church  to submit itself to the presence of the Lord in the Third Testament. That was a wonderful state, [that] early state, where they were all very deeply moved by that, and they had violent opposition to it [also]. But at that time there was little thought given to how the Writings were the Word.

Now, in general, the argument was that if the Writings were the internal sense of the Word—this was the prevalent idea, that the Writings were the internal sense of the Word—therefore the Writings were the Word. But as to the idea that the Writings were the Word in first and last, that was…I don’t know whether anyone saw that clearly in the early days. That only came with the writings of  Hyatt, an Englishman who came to America and who was for a good many years the pastor in the New Church in Toronto, Canada. He came to the idea that [what is said in] The Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture applied to the Writings, as they were then called. He published a magazine called The New Church Tidings in Toronto, which was a little mimeographed magazine that may have been printed, but in any case, it was a small publication. It had various articles, mostly by Mr. Hyatt, and it had sermons by Mr. Hyatt. There were fifteen sermons in which he showed the application of The Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture to the Writings, as they were then called. He sometimes called them the “New Evangel.” I think that in one place in the Third Testament they are referred to… as a “new evangel.” That was the term Mr. Hyatt used.

[When writing] these first fifteen sermons, Mr. Hyatt didn’t see that the Third Testament was The Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture applied entirely fully to the Writings. He gave indications of certain reservations as to the application of The Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture to the Writings. His little publication had influence on the Church. There were some that came strongly under the impression of Mr. Hyatt’s sermons, and there was some opposition, but it did not become a controversial matter to any extent in the Church.

The one who may have been most strongly influenced by his sermons  Rev. Carl Theophilus Odhner, the father of Rev. Philip N. Odhner (later Bishop Odhner). Dr. Alfred Acton (later Bishop Acton) and Dr. Iungerich, and others, especially Mr. Cranch (Dr. Cranch)my father [John Pitcairn], were influenced by these things. It became common to refer to “the Writings as the Word” as being a distinctive doctrine of the General Church.

Mr. Hyatt died when he was relatively middle-aged, and while there are some articles by Carl Theophilus Odhner in The New Church Life which somewhat carried on his ideas, there were also certain articles [that appeared] around 1904…Mr. Hyatt’s publication [appeared] around 1901 or 1902 [and continued] to around 1906 or 1908, I’ve forgotten exactly. Dr. Cranch in 1904 wrote an article in New Church Life in which he spoke of the Writings as the Word and having a letter, and the Letter of the Writings was the Word in its holiness. So there was holiness and power: the doctrine must be drawn from them.

 Mr. Hyatt wrote thirty-two sermons in his first series on the Word, and later on, two or three years afterward, he started another series on on the application of The Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture to the Writings, which was another series of thirty-two sermons. These sermons were not well known in the Church. They were not published, and no-one in general in the Church, outside of Toronto, knew anything about them. T The sixteenth sermon, the first one that was not published, was on John the Baptist. In this sermon, the central point is that the literal sense of the Writings [is represented by]  John the Baptist, and that when one first approaches, one is in the literal sense, the state of John the Baptist, calling to repentance and preparing the way for coming to their internals, and that the internal was the presence of the Lord. The expression he often used was that when you’re in the spirit state you see them in natural light or the light of the world. Later on you have to come to see them in their own light. Of course “their own light” means the same as the light of Heaven from the Lord. Now if that sermon had been published, it probably would have caused a big controversy to arise in the Church. But it was never known, so didn’t. It might have [caused] a similar violent reaction to what [occurred] forty years later if that sermon had been published, but it was not known, except to the people in Toronto.

Read the full lecture by T. Pitcairn

Download and listen to the 1st part of the lecture

Download and listen to the 2nd part of the lecture 



EXTRACTS FROM DIARY OF GERTRUDE STARKEY from February 1877 to September 1880. Preface to his children by Theodore Pitcairn

This diary of your Grandmother, expresses the spirit and essence of the early days of the Academy in an intimate and living way scarcely found in any other document.

The essence of the early Academy, like the essence of every living state of the Church, is the affection of truth for its own sake. This spirit of the Academy in its origin is remarkably expressed in the statement of

Bishop W. F. Pendleton, in his address on the Principles of the Academy, as follows: “We have now presented a general statement of the principles known as the principles of the Academy. These principles are one with the Divine doctrine, given by revelation to the New Church. They are largely applications of that doctrine to the life of the church, that the church may be armed to resist positive and actual dangers that threaten its existence; and that it may do positive and actual uses which have been neglected, but which are seen to be essential to the upbuilding of the church. The principles of the Academy, its faith and doctrine, are therefore essential and vital, and must be preserved and perpetuated.

“It is clear, however, that what makes the church is not so much its doctrine as its spirit; for the essential of doctrine, the essential of faith, the essential of law, is the spirit that is in it; and while it may be said that doctrine makes the church, yet it is not the doctrine itself, but the spirit and life within it, that makes the church. It is so with the Academy. The most important principle of all, therefore, has not yet been stated, the principle that is within all, the truth that is within the doctrine of the Academy, the law that is within the law, which is the spirit of the law – this spirit of the Academy, the spirit of its doctrine and law, the spirit of its work from the beginning, is   the love of truth for its own sake. Whatever spirit other than this may have entered – however much individual men may have failed, even though some have stumbled and turned aside, and all have fallen short of the ideal – still, we may speak with a confident faith and say that this spirit, which is the spirit of truth, the spirit which makes the truth the all in all, was present in the initiament of the Academy, and gave character and quality to the teaching and work which followed; and we may speak with the same degree of confidence, that without this spirit, without this principle within the principles of the Academy, its confession of doctrine is a mere form, a mere letter, a mere body of faith without the life of faith.

“The love of the truth for its own sake is the love of truth for the sake of the truth itself, and thus for the sake of the Lord, who is in the truth, and not for the sake of self and the world; a love that will lead a man to sacrifice himself for the sake of the truth, and not the truth for the sake of himself; a love that makes him willing to give up fame, reputation, gain, friends, even his own life, for the sake of the truth; that causes him to be regardless of consequences to himself, where it is necessary to uphold the standard of the truth. This is what is meant by the words of the Lord, ’He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it’ (Matt. 10:39).

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Aspects of the Internal History of the New Church


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

Read the full paper by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn

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…

Read the full paper by Rev. Theodore Pictairn

See also an earlier paper: Aspects of the Internal History of the New Church


The Beginning and Development of Doctrine in 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


Introduction into the True Christian Religion, not only for the beginners but for advanced readers as well

My Lord and My God

Essays on Modern Religion, the Bible and Emanuel Swedenborg by Theodore Pitcairn

With the exception of the chapter on atheists and ag­nostics, this book is addressed not to the sophisticated nor to the naive or credulous, but to those who believe there is a God and that it is likely that He has revealed Himself to man, and who desire carefully to weigh the evidence with an open mind.

This book will not appeal to those whose ambition is to belong to the avant-garde, or the wave of the future. We believe that there are few who are willing to give up much of their worldly ambitions for the sake of finding the truth and living according to it. On the other hand, there are many who are curious about the latest novelties, and who are eager to appear modem and in tune with the times.

A religious belief which demands profound study and effort, which has no prospect of becoming popular, which is and will be despised by the learned sophisticates, and which therefore will be accepted by few, has little appeal, except to those who desire to find and follow the truth even if it causes them to be despised or ridiculed.

The great majority of people say that they believe in God. But in modern times, particularly inAmericaandEurope, the idea of God has become more and more vague and uncertain, so that to many, God has become an unknown God. It is the hope of this book that for some the following expression of Paul may be fulfilled: “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this in­scription, to the unknown god. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you.” (Acts17:23.)

When Abraham Lincoln was running for President, some of the clergy, who knew that he was not a member of any denomination, came to him and asked him what was his religion. To this question he replied: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the First and Great Commandment. And the Second is like unto it; thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Lincolncombined Matthew 22:37-39 and Mark 12:30,31.)

Most Christians would say that they agree withLincoln, but there is scarcely one in a hundred who seriously at­tempts actually to carry out such a belief in his life.

In past centuries many made faith, or the contempla­tion of God, the only thing of importance and neglected the things having to do with our love and duty to our neighbor. At the present day most, even in the churches, looking to the good of society—or social gospel, as it is called—which they identify with love toward their neighbor, neglect the words of the greatest Commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God … with all thy mind.”

They regard theology, which is loving God with the mind, as of little importance.

Is it not a primary saying of the Lord, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”? (John 8:32.) If a person does not believe it is possible to know the truth for certain, can he honestly think he is a Christian?

Yet love of one’s neighbor is merely an earthly love akin to the animal feeling if it is not united to loving God with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength, which idea in­cludes a wholehearted desire to understand God, or, what is the same, to have a theology. On the other hand, the love of God, apart from loving and doing one’s duty to one’s neighbor, is not a love of God at all; for the Lord said, “He who hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me” (John 14:21), and He said, “This is My Com­mandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:12.)

Many eagerly give much time and effort to solving a business problem or to a study of economics, a foreign lan­guage, literature, philosophy, or other subjects; but when it comes to theology, they feel an aversion to any serious study. With many the very thought of making a serious effort to understand the nature of the Trinity, even the thought that it is a primary duty to try to understand this subject, causes a feeling of annoyance. Yet how can one love God with all one’s understanding if one does not know for sure whether God is one person or three persons? Thus, although the First and Great Commandment is subscribed to in theory by nearly all, in practice it is rejected: a sign that there is very little real love of God.

How many strive with all their might to understand and know God, and to live according to their understanding with all their heart and soul? Are they not few? If this is so, why is it so?

There are many reasons why there is an aversion to a serious study of theology; one of them is spiritual laziness. To many the pursuit of the things of this world appears real, bringing concrete results, whereas the pursuit of the knowl­edge and wisdom of God appears vague and unreal, with no likelihood of arriving at any certainty or any definite con­cept. Even in the churches it has been taught that the mys­teries of faith are above human comprehension, and that therefore “the understanding must be kept in obedience to faith”—which necessarily implies a blind faith. Such an idea certainly discourages anyone from seriously trying to obey the First and Great Commandment.

Another reason is that many doubt that there is any definite source of truth concerning God. Many doubt that the Bible is the Word of God, and see no way by which they ^n come to a sure knowledge of God; they therefore turn to science or other subjects where they feel they can deal with facts and actual experiences, or they seek to understand the meaning of life in their subjective experiences.

Nowadays most people think theology is unimportant; they think that they can have a kind of intuition of God, apart from any definite idea. If a person thinks he loves his father and mother and is uninterested in the character and quality of his parents, in the history of their life, in their goals, their ideals, and their thoughts, his love is a sentimental love of no value. In the same way, if a man thinks he loves God and is uninterested in theology, or does not hope to find a true theology, his love is a sentimental love of no value; for theology is nothing but the knowledge of God, and to pretend to love without wishing to know God is a fantasy. In a word, if one says he loves God and is uninterested in theology, his love is not genuine.

In ancientGreecethere were two classes of intellectual leaders: the philosophers and the sophists. The true phi­losopher was the one who loved wisdom, who placed the pursuit of wisdom above all personal advantage, who was willing to sacrifice himself for the truth. The true philoso­pher exposed sham goodness and fallacious opinions with­out regard to person. He searched for the basic causes of things. He was therefore at times persecuted—even put to death. Socrates, before taking hemlock, said, “I would rather die having spoken after my manner than to speak in your manner and live.” The sophist was one who, as in modern times, taught “how to make friends and influence people.” He taught the art of becoming a demagogue. His art consisted of the striking phrase, the superficial appear­ance of learnedness, the advocacy of the latest novelty— the show, without the substance, of philosophy.

History teaches us that civilizations grow and flourish, and then degenerate and fall. It is the same with religions. There are those who feel that the present civilization shows signs of decay. Prominent men and women have pointed this out, but what causes the decay is not clearly seen. The fall of civilizations and religions is the result of false at­titudes or a false religious philosophy—that is, of sophistry —arising out of wrong motives.

We especially address ourselves to those who are dis­tressed at the signs of the times and desire to consider the basic causes of the confusion of our day: causes which are on the plane of ideas but which have their effect in the life of people. We shall examine the cause of what we see as the decline of Christian civilization and consider remedies for it.

Certain remedies have indeed been proposed by those who recognize the decline. But these are based on unwar­ranted optimism or wishful thinking. They are based on the idea that if one is optimistic—has self-confidence and desire for change—a change for the better will take place. Now such an attitude can produce apparent or temporary improvement, but it is a palliative cure, having no inner or lasting effect. The only real cure demands a new under­standing of and faith in the Lord, a new understanding of the relation of God to man and of man to God; and a new repentance out of a humble heart. This must be accompanied by a hope—but a realistic hope, not an optimistic idea that all things will turn quickly for the better; a hope that there will be a sufficient number of people who will come to a new repentance so that there can be established a true Christian civilization which can endure.

Read the full book My Lord and My God