Category — Word
The things which Mr. Groeneveld has said have given me reflection on a point which he presented in an informal talk recently on the way in which the Church should go.
The sign of the First Coming was that the Lord would be born in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, because there was no room for them in the inn. We are told that He could have been born in a palace, in a cradle with precious stones, but there would then have been no correspondence. The palace and the precious stones draw the mind to the Nova Hierosolyma with its precious stones, and to the contrast between the First and Second Coming.
The direction of the Church depends on how we view the present state of the Church, to come to the simple primitive things represented by the manger and the swaddling clothes, or immediately to direct the eyes to the glory of Hierosolyma. If we see the Nova Hierosolyma as just around the corner, or if we see the First Coming of the Lord as a coming in glory, with all the universals and all the magnificent things of the Church, our direction of the thinking is entirely different than if we believe that the state is such that we must come to the primitive simplicity represented by the Lord in a manger.
To try to look immediately to Nova Hierosolyma or anything universal containing all the goods and truths of the Church would be to skip over the essential of the First Coming into an imaginary Second Coming. For we might speak of the First Coming and make it a thing of glory such as described in the Second Coming.
To go to the Second Coming or to the Lord appearing in glory, and not go through the things involved in the First Coming would have a similar effect as to return to the paradise of the Most Ancient Church and transfer that to the Second Coming. If we don’t come to the simple primitive things of the First Coming, the Church will take a wrong direction, and come into phantasies of all kinds. What can we think of the state signified by the Lord as an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger? The swaddling clothes are the bindings of a new innocence, in which man is as an infant, scarcely able to speak. What are those simple truths of a new innocence by which the Church can be saved? To see this we have to see it in contrast to the opposite. The opposite is illustrated particularly by a false idea of the priesthood. In ordination into the priesthood there is a promise of the Holy Spirit. There is some doubt whether that ought to be in the Liturgy. What does ordination really mean? Just as baptism is a sign and memorial that man must be regenerated, so ordination is a sign and memorial that if man is regenerated in the work of the priesthood, he will receive the Holy Spirit. Ordination must not be regarded as anything more than that. The Holy Spirit proceeds in the clergy, but nothing is more rare than for a priest to speak from the Holy Spirit. For the priesthood to imagine that they are in the fulfillment of that promise because they are priests leads to the greatest of phantasies. The danger is that a priest will think that his many scientifics are truths. A scientific becomes a truth only when genuinely applied to state. A living application to state in a genuine way makes the scientifics to be truths. If applied wrongly to the state, they become falsities. So it was with the Priests, Scribes and Pharisees signified by the inn. They had great knowledge, but applied it wrongly to the state, because they desired a Messiah who would rule the world.
With the priests there is the danger of wishing to be god of gods. The whole nature of his function is such as to make him able to exalt himself in this way. Does he recognize this in himself? Is his primary concern to fight against that thing? By overcoming that, and by coming to a new innocence he comes to that meant by the swaddling clothes. By recognizing the terrible pride and vanity that rules in every priest, and shunning it, he comes to that new innocence. In that connection, a minister raises his hand and says, “In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ” at the beginning of a sermon. A young man doing that is apt to think it is a sign he is in the Holy Spirit, or he feels that he is. Now we are told that a priest must preach according to the Doctrine of his Church from the Word. If he belongs to a Church which he believes to be a living Church, and that there is genuine Doctrine in the Church (and otherwise he should not belong to that Church) and when he says “The Name of the Lord” , he should think of that Doctrine, and not ascribe the Holy Spirit to himself. That Doctrine is the Name of the Lord, and his preaching should be according to it, for we are told that the Nome represents the Word and the genuine Doctrine of the Church out of the Word. There is the danger that a man might ascribe the Holy Spirit to himself on account of his office. That is the Catholic evil, that has in it the inmost love of self and its pride. Such things have been very dominant in the Church, and we must bind ourselves to come to a new innocence by shunning those terrible evils. We should be willing to be bound by the first truths of repentance, to the first things of the truths of innocence, like a baby bound in swaddling clothes.
In the beginning of the Lord’s New Church which is Nova Hierosolyma there were living states of perception. There were living applications of the scientifics of the Word to the state of the Church. But also many scientifics were developed that were not seen in genuine light. Thus there came a great mass of knowledges represented by the rich man at whose door was Lazarus. We have a fantastic wealth of knowledges which has nothing of genuine wealth in it.
There has been that phantasy particularly on the part of the priesthood, particularly where there is not that feeling of repentance and recognition of actual evil and a consequent humbling of oneself before the genuine spirit of the Word and of the Doctrine of the Church.
Another danger is to look to what is called charity, or to look to the good in another. To talk of charity without qualification is a dangerous thing. We are told that good before repentance is spurious good. Now if we sау to look to the good in a man, to the things of love, and do not make a distinction between good before repentance and after, we commingle things of heaven with those of hell and call it all charity or love. There must be a judgment. There is nothing of charity when we commingle our own good before repentance with the good of our neighbour before repentance. There has to be judgment, and this has to be made in the greatest spirit of humility and prayer to the Lord for enlightenment, that we may be conjoined only to the things of charity which are the result of a broken heart, the shunning of evils as sins against the Lord.
The false idea about what ordination does also creeps in about baptism. Because a person has joined the Church by baptism, some think he is in the things represented by the baptism, whereas it is only a sign and memorial.
The only way for the Church to come is to leave all this wealth of knowledge about the Word and the Doctrine, which for the most part is fantastic, and come to the simple laws of repentance, looking and praying to the Lord that there may be given a new innocence. Otherwise the Church will be destroyed, and the Church itself transferred to others.
(during the discussion of Rev. Pitcairn’s speech, he said): I spoke of coming to a new innocence. Mr. Barnitz spoke as if I had often spoken of this before. But the innocence I referred to is a thing that came to me during these meetings aid is not to be confused with things I have said about innocence at previous times. There are different degrees of innocence. There is that innocence when a person first comes to the Church. Also every state of the Church must begin with a new infantile state. That you had in the beginning of the Academy; and that you had come into existence when the Doctrine of the Church was as it were born.
I have a feeling that there is now a new state. In 1947 I felt that the Lord was as it were descending into the natural, which was involved in the things seen in that Assembly, but that that was not manifest in the Church, I compared it to the ministry of John the Baptist when the Lord was in the world but had not yet manifested Himself. Therefore if there is as it were the Lord for the first time become visible in a new way in the Church, then we see for the first time what is involved in the birth of the Lord. And it was in this connection I used the word innocence.
Mr. Barnitz spoke about the sensual. Every infantile state has its basis in the sensual, but the sensual which is represented by the seeing as it were of the Lord in the manger is a very different sensual than that of previous states of new birth. It is very difficult to give an idea of what one feels is the birth of the Lord, because it is something so tender and has so little form to it. Therefore my remarks were directed largely to those things that might prevent us from oozing to see what it is. My remarks about giving up one’s wealth of scientifics was not directed against one, but against all, particularly all the priests. My point there was that we should acknowledge that for the most part we have only scientifics, and only a remnant of living truths seen in application to a genuine state. We might compare this with a person coming to the New Church. They may have a great knowledge of the Old and New Testaments. That knowledge still remains, but they realize that it has not been opened, and therefore in relation to their new state they have hardly any truths.
It is the acknowledgment of having no living cognitions that is important. You have people who come to the New Church and who say that they have always known that, and have always acknowledged that, but if they feel that way it means that they are bringing the new things into their old state and mixing then.
And that is the point. If we begin to perceive what the Coming of the Lord is, then we realize we have no cognitions. Just as with the Jews. They had a great knowledge of the Law and about the Coming of the Messiah, but when the Lord actually came those things had to be left in the form in which they had existed with them to come to an entirely new idea of the Messiah, for instance the shepherds had a tradition of the Church about the Coming of the Messiah, which they believed with a certain innocence. But that former innocence in their cognitions had to be left to come to a new innocence represented by seeing the Lord in the manger.
We have to acknowledge that there are those things in us which are represented by Herod when he slew the infants of Bethlehem, and we must acknowledge that we have those former states of innocence which are slain by the evils in man till he comes to the state in which there are only certain remains which can come and receive the Lord as an infant. I cannot express at this time what I actually feel and see as the actual birth of the Lord. It is in too primitive a form. But we must see that pride and vanities and ambitions are things that must be fought against, and that these are the things which like Herod have destroyed the former states of innocence, in fact in relation to interior things. It speaks of Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted because they were not. There must be grief at the loss of innocence, before coming to see the primitive new beginnings which I believe are beginning to be vaguely visible in the Church.
For me the whole relationship is in relation to the human in which we are born and the relation to the Divine Human. In the beginning the Divine Human is as it were not present in the human of man. Still, in the beginning there is a relationship between his internal and his external. But the whole question is then, and now I speak only on the side of the human of man, that in the beginning there is a certain human in which the internal can be present. But that state comes to its fullness. And then the simplicity is that he feels that in the more interior he is lacking everything. Now, that lacking everything in relation to his thinking and willing, lacking everything in relation to the internal, that again he has to go to it till at last his human is in relationship with his internal, till really the internal in which the Lord has been present, in a certain way, comes into his human itself, that is for me the birth of the Lord. Because then you feel that your whole human from the rational to the outside, that everything is nothing in relation to what the real Divine Human is. And that is the first thing. And then for me in that relationship the birth of the Lord is a feeling of anything in the human of man that it is nothing, that he feels that there is nothing of him, that he feels of himself that he is lacking everything. Now in that state he is not in such a state that he is in glory, but he feels just the opposite, and that the thing is that he see what the real thing is which has to come into his human, and that a real thing of the Divine Human has to be present in him. Now that is for me the First Coming of the Lord.
But for me in relation to the state of the Church, they must go first through those states to see that the Divine Human has to come in them. But the danger is that in relation to the planes in which they are in willing and thinking, that in a certain way the willing and thinking remains where they are, because they have had a feeling in that, and they make out of the feeling the reasonings. But if the other thing is opened, then that would be stopped; they would see the locking of everything in it. And that is a going open of the pure human things in relation to the internal, that for the first time the internal will be seen, because in the beginning only the external, in a certain way, but not the internal, is seen.
Now for me the whole direction of the Church is that they must see what the real internal is in their own human, that they see the Divine Human as their own human. Now, that is for me a leaving of different planes in which man is. And there must be a leaving. That in the beginning was a difference here in relation to Durban. But that thing of leaving is a real thing, for otherwise you never come into contact with the internal. Never. Now that real thing in relation to a society is a very difficult thing; you can never bring a man from one thing over another; that all depends on him. But that the whole direction is seen, that the individual man, in everything in which he lives, that in relation to the internal he is not in connection with it, and that he has to come that the real internal comes into the human, and that never before any real thing existed, (only you can say that it existed representatively, but not the real thing,) that is for me the question. And then it is not a question of Doctrine and Life, but has more in it; because when they speak of Doctrine and Life it is always in such a relation as if the Doctrine has nothing in it. There must be something else. There must be a leaving of the human itself. And that is for me the question in relation to the priesthood, that they have a feeling as it were of the human itself what they have to leave, to see and point out that human. Just as I heard from Philip Odhner on the Nineteenth of June, that is the thing) they must feel if they come to the Church, and if they want to be regenerated, that there must be struggle, and a real struggle. They must not think, Yes, we are in the Church, now we are all right. That gives always a wrong idea. That makes always a plane which later comes to obstruction, to rebellion.
Now the work of the priesthood, the direction in relation to those things, that has not to do with simplicity, and the fewness of things, but it has to do in the few things to see that in relation to the human internal is wrong because if their idea of an interior human is still present and remains present, then at last the outmost things in which they first had a feeling become nothing and will be perverted. Now this feeling, and what the real approaching, openness, is, to see that plane as a general where the universals are, in that relation I see as a universal, and I think that everything of thinking and willing in the plane, in which man is, is a universal. Now everything in that must be seen in relation to the internal in which they have to come because they think they are in that internal, that it is present. That is for me the whole thing. They think they are in the internal, but they must feel that they are in an external, and that they prevent themselves that the internal can come down, and that the Lord can be born.
Now for me the whole state of the Church must pass through all those things unless the real internal can be present, and then we have the most universal in relation to the coming and development of the internal in the external. That is quite another thing, if you will develop the external itself but if the internal itself has no forms in the external, then you are always in difficulties.
Now the whole question is, Can they come to a real obedience in relation to the internal, that there is an internal? And that does not take away that in every man there can be an internal but that internal is not open-present.
If they think and speak out of the plane in which they are, and they think it is the internal, then you start with the wrong thing. Because the internal can only come gradually present.
And so for me the whole question is directed of the priests in relation to that human in which they live, and they think that is the real thing. The direction is an approaching and loving to see for themselves what is the Divine Human in those things. Now as I have already said in relation to that, what is really the feeling of the priesthood? When goes the mind open to hear a sermon or such of a priest? Then I feel in that relation what is said in the Word about those preachers who come into the celestial heaven, for there must be in that something that their mind is touched in relation to what must go away from the human in which they were afraid to come in; and they bring again up that real thing, that the internal alone has to live in the human. Now that is for me the whole question and the whole disturbance; and that will always be the disturbance unless the priest himself makes that more and more clear in that relation, in which human they live, and in which that first internal has come to be present with them, and that they must not see that external, the human in which they live, that that internal is present there directly.
That is for me the whole question. And unless those things start, there is not the first starting point for the most external approaching. Because when we speak of the most external approaching, that is for me the most external approaching in relation to that. Because I see only also the first external approaching in the Church; but the question of that external approaching depends on how you see that in relation to the internal. You can make an external, making without this as it were there, that this must be changed and changed to come to that. They think that this is present there, instead of the opposite. That is for me the whole point. Because otherwise never anything of real truth can enter there, because ever truth will be changed to the plane on which they are.
Thus there must be another thing present in the priesthood, a quite other thing present as to a reigning in the people, because a real truth can be present with them. Because always it will be seen from the outside and the real inmost thing of feeling is lacking. And then you get all difficulties.
It is needful for the Church to consider the interior causes of the laws of divorce given in the Word. By this all may come to a deeper understanding and love of the Conjugial, and of the uses of marriage, and hy this the Church may he protected against doubts and false reasonings about those laws. Doubts may arise because the laws of divorce are very strict, and in some cases their severity appears to bring much hardship on men. False reasonings about those laws may arise especially from this, that the laws of divorce in the World of Spirits are altogether different from those given for this world; from this some may suppose that in an interior state of the Church with man, the laws which apply there should take the place of the laws which apply in this world. An understanding of the interior causes of the laws of divorce will protect the Church from such doubts and such reasonings.
First we would draw your attention to the distinction between the Conjugial which must be received from the Lord in every man of the Church and the Corljugial union which may be formed between husband and wife. That there is such a distinction is well known from the teaching that Love Conjugial may be given with one married partner and not at the same time with the other. (C.L. 226, 531.) For the most part, however, this distinction has been overlooked in the past. Whenever the Conjugial, or Love Conjugial, has been mentioned, the thought with most has been only of the Conjugial union between husband and wife. As a consequence, the importance which the Word places upon the Conjugial which is to be received and formed in each man of the Church has not been noticed; many teachings which apply in the first place to the Conjugial in each man, have been applied only to the Conjugial union between the married partners.
Consider the following teachings of the Word about the Conjugial in each man:
That the Conjugial is the desire of living with one partner, and that every step made from religion and into religion is a step from the Conjugial and into the Conjugial. (C.L, 80.)
That Love truly Conjugial is from the Lord, and is with those who approach Him directly, and who love the trues of the Church and do its goods* (C.L. 70.)
That this Conjugial is inscribed on the minds of those who acknowledge the Lord and His Divine. (C.L. 338.)
That this Conjugial is the precious jewel of human life and the repository of the Christian Religion. (C.L. 457, 458, 466, 531)
That it is chief among the essentials of human life, and that so far as a man is in this love he is spiritual, and so far as he should lose this love he approaches the nature of a beast. (First Index to Angelic Wisdom concerning Marriage, under “Conjugial”, and C.L. 230.)
That this Conjugial is guarded in man, whatsoever the state of marriage he may be in. (C.L, 531.)
Read these numbers carefully and you will see that it is the Conjugial with each man that is described in them. This Conjugial is with all men who acknowledge the Divine Human of the Lord in love and faith, and who live the life of religion. It is with all such men whether they in this life are married or not, and if married, whether or not they have been blessed with a Conjugial union with their partner. This Conjugial is of the utmost importance to the salvation and regeneration of the man of the Church. It is the first thing in the natural produced by man’s acknowledgment of the Divine of the Lord. It is the connecting link and bond between the internal things with man and his natural life. It is the principal and beginning of the descent of the celestial and spiritual with man into his natural, and serves as a plane there for the reception of them. No doubt this is one of the reasons why a whole book of the Word is devoted to Love Conjugial. If this Conjugial should be destroyed in a man, nothing of regeneration would be possible.
The Lord has ordered all things of Christian marriage for the reception and protection of this Conjugial with man, and also for the forming of a Conjugial union of husband and wife. The laws of marriage and the laws of divorce are given for both of these precious things. If a man of the Church should violate the laws of divorce, he is in the danger of harming the Conjugial in himself, as well as doing harm to the Church and to society in general. This is evident from what is said about a Christian who enters into polygamy, (C.L. 339), namely, that he profanes the marriage of the Lord and the Church.
Read that number and you will see that the same danger is present with those who obtain a divorce without just cause.
One with whom there is the Conjugial strives wholeheartedly for union with the married partner. Such a one does not put away the partner, even if that union is clearly absent, nor even if it appears to be impossible, but strives for such a conjunction as may be possible. This is evident from the following teaching:
“That these conjugial simulations, with a spiritual man conjoined to a natural, savor out of justice and judgment. The reason is because a spiritual man does what he does out of justice and judgment, wherefore he does not see these simulations as estranged from his internal affections, but as joined with them. For he acts seriously, and regards amendment as the end, and if this does not follow, he regards accommodation, for the sake of order in the house, for the sake of mutual aid, for the sake of the care of infants, for the sake of peace and tranquility. To these things he is led out of justice, and out of judgment he gives them into effect. That a spiritual man so cohabits with a natural man, is because a spiritual man acts spiritually, even with one who is natural.” (C.L. 280.)
A spiritual man, that is, one with whom is the Conjugial, strives for the ammendment of life with a partner who has it not. Although he is not in a union of souls and minds with that partner, he loves the spiritual welfare of the partner, and strives for it. Such a one would never put the partner away except for the causes given in the laws of divorce. To do such a thing would be to act against the conjugial striving in himself, and thus to act against the Conjugial itself.
It should be noted that the love of the spiritual welfare of one’s married partner must lie at the heart of any marriage, for without it there can be neither the Conjugial in oneself nor a Conjugial union with one’s partner. Even in those marriages in which the husband and wife live happily together, no union of souls and minds can take place unless the spiritual welfare of the married partner is held uppermost in the marriage. Without this, marriage would have in it only a natural conjugial, an apparent conjunction of minds arising out of external harmonies alone.
From these things it can be seen that the Conjugial in each man is not endangered by a marriage in which a Conjugial union has not been effected, but that it is endangered by the putting away of a married partner without a just cause in agreement with the laws of divorce given in the Word. This is an interior reason for the severity of the laws of divorce, and for the law that matrimony is to continue to the end of life in the world even though there be colds in relation to the Conjugial.
A further reason underlying these laws is that, except in the case outlined in the laws of divorce, no final judgment is to be made on a marriage in this world, as to whether something of a Conjugial union has been or may be formed within it. This is because the internal similitudes on which the essential conjunction of marriage rests are not primarily attributes of natural birth and native compatibility, but of the new birth of reformation and regeneration. So far as possible the Lord’s Providence Works for the formation of these internal similitudes, and thus for the new creation of the husband and wife for one another, during the whole course of their life in the world. A spiritual man, even though he may see that a Conjugial union is not yet present in his marriage, still would strive toward that union, and would not make any final judgment against its possibility.
From all these considerations it can be understood why it is said in the “Statement as to the Principle concerning Divorce,” that if the Church or the man of the Church violates the laws of order in respect to marriage, the Conjugial itself, which is the precious jewel of human life and the repository of the Christian Religion, is violated, and that then the Divine Human of the Lord, from which the Conjugial descends, cannot be present in the Church.
Respecting divorce in the World of Spirits, the Word teaches as follows:
That married partners meet after death, consociate, and for some time live together as before in the world; this takes place in their first state in the World of Spirits, while they are in external things as before in the world; that successively, as they put off external things, and enter into their internals, they perceive the quality of the love and inclination which they mutually had for each other, and thence they perceive whether they can live as one or not; that if they can live as one, they remain married partners, but if not, they separate; that there is then given to the man a suitable wife, and to the woman a suitable husband. (C.L. 47b, 48b, 49, 50.) In that world divorce is granted when there is no similarity in their affections. (Memorabilia 6027.)
The separation of unsuitable partners in the World of Spirits is according to the law of the Spiritual World that external things must altogether agree with internal things in angels and spirits. They who differ in love and faith cannot live near each other, much less live in the same house. This general law of the Spiritual World is essential to life in that world, and there can be made no exception to it. But the general law of the natural world is that here external things must remain fixed in order that internal things may be changed and formed in man. Any essential change in the spirit or mind of man must be initiated in this world. This general law for the natural world is expressed in this teaching of the Word: “Mutation of organization is given solely in the material body, and is not at all givable in the spiritual body after the former has been rejected.” (Brief Exposition 110.) This law involves the whole reason for our being bom in the natural world.. If the laws governing the Spiritual World were to be applied outwardly to life in this world, if there were no fixed external order, independent, as it were, from the internal states of men, no reformation or regeneration could take place in this life. There would be no freedom of choice possible for man, for there would be nothing by which man could reflect upon his internal things, and by which he could cooperate with the Lord in changing them.
Consider what would take place, for example, if the law that riches in the Spiritual World are in accordance with the wisdom of the angels, were to be applied outwardly in this life. If that law were to be applied here, no man would be free to reject wisdom, and no man would be free to love and receive wisdom for its own sake. If such laws were to be applied outwardly in this life, man would be compelled in the things of religion, which is against the Law of the Divine Providence, All life in this world would in such a case be impossible.
If the laws of divorce in the World of Spirits were to be applied to this world, there would be no fixed order by which the Conjugial in each man could be formed and developed in marriage. And if the Conjugial had already been formed in a man, such an application of those laws to his life in this world would be contrary to his Conjugial longing, and destructive of it. Moreover, by the application of the laws of divorce in the World of Spirits to this life, marriages here would be exposed to all kinds of phantasy and cupidity, and a truly Christian society would be made impossible.
The things brought forward in the “Statement of the International Interior Council as to the Principle concerning Divorce” are vital for the Church. May it serve to awaken all of us to the Life that is in the ’Word, and to our need of being fully instructed in that Life. The Life that is in all things of the Word is the Life of the Lord’s Divine Human. All the laws of the Word, and all things of the Church, look to the ordering of human life in order that the Lord’s Life may be present and may be received within it. It is our hope that this Statement may serve this end.
The Rev, Philip N. Odhner
President of the International Council of Priests
October 17th, I960
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.
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.
“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.
Before speaking about Swedenborg, I will say a few words about the New Church. The Christian world is more and more losing faith in God as a Divine Man. There are those who consider God to be “the ground of being”, the order of the universe, or other terms which take away the idea of God as a Divine Man.
If it is not believed that God is a Divine Man, the First and Great Command¬ment cannot be fulfilled; for who can love the “Ground of Being” with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength? We are told that God created man in His image and likeness; wherefore it follows that God is Infinite Man. But finite man cannot comprehend the Infinite, as we read, “No man hath seen God:” John 1:18
The purpose of creation is that there might be those whom God can love and who can love God and their fellow men. If God is not a Divine Man who can love and be loved, creation has no sense, no meaning. Now we cannot love that which we do not know; wherefore to fulfill the end of creation, God had to reveal Himself to man; He had to clothe Himself in Divine appearances, suited to the comprehension of men. Jehovah therefore appeared in visions and dreams to the men of the Most Ancient Church. By influx through the Heavens He clothed Himself with a Human appearance that men could see, know, and love. Later He revealed Himself in His Word, which was accommodated to man’s comprehension. When this was no longer sufficient, for our salvation, He descended and took on a natural Human by
birth in this world. If we view this from a feeling of the nature of God’s love and purpose in creation this is not surprising, but is the natural fulfillment of the end of creation. In fact, if one elevates one’s mind above the materialistic thought of the world, one can see that it could not have been otherwise.
The whole of the Old and New Testament teach that God is a Divine Man. Where this idea is lost there is nothing of real Christianity left, even with those who still call themselves Christian.
The First and Great Commandment commences with the words, “The Lord our God is one Lord.” If the idea of the oneness of God is lost, the mind becomes totally confused, and when the mind is in the dilemma as to whether God is one or three persons, there can be no love of God with all the mind; and, when there is no love of God with the mind, the love of God with the heart is also lost. It can be readily seen that if a man did not know whether his father was one or three persons he could not love his father; and that a man who was entirely indifferent as to whether his father was one or three certainly had no love. Is it not evident chat the same applies to our Father in Heaven, that if there is no interest in understanding the Trinity, this indicates that there is no love of the Lord?
On account of the Church dividing God into three persons, and later coming to the general denial that the Lord Jesus Christ is God, the Lord had to come again in His Word for the sake of the salvation of the Human race. The Lord made His Second Coming to reveal Himself anew, to reveal Himself in His Divine Human.
Before speaking about Swedenborg, I will say a few words about the New Church. The Christian world is more and more losing faith in God as a Divine Man. There are those who consider God to be “the ground of being,” the order of the universe, or other terms which take away the idea of God as a Divine Man.
If it is not believed that God is a Divine Man, the First and Great Commandment cannot be fulfilled; for who can love the “Ground of Being” with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength? We are told that God created man in His image and likeness; wherefore it follows that God is Infinite Man, But finite man cannot comprehend the Infinite, as we read, “No man hath seen God:” John 1:18
The purpose of creation is that there might be those whom God can love and who can love God and their fellow men. If God is not a Divine Man who can love and be loved, creation has no sense, no meaning. Now we cannot love that which we do not know; wherefore to fulfill the end of creation, God had to reveal Himself to man; He had to clothe Himself in Divine appearances, suited to the comprehension of men. Jehovah therefore appeared in visions and dreams to the men of the Most Ancient Church. By influx through the Heavens He clothed Himself with a Human appearance that men could see, know, and love. Later He revealed Himself in His Word, which was accommodated to man’s comprehension. When this was no longer sufficient, for our salvation, He descended and took on a natural Human by birth in this world. If we view this from a feeling of the nature of God’s love and purpose in creation this is not surprising, but is the natural fulfillment of the end of creation. In fact, if one elevates one’s mind above the materialistic thought of the world, one can see that it could not have been otherwise.
The whole of the Old and New Testament teach that God is a Divine Man. Where this idea is lost there is nothing of real Christianity left, even with those who still call themselves Christian.
The First and Great Commandment commences with the words, The Lord our God is one Lord.” If the idea of the oneness of God is lost, the mind becomes totally confused, and when the mind is in the dilemma as to whether God is one or three persons, there can be no love of God with all the mind; and, when there is no love of God with the mind, the love of God with the heart is also lost. It can be readily seen that if a man did not know whether his father was one or three persons he could not love his father; and that a man who was entirely indifferent as to whether his father was one or three certainly had no love. Is it not evident chat the same applies to our Father in Heaven, that if there is no interest in understanding the Trinity, this indicates that there is no love of the Lord?
On account of the Church dividing God into three persons, and later coming to the general denial that the Lord Jesus Christ is God, the Lord had to come again in His Word for the sake of the salvation of the Human race. The Lord made His Second Coming to reveal Himself anew, to reveal Himself in His Divine Human.
“He who believes that the Word is Divine and spiritual everywhere, ought by all means, to believe that there lies hidden in the single things there an arcanum of heaven; but that hitherto it has not been known where this arcanum lies hid, is because it has not been known that the internal sense which is spiritual and Divine is in the single things there, and that there are angel9 with each man who perceive his thoughts and who grasp the Word spiritually when it is read by man; and that through them from the Lord the holy then inflows and thus that through them there is conjunction of Heaven with man, and thence the conjunction of the Lord through Heaven with man. For this cause such a Word has been to man, through which it can thus be provided for his salvation by the Lord; and not otherwise.” (Arcana Coelestia 10137.)
“By revelation is meant illustration when the Word is read, and perception then; for they who are in good and desire the true, they are so taught out of the Word. But they who are not in good cannot be taught out of the Word, but can only be confirmed in such things in which they have been instructed from infancy, whether these are true or false. The cause that there is revela¬tion to those who are in good, and no revelation to those in evil, is that all and single things in the Word in the internal sense treat of the Lord and His Kingdom, and the angels who are with man perceive the Word according to the in¬ternal sense. This is communicated to the man who is in good and who reads the Word and desires the True out of affection. Thence he has illustration and perception; for with those who are in good and thence in the affection of the true, the intellectual of the mind has been opened to heaven, and their soul, that is, their internal man, is in consort with angels.” (Arcana Coelestia 8694.)
“The Word in the letter is like a casket, in which in order lie precious stones, pearls and diamonds. The man who holds the Word holy and reads it for the sake of uses of life, the thoughts of his mind are comparatively as one who holds such a casket in his hand and sends it toward Heaven; and this, in its ascent is opened, and the precious things therein come to the angels who are deeply delighted out of the sight and exploration of them. Their delight is communicated with man, and makes consociation, and also communication of perceptions. For the sake of this consociation with the angels and at the same time conjunction with the Lord, the Holy Supper has been instituted, in which the Bread in Heaven is the Divine Good, and the Wine the Divine True, both from the Lord. Such correspondence is out of Creation to the end that the Angelic Heaven might make one with the Church in the lands, and in general the Spiritual World with the natural world, and the Lord conjoin Himself with each at the same time.” ‘(True Christian Religion 238. See also A.E. 1067:3)
In any real reading of the Word there is a circle of life in which the Lord’s life is given to man. In a mind which is not closed to Heaven, the sense of the letter is taken up from the Word, and then it ascends into Heaven, being seen as to its celestial and spiritual things by the angels who are with the” man who is reading. Their delights and their perceptions are then communicated to the man, according to the state of the affection with which he reads. This is the circle by which the Lord’s life is given through Heaven to the man of the Church. In this circle is the real function of the Word of the Lord in providing the salvation of man, the salvation of the Church, and the salvation of the human race. Outside of this circle all reading of the Word is of no use, and indeed is an abuse of the Word. This circle of life through the reading of the Word can be with a man whether he knows of it or not, whether he is in any way conscious of it or not, provided his mind is in any way open to Heaven. But for those of this Church this order, this circle, should be acknowledged, because in the acknowledgment of it there is protection against many evil and false things.
The Word is Divine, celestial and spiritual. And in acknowledging the circle of life within it, we can acknowledge chat the celestial and spiritual, the Heaven within the Word, is its real life, and that if man does not in some way receive of that Heaven in the Word, he not only receives nothing good and true from it, but is in some way abusing it.
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
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