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

Category — Early Academy





Bryn Athyn, Friday, November 20th 1936


In this series of classes we will treat of:


1.             The Divine Providence in relation to life in general.

2.             The Divine Providence in relation to a man’s occupation:

a.      In relation to a minister,

b.      To a teacher,

c.       To a man whose occupation is in the world.

3.             The Divine Providence in relation to other duties:

a.      To the Church,

b.      To the country,

c.       To a man’s family.

4.             The Divine Providence in relation to recreation.

5.             The Divine Providence in relation to marriage.


In the Prologue of the Canons of the New Church we read: “In so much as the true things of life become of life, for so much the true things of faith become of faith, and not the least more or less. Some are of science and not of faith”. How easy it is to imagine that we are in the true things of faith when there is so little spiritually living in our daily life; in which case what we believe to be the true things of faith are with us but dead scientifics of faith.

A man must walk with equal step, the true things of life becoming of life and the true things of faith becoming of faith: what is more or less is of evil, for true things of faith, apart from the spiritual good of life, are dead, and the good of life not formed by true things is but a false appearance.


The following are examples of truths of faith and truths of life:


1.       The Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, the first three of which are truths of faith and the remaining seven truths of life.

2.       The Two Great Commandments in the New Testament, the first of which looks to love and faith in the Lord, and the second to charity towards the neighbor.

3.       The faith of the New Heaven and the New Church in the Newest Testament, as found in the opening numbers of the True Christian Religion, where it speaks of:

a.   The universals of faith relating to the Lord.

b.   The universal principles of faith on man’s part.

4.  Also in the Principles of the Academy, the Doctrine upon which the General Church* is founded, we find a similar division:

a.   The first two principles are truths of faith.

b.   The remaining ten are truths of life.

The internal advance of the Church depends on the increase of the good and the true, called in the Word fructification, or bearing fruit, and multiplication, or on the birth of spiritual sons and daughters. Where there are no births of spiritual sons and daughters, the Church will die just as surely as where there are no births of natural sons and daughters.

The question is this; Is the General Church having an increase of true things of life which become of life, and hence of true things of faith which become of faith? If there is not an increase in the true things of life which become of life, then all intellectual advancement is mere theological speculation, theological scientifics, which are of the memory and not of faith.

Since the coming into existence of the Principles of the Academy, what truths of life have been born in the Church? What new perceptions as to how a man should live? What are the signs of the times? Is the Church becoming more distinctive in its life? More like a heavenly society and less like the world about us? Does the sphere of the world affect us less? On the other hand, is it difficult for us not only to advance in distinctive true things of life which become of life, or even to maintain those set down in the Principles of the Academy?

If the latter is true it is indeed a serious situation, for a Church cannot stand still. If the Church does not go forward it goes backward and this at an accelerating speed; and when the Church starts to go backward it is indeed in a desperate state. While the New Church will endure for ever, history testifies that societies of the Church have a tendency to degenerate. How quickly the early dawn of the Church in England and America passed through noon into evening, until it died, save for the renewal in the Academy.

The great question is, How much do we believe in the Lord and in the Word? To believe is far more than merely to know and acknowledge; to believe is primarily of the life, for we read: “To believe in the Lord is not merely to acknowledge Him, but also to do His command­ments; for only to acknowledge Him is solely of the thought out of some understanding, but to do His commandments is also of the acknowledgment out of the will”, T.C.R. 151.

Another great question is, Do we believe in the Divine Providence, not only in generals, but also in particulars and singulars? To acknowledge only the Divine Providence in generals, particulars, and singulars, is not enough; it must also be believed, that is, it must be of the life.

If a man in states of distress or despair, or in states of victory, raises his mind to the Lord and His Providence, and during the matters of his daily life fails to do this, he only believes in Providence in generals and disbelieves it in particulars and singulars, and this is true no matter how much he may think that he acknowledges it. Such a belief in the Divine Providence in generals is similar to deathbed repentance and is not saving. The Divine Providence must be believed in momentarily, or the belief is nothing.

Again, to put the question in a different form: A heading in Divine Providence reads: “That one’s proper pru­dence is nothing; and that it only appears to be something, and that it also should appear as if it were; but that the Divine Providence out of most singular things is univer­sal”, n. 191. Let every one ask himself, does he merely acknowledge this or does he actually believe this? That is, is this a matter of his understanding only, or is it a matter of daily life? Does he meditate daily that he must act as if from himself, according to what appears like prudence, that his so acting is internally seen to be an appearance, and that in reality man’s prudence is nothing, it merely appears to be something, and should so appear? Is this belief continually ruling, inmostly ruling subconsciously in all the acts of his life, even when his mind is engaged on other things? Such a belief cannot exist without daily prayer and meditation, accompanied by daily repentance.

We are taught that the Lord does more things for every man every moment of his life than can be comprehended in any number. Again we must ask, do we believe this or do we only acknowledge it? If we believe this then every moment of our life our belief gives some little return to the Lord for the infinite things which He is doing for us every moment of our life, and this return from the will is ever present like the beating of the heart, even when the understanding is engaged in other things; this is the constant beating of the heart that is meant by loving the Lord with all the heart. The understanding must also continually give a return to the Lord like the constant breathing of the lungs; this is loving the Lord with all the soul, but of this man is not always aware. A sound heart, a heart of flesh new from the Lord, beats steadily with love to the Lord, and a man in such a state only notices when the heart stops or flutters.

We are told that in Heaven the Angels constantly face the Lord in the east, and this no matter in what direction they turn. So also it must be with the man of the New Church if he is to be truly a man of the Church. He must constantly face the Lord in the east, and this no matter in what direction he turns his mind, whether to the Church, to his business, to his family, to his country, or even to his recreation; he must constantly face the Lord in the east; otherwise the New Church is but a name we have stolen. If there is not a daily turning away from the sphere of the world, in our uses, our duties, and in our recreation, by means of repentance, we cannot believe in the Divine Providence.

We are told in the Word that if a man were to see his proprium he would flee from it as from a monster. Again, the proprium may be compared to a decaying corpse, the stench of which a man’s nostrils must be opened to perceive, if he is to rid himself of its dominion. Do we daily scent something of this?

The celestial Angels are in the greatest humility, and can pray for mercy, for the reason that a thousand times more clearly than others they perceive the disgusting horribleness of their proprium, and therefore they can be held by the Lord a thousand times more free from its influence, than can other Angels.

Concerning those who thus believe it is written: In the first state God seems to be absent; but after this state comes another, which is the state of conjunction with God; in this man acts similarly, but then out of God; nor does he then need, similarly as before, to ascribe to God every good thing that he wills and does, and every true thing that he thinks and speaks, because this is written upon his heart, and thence is inwardly in every action and speech of him. Similarly the Lord united Himself to His Father, and the Father Himself to Him”, T.C.R. 105.


* By the General Church in this work is meant the General Church of 1937 (wed editor, 2014).

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full lecture by T. Pitcairn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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