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

Category — Causes of misunderstanding of the Word

Sermon on Heaven and Hell 480, 481

“Man after death continues such as his will or ruling love is. The man who has celestial and spiritual love goes to heaven; while the man who has bodily and worldly loves and no celestial and spiritual love goes to hell.” (H.H. 480, 481)

Much is said in the Word about man’s ruling or dominating love.

We are taught in many places that one’s place in Heaven or in hell, ones place in a society of heaven or hell is according to ones ruling or dominating love, and that after death this ruling love cannot be changed to eternity. This subject is therefore of the greatest importance. Regeneration consists in the change of the ruling love; the rejection of an evil ruling love and the acquiring of a new ruling love from the Lord.

With those in external states the important thing is an obedience to the commandments; but the Lord wills those of the New Church to be internal men and women. Thus to take heed not only to what they say and do, but to take heed as to their loves.

It is often thought that man cannot know the internal of himself and of others, but carefully note the following teaching. We read:

“All the delights that a man has are the delights of his ruling love, for he feels nothing to be delightful except what he loves, thus especially what he loves above all things. These delights are various. In general, there are as many as there are ruling loves, consequently as many as there are men, spirits and angels; for no one’s ruling love is in every respect like that of another.

Only from a knowledge of correspondences can it be known what spiritual delights every one’s natural delights are changed into after death, and what kind of delights they are. In particular it teaches what it is that corresponds, and what kind of a thing it is. Therefore, any one that has this knowledge can ascertain and know what his own state after death will be, if he only knows what his love is and what its relation is to the universally ruling loves spoken of above, to which all loves have relation. But it is impossible for those who are in the love of self to know what their ruling love is, because they love what is their own, and call their evils goods; and the falsities that they incline to and by which they confirm their evils they call truths. And yet if they were willing they might know it from others who are wise, and who see what they themselves do not see. This, however, is impossible with those who are so enticed by the love of self that they spurn all teaching of the wise.” (H.H.487)

All spiritual charity has to do with becoming regenerate and being of assistance to the neighbor in his or her regeneration. And, as we have said; regeneration and thence salvation, consists in the changing and then the perfecting of the ruling love.

We are told that one’s delights are entirely according to the ruling loves; wherefore if a man knows the nature of the delights of himself and of others, he knows the ruling love of himself and of others… But as stated in the above quotation, no one can know this unless he knows the correspondence between spiritual delights and natural delights and is wise.

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


How to read the Word to understand it

“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.

Read the full doctrinal class on the reading of the Word by Rev. P.N.Odhner


Understanding of the genuine natural sense of the Word

The idea that the teachings of the Latin Word concerning government did not apply to the natural government of the Church and State was first propounded by the Rev. Т.Е. Harris [editor of HL], along with the proposition that what is said of marriage does not apply to the marriage of man and woman. An idea which we all opposed and which Loyal [Loyal D. Odhner, editor of HL] characterised as spiritual sodomy.

When we separated from the General Church the teaching of the Word was emphasized that “In the New Church there will not be an external separated from its internal.” Anything in the natural life of the Church which is separated from its internal and therefore not genuine is merely adjoined to the Church and is not conjoined, and does not pertain to the Lord’s New Church.

In our talks with the leaders of the General church it was pointed out that our concept of the Church organization was totally different from theirs; that they believed in an internal Church, the New Jerusalem, which is the Bride of the Lamb and an external Church which is a human institution; while we believed that the organization of the Church is truly organic and related to the internal of the Church as body and soul, and that otherwise the Lord would not be the God of Heaven and earth, and His Kingdom would not be over both.

You indicated you believe there are sincere men in the priesthood who perform a use. But their uses according to your position would be a separated external even more so than in the idea of the General Church, in which they admit the priesthood is representative, at least in a Jewish sense, for they do not admit of the necessity of the oneness of the external and the internal which characterizes the genuine New Church.

 A complaint is made that the Church has followed the practices of the Catholic and Protestant Church, practices which go back to the primitive Christian Church, in having an ordained and set-apart priesthood. Instead you propose that we follow the practices of certain heretical sects, notably the Quakers, to the teaching of which the Word evidently refers in the statement: There were some who have rejected the priestly office saying that the priesthood is universal, thus with all. Some of these have read the Word quite diligently, but as they have lived evilly, they have seized upon abominable dogmas thence. Of these there are many. These have been cast out of heaven, but at the back because they have preached clandestinely. SE 4904

Doctrine is to be drawn from the Word and confirmed by it. Doctrine not drawn from the Word can still be confirmed by it. Wherefore the Word is called the book of heresies.

The question is, has the idea that there is not to be an instituted priesthood been drawn from the Word or is it merely confirmed by certain passages in a disorderly way.

It can be seen that one who wishes to deny the application of the teaching concerning marriage to the marriage of husband and wife and confine it to the marriage of good and truth does so, not from the Word, but from an aversion to marriage relation of husband and wife; having come to such an idea, he can then confirm it by certain passages in the Word, and also by much apparent experience as for example: that there are few if any in the Church who are in conjugial love such as it is described in the Word. If the teaching concerning marriage is confined to its spiritual sense and denied in application to the relation of husband and wife, the relation of husband and wife becomes merely a concubinage, and the same applies to the priesthood which then becomes a vile institution such as you describe it.

Both you and Dr. Hotson maintain that representatives were abolished with the Coming of the Lord, and you quote a passage which speaks of the Jewish representatives being abolished and that in their place the Holy Supper and Baptism was instituted. It is obvious that what was abolished was merely representative worship and not representatives which are also correspon­dences. It is stated in the Latin Word that nations at this day are equally representative as were those spoken of in the Old Testament. To wish to do away with representatives which are genuine correspondences is to be in a similar state to those in faith alone who would do away with the Ten Commandments on the grounds that the Lord said: For the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. John 1:17.

That the priesthood is a genuine correspondence and not a mere representative such as animal sacrifice, is evident from the fact that it speaks of priests in Heaven, and indeed of a high priest of a Society, indicating degrees of the priesthood. CL 266

It is clear from your letter and from the paper of Dr. Hotson, that the origin of your position in regard to the priesthood in the New Church did not have its origin in the Word but had its origin in the thinking from person, that is the persons who have been ministers in the New Church and the so-called New Church, and that, having come to a conclusion, there is made an attempt to confirm it by the Word.

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