The Power Of Positive Thinking

The Power Of Positive Thinking

Posted: 07 Mar 2014 04:01 AM PST

God has equipped us with many tools to give us a happy life. This week Mary describes the difference it makes in everyday life when we use our mental tools to choose trust, to work to understand, and to choose to see the peace and beauty in each moment. -Editor

Have you ever noticed that doing the same action can be changed drastically by your own attitude and expectations? For example, let’s say you have to drive 50 miles to get somewhere today. If you are on your way to a job interview, you probably left early, gave yourself lots of extra time, planned your route and spent the drive rehearsing what you will say. If you are on your way to see a loved one that you haven’t seen in a long time, you might be singing happily to yourself, noticing the sunshine or bluebirds and wishing you could just get there faster. But if you are running late to get to a meeting that you are dreading because you don’t feel prepared and you don’t like the people who will be there, you might be feeling very differently. It might seem like everyone is cutting you off in traffic, it is taking a very long time to get there, the sun is glaring in your eyes and you just spilled your coffee on your new outfit.

The Lord has been showing me that often the most important thing I have a part in is my reaction to what is happening. He might still ask me to do something for which I feel terribly unprepared. He might show me some frightening giants that I need to conquer in my spiritual life. I might feel like I’ve been captured and taken away into captivity at times. And I do still have to take responsibility to do the next right thing each day. But what if I had choices that could make all of it better? What if it could actually work out more smoothly and with less suffering because of something that I have been given the power to do?

Here are a few thoughts and examples from the Word that show the effect that my choices about my reactions and attitude can have on a situation:

1. I can choose to trust that with the Lord’s help I can do what is asked of me
From Exodus 4

”Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’” (Verse 1)

The Lord then gave him not one but THREE signs to show the people so they would believe him. And Moses still doubted:

”Then Moses said to the LORD, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” So the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” (Verses 10-12)
And still Moses didn’t believe that the Lord’s power was enough to help him do this so he begged to get out of it.

“But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.” So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses…” (Verses 13-14)

Moses not only doubted his own ability to accomplish what the Lord was clearly asking him to do, but he doubted the Lord’s ability to do it. The signs and directions the Lord gave were not enough to convince him that it would work out. This did not stop the Lord from going forward with His plan to save the children of Israel or even get Moses out of being involved, but it made it harder for Moses.

Each of us has a choice about our reactions to what is asked of us. If I choose to be doubtful and fearful instead of trusting and hopeful the process will feel much more difficult.

2. I can choose to be hopeful in the Lord when what lies before me seems hopeless
From Numbers 13

”Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. Then they told him, and said: ‘We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.’

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.’

But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.’ And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ‘The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.’” (Verses 26-33)

The children of Israel came right up to the edge of the Promised Land. They saw the fruits with their own eyes but instead of trusting the Lord’s Word and strength which they had seen save them repeatedly on their journey out of Egypt, they spread lies and plans of rebellion.

”…because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.” (Numbers 14:22-24)
I have the choice to trust that the Lord can help me and to go forward with Him.

3. I can choose to believe that the Lord has a good plan for me
From Isaiah 30

”For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’ But you would not, And you said, ‘No, for we will flee on horses’— Therefore you shall flee! And, ‘We will ride on swift horses’—Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift!” (Verses 15-16)
The Lord was saying to quiet their fears and complaining and put their trust in Him and He would bring them safely home. But they were saying that they are going to have to flee on horses for their lives—so that’s what happened. Not because the Lord declared it, but because they declared it.

If I believe the journey is going to be miserable then I will probably focus on the harder parts and perhaps even put myself through unneeded pain.

4. I can choose to focus on the beautiful moments of peace and hope that the Lord is offering me right now
From Luke 10

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’” (Verses 38-42)
Martha was trying to do the right things and get the work done but she was feeling bitter about it. She felt like her sister should be working hard too. The Lord wanted her to see that sometimes the most important thing is to accept the gift of right now. Martha was letting her worries and expectations of what was important take away her opportunity to see the truth that Lord was there with them sharing His Word.

5. I can choose to believe these things even when I don’t feel sure
In the book Heaven and Hell, Swedenborg speaks of people who have no idea that angels live in houses in Heaven, don’t realize that angels are people and even don’t believe there is a life after death:

“They could also grasp this if when they thought about angels and spirits they would step outside their preconceptions, which happens when they are not constantly questioning and consciously pondering whether this is so.” (183)
No, I don’t have “proof” that choosing to be hopeful and trusting will change anything. But if I spend my time pondering and constantly questioning whether or not I can prove that my attitude has power to affect the outcomes of situations, I really won’t ever know for sure. Perhaps the point is trusting without “knowing” that the Lord can use me to do whatever He sees fit even when I feel weak. He is able to conquer any giants that stand in the way. He is asking me to stop listening to worries that spin around in my head, to stand—confident in Him and quiet in the Word long enough to notice He’s here with me now. If I am willing to do that, even if I don’t know for sure “whether it is so”—He can show me the miracles that He already has planned. Then I’ll get to see the sparkling sunshine and bluebirds rather than the sun glare and traffic jams. That sounds good to me.

Mary Abele
Mary has a Master of Social Work degree from Millersville University. She is currently exploring ideas of ways to combine her degree and experience with her love for the New Church in a new and useful way. Traveling keeps her busy as well—up next is a trip driving across the country from Philadelphia to Denver followed by a week in California.

 

The Lord’s Fight Against a Human Enemy

The Lord’s Fight Against a Human Enemy

Posted: 10 Jan 2014 04:00 AM PST

Jared asks a question this week that is at the heart of understanding Christianity: why a human God? His answer is simple, but powerful. -Editor.

Why did the Lord have to be born on earth as a human being? This is a simple-seeming question, the kind of question a little child might ask. But there is so much wrapped up in the answer; really the whole of the Word, the whole truth about who God is, is wrapped up in the answer to this question. So of course a question like this can be answered in innumerable ways. But there is one answer in particular that I’d like to share here: the Lord had to be born on earth as a human being because evil spirits are human beings.

But let’s back up a bit. This is just an answer to our question, not the answer. There are some much, simpler, broader answers to the question, and we should start with those. At the beginning of True Christian Religion (TCR) we’re told, “The Lord from eternity, who is Jehovah, came into the world to subjugate the hells and to glorify His Human” (TCR 2). This is perhaps the most basic, universal answer to our question. A little further on in TCR this statement, particularly the part about the subjugation of the hells, is explained more fully:

[Jehovah God] took upon Himself human form, so as to reduce to order everything in heaven, in hell and in the church. For at that time the power of hell was stronger than the power of heaven, and on earth the power of evil was stronger than the power of good, so that utter damnation stood threatening at the gates. This impending damnation was removed by Jehovah God by means of His Human. (TCR 3)
In many ways this statement aligns perfectly with what the angel Gabriel expresses as Jesus’ purpose when he first visits Joseph in the Gospel of Matthew, at the very beginning of the New Testament; he says that the Child who will be born is to be named Jesus, “for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). There it is in a nutshell. The Lord came to earth to save us—to save us from hell, to save us from our sin.

Of course there is so much more to the Lord’s incarnation than this. The Lord also came to glorify His human, we’re told—and many other things. All of these teachings are wonderful and profound, but I’m going to focus in on the Lord’s subjugation of hell by means of His human—an accomplishment that, in some sense, seems to have been at the very forefront of His purpose in coming to earth.

There’s a very obvious “problem” with the subjugation of the hells as the answer to our question, a problem which, I remember, bothered me very much when I was a child. The Lord is the Lord—He is almighty Jehovah God! Why did He have to take on a human body to subjugate the hells? How was it necessary that He become a helpless baby, in order to save us?

There are hundreds of passages throughout the Old Testament that tell us emphatically just how powerful the Divine is. When we read passages like the ones just below, we are clearly given a glimpse of a power that is able to save us from anything.

When you see this, your heart shall rejoice, And your bones shall flourish like grass; The hand of the Lord shall be known to His servants, And His indignation to His enemies. For behold, the Lord will come with fire And with His chariots, like a whirlwind, To render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword The Lord will judge all flesh; And the slain of the Lord shall be many. (Isaiah 66:14-16)
The Lord also will roar from Zion, And utter His voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the Lord will be a shelter for His people, And the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:16)
Why didn’t this kind of power just reach down from heaven and restore earth to order in an instant? Why didn’t the hand of the Lord seize the devil and throw him back into hell as soon as hell’s power started to get out of control? The answer to this question is what I’m going to focus in on now; what it reveals about why the Lord came to earth is, to me, one of the most humbling teachings about His Advent.

The answer, in short, is this: the Lord chose to take on hell with His Divine strength veiled under human limitations in order to be able to actually fight and conquer the evil spirits, instead of simply completely obliterating them. In TCR we’re told:

The reason why [redemption] had to be [effected] by means of His incarnation, that is, by making Himself man, is that Jehovah God, as He is in His infinite essence, cannot approach hell, much less enter it, since He exists at the purest and first level. Therefore if Jehovah God, being in essence of that nature, were so much as to breathe upon those in hell, He would destroy them in an instant. (TCR 124)
In a sense, the Lord came to earth to make His combat with the hells a “fair fight”—He wanted to defeat them but He didn’t want to destroy them, so He limited Himself. But there’s more involved in the picture than this.

Evil spirits are human beings—and so they have, as a sacred inheritance from the Lord, the gift of freedom. They are people, and it is the Lord’s law that everything a person does be done in freedom, freedom which is guided by that person’s reason—that is, his capacity for making decisions (DP 77). If the Lord were to come against evil spirits with His unmitigated Divine might, they would simply evaporate and no longer be able to think or to choose anything. If the Lord by means of His Divine might were to somehow “suspend” evil spirits’ power without destroying them, the fact that they had chosen to devote themselves to attacking good people in heaven and on earth would not be changed; they would return to their attack as soon as that “suspension” was released. The evil spirits had to be put into a situation where they would choose to cease their assault on the world. They could not be “driven out” but had to “flee of their own accord.” (AC 9333)1

So the Lord had to play the game on the evil spirits’ terms—and beat them that way. He knew that they would attack Him with all their being, if they got the chance (AC 1820). So He gave them the chance, by making Himself as “weak” as they are—or, at least, by veiling His Divine strength with the same limitations that they were born with. They are human, so He made Himself human. Then hell, smelling victory, rose up against Him with its fullest force—but the Lord withstood their assault and conquered each and every one of them, and they fled from Him.

Victories have this effect, that after they have been won, [evil spirits] do not dare to attempt anything; for their life consists in their being able to destroy, but when they perceive that a person is able to withstand them, they flee even when they are making their first assault. (Ibid)
Running beneath all the ideas I’ve put forward so far is a single very basic and very well-known teaching, one whose light transforms everything it touches. This is the teaching that the Lord loves everyone in heaven, in hell, and on earth, with an everlasting love. We’re told:

The nature of the Lord’s love surpasses all human understanding and is unbelievable in the extreme to people who do not know what heavenly love is in which angels abide. To save a soul from hell the angels think nothing of giving their own lives; indeed if it were possible they would suffer hell themselves in place of that soul. (AC 2077.2)
This passage illustrates the Lord’s love—which is indescribable—by comparing it with an angel’s love. If the angels would think nothing of spending eternity in hell in order to save an evil spirit from that fate, then what must the Lord’s love for the evil spirits be like? This love is unfathomable—and it is what directed the Lord in His combat against Hell. The Lord chose to subjugate the evil spirits by means of coming to earth as a human being because this was the only way that He could defeat them for good without harming their innate, human freedom—freedom which He treasured, because He loved them.

Footnote
1See also Apocalypse Explained (AE) §1164; Spiritual Experiences Minor §4600; Spiritual Experiences §§6031-6033; and AC §7273 & §7795. I am indebted to the Rev. Grant Odhner’s article “The Lord’s Conception,” published in New Church Life, 2001, 100ff, for this list of passages, and for many of the ideas I have expressed in this section.

Jared Buss
Jared is recently married and currently a theolog at the Bryn Athyn College Theological School, on track to graduate in 2015. He is eager to see where in the world Providence and the church send him to serve as pastor, and eager to engage in the uses and discoveries that ministry will bring.

 

Do you wish to honour the body of Christ?

Do you wish to honour christ

 

 

Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: “This is my body” is the same who said: “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food”, and “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me”… What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and then what is left you may adorn the altar as well

God and Creation

God and Creation

from H. Lj. Odhner, Creation. Doctrinal Essays.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
– Genesis 1:1

“The firstthing of the Church is the knowledge that there is a God and that He is to be worshipped. His first quality to be known is that He has created the universe and that the created universe subsists from Him.”[1]

The first instruction given in the Divine Word is, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This is the primary truth about God’s quality, because in it everything else is involved. If this truth is sincerely received, all other truths will flow from it. Without it, all spiritual truth perishes. It is the first among the canons of the New Church, the first subject treated of in the True Christian Religion. It is necessary that we should know the Lord as the Creator of the world – of the heavens and of the earth – before we can learn to know Him as Creator of the new world of regenerate life which He is endeavoring to create within us….

As the Creator, the Lord comes to us in the years of tender infancy. The child is surrounded with gifts for which he has not labored. He is faced with the marvels of growth, of production. He finds his little world expanding into ever wider horizons. And there is within him the stirring seed of a rational mind, which asks, `Where did this thing come from? and that? Who made these things?’

Happy is the child who receives the true answer: ‘The Lord made them!’ For this truth is immanent in the wonder of the child; this truth is the real, but unperceived source of the question! It prompted the awe in the child’s mind. And the answer therefore leaves the mind of the little one at peace, with a sense of fulfillment and assurance. The soul’s own prompting has been satisfied.

The truth that God has created all things, is the first fact of spiritual education. It connects all things of sense observation with the idea of the Lord, and thus keeps an avenue of influx open from the Lord into all the knowledges of the mind. It makes worship of Him full of meaning. It fits into the scheme of the infant’s life, because to him love is that upon which he depends at all times, and love is the source of all good things, the maker and provider of everything of life. Love is what creates his world around him, and now he learns what the final source of these things is. He has a name for it – God. God created him and – everything! It does not matter how. The fact is enough.

The question ‘How?’ comes later. And when it comes, the Word in its literal sense gives a sufficient answer to the child: “God said, Let there be light. And there was light . . . And God said, Let the earth bring forth the tender herb . . . And it was so . . .” The means and the modes are not important. The child strikes through, with the unspoilt logic of its nature, into the essentials, the power of the creative Word, the spoken will of God. And there is, in simplicity, in the child-like heart, something which loves magic, which loves to know that there are powers which exceed any understanding. If we ever, through much learning, lose that sense of the magic of things, we lose the essence of wisdom.

The creation story of Genesis conveys the essential truths about the mode of creation, by the use of symbolic pictures and in phrases of profound significance. Indeed, it conveys all the truth that can ever be known, for it contains the infinite truth in an ultimate form which reflects that truth to us so far as we are prepared to see it, but no further. It does not express these truths except in the barest generals, but it involves them all, as in a whole.

The origin of the Genesis account of the creation of the world in six days, lies in the remotest antiquity. Distorted and incomplete echoes of the same story are found in the mythological lore of many ancient nations. Even up to modern times Jews and Christians have insisted that the account is literally true; and Swedenborg, in his early treatises, also defended it against the scoffing of modern science, by explaining that while creation could not have occurred in so short a time, or in such exact order, yet the sacred text contains a true description of the progressive stages of the creative process as viewed from the earth and as couched in pictorial language, with the understanding that the ‘days’ were in actuality epochs of uncertain duration.[1a]

The Arcana Coelestia nonetheless asks us to ponder on the particulars of the Genesis description, and to conclude “that the creation of the universe is not there meant!” Such particulars “may be known from common sense not to have been so,” and can hardly be acknowledged to be possible “by any one who thinks interiorly.”[2] The Writings do not deny that certain general truths about Creation are found in these early chapters of Genesis – nor do they claim that the idea of stages in the formation of the earth and its kingdoms is erroneous. But it is pointed out that the purpose of the Genesis story is a spiritual one – that it is “a history so framed as to contain within it heavenly and Divine things, and this according to the received manner in the ancient churches,” since the custom of writing in symbolic and allegorical style about the things of the church was common amongst the people of antiquity.

Actually, or in a spiritual sense, the six days of creation describe the establishment of the Most Ancient Church. And since the spiritual stages by which this was done involved the states through which man passes in his reformation and regeneration, until the paradise of his mind is fully prepared and populated, these states also are described as a “creation” wrought by God when, out of the chaos and vastness of ignorance and cupidity, He labors to order man’s mind.

Yet the child, and those who are in simple ignorance, cannot grasp what the Writings evolve out of the story of the six days; cannot as yet understand what is meant by the various details of spiritual creation. And for such, the Mosaic account is to be held believable and true – as it indeed is in all that matters. It is a holy ultimate for something far more vital than physical science. As the child’s comprehension grows, explanations can be inserted which fill in the physical truths. The picture given is elastic, but the solemn words of the sacred text remain fixed in the mind, ready – not to be broken – but, when the time comes, to be seen as full of a truth far more marvelous than had been before imagined.

Thus gently, the two creations are distinguished one from the other, to be studied separately. Yet it will be seen that, although in point of view, and in use, they differ, yet each study casts an enriching light upon the other. Inwardly, the two creations have the same purpose, the same end; and have principles in common, laws which are universal in both. In each there is something which corresponds to something in the other. The same God creates both the universe and the regenerate mind of each human soul.

* * * * *

It is for this reason that the New Church has been given not only a doctrine concerning Regeneration, but a doctrine concerning the Creation of the universe. The child lives in a world of representations – and representative truth is sufficient for him. But when he enters the real and actual world, he needs to know it as it is. He needs to distinguish the natural from the spiritual, and must learn the nature and origin of each. His reason becomes active and he inquires into the relations of things, their connection and order, the modes of their actions, their forms and composition, their functions, their origins, how and why they came to be.

The maturing mind is not satisfied with blind faith. It must see how and why; it clamors for the experiences of seeing for itself. The reflecting youth accepts the facts that there is this great arena of natural and physical things around him, and that there is also an inner world of realities – spiritual things, of which he is also partly conscious, because they enter into his own imagination and thought. It is quite normal that his Reason should wish to survey all the possibilities as to the origins of these two worlds, before he can feel sure of his own place in the universe. And with the penetrating teachings of the Writings as a cicerone, he can fearlessly embark on such a voyage of exploration. They guide him safely through seas of absurdities into calm waters and into the rich harbors of faith.

The first assurance which the Writings give is that creation did occur. “It cannot be thought by anyone that the universe is from eternity, or that it is from nothing; and hence it cannot be denied that it was created, and by Some One . . .”[3] “It cannot be thought!” Yet there are those who deny creation; who point to the much amended “law” that matter – or rather mass, or rather the energy of which mass is the measure – is indestructible, and thence conclude that neither could it be created. There are also ancient religions which are founded on the assumption that while God was eternal, Matter also was eternal – both co-existing, as a positive and a negative force, the respective origins of a dualism of good and evil; or, that God was not a Creator, but a Former, a Potter who shaped the co-eternal clay into a universe; or else, that matter existed from eternity as an undistinguished chaos of many mixed elements, which – for some reason – were then separated and joined with their affinities to form the world, and this either from a latent force of their own, or from the prompting of a Divine Spirit.

But these are ideas – not completed thoughts. They evade the call of Reason which demands a cause for every effect. Imagination is not thought. The refusal to follow out the demands of the rational, and instead stop in the middle of a process of thought, is not thinking.

The Natural sees only from effects. The Rational looks for causes.[4] And because this is instinct in the rational mind, the common sense of men (i.e., the spontaneous intuition of the rational mind) has led men to acknowledge that the world must have its cause in an infinite Source.

Still there are those who stick in the idea that this creative source of all the things of space and time which we discern about us and which compose us, may be Nature; that is to say, that the particular things we know of are merely the changes of form which are assumed by the basic substance of Nature, and that that substance is eternal, or from eternity. But this still involves that a finite substance could be from eternity. It supposes that an infinity of space and an infinity of time can be predicated of Nature or of the finite. For eternity is an infinity, as regards time. Yet – the thought is impossible! For space and time, and even their spiritual equivalent, which is finite state, are the antitheses of infinity. Therefore we read in the Writings: “God from eternity can be thought about, but in no wise Nature from eternity; consequently the creation of the universe by God can be thought about, but in no wise creation from Nature.[5] “The world was created by God, not in time, but times were introduced by God with creation . . .”[6] “In the sight of God, there were no spaces or times before creation, but after it.”[7]

If our thoughts are to be led by the Writings, we must be willing to accept the conditions which the Writings require. Sensual thinking – from mere appearances and from merely material realities – cannot reach where the Writings would have us follow. “Creation itself,” they tell us, “cannot be brought within one’s grasp unless space and time are removed from the thought.”[8] “The eye beholds the universe, and the mind . . . concludes in the first place that it was created, and then wonders who created it. The mind that thinks from the eye comes to the conclusion that it was created by Nature; but the mind that does not think from the eye concludes that it is from God. The mind that takes a middle course, thinks that it is from a Being of which it has no idea, for it perceives that not anything is from nothing; but such a mind falls into Nature, because about the Infinite it has an idea of space, and concerning eternity it has an idea of time; these are interior-natural [men] ; while those who simply think of Nature as a creatrix, are external-natural. But those who, from religion, simply think of God that He is the Creator of the universe, are external spiritual men; while those who from religion think wisely of God as Creator of the universe, are interior spiritual men . . .”[9]

Those think wisely who realize that nothing of nature can be eternal, since space and time – by division into parts – are what take away infinity and eternity. Wise thought is thought which is not only rational, but interiorly rational. Such thought do angels and spirits have.[10]

In an early treatise on “The Infinite as the Final Cause of Creation,” Swedenborg demonstrated that by analytical thought a man must necessarily arrive at the conclusion that the finite world owed its existence and thus its origin to the Infinite. But he also admitted that this was as far as the mere logic of the natural mind could carry one. The quality of this Infinite, he pointed out, could not be known without the aid of Revelation. It was not a mere Infinite of space or of matter; but an Infinite which must be grasped by thought purified of space, time, and material concepts. If these be removed from our ideas, the Writings show, the Infinite from which all things are created, can be seen as to its quality, which is the love and wisdom which the Divine revelations ascribe to God: the quality which is meant when God is called God-Man, the Divine Human.

At one extremity of the spiritual world, Swedenborg records, there sometimes appear two statues in monstrous human form – with their great jaws open. Spirits who – from ideas of space and time – think vain and foolish things concerning God from eternity seem to themselves to be devoured by those cavernous mouths. It is the representation of their own fantasies – the recoil of a reason threatened to be drawn into the impossible idea of infinite time![11]

For no idea of God the Creator or of His omnipresence and eternity can be had by any delirium about what God might have been doing before creation. In His sight there is no time, but all things are infinitely present. For Him there is no “before,” or “after.” We can only come to apprehend the Divine Infinite through the knowledge of His essence, which is Love itself and Wisdom itself. These have no time, are not in space. They are Life in its origin, Being, Reality itself. These terms convey but little to the mind if life is not measured in terms of love and wisdom. Yet in that volume of the Writings which treats especially of Creation, and which is called “Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom,” we are challenged with the following words: “Sum up all things you know and submit them to the intuition of your mind, and in some elevation of spirit search for what is the universal of all things, and you cannot conclude otherwise than that it is Love and Wisdom.”[12] But the work goes further, and shows that the Divine love and the Divine wisdom are not a mere term or a something abstracted from a substance of which they are predicated, but that they are Substance itself, and Form itself, the only substance which is in and of itself.

It is God as Substance – infinite and absolute – that is the final Cause of creation, and thus the source of all created things. The Divine love and the Divine substance are identical, and are God-Man.

Now, in this idea of the Creator as God-Man, we find the child’s belief, that the Lord made all things, restored. Not the belief that God, as a great Person of magical powers, walked about the universe and, by a command, fashioned one thing after another. But the concept of God-Man as the infinite Love and absolute Substance whence we derive all ideas of the human form; the concept of God-Man as the center and origin of all human things – the infinite prototype in whose limited, finite image and likeness man was to be formed.

The idea of creation would be impossible to us, if the infinite Source were pictured as a blank abstraction devoid of qualities and powers: it would then be like a vacuum – a purely negative concept. But Love alone can create; and Love gives of its own. It creates out of Its own Substance and lends of Its own qualities, although these can be but finitely reflected in Its creations. Therefore the Writings state that the Lord is called the Infinite not only because He is Esse and Existere in itself, but also because in Him are infinite things – or “infinities” – which we may see to be One, but which we can also distinguish. We are warned against speaking of these as “infinitely many” – for this partakes of limitations and parts. But we may not deny to God anything which in finite measure composes the frame of man – whose form is the image of God.[13] Thus the Eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him; the Finger of God works wonders; His Feet stand in our holy places; His Voice reveals His secrets to the prophets. Each thing with Him is infinite; and all are One in His undivided perfection. “In God-Man infinite things are distinctly one.”[14] In His infinite uses He regards only infinite and eternal ends.

God is Love. This is the reason for creation. The essence of love is to love others, not self. There is something called ‘love,’ which loves only that which pleases one; as when one feels joy in another, but does not feel the joy of the other as joy in oneself. This is called ‘love,’ but it is only self-love, and will eventually turn to hatred unless the other submits.[15] There can be no reciprocation in such love.

The Divine Love is not such. The Divine looks to others outside of itself, desires to be one with them, and to make them happy by the gifts which He bestows.[16] Here there is no desire to rule, but to give. The Infinite cannot give to itself, cannot love itself. Nor does Divine Love rest after creating inanimate nature, which cannot feel its happiness. Not until mankind was created – in the image of God and after His likeness – it is said, on the seventh day of creation, that God “rested” from all His work. All that had preceded was a preparation: the Divine Love is not received except in freedom: which is what makes man an image of God.

Yet there is nothing Divine in man, nothing of the essence of love in itself, or of the Infinite.[17] God’s love must create others whose reciprocal love it can love; others, with whose free finite response it can conjoin itself. It cannot love itself in others.

Here, then, we see the reason of creation, and also the reason why nothing created can be Divine.[18]

But how can this be? How can the Infinite, out of its own Substance, form the finite such that it has nothing of the Divine in itself?

For note, that the finite has, in its esse or being, “nothing of God which is God.” “That which is created in God from God is not continuous from Him.”[19] It is still in the Divine, and the Divine is in it, since the Divine, being infinite, has no limits, and cannot be limited or excluded by the finite which it has produced. And the Divine is – even after creation – the only Substance in se. But there is a distinct break, a discrete step, between Infinite Substance and created things. Is it possible for man to conceive of this process? Is it allowable to reflect how it might have occurred?

Certainly we are not forbidden to try. Yet the responsibility is ours if we do so without removing from our minds those ideas of space and of time, of person and of matter, which lead the thought to a continuum of matter instead of to the Infinite of Divine Love.

* * * * *

The baffling problem of conceiving of the first creation, or “finition,” by which God emitted of His substance to form the primitives of the universe, and at the same time avoiding the concept that what was thus produced from the Divine was Divine still, is called, in the Writings, a “Gordian knot.[20] Yet it is not such a knot except from the introduction of natural ideas from space and time; which leads to the idea of a Divine matter shaped into finite corpuscles in such a way that the mind is inclined to say that the created thing also is Divine. This is Pantheism. It is the endeavor to derive spatial substances directly from God’s infinite substance, that is confusing. The angels use spiritual thought about creation; and by spiritual ideas it is clearly seen that what comes from God by creation or is produced by Him has nothing of the Divine in it, and is in no wise infinite. They see this – not by having any pictorial idea of the process of first finition – but from the necessities of the case. They see that thus alone could the Divine Love give of its own to others outside of itself.

In his philosophical treatise on “The Infinite,”Swedenborg addressed himself to this problem of first finitions. In his Principia, to which this work was an adjunct, he had suggested that all nature, all material things, were but compositions and derivations of a type of primitive “simples” or first entities, which he described as vortex-like motions, or infinitesimal dynamic points; focal points of a conatus or endeavor by which the Creator can form the beginnings of nature. Except for these, there was nothing substantial in the entirety of nature. After assuming such primal entities, one could, he said, proceed by analogy and rational analysis, to account for all other substances, investigate their forms, and speculate on their motion and modes. But – he now writes – “All modes, and analogues of modes (and of such it is that analysis is formed), begin in the simple or primitive of nature, and not in the Infinite, in and from Whom nothing can be said to exist, or issue, immediately, by any mode which is intelligible to us in any geometrical, analogical, rational, or philosophical sense whatsoever.”[21]

If this means anything, it means that the mode by which the first entity of geometrical and mechanical nature was formed out of its eventual source in the Infinite, is not to be explained by either geometry or natural rational arguments, or any kind of mechanical concepts.

When writing this, Swedenborg had not yet been introduced into the knowledge of the mediating world of causes which is the source of the creative “conatus.” But a growing spiritual understanding of the media by which the Lord formed the first entity of nature, came to him as he was led by the Lord, through enlightenment from the Word and finally by his introduction into the spiritual world, to see that everything in the natural world has its cause in the spiritual. He then confessed that he had long meditated about creation, but in vain; but that after being admitted into the spiritual world he “perceived that it would be vain to conclude anything about the creation of the universe, unless it were first known that there are two worlds . . .”[22] Certain general teachings are indeed prefatory: “In every thing created, the greatest as well as the least, there are three [things], end, cause, and effect . . . In what is greatest, that is, in the universe, these three exist in the following order: in the Sun which is the first proceeding of Divine love and Divine wisdom, is the end of all things; in the spiritual world are the causes of all things; in the natural world are the effects of all things.”[23] “Jehovah God, through the Sun in the midst of which He is, created the spiritual world; and through this, mediately, He created the natural world .”[24] “The origin and maintenance of spiritual things is from a Sun which is pure love . . . but the origin and maintenance of natural things is from a sun which is pure fire. That the latter is from the former, and both from God, follows of itself, as the posterior follows from the prior, and the prior from the First.”[25] “All things that exist in the world of nature, atmospheric, aqueous, or earthy, as to every particle thereof, are effects produced by the spiritual as a cause . . .”26 “The natural draws its origin from the spiritual, and in its existence is nothing other than congeries congregated out of spiritual things.”[27]

This conception of an intermediation by the spiritual world in the process of the creation of nature by God, does not (of itself) take away the problem of how to conceive of the first finition by which “God first finited His Infinity through substances emitted from Himself, from which stood forth His nearest compass, which makes the Sun of the spiritual world.”[28] Neither does it explain how this spiritual world, by a process of further finition, gave origin to the substances of nature, which are of time and space, and thus in essence totally different. But it does show the order of creation, the complex character of the process. It demonstrates the true nature of the world, as a clothing of the substantial realities of the spiritual that wells forth from the bosom of the Divine Love.

* * * * *

The chapter on Creation in the True Christian Religion therefore lists some prerequisite knowledges:

“No one can obtain for himself a just idea concerning the creation of the universe, unless some universal knowledges, previously acquired, put the understanding into a state of perception; which knowledges are the following: I. That there are two worlds, the spiritual world in which angels and spirits are, and the natural world, in which men are.

II. That in each world there is a sun, and that the Sun of the spiritual world is pure love from Jehovah God who is in the midst of it; and that from that Sun proceed heat and light; and that the heat thence proceeding is in its essence love, and that the light thence proceeding in its essence is wisdom, and that those two affect the will and understanding of man, the heat his will, and the light his understanding; but that the sun of the natural world is pure fire, and that therefore the heat thence is dead, as in like manner the light; and that they serve for clothing and support for spiritual heat and light, that they may pass to man.

III. Then, that those two things which proceed from the Sun of the spiritual world, and thence all the things that exist there by means of them, are substantial, and are called spiritual; and that the two similar things which proceed from the sun of the natural world, and thence all the things which exist here by means of them, are material, and are called natural.

IV. That in each world there are three degrees, which are called degrees of altitude, and thence three regions, according to which the three angelic heavens are arranged, and according to which human minds are arranged, which thus correspond to the three angelic heavens; and that other things are arranged in like manner, both here and there.

V. That there is a correspondence between those things which are in the spiritual world and those things which are in the natural world.

VI. That there is an order into which all and everything in both worlds was created.

VII. That an idea concerning these things ought first of all to be obtained; and unless this be done, the human mind, from mere ignorance concerning them, may easily fall into the idea of the creation of the universe by nature, and say only from the authority of the church, that nature was created by God; but because it knows not how, if it inquires into it more interiorly, it falls headlong into naturalism, which denies God.”[29]

THE ATHANASIAN CREED.

APPENDIX.

THE ATHANASIAN CREED.

Lest any of our readers may think that the theological system of the old Christian Church has not been presented fairly in the preceding pages, we append here an exact copy of the Athanasian Creed,—the dogmatic foundation of the Protestant as well as the Catholic Church, wherein God is divided into three different persons, and our Lord Jesus Christ into two different natures: one of these Divine, the other still remaining merely human.

“Whoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic faith. Which faith, except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic faith is this; that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet there are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet there are not three almighties, but one almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, And yet there are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is the Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every person by himself to be God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the Catholic religion to say there be three Gods and three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or after the other; none is greater or less than another. But the whole three persons are coeternal together, and coequal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved must think thus of the Trinity. Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of Cod, is God and Man. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of the substance of his mother, born in the world. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching his Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching his manhood. Who, although he be God and man, yet he is not two, but one Christ. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into God. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty. From whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into Life ever lasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic faith which, except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved. Glory be to the Father, and to the Soli, and to the Holy Ghost, As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end. Amen.”

(Copied from Schaff’s “History of the Christian Church,” #132, and McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia,” Vol. I, p.560)

 

Part IV. CONCERNING FAITH.

Part IV. CONCERNING FAITH.

JUSTIFICATION.

The Common Doctrine of the Old Christian Church, upon which all the sects rest their whole hope of salvation, is based upon this single statement of Paul:

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the Law.” (Rom. 3:28)

This passage has been understood to mean that man is saved by faith alone, without good works, and hence Luther, in his translation of this sentence, rendered it “faith alone” (though the “alone” is not in the Greek), in order to emphasize and distinguish his own doctrine from the Roman Catholic teaching and practice of buying salvation with money or with acts of merit. Hence, also, Luther wrote to his friend, Melanchthon:

“Remain thou a sinner, and sin bravely, but confide and rejoice still more bravely in Christ. As long as we are here we must sin. This life is not the habitation of righteousness. It is enough that we, by the treasure of Grace, acknowledge the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. From this the sin shall not tear us loose, even if we, thousand and thousand times a day commit fornication and murder.” (Luther’s Epistles, Vol. I., Jena, 1556, p.345)

Thus it has come to pass that all the “evangelical” churches in Christendom hold fast to the teaching that man is saved by faith alone, faith in the blood of Christ. But this is not enough. By the “saving faith” is meant “the faith once delivered to the fathers,” the creeds set up by the contending bishops at the Council of Nice, or the “articles” laid down by the venal creatures of Henry VIII. This is the faith, without which man is declared Anathema Maranatha.”

And how is man supposed to receive this faith? Not by his own efforts, for he has been declared to be “like a stock or a stone in spiritual things.” He is said to have neither a free will nor a free understanding. He is totally passive and receives faith, it is said, by means of the “Grace of God” alone!

Without this saving “Grace,” thus extended to “God’s favored few,” no salvation is supposed to be possible, but through that grace man is said to receive faith in an instant; he is saved in the twinkling of an eye; the merit and justice of Christ are imputed to him, and he becomes “whiter than snow” in that same moment, no matter if he has been the blackest villain throughout his life. And all this without having fought a single battle against his own evil lusts and inrooted habits!

Good works are held to be of no account in this salvation, for good works,—before faith has been received,—are supposed to be inseparable from the idea of merit and self-righteousness. Hence all heathen, and all “unconverted” persons, are exposed to the wrath of God and eternal damnation,—no matter how upright, useful and unselfish have been their lives; whereas some murderer on the scaffold, some fiend in human shape, goes straight to Heaven, if he but receive and profess “faith” some moments before death!

Still, good works, though not essential to salvation, are held to be desirable and ornamental, the inevitable fruits and evidences of faith. Nevertheless, in themselves they contribute nothing to salvation!

But this scheme of salvation, easy and comfortable though it may seem, is based upon the above-mentioned passage of Paul’s,—misunderstood and misapplied,—and is, moreover, diametrically contrary to the entire Word of God, and to the plain teachings of Paul himself, and of the other apostles.

For by the “deeds of the law” without which man is justified, Paul clearly means the observance of the Jewish ceremonial law, from which Christians were to be absolved. The passage reads;

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law. Is He the God of the Jews alone? Is He not also of the Gentiles? Yea, of the Gentiles also.” (Rom. 3:28, 29.)

But it is clear that Paul did not intend to absolve man from the duty of observing the commandments and the moral laws of God, as may be seen from the same chapter:

” Do we, then, make void the Law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the Law.” (Rom. 3:31.)

And in other places he says:

” Not the hearers of the Law are justified before God, but the doers of the Law.” (Rom. 2:13)

“We know that we all have knowledge; knowledge puffeth up; but charity edifieth.” (1 Cor. 8:1.)

There are these three: faith, hope and charity, and the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Cor. 13:13)

Were we to quote all the passages in the Scriptures, where it is taught that man is not saved by his faith alone, we should have to introduce the whole Bible. But the following from James may suffice:

“What profiteth it, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and hath not works? Can faith justify him?”

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead, being alone.”

“A man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works. Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.”

“Thou believest there is a God. Thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:14, 17, 18, 19, 20.)

If man is not saved and justified by faith or by faith alone, then by what is he saved? Let the Scriptures give the answer.

“By their fruits ye shall know them. (Matth 7:20.)

“A Book was opened in Heaven, and the dead were judged, all according to their works.” (Rev. 20:12, [3.)

“Behold, I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his works shall be,” (Rev, 22:12.)

“Ye see, then, how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith alone.” ( James 2:24.)

But what have been the fruits of faith alone, and of the doctrines of justification by faith alone?

Horrible and sweeping as the charge may seem, the fruits of this doctrine and practice have been the entire ruin and spiritual destruction of the whole Christian Church!

Faith itself has been destroyed, for the light of truth has been taken out of it. The Word of God has been closed to faith, for men are not permitted to understand its simple teachings, since “the understanding must be held captive in obedience to faith,” the man-made faith of councils and assemblies. When men yield such obedience then they can be made to believe in any insane falsity, in any of the destructive heresies which from time to time have been hatched out in the Catholic Church and in the Protestant: the worship of popes and saints, predestination and what not?

And so also has the life of charity been destroyed in the Church by faith alone, as may be seen in the long history of wars, persecutions and crimes which have been committed in the name of Christian faith and Religion.

If these be the “fruits of faith,” then what shall we think of the faith itself? Look at the “benighted heathens,” whom Christians set out to convert. In what moral sense are Christians better than these? Are they more honest, sincere and truthful in their business dealings? Are they more faithful to their wives? More pure and temperate in their conduct? More tolerant and generous in their treatment of one another?

But it may be said: All this is not the fault of Christian doctrines, but it is because Christians do not live up to their teachings.

This objection, however, is not valid. Christians do live up to this fundamental doctrine of theirs, that “man is justified by faith alone.” Hence the ruin!

TRUE FAITH.

Do we conclude, then, that Faith is unnecessary to salvation? By no means, for as faith without charity is dead, so charity without faith is blind, helpless and impotent. But it must be a genuine, enlightened, free and living faith, and no mere knowledge in the memory, no blind persuasion, forced upon man by the fear of Hell.

Faith is necessary to salvation, but it is not salvation itself. It is a guide on our path, but is not the path itself. It is the lamp and light of our life, but is not life itself

And a genuine faith must be the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as revealed in His Word, a rational and loving conviction and trust in His Mercy and Wisdom and Providence. To Him and His Revelation the understanding of man owes loyal and humble obedience, but not to any man-made creed, dogma, bull or article. For what is a man or any number of men? Are they gods that they must be obeyed, without having to show that their commands are based upon the revealed Truth of God?

“Nunc Licet.” This is the inscription written over the entrance to a Temple of the New Church, which Swedenborg once beheld in the spiritual world. And it was explained to him, that this meant that “now it is allowable to enter intellectually into the mysteries of faith.”

For now the inner recesses of the Word of God have been thrown open, so that he who desires can enter with his understanding and learn truths in unceasing abundance for the illustration and confirmation of his faith.

But no matter how much a man may learn, still he will not have faith, if he does not at the same time love and obey the Truth in his life. For light alone can produce no life, if not at the same time joined with heat.

“He that doeth Truth, cometh to the Light, that his deeds may be made manifest,” (John 3:21.)

“A new commandment I give unto you; That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13: 34.)

On these subjects read further “The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning Faith,” the “Brief Exposition of the Doctrine of the New Church,” and “The True Christian Religion” by Emanuel Swedenborg.

THE CHURCH.

The Church is the Lords presence and conjunction with man by means of charity and faith. Wherever these exist together, in any degree, there the kingdom of the Lord is established.

The Lord’s Universal Church, which also is called “the communion of saints,” consists, therefore, of all those who love the Lord and the neighbor, and who “have any light of religion from the Word of God, either directly or mediately through the universal traditions. This universal church thus, includes, all regenerating men, whether Christians or Gentiles, whether they live on this earth or on any of the countless orbs in the starry heavens. All these make one body before the Lord, of which He is the Head and the Life.

Within this universal body there is, however, and there must always be a visible, specific church, which consists of those who consciously know and openly acknowledge and worship the Lord as the only God of Heaven and earth; who believe in the Divine holiness and authority of His Word; and who earnestly endeavor to obey its commandments in their lives.

This “Church Specific” of the Lord serves as the center of light and life to the Church Universal, for to it the Lord reveals Himself directly, and through it the whole human race can have communication with Him and with Heaven.

THE SACRAMENTS.

The Lord’s visible Church has been instituted and organized by Himself by two universal means: Baptism and the Holy Supper. These are, representatively, the two great gates into the Church and into Heaven.

The washing of Baptism and the eating and drinking of the Holy Supper, do not in themselves, as external acts, save any man, but they stand as the constant signs and reminders that man must purify himself from his evils, and be born anew through the appropriation and conjunction of charity and faith.

The water of Baptism represents and corresponds to the Divine Truth, the “living water” welling from the Word of God. Only by washing in this water, by applying this Truth to his life, can man remove his evils from himself, and conquer in all temptations. This is what Baptism represents, and it is thus a sign to all that a man is of the Lord’s Church, or is to be brought up in it in order to be thus purified.

And being a spiritual act, at the same time that it is a natural ceremony, it is a sign to spirits and angels as well as to men. When a man or a child is baptized, such spirits and angels are associated with him as belong to that religion and faith into which a man is then introduced. Baptism into a faith in three persons in the Godhead associates with man spirits who worship three gods, but Baptism into the faith in one Divine Person introduces man among spirits and angels who worship the Lord Jesus Christ as the only God.

The most holy Sacrament of the Supper is also a purely representative institution. The sacred elements are not the actual material flesh and blood of Christ, as is believed in the Catholic and Lutheran Churches, for this is an utterly carnal superstition, nor do they stand as the symbol of the merely historical fact that Christ suffered and died, as is believed in the Reformed Churches.

But the bread of the Holy Supper represents the living bread that came down from Heaven, the Divine Love and Mercy, which is the very substance and flesh of the Lord, And the wine represents the “blood of the New Testament,” winch is the same as “the words that I speak unto you,” that is, the Divine Truth which the Lord teaches in His Word,

Eating represents communication and appropriation of the Divine Good and the Divine Truth. He that eateth this spiritual flesh and drinketh this spiritual blood, dwelleth in the Lord and the Lord in him. From this good a man receives charity, and from this truth he receives faith. And when charity and faith are joined in man, then he is conjoined with God and receives eternal life.

It is thus that the Holy Supper, as one comprehensive act of worship, represents the whole of the Divine work of Redemption and Salvation,

THE FOUR CHURCHES.

The spiritual history of mankind, or of the Church with men, has been like the life-history of an individual man. The Church, as a whole, has had its infancy, its adolescence, its manhood and its old age. After this death set in, but was followed by resurrection into life, through the establishment of a new spiritual and everlasting Church of God with men.

Each of these four ages has itself been a Church or distinct dispensation among men, and these four successive churches are represented in the Word by the statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his dream. (Dan. 2:31-35.)

The head of gold in this statue represents the “golden age” among men, the first or “Most Ancient Church,” the state of mankind when in Eden, the morning or infancy of the race.

The breast and arms of silver represents the “silver age,” the Second or “Ancient Church,” signified by Noah and his posterity. This was the noon and early manhood of mankind.

The belly and thighs of brass represent the “brazen age.” the third or “Israelitish ” dispensation, and the legs of iron, and the feet of iron mingled with clay, represent the “iron age,” “the Christian Church.” in which faith and charity passed into their night, old age and death.

Then a stone was seen, cut out without hands, which smote the image upon its feet of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. This represents the fifth and final Church or dispensation of the Lord, the New Church, the Church of the New Jerusalem, in which the “Rock of Ages,” the Divine Truth of the Lord, shall become a great mountain and fill the whole earth, lifting mankind nearer unto God.

On the spiritual history of these successive dispensations read further Swedenborg’s work, entitled “Coronis, or Appendix to the True Christian Religion.”

THE LAST JUDGMENT

In a little work on “The Last Judgment,” published in London in the year 1758, Swedenborg made the truly startling announcement, that this most momentous event had taken place the year before, in the spiritual world, and that “the former heaven and the former earth” had already passed away.

This statement, of course, is quite incompatible with the common theories of “the end of things,” according to which the visible world is to be destroyed in a universal conflagration, some time or other, when the stars and the suns shall have fallen down upon this little globe of ours.

But such ideas are based upon a merely literal interpretation of the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew in which the Last Judgment is described. The words

“this generation shall not pass away until all these things shall he fulfilled,” (Matth. 24:34),

ought to show to anyone that “these things” are not to be taken according to the Letter, for in that case the generation of Jews then living would still be wandering on this earth.

But it was not the visible heaven and the habitable earth that were to be devastated in the day of Judgment. These are and will be good and perfect as the Lord in His wisdom created them, a footstool unto Himself, and a home for His creatures. By the earth, which should come to an end, is meant a certain state of the Church among men upon the earth, a state which has been consummated spiritually by the fire of evil love. Then, when the cup of abominations was filled to overflowing, the Lord executed a last judgment upon that state or that Church, separated the good from the wicked and formed a “new earth”or a new Church upon the earth in this world, and a “new heaven” in the spiritual world.

Such a last judgment has taken place at the end of each of the four successive churches that were described above The “Flood” was the last judgment upon the fallen descendants of the Most Ancient or Adamic Church. The “dispersion of tongues” at the tower of Babel was the last judgment upon the degenerate descendants of Noah, or the Ancient Church, and the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews was the last judgment upon the Israelitish dispensation.

Of this judgment upon the wicked Jews in this world and in the other, the Lord said: “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out,” which shows that this was essentially a spiritual judgment.

But the Last, the final judgment, is described in these words:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.”

Spiritually discerned, these words signify that the Christian Church would come to an end, when there was no longer with it any living love of God and faith in Him; when the Church had lost all genuine knowledge and understanding of the Truths contained in His Word.

The “sun that was to be darkened” is the Sun of life, the Sun of righteousness, the Lord and the love of Him; it is this Sun that is seen no more, because the church has turned from it, and has permitted the golden calf of selfishness and worldliness to be worshiped instead of the Lord.

The “moon that was no longer to give her light” is the faith of the Christian Church destroyed by the belief in three personal gods, and by all the false teachings that have flown from this impure spring of theology. Faith is here called and compared to the moon, because as the moon receives all its light from the sun, so does faith receive all its life and all the light of truth from the love of God and of the neighbor. But when charity has been separated from faith,—as has been done in the Christian Church,—then its light is extinguished. By the “stars which should fall from heaven ” are not meant the suns and globes in the firmament, but the knowledges of truth and good from the Word, which all transmit their rays of light and intelligence from that fountain of all light. These have fallen from the firmament of the Church, because the understanding of the Word has been closed by grossly literal interpretations and by slavery under the dictates of man.

And the “powers of the heavens that were to be shaken” are the fundamental principles of the Christian Religion, which have been torn and twisted and utterly shaken to pieces by all the sects of Christendom in their disputes and wranglings, until ever-increasing multitudes, losing faith in all principles of religion, have left the ruined Church to seek the fatuous light of naturalism, agnosticism and atheism.

Thus it is that “the Last Judgment” is even now descending upon that Church which has forsaken her one Lord and Master. She can no more be revived or reformed, for she is dead and corrupt, and Christian in name only,Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of every unclean and hateful bird.”

“And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” (Rev. 18:2-5.)

THE SECOND COMING OF THE LORD.

Not less wonderful than the teachings concerning the Last Judgment is the announcement made by Swedenborg that the Lord has come again, has effected His second advent in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

This advent of the Lord is not His descent upon the earth in a material body, visible to the corporeal eye, but in His glorified body, which is the Divine Truth in the Word. Thus is fulfilled, spiritually, the prophecy in Matthew:

“Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth wail,and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory.”

It is clear that these words are not to be taken according to the gross appearances of the senses. For we are taught that

“The kingdom of God cometh not with observation; neither shall they say, Lo here, or Lo there! for behold the Kingdom of God is within you,” (Luke 17: 20. 21.)

The second advent of the Lord is therefore an internal coming, an advent to the spirit of man, to his understanding and to his heart. Such an advent is far more effective of free internal conviction than would he a personal material appearance in the clouds, which would compel belief.

The “sign of the Son of Man” is that by which He makes Himself known to man, the Revelation which He has given in these latter days, and the “Son of Man” Himself is the Word itself, which now is revealed as it is in its internal power and glory.

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse, and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and His name is called, The Word of God,” (Rev. 19:11,13)

The “clouds,” in the midst of which He was to appear, are the obscure and sensual appearances of the literal sense of the Scriptures. These are what “kill,” if not understood according to “the spirit.” They are then like black and heavy clouds that shut out the light of the sun. But when understood in the spiritual sense, they become transparent and beautiful, revealing the “glory of God in the cloud.”

The Second Advent, therefore, has been effected by means of the new Revelation, which the Lord has given through the inspired mind of Swedenborg. From this Revelation it is now known that there is an internal sense in the Word of God, and what this internal sense is. The Scriptures are now no longer sealed, but opened and disclosed, and within them men may now behold the Divine Truth itself, the Son of Man in the clouds of Heaven.

Being a spiritual revelation, this Advent of the Lord took place in the spiritual world, and at the same time to the spiritual minds of men on earth, and it is this revelation of the Lord as the Divine Truth that has effected the Last Judgment in both worlds.

In the world of spirits this revelation appeared as “the lightning which cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west.” The vast congregations of wicked, hypocritical spirits, which since the dark ages had assembled in that intermediate world, and there had formed themselves into false, “imaginary” heavens, these were now cast down. Falsity and evil were now revealed in their true colors, and the wicked ones could no longer deceive and domineer over those who, though simple in their faith, yet loved the Lord and the neighbor.

These “simple good” were now redeemed from their oppressors, and were led into Heaven by the Lord, who thus formed a “new Heaven” out of these spirits in place of the former imaginary heaven that had passed away.

Hence there is now an entirely new condition and order in the world of spirits. The “Dragon,” the swarm of those who believed and lived in Faith alone without the good of charity, has been cast into Hell: they can no longer interpose them selves between God and man. The clouds have been dispersed and the Light of Heaven can now freely flow down to earth and operate among men.

New light has been given and a new state of freedom of thought, whence there has resulted a new and freer state among men on earth, since the time of the Last Judgment in the year 1757, But the effect of this new light and freedom depends upon the manner of its reception by man. A poisonous plant receives the light and heat of the sun as well as a useful plant, but the one turns all into poison while the other turns all into good.

So with men. Externally considered, the world has improved most wonderfully in the last century and a half. But morally and spiritually the Christian Church has not improved, but is going further and further into decay. This may be observed everywhere and every day.

In this, History but repeats itself. Think of the Roman civilization in the age that immediately followed the first advent of the Lord. Never before had there been a greater state of order, of culture and of civilization. But none the less immorality and infidelity increased as never before. Nothing could save the world but the victory of an entirely new religion, embodied in a new and distinct church or dispensation. This salvation was found in the Christian Church, which, beginning in the utmost obscurity among a few fishermen, yet grew until it had conquered the world. But, alas, at the same time, the world triumphed over the Church.

THE NEW CHURCH

This Fate, however, will not overtake the New Church, the Church of the New Jerusalem, which the Lord has now begun to establish at His Second Advent. For we have the Divine promise that it shall not pass away,

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven. And there was given to Him dominion, and glory, and a Kingdom, that all people and nations and tongues shall serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom that shall not be destroyed.” (Dan. 7: 13, 14.)

This Kingdom, this New Church, consists of those who have received in mind and heart the Heavenly Doctrine of the New Jerusalem. This revelation is the crown of all previous revelations, for it is the fulfillment and unfolding of them all, and the reception of these Doctrines will make the New Church the crown of all the churches or dispensations that have been upon the earth.

This Church, like all new churches, will first be established among the few remains in the Christian world who are willing to receive the Lord in His Second Advent, but it will afterwards be established in its fulness and glory among nations who now are Gentiles and who have not shared in the corruption of the Christians,

The faith and life and worship of the New Church cannot by any means be together with those of the Old Church. The new wine cannot be put into the old bottles, for these would then break and the wine be spilled, But the New Church wilt be established entirely distinct and separate from the Old Church, and has even begun to be thus established.

The New Church, therefore, must have its own distinct organization, its own worship and sacraments and priesthood, its own education and science, its own social and moral and religious life.

In so far as the members of the Lord’s New Church develop these things by following the teachings of its Divine Revelation, in so far will be fulfilled on earth the prophecy of the Lord:

“Behold, I make all things new.”

The Second Advent of the Lord and the New Heaven and the New Church have been treated of especially in “The True Christian Religion, which Contains the Entire Theology of the New Church.”

THE PROGRESS OF THE NEW CHURCH

The office of Emanuel Swedenborg was that of an inspired revelator. He did not himself make any attempt to establish an external church or ecclesiastical organization. He simply published the Doctrines of the New Church to the world, and the receivers of these Doctrines were left in absolute freedom to apply the Doctrines to the more ultimate things of life, according to their best understanding and conscience.

At the time of Swedenborg’s death, in the year 1772, there were but few receivers of the Heavenly Doctrines in this world, and for some ten years afterwards little or nothing was heard of the New Church. Nevertheless, the seed of Divine Truth had been sown broadcast through Swedenborg’s own zeal in distributing his Writings, and it was germinating silently and unseen until, in the year 1783, societies were established in England for the purpose of translating and publishing the Writings of the New Church,

Eminent among the first disciples of the Lord in His second advent were two learned and pious clergymen of the Church of England, the Rev. Thomas Hartley, an intimate friend of Swedenborg himself, and the Rev. John Clowes, of Manchester, who spent a long and devoted life in the use of making the Doctrines known through the translation of the Writings and the exposition of the Internal Sense of the Word.

Another of the eminent “fathers” in the Church of the New Jerusalem was the Rev. Robert Hindmarsh, who was the first and chief promoter of the New Church as a distinct ecclesiastical organization. Many of the early receivers of the Heavenly Doctrines were filled with the fond hope that the new truths would gradually permeate and be received by the various sects of the old Christianity, thus effecting an internal reformation in doctrine and worship and life. Others, and Hind marsh chief among these, looked upon such a hope as utterly vain, and they were confirmed in this view, not only by the explicit teachings of the Doctrines themselves, but also by the lessons of universal human history, and by the evident signs of the times. Nor has the subsequent history of Christianity disproved their conclusions.

Inspired by these reasons and by their desire to worship the Lord Jesus Christ alone in His Divine Humanity, these early New Churchmen resolved to commune no longer with those who worshiped the three gods of the old Christian church The first step toward the distinctive establishment of the New Church was taken at London in June, 1787, when the Sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Supper were first administered according to the Doctrines of the New Church, This was followed in January, 1788, by the institution of the public worship of the Lord in His Second Advent, and in June of the same year by the consecration of a distinctive ministry or priesthood for the New Church.

These early efforts soon brought rich results. The readers and receivers of the Heavenly Doctrines multiplied rapidly, and a more general organization was effected in the year 1789, when the first “General Conference” of the New Church in Great Britain was held in London. Similar Conferences have been held annually since the year 1815. This organization includes at present about 6,000 members, with seventy-four societies and thirty clergymen. The principal societies exist in London, Manchester, Accrington, Birmingham, and Glasgow. The official organ of the General Conference is “The New Church Magazine,” a monthly journal, established in the year 1812. The “Morning Light,”is another journal published weekly in London.

One of the most useful of the various institutions of the New Church in Great Britain is the “British and Foreign Swedenborg Society,” which was instituted in 1810, and has its headquarters at No. 1 Bloomsbury street, London. Through the activity of this Society and its kindred institution in America, the Writings of Swedenborg have been kept constantly before the public, and are to be obtained, at present not only in Latin and English, but also in Welsh, Icelandic, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, German, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, French, Italian, Spanish, nay, even in Arabic and Hindi. With a single exception, not a year has passed during the present century that has not witnessed the publication of one or more volumes of Swedenborg’s Writings. There are on record about 1,500 different editions of Swedenborg’s works. The collateral literature of the New Church has been even more voluminous, and has passed almost beyond the possibility of recording. Among the most eminent of the New Church authors in England we may mention John Clowes, Robert Hindmarsh, Joseph Proud, Manoah Sibley, Samuel Noble, William Mason, Thomas and David Goyder, Augustus Clissold, E. D. Rendell, William Bruce, O. P. Hiller, W. W. Woodman, William Hyde, Jonathan Bayley, Rudolph L. Tafel, John Presland, and J. F. Potts, the compiler of the “Swedenborg Concordance,” not to mention a hundred others.

While the literary activity of the New Church had its first beginning in England, the young Republic in North America witnessed the first proclamation of the Heavenly Doctrines by the living voice. This took place in the year 1784, when Mr. James Glen, a Scotchman, settled at Demerara, lectured on these Doctrines in Philadelphia and Boston. The first of the receivers in America was Jonathan Bailey, of Philadelphia, who, in 1789, published an edition of “The True Christian Religion,” to which Benjamin Franklin was one of the subscribers. George Washington, in his later years, is said to have been a diligent student of these Writings, and President Jackson was a devoted admirer. We might mention other illustrious names, but refrain, for these can add nothing to the Divine glory of the Doctrines themselves.

The first Society of the New Church in America was established at Baltimore in the year 1792, and the first consecration of American New Church ministers took place in the same city in 1798. The receivers continued to increase, especially in Pennsylvania, New York, New England, and Ohio, and were united in a “General Convention” in the year 1817. This body still meets annually, and consists of twelve general State Associations. Connected with this body there are various institutions, among which we may mention the “New Church Board of Publication” and the “American Swedenborg Printing and Publishing Society,” both with headquarters at 20 Cooper Union, New York; a Board of Missions; a Theological School in Cambridge, Mass.; a Sunday-school Association and a German Missionary Union.

The organ of the General Convention is the “New Church Messenger,” a weekly journal issued at New York. The “New Church Review” is a quarterly magazine published in Boston.

Among other institutions of the New Church in this country we may mention the “American New Church Tract and Publication Society”and the “Swedenborg Association” both of Philadelphia, the “Massachusetts New Church Union,” at 16 Arlington St., Boston, and the Urban a University, at Urbana, O.

The education of the Priesthood and the youth of the New Church “in the Church, by the Church, and for the Church “has long occupied the serious attention of Newchurchmen in this country, and has led to the establishment of a Theological School, a College, and a Girls’ School in Philadelphia, and of schools for children in various cities in the United States, Canada and England, by a corporation named “The Academy of the New Church,” which was instituted in the year 1876, and which has its headquarters at 1821 Wallace St., Philadelphia. This body conducts also a publishing office and a monthly journal, the “New Church Life.”

“The General Church of the New Jerusalem” is the latest of the general organizations of the New Church in America, and is closely connected in principles with the Academy, It held its first “General Assembly” in June, 1897; it is distinguished, externally, by an episcopal form of government, and has its headquarters at the New Church settlement near Huntingdon Valley, Montgomery Co., Pa.

Connected with the external organizations of the New Church in the United States and Canada there are about seven thousand members, one hundred and twenty ordained ministers and one hundred and ten societies. Among the most eminent of the past laborers in the New Church in this country stand the names of John Hargrove, Adam Hurdus, M. M, Carll, Jonathan Condy, C. I. Doughty, Thomas Worcester, George Field and W. H. Benade, as founders and organizers; William Hill, Jonathan Chapman (“Johnny Appleseed”), Holland Weeks, J. R. Hibbard, B, F. Barrett, A. O. Brickman, J. P. Stuart and Chauncey Giles, as evangelists; Samuel Woodworth, Richard De Charms, David Powell, George Bush, Sampson Reed, Theophilus Parsons, T, B, Hayward, Abiel Silver, W. H. Holcombe, S. H. Worcester, N. C. Burnham, and W. B. Hayden, as expositors, scholars and writers.

The New Church has found its greatest growth where spiritual and political freedom most prevail; thus with the English-speaking race. Still, there is hardly a civilized nation on earth where the Heavenly Doctrines have not found some receivers and some degree of development.

In Sweden, the home of Swedenborg, the Doctrines were first received by two learned doctors of divinity, G. A. Beyer and Johan Rosen, who were subjected to severe persecutions even before Swedenborg died. Later on, the new revelations were accepted by a great number of Lutheran clergymen, and by men of learning, high station and birth. One of the Swedish monarchy Charles XIII, while crown prince, was a member of a New Church Society. Among these early disciples in Sweden we may mention especially Mr. C. B. Wadstrom, who, inspired by the Heavenly Doctrines, was the first person in this world to labor for the abolition of the African slave trade. He is now acknowledged as the “father” of this great movement. This period of progress was soon followed by an era of political and ecclesiastical persecutions. Religious liberty was totally stifled, and the New Church was not able to assume an outward form until the year 1875, when public worship was established in Stockholm. There are now four ministers laboring in Sweden, and one in Denmark; a publishing society has been established, and two monthly journals are supported.

The Heavenly Doctrines were first introduced into Germany by the famous theologian, Oetinger, in Wurtemberg, who suffered some persecution for his zeal. He was followed by Dr. Immanuel Tafel, professor at Tubingen, who labored for forty years in the work of republishing Swedenborg’s Latin works, editing many of his unpublished manuscripts and translating the writings into German. His literary activity was continued by Mr. J. G. Mittnacht and the present “Swedenborg Verein” in Stuttgart. But the New Church has by no means flourished as greatly in Germany itself as among the Germans in the free atmosphere of America, where numerous societies have been established and two German New Church monthlies are being published.

In republican Switzerland the New Church has made greater progress than in Imperial Germany. Receivers and societies have existed here since the beginning of the century, and are now united into an ecclesiastical union, with headquarters at Zurich, where the “Monatblatter” is published. The Rev. Fedor Gorwitz, superintends the work in Switzerland, and ministers also to the societies in Vienna and Buda Pesth.

In Russia there have been receivers of the Doctrines since the time, of Swedenborg, but they have not been permitted to labor publicly. Chief of these receivers has been the famous General Mouravieff, to whose influence is due the emancipation of serfs in Russia, under Alexander II.

In France, also, there has been an unbroken chain of Newchurchmen since the time of Swedenborg. The most eminent of these has been M. Le Boys des Guays, of St. Amand, wht.se literary labors for the New Church were similar to those of Professor Tafel, in Germany. At present the New Church in France has its headquarters at 12 Rue Thouin, in Paris, where public worship is conducted, and a journal, the “L’Eglise de l’Avenir,” is published.

Since the year 1872 the New Church has also had its own missionary in Italy, where Signor Loreto Scocia, resident at Florence, has labored for many years in the translation and publication of Swedenborg’s writings in the Italian language. In Australia, also, there are societies of the New Church in Sydney, Auckland, Christ Church, Brisbane, Adelaide, and in Melbourne, where a New Church monthly, “The New Age,” is published.

Societies exist also at Allahabad, India ; at Port Louis, Mauritius; at Port Natal, South Africa, and at Port of Spain, Trinidad.

In conclusion, a few words about the members of the New Church in general, to correct some prevalent misconceptions.

  • The members of the New Church do not “set plates for the dead.”
  • The members of the New Church are not “Swedenborgians,” or the followers of any mere man, for they look upon Swedenborg’s Theological Writings as works purely Divine and not the production of Swedenborg’s own genius or philosophy.
  • They are not sectarians, differing from other Christian sects in some unimportant particulars of faith or usages, for the New Church is as new and as different from the Old Christian Church (Catholic or Protestant) as the latter was from the consummated Jewish dispensation.
  • They are not Mystics, for they hold that men must, in all things, act “in freedom according to reason,” and yet they are not rationalists or free-thinkers, for they acknowledge that reason itself has no light, except from Divine Revelation.
  • Finally, they are not spiritualists or spiritists, for they look upon any self-sought intercourse with spirits as not only useless and forbidden, but most dangerous to the spiritual freedom and salvation of man, Swedenborg was not a spiritistic medium, any more than John the Revelator. He never sought any communication with the other world, but his spiritual senses were opened by the Lord, in order that the new, final and crowning Revelation of God might be communicated through him to men on earth.

 


Part III. CONCERNING LIFE. MAN

Part III. CONCERNING LIFE.

MAN

The life of man is his love. This life or love is varied with all men, but is one in its origin, which is the Divine Love, the fountain of all life. Man has no life in himself, but it is a free gift of God; it is given to man as his own, and he is in freedom to use it according to his pleasure.

Created out of the dust of the ground, God breathed into him the breath of life. The clay became living, but within the living clay there remained, higher and distinct from it, the breath of life itself. Hence the. life or nature of man is twofold, higher and lower, heavenly and earthly, spiritual and natural, internal and external. In the higher region within man the Lord resides with immortal life. In the lower dwells the “ego,” the self-hood or “proprium,” endowed with the appearance of original and independent life.

Since the Fall of man these two lives are not only opposite to one another, but irreconcilable. Both cannot rule together in him, one must rule and the other must give way. In the midst between these two dwells human reason; it is able to view both, and can freely determine which of the two shall rule in him.

If man then freely turns to the Lord, subdues his self-life and self-love and subjects this to the love and life of God, he will become conjoined with God and live forever with Him in Heaven, If, on the other hand, he turns to himself, and away from God, if he gives free reins to the gratification of his selfish lusts, he will become utterly disjoined from the source of life; he will lose his soul, and dwell forever with death in Hell.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give exchange for his soul.” (Math. 16: 25, 26.)

Free will in spiritual things is therefore an inalienable essential of human life. For life is of the Lord, and the Lord is Freedom itself. It is our love that He would have, but love forced is love no longer.

Behold, I have set before thee this day life and the good, death and the evil. Therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” (Deut. 30: 15-19.)

“Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.” (Jos. 24:15.)

And yet, in all the Reformed churches, the dogma is held (with some variation) that man has no free will in spiritual things, that he is like a stock or a stone in matters of faith and of good and evil. If he receives faith, it is by the pure grace of God. If he does what is good, it is by the grace of God, If he does evil,—why, it is because God withholds His grace!

What is this, essentially, but Predestination, and what is Predestination but the most cruel, insane and blasphemous heresy ever hatched by disordered minds? A child would recognize its injustice. A heathen would reject it with loathing. And yet there are Christians who believe in it!

There is, indeed, a Divine Predestination, a predestination of all men for Heaven and its eternal blessedness, for that is the destination intended by the Creator for all His creatures, And every one is able to gain this goal, who is willing, freely willing, to choose it, to turn to it, to strive for it. Divine grace will then accompany him and sustain him in his efforts, but will not supercede these efforts, will not push or force him into Heaven.

Freedom of choice, however, cannot exist without the knowledge and the understanding of Truth, for falsity is of Hell, and Hell is slavery itself. In order, therefore, that all men might be free, the Word of God was given, first in the Letter and now in its internal sense.

“Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends.” (John 15:15)

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32.)

Will and understanding are the names of the two universal organs of life in the spirit of mm, answering to the heart and the lungs in his body. The will is the vessel created to receive the influx of life and love from God, and the understanding is the vessel set apart for the influx of truth and perception.

Ever since the Fall of mankind, these two faculties have been entirely distinct and separate from one another. Thankful, indeed, may we be for this separation, for on it depends our whole salvation,

Ever since the Fall, the human will or heart has been entirely and utterly evil, a mass of filthy inclinations and lusts, the very gate of Hell with man. It has become so thoroughly corrupt, that it can never, to all eternity, be reformed and regenerated. It is bad! Nothing can be done with it, except to subdue it, and shut it up below. An entirely new will, a will of good, will then be created in its place by the Lord.

Now, if the human understanding were one with this evil will, man would be like any ferocious beast, rushing head long into the gratification of his lusts, without any regard to consequences.

In order, therefore, to save the race from utter damnation and extinction, the Lord, after the Fall, separated the understanding from the corrupted will. Hence man is able to see and distinguish with his understanding between truth and falsity and good and evil; is able to realize his own conditions, and is able to compel or force himself to abstain from evil and to do what is right.

It is thus, alone, that the old will can be subdued, and a new will be created.

THE REGENERATE LIFE.

Repentance is the first step in the life of regeneration, but by repentance is not meant the mere oral confession that one is a sinner, nor the violent enthusiastic contrition which in the old Church is said to be followed by the “consolation of the Gospel” But true repentance is the recognition of the hellish love of self, and the earnest resolution to shun evils,—not on account of the fear of punishments,—but because they are sins against the Lord. And actual repentance consists especially in the act of shunning and compelling some one particular sin and evil love. For no man is able to fight against all evil, and all the Hells at once; but he is able to put away one evil at one time, and another afterwards, in the degree that his eyes are opened to the infernal nature of that particular evil.

“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, Cease to do evil; learn to do well,” (Isa. 1:16).

“When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die: if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; if the wicked restore the pledge; give again that which he robbed; walk: in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity, he shall surely live. He shall not die.” (Ezech. 33: 14, 15.)

Reformation and Regeneration follow Repentance, as conception is followed by gestation and birth. For Regeneration is not. a mere figure of speech. It is an actual new birth, the birth of a new man, a man angel, and the process corresponds in every detail to the conception, formation and birth of the bodily man. The seed from which the spiritual man is begotten is the seed of Divine Truth,—the Word of God,—from the Heavenly Father. This, when received in the mind, and when not only heard, but loved and obeyed in life, causes a reformation of the whole understanding. The old fallacies, misconceptions, prejudices and false notions are cast out. Man learns to view God, the Word, the world and himself in an entirely new light. He learns to distinguish between truth and falsity, and between good and evil. And as he perseveres in his efforts to walk in this Light, shunning his former evils as sins against his God, he will gradually withdraw from death and Hell, and draw nearer unto life and Heaven. He will first learn to fear evil as hurtful; afterwards he will come to hate it as undelightful and deadly to his soul, and finally he will learn to love what is good, which formerly he regarded as utterly opposed to his own interests and pleasures.

In this manner by slow degrees, by temptations and vastations, the old selfhood, “the old Adam” in him, will be cast down from his throne, and a new will, a new love and life will be created and born. But as the creation of the natural man is not the work of a moment, but of forty weeks, neither is the new birth the effect of any “instantaneous conversion.” It is the one great work and business of man during his entire life in this world, and the work of perfection continues in Heaven to all eternity.

For not even the angels are perfect in the sight of God, but are forever drawing nearer unto Him, who alone is perfect.

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit,” (John 3: 3,7)

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” (1 Peter 1: 23.)

On these same subjects read “The Doctrine of Life for the New Jerusalem,” “The True Christian Religion,” and “Angelic Wisdom Concerning the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom,” by Emanuel Swedenborg.

ETERNAL LIFE

Death and Resurrection

What is termed “death” is nothing but the change which man undergoes when he lays aside the natural body and enters consciously into the life of his spirit. The man himself cannot die or cease to exist, for the real man is spirit and life, and life is eternal, because God is Life.

When the motions of the heart and of the lungs have entirely ceased, the spirit is fully separated from the body and awakes immediately in the spiritual world where, indeed, his spirit has lived from the beginning of his life, though not consciously. The worn-out natural body returns to the dust out of which it was made, and arises never more.

There is not, therefore, any “resurrection of the material body,” as is believed in the old Church. Such a doctrine is utterly unscriptural and irrational, Paul is explicit enough on that point, where he says:

“Some will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Thou fool! That which thou so west is not quickened, except it die: and that winch thou sowest is not that body which shall be. But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed its own body, There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body, There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption,” (1 Cor. 15:35-50)

Common sense alone shows that the material flesh and blood cannot arise again after life has once departed from the body. The latter returns unto dust, and the dust enters into plants, and the plants become food for beasts and men. In the body which we now carry there may be substances derived more or less directly from the dead bodies of a million men. Our own bodies are thus inseparably interlaced with those of our ancestors. If, on the “day of Judgment,” each one should take what is his own, would there, be bodies enough for all the waiting souls?

But what need to dwell on these ancient superstitions? “There is a spiritual body,” and this body is the human form and substance of the spirit of man, which, in this life, exists within and permeates the flesh and blood. When the material covering falls off, this spiritual body remains as before in a perfectly human shape, possessing all the senses, all the organs and viscera and limbs, without which man would not be human.

The Spiritual World.

Where, then, is the spiritual world in which man is to awaken immediately after death? Is it in some sublimated aerial sphere, high above the stars? Or is it in Tartarus, beneath us? Or are spirits and angels floating about us, invisible, in our own atmosphere? No! It is not anywhere in space, for space, as well as time, is nothing to the spirit. Thought is of the spirit, and in your thought you can transfer yourself, in a moment, to the ends of the earth, to the regions beyond the boundaries of the universe. What is space but an appearance, a relative condition of dead matter, distinctly inferior to the intelligence of man? A hundred years ago we were separated from Europe by a journey of three months. Now the distance is measured by a week or less.

You close your eye at night. You dream. Where are you in your dream? In the world of matter, of time and space? No, for in a moment you may pass through the experiences of a whole day, or may accomplish any distant journey. Dreams are but fleeting glimpses of that inner world, in which your own spirit dwells together with countless other spirits. In dreams, long ago, the angels of God descended to patriarchs and prophets, bringing messages of instruction or of warning to mankind; in dreams and in visions of the night the kingdom of God descended and still sometimes communes with the half-conscious spirits yet fettered in the clay.

You see a man. Yet you do not really see him if you do not see his spirit at the same time. In a crowd of a thousand yon may see but one single man, and that because you know that man’s internal mind and spiritual characteristics. It is not your material eye that sees his spirit, but your spiritual eye. Thus like sees like. Matter can not view spirit, nor spirit matter, for they are of totally different substance, origin and degree. The natural eye sees the paper and printing of a book; the spiritual eye sees the meaning of the book. Hence we may know the falsity of modern spiritism, which claims that spirits appear in the material world, that they may be photographed by a natural camera, that they can produce natural writing, move slate-pencils, etc. They cannot do this anymore than you are able to lift up a stone by the mere action of your thought.

But though invisible and totally distinct from this world, yet the spiritual world is not unreachable or far away from us. Where is the spiritual world? It is where man is, and nowhere else! He cannot get away from it, for he is in it now, as to his spirit, as really as he is In the world of nature as to his body, He is not conscious of his spiritual life and surroundings, but in a moment these may be opened to him, by the will of God. This immediate presence of the spiritual world is evinced most clearly in the Word (2 Kings, 6:17), when the servant of Elisha feared, because he saw the city of Samaria surrounded by enemies on horses and chariots. But Elisha answered,

“Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray Thee, open his eyes, that he. may see And the Lord opened the eyes of the young: man: and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire, round about Elisha”

The kingdom of God is not of this world, but of another world. This other world, therefore, is where the kingdom of God is established in everlasting reality and glory. And where is this?

“The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17: 20, 21.)

It is in the spiritual body, then, that man awakens after death, a real and substantial being in an actual and tangible world. So easy is the transition called death, that many, on awakening, are persuaded that they still live in the natural world. They find themselves surrounded by familiar scenes and loving friends, they arise, clothe themselves, eat and drink; little or nothing seems changed at first, excepting this, that they no longer carry with them the bodily infirmities and ailments from which they suffered in the former world. After a while, however, new scenes and faces present themselves, as the spirit enters further into the spiritual world on the journey that is to carry him to his final destination. For few if any are so good or so wicked that they enter at once into Heaven or into Hell. A state or world of final preparation is needed for almost all, and this state is called the “world of spirits,” or the world where all spirits are together, immediately after death.

The World of Spirits.

This “world of spirits” is an intermediate state between Heaven and Hell, “the great gulf,” spoken of in Luke 16: 26, and corresponds to the mouth and the digestive organs in man, which first receive the food and separate its good parts from the evil.

In this world of spirits the final judgment takes place and the separation of the good from the evil, for the judgment after death must take place in a world where the good and the evil are still together. And the judgment is effected by everybody being put into a state of perfect freedom, without any fear of shame and punishments. The evil then rush joyfully into the indulgence of their lusts, and thus lay bare their inmost character, which in the natural world had been carefully and hypocritically concealed. They hasten from one enormity into another, and finally cast themselves headlong into Hell among their like.

Evil, therefore, is its own punishment, God casts no one into Hell. He seeks not the death of any sinner. He would draw all unto Himself in Heaven, but such is His Love and Wisdom, that He compels no one to love and serve Him.

But those whose inmost and ruling love has been the love of good, pass through a state of final preparation for Heaven. For few in this world have attained to a sufficient degree of perfection. External, worldly and selfish loves still cling to most good people some time even after death, and the ignorance concerning the real nature of Heaven and of the Lord is so great that instruction becomes absolutely necessary. In this state are all who die as children, most of the Gentiles and many of the Christians All these are now given the opportunity to learn the fundamental things of the true Christian Religion, and they enter into Heaven when there is a balance between their faith and their will of good.

Each one, therefore, seeks his final abode according to his ruling love. This love remains unchanged after death, for he has made it his very life. Hence we read:

He that is unjust, let him be unjust still. And he that is filthy, let him he filthy still. And he that is just, let him be just still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” (Rev, 22:11)

Hell.

The kingdom of the devil is not a place outside of or beneath man. Like the Kingdom of God, it is within him.

Hell is, essentially, the state or condition of evil itself, and hence the general state of the wicked spirits who in the other life, by self- gravitation and mutual attraction, gather themselves together into vast congregations of satans and devils.

For like seeks like. Where the carcass is, there the eagles are gathered. Thieves seek the company and dens of thieves. Adulterers are happy only among the lascivious. The dog returns to his vomit, and the swine to his mire.

Hell-fire is not material fire, for such cannot exist in the spiritual world. Nor is it, as some suppose, the hopeless, unceasing pangs of a conscience awakened too late, for conscience is the voice of God in man and leads to Heaven. No one can go to Hell who has left within him one spark of conscience.

But the fire of Hell is the burning lust of doing evil. It is the evil will of self-love, which, when not extinguished or subdued in this life, will burn up and consume all good and truth which Divine Mercy has bestowed upon man.

Wickedness burneth as fire and the people shall he as the fuel of fire; no man shall spare his brother ” (Isa. 9:27,29)

The essence of Hell is the love of self, which, when opposed, flames tip as deadly hatred against all outside of one’s self. It is the love of domineering over all, the love of possessing all things and depriving others of all that is theirs: their wealth, their faith, their innocence and their life. It is the hatred against all that is good and true, and it is especially the cruel, undying hatred against the Lord, who is Mercy and Innocence itself.

Far from being tormented, whilst burning in this fire of infernal love, the devils feel its flames as the inmost joy of their life, their very heaven, in the degree that they are permitted to revel in the indulgence of their insane lusts. The self-denial and purity of Heaven would be death and hell to them.

So great is the Divine mercy that the internals are permitted, to some extent, to indulge in their evils, for otherwise they could not remain alive. And their very evils are the means of preserving some degree of order in Hell, for the devils love to punish and torment one another, and they are thus kept in continual fear of one another, and are restrained by this fear.

But let no one think that the devils are happy, on the whole. Evil is misery and horror and torment in itself. The devils feel the fire of Hell as burning when they are not permitted to hurt their fellows or the innocent. Their headlong rush into ever deeper evils is continually checked, their cunning plans are baffled, their triad desires disappointed, their conspiracies exposed, and their crimes direfully punished.

Most of their lives are spent in prisons and work-houses, where they are compelled to labor for their miserable subsistence. To be forced to work and thus to be of some use, this is direful torment to them, as it is to all who hate the neighbor,

As there are degrees of evil, so there are degrees in Hell. All are not equally wicked. Some fare better and some fare worse, according to the depth and persistency of their malice. And those who are in like evils are herded together by themselves into various congregations. To themselves and to each other they appear, indeed, like men and women, but when the light of Heaven falls upon them they are seen in their “true inwardness,” deformed, monstrous and disgusting, like filthy and ferocious beasts.

Their surroundings are in harmony with their own inner nature. They dwell, and love to dwell, in hideous holes and caverns, in deserts and stagnant mighty become paupers and vile slaves. Here the learned become foolish, and the refined forget their polish. Nor is Hell for these alone, but for the slothful and vicious among all classes of men.

It is to be noted that all the inhabitants of Hell have been men and women upon some earth, and that there is no class of devils or satans who had once been created in Heaven, but had fallen from their angelic estate. But of this later on. Nor is there any one special Devil, who is, as it were, king and god over the whole of Hell. By the “Devil ” is meant simply the love of evil, and by “Satan” the love of falsity, both of which rule as one in the minds of all in Hell.

Thus they live in Hell from age to age. “Their morning is the itch of cupidities; their noon is the heat of lust; their evening anxiety and their night torment.”

But is there, then, no hope for their final restoration? No, for they know what they have freely chosen, and they prefer it immeasurably to heavenly good and truth. Their will is formed, their choice is made. Heaven would be hell to them were they lifted up thither by force. They are happier in Hell, and so they are permitted to remain there forever.

Reader, would you have a more objective and nearer view of Hell? Look then, in the light of these teachings, upon the state of this “Christian” world in which we live! And look nearer still, into your own heart, and you will find that Hell is not very far away, nor foreign to our nature. But while we are in this world we may still escape from the Hell within us, if we will.

Heaven.

The ignorance concerning Heaven, and the disbelief in a life after this is so great among Christians, that but few think about it or wish to know what it is. They reason that if there is a Heaven then they will learn all about it after death. In the meantime they prefer to bury their minds in the things of this world.

Whatever ideas are prevalent in regard to Heaven, are either so vague as to amount to nothing, or else so filled with the hopes of sensual and selfish gratifications, as to be gross and revolting to a spiritually-minded man.

Some picture Heaven as a cloudy dreamland, without substantial reality or actual human life, where angels, with wings on their backs and palm-branches and harps in their hands, fly about the throne of God or pray and sing without a pause.

Others imagine that life in Heaven consists in everlasting church-going, or in eternal feasting with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or in unending promenades in heavenly paradises. Each one, in fact, makes up an imaginary heaven of his own the chief blessedness of which is to consist in the free and eternal indulgence in his particular “weakness of the flesh,” whether this be some form of religious frenzy, or sloth fulness, or the satisfaction of some bodily appetite.

But mouth-worship or self-gratification, cannot be the true service of God in which men are to spend a whole eternity. What then is Heaven? We are taught “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God,” and “Thy will be done, as in Heaven, so upon the earth.” But how are we to find the Lords Kingdom, and how are we to do His will on earth, if we do not know nor care to know how it is done in Heaven and what Heaven is?

It is to dispel this universal ignorance that the Lord Himself has now vouchsafed an immediate Revelation concerning Himself and His Kingdom in the Writings of His servant, Swedenborg. These revelations are not the vapid mutterings of any spiritistic medium about ” the summer land,” etc., but they present the universal laws of eternal life and order in a light so rational as to be self-evident, and established throughout by the testimony of the Scriptures.

The Lord is the God of Heaven, This is the first and all-important truth concerning eternal life. The Lord Jesus Christ,— not any three divine persons,—is the one and only God, who is acknowledged, worshiped and loved in Heaven. In the Sun of Heaven, which is the Divine sphere of glory surrounding and emanating from Him, the Lord Himself is constantly visible as the Divine Man, the “Father in the Heavens,” before the eyes of the angels,

“To Me is given all power in Heaven and on earth.”

“The Lord is a Sun and a shield,’1 (Ps. 84: it, )

“Unto you that fear My name, shall the Sun of righteousness appear, with healings in His wings.” (Mal. 4:9.)

“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say tin to you, that in Heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father who is in Heaven” (Matth. 18: 10)

“I and the Father are One. He who sees Me, sees the Father.”

The Divine of the Lord Makes Heaven.

From the sun of Heaven there proceed or emanate spiritual heat and light, which is the Divine Good and Truth. These fill and make the universal Heaven. This heat gives light to the angelic love of God and of the neighbor; and this light makes the whole of angelic wisdom and intelligence. The angels, therefore, do not in themselves make Heaven, but Heaven is in and with the angels, because the Lord is in them and they in Him.

“God is Love, and he that dwelleth in Love, dwelleth in God, and God in him,” (1 John 4:16.)

But who are the angels? Are they, as is commonly supposed, certain favored beings, who were created in Heaven in the beginning? And did some of them fall and become devils? No, this story is an allegory, quoted by Jude from an ancient oriental work, in which the fall of man from Eden was symbolically described. How could any “fall” take place in Heaven itself, where nought that is evil can enter in? All angels, and all devils, who are in the spiritual world, have been men on earth, and have here developed their heavenly or their infernal nature.

An evil man is even here a devil, in so far as he is in falsity and evil; and a good man is even here an angel, in so far as he is in love to the Lord and to the neighbor.

” Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil” (John 6: 70.)

“When they shall rise from the dead, they are as the angels in the Heavens.” (Mark 12: 25.)

Heaven is a Greatest Man. As the Lord is the Divine Man, and as His Divine Humanity makes Heaven and all the angels in His own image, so the whole of Heaven, or all the angels regarded together as a whole, are spiritually in the form of a Greatest Man,

As we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, being many, are one body in Christ.” (Rom. 12:4,5.)

There are three distinct heavens. And as the body is most generally divided into three parts,—the head, the trunk, and the extremities,—so is the Greatest Man, or Heaven as a whole, distinguished into three Heavens, the one superior to and more perfect than the other.

“Behold, the Heaven, and the Heaven of Heavens, is the Lories.4‘ (Dent 10:14.)

“I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell: God knoweth); such a one was caught up into the third Heaven.” (2 Cor. 12:2.)

The lowest of these three heavens is called “the natural heaven,” the angels there being more than the others similar to men in the natural world. These angels are such as in this life had not advanced very far in love and wisdom, yet in simplicity believe and obey the LORD and do good to the neighbor.

The second or middle heaven is called “the spiritual heaven,” and consists of such angels as in this life had not advanced as far in the love of God as in the love of the neighbor, The delight of their life is to understand clearly the spiritual things of the Church, and to perform the offices of charity to the neighbor, whom they love as themselves.

The third or inmost heaven is called “the celestial heaven,” because it is the only perfect and truly “heavenly” heaven. Here, in bliss inconceivable, dwell those who in this life had reached that state in which they love the neighbor more than themselves, and the Lord above all They do not reason about truth, for or against, but perceive it and do it instantly, and they are in innocence, humility and perfect trust as little children before their Heavenly Father.

“Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven,(Matth. 18:3, 4.)

The innumerable Societies of Heaven.

Not only are there three distinct Heavens, but in each there are innumerable Societies or associations of those who are in greater similarity of love, wisdom and use. These Societies are to the Greatest Man what the various organs are to the human body. Each Society performs a distinct and special use to the whole. And even in each Society each member or angel performs a different and distinct use. No one is or does exactly the same as any other. Some are wiser, others more simple; some are masters, others servants; some govern, others obey, but all are inspired by the universal love of serving the Lord and the neighbor.

” He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” (Luke 22: 26.)

Well done, thou good and Faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matth. 25:21)

Mansions in Heaven, To each angel a house is given by the Lord in the Society of which he is a member, a mansion which in beauty and grandeur corresponds to the degree and abundance of love and wisdom in his own mind. The angels, therefore, do not fly about in space, but each one lives in his own heavenly home, with his own wife (for what would a home be without a wife?),

“In my Father’s House are many mansions.” (John 14:2.)

“For we know, that if our earthly house of tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens.” (2 Cor. 5; 11)

Worship in Heaven. Life in Heaven does not consist in everlasting church-going and mouth-worship, for that would prevent any actual service of God in the loving service of the neighbor. But each angel is continually worshipping and serving the Lord in his life, and each heavenly home is a temple dedicated to this service. Nevertheless, there are also public Temples in Heaven, of unsurpassable magnificence and beauty, and here the angels, at stated times and together with one another, engage, also in the external worship of the Lord, and are instructed more and more in the deeper mysteries of faith and life, through discourses of wisdom delivered by preachers who are inspired from the Lord.

The Happiness of Heaven. The angels possess magnificent palaces and beautiful garments, delicate food and drink, every innocent amusement and pleasure, and this in a degree of perfection incomparably exceeding our earthly conceptions. Yet these things do not constitute Heaven and heavenly felicity to them, but are as nothing when compared with the unspeakable joy and blessedness which they receive from their love of serving the Lord and the neighbor, without any thought or motive of self.

Yet such service does not consist in the mere thinking and speaking about God and the neighbor, or in the mere sensation of loving emotions in the breast.

“Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father, who is in Heaven.”(Matth. 7: 21.)

And the will of the Heavenly Father, the will of the Divine Love, is that each one, in that office and work for which he is best fitted and which he loves best, should do good to his neighbor, should strive to be of the greatest possible use to him. Heaven, therefore, is a ” Kingdom of Uses,” a kingdom of love expressed in acts and works.

This, it is to be feared, is not a “popular” idea of Heaven, for to most men work is a curse and not a blessing, and hence they have imagined Heaven to be a kingdom of everlasting idleness. Yet they ought to know better from the Scriptures :

“My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” ( John 5: 17.)

“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bring forth much fruit.” (John 15: 8)

“To such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His Commandments to do them, the Lord hath prepared His throne in the Heavens,” (Ps. 103: 18.)

But is not Heaven a kingdom of “eternal rest?” Is it not said, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours?” Yea, verily, Heaven is eternal peace and rest, rest from the “labours” of temptations, from the struggles against evil, but not rest from a life of blissful usefulness, for the same verse continues and their works do follow them.”

The occupations of the angels are as manifold and varied as is the number of angels in Heaven. For as every plant and every animal has been created by the Lord for some particular and distinct use in the Great Economy, so also has every man been created for some distinct purpose and use. Circumstances may prevent a man from finding this his special calling in this world, but in Heaven it will be given to him, and in it he will find Heaven itself. In it he will find his angel-hood, for angels are

“All ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of” salvation.” (Heb. 1:4.)

The angels, one and all, minister to the spirits of men upon the earth, gently insinuating and suggesting good affections and thoughts, drawing men nearer to God and to Heaven, and at the same time warning against evil, and protecting and defending men against the soul-destroying assaults of evil spirits.

Another general use performed by them is to instruct and prepare for Heaven such spirits as have newly arrived from the earth. And beside these, there are innumerable uses and offices of charity performed by the angels to one another, in all the various functions of a perfectly organized community.

Children in Heaven. But one of the most excellent of all heavenly uses is the use of education, that is, of preparing for Heaven such tender spirits as have left this world in infancy and childhood. For not one of these little ones is lost. All, whether of Christian or Gentile parents, whether baptized or not, are received by the angels immediately after death. Here they are at first given into the loving care of women-angels, such as in this life had tenderly loved little children. These they are taught to look upon as their mothers, and upon the Lord as their only Father Afterwards, as they grow up, they are most carefully taught and trained by angel teachers, and finally, when matured men and women, they are introduced by the Lord into Heaven and made members of some angelic Society.

“Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in Heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matth 18: 14.)

Age in Heaven, The Lord’s Heavenly Kingdom is eternal innocence, peace, strength, beauty and youth. To grow old in Heaven is to grow young. Aged and decrepit men and women, when they become angels, regain the first bloom and vigor of youth, for youth means the fulness of life, and Heaven is complete and eternal life from Him who is Life itself.

Love is life and life is eternal. Every pure and holy love is therefore in itself eternal, and hence it is that Conjugial Love, or the love of marriage, remains after death and continues unto eternity.

Marriage in Heaven. Marriage in this world is regarded by most people rather as an evil necessity than as an ideal condition, A wicked and adulterous generation cannot sever from their thought about marriage the idea of what is merely sensual and impure, and hence they cannot imagine that marriage exists in Heaven, Hence in the wedding ritual of many denominations the contracting parties agree to abide with one another until death do us part.”

But in the Church of the New Jerusalem marriage is an eternal and spiritual covenant, pure and holy above every earthly love. For here it means a conjunction of minds as well as of bodies, an internal friendship and mutual inclination which death cannot rend asunder.

For the soul or spirit of the male man is clearly masculine in every thought and affection, and so is the spirit of the woman feminine in all and every respect. It is not the external difference in the bodies that makes the two sexes, but the fundamental, unchangeable difference in. the minds. After death we shall still be men and women, attracted spiritually to one another as now naturally. Is it not a common saying that “marriages are made in Heaven,” and do not all true lovers trust that they shall find one another after death? Would God disappoint so holy a hope?

Spiritual nuptials. But, is it not expressly Stated in the Scripture that there are no marriages in the other life? Is it not said that

“Those who shall be accounted worthy to attain to another generation, and the resurrection from the dead, shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, neither can they die any more,” (Luke 30; 35)

Reader, the “letter killeth” but the “spirit giveth life,” But in the spiritual sense these words of the Lord refer to the spiritual marriage, which is the same as the regeneration of man, for they begin by speaking of ” another generation”or another birth, the new birth, by means of which “resurrection from the dead.” or salvation from spiritual death is given. This is self-evident to any one who observes the context. The “marriage” spoken of here is the marriage which must take place within each individual man, the marriage or conjunction between his will and his understanding, between his faith and his love.

When this conjunction has been effected within man, then it is that he has “attained to another generation” and has “arisen from the dead.” But these spiritual nuptials must take place within him while he is in this life. If he has not been born anew while here he cannot be born anew in the other life. But if thus “married” in his spirit when entering the spiritual world, the process of regeneration, of temptation and victory, is not repeated there, nor will he ever be in danger of losing his soul, for “neither can he die any more.”

The Divine Marriage

Heaven and the Church are everywhere in the Word spoken of as the Divine Marriage union between “the Lamb” and “the Bride.” Heaven itself is this marriage, and the angels partake of the married nature of that whole of which they are the constituent parts.

All the angels are married, and none can enter Heaven who is opposed to this holy covenant. To each man-angel is given a woman-angel, a conjugial partner who from the beginning was provided and appointed for him and for him alone.

By each others’ side and in each others’ arms the angelic husband and wife find the supreme bliss of Heaven, Thus they progress together unto eternity, becoming more and more closely conjoined in every thought and affection, until they become, internally, one heart, one mind, one angel.

On these subjects read, further, Swedenborg’s works on “Heaven and Its Wonders, the World of Spirits and Hell,” and “The Delights of Wisdom Respecting Conjugial Love.”