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.”

 

 

Part II. CONCERNING THE WORD OF GOD.

Part II. CONCERNING THE WORD OF GOD.

THE BOOK OPENED.

The Bible, the Sacred Scripture, or the Word of God, is generally acknowledged in the Christian Church to be Holy and Divine, the infallible canon and foundation of all true faith, of all genuine religion.

Yet when asked wherein the holiness and perfection of the Word resides, Christians can point to it only as being the general evidence of God’s Love and Wisdom, but are utterly unable to come to a common agreement in regard to the sense and understanding of the Scriptures; they cannot offer any rational explanation of the many apparent contradictions and obscurities occurring in the text; they have no power to show the harmony between the Word of God and the principles of human reason and science, and hence they stand helpless against the ever-increasing attacks of skepticism and infidelity.

“For the Lord hath poured out upon them the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed their eyes, and the vision of all is become unto them as the words of a hook that is sealed, which a man delivereth to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee, and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed.” (Isa. 29: 10, 11)

But now, in the light of the New Jerusalem,

“The deaf shall hear the words of that Book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness,” (Is. 29; 18.)

For now is the time of the Second Advent of the Lord, the time of which He spoke, when He told the disciples:

“These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs but the time cometh when I will not speak in proverbs, but shall show you plainly of the Father.” (John 16: 25.)

And now is fulfilled the promise implied in the words:

“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot hear them now ” (John 16: 12)

This Advent of the Lord has taken place in the revelation of the spiritual or internal sense of the Word, which is concealed within the literal or earthly sense, as the soul is hidden within the body, as the sweet and nutritive kernel is hidden within the stony shell. This revelation of the internal sense of the Word is contained in the theological writings of the servant of the Lord, Emanuel Swedenborg.

THE INTERNAL SENSE.

That there is a deeper, internal sense or understanding of the Sacred Scripture is evident from this simple truth that the Word of God is spiritual and Divine, and hence of infinite and eternal application. But the Letter, or the surface sense of the Word, treats mostly of finite and temporal things; it deals to a very great extent with the history of the earth and of men and nations; spiritual principles appear only here and there. It is evident, therefore, that there must be a spirit, an interior sense, a more genuine understanding concealed beneath the surface of the Letter.

Is not this self-evident from the teachings of the Letter itself?

“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” (John 6: 63.)

“If I have told you of earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3: 12 )

“Onto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to others in parables: that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.(Luke 8: 10.)

“And all these things spake Jesus unto the multitude m parables. And without a parable spake He not unto them, That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet saying, I will open my month in parables: I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” (Mark 13; 34.)

“Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24: 45.)

Equally clear are these teachings of the Apostles:

“The Letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.” (2 Cor, 3:6.)

“It is the spirit that beareth witness, because the spirit is truth,” (John 5: 6.)

“For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.” (Rom. 7: 14.)

“The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2: 14.)

“Which things are an allegory,” [i.e., the history of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Ishmael.] (1 Gal. 4 , 24,)

“The priests that offer gifts according to the law serve unto the shadow and example of heavenly things, as the pattern of the things in Heaven,” (Heb. 8: 5)

As the soul and spirit of man is not confined to the brain of man alone, but fills the whole body and animates every fibre and atom, so does the internal sense fill the literal sense, not only in general, but in every particular sentence and word. In the original Hebrew the syllables and the single letters and even the curves and horns of each letter are pregnant with an interior significative meaning, representing and corresponding to spiritual and Divine things. Hence it is said:

“Until Heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall not pass from the Law, until all be fulfilled.”(Matt. 5: 18)

THE WORD IN THE HEAVENS.

The Word of God is the light of life, not only for the men of this world, but also for the countless host of angels in the Heavens, For we read:

“Forever, O Lord, thy word is established in the Heavens.” (Ps. 119:89)

The Word in the Heavens, which the angels read, is the spiritual sense, which is contained within our Scriptures, for these, as a whole and in every particular, “serve as the shadow and example of heavenly things, the pattern of the things in Heaven.” What we understand naturally, when reading of Jerusalem. Israel and the Jewish people, the angels understand spiritually, as treating of the Lord’s spiritual kingdom, and the spiritual life of man. When we think of Joseph and David as men on earth, the angels think of the heavenly Joseph and of the almighty King whom David foreshadowed. And thus in every case.

And as there are three heavens, one above the other, so there are three degrees of the internal sense of the Word, one within and more wonderful than the other.

The sense which is nearest to the Letter is called the internal historical sense, and treats in general of the spiritual quality and history of the nations that are mentioned in the Letter.

Within this sense is the spiritual or internal sense itself, which treats of the establishment of the Lord’s Church in the individual man. It is the continuous history of the reformation and regeneration of the individual by means of the birth and development within him of charity and faith.

And inmostly within this spiritual sense there is the third or highest sense, called the celestial, which treats of the Lord alone, His Love and Wisdom and Power, His incarnation, temptations and victories; the glorification of His human, and His work of Redemption and Salvation.

This, then, is what is typified by the ladder which Jacob in his dream saw standing on the earth, its top reaching unto Heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it. By means of these degrees of Truth in the Word, more and more internal, as they are gradually opened to his understanding, man will be able to approach nearer and nearer to his God and Lord, who stands inmostly in the Divine glory of His Word. For inmostly and supremely the Word no longer treats of the Lord, but is the Lord Himself.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14)

CORRESPONDENCES AND REPRESENTATIVES

In order to contain all these infinite things within a finite and comprehensible compass, the Word of God is written throughout in parables, allegories and symbols, or, to speak more correctly, in significatives, correspondences and representatives.

Correspondence is the harmony in quality and use of an external thing with an internal thing; it is the answer or agreement of the one with the other. Thus the eye corresponds to intelligence, for it performs the same use to the body as the intelligence to the mind. On the same ground there is a correspondence between the heart and the will or love of man, between the hand, and spiritual power, between the sense of taste and spiritual judgment or discernment, etc. And so, in the world about us, light corresponds to truth from the heavenly Sun; heat to the life of good received from the same source; the earth to the Church on the earth; mountains to sublime states of love and nearness to God; valleys to the lower states of selfish and worldly loves.

In this manner, through the universal law of correspondence, the whole created Universe may be seen as the external image and likeness of the microcosm or little world, which exists within ourselves.

Representation, however, is a somewhat different relation from correspondence. The latter is based on interior agreement in actual quality, but representation is based on the more external similarity of form and temporary use, irrespective of the real quality. Thus a lion, a mighty but an evil beast, represents, but does not correspond to the Divine omnipotence of the Lord, who is called “the lion of Judah.” Similarly all kings and priests mentioned in the Scripture represent the Lord, or bring back to the mind the idea of His Royalty and Highpriesthood, and this on account of their office itself, no matter whether these kings and priests were good men or evil.

It is in such correspondences and representatives that the Word of God is written, and this not only in spots, or in certain parables, but throughout, in every sentence and word, from beginning to end. The whole system is unfolded in the writings of Swedenborg, with a consistency miraculous, superhuman and all-convincing.

No human composition can be similar. The nations of the ancient world, the Egyptians and Assyrians, for instance, did indeed have a knowledge of this long-lost science of correspondences, and embodied it in their hieroglyphics They wrote all their books in a symbolic sense. Solomon did the same in his Song of Songs, but in these ancient boots the correspondences are detached and scattered, and not continuous as in the sacred codes which were written by the direct inspiration and dictation of the Lord Himself.

The presence or absence of this continuous internal sense determines which of the books, at present included in the Bible, are truly the Word of God, and which are not. According to this test, we learn from the Writings of the New Church that the following books were written by Divine inspiration, and consequently belong to the genuine canon:

The five books of Moses, the Judges, Joshua, the two books of Samuel, the two books of the Kings, the Psalms and all the Prophets, the four Gospels and the Revelation of John. The rest are all good and useful books of doctrine for the Church, but are of human origin, and are not to be mistaken for the Word of God,

Does this internal sense, then, dissolve the Law and the Prophets? Nay, but it establishes them, It explains and dissolves all the “clouds” of apparent contradictions and obscurities in the Letter, reconciles science and morality with true Religion, and restores and confirms the faith of man in the absolute holiness, infallible authority and complete Divinity of the Word of God even in its most ultimate, literal sense.

For this Letter, according to the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, is the “Basis, Continent and Firmament of the spiritual and celestial senses, and in it alone is the Divine Truth in its fulness, its holiness and its power”

Why, then, was the Word written in this manner? In order that the Divine Truth might be accommodated to the understanding and capacity of all classes and conditions of men, to the simple and ignorant as well as to the wise and learned; to men on earth as well as to the angels of Heaven. Otherwise it could not be the lamp of doctrine and the light of life to all men.

ALL DIVINE TRUTH IS THE WORD OF GOD.

Since the Word of God is nothing but the Divine Truth, it follows that all Divine Truth, in any inspired Revelation, is also the Word of God, holy, Divine and infallible.

The Divine Truth, which was “written upon the hearts” of the most ancient men, when they were still in Paradise, was the Word of God.

The Divine Truth, which was revealed to the men of the subsequent age, and which was written in books that are now lost or hidden,—as in the “Book of Jasher” (Josh. 10: 13), the “Wars of Jehovah” (Num. 21: 14), and the “Prophetical Annunciations” (Num. 21; 27-30),—was the Word of God.

The Divine Truth, which was revealed in the Hebrew books of the Old Testament, and the Greek of the New Testament, is the Word of God.

And the Divine Truth, now revealed to the Church of the New Jerusalem, and written in Latin by Emanuel Swedenborg,— not by means of verbal dictate but by rational inspiration,—is the Word of God, the unfolding and the crown of all preceding Revelations.

For further teachings on this subject see the “Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scriptures,” by Emanuel Swedenborg.

The continuous internal sense of the books of Genesis and Exodus has been explained by Swedenborg in the great work, the “Arcana Caelestia, or Heavenly Mysteries which are in the Word of the Lord,” and the internal sense of the Revelation of John in the “Apocalypse Revealed” and the “Apocalypse Explained,” by the same author.

 

Part I. CONCERNING THE LORD. GOD

Part I. CONCERNING THE LORD.

GOD

There is a God, and He is One! No man with religion and sound reason will deny this.

But who, and what, is this One God?

The old Christian Church, Catholic or Protestant, teaches that “God is a Spirit, invisible and incomprehensible, without body, parts, or passions,” and that He created the universe out of nothing.

Is this the true idea of God? Would not the absence of any “parts” indicate the absence of a whole? Is not the lack of “passions,” i.e. of affections, the same as lifelessness and unconsciousness? What has no body has no form, and what has no form can have no permanent and substantial reality. How can we form any conception of what is invisible and incomprehensible? And how can we approach and love that of which we have no conception? Such an idea of God is an idea of nothing, out of which comes—nothing.

Widely different from this is the idea of God, revealed in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem.

Here we are taught that there is a God, and that He is One; that this One God is Divine Man, in Himself eternal and infinite Love and Wisdom, and yet both visible and comprehensible, possessing actual though not material substance and form, with self-consciousness, affections, thoughts and distinguishable qualities, and that He created the universe, not out of nothing, but out of Himself, by means of His Word.

It is self-evident that God is Love itself in substance, and Wisdom itself in form, for it must be admitted by all that He is Life itself, since He is the fountain of all life. And Life is nothing but love: take away all love, all interest in life, and life is done Wisdom is nothing but the form, the manifestation, the expression of love. God, therefore, is nothing but Love and Wisdom, eternal, infinite, omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent.

God is Man, the Divine Man, the only real Man, for love and wisdom, received from Him in some small finite degree, are what make men human, are what distinguish them from beasts, God is man, for He created us men, in His own image and likeness.

God is visible, for He is Truth itself, and Truth can be seen. He is visible in an actual human body, for the Truth, that is, the Word,

“became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Men have seen Him on earth in this body, and He ascended to Heaven in a human form. We can still see Him as a Man in His Word, and hear His own voice:

“And in Heaven the angels do always behold His face.” (Matth. 18: 10.)

He has a Body, for in the Scriptures we read of His face and His eye, His mouth and nostrils, His arms and hands and feet. If He possesses all these parts, what else can He possibly lack? And who is He?

“In Jesus Christ dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Col. 2:9)

THE TRINITY

In Jesus Christ dwelleth the Fulness of the Godhead bodily.” In Him, in His one Divine Body and Person, resides the whole of the Divine Trinity.

This is the key that opens the mystery of the Trinity in God, in regard to which the whole Christian Church has gone so utterly astray.

Protestants and Catholics alike maintain that the Trinity in God means that there are three distinct persons in the Godhead, one in essence, but differing in operations and attributes.

Examine this doctrine in the light of Scripture and of reason, and you will find that it is contrary to both. Consider it in any reasonable way you please, you still can make of it only a plurality of gods. One human person is one man; three human persons three men. One Divine Person is One God; three divine persons three gods.

Those who framed the Athanasian Creed (just before the Dark Ages) were caught in this dilemma, and could compel faith only by direful anathemas and by the declaration that although we are compelled by Christian verity to confess each person, one by one, to be God and Lord, yet we are forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say there are three Gods and three Lords.”

If this be the extent of harmony between Christian verity and Christian Religion, what, then, shall we think of a Christian morality which bids us think one thing but say a totally different thing?

How have Christian artists, inspired by Christian teachers, depicted this Trinity? As one God? No, but as two distinct gods, one old and one young, with a dove soaring above, Or else as a monstrous head, with three faces flowing into one.

To whom of these three are Christian prayers addressed? To all three, as one? No! To the Lord Jesus Christ, who hath all power in Heaven and on earth? but to the invisible Father, for the sake of his Son. If these two are truly believed to be one single God, why this division in the inmost thought?

If God is a being consisting of three Divine persons, and if He created us into His own image and likeness, how is it that each one of us does not consist of three persons?

Clearly, sound reason has no part in this doctrine of a Divine tri-personality, and the inquiring mind is therefore silenced by the dictum that this is an “incomprehensible mystery of faith,” and that “the understanding must be held captive under obedience to faith.”

If this be true, and if by “faith” is meant the dogmas framed by human councils, then will we become the blind slaves of men, and not the free servants of God. But do not put your faith in councils, for they are but human, and it is human to err. Rather

“‘Search the Scriptures, for they are they which testify Of Me.” (John 5:39.)

Search the Scriptures through and through, and you will not find a single statement concerning any three persons in the Godhead, nor any personal manifestation of the Father or of the Holy Spirit, except in the Son. But one single Divine Person has ever revealed Himself, even Jesus Christ, and He alone.

Nevertheless it is most true that there is a Trinity in God, but not a tri-personal Trinity. It is a trinity of essentials, not of persons. It is the Trinity of Divine Soul, Divine Body, and Divine operation, till in the one Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. By the “Father,” in the correspondential and significative language of the Scriptures, is meant nothing else than the Divine Soul, which assumed a human body in the virgin Mary. By the “Son” is meant the human nature itself, which was tempted and crucified, died, and rose again, but which, by victories over all evil, was glorified and made one with the Father or the Divine within. By the “Holy Spirit,” finally, is meant not a third person or god, but the Spirit of Divine Truth, flowing from the Divine Human, the Divine Power or operation, which enlightens, leads and regenerates all who receive it. This is what is represented by the “dove.”

There is the image of this Trinity in all things of creation. We have it in our own soul and body and operation. We have its representation in the Sun, in which the essential fire is the “father,” the heat and light proceeding as one, the “son,” and the emanating life and effective power the “spirit,” It exists in every human thought and action, which consists of end, cause and effect, or purpose, means and result. It is seen in every single thing of nature, which consists of substance, form, and resulting use.

With this doctrine in your mind, read the passages in the New Testament, where the Son appears to converse with the Father and to pray to Him, and you will see that these describe only how the tempted human nature of the Lord turned to the indwelling Divine Soul, asking and receiving thence Divine instruction and power to conquer its own inherited evil inclinations. Then look into your own heart, and observe the voice of conscience warning your own lower and evil nature against sin, and notice the protests and the unwillingness of that nature to be crucified and die. This may illustrate what is meant by the Divine Trinity.

But hear the testimony of the Word of God:

GOD IS ONE.

“I am the Lord thy God, and thou shalt have no other Gods before My faces”‘ ( Ex. 20: 3.)

“Hear, O, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deut. 6: 4)

“In that day shall the Lord be king over all the eartb1 in that day shall the Lord be one and His name one.” (Zech. 14: 9,)

JESUS CHRIST IS THAT ONE GOD.

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6.)

A Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and His name shall be, Immanuel, God with us,” (Is. 7: 14; Matt. 1: 22,)

“We abide in the Truth in Jesus Christ. This is the true God and life eternal. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John. 5; 20, 21.)

“To Me is given all power in Heaven and on earth.”(Matth 27: 18.)

“Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and His Redeemer Jehovah Zebaoth, I am the First and the Last, and beside Me there is no God.” (Is, 44: 6.)

“To Jesus Christ be glory and strength. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev, 1:5,8)

HE AND THE FATHER ARE ONE

“Unto to us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and His name shall be called, God, Mighty, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace,” (Is, 9: 6)

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness. Prepare ye the way of Jehovah” (Is. 11: 30)

“Behold the days are coming, when I shall raise up unto David a just Branch who shall reign King, and do justice and judgment in the earth, and this is His name, Jehovah our Justice ” (Jer. 23:5,6)

“If ye had known Me, ye would have known My Father also, and from henceforth ye have known Him and have seen Him. Philip saith unto Him, Lord, show us the Father and it sufficeth us. Jesus Faith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet thou hast not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father.” (John 14: 7, 9.)

I and the Father are one.” ( John 10: 30)

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS HIS SPIRIT,

“The Holy Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7; 39.)

[This has been wrongly translated in the Authorized Version, where it is said that “the Holy Spirit was not yet given.” The word “given” does not occur in the original Greek.]

After Jesus had been glorified,

“He breathed upon the disciples and said, Receive ye the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22.)

“A new heart I will give unto you, and a new spirit. I will put My spirit in the midst of you.” (Ezech. 36: 26.)

When the Comforter cometh, the Spirit of Truth, He shall testify of Me.” (John 15: 26, )

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you, and ye shall see Me.” (John 14: 16-19 )

“The Lord is that Spirit,” (2 Cor. 3:17.)

REDEMPTION.

If, then, there is but one person in the Godhead, what becomes of the doctrine of Redemption? Have we not been taught, in all churches, that Christ came to propitiate the wrath of the Father, and to procure for us the grace of God by His own sufferings and blood? If Christ and the Father are one person, who was there to propitiate, and from the wrath of whom are men redeemed?

Why did God Himself come down to this world? Why was He born, tempted and crucified?

The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem teaches, that the Lord came down to redeem and save mankind, not from the wrath of God—for there is no such thing,—nor from any well-merited punishment for crimes committed—for God is Justice,—but from the love of evil, and from the overwhelming power of Hell, which at that time threatened the entire human race with destruction and damnation.

The love of evil is like an avalanche, which increases in volume and in destructive force as it descends. From generation to generation, ever since the Fall, mankind had become worse and worse, through the accumulation of hereditary inclinations to evil. Ever greater hosts of evil spirits had been entering from this world into the other world, until the power of Hell had become so great that no human power could withstand it, and until the demons were actually taking open possession of the minds and bodies of men. The worst of all nations on earth was the Jewish, God’s “own, chosen people,” among whom pride and hypocrisy, hatred and avarice reigned as nowhere else.

It was to this nation that the Lord came down, taking upon Himself, from a Jewish woman, flesh and blood tainted with an hereditary inclination to all evil, even the grossest and most vile. He came down to the very bottom of the abyss of human nature, in order to reach and save all men, even the vilest; in order to be tempted to all evil, and in order to conquer in all temptations and thus to break the power of all the demons.

No one but a man could be thus tempted! and no one but God Himself could be thus victorious. The God-Man, Jesus Christ, did this for us. Himself without sin, He bore in His body the inclination to all sins. But He yielded not. To every infernal suggestion He replied, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God,” and “Get thee behind Me, Satan!” Thus He broke the force of evil, compelled the infernal crew to fall back, cowed and in trembling obedience to Himself. Thus He redeemed and set us free from spiritual slavery, and cleared a way through Hell into Heaven, a way upon which all who wish are free to follow Him.

The last and most direful of these temptations, the final and most desperate assault of Hell, was the passion of the Cross. The very robber on the cross beside Him bade Him descend and free Himself from suffering and death. To the Man, in His despair, it seemed for a moment as if the God within Him had forsaken Him. Yet He yielded not, hut committed His spirit into the hand of the “Father.” and expired, exclaiming: “It is finished.”

What was finished? The lifelong and ever victorious struggle against Hell; the universal Divine work of Redemption; the complete expulsion of hereditary evil from the assumed human body and nature, whereby this nature itself became glorified and was made one with the Divine Soul or “Father” within.

In this glorified and Divine body He rose again out of the grave, and with this Divinely Human body He ascended into Heaven. And thus it is that men can even now see, hear and understand Him, love, worship and become conjoined with Him as God-Man, our Father in the Heavens, our Creator, Redeemer and Regenerator.

How different from these teachings are the doctrines of the old Church respecting the bloody sacrifice of Christ, the Atonement, and the Redemption! From these latter it would appear, 1st that God the Father had given poor, weak mankind a Law which He well knew they had not the power to keep; 2d, that He condemned universal mankind to eternal death because of the sin of Adam; 3d, that He had determined to destroy the race in His terrible wrath; 4th, that blood alone would appease Him; 5th, that His only begotten Son offered to sacrifice Himself for us; 6th, that the Father permitted this substitution; and, 7th, that Christ became sin and curse for us, taking our actual sins upon Himself, past, present and to come, and bearing the natural punishment though not the eternal damnation which we had merited.

Reader, think of it! Could God, who is unchangeable Divine Love, be angry and revengeful? Could the Divine Mercy seek the eternal death of any of His creatures? What satisfaction to Him would be the blood of any such specks in the universe as we? Could He, who is justice itself, permit the innocent to suffer for the guilty? Can sins—and especially sins that have not yet been committed — be transferred from one person to another, like so many pieces of clothing? And how could Christ, who is God and unchangeably pure and holy, become “sin itself” and “a curse,” without losing His Divinity.

Such is the very corner-stone and jewel of the Old Theology, which was established at the Council of Nice in the year 325, and which has reigned supreme through all the dark ages, even unto this nineteenth century.

Yet, where is the religion, the Christianity in all this? Where the morality, the common sense, the justice of it all? What would we think of a judge in a court of justice who would venture to follow such an example?

Happily, it is not true that God is such a monster. Do not believe it for one moment.

Hear the Scriptures:

“He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is Love.” (1 John 4: 8)

“For I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal. 3:6.)

“Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God, and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” (Ezech. 18: 23.)

“The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the sou. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him,” (Ezech. 18: 20.)

“He took not on Him the nature of angels, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.” ( Heb. 2: 19.)

“We have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4: 15.)

“In that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted,” (Heb. 2; 10)

“Ye are clean through the word that I have spoken unto you.” (John 15: 3.)

For further instruction respecting the Lord, the Trinity and the Redemption, read the “Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord,” and “The True Christian Religion,” Vol. I.

PROVIDENCE.

In presenting a brief view of the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning Providence, we can do nothing better than to quote the following from the writings of Swedenborg himself:

“The Universal Government of the Lord is called Providence, and it extends to the most minute particulars of the life of man: for there is only One Fountain of life, from whom we have our being and live and act and that Fountain is the Lord

“They who think of the Divine Providence from worldly affairs conclude that its operations are only of a general nature, and that particulars depend on human agencies. But such persons are unacquainted with the mysteries of Heaven, because they form their conclusions under the influence of the love of self and the love of the world and of their gross delights.

“Hence, when they see the wicked exalted to honors and acquire riches, more than the good, and when they see success attending the artifices of which they avail themselves, they say in their hearts, that these things would not be so if the Divine Providence were universally operative and if it extended to every particular of the life of man; not considering that the Divine Providence does not regard that which is fleeting and transitory and which terminates with the life of man in this world, but that it regards that which remains to eternity, thus which has no end,

“Of that which has no end it may be predicated, that it is; but of that which has an end it may be said, respectively, that it is not. Let him who is able consider whether a hundred thousand years be anything when compared to eternity, and he will perceive that they are as nothing; what then are a few years of life in this world?

“Whoever rightly considers the subject may know that worldly rank and riches are not real Divine blessings, although man, from the pleasure which they yield him, calls them so; for they pass away, and also seduce many, and turn them away from Heaven.

“But that eternal life, and the happiness thence resulting, are real blessings bestowed on man by the Lord. He himself plainly teaches in these words:

“Provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the Heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:33, 34)

“The devices of the wicked are attended with success, because it is according to Divine Order that whatever man does he should do in the free exercise of his reason and from freedom of choice; unless therefore he were left to act according to his reason, consequently unless the artifices which he thence construes were followed with success, he could in no wise be disposed to receive eternal life. For eternal life is insinuated into him when he is in a state of liberty and of enlightened reason.

“No one can be compelled to do good, because nothing forced is permanent with man, since it is not his own. That alone becomes his own which he does from liberty and in accordance with his reason. What he does from liberty is done from his own will or love, and the will or love is the man himself. If a man were compelled to act contrary to his will, his thoughts would continually incline towards the dictates of his will. Besides, everyone strives after what is forbidden, for everyone strives to act from liberty. Hence it is evident, that unless man were preserved in liberty he could not be provided with good.

“To leave man to think, to will, and, so far as the law does not restrain him, to do evil, from his own liberty, is called Permission.

“When man is led, by the success of artful schemes, to the enjoyment of happiness in the world, it appears to him as the result of his own prudence; when yet at the same time the Divine Providence incessantly accompanies him, permitting and continually withdrawing him from evil. But when man is led to the enjoyment of felicity in Heaven, he knows and perceives that it is not effected by his own prudence, but by the Lord, and is the result of the Divine Providence, disposing and continually leading man to good.

“It is to be particularly observed, that beside Providence there is also Previdence or Foresight. Good is provided by the Lord; but evil is previded. The one must needs accompany the other, for what proceeds from man is nothing but evil, but what proceeds from the Lord is wholly good,” (New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine, Nos. 267-275.)

See also on this subject, Swedenborg’s work entitled “Angelic Wisdom Concerning the Divine Providence.”

 

The Historical Parts of the Word were given especially for Children

The Historical Parts of the Word were given especially for Children

The Word was given that heaven and earth may be united, or angels united with men; on which account it was so written that by the angels it may be apprehended spiritually while by man it is apprehended naturally, and that a holy influence may thus flow in through the angels, by which the union is effected. Such is the Word both in the historical and the prophetical parts; but the internal sense less appears in the historical parts than in the prophetical, because the historical parts are written in another style, but still by significatives. The historical parts were given that children and youth may be initiated thereby into the reading of the Word; for they are delightful to them, and are retained in their minds; and through these communication is thus given them with the heavens, which communication is grateful, because they are in a state of innocence and mutual love. This is the reason that the historical Word was given. (AC n. 6333)

As regards the cognitions of external or corporeal truth which are from collateral good,—and, as was said, contain within them what is Divine, and so can admit genuine goods,—such as are with infant children who are afterwards regenerated, in general they are such as those of the historical portions of the Word; as what is therein said of paradise, of the first man there, of the tree of life in its midst, and of the tree of knowledge where the serpent was that deceived. These are cognitions which have within them what is Divine, and admit into them goods and truths spiritual and celestial, because they represent and signify them. Such cognitions also are the other things in the historical portions of the Word, as what is said of the tabernacle and the temple, and of the construction of them; in like manner what is said of the garments of Aaron and of his sons, and also of the feasts, of tabernacles, of the first-fruits of the harvest, and of unleavened bread, and other such things. When these and such like things are known and thought of by an infant child, then the angels who are with him think of the Divine things which they represent and signify; and as the angels are affected by them their affection is communicated, and causes the delight and pleasure which the child derives from them, and prepares his mind to receive genuine truths and goods. (ibid.. n. 3665)

The Ascension and Mediation of the Lord

Lecture IV

The Ascension and Mediation of the Lord

The Lord came into this world to save men. He left it for the same purpose, and His departure was as necessary to the further progress of His work, as His coming. He came into this world in the only way that it is possible for a spiritual or a Divine Being to come into a material world and meet men, face to face; and that is by clothing Himself in the same garment of flesh they wear. “He came out from the Father, and came into this world,” not as a son leaves a father in one place, and goes to another; but as a man’s material body comes out from his spiritual body, is formed by it, is its image and likeness in clay; as every act of the material body comes out from the affections and thoughts. The Father did not send the Son, as one person sends another, but as the soul sends forth its acts, as the sun sends forth planets from his glowing heart. Neither did the Father become the son; the Divine was not changed into the natural. It clothed itself with a natural body, but still remained entirely, though not personally, distinct from it. We must keep our thought fixed upon one person, and only one, whatever changes and actions may be described.

Neither must we admit the idea that the Lord left one place and went to another, when He came into this world. He came down from heaven, but it is not said that He left heaven. As a Divine Being, He filled all the heavens and all worlds with the same or a much greater fullness after the assumption of a human nature, than before. Owing to the imperfection of human language, it is impossible to express these Divine and spiritual truths fully; but science and our own observation teach us many things which very clearly illustrate them. Many persons find it difficult to understand how Jehovah Himself could come into the world by clothing His Divine with a human nature. They think He must have been shut up in that nature—that He must have left heaven. This could not be, for He is, and always has been, Omnipresent. The real object of the incarnation was, to make Him more sensibly present upon the earth.

Science teaches us that the planets were created from the sun. They are the pure substances of the sun come down to earth, or changed into gas and rock. But the sun has left no place in the process of creation. It is the same source of heat and light, and shines with undiminished splendor. When our affections come down into thoughts, words, and deeds, they leave no place; they remain where they were before. They have not lost their character or form as affections; they have clothed themselves with material garments, but they still remain the same. In an analogous way, the Divine was not changed into the human, but clothed itself with it. It lost none of its proper power, but, by clothing itself with a human nature, it could act with more power in the lower planes of existence.

As the Lord came into the world by taking upon Himself our nature, so He departed from it by discarding all that he received from Mary. As He was in the world before the incarnation, as truly as He was after it, though not in a form appreciable by the human senses, so He was in the world after His ascension, and is now, more fully than before it, though we cannot see His face or hear His voice; yet, as I shall show hereafter, He can now operate more powerfully upon men than He could if He had remained bodily present among them.

Before we can gain a true idea of the nature of His ascension, it is necessary also, to know what is meant by “’descent” and “ascent” when applied to the Lord. They do not mean any change in space, but a change in state. From the will to the understanding, from the thought to speech and deed, is down; from spirit to matter is down. And conversely from matter to spirit; from the body to the soul, is up. The Lord’s ascension, then, was not through space to some region above us in the sky. It consisted in the glorification of His human nature, or making it Divine. When men pass from this into the spiritual world, they leave the material body behind them. But suppose it was gradually dissipated, and a spiritual body substituted in its place. In that case, we as material beings might be said to have ascended to the spiritual world or to a spiritual state.

The Lord’s return to His father, was effected by putting off all the maternal human; all that was material and not homogeneous with His Divine and essential being; and substituting in its place Divine substances and forms from Himself. Thus He made His human nature Divine; the merely human natural became a Divine natural. When this change was fully effected it was impossible to manifest Himself to the natural senses of men.

The Lord was never seen, after His resurrection, with the natural eye. A careful examination of all the instances recorded of His manifestation to His disciples and others, before His final ascension, will show conclusively, that they saw Him with the spiritual and not with the natural eye. He really left the earth and the natural presence of men, when He was laid in the sepulchre. Afterwards He was seen only with the spiritual eye, in the spiritual world, as the prophets saw Him, as the angel of Jehovah before His coming. Finally, He passed out of the spiritual world in the same way that He had passed from the material world, “up to where He was before,” above the heavens to perfect union with the Father. The assumed nature became Divine, became one with the essential Divine that assumed it. We do not mean by this, that the Divine humanity became the same as the infinite essence, that it was merged into Jehovah and became identical with Him. On the contrary, the glorified humanity remains as distinct from the Divine essence called Jehovah, as man’s body is distinct from his soul, and yet it was perfectly homogeneous with it; acted in perfect harmony with it; was capable of receiving, and possessing in itself all the infinite perfections of the Divine essence. And thus it became the perfect medium of communicating the Divine truth to men.

The change that took place in the Lord by the glorification of His humanity was perfectly analogous to that which would take place in man, if the material body should become so purged of its earthiness; so refined, purified, exalted, that it acted in full harmony with the spirit; that it became one with it; moved spontaneously and fully to every desire of the will and thought; was the Perfect medium of every affection, and accurately executed every demand of the soul. What such a body would be to man’s spirit, the Divine humanity is to the Father, the Divine essence. By putting off all that was not at one with the inmost Divine, the Lord necessarily put Himself out of the world; He ascended to His Father.

Now we can see why He said to His disciples, “It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” The Holy Spirit, which our Lord declares is the spirit of truth or the Divine truth, could not flow freely from the humanity until those changes had taken place in it, which would render it invisible to men and even to angels. It must become so purged of every material dross, so purified and exalted, that it could not be cognizable by the natural senses; that it could become the perfect embodiment of that Divine life which is the fountain of all life, and the medium, the instrument of conducting that life down to earth; the Mediator between God, the essential Divine, and man. When the human nature became Divine, and consequently one with the essential Divine as it existed before the incarnation, the spirit of truth flowed through it, without any obstruction, and operated directly upon the spiritual natures of men to guide them into the way of truth. “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” “He shall receive of mine and show it unto you.”

One great difficulty we all have in gaining a clear knowledge of this most profound subject, consists in keeping out of our minds the idea of a personal distinction between the Father and Son. We are prone to place them side by side, as they are not, rather than one within the other, as they are. Most persons do not find it so hard to avoid thinking of the Holy Spirit as a distinct person, because they do not attach much idea to the spirit. It is, however, absolutely necessary to a true knowledge of the Lord, and of our relations to him, to hold fast to the idea of His personal unity; and we shall not have so much difficulty in doing this, if we think of the Father as dwelling within the Son—as the Lord says He does—as the soul dwells in the body.

Having stated the doctrine that the Humanity glorified, became the Mediator between God and man, let us glance back a moment at some of the steps by which we have reached our present position.

Our Heavenly Father, in whom we live and move and have our being, finding that His children had departed so far from Him, and had done such violence to their own natures that they had excluded Him from all the higher planes of their life, had rendered themselves incapable of receiving life from the Divine as it is in itself, and were on the point of breaking entirely away from Him, and thus of perishing as natural beings even, determined, from His great love for them, to clothe Himself with a nature similar to their own.

He made them, originally, in His own image and likeness, and now that they had lost it, He puts on their image, perverted as it is, that He may draw near to them without destroying them; that he may reach them, and by the action of His own Divine and infinitely perfect life upon that fallen nature, restore it to its original perfection; nay more, make it Divine, and through it, thus exalted to perfect union with Himself, and so modified and adapted to man’s condition that it could operate directly upon him, pour the full tide of His regenerating and life-giving power into man’s soul. This work He accomplished, and this poor fallen nature is now a Divine humanity, having life in itself, and capable of acting in perfect union with His essential nature before the incarnation. And the life which flows through it—call that life by whatever name you please—the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the bread and water of life, or the Lord’s flesh and blood—becomes modified by the humanity, partakes of its Divine and human nature, and, as it falls upon and penetrates man’s soul, spends its whole efficacy in putting off from his nature all that is not homogeneous with itself. It regenerates, recreates us in its own image and likeness, and, consequently, in the likeness of the Divine humanity, and restores to us our lost perfection.

This spirit is not a mere abstract influence. It is substance and form. The glorified humanity says, “He shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you;” that is, He shall receive of my nature, of my character. It is the blood of the Lamb that cleanses us from all sin. “When He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.” It is the water of life, which becomes a well of water, springing up into eternal life in every heart which receives it. It is the bread of life which cometh down from heaven, that man may eat thereof and not die. It is the Divine truth which sanctifies us and fills the understanding with heavenly light. When it has once gained a lodgement in our hearts and begun its work, it is the Lord dwelling in us and we in Him. It is a heavenly, a Divine life, germinating within us. By its instrumentality the Divine life made human dwells in us, as the Father dwells in the humanity which He assumed and glorified. And when its work is fully completed in us, when, by its assistance constantly given, we have laid down our natural evil life, as the Lord laid down His; when we have been born again by the regenerating influences of this Holy Spirit; when we have been created anew into His image and likeness, then we shall become the sons of God; then the Divine humanity will dwell in us as the Father dwells in the humanity. “I in them and thou in Me,” and we shall “all be made perfect in one.”

Now our heavenly Father has once more reached us, and begins to draw us towards Himself. He disperses our enemies. He surrounds us with the sphere of His own life. He lifts us out of the pit, and out of hell itself. He throws wide the prison doors. He opens our eyes; He unstops our ears; He bids us stretch forth our palsied arms. “He makes the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing.”

Is not this redemption by His blood? Is not this reconciliation and salvation? Is not this an atonement? A real coming together, a real unity? It is no mere moral influence theory; it is no satisfaction or governmental theory; it is no disentanglement of merely legal difficulties; it is no contract between three parties who are yet but one; it involves no verbal quibbles, calling men good when they have only been saved from the just desserts of their sins by the punishment of the innocent. The sin itself is forgiven, that is, given up; it is remitted, that is, rejected, cast out from the soul. Man is purged of the corruption of sin by the blood of Christ; for the spirit of truth is that blood which He has shed, is now shedding, and ever will shed for the regeneration and life of men. The Lord’s merits are not transferred to our account, as the merchant transfers accounts in his ledger, but His life is transferred into our souls and becomes our life, not by a legal fiction or any metaphysical subtilty, but by its reception into our wills and understandings, into our thoughts and deeds. It becomes our life, as the bread we eat and the water we drink become the bone and muscle, the flesh and blood, the substance and strength of our material bodies when they are incorporated into our forms.

Having thus endeavored to follow our Lord and Savior in His ascent from the conscious natural presence of men, we are prepared to consider more fully His subsequent relations to the human race.

It is said in the Gospel according to Mark, “So, then, after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” Connecting this statement with another made by the Apostle to the Hebrews, where it is declared of Jesus that “He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them,” theologians have drawn the conclusion that the Savior is literally seated on a throne at the right hand of God the Father, where He acts as our advocate with the Father, interceding with Him for sinners, and endeavoring to persuade Him to spare them and forgive them their sins; by which they mean, to remit the penalty due to their sins. There has been a difference of opinion upon the subject, whether He supplicates the Father in words or not, some contending that He does, and others that He does not. Some have held that His mere presence before the Father was sufficient, because it perpetually reminded Him of the sacrifices He had made, and of the rights He had acquired by virtue of them. Some argue that His wounds perpetually bleed, and at the sight of them the Father’s wrath is mitigated.

But this silent presence and obvious evidence of His sufferings are not sufficiently dramatic and effective to satisfy many minds, and he is sometimes represented as standing before the Father, and holding up His hands, and pointing to the wound in His side, and uttering the most moving appeals to induce Him to spare the sinner. This gross conception of the Lord’s mediation has, doubtless, become much modified by the most intelligent minds; but the belief is, no doubt, general in the Christian Church that the Savior does intercede for us with the Father, as a person intercedes with a king or an executive officer for some favor. But this idea of our Lord’s mediation involves many difficulties, not to say absurdities.

It brings before the mind two distinct persons of remarkably diverse character, who are still the same in essence and substance; both have the same ends, and must be actuated by the same motives—are, indeed, one; and yet this intercession and exhibition of suffering are necessary to move the Father to do what He had promised to do, what He desired to do, what He had graciously given His own Son to enable Him to do, and still preserve his consistency of character. Surely it would seem as though there could be no need for mediation or intercession in such a case as this. And, doubtless, it is only the theory that demands it; for what would be the use of a mediator and intercessor if he had no occasion to exercise the functions of his office?

Again: If our Lord ascended to heaven with a material body, heaven must be a material place, for a material body cannot go into a spiritual world. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;” and it would not he a fitting abode for angels and pure spirits, much less for the Father Himself.

Furthermore, how could a being with a material body sit down at the right hand of a spiritual, or of a Divine Being? The doctrines which teach the necessity for this gross, legal mediation, and which declare that all our hopes of salvation rest upon it, even after satisfaction has been fully made, declare, also, that God has neither body, passions, nor parts; and those who accept them consider it derogatory to His infinite nature to attribute to Him any form, much more the human form. How then could the Savior sit at His right hand, if He has no right hand? The literal meaning, then, cannot be the true one, according to the common ideas of it.

Indeed, the prevalent doctrine of our Lord’s present mediatorial work is encumbered with innumerable difficulties, and after all, according to the theory which demands it, there can be no necessity for it. For, according to this theory, a full satisfaction has been made; the demands of the law have been satisfied, and all that the sinner has to do, is to accept pardon on the terms offered. Where is the need of any further intercession? The whole question, so far as regards the Father and Son, is settled. Surely a being of infinite love and wisdom cannot forget His promise; He could need no urging to do what He had formally contracted to do. The very implication that He does, is derogatory to His character. An honest man needs no urging to comply with his contract, even when it is not in his favor; much less, when it is carrying out the very ends he desires to accomplish. How then can it be possible that the Lord needs urging to do what He has entered into the most solemn obligations to do; what He has even given His only Son to enable Him to accomplish, without violating His justice, and still maintain the consistency of His character. Surely there can be no greater absurdity than this. Indeed, I do not see how it can be shown, according to the common doctrine of the atonement, that there was any necessity for a mediator after the demands of the law had been satisfied. And it is generally admitted that the mediatorial office will cease after the judgment, and all human accounts have been settled. The Savior will cease to be our advocate, and become our unrelenting and terrible judge. If He sits at the right hand of the Father, it will only be as an associate judge to receive homage, and award dessert.

But it may be replied, the Bible says, “He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God,” and afterwards Stephen says, “he saw the heavens opened, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,” and we must believe it. I admit that we ought to believe the Bible; but we ought to know what it means, before we assent to it. We must be sure that we have a correct idea of what is meant by “the right hand of God,” before we draw any doctrines from it, which involve such important consequences, as the one we are now considering.

If we look to other parts of the Word, we shall find that the “right hand” is used as the symbol of power. “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion.” “Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power; thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.” “O God, thou givest me the shield of thy salvation, and thy right hand hath holden me up.” “O God, thy right hand sustaineth me, thou hast a mighty arm; strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.” “The Lord hath sworn by his right hand and by the arm of his strength.” Our Lord Himself said, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power.” “Hereafter shall the Son of Man sit at the right hand of the power of God.” In these and many other passages, the right hand is evidently used as the emblem and instrument of power. All our power over matter is exerted by means of our hands. How perfectly helpless is even the wisest man without hands.

How did the Lord bring His Divine power to bear upon men’s enemies? How did He reach man himself, and lift him up from death? By the humanity He assumed. That became the “arm of His strength.” That was the instrument He used. And having made it Divine, it is now and must be for ever, the “right hand” of His power. The Divine humanity has become the perfect and permanent instrument of His love and wisdom; the instrument with which He brings all His saving power to bear upon men. It is “the arm of His strength.” It is “His right hand.” And when by the Savior we mean the Divine humanity, we can see that the declaration, “He ever liveth to make intercession for us,” is a plain statement of a literal fact, and involves no inconsistencies with the Divine character. It is merely carrying the great purposes of our heavenly Father in assuming our nature into successful accomplishment.

This interpretation of the “right hand,” is also perfectly consistent with the Divine unity. For the Father is not one person and the Son another. The Son is the Divine humanity which invests the Divine essence called the Father as the body invests the soul in man.

It does not involve the necessity of making heaven a material place, or the impossibility of taking a material body into a spiritual world. For, according to the doctrine I have aimed to set forth, all that was material in the human nature was put off. This is evident from the fact that the Lord appeared to the disciples, in a room, when the door was shut, and vanished from their sight, without leaving them in the ordinary way. This shows that material substances formed no obstruction to His passage. His body, even to His flesh and bones, was made Divine. It possessed all the infinite perfections of His essential being before the incarnation. The same analogous change was wrought in the human nature derived from Mary, that would be wrought in the material body of any man, if it could be so purified and perfected in every respect that it acted spontaneously and in perfect harmony with the soul; offering no obstruction to it, and fully carrying out into ultimate effect every desire. In such a state of perfection the body and soul would be one, as the Father and Son are one.

The idea of mediations and intercession, as involved in this doctrine, is not that which exists between one person and another, but that of an instrumentality provided for the accomplishment of some purpose which could not be effected without it. The principle can be illustrated by innumerable things in nature and human life. The magnetic telegraph is perhaps as good as any. Men living remote from each other desire to communicate their thoughts and affections. They cannot do it by the ordinary methods. But there is a messenger which travels almost as swift as thought. It must, however, have a peculiar path. It cannot travel every road. From studying the nature of this magnetic element, men discover that it passes freely through iron, and they stretch threads of it from city to city, and from one side of the continent to the other; and by accumulating this element and concentrating it in powerful forms, it flies with their messages swift as light. The wire is the nerve, the magnetic element the soul, and both together are the mediator, the intercessor, between men remote from each other in space.

So the Divine Humanity is the mediator between God and man. It has restored the connection between the Divine Life and the human soul. Truth is the spiritual nervous thread, and when it is planted in the understanding a station is established in the soul and the Lord begins to send his messages of love and life to it. There is no idea of praying, or pleading, or persuading, or propitiating the Lord to do what He desires to do. The whole plan consists in simply providing the means, a mediation, by which He can accomplish the benign purposes of His infinite love. The Divine humanity is that medium. It intercedes, that is, it goes between the sinner and God—for this is the true meaning of intercede—as the wire intercedes between city and city. Thus it is literally true that Jesus Christ the Divine Humanity “ever liveth to make intercession for us.”

In the light of this truth we can see, also, that the mediator’s office will never cease. The Lord has sat down at the right hand of the power of God. He has become that power, and as a perfect mediator of it, He will for ever transmit it to the angels in heaven, to men upon earth. We have nothing, we never can have any power to think, to love, to enjoy, or to exist, which does not come by His mediation and intercession. Not our salvation only, but our very existence depends upon it. So much farther do the doctrines of the New Church go beyond all other, in what they teach us of the necessity of the Atonement, that they declare we receive not only our salvation from sin, but all the benefits we enjoy, even those of existence itself.

You cannot fail, also, to see the bearings which this doctrine of the Intercession and Mediation of the Lord has upon His relations to man since His ascension, and will have through all coming time. The Divine humanity is the medium by which the Divine life flows down to all below it in the heavens and upon all the earths, in far greater power, and in more specific adaptation to their states, than ever before. All men have come more directly and fully under the power of the Lord than before the Incarnation. The Holy Spirit now flows in fuller tides, and in forms specifically adapted to all human states. Humanity is once more and forever anchored fast to the eternal throne; and no ignorance of men, no storms of human passions, no floods of falsity from hell, can ever overwhelm it in their waves, or cause the bark of human hope to drive from her anchorage. Humanity has begun the assent, and henceforth its path is to grow higher and brighter towards the perfect day.

Salvation through Christ’s death, not by it.

Lecture III.

Salvation through Christ’s death, not by it.

The death of Christ is the central idea in all the prevalent theories of man’s salvation. It is generally regarded as not only the crowning act of His great work of Redemption, but as the essential thing in it. To the Catholic, the cross has become the emblem of Religion and Salvation, and the Protestant points to Calvary as the place where the full price was paid for his ransom from death. The burden of all religious teaching is the cross of Christ. Those who are inquiring the way to eternal life, are told that they can find it only in the suffering and death of Christ. If they can believe that Christ died for them and thus paid the debt due to Divine justice, and are willing to accept pardon from the Father for the sake of Jesus Christ, it is freely granted them, and their salvation is secured. Thus Christians generally place their hope, and their only hope, of salvation in His death. They look to that; they rest upon that; that is their plea for mercy, and the only plea, they think, that will have any avail with Divine justice. They perpetually remind the Father that the debt, due His justice for their sins, is paid; that they accept the payment as due from them. They claim the promise of acquittal; and they beseech Him, not for their sakes, but for the sake of His suffering, dying Son, to have mercy upon them, and save them from eternal death. And the Savior himself is represented as joining with them in their plea as their great advocate. He holds up His hands pierced with the cruel nails, and points to His wounded side, to move implacable justice to compassion, by a vivid exhibition of His suffering and the greatness of the price He has paid for human souls. If the plea is successful, the Father accepts the satisfaction made by the sufferings and death of the Savior, and freely pardons the sinner.

The idea of suffering and death is the central principle of this whole theory. According to it, our salvation is entirely due to them. They constitute the Lord’s merits and righteousness, which He transfers to our account, and the grounds on which He claims our release from punishment. The Father would not or could not forgive men, until the amount of suffering due to a violated law had been inflicted. The sacrifice must be made. Some victim must be offered. The debt must be paid to the uttermost farthing.

If we acknowledge this theory to be true, which we by no means do, and that it accomplishes the results claimed for it, it still fails in -one essential particular. It only saves men from the penalty of sin; it does not touch the sin itself. It is in no way applicable to it. The Bible everywhere declares, that the Lord came to save men from their sins. Sin is one thing, and its penalties quite a different thing. The distinction is the same as that between disease and the pain it causes. The pain is not anything in itself; it is only an indication of the disease, and is caused by the obstruction the disease opposes to the orderly activities of the soul. The wise physician so regards it. He does not seek to operate directly upon the pain. He looks for the disease and seeks to remove that, knowing the pain will cease with its cause.

It is possible to remove the pain in many cases, by the aid of chloroform and morphine, without removing the disease; but it is only a mere temporary expedient. The disease is not affected by it, and the pain soon returns with increased power. There can be no permanent relief, except by the cure of the disease. So it is with man’s spiritual diseases, his sins. It would be of no permanent service to man to remit the penalty of his sins, while the sin remained. It would not save him from spiritual death. Death is not punishment; it is loss of life. If our Lord, by His sufferings and death, had made the most ample satisfaction to Divine Justice for man’s disobedience, so that, according to the theory, God could be just and remit the penalty due to sin, it would not have removed a single obstacle in his way to heaven; it would not have communicated to him a single truth, or heavenly affection; it would not have contributed in the least to his salvation. He would have remained as dead in trespasses and sins, as he was before the pardon was offered. It would do no more to make angels of men than it would make good honest citizens of all the thieves, robbers, and murderers in our country, to open the prison doors and bid them go free.

Men have fallen into a fatal error, in confounding sin with its penalty. They have mistaken the shadow for the substance, and have constructed theories of the Divine government and of human salvation upon it. Every one desires to be saved from suffering. But how few desire to be saved from sin! Men implore the Divine mercy to save them from the torments of hell; but how few pray to be delivered from the sins which cause the torments. The sins they love. They roll them as sweet morsels under their tongues. To give them up is to give up their life. It is cutting off the right hand, and plucking out the right eye. It is forsaking all, to become His disciples. How many persons, do you think, sincerely and earnestly pray the Lord to forgive their sins, not the penalty, but the sin itself; that is, to assist them in overcoming and removing every selfish and worldly and impure desire? I fear not many. It is so easy to deceive ourselves, and to think we are really desiring to be good, when we are only seeking to escape punishment, and to be happy.

The Lord’s mission upon the earth, His life, and sufferings, and death, had no special and direct reference to saving man from punishment. He did not come to abrogate or evade His own law; he came to fulfill it. In His infinite wisdom He has so formed man, as a spiritual and a material being, that he cannot violate a single law of his organization without suffering the penalty. The penalty is good; it serves a useful purpose, so long as the sin remains. It is just as useful now as it ever was, and it will be just as useful in the spiritual world as it is in this world. He came to save us from sin and death.

This mistaking the penalty of sin for the sin itself has been one of the most mischievous and destructive errors in theology. It has diverted the minds of men from the true object of their attention, and fastened them upon a mere abstraction; upon the shadow instead of the substance. It has led men to fear punishment rather than sin, pain more than disease, and to implore the Lord to save them from imprisonment and death rather than the sins which lead to them. It has taken the whole subject of man’s relations to the Lord out of the established order and harmony of the Divine methods, and substituted a mere legal fiction for it; an abstruse and artificial technicality, which bewilders the mind, outrages the reason, and changes the plain and simple precepts of the Gospel into abstruse and groundless abstractions, and ends by representing the Lord as practically evading His own law, under the pretence of fulfilling it.

If any man will take his Bible, and while reading it keep in mind, that when the Lord says sin, He means sin, and not punishment, and that sin is the inversion and total derangement of his spiritual organization, and not merely evil desires, false opinions and wicked acts; that it is a disease involving the whole spiritual form; a disease which must be cured, or it will result in spiritual death, and forever exclude him from all the delights and joys of spiritual health, which are heavenly peace and blessedness, he will have no difficulty in understanding what he must do to be saved, and why it was necessary to his salvation that the Lord should come into the world, and suffer, and die. The reason is as plain as it is for calling a surgeon when you have broken your bones. Keep your thoughts fixed on sin as sin; as impure, selfish, and worldly affections brought into action, or longing for opportunity to gratify their lusts; and remember that our Lord came to save men from these evil affections, and you will have no more difficulty in understanding what relation His sufferings and death have to your salvation, than you have in understanding what relation the weariness, the painful, and often repulsive labor of those who watch over and minister to you in sickness, have to your recovery.

The Lord could not come into this world and reach humanity without assuming a human nature and a material body. Whenever he had appeared to men before, their spiritual sight was opened, and they saw Him in the spiritual world. That revelation of Himself answered His purpose, at that time, in that state of humanity; but when man had fallen so low that he could not be reached in that way, the Lord could gain no access to him except through the material body; and then He assumed that. And He did it according to His own laws. He came into this world as every soul or spiritual being comes into it. The nature He assumed, however, was imperfect, full of hereditary evils. There were no human natures in this world, at that time, that were not full of evil. Consequently, the humanity assumed from Mary was not a perfect medium between the Divine within and man, and He immediately set about the work of making it a perfect medium.

This human was subject to all the laws that every merely human being is subject to. It needed the same attention and tender care that every infant needs. It learned truth as every child learns it. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” He violated no laws of physical or mental growth. Every step, from His conception to His resurrection, was ordered by infinite wisdom, and taken with direct reference to its bearings upon the great work of redemption. He was always “about His Father’s business.” The assumed nature was always controlled and directed in every particular in the best way to make it a perfect medium of accomplishing the Divine purposes of love to man; to prepare it to become a perfect mediator between God and man.
A part of this work could not be accomplished without suffering; without the most intense and awful agony. It required the death, or the entire dissipation and destruction of the evil life or nature he assumed from Mary, and this could not be fully accomplished without the death of the material body. His death was not, therefore, the whole of the work of redemption, nor the principal part of it. It was only the final scene in the great drama. The work of redemption was finished with the last cry of agony. Everything that was imperfect in form or tendency; everything that was merely natural; everything that was too weak to bear the full pressure and intense ardors of His Divine love; everything that obstructed His wisdom, or in any respect failed of perfect union with the Divine within, called the Father, was put off. The nature He assumed became glorified and Divine. Thus it became the perfect mediator, the perfect instrument of communicating the Divine life to men.

The life He laid down was not merely the death of the material body for three days. It was the death of every evil tendency in the nature assumed. It was a gradual, and sometimes a most painful, work. It was laid down for us because the Divine could not fully and effectually reach us without it. But it was not the laying down of His life that saved us, though we could not have been saved without it. Our Lord declares the real truth when He says, “Because I live ye shall live also.” His sufferings and death are the merely negative side of His work. They were necessary though incidental effects. They are the most conspicuous and striking part of the work, as the flash and thunder of a cannon are the most conspicuous effects of its discharge, and are so necessary to it, that it cannot be fired without them; and yet they contribute nothing whatever to the effect of the ball. The Lord saved us by coming to us, by ministering to us, by bringing His divine life so near to us that by touching, as it were, the hem of His garment, the garment of flesh, virtue could flow out of Him and heal us. The human nature, when glorified, became the Mediator; it opened up the way by which the only saving power in the universe could reach us.

Now, keeping the real work He accomplished for us, distinctly before us, we can further see in what sense He became a sacrifice for us; how His blood was shed for us, and cleanses us from sin.

The word sacrifice has two meanings. Its original and true meaning is, to make sacred or holy; its common meaning, is the surrender of something that is dear to us, for the good of others, as we sacrifice our time, money, strength, comfort, and life, for others, or for some ideal or real good; our Lord was a sacrifice for us in both these senses. His sufferings and death were a sacrifice for man. Every privation He accepted, every temptation He endured, every pang He suffered, was a sacrifice for us, in the same sense that everything we suffer for others, is a sacrifice for them. He laid down His life for us, or what is the same thing, He sacrificed His life for us. It is also in perfect accordance with the fact, to say that God sacrificed His Son for us, if by God we understand the Divine Being who assumed a human nature, and not a distinct person; and by His Son, the nature assumed. The Divine, the Father, did sacrifice the Human, derived from and born of Mary. He put off, He offered up, He laid down, or utterly destroyed, this merely human and evil life, as the priest sacrificed the animals upon the altar.

But He was not sacrificed instead of us. We were dead already. Humanity had lost all truly spiritual life. It was not for the purpose of making any satisfaction to offended justice, and bearing a penalty due to man, but to do a work necessary to his salvation.

He was also a sacrifice for us in the true sense of the word. It is generally supposed, “that when a person brought an animal to be sacrificed, it implied an acknowledgment that he deserved to be treated as the animal was about to be; that as the animal was to suffer death, so the offerer deserved to suffer damnation. And as he was required by the law to lay his hands upon the head of the victim, this was supposed to imply the transfer of his guilt from himself to the animal; which, therefore, was accepted in his place to appease by its death the anger of God.” As, however, it is palpably evident that the death of an animal is a trifling substitute for the damnation of a human being, it is supposed, after all, that the sacrifice of the animal had nothing to do with the deliverance of the sinner, except as symbolizing the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is regarded as the great victim to whom were transferred, though innocent Himself, the iniquities of the whole human race, or at least of such of them as are saved, and who, in His sufferings on the cross, bore all the punishment which was due to them.

But this is a total misconception of the nature and meaning of the sacrifice in the ceremonial worship of the Jews. The animals sacrificed, represented the affections of the one who offered them, or of the people for whom they were offered. Killing the animal was no part of the sacrifice, but simply a necessary preparation for it. The sacrifice itself is repeatedly declared to be “most holy.” The burnt-offerings and sacrifices represented the entire devotion and consecration of all our affections and thoughts to the Lord. They were offered to him to represent the constant truth, that we ought to love the Lord with all the heart; that we ought to present our affections and thoughts, and as the apostle says, our bodies, as a living sacrifice to the Lord. They implied also the acknowledgment that all our good affections and true thoughts come from the Lord. In a word, they were intended to represent and constantly set forth the eternal truth, that all we have and are, that is good and true, is the Lord’s free gift, and that every spiritual and natural faculty ought to be consecrated to His service, by employing it in the service of humanity; and that we ought to put away and shun, as a sin against God, every evil affection and false principle and wrong act, which in any way hinders this offering of acceptable worship.

In this highest and true sense of the term, our Lord was a sacrifice for us. He declared of His disciples, for their sakes, “I sanctify myself that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” He purged the nature He assumed of every hereditary defilement. He dedicated and consecrated it to the purposes of the Divine law—to the salvation of man. He made it the perfectly pure and fit medium of communicating His Divine life to men. He made it Divine, so that it became the perfect embodiment of His infinite perfections—became one with His essential nature before He came into the world. And now this Divine Humanity ever liveth to make intercession for us. From it we now receive all our power to shun evil and to do good.

It is impossible for us adequately to conceive how entire and perfect this sacrifice was. But we can form a true idea of its nature from an analogous work in ourselves. When we have learned the truth and begin to act from heavenly motives, we find much in ourselves that lies in the way of fully carrying out our principles in every relation of life. There is much in bodily appetites, and natural passions, and evil habits; many things in our relations to others, that tend to obstruct and thwart our purposes. To overcome these evils and falsities, and put them away, requires much labor and painful struggle. But we are determined to make every power and possession sacred to the attainment of the one end. We strive to put away all that opposes it, to train and discipline and bring under perfect control, every faculty, and make it contribute its share of service to the general result.

In this sense our Lord became a sacrifice for us. His sole object in the creation of man, was to make him happy by communicating His own life to him. He had consecrated everything in the universe to this end. Sin interposed and threatened to defeat His purpose of love. Now He sacrifices or makes sacred everything to the removal of sin. He provides Himself with all the means necessary to accomplish His ends, and He sacrifices or makes them sacred to their attainment. He lays down His life, that He may take it again in a form perfectly adapted to defeat the powers of evil, and pour a new tide of life into the dying soul of man. This is the true and perfect sacrifice; and in this as in all other respects, He is our perfect exemplar. He does this to help us to overcome and put away our sins. We must cooperate with Him in His efforts to do this great work in ourselves and in others. He makes all His infinite faculties sacred to our good in the same way, that we must make ours sacred to the good of others and to His GOOD.

But it may be asked, how does this view of the subject agree with the declaration that we are saved by the blood of Christ? that He purchased us with His own blood? that we are “justified,” “propitiated,” “redeemed,” “brought nigh,” and “saved” by His blood ? I answer, that it perfectly harmonizes with it in whatever sense the term “blood” is used.

By the blood of Christ, the apostles generally mean His sufferings and death; and this is doubtless the meaning generally attached to the word by Christians. If we understand it in this sense, we have already explained how we are saved by it. The work He came to do could not be effected without the shedding of His blood. The infirmities or evil tendencies in the humanity He assumed, could not be perfectly put off, and the human nature made Divine, without the entire dissipation of everything that was not perfectly homogeneous with His Divine nature, and this great change could not be effected without His sufferings and death, without the shedding of His blood.

We must understand it in the same sense that we use the words when we say that it is sometimes necessary to die for our country. When enemies attack us with weapons destructive to natural life, we must meet them with the same weapons; and in such a conflict it is impossible to avoid wounds and death; and it is common to say that the country is saved by the blood and death of those who fall in battle. But every one can see that it is not their blood and death that saves their country, but their victory. The country is saved by the wounds and death of their enemies.

Theologians have seen that this is the inevitable result of this reasoning, and some have accepted it, and have held that God regarded Christ as His enemy, and poured upon His innocent head the full measure of the indignation and wrath that was due to the sinner. But, that a Being of infinite love, and wisdom, and truth, could pretend that His son was guilty when He knew He was not; and punish Him as though He were really an infernal rebel against His righteous government, and guilty of all the foul crimes of a perverted and corrupt humanity, when He knew that He was as innocent and spotless from any stain of guilt as Himself, is a doctrine so repugnant to reason, so contrary to every principle of justice, and derogatory to the Divine character, that it would seem to be only necessary to state it, to cause a prompt and indignant rejection.

But the Lord’s blood has another and more important meaning than His sufferings and death, a meaning which avoids all these difficulties, and explains many passages of the Word which otherwise have only a remote and doubtful signification. A comparison between the effects attributed, in the Bible, to the Lord’s blood and to the Divine Truth, will show them to be identical.

I. Blood and truth are both declared to be the instruments of life. Blood bears the same relation to the body, and performs the same offices for it, that truth does for the soul. The Lord says, “the blood is the life of the body.” “The life of the flesh is in the blood.” “Be sure thou eat not the blood, for the blood is the soul or life.” So the Lord says in John, “The words I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” When the young man asked him what he should do to be saved, he replied, “If thou wouldst enter into life, keep the commandments,” attributing to the commandments or Divine truth the power of giving life. And, again, He declares, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life.” Many more passages might be given to the same effect. But these are sufficient to establish the general principle, that blood and truth both refer to life, and in relation to it have the same meaning.

II. Again: Both blood and truth are declared to be the means of conjunction with the Lord. We become united to the Lord, one with Him, by keeping His words, having His words abide in us, by doing His commandments. The same effects are attributed to eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Inasmuch as blood means the same as the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, and by its reception by man conjunction with the Lord is effected, therefore blood was used to represent and sanction both the old and new covenant, and it is called the blood of the covenant. Covenant means coming together, agreement, conjunction. All covenants between man and man, and between man and the Lord, are effected by truths. The conditions of the covenant are statements of fact or truths, to which both parties assent. When the Lord instituted the Holy Supper He used wine, which has the same representative meaning as blood. “He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it, for this is my blood of the New Testament (or covenant) which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Blood is also called the blood of the covenant in Exodus and in many other places. When solemn covenants were made between the Lord and His people, blood in some form was used. And it was used because it represented the truths by which the covenant was made.

III. Many other points might be mentioned in which blood and truth mean the same thing; but I have time to refer to but one, which has a more special bearing upon our subject. Blood and truth are both said to cleanse and sanctify. It was from this signification of blood that it was used in sanctifying those persons and things which related to Divine worship among the Jews. The blood of Jesus Christ, it is said, cleanseth from all sin. The robes of the redeemed, whom John saw, were washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. He also calls upon the seven churches “to give glory and dominion to Him who hath loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.”

Precisely the same effects are attributed to the truth. “Thy word,” says the Psalmist, “is very pure.” The Lord, addressing His disciples, says “Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” “Sanctify them through Thy truth. Thy word is truth.” The office of the Holy Spirit, the sanctifier, he declares to be to guide men into all truth, thus plainly declaring that blood and truth have the same cleansing and purifying power.

Now, no one supposes that the material blood shed upon the cross cleanses from sin. All persons, whatever may be their doctrine, agree that it is not the blood itself, but what it represents, that saves us. But we are saved by being cleansed from sin; by being cured of our spiritual diseases, and by the application of the Divine life to the dying soul. To have a true knowledge of God, and to live according to His commandments, is eternal life. And our Lord declares that He came to give us this knowledge, and that He is the way, the truth, and the life. If the Lord’s blood represent the Divine truth, you can see how perfectly all that is said concerning it harmonizes with all He says concerning His own mission, and with a rational and Scriptural view of the real work He came to perform, and the means by which that work is effected. The shedding of His blood is not, therefore, an awful penalty rendered to a vengeful justice; it is the pouring out of His truth and life into the understandings of men. It is shedding it, as the sun sheds his light and heat. We can also understand what is meant by drinking His blood, and why we must do it, or we can have no life in us; how we are washed from our sins in His blood, for it is the same declaration that is made in another form when he says, “Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”

There is not a single sentence in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, that is not in perfect harmony with the doctrine of the Lord’s sufferings and death which I have attempted to set forth to you. It implies no contract, no implacable and enraged Deity, no legal technicalities, no division of the Personal Unity of God, no sacrifice of the innocent for the guilty, and consequently no offence against reason; no impossible transfer of righteousness, no vicarious suffering, and no vicarious goodness. Our Father Himself comes down upon the earth, as the Good Shepherd in search of his lost sheep, and He comes in the only way He could come; He endures all the labors that the work demands; He suffers all the temptations and agonies that inhere in the work; He subdues all the enemies that oppose Him; He finds His lost children blind, naked, starved, in prison, diseased, dying, and He opens their eyes; He clothes them, He feeds them with His own flesh and blood—His love and truth; He throws open the prison doors; as the Great Physician, He heals their diseases; the only source of life, He gives them life. Could infinite love do less? Could infinite power do more? How beautiful, harmonious, complete, is this view of the Lord’s sufferings and death; how consistent with itself, with infinite love and wisdom, with human reason, with the wisest and purest love in human hearts, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.”