The Second Coming of the Lord

The Second Coming of the Lord

by Rev. F. E. Gyllenhaal

“And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24: 3)

The disciples believed in the Lord’s second coming. The Lord had told them of His going away from them, that He would soon be put to death on the cross, and of His return to them and to the world. They believed Him, as child believes his or her father, not even doubting His words. Though they did not understand what He meant, they asked: “When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the, world?” The Lord’s reply is contained in all that which He said as recorded in the 24th and 25th chapters in Matthew, but particularly in His 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 broken; and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24: 29-31).

Did the disciples understand the Lord’s reply? The Lord spoke at great length about His second coming, what He said being written in the 24th and 25th chapters of Matthew; but it is nowhere said that the disciples understood His words. Their failure to understand them appears in what the Gospel of John tells of the Lord’s further promise of coming again – a promise given after His resurrection – in the Acts of the Apostles, in the Epistles of Paul to the first converts to Christianity, and from the common belief of Christians ever since.

The Gospel of John, in its last chapter, relates that the Lord, appearing in His resurrection body to the disciples in the spiritual world, said to Peter: “If I will that John stay in the world until I come, what is that to thee?” Then, turning to John, the Lord said, “Follow thou Me.” (John 21: 21, 22 as quoted in Apocalypse Explained 785: 5). Note that the Lord did not tell Peter to follow Him, as appears from the English of the Authorized Version, but told John to follow Him. And though these words were spoken by the Lord in the spiritual world, and were heard only spiritually, still the disciples understood them to mean that John would live on earth until after the Lord had come again. So they expected the second coming to happen soon. But the Lord spoke in a parable, His words meaning the survival of charity and good works, and not of John.

The same is true of what is said about the second coming in the Acts and in the Epistles. Those books are not portions of the Word, yet they are useful books. The Writings say they were written before the Gospels, also that the Christian Church was begun by means of them; and from them it is evident that the Lord’s second coming was daily expected. (See Acts 1: 10, 11; I Thessalonians 4: 16-18; Document 224, which is the third letter of Swedenborg to Dr. Beyer, in Tafel’s Documents Concerning Swedenborg.) What is said in the Acts of the Lord’s return, namely, that He should “come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven,” obviously was seen in the spiritual world when the Lord, at the end of forty days after His resurrection, made His last recorded appearance to His disciples and others who were in Galilee, and there and then had their spiritual faculties opened; and the words were spoken by two angels.

If anyone really thinks about what is written in the passages just quoted or else referred to, he or she should realize that the literal meaning is such as to be impossible of happening; therefore there must be a spiritual meaning for people on earth, a meaning that can be completely fulfilled, that is, can happen and satisfy the understanding of everyone. This is shown in a summary of the spiritual meaning of the text, as follows: “Here His coming does not mean His coming in person, but that He was then to reveal Himself in the Word that He is Jehovah, the Lord of the heaven and earth, and that He alone is to be adored by all in His New Church, which is meant by the New Jerusalem; and to this end He has now opened the internal or spiritual sense of the Word, in which sense the Lord is everywhere treated of” (AE 870: 2).

This teaching enables us to understand clearly the Gospel prophecies of the second coming; and, together with other doctrine, it rescues all who will use it from the numerous false and fantastic ideas about the Lord’s second coming that have been advanced in the Christian Church. On the firm rock of this Divine instruction we can view, calmly and unafraid, those old and new Christian interpretations; and so can sympathetically understand even the wrong ideas which have swayed countless people down through the ages from earliest Christian times, and which continue even in present times.. Truly, knowledge is essential to enlightenment; but enlightenment in respect to spiritual things, and in respect to many human emotions and actions, requires a special kind of knowledge which can be given to people only by Divine revelation.

In the Epistles of Paul we note that the expectation of the second coming was feverishly eager, and the history of the Christian religion shows that it has been so at various times since those days. The event was awaited with a mixture of fear and joy. There was fear of the destruction of heaven and earth, of the loss of everything worldly, of not being among the elect (or those who would be taken into the Lord’s everlasting kingdomthe one hundred and forty-four thousand mentioned in the 7th and 14th chapters of Revelation) ; for the Gospels especially were regarded as literally true. The joy was over expected rewards because of a persuasion of complete relief from afflictions and miseries, from difficulties and work; over expectation of life in heaven (even of a life there without the need of working) ; over thought of again seeing the Lord. To countless people the Lord’s promise of coming again has been as the distant light of a refuge in dense darkness, as a last hope in a world of despair; perhaps because the old, enslaving conditions were to be completely removed and a new world with a new life was to be given. Even the impossible ideas of Christian theology kept alive hope of the Lord’s return; and by them there was some measure of protection against evil, of persuaded resistance to evils of various kinds, of leading from threatening worse states to milder ones.

But why the delay in the fulfilment of the promise? Why the withholding of plain explanations of His promise by the Lord Himself? What seems to us delay is not to be measured by the impatience of man. Divine order, whether in spiritual or in natural things, requires successive and often slow growth to maturity and fruition, and to fulfilment with its newness of form and of life. People’s freedom, as Divinely and forever preserved in their “as of self” ability, needed an accumulation of knowledges capable of dispelling the clouds of ignorance as to natural phenomena before they could be rescued from ignorance of spiritual things. The naturalrational mind had to be provided with the means of becoming genuinely rational before the means for the formation and functioning of the spiritualrational mind could be provided.

This is the order of all progress. The trend always is upward, an ascent by planes that serve successively as new foundations. This is the order of man’s conscious life, of his “as of himself.” At the same time, but unnoticed by man, there is a descent from above; an inflowing of something from the Lord, from which the man lives, and which produces every effect; but this can work in a man only on the foundations he “as of himself” lays one by one, and on which he ever builds anew, inspired by the new visions he receives from time to time in the course of his progress heavenward.

How grateful we should be, then, and how greatly we should rejoice, over the Divine revelation of the accomplishment of the second coming! But is the joy of expecting and hoping for something greater than the joy of getting what was wanted? Does the joy of fulfilment lack something of the vitality of anticipation? Does hope fulfilled end all hope? Does the fact that the Lord has made His second coming – the belief that the complete written Word has been given, the belief that the crowning and therefore last Church has been established – deprive us of a sufficiently strong incentive to go forward, deprive us of a goal for which to strive?

This is never the case in respect to anything spiritual and Divine. After a game is won there can be no longer the hope of winning it, but there can be the new hope of winning the next game. What is spiritual and Divine, however, is always above and beyond us. For the spiritual and the Divine have within themselves a power that always is uplifting, a power of turning the mind upward, of expanding it, of renewing its hunger for knowledge; intelligence, wisdom, justice, and righteousness. The Divine itself is life itself; therefore its works are stimulative of life, of aspirations, of ceaseless activity, of perpetual desire for new things, new truths about life and the Lord. This Divine quality is perpetually shown in everything spiritual, because the spiritual is an accommodation of the Divine to human perception, awareness, and application. Therefore the fulfilment of the promise of a second coming deprives men of nothing, but, on the contrary, gives to them in greater abundance what is spiritual and Divine, and has the fertile seeds of ever new inspirations and aspirations.

What a new world the Lord’s first coming opened to mankind! It produced a new civilization with possibilities of spiritual life on earth undreamed of before His birth on earth. The corruptions of that civilization have been man’s doing in opposition to Divinely revealed teaching about what is good and true. The second coming has again revealed the sublime possibilities of another new civilization; has given Divine doctrine applicable to all human needs, such as to make possible the realization of the kingdom of heaven on earth. But as before, as it ever has been since the creation of the world, man’s own actions, his freely chosen application of the Divine doctrine to his daily life, is required for the attainment of the new world, for the production of the new civilization. There never is any fulfilment of a Divine promise in the sense of its blessings being only for the enjoyment of a certain age; for the fulfilment is timeless, ever renewing itself.

There have been two comings of the Lord. Both belong to the past of human history, but they also belong to the present and the future of every person. The second coming was when the Lord gave the internal sense of the Word of the Old and New Testaments. That revealed internal sense we call the Writings. Such is the clear meaning of the whole doctrine of the Writings, as is evident from these two quotations: “The Lord at this day is performing a redemption which He began in the year 1757, together with the Last judgment which was then performed. This redemption has continued from that time to this. The reason is, because at this time is the second coming of the Lord; and a New Church is to be instituted” (TCR 115). “This second coming of the Lord is effected by a man before whom He has manifested Himself in person and whom He has filled with His Spirit to teach the doctrines of the New Church through the Word from Him” (TCR 779).

The Divine and spiritual qualities of both comings cause them to be forever repeated spiritually, though not as they first happened naturally, or to be experienced by every person who is willing to receive the Lord and to be redeemed and saved by Him. Essentially, therefore, the Lord’s comings are always in the present, even in the future, as a person longs to experience them, to have their Divine purposes effected in themselves. They assure us of all that truly is. They are like the cruse of oil that never dried up.

But the second coming should make us rejoice, not only because of what it gives, but also because of what it requires of us. Its joy is not only the emotion which may be stirred by receiving a gift, but the thrill that passes from the heart throughout the body in response to a demand for energy. It is good to thank the Lord when we feel that our path is being smoothed for us and that we are being led heavenward. But the true soul, the valiant person, thanks the Lord more joyously when he or she becomes assured that something eternally useful, something to be enjoyed perpetually, is expected of them and can be done by them.

The internal sense of the Word and the Heavenly Doctrine given in the Writings by the Lord in His second coming make clear the real purposes of life, teach the manner of their accomplishment, and supply the means for attaining the goal of life. It it such knowledge that we need in order to rise above the appearance of a world which has been darkened by humankind’s selfishness and conceit. Without such knowledge we see only a temporary life on earth, a life that to many is only hardship, want, and misery. But the Heavenly Doctrine of the second coming reveals an eternal life of ever increasing opportunity for doing uses, in which opportunities we find the only enjoyment and happiness possible to men.

The Heavenly Doctrine, which is given in the Writings, enables us to look upward and ever forward; and by our striving to follow in its light toward the endless visions is unfolds, we gradually rise above the world’s darkness and strife to the eternal kingdom of God, where every moment of life has its heavenly joy, and where the communion of saints becomes ever a more blessed communion. Such has ever been the promise of the Creator and Heavenly Father, a promise He has always kept. It has been revealed to mankind in many ways, in many different expressions of thought; for the most part joined with the promise of His coming, of His presence, as in His words when on earth: “If ye love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him; but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I shall not leave you comfortless; I will come to you” (John 14: 15-18).

Rev. F. E. Gyllenhaal, New Church Life 1952;72:265-269

The City of God: The Second Coming

The City of God: The Second Coming

by Rev. Karl Alden

The expectation that the Lord Jesus Christ was to make a second advent is based on the following statements in the Gospels:

“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: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. . . .”

“Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:29-31 & 34)

“And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say to here, or to there, for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20, 21)

“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine and shall show it unto you.” (John 16:12-15

The final passage that I will quote is from the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter II, verses 14-20, where we read:

“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken unto my words: For these are not drunken as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: and it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on My servants, and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come.” Thus Peter believed that the prophecy of Joel had then been fulfilled in what transpired on the day of Pentecost.

The First Advent

To comprehend what was meant by the second advent of the Lord it is essential to understand what actually happened at the time of His first coming. We all believe that God is omnipresent, that is, that He is everywhere; that there is no place in the universe from which God is absent, that there is not a planet nor a star nor any place whatsoever that does not contain within it the Divine Spirit. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.” (Psalm 139:7-12) If the Lord, then, is present everywhere, it is quite impossible to say that He came anywhere. The very act of coming to a place involves that you were not in that place before you came to it.

All of us, being finite, occupy a certain place in space, and we can move from place to place. If we visit a place where we were not present, we say that we have come there. But strictly speaking, it cannot be said of the Divine that He comes to a place, because there is no place where He is not already present. Our minds turn to Bethlehem at Christmas time, and we think of the Lord as having been born there; as having begun His first coming on earth there. But is it not inaccurate to say that God came to Bethlehem Christmas night? The Lord was in Bethlehem when Benjamin was born there nearly two thousand years before. The Lord was present in Bethlehem when King David was born there almost a thousand years before, and He was present there the year before, and the month before and the day before He was born there as a babe. I stress this because we cannot possibly understand the real significance of the Second Coming of the Lord unless we see that the first coming was not a coming of God to a place where He had not been before, but it was a manifestation of God to men in a new form.

On that first Christmas, what happened was that the Divine which had been present in Bethlehem since the beginning of time, took to itself a means whereby it could be seen as it had never been seen before; for, although the Lord was present in Bethlehem when Benjamin and David were born there, He was not seen, nor was His voice heard, nor was His hand touched; but when He was born there on Christmas night, then He took to Himself a body from the Virgin Mary, into which the Divine Spirit as a soul could flow, and through which as a manifesting agency, the Divine could more and more reveal itself.

The Greek word for “reveal” means to unveil. An example of its use is this: If I should have a heap of diamonds covered over by six or seven veils, and then if I should take one veil off, then an other, and if I kept that up, finally the diamonds themselves would be revealed so that men could behold them and appreciate their beauty. Similarly the body which the Lord took on from the virgin Mary was a means whereby the Divine could come into the world and be manifest to men in a way that He had never before, in all past ages, appeared to their sight. Prior to that time He had spoken His word through the prophets. He had inspired the men of old – Moses, Isaiah, Elijah and Elisha and all of the other prophets – to preach His Word. He had put His Word in their mouths, and they had spoken from His Divine Wisdom. But He had never taken on a material body of His own before, through which the Divine life could be directly manifested.

That coming into the world so many centuries ago marked the time when He took on such a body, when He assumed such a means of showing His Divine Spirit. When He was first born there was nothing between the Divine soul and the material body except a means of communication. But as He grew up a Divine mind was gradually formed as an intermediate between the soul and the body. And this Divine mind more and more glorified His body as the years passed. More and more He put off that of the body which He had taken from Mary, and He put on the Divine Human from the Father; consequently, at the Last Supper, when Philip asked Him to show him the Father the Lord was able to answer without qualification, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

One who had seen the babe lying in the manger in Bethlehem had not seen the Father. They had only seen the babe which in the process of time would one day reveal the Father. In discussing any coming of the Lord, we must rid our minds of that spatial idea of coming that the word so strongly conveys to our minds. We must substitute for the word “coming” the word “revealed.” When the Lord was born a babe on Bethlehem’s plains He revealed Himself for the first time and men have called it “The First Coming of the Lord.” At the time of this First Coming He revealed Himself in human form. Now is the time of the Second Coming, and the question is: How has He revealed Himself? The answer is that He has revealed Himself in a new body of truth, which we find in The Writings.

The Expectation of the Lord’s Return

The disciples, those who had heard the Lord’s own words, expected Him to come again while some of them were still alive. About two weeks after the Lord had risen from the dead, when seven of His disciples had been fishing on the Sea of Galilee, the Lord talked to Peter privately, warning him that when he should be old others would carry him where he did not wish to go. Asked about John, the Lord answered: “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me.” So the saying went abroad among the brethren that John should never die; but the Evangelist reminds us that the Lord did not say, “He shall not die,” but “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” (John 21:23) It is quite evident that Peter must have thought that John would remain in this world until the Lord had made His Second Coming, on the “last day.” This is confirmed by what is said in Matthew, “This generation shall not pass till all those things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” (24:34, 35)

The disciples knew well these words, and consequently they looked for His Second Coming in their own lifetime. If we turn to the epistles of the various apostles, we find that James urges the people to whom he is preaching to be ready, for the Lord may come at any moment. Paul indicates to the Thessalonians that in his lifetime, or at least in their lifetime, they may expect the coming of the Lord. The disciples were quite unanimous in their belief that the Second Coming of the Lord would be in their lifetime.

The Understanding of Prophecy

But the Second Coming of the Lord did not occur within their lifetime. Must we then disregard the Lord’s words? Will there never be a coming since it did not take place when He literally said that it would? Or can we learn how to interpret prophecy? What is the fair way of interpreting it? We can certainly admit that as a matter of history none of the physical catastrophes took place, such as the sun being darkened and the moon not giving her light, and the stars falling from heaven. Those calamities certainly never had any literal fulfillment in the lifetime of the disciples, and so we are compelled to inquire how the prophecy is to be understood.

A wise person has said that a prophecy can never be understood until after the event has taken place. It cannot be understood beforehand, and the reason for this soon appears if we look beyond the surface. If prophecy were so definite that we could say that an event was to happen at such and such a time in such and such a place, then events would be predestined, and there would be no human freedom. But we are taught very clearly that the Lord guards human freedom as the apple of His eye; that He allows nothing in His economy, or in the history or the affairs of men, to destroy spiritual freedom. Therefore, the nature of prophecy is such that it lays down the law whereby certain causes will inevitably have certain effects.

For example: in the realm of chemistry, if I put sulphuric acid and zinc together, the chain of reactions liberating hydrogen is bound to take place, so that I can prophesy for certain that sulphuric acid and zinc will give me hydrogen. I don’t know where; I don’t know when, but I do know that given the causes the results will follow without the shadow of a doubt. This is not predestination, but the rule of law.

Another example: Judas lived to betray the Lord, but we cannot believe that Judas as a man was predestined to betray the Lord. Certainly not! It would never have been permitted for any individual to have been born into the world with such an evil task to perform; but if Judas had not betrayed the Lord, then, may we say, that a man with the same name would have betrayed Him. I am not being facetious, but mean that the name Judas signifies the sensuous nature in man’s character. The thing that betrayed the Lord in His lifetime was the same element in human psychology that betrayed the Lord in the Garden of Eden, when the serpent (which represents somewhat the same thing as the name Judas represents, namely, delight in sensual pleasure apart from use) beguiled Eve, or the will; and Eve persuaded Adam, that is the understanding, to succumb to temptation. The betrayal was the same, but historically it happened to be Judas that betrayed the Lord; yet, he, as a man, did it of his own free desire.

In order to understand what I am trying to bring out, let us contemplate the nature of the fulfillment of the prophecies of the first coming of the Lord, and let us find out why the Jews could not understand them before they took place. It is written that the wise men came from the East because of a star that indicated that a new king had been born to the Jews. The star had apparently led them to Jerusalem, and then disappeared, but at Jerusalem they had no evidence of what person the star pointed to; so they went to Herod and said that they had seen the star, and they thought, of course, that he could tell them where the child was. But Herod was very much upset because he was an intensely jealous man who feared for his crown and his throne; and so he gathered the learned of the Jews, the priests and the scribes, and demanded of them where Christ should be born. They knew where Christ should be born, but they did not know when. They said that He would be born in Bethlehem, for thus it is written by the prophet.

Bethlehem means the “house of bread”, and “the house of bread” means a mind full of spiritual truths and spiritual loves; and that is exactly where the Lord is always born in human lives. It does not make any difference that the prophecy does not state the time that He was to be born. Bethlehem was the only place where He could be born. He was born there. The various causative factors that worked together under human freedom made that birth possible nearly two thousand years ago.

The wise men had seen His star, and the learned Jews knew where He was to be born, but they little suspected that He would be born in a stable, and probably they never dreamed that He would be born of such humble parents, nor did they know the time. It was impossible to interpret the many different prophecies until after the event.

Another prophecy concerning the coming of the Lord tells that He shall rule the nations with a rod of iron. The Lord while on earth never made any attempt to resist Pilate, or Herod, or the rulers of the Jews. The rod of iron that He set up was the rule of truth in men’s hearts, and truth is much stronger than iron; but those words could not be interpreted until after the event. However, after He had come on earth, various things mentioned in the prophecies were seen to have taken place. To illustrate: When the Lord was tried before Herod, the Gospel says that He opened not His mouth, and because He so acted He fulfilled the words of Isaiah, who had written: “As a sheep is dumb before its shearers, He opened not His mouth.” (53:7) And all through his Gospel Matthew points out various things in the Lord’s life that actually did fulfill the ancient prophecies. But you could not have told it beforehand. You could not have worked out a predestined plan that would have enabled you to go to Bethlehem at the very time that the Lord actually did make His First Coming. It was only after the event that men were able to interpret the prophecies and see how they were fulfilled. In order to preserve human freedom, the prophecies were necessarily vague, and not determined to individuals, and thus they could not be understood until after the predicted events had taken place.

The Manner of the Lord’s Second Coming

Having seen this principle applied to the prophecies of the First Coming, let us look more searchingly at the prophecies concerning the Second Coming of the Lord. Beginning with the disciples themselves, and going on down through the Christian Era, there have always been people who have insisted on a literal interpretation of the prophecies. However, there are reasons which seem to me to make it quite impossible to believe in any literal fulfillment of the prophecies concerning His Second Coming.

Literal Fulfillment Impossible

A literal fulfillment of the prophecies was impossible for physical reasons. Consider, for instance, the “stars falling from heaven” as mentioned in Matthew (24:29). We know that the earth is one of the tiniest of the planets, and that the stars beyond the planets are so much larger than the earth, and there are so many of them, that if they should really start falling toward the earth, when they got within a certain distance of it they would completely interlock. They would form a complete and solid mass, and the gravity from such a huge body would be such as to tear the earth to atoms. The physical concept of the stars falling is simply impossible to believe literally in the face of all that science has taught us about the universe. Furthermore, it is impossible to conceive of any place where the Lord could appear, except in the spiritual world, where every eye could see Him. In this world there is no cloud high enough. The highest mountain is only visible from a comparatively small portion of the earth’s surface. The people on the opposite side of the earth would be deprived of the sight of His coming. Because a literal fulfillment involves scientific contradictions, which seem to me to be insuperable, this mode of fulfillment is not satisfying.

Another contradiction appears when we try to interpret the prophecies in a literal manner. Notice the Twenty-fourth chapter in Matthew, where we are told that the Lord would appear in the clouds of heaven after the sun had been darkened, and the moon ceased to give its light, and the stars had fallen from heaven.

Contrast with this the Nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation where we have another picture of the Second Coming of the Lord. Here He is described as coming on a white horse followed by the angels of heaven, all of whom are riding on white horses. We have here two very different literal pictures – one is of a great horseman on a beautiful white steed followed by a mighty army riding on similar mounts sweeping forth from heaven; the other presents the picture of the Son of Man alone, coming in the clouds of heaven.

Will the Lord come on a white horse, or will He come in the clouds of heaven? Literally it is hard to reconcile these two different forecasts of His Second Advent, but if we seek for a spiritual interpretation, something which is above the letter, we will find a complete reconciliation. Then let us leave the literal for a moment and substitute spiritual values. What is meant by the Lord as a horseman? Remember that He was born in a stable and laid in a manger, because a manger fed horses, and horses signify the understanding of the Word. This correspondence rested on the fact that horses were the chief means of traveling from one place to another. Just so, the understanding of the Word is the means by which we are carried from one spiritual truth to another. When truth is understood spiritual light is shed in the mind. That spiritual light is the Lord riding upon the white horse. “And His name is called, The Word of God.” (Rev. 19:13)

The clouds of heaven, on the other hand, are made up of small water particles, water which corresponds to truth. The clouds of heaven then represent the gathering together of these truths, especially in the literal sense of the Word. Now a true understanding of the Word reveals the Lord, so the Lord is seen in the clouds of heaven, that is, He is seen in the literal sense of the Word which, as it were, opens to our sight. Thus perceived He rides into our hearts on a white horse. Spiritually these two visions of the Second Coming of the Lord are the same. Whether He comes in the understanding of the Word, or whether He comes in the clouds of heaven, the significance is the same.

Nevertheless we have those other passages which seem to indicate an utterly different kind of coming which in the spiritual sense harmonizes with His coming as a horseman or His coming in the clouds. I refer to a passage in Luke which states that the coming of the Lord is a personal thing. It is secret. “The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation,” he says. (17:20) What could be more contradictory in the letter than the opposing ideas of the Lord’s coming in the clouds of heaven, with His coming without observation. What a magnificent coming is portrayed in the words “every eye shall see Him.” (Rev. 1:7) He is revealed to the whole spiritual world. Yet how deep is the message that “the Kingdom of God is within you”. The Second Coming is universal, but it is also intimate and intensely personal.

If we seek to learn the spiritual meaning involved in the Lord’s coming in the clouds of heaven, of His riding on a white horse and of His coming not with observation, we will come to a deeper understanding of the Word, which deeper understanding really constitutes the Second Coming of the Lord. When we can see truths in the Word which we never saw before – we may say that the Kingdom of God has come to us personally. And really that is the only thing that is vital to us. It is the Lord’s Second Coming into our hearts which is the matter of supreme importance. The Kingdom of God cometh not flashingly – with a “Lo here”, or “Lo there” – but the Kingdom of God is within us.

Let us tie this idea of the spiritual interpretation of the prophecies together with our original proposition, that the Lord is everywhere; that He is here in this room; that He was in Bethlehem the night that He was born. What, then, does His Second Coming mean to us as individuals? It means that the Kingdom of God must be within you. I can illustrate what I mean by the example of a radio. The current that flows into it and lights up the tubes may be compared to the Lord’s immediate influx into each one of us. The Lord flows into us and keeps us alive, but we have no conscious sensation of that inflowing life. We don’t feel it. He gives us the life processes, and that is like the inflowing electricity that lights up the tubes in your radio, but that inflowing current is not what tunes your set to various stations. Your dial gives you the stations, and when of your own free will you tune in a station, then that particular station can send its signals into your radio. The waves from the station were there all the time, but they were, as it were, around and outside your radio.

The human heart is an instrument on a higher plane. The only person who can receive the Kingdom of God is the person who has the Kingdom of God in his own heart. That means that God gives the faculty to receive, but man must tune in to the type of love and affection which characterizes heaven if he wants the Kingdom of God to be within him. We are taught that when man passes into the spiritual world he can go up into heaven if he so desires, but instead of finding it delightful he may see nothing there. Sometimes a good spirit will walk along beside an evil spirit in heaven, and the good spirit will see paradises, and the evil spirit will see nothing but a desert, because he has nothing of the Kingdom of God within him, and therefore all the impulses that come to him from without are not received by him any more than the waves to which your radio is not tuned can enter and be received by your radio. They just pass it by without affecting it. No more can heavenly spheres affect you unless your heart is attuned to heaven, that is, unless the Kingdom of God be within you.

And that the Lord will not come with observation, but must come within you, harmonizes perfectly with the idea that the Lord becomes present by a greater understanding of the Word which will lead us to the deeper affections and greater wisdom, such as is signified by the Rider on the white horse. And it makes one with the picture of the Lord coming with glory in the clouds of the literal sense of the Word, which are the clouds of heaven.

When the Spirit of Truth is Come

Let us look at another kind of prophecy, the one that we find in the sixteenth chapter of John, where the Lord is talking with His disciples and says, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak.” (12-13) Think for a moment of the disciples, and consider what the Lord meant by those words.

Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fishermen. They probably had had scarcely any education as we understand it. As likely as not, they thought that the sun was a ball of fire suspended in the sky, that the moon was a lesser light created to give us some illumination at night, that the stars were tiny lights in the sky, and that the world was flat. Suppose Peter had kicked a piece of coal as he walked along beside the Sea of Galilee, he would have thought that it was only a black stone. He would not have known that stored up in what seemed to be a stone there was a wealth of potential heat, of aniline dyes and gases and many more things that we know today as coal products.

These were the men to whom the Lord said, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” That is, “Ye cannot understand them yet.” Nevertheless, He said, the time would come when the spirit of truth would reveal those things unto the world.

Those simple disciples had a task to perform. Their great work was to teach the world that the Lord had risen from the dead, that He had conquered death. That was the supreme message of Christianity, and with it they were to preach the simple Christian principles revealed in the Sermon on the Mount and in the Lord’s other discourses, for these were the truths whereby man might conquer the death of sin and come into heaven. That was the task imposed upon the disciples.

They were not then prepared to understand the glorification of the Lord, to perceive how He had taken on a body from Mary, and how little by little He had glorified it. They had no concepts of philosophy, nor even of natural science, by means of which they could understand His deeper teaching. Consequently He foretold a further revelation in the words, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”

At His first coming the Lord took on a garment of flesh so that we could see Him in a new way – feel Him, and hear His voice, and whatever the Divine does it does perfectly. By His incarnation He achieved all that could be accomplished by a life in the flesh, and by the glorification of His body. If, as He indicated, there were other things which He could not accomplish or teach because of the state of men’s minds at that time – these could not be done by men’s vision of Him in the flesh, but only by His revealing His inner spirit – the Spirit of Truth.

The history of the individual repeats the history of the race, and the Lord told Nicodemus that people must be twice born to become spiritual. They must first be born of their mother, and then they must be born of water and of the Spirit. (John 3:5) The Lord told him that it was not a rebirth in the flesh, but a rebirth from water and the spirit. In a similar way, it is needful for people to see the Lord not only as to the flesh, but also to see Him as to His Spirit. His second advent reveals His Divine Love and Wisdom. Just as at the first coming He gave people a body of flesh to behold, now at the Second Coming He gives them a body of truth Divine, which answers the questions in peoples’ hearts, which down to the present time the literal sense of the Word has failed to answer.

“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:12,13)

Of this spirit of truth which He promised to send to His disciples, the Lord says, “he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for he shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you.” (Ibid. 13,14) We believe that the Lord used a human instrument – Emanuel Swedenborg – to reveal this new spirit of truth. Swedenborg says that from the time his spiritual eyes were opened when he was fully introduced into the spiritual world, and commenced to write the Arcana Coelestia in 1748, until 1772, when he died, he did not receive anything pertaining to the doctrine of the New Church from any spirit or angel, but from the Lord alone while he read and meditated on the Word. Swedenborg’s works must be judged on the basis of what they claim to be, and his claim has to be rejected or accepted from that standpoint.

Luther wrote a commentary on the Bible as did Calvin, Melanchthon, Adam Smith, and many others. They are interesting, useful, and valuable studies of the meaning of the letter of the Word, but they do not rise above their fallible authors. They set forth what the man Luther, the man Calvin, the man Melanchthon, the man Adam Smith thought that the words of the sacred text meant. They do not claim to be Divine, nor are they.

But the case with Swedenborg is different. In giving the spiritual sense of the Word, nothing is further from his mind than to claim to be the spirit of truth or the Lord in His Second Coming. The spirit of truth is the rational truth revealed in the Writings; the wisdom which Swedenborg received from the Lord alone as he read and meditated on the Word. And the Lord said that this spirit “shall not speak of himself, but what he shall hear, that shall he speak.” That is why Swedenborg says that he did not receive anything from any spirit or angel, but from the Lord alone.

It is of the Lord, and from the Lord, that Swedenborg writes, for it is worthy of note that when Swedenborg commenced the Arcana he adopted the term “Dominus” or “Lord” for the God that we worship. In the New Testament He was called “Kurios” which means Lord, and in the Old Testament, wherever the word Jehovah occurred the priests were commanded to read “Adonai” which means “Lord.” Therefore in the Old Testament, in the New Testament, and in the Writings we have the one God denominated by the same term “Lord.” So Swedenborg asserts that he did not receive anything from any spirit or angel, but from the Lord alone while he read and meditated on the Word of God. He wrote at the command of that one God, and he testified about that one God, and he explained how that one God is eternally in the one person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Divine is right here with each of us, but our senses do not perceive the Divine presence. When, however, through the pages of the Writings, we are able to see the truth of the Lord’s presence, we can see that the Lord has come to us in a new way. That new coming in Divinely revealed truth is the Second Coming of the Lord. It is not a coming in space, but it is a new revelation of Him, a new manifestation of His Wisdom and His Power. The signs of His Second Coming are these newly revealed truths:

That there is one God in one Person, who is the Lord Jesus Christ.

That He has revealed what is the life of man after death.

That He has shown the way to heaven to be the shunning of evils as sins against God.

That He has opened the spiritual sense within the Word.

That He has made known to the New Church that there is love truly conjugial.

In very truth, now, in His Second Coming, the Lord has revealed Himself anew as the one Divine Man, the Creator, Redeemer, and Savior of mankind, whose kingdom shall exist for ages of ages.

– from Karl R. Alden, The City of God (Bryn Athyn, PA: General Chrurch Publication Committee, 1961)

Harmony With My Soul

read our discusion on atonement back in april of 2012,me and chris, click on view original and scroll down the page, to read it

Christopher Clody

It’s been said that our wills are stronger than God’s.  After all, God is a gentleman, who does not force Himself upon us. 

Although He breathes into every beating heart our restless need to love and be loved with a sense of curious wonder, our choice to trust or reject God ultimately depends on the extraordinary gift of free will.   The interesting irony which answers that “why” to our existence distills down to relinquishing this very gift of our moral advocacy in exchange for “God’s will.”  God’s will is not some blueprint to building Jacob’s ladder, but rather pits our very understanding and liberties of our self-worth against a concept of trust our beating hearts somehow already know.  In order to have our cake and eat it too, our remedy to this leaking guilt from our heart’s need for love through trust is spent gorging on distractions that temporarily make…

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God the Creator

Chapter 1

God the Creator (n. 4)

The Unity of God  (n. 5)

1. The entire Holy Scripture, and all the doctrines therefrom of the churches in the Christian world teach that there is a God and that He is one (n. 5-7).

2. There is a universal influx from God into the souls of men of the truth that there is a God and that He is one  (n. 8).

For this reason in all the world there is no nation possessing religion and sound reason that does not acknowledge a God and that God is one (n. 9, 10).

4. Respecting what the one God is nations and peoples have differed and still differ from many causes (n. 11).

5. Human reason can, if it will, perceive and be convinced from many things in the world, that there is a God, and that He is one  (n. 12).

6. If God were not one, the universe could not have been created and preserved (n. 13).

7. Whoever does not acknowledge a God is excommunicated from the church and condemned (n. 14).

8 With people who acknowledge several Gods instead of one, there is no coherence in the things relating to the church (n. 15).

The Divine Being, Which is Jehovah (n. 18)

1. The One God is called Jehovah from Esse, that is, because He alone Is, [was], and is to be, and because He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega (n. 19).

2. The One God is Substance itself and Form itself; and angels and men are substances and forms from Him; and so far as they are in Him and He is in them, are images and likenesses of Him (n. 20).

3. The Divine Esse is at once Esse [Being] in itself and Existere [Outgo] in itself (n. 21,22).

4. It is impossible for the Divine Esse and Existere in itself to produce another Divine, which is Esse and Existere in itself; therefore another God of the same Essence is impossible (n. 23).

5. The doctrine of a plurality of Gods, both in past ages and at the present day, sprang solely from a failure to understand the Divine Esse (n. 24).

The Infinity of God, or His immensity and eternity (n. 27)

1. God is Infinite because He is Being and Existence in Himself, and because all things in the universe have their being and existence from Him (n. 28).

2. God is Infinite because He was before the world was, that is, before times and spaces arose (n. 29).

3. Since the creation of the world, God is in space without space and in time without time (n. 30).

4. In relation to spaces God’s infinity is called Immensity, while in relation to times it is called Eternity; but although it is so related, there is nothing of space in His Immensity, and nothing of time in His Eternity (n. 31).

5. The Infinity of God may be seen by enlightened reason from very many things in the world (n. 32).

6. Every created thing is finite, and the Infinite is in the finite, as in its receptacles, and is in people as in its images (n. 33, 34).

The Divine Essence, which is Divine Love and Divine Wisdom (n. 36)

1. God is love itself and wisdom itself, and these two constitute His Essence (n. 37).

2. God is good itself and truth itself, because good is of love and truth is of wisdom (n. 38).

3. God, because He is love itself and wisdom itself, is Life itself, which is life in itself (n. 39, 40).

4. Love and wisdom in God make one (n. 41, 42).

5. It is the essence of love to love others outside of oneself, to desire to be one with them, and to render them blessed from oneself (n. 43-45).

6. These essentials of the Divine love were the cause of the creation of the universe, and are the cause of its preservation (n. 46, 47).

The omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence of God (n. 49)

1. Omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence pertain to the Divine wisdom from the Divine love (n. 50, 51).

2. The omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence of God can be clearly understood only when it is known what order is, and when it is known that God is order, and that He introduced order both into the universe and into each and all things of it at the time of their creation (n. 62-65).

3. God’s omnipotence in the whole universe, with each and all things of it, proceeds and operates in accordance with the laws of His order (n. 56-58).

4. God is omniscient, that is, He perceives, sees, and knows each thing and all things, even to the most minute, that take place according to order, and from these the things also that take place contrary to order (n. 59-62)

5. God is omnipresent from the firsts to the lasts of His order (n. 63, 64).

6. People were created a form of Divine order (n. 65-67).

7. From the Divine omnipotence people have power over evil and falsity; and from the Divine omniscience has wisdom respecting what is good and true; and from the Divine omnipresence is in God, just to the extent that he lives in accordance with Divine order (n. 68-70).

The creation of the universe (n. 75)

No one can gain a right idea of the creation of the universe until their understanding is brought into a state of perception by some universal knowledges previously recognized (n. 75).

The creation of the universe described in five Memorable Relations (n. 76-80).

Chapter 2

The Lord the Redeemer (n. 81)

1. Jehovah God descended and assumed a Human that He might redeem people and save them (n. 82-84).

2. Jehovah God descended as the Divine truth, which is the Word, although He did not separate from it the Divine good  (n. 85-88).

3. God assumed the Human in accordance with His Divine order (n. 89-91).

4. The Human whereby God sent Himself into the world is the Son of God (n. 92-94).

5. Through the acts of redemption the Lord made Himself righteousness  (n. 95, 96).

6. Through the same acts the Lord united Himself to the Father and the Father united Himself to Him (n. 97-100).

7. Thus God became Human, and a Human became God, in one Person (n. 101-103).

8. The progress towards union was His state of Exinanition [emptying Himself], and the union itself is His state of glorification (n. 104-106).

9. Hereafter no one from among Christians enters heaven unless he believes in the Lord God the Saviour [and approaches Him alone] (n.107, 108).

10.  Corollary on the state of the church before the Lord’s coming, and its state after that (n. 109).

Redemption (n. 114)

1. Redemption itself was a subjugation of the hells, a restoration of order in the heavens, and by means of these a preparation for a new spiritual church (n. 115-117).

2. Without that redemption no person could have been saved, nor could the angels have continued in a state of integrity (n. 118-120).

3. In this wise not only people but the angels also were redeemed by the Lord (n. 121,122).

4. Redemption was a work purely Divine (n. 123).

5. This Redemption itself could not have been accomplished except by God incarnated (n. 124, 125).

6. The Passion of the cross was the last temptation which the Lord as the greatest prophet endured; and was the means whereby His Human was glorified, but it was not Redemption (n. 126-131). The belief that the Passion of the cross was Redemption itself is a fundamental error of the church; and this error, with the error respecting three Divine persons from eternity, has perverted the whole church to such an extent that there is nothing spiritual left in it (n. 132, 133).

Chapter 3

The Holy Spirit and the Divine Operation (n. 134-138)

1. The Holy Spirit is the Divine Truth and also the Divine Energy and Operation, proceeding from the one God in whom is the Divine Trinity – that is, from the Lord God the Saviour (n. 139-141).

2. The Divine Energy and Operation, which are meant by the Holy Spirit, are in general reformation and regeneration; and in accordance with these, renovation, vivification, sanctification, and justification; and in accordance with these latter, purification from evils, forgiveness of sins, and finally salvation (n. 142-145).

3. The Divine Energy and Operation, which are meant by the sending of the Holy Spirit, are, with the clergy specifically, enlightenment and instruction (n. 146-148).

4. The Lord makes these energies operative in those who believe in Him (n. 149-151).

5. The Lord operates of Himself from the Father, and not the reverse (n. 153-155).

6. The spirit of a person is his or her mind and whatever proceeds from it (n. 156, 157).

A Corollary: Nowhere in the Old Testament is it said that the Prophets spoke from the Holy Spirit, but from Jehovah God; it is otherwise, however, in the New (n. 158).

The Divine Trinity (n. 159-163)

1. There is a Divine Trinity, which is Father, Son and Holy Spirit  (n. 164, 165).

2. These three, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are the three essentials of the one God, and they make one, as the soul, body, and operation make one in a person (n. 166-169).

3. Before the world was created this Trinity was not; but after creation, when God became incarnate, it was provided and brought about, and then in the Lord God the Redeemer and Saviour, Jesus Christ (n. 170, 171).

4. In the ideas of thought a Trinity of Divine persons from eternity, thus before the world was created, is a Trinity of Gods; and these ideas cannot be effaced by a lip-confession of one God (n. 172, 173).

5. A Trinity of persons was unknown in the Apostolic church, but was hatched by the Nicene Council, and from that was introduced into the Roman Catholic church, and from that again into churches separated from it (n. 174-176).

6. From the Nicene Trinity and the Athanasian Trinity together a faith in three Gods arose by which the whole Christian church has been perverted (n. 177, 178).

7. This is the source of that abomination of desolation, and that tribulation such as has not been nor ever shall be, which the Lord foretold in Daniel, and in the Gospels and in the Apocalypse  (n. 179-181).

8. So, too, unless a new heaven and a new church were established by the Lord there could no flesh be saved (n. 182).

9. From a Trinity of persons, each one of whom singly is God, according to the Athanasian Creed, many discordant and heterogeneous ideas. respecting. God have arisen, which are fantasies and abortions (n. 183, 184).

Chapter 4

The Sacred Scripture or Word of the Lord (n . 189)

I. The sacred scripture or the Word is Divine truth itself (n. 189-192).

II. In the Word there is a spiritual sense hitherto unknown (n. 193).

1. What the spiritual sense is. (n. 194)

From the Lord the Divine Celestial, the Divine Spiritual (and) the Divine Natural go forth one after the other.  (n. 195).

2.  The spiritual sense is in each and every part of the Word (n. 196-198).

The Lord when in the world spoke by correspondences; that is, when He spoke naturally He also spoke spiritually (n. 199).

3. It is because of the spiritual sense that the Word is Divinely inspired and holy in every Word (n. 200).

4.  Hitherto the spiritual sense of the Word has been unknown; although it was known to the ancients. Of correspondence among them (n. 201-207).

5. Henceforth the spiritual sense of the Word will be given only to such as are in genuine truths from the Lord. (n. 208).

6. Some wonderful things respecting the Word from its spiritual sense (n. 209).

III. The sense of the letter of the Word is the basis, the containant, and the support of its spiritual and celestial senses (n. 210-213).

IV. In the sense of the letter of the Word divine truth is in its fullness, its holiness, and its power (n. 214-216).

1. The truths of the sense of the letter of the Word are meant by the precious stones of which the foundations of the New Jerusalem consisted (which is described in the Apocalypse; and this on account of the correspondence (n. 217).

2. The goods and truths of the sense of the letter correspond to the Urim and Thummim on the ephod of Aaron (n. 218)

3. Goods and truths in outmosts, such as are in the sense of the letter of the Word, are signified by the precious stones in the garden of Eden where the king of Tyre is said to have been (in Ezekiel). (n. 219).

4. The same were represented by the curtains, veils, and pillars of the tabernacle (n. 220).

5. Likewise by the externals of the temple at Jerusalem (n. 221).

6. The Word in its glory was represented in the Lord when He was transfigured (n. 222),

7. The power of the Word in its outmosts was represented by the Nazarites (n. 223).

8. The inexpressible power of the Word (n. 224).

V. The doctrine of the church should be drawn from the sense of the letter of the Word and confirmed thereby (n. 225,229, 230).

1. Without doctrine the Word is not understood. (n. 226-228).

2. Doctrine should be drawn from the sense of the letter of the Word and confirmed by it (n. 229-230).

3. The genuine truth of which doctrine must consist can be seen in the sense of the letter of the Word only by those who are in enlightenment from the Lord (n. 231-233).

VI. By means of this sense of the letter of the Word there is conjunction with the Lord and affiliation with the angels (n. 234-239).

VII. The Word is in all the heavens. And angelic wisdom is from it (n. 240-242).

VIII. The church is from the Word, and with people it is such as their understanding of the Word is (n. 243-247).

IX. In every particular of the Word there is a marriage of the Lord and the church, and. In consequence a marriage of good and truth (n. 248-253).

X. Heresies may be drawn from the sense of the letter of the Word, but to confirm them is hurtful  (n. 254-260).

Many things in the Word are appearances of truth, which conceal within them genuine truths (n. 257).

Fallacies arise through the confirmation of appearances of truth (n. 258).

The sense of the letter of the Word is a guard for the genuine truths concealed within it (n. 260).

The sense of the letter was represented by cherubs and is signified by cherubs in the Word (n. 260)

XI. The Lord when in the world fulfilled all things of the Word, and thereby became the Word, that is, divine truth, even in things last (n. 261-263).

XII. Before the Word that is now in the world, there was a Word that was lost (n. 264-266).

XIII. Through the Word there is light also to those who are outside of the church and do not possess the Word (n. 267-272).

XIV. If there were no Word there would be no knowledge of God, of heaven and hell, or of a life after death, still less of the Lord (n. 273-276).

Chapter 5

The catechism or Decalogue explained in its external and its internal sense

I. In the Israelitish church the Decalogue was holiness itself. the holiness of the ark which contained the law (n. 283-286).

II. In the sense of the letter the Decalogue contains the general precepts of faith and life; but in the spiritual and celestial senses it contains all precepts universally (n. 287-290).

III. THE FIRST COMMANDMENT: “There shall be [with thee] no other god in my presence” (n. 291-296).

IV. THE SECOND COMMANDMENT: “Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain; for Jehovah will not hold a person guiltless that taketh His name in vain” (n. 297-300).

V. THE THIRD COMMANDMENT: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy; six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of Jehovah thy God” (n. 301-304)

VI. THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT: “Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may be well with Thee upon the earth. (n. 303-308).

VII. THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT: “Thou shalt not kill” (n. 309-312).

VIII. THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT: “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (n. 313-316).

IX. THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT: “Thou shalt not steal” (n. 317-320).

X. THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (n. 321-324).

XI. THE NINTH. AND TENTH COMMANDMENTS: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s” (n. 325-328).

XII. The Ten Commandments of the Decalogue contain all things that belong to love to God, and all things that belong to love toward the neighbor” (n. 329-331).

Chapter 6

Faith (n. 336)

Preface: Faith is first in time, but charity is first in end (n. 336).

I. Saving faith is faith in the Lord God the Saviour Jesus Christ (n. 337-339)

Because He is a visible God in whom is the invisible (n. 339).

II. The sum of faith is, that a person who lives well and believes rightly is saved by the Lord (n. 340-342).

The first principle of Faith in Him is an acknowledgment that He is the Son of God (n. 342).

III. People acquire faith by going to the Lord, learning truths from the Word, and living according to them (n. 343-348).

The Esse of the Faith of the New Church is: 1. Confidence in the Lord God the Savior Jesus Christ. 2. A trust that a person  who lives well and believes aright is saved by Him. (n. 344, seq.).

Merely natural faith, that it is a persuasion counterfeiting faith (n. 345-348).

IV. An abundance of truths cohering as if in a bundle, exalts and perfects faith (n. 349-354).

1. The truths of faith may be multiplied to infinity (n. 350).

2. The truths of faith are disposed into series, thus, as it were, into bundles (n. 361).

3. According to the abundance and coherence of truths, faith is perfected (n. 352, 353).

4. However numerous the truths of faith are, and however diverse they appear, they make one from the Lord (n. 364).

5. The Lord is the Word, the God of heaven and earth, the God of all flesh, the God of the vineyard or church, the God of faith, Light itself, the Truth, and Life eternal (n.354).

V. Faith without charity is not faith, and charity without faith is not charity, and neither has life except from the Lord (n. 355-361)

1. People can acquire for themselves faith (n. 356).

2. People can acquire for themselves charity (n. 357).

3. People may also acquire for themselves the life of faith and charity (n. 358).

4. Yet nothing of faith, or of charity, or of the life of either, is from man, but from the Lord alone (n. 359).

5. The distinction between natural faith and spiritual faith, the latter being inwardly within the former, from the Lord (n. 360, 361)

VI. The Lord, charity, and faith make one, like life, will, and understanding in a person; and, if they are divided, each perishes like a pearl reduced to powder  (n. 362-367).

1. The Lord with all of His Divine love, with all of His Divine wisdom, thus with all of  His Divine life, flows into every person (n. 364).

2.  Consequently the Lord, with the whole essence of faith and charity flows into every person (n. 365)

3. What flows in from the Lord is received by a person according to their state and form (n. 366).

4.  But the person who divides the Lord, charity, and faith, is not a form that receives, but a form that destroys them (n. 367).

VII. The Lord is charity and faith in people, and a person is charity and faith in the Lord (n. 368-372).

1. It is by conjunction with God that a person has salvation and eternal life (n. 369).

2. Conjunction with God the Father is not possible, but only conjunction with the Lord, and through Him with the Father

(n. 370).

3. Conjunction with the Lord is a reciprocal conjunction, that is, that a person is in the Lord and the Lord in the person (n. 371).

4. This reciprocal conjunction of the Lord and person is effected by means of charity and faith (n. 372).

VIII. Charity and faith are together in good works (n. 373-377).

1. Charity is willing well, and good works are doing well from willing well (n. 374).

2. Charity and faith are only mental and perishable things, unless they are determined to acts and coexist in them when it is possible (n. 375, 376).

3. Good works are not produced by charity alone, still less by faith alone, but by charity and faith together (n. 377).

IX. There is a true faith, a spurious faith, and a hypocritical faith (n. 378-381).

From its cradle the Christian church began to be infested and divided by schisms and heresies (respecting which n. 378).

1. True faith is the one only faith, which is a faith in the Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, and this is held by those who believe Him to be the Son of God, the God of heaven and earth, and one with the Father (n. 379).

2. Spurious faith is, all faith that departs from the true faith, which is the only one faith; and this is the faith that is held by those who climb up some other way, and regard the Lord not as God but as a mere human being (n. 380).

3. Hypocritical faith is no faith (n. 381).

X. With the evil there is no faith (n. 382-384).

1. The evil have no faith, since evil belongs to hell and faith to heaven (n. 383).

2. Those in Christendom who reject the Lord and the Word have no faith although they live morally, and even speak, teach, and write rationally about truth (n. 384).

 Chapter 7

Charity or love to the neighbor, and good works (n. 392)

I. There are three universal loves – the love of heaven, the love of the world, and the love of self  (n. 394-396).

1. The will and understanding (n. 397).

2. Good and truth (n 398)

3. Love in general  (n. 399).

4. Love of self and love of the world in particular’ (n. 400).

5. The external and internal person (n. 401).

6. The merely natural and sensual person (n. 402).

II. These three loves, when rightly subordinated, perfect a person; but when not rightly subordinated they pervert and invert him or her (n. 403-405).

III. Every person individually is the neighbor who is to be loved, but according to the quality of  his or her good (n. 406-411).

IV. The collective human being, that is, a community smaller or greater, and the composite person formed of communities, that is, one’s country, is the neighbor that is to be loved (n. 412-414).

V. The church is the neighbor that is to be loved in a still higher degree, and the Lord’s kingdom in the highest degree (n. 415, 416).

VI. To love the neighbor, viewed in itself, is not to love the person, but the good that is in the person (n. 417-419).

VII. Charity and good works are two distinct things, like willing well and doing well (n. 420,421).

VIII. Charity itself is acting justly and faithfully in the office, business, and employment in which a person is engaged, and with those with whom he or she has any dealings (n. 422-424).

IX. The benefactions of charity are giving to the poor and relieving the needy, but with prudence (n. 425-428).

X. There are duties of charity, some public, some domestic, and some private (n. 429-432).

XI. The diversions of charity are dinners, suppers, and social gatherings (n. 433, 434).

XII. The first thing of charity is to put away evils, and the second is to do good works that are of use to the neighbor  (n. 435-438).

XIII. In the exercise of charity a person does not place merit in works so long as he or she believes that all good is from the Lord  (n. 439-442).

XIV. When a moral life is also spiritual it is charity  (n. 443-445).

XV. A friendship of love, contracted with a person without regard to their spiritual quality is detrimental after death (ii. 446-449).

XVI. There is spurious charity, hypocritical charity, and dead charity (n. 450-

XVII. The friendship of love among the evil is intestine hatred of each other  (n. 454, 455).

XVIII. The conjunction of love to God and love towards the neighbor (n. 458-458)

Chapter 8

Freedom of choice (n. 463)

I. The precepts and dogmas of the present church respecting freedom of choice (n. 463-465).

II. The placing of two trees in the garden of Eden, one of life, and the other of the knowledge of good and evil signifies that freedom of choice in things spiritual has been given to a person (n. 466-469).

III. A person is not life, but a receptacle op life from God (n. 470-474).

IV. So long as a person lives in the world he or she is kept midway between heaven and hell, and is there in spiritual equilibrium, which is freedom of choice (n. 475-478).

V. It is clearly manifest from that permission of evil in which everyone’s internal person is that person has freedom of choice in spiritual things (n. 479-482).

VI. Without freedom of choice in spiritual things the Word would be of no use, and consequently the church would be nothing (n. 483, 484).

VII. Without freedom of choice in spiritual things there would be nothing in a person whereby he could in turn conjoin himself with the Lord, consequently there would be no imputation, but mere predestination, which is detestable (n. 485).

Detestable things concerning predestination divulged (n. 486-488)

VIII. If there were no freedom of choice in spiritual things God would be the cause of evil, and thus there would be no imputation of charity or faith (n. 489-492).

IX, Everything spiritual of the church that enters a person in freedom, and is received with freedom, remains; but not the reverse (n. 493-496)

X. A person’s will and understanding are in this freedom of choice; nevertheless in both worlds, the spiritual and the natural, the doing of evil is restrained by laws, because otherwise society in both worlds would perish (n. 497-499).

XI. If a person had not freedom of choice in spiritual things all the inhabitants of the world might in one day be led to believe in the Lord; but this cannot be done, because that which is not received by a person from freedom of choice does not remain (n. 500-502).

Miracles are not wrought at the present day, because they take away freedom of choice in spiritual things, and compel  (n. 501).

Chapter 9

Repentance (n. 509)

I. Repentance is the first thing of the church in a person (n. 510, 511).

II. The contrition which at the present day is said to precede faith, and to be followed by the consolation of the Gospel, is not repentance (n. 512-515).

III. The mere lip-confession that one is a sinner is not repentance  (n. 516-519).

IV. A person is born [with an inclination] to evils of every kind; and unless he or she, to some extent, removes their evils by repentance, they remain in them; and he who remains in evils cannot be saved (n. 520-524).

The fulfilling of the law (n. 523, 524).

V. Recognition of sin, and the discovery of some sin in oneself, is the beginning of repentance (n. 525-527)

VI, Actual repentance is examining oneself, recognizing and acknowledging one’s sins, praying to the Lord and beginning a new life (n. 528-531).

VII. True repentance is examining not only the actions of one’s life, but also the intentions of one’s will  (n. 532-534).

VIII. Those also repent, who, although they do not examine themselves, yet refrain from evils because they are sins; and those who from religion do the works of charity exercise such repentance (n. 535-537).

IX. Confession ought to be made before the Lord God the Saviour, followed by supplication for help and the power to resist evils (n. 538-560)

X. Actual repentance is easy for those who have now and then practiced it, but is a difficult task for those who have not (n. 561-563)

XI. A person who has never repented or has never looked into and searched himself, finally ceases to know what damning evil or saving good is (n. 564-566).

Chapter 10

Reformation and Regeneration (n. 571)

I. Unless a person is born again and, as it were, created anew, he or she cannot enter into the kingdom of God (n. 572-575).

II. The new birth or creation is effected by the Lord alone through charity and faith as the two means, a person cooperating  (n. 576-578)

III. Since all have been redeemed, all may be regenerated, each according to their state (n. 579-582).

IV. Regeneration is effected in a manner analogous to that in which a person is conceived, carried in the womb, born and educated (n. 583-586).

Something about the masculine and feminine sex in the vegetable kingdom (n. 585).

V. The first act in the new birth is called reformation, which pertains to the understanding; and the second is called regeneration, which pertains to the will and therefrom to the understanding (n. 587-590).

VI. The internal person must first be reformed, and by means of it the external; and thus is a person regenerated (n. 591-595).

VII. When this takes place a conflict arises between the internal and the external man, and then the one that conquers rules the other (n. 596-600).

VIII. The regenerated person has a new will and a new understanding (n. 601-606).

IX. A regenerate person is in communion with angels of heaven, and an unregenerate person with spirits of hell (n. 607-610).

X. So far as a person is regenerated sins are removed, and this removal is the forgiveness of sins (n. 611-614).

XI. Within freedom of choice in spiritual things regeneration is impossible (n. 615-617).

XII. Regeneration is impossible without truths, by which faith is formed and with which charity conjoins itself  (n. 618-620).

Chapter 11

Imputation (n. 626)

I. Imputation and the faith of the present church (which is held to be the sole ground of justification) make one  (n. 626, 627).

II. The imputation that belongs to the faith of the present day is a double imputation, an imputation of Christ’s merit and an imputation of salvation thereby (n. 628-631).

III. The faith imputative of the merit and righteousness of Christ the redeemer, first arose from the decrees of the Council of Nice respecting three divine persons from eternity, which faith has been accepted by the whole Christian world from that time to the present  (n. 632-635).

IV. The faith imputative of Christ’s merit was unknown in the preceding Apostolic Church, and is nowhere taught in the Word (n. 636-639).

V. The imputation of Christ’s merit and righteousness is impossible (n. 640-642).

VI. There is an imputation, but it is an imputation of good and evil (n. 643-646).

VII. The faith and imputation of the New Church can by no means exist together with the faith and imputation of the former church, and if they are together, such a collision and conflict result that everything pertaining to the church in a person perishes (n. 647-649).

VIII. The Lord imputes good to every person and hell imputes evil (n. 650-653).

IX. Faith, with that to which it is conjoined, is what determines the verdict; if a true faith is conjoined to good, the verdict is for eternal life, but if faith is conjoined to evil the verdict is for eternal death (n. 654-657).

X. Thought is not imputed to anyone, but will only (n. 658-660).

Chapter 12 (n. 667)


I. Without a knowledge of the spiritual sense of the Word no one can know what the two sacraments, baptism and the Holy Supper, involve and effect (n. 667-669).

II. The washing that is called baptism means spiritual washing, which is purification from evils, and thus regeneration (n. 670-673).

III. Because circumcision of the foreskin represented circumcision of the heart, in the place of circumcision, baptism was instituted, in order that an internal church might succeed the external, which in each and all things prefigured the internal church (n. 674-676).

IV. The first use of baptism is introduction into the Christian church, and at the same time insert ion among Christians in the spiritual world (n. 677-680).

V. The second use of baptism is that the Christian may know and acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ the redeemer and Saviour, and follow him (n. 681-683).

VI. The third use of baptism, which is the final use, is that the person may be regenerated (n. 684-687).

VII. By the baptism of John a way was prepared, that Jehovah God might descend into the world and accomplish redemption (n. 688-691).

Chapter 13

The Holy Supper (n. 698)

I. Without some knowledge of the correspondences of natural with spiritual things, it is impossible to know what the uses and benefits of the Holy Supper are (n. 698-701).

II. With a knowledge of correspondences what is meant by Lord’s flesh and the bread mean the divine good of bread and wine have a like meaning; namely, that the Lord’s flesh and blood can be known, also that His love, also all good of charity; and the Lord’s blood and the wine mean the Divine truth of His wisdom, also all truth of faith, and eating means appropriation (n. 702-710).

Shown from the Word what is meant by “flesh” (n. 704, 705).

What is meant by ” blood”  (n. 706).

What is meant by ” bread”  (n. 707).

What is meant by ” wine”  (n. 708).

III. When all this is understood any one can comprehend that the Holy Supper contains all things of the church and all things of heaven both in general and in particular (n. 711-715).

IV. In the Holy Supper the Lord is wholly present with the whole of His redemption (n. 716-718).

V. The Lord is present and opens heaven to those who come to the Holy Supper worthily; and is also present with those who come to it unworthily, but to them He does not open heaven; consequently, as baptism is introduction into the church, so is the Holy Supper introduction into heaven (n. 719-721).

VI. Those come to the Holy Supper worthily who have faith in the Lord and charity toward the neighbor that is, who are regenerate (n. 722-724).

VII. Those who come to the Holy Supper worthily are in the Lord and the Lord is in them; consequently conjunction with the Lord is effected by the Holy Supper  (n. 725-727).

VIII. To those who worthily come to the Holy Supper it is like a signature and seal that they are sons of God  (n. 728-730).

Chapter 14

The Consummation of the Age; the Coming of the Lord; and the New Heaven and New Church (n. 753)

I. The Consummation of the Age is the last time of the church or its end (n. 753-756).

II. The present is the last time of the Christian church, which was foretold and described by the Lord in the Gospels and in the Apocalypse (n. 757-759).

III. This last time of the Christian church is the very night in which former churches have come to an end (n. 760-763).

IV, This night is followed by a morning, which is the coming of the Lord  (n. 764-767).

V, The Lord’s coming is not His coming to destroy the visible heaven and the habitable earth, and to create a new heaven and a new earth, as many, from not understanding the spiritual sense of the Word, have hitherto supposed (n. 768-771).

VI. This coming of the Lord, which is His Second Coming, is taking place in order that the evil may be separated from the good, and that those who have believed and do believe in Him may be saved, and that from them a new angelic heaven and a new church on earth may be formed, and without this, no flesh could be saved (matt. xxiv. 22)  (n. 772-775).

VII. This Second Coming of the Lord is not a coming in person, but in the Word, which is from Him and is Himself  (n. 776-778).

VIII. This Second Coming of the Lord is effected by means of a man, to whom the Lord has manifested Himself in person, and whom He has filled with His spirit, that he may teach the doctrines of the new church from the Lord through the Word (n. 779-780).

IX. This is what is meant in the Apocalypse by ” the new heaven,” and ” the New Jerusalem descending therefrom” (n. 781-785).

X. This New Church is the crown of all the churches that have hitherto existed on the earth (n. 786-791).

Supplement (n. 752)

The nature of the spiritual world (n. 792-795). Luther, Melancthon, and Calvin in the spiritual world  (n. 796-799).

The Dutch in the spiritual world (n. 800-805).

The English in the spiritual world (n. 806-812).

The Germans in the spiritual world (n. 813-816).

The Papists in the spiritual world (n. 817-821).

The Popish saints in the spiritual world (n. 822-827).

The Mohammedans in the spiritual world (n. 828-834).

The Africans in the spiritual world; also something in regard to the gentiles (n. 835-840).

The Jews in the spiritual world (n. 841-843).