A Sermon by Rev. Kurt Ho. AsplundhPreached in Bryn Athyn September 20, 1987


“And the city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as its breadth” (Rev. 21:16).

The Holy City, New Jerusalem, was seen and described by John. It has been revealed in the Heavenly Doctrine that this vision is a prophecy of the establishment of the New Church on earth. The city represents the church as to its doctrine. The details that describe the city each have significance in describing its qualities. One of the remarkable features of the Holy City is that it is foursquare its length and breadth the same. “The city is laid out as a square,” we read. This squareness is said to signify the quality of justice. “`A quadrangle’ or `a square’ signifies what is just,” we are told, “because it has four sides, and the four sides look toward the four quarters, and to look equally toward the four quarters is to respect all things from justice … ” (AR 905). The subject of this sermon is the importance of justice, the importance of the New Jerusalem being “foursquare.”

If we reflect on it, we can see how the abstract quality of justice can be pictured in a physical form. Just action requires a balanced view of all sides of a question. A square has equal sides and looks in all directions. Therefore, it pictures a quality of mind that gives equal consideration to all viewpoints and balances them in making decisions. Another aspect of balance in just judgment is an equal ratio of truth and good. Length and breadth signify these. A square has length equal to breadth. This physical equality refers to the abstract balance of truth and good in everything of justice. It is obvious that justice in human relations and just judgments in life require a measure of both truth and good. Good alone, without the direction of truth, leads to errors of sentimentality and emotionalism. Truth alone, without the motivation of good or use, tends to be harsh and condemnatory, unwise. True justice requires both good and truth. This is pictured by the square where length and breadth are equal, signifying a balance of truth and good.

Because of this correspondence of abstract ideas to physical qualities, our expressions of speech sometimes reflect the fact. The Writings mention that the man who is just is said to be “square.” We speak of a “square shooter” in referring to someone we can trust to act from fairness. Sadly, it is a commentary on our time and society that the term “square” has become an expression of contempt. Now when someone is called “a square” it usually means that the person is not wise to the ways of the world, but is na‹vely honest and trusting. The Holy City is foursquare. Those who would be of this New Church must cultivate the quality of justice, even-handedness, and fair-mindedness. Would that we could all be called “square.”

In recent years we have witnessed, and many of us have been a part of, celebrations surrounding the formulation of the constitution of our country which took place 200 years ago. This document of governmental principles was drafted to provide for justice and liberty. Its principles have stood for two hundred years, a tribute to the men whose love of order and justice carried them to a successful conclusion. Interestingly, it was in the same summer of 1787 that the first public worship service of the New Church was held. Was it coincidence that the spirit of liberty was strong among men in an era when a final spiritual judgment brought on by the Lord’s second coming had taken place just 30 years before?

The Writings point out that the Last Judgment would not bring about great external changes on earth, as many have believed it would, but that it would provide for a new state of spiritual freedom, and that the people of the church would be in a “more free state of thinking on matters of faith” (LJ 73) as a result of it.

The framers of the United States Constitution were not New Churchmen, though some may have been influenced by the principles of the Heavenly Doctrine. Most were God-fearing men with a “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.” They were men of reason who based their concepts and principles of order in human affairs on the foundation of belief in a God of reason and order. It was their specific intent to “establish justice” and “secure the blessings of liberty.” It was also in their minds to provide for freedom of religion, a right established in the first amendment to the Constitution.

Thus, in Providence an environment was created for the establishment and growth of the New Church in this country. As New Churchmen, we should be grateful for this Providence. It is also our responsibility as citizens of this country to promote the continuation of those principles of liberty and justice upon which our nation is founded, and to strive to preserve and obey the just laws which are so important to our country and our church.

If there is to be justice in a nation, justice must be exercised by its citizens. We must learn to subordinate our own will to the cause of justice, and recognize that true justice is a quality that is Divine in origin. We are told that those “who abstain from evils as sins and shun them because they are contrary to the Divine laws … have justice for their end, and they venerate, cherish, and love it as Divine. In justice they see God, as it were, because everything just, like everything good and true, is from God” (AE 976:3).

There are many teachings of the Writings that show the importance of acting from justice. We turn now to some of these.

First, we should know that a love of justice and equity is a basis for salvation. There is a conscience in acting justly that is a resting place for angelic and Divine influx. Human conscience is two-fold: interior and exterior. We are told that interior conscience is of spiritual good and truth, but exterior conscience is of “justice and equity” (AC 6207). While few in the world today have an interior conscience, that is, act from spiritual good or truth, many, we are told, act from a conscience of justice and equity. It is these “many” who can be led, perhaps after death, to an interior angelic conscience and become angels of heaven. “They who have a conscience of what is good,” we are told, “have also a conscience of what is just; but they who have only a conscience of what is just, have the capacity of receiving a conscience of what is good … ” (AC 9119). The Lord rules those who “have not yet been regenerated, but who can be regenerated” by means of a conscience of what is just and equitable (AC 4167:2).

A life of justice, then, can be an important basis for spiritual life. If a person has no true religion and no conscience about spiritual things, he may yet be saved by his acknowledgment of civil and moral laws of justice and his obedience to them.

We must beware, though, of believing that everyone who lives a life of justice in externals does so from a genuine love of natural laws of order. The following teaching demonstrates this. “A thousand men may act alike,” we are told, “that is, may do like deeds, so alike in outward form as to be almost undistinguishable, and yet each one regarded in itself be different … For example, when one acts honestly and justly with a companion, one person may do it for the purpose of appearing to be honest and just out of regard to himself and his own honor, another out of regard to the world and gain, a third out of regard to reward and merit, a fourth out of regard to friendship, a fifth from fear of the law and the loss of reputation or employment, a sixth that he may draw someone to his own side, even when he is in the wrong, a seventh that he may deceive, and others from other motives. In all these instances, although the deeds are good in appearance since it is a good thing to act honestly and justly with a companion, they are nevertheless evil, because they are done not out of regard to honesty and justice and for the love of these, but out of regard to a love of self and the world … ” (HH 472).

Although there is the possibility of these abuses of a person’s acting according to law and justice simply for his own ends, these abuses do not do away with the uses that result from living in justice from a love of justice. How else can spiritual goods and truths find expression in our lives?

Even children seem to have a quick sense of what is just and fair. Though many disillusionments lie ahead for us as we pass through life, we need to cherish a love of just action and fair play. The human spirit can respond to these ideals and be stirred to form its conscience based on them. It is taught that “one person excels another in the capacity to understand and perceive what is honorable in moral life, what is just in civil life, and what is good in spiritual life. The cause of this,” we are told, “consists in the elevation of the thought to the things that pertain to heaven, whereby the thought is withdrawn from the external things of sense … They who are able to think above the things of sense, provided the things in the memory have been set in order, possess a greater capacity than others to understand and perceive, and this according to the degree in which they view things from what is interior” (AC 6598).

A deeper sense of justice comes from an elevation of thought. Our perspective is greater on the affairs of civil and natural life as we view these from above. It is said that “those who have acted honestly and justly from regard to Divine laws … are conjoined to the angels of heaven, from whom wisdom is communicated to them” (HH 530). This wisdom from the angels is not a dictate, not a conscious formula, but a sense of proportion and perspective that comes from seeing life in deeper dimensions.

As we think of justice, let us ask ourselves these questions: Am I willing to forego my own comfort or advantage to see that justice is done? Do I insist that my children act according to civil and moral laws? Would I participate in an action or activity that unjustly curtails the freedom of others? When faced with a decision, do I have the patience to look at all sides of the issue, and courage to give equal consideration to viewpoints different from my own? Are my conclusions influenced by a racial, political or economic bias? With these and many other straightforward questions we can evaluate our own fair- mindedness. We can determine if our own life is “foursquare.”

The altars of Israel were foursquare, just as the city New Jerusalem was of equal length and breadth. This signifies that our life and our worship will be just when we approach the Lord and His justice and seek to make it our own. It is the wise person, both in natural and spiritual matters, who turns to the Lord to find enlightenment and perspective. How grateful we are that many God-fearing men could be numbered among the founders of our nation, and that the love of justice burned in their hearts. May this love burn also in our hearts as we seek to forward the life of the New Jerusalem. Let it be said of us: “We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks. Open the gates that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in” (Isaiah 26:1,2). Amen.


Lessons: Isaiah 26:1-15; Rev. 21:9-16; AE 976:2 or AC 4167

Apocalypse Explained 976:2

Take judges for an example: All who make justice venal [capable of being obtained for money] by loving the function of judging for the sake of gain from judgments, and not for the sake of uses to their country, are thieves, and their judgments are thefts. It is similar if they judge according to friendships and favors, for friendships and favors are also profits and gains. When these are the end and judgments are the means, all things that they do are evil, and are what are meant in the Word by “evil works” and “not doing judgment and justice, perverting the right of the poor, of the needy, of the fatherless, of the widow, and of the innocent.” Yea, even if they do justice and yet regard profit as the end they indeed do a good work but to them it is not good; for justice, which is Divine, is to them a means, and such gain is the end; and that which is made the end is everything, while that which is made the means is nothing except so far as it is serviceable to the end. Consequently, after death such judges continue to love what is unjust as well as what is just, and are condemned to hell as thieves. I speak this from what I have seen. These are such as do not abstain from evils because they are sins, but only because they fear the punishments of the civil law and the loss of reputation, honor, and office, and thus of gain.

Arcana Coelestia 4167

“Set it here before my brethren and thy brethren, and let them judge between us two.” That this signifies that there be judgment from what is just and equitable is evident from the signification of “brethren” as being goods (see n. 2360, 3803, 3815, 4121). It follows that “my brethren and thy brethren” denote what is just and equitable, and it is manifest that “let them judge between us two” denotes judgment. That “my brethren and thy brethren” denote what is just and equitable is because the subject here treated of is the natural; for in the natural that is properly called what is just and fair which in the spiritual is called what is good and true. There are in man two planes upon which are founded the celestial and spiritual things which are from the Lord. The one plane is interior, and the other exterior. The planes themselves are nothing else than conscience. Without these planes (that is, without conscience) nothing celestial and spiritual from the Lord can possibly be fixed, for it would flow through like water through a sieve. For this reason they who are without such a plane (that is, without conscience) do not know what conscience is; nay, they do not believe that there is anything spiritual and celestial.

The interior plane or interior conscience is where are good and truth in the genuine sense, for the good and truth that inflow from the Lord actuate this conscience. But the exterior plane is the exterior conscience, and is where there is what is just and equitable in the proper sense; for that which is just and equitable of both a moral and a civil kind, which likewise flows in, actuates it. There is also an outermost plane, which likewise appears as conscience, but is not conscience, namely, the doing of what is just and equitable for the sake of self and the world, that is, for the sake of one’s own honor or fame, and for the sake of the world’s wealth and possessions, and also for fear of the law. These three planes are what rule man, that is, they are the means through which the Lord rules him. By means of the interior plane (that is, by means of a conscience of spiritual good and truth) the Lord rules those who have been regenerated. By means of the exterior plane (or by means of a conscience of what is just and equitable, that is to say, by means of a conscience of what is good and true of both a moral and a civic kind) the Lord rules those who have not yet been regenerated, but who can be regenerated, and also are being regenerated, if not in the life of the body, yet in the other life. But by means of the outermost plane, which appears like conscience and yet is not conscience, the Lord rules all the rest, even the evil; for without this government these would rush into all wicked and insane things, and do so rush when they are without the restraints of this plane. All those who do not suffer themselves to be ruled by means of these planes either are insane, or are punished according to the laws.

With the regenerate these three planes act as a one, for the one flows into the other, and an interior one disposes an exterior one. The first plane, or conscience of spiritual good and truth, is in man’s rational, but the second plane, or conscience of moral and civic good and truth (that is, of what is just and equitable) is in man’s natural. From this it is now manifest what the justice and equity are which are signified by the “brethren,” namely, justice by “my brethren,” and equity by “thy brethren”; for they are called justice and equity because the subject is the natural man, of which these are properly predicated.




A Sermon by Rev. Kurt Ho. AsplundhPreached in Bryn Athyn December 25, 1986


“And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matt. 2:11).

Throughout the Word we read of giving gifts to the Lord. Most memorable of all, perhaps, is the account of the wise men who brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This moving act of worship was foretold in the Prophets and Psalms where we read: “The kings of Tarshish and of the isles will bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba will offer gifts. Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him” (Psalm 72:10f). “All those from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall proclaim the praises of the Lord” (Isaiah 60:6).

The beauty of these gifts was in the love that prompted them. For centuries a small remnant of wise and faithful men from an ancient church eagerly awaited the sign of the Lord’s birth promised of old. And when the star appeared, they came to Jerusalem where they asked, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” (Matt. 2:2). Undaunted by the confusion in Jerusalem, and learning that He was in Bethlehem, they left that city. In the clear night sky they saw, once again, that star which they had seen in the East. A great joy filled their hearts as the star went before them, guiding them to the Lord. And when they had come into the house, “they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him” (Matt. 2:11). Then it was that they opened their treasures and tenderly offered their most precious gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the wealth of kings, and spices from the East.

In an earlier era there had been gifts to the Lord that were unlike these. These were offerings required by the Law of Moses and given out of fear. “Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year,” the Lord had said; “None shall appear before Me empty” (Exodus 23:14f). Such gifts were demanded in this way because there was no other way the men of that church would respond. It was not because the Lord expects or requires adoration and gifts that He commanded this, but to represent the essential truth that all that is good is from Him. Offerings and thanksgiving are an acknowledgment of this.

After the Lord’s advent, such representative acts were abolished by the Lord and He sought a free response from man. “Henceforth,” He said, “I call you not servants, but I have called you friends” (John 15:15).

One of the most severe tests recounted in Scripture came to the rich young man who had come to the Lord to ask what he must do to attain to eternal life. The Lord answered: “Keep the commandments.” When the young man said that he had kept all the commandments and asked what he yet lacked, the Lord told him to sell what he had and to give to the poor. “When the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful,” we are told, “for he had great possessions” (Matt. 19:16-22). This incident is summarized in the seemingly casual exchange over the man’s greeting: “Good Master,” he had said, but the Lord responded, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God” (Matt. 19:17). While the Lord Himself is that “One” who is good, He said this to emphasize the truth that no man has any good in him that is his own. To “sell what we have and give to the poor” is not a command to divest ourselves of all of our possessions and to contribute everything to charity. To “sell what we have” is to acknowledge that everything of good in us is from the Lord. It is not ours, not a credit to us. It is freely given us according to our needs, to be used by us for the sake of others. Such is the nature of all good from God. It goes out in unstinting measure to bless others. It is to go out from us in the same way, to take the Lord’s love from man to man to all in heaven and on earth.

It is the spirit of a gift that is important, not the amount or extent of it. The Lord taught this in His observation of the widow’s gift at the temple which, in comparison with the gifts of the rich men, was insignificant. Yet He said, “This poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings … but she out of her poverty has put in all the livelihood that she had” (Luke 21:3). “Gifts,” the Writings teach, “are like all man’s deeds, which in themselves are nothing but gestures … It is the will in these which the Lord looks at” (AC 9293).

A true gift is a testification of our love. The required sacrifices that the Jews were to offer were to signify such things as are offered by man from the heart unto the Lord. The Jews did not always willingly make their sacrifices, even as we do not always observe the duties of charity with good pleasure, yet the sacrifices served to signify the desired state of willing response. It is this state we must strive to attain, and it is a state made possible through the Lord’s coming. Yet it is a lifelong effort and possible only as we turn to the Lord Himself to achieve it.

The Lord has given us life in such a way that it appears to be our own. What we acquire during our life, the accomplishments and achievements that we enjoy, all legitimately appear to be the result of our own efforts. Yet the fact remains, no one is good but One, that is, God. When we reflect upon this we can see that this is true. What do we have that is really our own? We can see that our natural circumstances are entirely dependent upon when and to whom we are born. We may be born to comforts or to privations. It is not our choice. Whether we are born to quick intelligence or slow, with certain admirable qualities of life, is very much a matter of heredity. Our states of remains are from the heavens. Loves in us are from the Lord through the heavens. We make certain choices freely of ourselves, but the currents of life that flow into us certainly are from the Lord. Even that ability to make choices is from Him, and our freedom preserved by the eye of Providence.

What is meant by the gifts of the wise men? They brought to the Lord gold that He had formed as an element of the earth, mined by strength flowing into men from Him, fashioned into forms of beauty inspired by His own laws of order and beauty. They brought spices extracted from the gum of plants He caused to grow, compounded into incense according to His natural law, and enjoyed as a fragrance by human senses He has given to man. These gifts were pleasing to the Lord. Why? Because they signified goods and truths, interior and exterior (see AE 242:17).

“The reason why the wise men from the East offered these things was that among some in the East there remained from ancient times the knowledge and wisdom of the men of old, which consisted in understanding and seeing heavenly and Divine things in those which are in the world and upon the earth … Consequently they knew that gold, frankincense, and myrrh signify the goods which are to be offered to God” (AE 9293:3).

The Writings describe the correspondence and significance of the three gifts that were given. Together they signify all the goods which are from the Lord which can be received by men. Specifically, gold signifies the celestial degree of good, the good of innocence that resides with the angels of the highest heaven and can inspire in us a love of the Lord. Frankincense signifies the spiritual degree of good, the good of faith which comes to us through the truths of the Word when we love and live these truths. Myrrh signifies the natural degree of good, or good loves in the natural as they operate and are applied in life (see AE 242:17, AC 9293:3). We are also told that these three gifts signify the “three goods of the three heavens” (AE 491:5) and thus “every good from first to last” (AE 324:10).

The Writings further state that “what are called `gifts and offerings made to the Lord’ by man are in their essence gifts and offerings made to man by the Lord; and their being called `gifts and offerings’ is from the appearance. All who are wise in heart,” we are told, “see this appearance” (AC 9938, emphasis added).

How can we give anything to the Lord? Everything we have that is good is from Him. This is the signification of the gifts of the wise men. Their offerings of gold, frankincense and myrrh were a humble acknowledgment that every good of life is His, from inmost to outmost, and is to be attributed to Him. “Give to the Lord … ” we read in the Psalms. “Give to the Lord glory and strength. Give to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts” (Psalm 96:7f). It was in this spirit that they came from the East bearing gifts: to give to the Lord the glory due His name.

This is the essence of worship, both internal and external. We come before the Lord in outward forms of worship, approaching Him in humility, kneeling in prayer before His Word and singing praises to Him. These gestures and acts of worship, if sincere, are pleasing to the Lord. “The Lord does indeed demand humiliation, adoration, thanksgivings, and many other things from man …,” the Writings teach, but the Lord does not demand these things for His own sake, “for the Divine has no glory from man’s humiliation, adoration, and thanksgiving … but they are for the sake of the man himself,” we are told, “for when a man is in humiliation he can receive good from the Lord … ” (AC 5957). And we come before the Lord in interior worship when we fulfill uses from a love of the neighbor. Here too we must act in humility, serving without thought of reward or merit for ourselves, but simply from a love of serving. The Lord can lead us to this happy state.

It has always been so that when a man is in a state of humiliation before the Lord, the Lord can flow in with heavenly good. At His advent, however, there was a new acknowledgment, and a special joy in the hearts of those who worshiped the Divine Child. The evils of our proprium are the obstacles to our acknowledgment of the Lord and obstacles to the entrance of any celestial, spiritual, or even natural good from the heavens. The Lord came on earth to combat these very obstacles and to teach us how to overcome them. His birth, then, was a promise of our salvation. Therefore, the gifts of the wise men signified not only that the Lord in His own Divine Human is the source of all that is good in us, but that unless He had come on earth to teach and lead us, no man would remain who could make that acknowledgment. This was the special acknowledgment signified by the giving of the gifts at Bethlehem.

As the wise men came, eagerly and willingly to bring their gifts to the Lord, so now may we come with a free spirit, to worship Him and to acknowledge that everything we have is from Him and for His glory.

We live today in a world where there is little recognition that all that is truly good is from the Lord. Instead, we call good that which we love, that which pleases and benefits us. Yet if we pursue only what appears to us to be good that is not truly good, we will find frustration and disappointment. We must learn to recognize the true loves of life which the Lord has now revealed. As we pursue these loves, setting aside our selfish desire to follow only our own inclinations, the Lord can restore to us a heavenly life and bring us into heavenly happiness.

The Writings teach that “the arcanum of the Lord’s coming into the world is that He united in Himself the Divine to the Human and the Human to the Divine … and thus … by that union it became possible for salvation to reach the human race, in which no celestial and spiritual, or even natural, good any longer remained; and it is this union which saves those who are in the faith of charity. It is the Lord Himself who shows the mercy” (AC 2854).

And so, the prophet asks, “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings …? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:6-8). Amen.


Lessons: Psalm 72:10-19; Isaiah 60:1-12; Matt. 2:1-12; AC 9938

Arcana Coelestia 9938

“Which the sons of Israel shall sanctify in respect to all the gifts of their holy things.” That this signifies acts of worship representative of removal from sins is evident from the signification of “gifts” or “offerings,” which among the Israelitish and Jewish nation were chiefly burnt offerings, sacrifices, and meat offerings, as being the interior things of worship, for these were what they represented. The interior things of worship are those which are of love and faith, and from this forgivenesses of sins, that is, removals from them, because sins are removed through faith and love from the Lord. For insofar as the good of love and of faith enters, or what is the same thing, so far as heaven enters, so far sins are removed, that is, so far hell is removed, both that which is within man and that which is without him. From this it is evident what is meant by “the gifts which they sanctified,” that is, offered. The gifts were called “holy,” and presenting or offering them was called “sanctifying” them, because they represented holy things; for they were offered for expiations, thus for removals from sins, which are effected through faith and love to the Lord from the Lord.

They were called “gifts and offerings made to Jehovah” although Jehovah, that is, the Lord, does not accept any gifts or offerings, but gives to everyone freely. Nevertheless He wills that these things should come from man as from himself, provided he acknowledges that they are not from himself but from the Lord. For the Lord imparts the affection of doing good from love, and the affection of speaking truth from faith; but the affection itself flows in from the Lord, and it appears as if it were in the man, thus from the man; for whatever a man does from the affection which is of love, he does from his life, because love is the life of everyone. From this it is evident that what are called “gifts and offerings made to the Lord” by man are in their essence gifts and offerings made to man by the Lord; and their being called “gifts and offerings” is from the appearance. All who are wise in heart see this appearance, but not so the simple; and yet the gifts and offerings of the latter are grateful, insofar as they are offered from ignorance in which is innocence. Innocence is the good of love to God, and dwells in ignorance, especially with the wise in heart; for they who are wise in heart know and perceive that there is nothing of wisdom in themselves from themselves; but that everything of wisdom is from the Lord, that is, everything of the good of love, and everything of the truth of faith; thus that even with the wise, innocence dwells in ignorance. From this it is evident that the acknowledgment of this fact, and especially the perception of it, is the innocence of wisdom.



A Sermon by Rev Kurt H. AsplundhMarch 24, 1997

“A bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!'” (Matt. 17:5)

Our subject is the Transfiguration of the Lord, that amazing event recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, when the Lord was transformed before the eyes of Peter, James and John. We will consider this in four parts, each answering a question: First, what took place and how did it actually happen? Second, what did it teach about Jesus? Third, what is its representative meaning? And fourth, What does it mean for us?

What did happen?

The Lord, with His disciples, had come into the region of Caesarea Philippi, a city north of the land of Israel situated at the headwaters of the Jordan River. Nearby were the slopes of Mount Hermon rising to snowcapped peaks. We can remember this mountain from the 133rd Psalm which speaks of the delightful “dew of Hermon” descending on the mountains of Zion. Choosing Peter, James and John who accompanied Him on other intimate occasions, the Lord went up onto this mountain to pray. The disciples, seemingly dozing off after their climb, suddenly became fully awake to observe that their Lord’s face was altered as He prayed, now shining like the sun; and His clothing glistened with whiteness, like the snow, beyond any imaginable whiteness of clean linen. Also, the disciples saw two men whom they recognized as Moses, their ancient lawgiver, and Elijah the prophet, who appeared in glory and spoke with the Lord of His forthcoming death in Jerusalem.

Peter, overwhelmed at this wondrous sight, said, “Lord, . . . let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Matt. 17:4). As he said this, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matt. 17:5) All three disciples heard this and fell on their faces, greatly afraid. When the Lord came to touch them and raise them up, the vision had ended. He was alone, no longer surrounded by flaming glory and glistening light.

What happened on this occasion was a real experience, not a dream or hallucination. The three disciples were introduced briefly into conscious life in the spiritual world. Their spiritual eyes were opened and, for a few moments, they saw as the angels see: beholding the deeper spiritual qualities of their Lord that are visible in that superior realm. Indeed, the disciples saw the face of the Lord like the sun because His Divine love shines forth in the spiritual world as a sun. The doctrine of the New Church teaches that He is seen by the angels above the heavens, encompassed by the flaming brilliance of His own Divine love.

Spiritual visions are common in Scripture, especially with the prophets, and these took place through an opening of spiritual senses latent in us all but now opened only rarely. For example, John experienced visions when banished to the Isle of Patmos. Again, “in the spirit,” as at the time of the transfiguration, having his spiritual eyes opened, He saw the Lord as a Divine Man, “His eyes like a flame of fire,” His hair “as white as snow.”

Having considered so far what actually happened at the transfiguration, let us now ask what it teaches about Jesus. The voice from the cloud which put the disciples into a state of such profound humility and fear identified him as the “Son of God.” “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matt. 17:5)

Who is this “beloved Son”? The doctrine of the New Church describes Him as the “Divine Human,” God in Human form. “Before the Lord came into the world He was present with men of the church but only mediately through angels who represented Him; but since His coming He is present with men of the church immediately, and this because in the world He put on also a Divine Natural [form] in which He is present with men” (TCR 109). Jehovah God put on a degree of life called the Natural, “thereby becoming Man, like a man in the world,” we are told, “but with the difference that in the Lord this degree . . . is infinite and uncreate . . . ” (DLW 233, emphasis added). He made His Natural Divine.

We are told that while the Lord “was indeed born as is another man, . . . this human the Lord entirely cast out, so that He was no longer the son of Mary, and made the Human in Himself Divine . . . and He also showed to Peter, James, and John, when He was transfigured, that He was a Divine Man” (AC 4692:5). “It was plainly the Divine Human of the Lord that was thus seen” and identified by the voice heard from the cloud as the “beloved Son” (AE 64:3).

Many gospel teachings show the importance of this recognition of the Divinity of Jesus; from John, for example, where it says that “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son . . . He has declared Him” (John 1:18). Again, “Jesus said . . . I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). In another instance, when the disciple Philip said to Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father . . . ” He answered: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father . . . ” (John 14:9). “I and My Father are one,” He said (John 10:30).

“They who are truly men of the church . . . are acquainted with and acknowledge a Trine,” we are told in the Writings of the New Church, “but still they humble themselves before the Lord and adore Him alone, for the reason that they know that there is no access to the Divine Itself which is called the Father’ except through the Son, and that all the holy which is of the Holy Spirit proceeds from Him. When they are in this idea they adore no other than Him through whom and from whom all things are, thus One” (AC 2329:4).

We turn now to the third question of our consideration. What was the representative meaning of the transfiguration?

We must preface this by pointing out that every account in Scripture has a representative or parable-like sense. This is illustrated by the Lord’s parables which contained a deeper meaning. In some places, the prophets “acted out” a style of life that demonstrated the state of the nation. What they did had symbolic meaning.

In a similar way, the transfiguration of the Lord represents the transformation of the Word. In fact, everything that is said in this account about the Lord can be understood as referring to the Word and our reception of it.

Consider these parallels. Jesus was present in an external body. So, too, the Word of Scripture is an external body of history, laws and prophecy. Jesus revealed a Divine spirit within His body. So, too, the Word of Scripture has a spirit of truth. When the disciples went up onto the mountain, their vision was opened to see Jesus in a new way. When we climb above mundane thoughts and concerns, we elevate our mind to a state in which we can be given a new vision of the meaning of the Word.

“The Word in its glory was represented in the Lord when He was transfigured” (TCR 222; SS 48). We are told in different words that “when the Lord was transfigured, He presented Himself in the form in which the Divine truth is in heaven” (AE 624e). In other words, He caused Himself “to be seen as the Word” (AR 24).

It is significant that the two men seen talking with Jesus were Moses and Elijah, both closely linked with the Word of Scripture. Moses obviously represents that part of the Old Testament we call “the Law,” while Elijah represents the Prophets (see also AE 624e).

Moses and Elijah, when talking to Jesus “spoke of His decease” (Luke 9:31). The parallel representation is that the Law and the Prophets of Scripture treat of the Messiah, some prophecies specifically foretelling His death.

An important representation or parallel is to be found in the fact that a cloud overshadowed the disciples during the transfiguration. Matthew’s gospel describes this as a “bright cloud.” We think of a puff of cloud momentarily enveloping a group of climbers on a mountain slope, a cloud penetrated by the sun’s rays, bright but obscuring the sight of nearby objects. It was from such a passing cloud that the voice was heard saying: “This is My beloved Son” (Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35).

We are reminded here of other instances in Scripture where clouds are mentioned: how Mount Sinai was covered by clouds when Moses went up to receive the Commandments; the promise that the second coming of the Lord would be “in the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 24), as it is said: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him . . . ” (Rev. 1:7).

While the transfiguration of the Lord represents the Word in its glory, the overshadowing cloud represents a particular aspect of the Word called in New Church doctrine the “sense of the letter” (SS 48), or Divine truth in its outmost or literal meaning (AR 24). When we read of anything in Scripture, as we read here of clouds, we can interpret the meaning on different levels literal or symbolic. For example, to believe that Christ will return to earth surrounded by clouds when the Last Judgment is at hand is to think literally. We can also think of the same statement symbolically.

The Writings of the New Church have much to say about the symbolic or representative meaning of clouds. This derives from the fact that clouds appear in the spiritual world as well as in the natural world, “but the clouds in the spiritual world appear beneath the heavens, with those who are in the sense of the letter of the Word, darker or brighter according to their understanding and reception of the Word . . . consequently

bright clouds’ are the Divine truth veiled in appearances of truth . . . and dark clouds’ are the Divine truths covered with fallacies and confirmed appearances . . . ” (AR 24).

When the Word is read according to this spiritual representation, we can see new meaning in the account of the overshadowing cloud. It refers to an obscure understanding of Divine teachings. It represents truth veiled over with appearances drawn from a literalistic understanding of the Word. Here is an illustration: When the Lord spoke to Nicodemus about being “born again,” Nicodemus wondered how it would be possible to enter again into his mother’s womb (John 3:4). He took the statement literally. The Lord intended it symbolically.

Consider another example: The Lord once said He would raise up the temple in three days if it were destroyed. Many took His words literally, wondering how He could do this when the temple had taken 46 years to build. But He spoke of the temple of His body and His resurrection in three days (see John 2:19-21).

Now when the bright cloud overshadowed the disciples, the symbolic meaning is that the church at that time (which the disciples represented) “was only in truths from the sense of the letter” of the Word (AE 594a).

The remarkable thing to note, however, is that the voice which identified Jesus as the “beloved Son” came from the cloud. This revelation, so crucial to Christian belief, is powerfully given in the sense of the letter of the Word rightly understood. The Writings give this explanation: “the bright cloud’ which

overshadowed the disciples’ represented the Word in the sense of the letter; so from it a voice was heard, saying, This is My beloved Son; hear ye Him,’ for no announcements or responses are ever made from heaven except through outmosts such as are in the sense of the letter of the Word, for they are made by the Lord in fullness” (SS 48, emphasis added; see AC 9905).

This teaching that Divine revelations must be made in the statements of Scripture is illustrated in the parable of Lazarus and the beggar. Lazarus, the rich man who went to hell, pleaded with Father Abraham to send someone to his brothers on earth to warn them of this fate. The answer was: “They have Moses and the Prophets . . . . If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:29-31). Unless revelations are stated in and confirmed by truths in external form, they have no power. When presented in that form they have awesome power and effect.

Thus it was that Peter, James and John humbled themselves profoundly when the voice came out of the cloud. It was not only the voice that affected them, but the message: that their Lord was Divine Man God in Human form!

What, then, does all of this mean for us? What spiritual benefits come from reading about and understanding the transfiguration of the Lord?

There is a sense in which we can put ourselves in the place of Peter, James and John and be witness to, and profoundly moved as they were by, a miraculous transformation of our understanding of the Word. The transformation for us is in the mind. First it is seeing the glory flaming in the cloud seeing the spiritual sense of the Word within the letter which gives it Divine life; for as the apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, “The letter kills but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6).

There is a wonder here a miraculous transformation of Scriptural teachings that have meant little or nothing to us now suddenly glowing with Divine love and enlightening our minds with Divine wisdom.

Second, it is sensing a holy fear at the presence of the Lord in His Word. It is humbling ourselves before Him, being willing to serve and obey Him. It is saying to the Lord and really meaning it, “Not my will but Thine be done!”

Lastly, it is being touched by Him and lifted in spirit by His presence and His words. For He said, “Arise, and do not be afraid” (Matt. 17:7).

When we consider the entire sweep of the Lord’s ministry and its impending conclusion, do we see a reason He brought these disciples to the mountain for His transfiguration? Would the experience strengthen them for the days ahead, for their lives as apostles? Do not we need such strength for the days ahead? Do not we need the same encouragement to learn and live our faith? We do!

What a comfort it must have been to Peter, James and John, being greatly afraid during the transfiguration, to have Jesus afterward touch them and say, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” They lifted their eyes and saw no one but Jesus only (Matt. 17:7, 8). Here is a representative parallel for us. He is all we need. In our times of fear and need the Lord Jesus Christ can touch and comfort us. He extends His Divine mercy and love to us wherever we are spiritually because He has drawn near by assuming our nature.

This is what the transfiguration can mean to us. It can mean a renewal of our religious resolve and a rededication to the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ in His glorified Human. Amen.

Lessons: Exodus 19:9-11, 16-20; Matt. 17:1-9; AR 24 portions


Apocalypse Revealed 24

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man; and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and glory” (Matt. 24:30; Mark 13:26). By “the clouds of heaven” in which He is to come, nothing else is meant but the Word in its literal sense; and by “the glory” in which they will see Him, the Word in its spiritual sense. That this is the case, those who do not think beyond the sense of the letter of the Word find difficult to believe; with such, “a cloud” is a cloud, and thence is their belief that the Lord will appear in the clouds of heaven when the Last Judgment is at hand. But this idea falls, when it is known what “a cloud” is, and that it is the Divine truth in ultimates, thus the Word in the sense of the letter. In the spiritual world there appear clouds as well as in the natural world; but the clouds in the spiritual world appear beneath the heavens, with those who are in the sense of the letter of the Word darker or brighter according to their understanding and reception of the Word; the reason is that the light of heaven there is the Divine truth, and darkness there is falsities; consequently “bright clouds” are the Divine truth veiled in appearances of truth, such as the Word is in the letter with those who are in truths; and “dark clouds” are the Divine truths covered with fallacies and confirmed appearances, such as the Word is in the letter with those who are in falsities. I have often seen those clouds, and it was evident whence and what they are. Now because the Lord, after the glorification of His Human, was made the Divine truth, or the Word, even in ultimates, He said unto the high priest that, “Hereafter they should see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven.”

The Divine truth in ultimates, which is the same with the Word in the sense of the letter, is also represented by the “cloud” in which Jehovah descended upon Mount Sinai and promulgated the law (Exodus 19:9; 34:5). Also by the “cloud” which covered Peter, James, and John when Jesus was transfigured . . . .

The Lord in this transfiguration caused Himself to be seen as the Word; therefore a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice was heard out of the cloud, that He is the Son of God . . . .



A Sermon by Rev Kurt H. AsplundhPreached in Bryn AthynApril 3, 1994


. . . I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29).

Today we gather to celebrate the miracle of Easter. Christians throughout the world join in great number in thousands of churches, large and small, on this day. Spring blossoms and fragrant plants adorn and cheer many chancels as they do our own. This is not only because the Lord’s sepulchre from which He rose was in a garden, but because the buds and blooms of plants in springtime remind us of rebirth and resurrection. The Lord Himself taught, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24). There is a natural cycle of death and rebirth.

For Christians, Easter carries the promise of resurrection. It teaches that human life is immortal. So our Lord Jesus has said: “I am the resurrection and the life; . . . whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25f). He was slain by His enemies but He rose again. Before His death He had promised: “If I am lifted up from the earth,

. . . [I] . . . will draw all people to Myself” (John 12:32). We picture the Lord, in heaven, gathering all the faithful to Himself, lifting them up by His Divine power from natural weakness and death into the light and beauty of His heavenly kingdom.

The miracle of resurrection is a wonderful thing. We see it represented here in these blooming plants as they cycle from dormancy to new life. How delightful and uplifting the renewal of spring in the world is to our souls, especially when we have endured a bitter winter. How much more beautiful and satisfying to think of the resurrection of human life, to know that the spirits of our friends and relatives, as well as all others, are withdrawn by the Lord from their bodies at death and raised up to new life in a spiritual body that will never die but will be ever young. The special gift of each person’s life is not lost at death.

Death comes to us all, and we all are touched by it again and again as those we love are called from this life. The promise of the Easter resurrection can sustain us then. This was recognized by the apostle Paul who wrote these memorable words: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” “Death,” he said, “is swallowed up in victory” (I Cor. 15:55, 54).

The promise of resurrection is one reason we rejoice on Easter Sunday. But is this the only, or even the greatest, reason to celebrate Easter? It is my hope to show that there is another reason. Indeed, the miracle of resurrection is only a pale shadow in comparison with the real miracle accomplished by the Lord when He rose from the tomb that Easter morning.

Let us begin by remembering this simple teaching of the Heavenly Doctrine: “Every man is created that he may live forever in a state of happiness” (DP 324:6). Note that there are two things here that the Lord wants for us: not only that we shall live forever but that we shall be happy in that life. “He who wills that man should live forever also wills that he should live in a state of happiness,” we are told. “What would eternal life be without that?” “This state of man, indeed, is the end of creation” (Ibid.).

What is this state of man in which he may find eternal happiness? It is the state of regeneration or salvation. The hidden promise of Easter, and the greater one, is the promise of salvation. The Lord’s resurrection was to make this possible so that you and I could have not only eternal life but eternal happiness as well. That this is so has been revealed by the Lord in the Heavenly Doctrine for the New Church.

What is new here? Does not Christian doctrine teach salvation through Christ? The teaching of the Lord to Nicodemus is well known: “You must be born again,” and “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:7,3). Here the New Church is in agreement with all Christians. We differ in the understanding of how that salvation is accomplished.

Perhaps the difference can be brought out by this simple distinction: The means of salvation, according to Christian doctrine, is rooted in Christ’s death on the cross; in New Church doctrine it is rooted instead in the resurrection of His body. The difference is as simple and as profound as what took place on Friday and what took place on Sunday.

It is widely believed among Christians that Christ died for our sins; that in an act of unselfish love, He paid the price for the evils of the human race and made satisfaction to the Father for them, and that henceforth all who believe that He did this for them and who seek His grace can be saved. It is because of this concept that the day of Christ’s crucifixion and death is known throughout Christendom as “Good Friday.” It is thought that by lovingly sacrificing His life, Christ accomplished the ultimate good deed. It is evident that the focus in Christian worship is on the crucified Lord: the cross, with or without the body of Christ, is the prominent symbol and identifying sign of Christian faith.

In contradistinction to this, the New Church regards the crucifixion of the Lord as a final temptation combat, not as an act of redemption. The crucifixion marked the culmination of the Lord’s lifelong process of glorification, or the making Divine of the Human He had assumed in the world. To state this in a simple way, the crucifixion was not something the Lord endured for us, that we might be saved because of it; it was something He endured for Himself, so that He could become Divine Man.

So the Lord, on earth, spoke not only of His resurrection but also of His glorification, as in this statement: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son that Your Son also may glorify You” (John 17:1).

Certainly, the Lord’s ultimate reason for enduring all temptations in the world was to make our salvation possible, but salvation was not effected by His temptations; it is effected by His saving power as a living God in our lives.

For the New Church person, Sunday’s events are the key to understanding the concept of salvation. Unlike the resurrection of any person, the Lord’s resurrection was with His whole body. Nothing was found in the tomb except the graveclothes. The Lord rose with a glorified body. His Human Essence had been united with His Divine Essence. He had become the embodiment of the Supreme being in His Divine Human. We worship not a crucified Lord but a living Lord who has assumed all power in heaven and on earth.

This is the hidden promise of Easter, and a greater one. For while the Lord’s resurrection after death reassures us of our own, our resurrection to life eternal is not dependent upon the Easter resurrection. People have passed into the spiritual world after death from the beginning and will continue to do so. However, the Lord’s glorification is essential to salvation. Our eternal happiness is dependent upon that. If the Lord had not glorified His Human and had not risen to be our living Lord, there would be no salvation today.

How grateful we should be for this arcane Easter miracle. The resurrection of the Divine body gives hope of salvation and heavenly happiness that would not be possible in any other way.

This is the promise of the text we have chosen this Easter morning. As the Lord sat with His disciples at the Last Supper, He gave them the bread and wine of the Holy Supper, and said: ” . . . I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29).

What did He mean? What did the disciples understand of this? The Writings for the New Church explain the text: ” The product of the vine,’ that is, [the] . . . wine,’ which the Lord would drink with them new in His Father’s kingdom’ . . . means that all Divine truth in heaven and the church would then be from His Divine Human . . . ” (AE 376e:25). In that new kingdom about to be established by His glorification, He would teach them directly from Himself as their God and Father.

It is a sad fact that man has removed himself so far from the Supreme Divine, by the evil loves in which he has immersed himself and by the falsities with which he has blinded himself, “that there could not possibly be any influx of the Divine into the rational part of his mind,” we are told, “except through the Human which the Lord united in Himself to the Divine. Through His Human, [however] communication has been effected; for thereby the Supreme Divine has been able to come to man” (AC 2016).

There is but one God, called here the “Supreme Divine.” All Christian religions would agree that man has alienated himself from that God by the sins of a thousand generations. It is not the case that the “Supreme Divine” is alienated. God continues and will ever continue to love us every one, in whatever state of life we put ourselves, even the most grievously evil. Thus, from the longings of His love, He came to us in Human form, as Jesus Christ. Jesus walked among us, healing, casting out devils, raising from the dead. He reached out to us in our lowly state with no obstacle between Himself and us save what we freely set up against Him.

The power of the “Supreme Divine” was in Jesus. Once when Jesus declared: “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30), the Jews took up stones to kill Him. He said ” . . . know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37f). Later, when Philip the disciple said he would be satisfied if Jesus would show them the Father, Jesus replied, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father . . . . Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me” (John 14:8-11).

This was the mission of His life on earth, to unite the Divine with the Human so that the “Supreme Divine” with its unchanging love could reach out by means of a Human Essence to save the human race. When the women came early to the tomb and did not find the body of Jesus, it was because He had risen above all limitations of body and mind put on at birth and had united Himself with His own Divine soul. He was glorified. He embodied the “Supreme Divine” and brought saving power to all who were willing to receive it. From that time forward, “all good and truth would . . . come to man from [God’s] Divine Essence through His Human Essence” (AC 2016:2). This then is what is here affirmed: that from Him, namely, “from the Human united to the Divine, is all good and all truth” (AC 2016:2).

We are taught further that “when . . . the Human was made Divine . . . the result was an influx of the Infinite or Supreme Divine with man that otherwise could not possibly have existed . . . ” (AC 2034). So it was that when the Lord said to His disciples: “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you . . . ” He meant that from that time the only power by which man could be made spiritual or be “born again” would be from His glorified Human. This “fruit of the vine” which they are to drink new is, we are told, “no other than the truth of the New Church and of heaven” (TCR 708). “What is Divine is incomprehensible,” the doctrines teach, “but still this Divine, which in itself is incomprehensible, can flow in through the Lord’s Divine Human into man’s rational, and . . . it is there received according to the truths which are therein . . . ” (AC 2531).

How important are interior truths, for these are the basis of the Lord’s presence in our minds. “To those who are angelic as to doctrine and at the same time as to life,” we read, ” . . . [the] . . . rational is enlightened therefrom to such a degree that their enlightenment is compared to the brightness of stars and the sun” (AC 2531). By means of such truth from the Lord Himself, which speaks directly to the rational mind, we may be made spiritually intelligent and be reborn of God.

The promise of Easter is not only a promise of resurrection but of rebirth. For “the Lord’s resurrection on the third day in the morning . . . involves . . . His rising again in the minds of the regenerate every day, and even every moment” (AC 2405e). “He rises again with everyone who is being regenerated” (AC 2917). And is not this the promise of the prophets, whose words have been from of old, from everlasting?

“Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you . . . ” (Isaiah 60:1-3). “His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:14). Amen.

Lessons: Matt. 26:26-30; John 19:41-20:16; AC 1676:2,3; TCR 126


Arcana Coelestia 1676:2.3

He to whom it has not been given to know heavenly arcana may suppose that there was no need of the Lord’s coming into the world to fight against the hells, and by means of temptations admitted into Himself to vanquish and conquer them, when they might have been subjugated at any time by the Divine Omnipotence, and shut up in their hells; but that still the fact is really so is a certain truth. To unfold the arcana themselves merely as to the most general things would fill a whole work; and it would also give occasion for reasonings about such Divine mysteries as human minds would not comprehend, however fully they might be unfolded; and most people would not desire to comprehend them.

Therefore it is sufficient for men to know, and, because it is so, to believe, that it is an eternal truth that unless the Lord had come into the world and subjugated and conquered the hells by means of temptations admitted into Himself, the human race would have perished; and that otherwise those who have been on this earth even from the time of the Most Ancient Church could not possibly have been saved.

True Christian Religion 126:6

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, that is, whereby it was united with the Divine of the Father; but it was not redemption. There are two things for which the Lord came into the world, and by means of which He saved men and angels, namely, redemption and the glorification of His Human. These two are distinct from each other; and yet in reference to salvation they make one. It has been shown in the preceding sections what the work of redemption was, namely, that it was a combat against the hells, a subjugation of the hells, and a restoration of order in the heavens. But glorification is the uniting of the Lord’s Human with the Divine of His Father. This was effected gradually, and was completed through the passion of the cross. For every man on his part ought to draw near to God; and as far as man does draw near, God on His part enters into him. It is the same as with a temple, which first must be built, and this is done by the hands of men; afterwards it must be dedicated; and finally prayer must be made for God to be present and there unite Himself with the church. The union itself was made complete through the passion of the cross, because that was the last temptation endured by the Lord in the world; and it is by means of temptations that conjunction is effected. For in temptations apparently man is left to himself alone, although he is not; for God is then most nearly present in man’s inmosts, and sustains him; therefore when man conquers in temptation he is inmostly conjoined with God, as in temptation the Lord was inmostly united to God His Father. That in the passion of the cross the Lord was left to Himself is evident from His exclamation upon the cross: “O God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46); as also from these words of the Lord: “No man taketh My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I had power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment received I from My Father” (John 10:18). From all this it can now be seen that it was not in respect to His Divine but in respect to His Human that the Lord suffered, and that thereby an inmost and thus a complete union was effected. This may also be illustrated by the fact that when a man suffers in body, his soul does not suffer but only grieves; and after the victory, God takes away this grief and wipes it away as one wipes away tears from the eyes.