A Holy Supper Address by James P. Cooper
Toronto – September 11, 2011 – 8:00 PM

John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remissions of sins (Mark 1:4)

I.    The Lord never does anything without preparing us first.

A.    The histories and prophecies of the Old Testa-ment all point to His birth on earth.
B.    Much of what is recorded in the gospels is the Lord trying to tell the Disciples that He was about to leave to establish a spiritual kingdom (although they were so focused on the political issues of the day that they really didn’t get it until after it had happened).
C.    The book of Revelation is clearly pointing to a judgment in the spiritual world and the new revelation of truth about the Lord’s spiritual kingdom that we call the Writings.
D.    Our text for tonight from the Gospel of Mark, is an example of a more detailed, more personal preparation that John the Baptist provided.
1.    John the Baptist was not a Christian, the Christian Church did not exist yet because Jesus had not yet begun His public ministry.
2.    John taught no new doctrines.  There were no new doctrines for him to preach.
3.    John’s job was to prepare, to open the way so that when the time was right the Lord could enter.
4.    The thing that John was led to do to prepare the way for the Lord was to call people to simple repentance, to bring themselves back into the order provided by the Ten Commandments and the laws of Moses.  This shows us the importance of the act of repentance in opening the way to true, spir-itual communication with the Lord.
E.    Tonight we have come together especially for the celebration of the Holy Supper, a sacra-ment that the Lord created for the Christian Church, modifying and drawing elements from the Feast of Passover of the previous church.
1.    In our personal preparation for the Holy Supper, it is useful for us to reflect on the importance of repentance, genuine repent-ance, as the way to enter worthily into this sacrament and to draw from it the strength to go forth and live a better, more heavenly life.

II.    The Heavenly Doctrine tells us that repentance is the first essential of the church in a person.

A.    That repentance is the first essential of the church is plainly evident from the Word.  As we mentioned a moment ago, John the Baptist was sent to prepare mankind for the church which the Lord was to establish.  He baptized, and preached repentance.
1.    Washing, removal of sin, must come first.
a.    Sometimes we are led to think that you can just start doing good – but the Lord has revealed that it doesn’t work that way.  You have to remove the love of an evil before the love of the opposite good can be put in it’s place.
2.    The example the Word gives is that no one can introduce into a just and lawful admin-istration and set up a civil government in a city still held by the enemy.
a.    Remove the things that oppose, then you can put in new systems and rebuild.
B.    Contrition (feeling guilty) is not repentance.
C.    Oral Confession is not repentance.
D.    We are born into evils of every kind and unless we do something about them they remain with us.
1.    Inclination, not actual evils.
2.    Well, actually the Lord removes them, but it is said that we remove them because He cannot directly bring about their removal without our co-operation.
E.    Everyone knows what evil is.  Everyone is fa-miliar with the Ten Commandments (or some-thing similar from their own culture and re-gion).
1.    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone decid-ed to stop doing the things they knew were evil instead of figuring out ways to justify them?
F.    Just knowing what evil is does nothing for your spiritual life
1.    “…It is altogether different when a man ex-amines himself according to his rational conception of sin, and, coming upon some evil, says to himself, ‘This is a sin,’ and ab-stains from it through fear of eternal pun-ishment.  Then for the first time instruction heard in the church from sermon and pray-er, claims his attention and enters his heart; and the man from being a pagan becomes a Christian” (TCR 525).
2.    For example:
3.    On the other hand, those who know what sin is … And yet do not examine themselves and consequently see no sin in themselves, may be likened to those who scrape to-gether great wealth and store it up in boxes and chests, apply it to no useful purpose, but who gloat over it and count it…. (TCR 527:2)
a.    Like the farmer who fills his barn to bursting, what good is acquiring riches (of whatever kind) if all you do is hoard them.  These things are to be used for the good of others.
4.    Those who learn much from the Word about charity and repentance … But do not live according to them, may be compared to gluttons….  (TCR 527:3)
a.    A slightly different example for those things that relate to charity rather than faith.
G.    Actual repentance consists in examining one-self, recognizing and acknowledging his sins, praying to the Lord, and beginning a new life (TCR 528)
1.    Unless evils are removed by repentance, he cannot obey the command to love the neighbour and to love God; and yet on the-se two commandments hang all the law and the prophets, that is, the Word and conse-quently salvation (TCR 530).
a.    Your eternal salvation hangs in the bal-ance.
b.    So – what should you be doing?
H.    True repentance consists in examining not only the acts of life, but also the intentions of the will (TCR 532)
1.    There are two kinds of love which have long been deeply rooted in the human race, the love of ruling over all, and the love of pos-sessing the property of all.
a.    If restraints are removed, the former love inspires the desire to be God of heaven;
b.    And the latter the desire to be God of the world.
c.    All other loves, which are legion, are subordinate to these two.
d.    But to examine these is very difficult, for they are deep-seated and remain con-cealed (TCR 533).

III.    The Loves of Self and the World have always re-ceived a lot of attention in the New Church.

A.    In the past the idea of “being selfish” was per-haps overemphasized.
1.    This is balanced today by the overemphasis on “self-esteem” and loving yourself first.
2.    There needs to be a balanced view.  It’s not selfish for you to eat a meal rather than give it to a beggar, if the meal gives you the en-ergy to work at a food bank and prepare 1000 meals for others.
3.    It’s not selfish to expect a fair wage for your work, and then use that to provide a home for your family and to feed and educate your children.
B.    When you are doing the work of self-examination and repentance in regard to your loves, you need to take time, reflect deeply, and try to see what it is you are really trying to accomplish.
1.    It’s okay to take time for yourself to rest and recreate, because you end up being both more useful and at the same time more pleasant to be around.
a.    Recreation is actually listed as one of the degrees of usefulness in the Doctrine of Use.
i.    It’s the lowest degree, but it’s still there.
2.    Only you really know why you do the things you do – and sometimes you aren’t even so sure.
a.    A useful strategy, therefore, is to take the long view.
i.    First, just examine your behaviour.  Ask yourself if this is something the Lord would approve of before you do something, and if you’re pretty sure He wouldn’t approve, the don’t do it.  In other words, listen to your con-science.
ii.    After you get into the habit of doing that, you can move on to the next level of thinking about the things you want to do in the future, and ask yourself if they fit into the Lord’s plans, or if they benefit only one’s self.  This is a more interior level of living according to a conscience from the Word.
iii.    Once you get the hang of these types of self-examination and repentance, you will begin to see with a new light provided by the Lord, and this light will show you the intentions of your heart in ways that you had not seen before.  Then from amending your acts, to amending your plans, you fi-nally begin to amend the intentions of your will.  This then is preparation for life in heaven with the Lord.
C.    Therefore, kind reader, look into yourself, search out one or more of the evils within you, and from a principle of religion, remove them; if you do so for any other reason or end, you only succeed in concealing them from the world (TCR 566).

First Lesson:  MAT 25:1-12

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, say-ing, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bride-groom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

Second Lesson:  TCR 568

568. The second experience. Every pious and wise man wishes to know what will be his lot in the life af-ter death. He may learn this from the general account I will now give. Every man after death, when he finds that he is still alive, and that he is in another world, is informed that above him is heaven where are eternal joys, and that beneath him is hell where are eternal sorrows. At first he is permitted to return to his externals, in which he lived in the world; and in this state he believes that he will certainly go to heaven; and he talks intelligently and acts prudently. Some say, “We have lived moral lives, our pursuits have been honourable and we have not intentionally done evil.” Others say, “We have attended church, we have heard masses, we have adored sacred images and on our knees have poured forth prayers.” Others again say, “We have gives to the poor, we have assisted the needy and we have read books of devotion and also the Word;” with much more to the same purpose.
[2] After they have said these things, angels come to them and say: “All those things which you have mentioned you have done externally; but as yet you do not know what your internal character is. You are now spirits in substantial bodies, and the spirit is your internal man, which thinks according to its will, and wills according to its love, and to act thus is the de-light of its life. Every man from his infancy enters up-on life from externals, learning to act morally and to speak intelligently. When he acquires some idea of heaven and of the blessedness there, he begins to pray, to attend church and to perform the rites of worship. Nevertheless, when evils spring up from their native fountain he harbours them in the recess-es of his mind, and also ingeniously veils them over by reasoning from fallacies, until at length he does not know that evil is evil. After this, as his evils are veiled over and covered as it were by dust, he no longer thinks about them, only taking care to prevent them from appearing before the world. Thus he stud-ies only to lead a moral life in externals; and so he leads a double life, being a sheep in externals and in internals a wolf. He is like a golden casket with poison within; or like a person with a foul breath, keeping in his mouth a fragrant smelling substance to prevent those near from perceiving it, or like a perfumed mouse-skin.
[3] “You said that you have lived moral lives and followed pious pursuits; but,” continued the speaker, “have you ever examined your internal man and there perceived any desires prompting you to take vengeance even to the death, to indulge in lust even to adultery, to defraud even to theft, to lie even to bearing false witness? In four commandments of the Decalogue it is said, Thou shalt not do such things; and in the last two, Thou shalt not covet, etc. Do you believe that your internal man, with respect to these evils, is like your external? If you do, perhaps you are mistaken.”
[4] To this they replied: “What is the internal man? Is not this and the external man one and the same? We have heard from our ministers that the internal man is nothing but faith, and that pious discourse and a moral life are the signs of faith, being its operation.” The angels answered: “Saving faith is in the internal man, and so also is charity; and these are the source of Christian faithfulness and morality in the external man. If, however, the lusts which have just been mentioned remain in the internal man, thus in the will and thence in the thought, and so if you love them interiorly, and yet in externals act and speak otherwise, then evil in you is above good, and good is below evil. Therefore, whatever appearance of understanding there may be in your speech, and of love in your actions, evil is within, and in this way is concealed. Then you resemble cunning apes, which act like human beings; but their heart is far from hu-man.
[5] “But the nature of your internal man, of which you are entirely ignorant, because you have not ex-amined yourselves, and have not repented after ex-amination, you will see presently, when you are di-vested of the external man and enter into the life of the internal. When this happens, you will no longer be recognized by your companions, nor even by yourselves. We have seen moral persons, but wicked, in such circumstances become like wild beasts, glar-ing at their neighbour with ferocious glances, burning with deadly hatred and blaspheming God, whom in the external man they had worshiped.” As they de-parted on hearing this the angels declared: “You will see your lot in life hereafter; for presently your ex-ternal man will be taken from you, and you will enter into the internal, which is now your spirit.”

The Final Words of Revelation


A Holy Supper Address

Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – June 12, 2011

  1. Today we are going to be looking at the last few verses of the last book of the New Testament.
    1. Already covered briefly in the Children’s Talk, but now we will look at them for the guidance they can provide for those of us in adult states.
  2. Rev 22:8-21
    1. Now I, John, saw and heard these things.
      1. Opening the senses of the spiritual body by special permission and
      2. Under the direct protection and care of the Lord Himself.
    2. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. {9} Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
      1. The use and role of angels.
        1. The Greek word annelos, from which the English word “angel” comes, literally means “messenger.”
        2. Just as the atmosphere of the earth serves to soften and modify the energy radiated from our Sun so that life can exist on earth, the heaven serve to receive, modify, and pass on the life they receive from the Lord so that it arrives in our minds in a form suited to our present worldly states.
        3. Although angels are closest to us, nearest to our own states and thus more familiar, yet they are people who lived and walked on earth just as we do, they are not gods, nor are they separate creations distinct from human beings. We are to worship the Lord, only.
    3. {10} And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. {11} “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”
      1. When the time is at hand, when the body has passed away and the spirit has entered the spiritual world, the time for change has passed.
      2. This is important. That’s why the Lord has put so many warnings through so many different prophets in the Word.
        1. Parable of the Talents: the master returns suddenly.
        2. Parable of the Ten Virgins: the bridegroom does not come when expected.
        3. Lots of other parables.
        4. Direct statements that the time of His coming will be unknown, like a “thief in the night.”
      3. Here comes another warning – every person is going to get exactly what they deserve.
    4. {12} “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. {13} “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
      1. Coming “quickly” does not mean soon, but rather a sense of certainly.
      2. In Exodus 3:15 Jehovah gives His name to Moses as “I AM I WHO AM.”
        1. Tenses – or rather the lack of tense – are important.
        2. Before Abraham was, I am.
        3. Greek has lots of tenses, a more complex language than Hebrew, so qualifications are added to make it clear that this “person” transcends time and place, and in fact is the creator God.
    5. {14} Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have power in the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
      1. Again, you get what you deserve.
      2. How do you deserve to enter into the city? Keep His commandments.
      3. This leads to the question of what happens to those who do not keep His commandments?
        1. And reinforce the idea that the commandments here mentioned are the Ten Commandments by listing some examples of the behaviours that are contrary to them.
    6. {15} But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
      1. By what right does He have to command us in this way?
    7. {16} “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” {17} And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
      1. We know what happens to those who refuse to be led by the Lord, we know that such people exist, but yet the Lord wants to make it clear that all are created for and destined to go to heaven. The invitation has been given – over and over – it is entirely up to us whether or not we choose to take the water of life or not.
    8. {18} For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; {19} and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. {20} He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
      1. A lot of people would use this statement to say that this is a warning about the Writings because they “add“ to the Bible.
        1. From a point of view of history and the literal sense, that can’t be so. When the book of Revelation was written the Bible, which is a collection of ancient books, did not exist when the book of Revelation was being written.
        2. Or, we can look at it from the point of view of which Bible are we adding to? The Revised Standard Version used by the Roman Catholic church includes at least 10 more books than the King James Version (and its modern derivatives) used by the Protestants.
          1. The additional books are called “Apochrypha” and are regarded as “books proceeding from godly men,” but not Divinely inspired.
          2. In the New Church we add the Epistles to that group of books giving us the Gospels and Revelation as Divinely inspired, and the rest as “good books for the church.”
            1. This statement can only mean that people are warned from adding to the book of Revelation itself.
        3. From the point of view of doctrine, the Writings don’t add to the Word, they open it up to show what has always been there, but hidden.
      2. The 22nd chapter of Revelation, the New Testament, and Scripture and with the familiar phase that we use as the benediction in most of our services of worship:
    9. {21} The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
      1. Grace” means the delight of truth, and we are all being invited to be delighted by learning about the Lord and begin to live the life that leads to heaven.
      2. He wants nothing more than to give all of us lasting happiness, and He is showing us the way for us to attain it.
      3. Amen. He affirms the truth of it.
  3. Conclusion
    1. This chapter is a summary of the Doctrine of the New Church.
      1. It talks about the Lord as the Creator of the Universe, outside of time and space.
      2. It talks about the Word – the commandments.
      3. It talks about the Life of Charity – shunning evils and keeping the commandments.
      4. It reminds us that each one of us is going to face a judgement; and once that judgement comes it will be too late to make a fundamental change in our character.
      5. Which all leads to the obvious conclusion that we should not delay, but we should look to the quality and nature of our lives immediately, and begin the work of changing ourselves for the better, for “the Lord is coming quickly” at a “time that we do not know.”
      6. And if we do, we are promised His grace, and a life of happiness to eternity in heaven. Amen.

First Lesson: PSA 19:7-11

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; {8} The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; {9} The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgements of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. {10} More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. {11} Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.

Second Lesson: Apocalypse Revealed 949

REV 22:12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” This symbolically means that the Lord will surely come, and His presence is heaven and the felicity of eternal life for everyone in accordance with his faith in the Lord and his life in obedience to the Lord’s commandments.

Behold, I am coming quickly” symbolically means that the Lord will surely come, namely, to execute judgement and to establish a new heaven and a new church. …. “My reward is with Me” symbolically means that the Lord’s very presence is heaven and the felicity of eternal life….

To give to everyone according to his work means, symbolically, to do so in accordance with a person’s conjunction with the Lord through faith in the Lord and living in obedience to His commandments. This is the symbolic meaning because good works symbolize charity and faith internally, and at the same time the effects of these outwardly. And because charity and faith come from the Lord, and are received in accordance with a person’s conjunction with Him, it is apparent that these are what are symbolically meant. The meaning here thus coheres as well with what has been said before….

[2] People know that charity and faith come not from man, but from the Lord. And because they come from the Lord, they are received in accordance with a person’s conjunction with Him, and a conjunction with Him is formed through faith in Him and living in accordance with His commandments. Faith in Him means a confidence that He will save, and this confidence is found in people who turn to Him directly and refrain from evils as being sins. Such a faith is not possible in others.

We said that “My reward is with Me” symbolically means that the Lord’s very presence is heaven and the felicity of eternal life, for the reward is an inward bliss, called peace, and a consequent outer joy. This is possible only from the Lord, and whatever comes from the Lord not only emanates from Him, but also constitutes His very presence. For the Lord cannot emit anything from Himself without His being present in it. Indeed, He is omnipresent in everyone in accordance with some conjunction, and the conjunction depends on reception, and the reception on love and wisdom, or if you please, on charity and faith, and charity and faith on the person’s way of life, and the person’s way of life on an aversion to evil and falsity, and an aversion to evil and falsity on knowing what evil and falsity are, and on repenting then and at the same time looking to the Lord.

[3] …But this arcanum can be understood only by people who are wise owing to their receiving the light of heaven from the Lord. It is for them what we wrote in two works, one being Divine Providence and the other Divine Love and Wisdom, where we showed that the Lord Himself is present in people in accordance with their reception, and not some Divine quality apart from Him. This is the concept that angels have when they conceive of the Divine omnipresence, and I do not doubt that some Christians have a similar concept. Amen.

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