By Rev Louis B. King (1957)
It is a mark of the New Church man to be able to consider separately and rationally the three essentials of God-Man. The trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is not a tri-personal Godhead, but the substance, form and operation of the one Divine Man, the Lord Jesus Christ
The Writings refer to these essentials as the Divine esse or love, the Divine existere or wisdom, and the Divine proceeding or use. The Divine esse is the Lord as He is in Himself─above and beyond man’s comprehension. The Divine existere is the Lord visible to man─the Divine Human standing forth, existing in form, to be seen and approached. The Divine proceeding is the Lord going forth and affecting the lives of men: instructing, encouraging, enlightening, comforting, regenerating.
Man, the image and likeness of his Creator, mirrors this trine of Divine essentials in his soul, body and operation. The soul or human spirit of man is invisible to his fellows; it is the inmost man himself. The body, however, is the man existing before others─the form that can be seen, approached, and loved objectively. Without the human form man would be invisible, unknowable, beyond all thought. But the life of man, proceeding from his soul through his body, is that which affects other human beings.
Without these three essentials, man would cease to be man, no human uses could exist, and the whole end and purpose of creation would fall into nothing. Man must have an inner life, an inmost human essence in which his individual loves and intelligence may reside. This is the first essential of his person, his esse or being. Then, he must have also a body or visible form in which his esse may appear to others and be approached by them. This is the second essential of his person, his existere. Finally, he must have a proceeding life which may affect others and thereby accomplish the use for which he was created. This is the third essential of his person, his operative life or proceeding.
It is comparatively easy to see the trine in man without confusing his essentials with three separate persons, or even splitting his person into three different personalities. Yet when it comes to God, in whose image and likeness man was created, we find ourselves bound by literal statements in the Old and New Testaments which, because of age-long misinterpretation, have a tendency to lead the thought away from the obvious essentials of the one Divine person, and into the illogical persuasion of a trine of personalities in the one God.
The Divine esse or being of the Lord is personified in the Old Testament as Jehovah. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ, who is really Jehovah come down, is erroneously thought of by the Christian Church as a second person who is also God. Lastly, the Holy Spirit, mistakenly conceived of as a third person in the Godhead, is not even personified but is referred to as a dove. The truth, however, can be known. Jehovah the Father is the Lord Himself above the heavens. Jesus Christ, the Son, is the Lord Himself appearing in His Human to angels and men. The Holy Spirit is the Lord Himself affecting angels and men. All three of these essentials, which cannot be separated except in thought, constitute the unity and the Humanity of the Lord.
But what do the Writings teach specifically concerning the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the Divine life going forth to men, and hence is the Lord Himself. For that which proceeds from a man’s life draws its essence from that life and is, therefore, one with it. In the Hebrew language there is one word for both “spirit” and “wind.” It is used in regard to respiration, which represents man’s life proceeding from his person. When the heart beats, the vital heat of man’s life is circulated throughout his body. But when man breathes, he alternately receives of the world into himself and sends forth his breath or spirit, which is the very essence of his bodily life.
It is the same with man’s mind. Instead of a heart, the human mind has a will within which the loves of his inmost life generate heat. In fact, the pulsation of the heart takes place in the body only because of a direct correspondence between the will and the heart. The activity of man’s love causes the heart to beat. In place of lungs, the human mind has an understanding which alternately receives into itself truths from without and sends forth the essence of its life or wisdom.
Note well the analogy. Spirit means breath, or life, going forth. The life of the physical body consists in the heating of the heart and the breathing of the lungs. But that life is particularly expressed or sent forth to others by means of respiration. So with the human mind: its life consists of love and wisdom, but it also is particularly expressed or sent forth to others in the form of wisdom. This is infinitely true of the Lord. His life is His Divine love and wisdom, but it is particularly expressed, or sent forth to affect men, as infinite wisdom or Divine truth.
Thus we read: By ‘spirit,’ when said of the Lord, is specifically meant the life of His wisdom, which is Divine truth (Lord 51). When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will lead you into all truth. He shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak (John 16: 13). When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you, even the Spirit of truth, He shall testify of Me (John 15: 25). Jesus breathed on His disciples, and said, Receive ye the Holy Spirit (John 20: 22).
The Lord has sent the Comforter, the Spirit of truth; and that Comforter is the Lord Himself in His second coming. He reveals Himself in the Divine wisdom of the Writings. He “testifies” of His Divine person, of the oneness of His Divinity and Humanity. In the Writings He comes to us and instructs, enlightens, comforts and regenerates. And our idea of the Lord as the Holy Spirit must be just as real and human as is our idea of Him as the Father and the Son. When we read of the Father, we think of the Lord as Divine love─as that infinite desire that a heaven of human uses exist eternally for the human race. When we read of the Son, we must think of the Lord as to the Divine humanity of His person─His gentle awareness and merciful consideration of us as individuals. And when we read of the Holy Spirit we must think of the Lord affecting us with the whole power of His love and wisdom─instructing and leading us by the Divine truths of His Word.
Our central thought concerning the Holy Spirit, then, is to be that of the Lord present with men as the light and power of truth in His Word. But this idea is not all-inclusive; for, in a general sense, the Holy Spirit includes all of the ways in which the Lord comes to man, and works in him for his regeneration.
Now the Lord can come to man and affect him only by means of influx. So if we are to consider all the modes by which the Lord affects man, we must investigate the different types of influx. Man possesses three organic receptacles─soul, mind and body. Into these three degrees of the human organic three corresponding degrees of influx enter. Into the soul the Lord inflows as life, which man feels to be his own. This immediate influx is above his consciousness; nevertheless it sustains the life of all the organic forms beneath it, even to the life of the minutest cell. By virtue of this influx into the soul man has the ability to think and will, although his thoughts and affections do not draw their quality immediately from the Lord. That which causes man to love good or evil things, and that which causes him to think true or false thoughts, the choice being his, is another influx from the Lord, which does not enter immediately into the soul but mediately into the interiors of the conscious mind. It is said mediately into the mind, because this influx from the Lord passes through the heavens and is qualified by angels and spirits.
When the Lord’s love passes through the heavens and is received in the minds of men on earth, it is present there in forms of good affections which inspire men to learn the truth and to live it. Thus the energy of the Lord’s love, operating from within man’s soul and mind, gradually reforms and regenerates him. The Lord therefore affects man from within and from without. So we read: The Holy Spirit is [not only] the Divine truth but also the Divine energy and operation proceeding from the one God in whom is the Divine Trinity, that is, from the Lord God the Savior (TCR 138: 1).
Although the Lord affects man in these two ways from within─through the soul and the mind─still, the particular operation of the Holy Spirit is by means of the truths of the Word. For this reason the Word of God has in it the answers, strength and comfort for life’s problems. In the degree that we are able to understand its teachings, and approach it as the Lord Himself speaking to us; in that degree we shall have instruction, enlightenment and encouragement. For the Word of God not only supplies those truths by which the understanding may be reformed, but the reading of it and reflection upon its teachings open the mind to influx from the heavens; from which the Lord as the Holy Spirit regenerates and purifies the loves of the human heart.
So often in the New Church we are prone to concentrate upon the hard teachings of the Writings which deal with our responsibilities in regeneration. At times we resent having so complete a knowledge of the obligation to humble, subordinate, and even shun the loves instinctive to our nature. Self-denial, the acceptance of tragedy, disappointment and despair, the ever increasing burden of natural and spiritual temptation, all of these in some form are essential to regeneration. And yet we have been given a Comforter. Though we are troubled, we shall have peace; through the sorrow and despair of today will come the comfort and peace of tomorrow, if we but have the courage to look to the Lord and trust in Him. He is ever near us as the Spirit of truth in the Word; and He remains with us in our troubled states, leading and uplifting our spirits, in so far as we allow Him. “Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and on earth. . . . Observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and, lo, I am with you all the days, even to the consummation of the age.” Amen.
* John 7:37-44
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him. And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.
* John 16:1-16
These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 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 shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.
* True Christian Religion 142
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. These in their order are the energies made operative by the Lord in those who believe in Him, and who adjust and dispose themselves for His reception and indwelling; and this is done by means of Divine truth, and with Christians by means of the Word; for the Word is the sole medium through which man draws near to the Lord, and into which the Lord enters. For, as said above, the Lord is Divine truth itself, and whatever goes forth from Him is Divine truth. But Divine truth from good must be understood, which is the same as faith from charity, since faith is nothing but truth, and charity is nothing but goodness. It is by means of Divine truth from good, that is, by means of faith from charity, that man is reformed and regenerated, and also renewed, vivified, sanctified, justified, and according to the progress and growth of these is purified from evils; and purification from evils is remission of sins. But these operations of the Lord cannot now be all explained one by one, because each one calls for its own analysis, confirmed by the Word and rationally illustrated, for which this not the place; therefore the reader is referred to the chapters following in order in this work, which treat of Charity, Faith, Free Will, Repentance, and Reformation and Regeneration. It must be understood that these saving graces are continually made operative by the Lord in every man; since they are the steps to heaven, and the Lord desires the salvation of all. Thus the salvation of all is His end; and he who wills an end wills also the means. The Lord’s coming, redemption, and the passion of the cross were for the sake of man’s salvation (Matt 18:11; Luke 19:10). And as man’s salvation was and eternally is the Lord’s end, it follows that the above mentioned operations are mediate ends, and salvation the final end.