Id rather be in hell with christ,than in heaven without.
In Emanuel Swedenborg’s book, Heaven and Hell, at marker 468 , he talks about three levels of life, he writes;
“Our rational ability is opened at the first level by means of civic truths, at the second by moral truths, and at the third level by spiritual truths.”
He goes on to say, that knowing the truths is not enough, you must live them. Not only live them, but spiritually love them.
Civic Truths – Love what is fair and equitable.
Moral Truths – Love what is honest and upright.
Spiritual Truths – Love what is good and true in regard to heaven and the church.
Swedenborg extols us to not love them because they make us feel better or superior to our fellow humans, but because of our affection for the truths. Truths that become part of our conscience, embedded in us so we may retain these feelings in subsequent lives and build upon them.
my site is based on the writings of emanuel swedenborg,its very informative,rational and thought provoking.i do hope you take the time to check it out,im sure you will find something your worth while,you won’t be disappointed,im celabrating 1000 followers,id like to thank all my followers and visitors..thank you.take care and God bless…
The Power Of Positive Thinking
Posted: 07 Mar 2014 04:01 AM PST
God has equipped us with many tools to give us a happy life. This week Mary describes the difference it makes in everyday life when we use our mental tools to choose trust, to work to understand, and to choose to see the peace and beauty in each moment. -Editor
Have you ever noticed that doing the same action can be changed drastically by your own attitude and expectations? For example, let’s say you have to drive 50 miles to get somewhere today. If you are on your way to a job interview, you probably left early, gave yourself lots of extra time, planned your route and spent the drive rehearsing what you will say. If you are on your way to see a loved one that you haven’t seen in a long time, you might be singing happily to yourself, noticing the sunshine or bluebirds and wishing you could just get there faster. But if you are running late to get to a meeting that you are dreading because you don’t feel prepared and you don’t like the people who will be there, you might be feeling very differently. It might seem like everyone is cutting you off in traffic, it is taking a very long time to get there, the sun is glaring in your eyes and you just spilled your coffee on your new outfit.
The Lord has been showing me that often the most important thing I have a part in is my reaction to what is happening. He might still ask me to do something for which I feel terribly unprepared. He might show me some frightening giants that I need to conquer in my spiritual life. I might feel like I’ve been captured and taken away into captivity at times. And I do still have to take responsibility to do the next right thing each day. But what if I had choices that could make all of it better? What if it could actually work out more smoothly and with less suffering because of something that I have been given the power to do?
Here are a few thoughts and examples from the Word that show the effect that my choices about my reactions and attitude can have on a situation:
1. I can choose to trust that with the Lord’s help I can do what is asked of me
From Exodus 4
”Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’” (Verse 1)
The Lord then gave him not one but THREE signs to show the people so they would believe him. And Moses still doubted:
”Then Moses said to the LORD, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” So the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” (Verses 10-12)
And still Moses didn’t believe that the Lord’s power was enough to help him do this so he begged to get out of it.
“But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.” So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses…” (Verses 13-14)
Moses not only doubted his own ability to accomplish what the Lord was clearly asking him to do, but he doubted the Lord’s ability to do it. The signs and directions the Lord gave were not enough to convince him that it would work out. This did not stop the Lord from going forward with His plan to save the children of Israel or even get Moses out of being involved, but it made it harder for Moses.
Each of us has a choice about our reactions to what is asked of us. If I choose to be doubtful and fearful instead of trusting and hopeful the process will feel much more difficult.
2. I can choose to be hopeful in the Lord when what lies before me seems hopeless
From Numbers 13
”Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. Then they told him, and said: ‘We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.’
Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.’
But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.’ And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ‘The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.’” (Verses 26-33)
The children of Israel came right up to the edge of the Promised Land. They saw the fruits with their own eyes but instead of trusting the Lord’s Word and strength which they had seen save them repeatedly on their journey out of Egypt, they spread lies and plans of rebellion.
”…because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.” (Numbers 14:22-24)
I have the choice to trust that the Lord can help me and to go forward with Him.
3. I can choose to believe that the Lord has a good plan for me
From Isaiah 30
”For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’ But you would not, And you said, ‘No, for we will flee on horses’— Therefore you shall flee! And, ‘We will ride on swift horses’—Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift!” (Verses 15-16)
The Lord was saying to quiet their fears and complaining and put their trust in Him and He would bring them safely home. But they were saying that they are going to have to flee on horses for their lives—so that’s what happened. Not because the Lord declared it, but because they declared it.
If I believe the journey is going to be miserable then I will probably focus on the harder parts and perhaps even put myself through unneeded pain.
4. I can choose to focus on the beautiful moments of peace and hope that the Lord is offering me right now
From Luke 10
“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’” (Verses 38-42)
Martha was trying to do the right things and get the work done but she was feeling bitter about it. She felt like her sister should be working hard too. The Lord wanted her to see that sometimes the most important thing is to accept the gift of right now. Martha was letting her worries and expectations of what was important take away her opportunity to see the truth that Lord was there with them sharing His Word.
5. I can choose to believe these things even when I don’t feel sure
In the book Heaven and Hell, Swedenborg speaks of people who have no idea that angels live in houses in Heaven, don’t realize that angels are people and even don’t believe there is a life after death:
“They could also grasp this if when they thought about angels and spirits they would step outside their preconceptions, which happens when they are not constantly questioning and consciously pondering whether this is so.” (183)
No, I don’t have “proof” that choosing to be hopeful and trusting will change anything. But if I spend my time pondering and constantly questioning whether or not I can prove that my attitude has power to affect the outcomes of situations, I really won’t ever know for sure. Perhaps the point is trusting without “knowing” that the Lord can use me to do whatever He sees fit even when I feel weak. He is able to conquer any giants that stand in the way. He is asking me to stop listening to worries that spin around in my head, to stand—confident in Him and quiet in the Word long enough to notice He’s here with me now. If I am willing to do that, even if I don’t know for sure “whether it is so”—He can show me the miracles that He already has planned. Then I’ll get to see the sparkling sunshine and bluebirds rather than the sun glare and traffic jams. That sounds good to me.
Mary has a Master of Social Work degree from Millersville University. She is currently exploring ideas of ways to combine her degree and experience with her love for the New Church in a new and useful way. Traveling keeps her busy as well—up next is a trip driving across the country from Philadelphia to Denver followed by a week in California.
Part III. CONCERNING LIFE.
The life of man is his love. This life or love is varied with all men, but is one in its origin, which is the Divine Love, the fountain of all life. Man has no life in himself, but it is a free gift of God; it is given to man as his own, and he is in freedom to use it according to his pleasure.
Created out of the dust of the ground, God breathed into him the breath of life. The clay became living, but within the living clay there remained, higher and distinct from it, the breath of life itself. Hence the. life or nature of man is twofold, higher and lower, heavenly and earthly, spiritual and natural, internal and external. In the higher region within man the Lord resides with immortal life. In the lower dwells the “ego,” the self-hood or “proprium,” endowed with the appearance of original and independent life.
Since the Fall of man these two lives are not only opposite to one another, but irreconcilable. Both cannot rule together in him, one must rule and the other must give way. In the midst between these two dwells human reason; it is able to view both, and can freely determine which of the two shall rule in him.
If man then freely turns to the Lord, subdues his self-life and self-love and subjects this to the love and life of God, he will become conjoined with God and live forever with Him in Heaven, If, on the other hand, he turns to himself, and away from God, if he gives free reins to the gratification of his selfish lusts, he will become utterly disjoined from the source of life; he will lose his soul, and dwell forever with death in Hell.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give exchange for his soul.” (Math. 16: 25, 26.)
Free will in spiritual things is therefore an inalienable essential of human life. For life is of the Lord, and the Lord is Freedom itself. It is our love that He would have, but love forced is love no longer.
“Behold, I have set before thee this day life and the good, death and the evil. Therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” (Deut. 30: 15-19.)
“Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.” (Jos. 24:15.)
And yet, in all the Reformed churches, the dogma is held (with some variation) that man has no free will in spiritual things, that he is like a stock or a stone in matters of faith and of good and evil. If he receives faith, it is by the pure grace of God. If he does what is good, it is by the grace of God, If he does evil,—why, it is because God withholds His grace!
What is this, essentially, but Predestination, and what is Predestination but the most cruel, insane and blasphemous heresy ever hatched by disordered minds? A child would recognize its injustice. A heathen would reject it with loathing. And yet there are Christians who believe in it!
There is, indeed, a Divine Predestination, a predestination of all men for Heaven and its eternal blessedness, for that is the destination intended by the Creator for all His creatures, And every one is able to gain this goal, who is willing, freely willing, to choose it, to turn to it, to strive for it. Divine grace will then accompany him and sustain him in his efforts, but will not supercede these efforts, will not push or force him into Heaven.
Freedom of choice, however, cannot exist without the knowledge and the understanding of Truth, for falsity is of Hell, and Hell is slavery itself. In order, therefore, that all men might be free, the Word of God was given, first in the Letter and now in its internal sense.
“Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends.” (John 15:15)
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32.)
Will and understanding are the names of the two universal organs of life in the spirit of mm, answering to the heart and the lungs in his body. The will is the vessel created to receive the influx of life and love from God, and the understanding is the vessel set apart for the influx of truth and perception.
Ever since the Fall of mankind, these two faculties have been entirely distinct and separate from one another. Thankful, indeed, may we be for this separation, for on it depends our whole salvation,
Ever since the Fall, the human will or heart has been entirely and utterly evil, a mass of filthy inclinations and lusts, the very gate of Hell with man. It has become so thoroughly corrupt, that it can never, to all eternity, be reformed and regenerated. It is bad! Nothing can be done with it, except to subdue it, and shut it up below. An entirely new will, a will of good, will then be created in its place by the Lord.
Now, if the human understanding were one with this evil will, man would be like any ferocious beast, rushing head long into the gratification of his lusts, without any regard to consequences.
In order, therefore, to save the race from utter damnation and extinction, the Lord, after the Fall, separated the understanding from the corrupted will. Hence man is able to see and distinguish with his understanding between truth and falsity and good and evil; is able to realize his own conditions, and is able to compel or force himself to abstain from evil and to do what is right.
It is thus, alone, that the old will can be subdued, and a new will be created.
Repentance is the first step in the life of regeneration, but by repentance is not meant the mere oral confession that one is a sinner, nor the violent enthusiastic contrition which in the old Church is said to be followed by the “consolation of the Gospel” But true repentance is the recognition of the hellish love of self, and the earnest resolution to shun evils,—not on account of the fear of punishments,—but because they are sins against the Lord. And actual repentance consists especially in the act of shunning and compelling some one particular sin and evil love. For no man is able to fight against all evil, and all the Hells at once; but he is able to put away one evil at one time, and another afterwards, in the degree that his eyes are opened to the infernal nature of that particular evil.
“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, Cease to do evil; learn to do well,” (Isa. 1:16).
“When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die: if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; if the wicked restore the pledge; give again that which he robbed; walk: in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity, he shall surely live. He shall not die.” (Ezech. 33: 14, 15.)
Reformation and Regeneration follow Repentance, as conception is followed by gestation and birth. For Regeneration is not. a mere figure of speech. It is an actual new birth, the birth of a new man, a man angel, and the process corresponds in every detail to the conception, formation and birth of the bodily man. The seed from which the spiritual man is begotten is the seed of Divine Truth,—the Word of God,—from the Heavenly Father. This, when received in the mind, and when not only heard, but loved and obeyed in life, causes a reformation of the whole understanding. The old fallacies, misconceptions, prejudices and false notions are cast out. Man learns to view God, the Word, the world and himself in an entirely new light. He learns to distinguish between truth and falsity, and between good and evil. And as he perseveres in his efforts to walk in this Light, shunning his former evils as sins against his God, he will gradually withdraw from death and Hell, and draw nearer unto life and Heaven. He will first learn to fear evil as hurtful; afterwards he will come to hate it as undelightful and deadly to his soul, and finally he will learn to love what is good, which formerly he regarded as utterly opposed to his own interests and pleasures.
In this manner by slow degrees, by temptations and vastations, the old selfhood, “the old Adam” in him, will be cast down from his throne, and a new will, a new love and life will be created and born. But as the creation of the natural man is not the work of a moment, but of forty weeks, neither is the new birth the effect of any “instantaneous conversion.” It is the one great work and business of man during his entire life in this world, and the work of perfection continues in Heaven to all eternity.
For not even the angels are perfect in the sight of God, but are forever drawing nearer unto Him, who alone is perfect.
“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit,” (John 3: 3,7)
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” (1 Peter 1: 23.)
On these same subjects read “The Doctrine of Life for the New Jerusalem,” “The True Christian Religion,” and “Angelic Wisdom Concerning the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom,” by Emanuel Swedenborg.
Death and Resurrection
What is termed “death” is nothing but the change which man undergoes when he lays aside the natural body and enters consciously into the life of his spirit. The man himself cannot die or cease to exist, for the real man is spirit and life, and life is eternal, because God is Life.
When the motions of the heart and of the lungs have entirely ceased, the spirit is fully separated from the body and awakes immediately in the spiritual world where, indeed, his spirit has lived from the beginning of his life, though not consciously. The worn-out natural body returns to the dust out of which it was made, and arises never more.
There is not, therefore, any “resurrection of the material body,” as is believed in the old Church. Such a doctrine is utterly unscriptural and irrational, Paul is explicit enough on that point, where he says:
“Some will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Thou fool! That which thou so west is not quickened, except it die: and that winch thou sowest is not that body which shall be. But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed its own body, There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body, There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption,” (1 Cor. 15:35-50)
Common sense alone shows that the material flesh and blood cannot arise again after life has once departed from the body. The latter returns unto dust, and the dust enters into plants, and the plants become food for beasts and men. In the body which we now carry there may be substances derived more or less directly from the dead bodies of a million men. Our own bodies are thus inseparably interlaced with those of our ancestors. If, on the “day of Judgment,” each one should take what is his own, would there, be bodies enough for all the waiting souls?
But what need to dwell on these ancient superstitions? “There is a spiritual body,” and this body is the human form and substance of the spirit of man, which, in this life, exists within and permeates the flesh and blood. When the material covering falls off, this spiritual body remains as before in a perfectly human shape, possessing all the senses, all the organs and viscera and limbs, without which man would not be human.
The Spiritual World.
Where, then, is the spiritual world in which man is to awaken immediately after death? Is it in some sublimated aerial sphere, high above the stars? Or is it in Tartarus, beneath us? Or are spirits and angels floating about us, invisible, in our own atmosphere? No! It is not anywhere in space, for space, as well as time, is nothing to the spirit. Thought is of the spirit, and in your thought you can transfer yourself, in a moment, to the ends of the earth, to the regions beyond the boundaries of the universe. What is space but an appearance, a relative condition of dead matter, distinctly inferior to the intelligence of man? A hundred years ago we were separated from Europe by a journey of three months. Now the distance is measured by a week or less.
You close your eye at night. You dream. Where are you in your dream? In the world of matter, of time and space? No, for in a moment you may pass through the experiences of a whole day, or may accomplish any distant journey. Dreams are but fleeting glimpses of that inner world, in which your own spirit dwells together with countless other spirits. In dreams, long ago, the angels of God descended to patriarchs and prophets, bringing messages of instruction or of warning to mankind; in dreams and in visions of the night the kingdom of God descended and still sometimes communes with the half-conscious spirits yet fettered in the clay.
You see a man. Yet you do not really see him if you do not see his spirit at the same time. In a crowd of a thousand yon may see but one single man, and that because you know that man’s internal mind and spiritual characteristics. It is not your material eye that sees his spirit, but your spiritual eye. Thus like sees like. Matter can not view spirit, nor spirit matter, for they are of totally different substance, origin and degree. The natural eye sees the paper and printing of a book; the spiritual eye sees the meaning of the book. Hence we may know the falsity of modern spiritism, which claims that spirits appear in the material world, that they may be photographed by a natural camera, that they can produce natural writing, move slate-pencils, etc. They cannot do this anymore than you are able to lift up a stone by the mere action of your thought.
But though invisible and totally distinct from this world, yet the spiritual world is not unreachable or far away from us. Where is the spiritual world? It is where man is, and nowhere else! He cannot get away from it, for he is in it now, as to his spirit, as really as he is In the world of nature as to his body, He is not conscious of his spiritual life and surroundings, but in a moment these may be opened to him, by the will of God. This immediate presence of the spiritual world is evinced most clearly in the Word (2 Kings, 6:17), when the servant of Elisha feared, because he saw the city of Samaria surrounded by enemies on horses and chariots. But Elisha answered,
“Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray Thee, open his eyes, that he. may see And the Lord opened the eyes of the young: man: and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire, round about Elisha”
The kingdom of God is not of this world, but of another world. This other world, therefore, is where the kingdom of God is established in everlasting reality and glory. And where is this?
“The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17: 20, 21.)
It is in the spiritual body, then, that man awakens after death, a real and substantial being in an actual and tangible world. So easy is the transition called death, that many, on awakening, are persuaded that they still live in the natural world. They find themselves surrounded by familiar scenes and loving friends, they arise, clothe themselves, eat and drink; little or nothing seems changed at first, excepting this, that they no longer carry with them the bodily infirmities and ailments from which they suffered in the former world. After a while, however, new scenes and faces present themselves, as the spirit enters further into the spiritual world on the journey that is to carry him to his final destination. For few if any are so good or so wicked that they enter at once into Heaven or into Hell. A state or world of final preparation is needed for almost all, and this state is called the “world of spirits,” or the world where all spirits are together, immediately after death.
The World of Spirits.
This “world of spirits” is an intermediate state between Heaven and Hell, “the great gulf,” spoken of in Luke 16: 26, and corresponds to the mouth and the digestive organs in man, which first receive the food and separate its good parts from the evil.
In this world of spirits the final judgment takes place and the separation of the good from the evil, for the judgment after death must take place in a world where the good and the evil are still together. And the judgment is effected by everybody being put into a state of perfect freedom, without any fear of shame and punishments. The evil then rush joyfully into the indulgence of their lusts, and thus lay bare their inmost character, which in the natural world had been carefully and hypocritically concealed. They hasten from one enormity into another, and finally cast themselves headlong into Hell among their like.
Evil, therefore, is its own punishment, God casts no one into Hell. He seeks not the death of any sinner. He would draw all unto Himself in Heaven, but such is His Love and Wisdom, that He compels no one to love and serve Him.
But those whose inmost and ruling love has been the love of good, pass through a state of final preparation for Heaven. For few in this world have attained to a sufficient degree of perfection. External, worldly and selfish loves still cling to most good people some time even after death, and the ignorance concerning the real nature of Heaven and of the Lord is so great that instruction becomes absolutely necessary. In this state are all who die as children, most of the Gentiles and many of the Christians All these are now given the opportunity to learn the fundamental things of the true Christian Religion, and they enter into Heaven when there is a balance between their faith and their will of good.
Each one, therefore, seeks his final abode according to his ruling love. This love remains unchanged after death, for he has made it his very life. Hence we read:
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still. And he that is filthy, let him he filthy still. And he that is just, let him be just still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” (Rev, 22:11)
The kingdom of the devil is not a place outside of or beneath man. Like the Kingdom of God, it is within him.
Hell is, essentially, the state or condition of evil itself, and hence the general state of the wicked spirits who in the other life, by self- gravitation and mutual attraction, gather themselves together into vast congregations of satans and devils.
For like seeks like. Where the carcass is, there the eagles are gathered. Thieves seek the company and dens of thieves. Adulterers are happy only among the lascivious. The dog returns to his vomit, and the swine to his mire.
Hell-fire is not material fire, for such cannot exist in the spiritual world. Nor is it, as some suppose, the hopeless, unceasing pangs of a conscience awakened too late, for conscience is the voice of God in man and leads to Heaven. No one can go to Hell who has left within him one spark of conscience.
But the fire of Hell is the burning lust of doing evil. It is the evil will of self-love, which, when not extinguished or subdued in this life, will burn up and consume all good and truth which Divine Mercy has bestowed upon man.
Wickedness burneth as fire and the people shall he as the fuel of fire; no man shall spare his brother ” (Isa. 9:27,29)
The essence of Hell is the love of self, which, when opposed, flames tip as deadly hatred against all outside of one’s self. It is the love of domineering over all, the love of possessing all things and depriving others of all that is theirs: their wealth, their faith, their innocence and their life. It is the hatred against all that is good and true, and it is especially the cruel, undying hatred against the Lord, who is Mercy and Innocence itself.
Far from being tormented, whilst burning in this fire of infernal love, the devils feel its flames as the inmost joy of their life, their very heaven, in the degree that they are permitted to revel in the indulgence of their insane lusts. The self-denial and purity of Heaven would be death and hell to them.
So great is the Divine mercy that the internals are permitted, to some extent, to indulge in their evils, for otherwise they could not remain alive. And their very evils are the means of preserving some degree of order in Hell, for the devils love to punish and torment one another, and they are thus kept in continual fear of one another, and are restrained by this fear.
But let no one think that the devils are happy, on the whole. Evil is misery and horror and torment in itself. The devils feel the fire of Hell as burning when they are not permitted to hurt their fellows or the innocent. Their headlong rush into ever deeper evils is continually checked, their cunning plans are baffled, their triad desires disappointed, their conspiracies exposed, and their crimes direfully punished.
Most of their lives are spent in prisons and work-houses, where they are compelled to labor for their miserable subsistence. To be forced to work and thus to be of some use, this is direful torment to them, as it is to all who hate the neighbor,
As there are degrees of evil, so there are degrees in Hell. All are not equally wicked. Some fare better and some fare worse, according to the depth and persistency of their malice. And those who are in like evils are herded together by themselves into various congregations. To themselves and to each other they appear, indeed, like men and women, but when the light of Heaven falls upon them they are seen in their “true inwardness,” deformed, monstrous and disgusting, like filthy and ferocious beasts.
Their surroundings are in harmony with their own inner nature. They dwell, and love to dwell, in hideous holes and caverns, in deserts and stagnant mighty become paupers and vile slaves. Here the learned become foolish, and the refined forget their polish. Nor is Hell for these alone, but for the slothful and vicious among all classes of men.
It is to be noted that all the inhabitants of Hell have been men and women upon some earth, and that there is no class of devils or satans who had once been created in Heaven, but had fallen from their angelic estate. But of this later on. Nor is there any one special Devil, who is, as it were, king and god over the whole of Hell. By the “Devil ” is meant simply the love of evil, and by “Satan” the love of falsity, both of which rule as one in the minds of all in Hell.
Thus they live in Hell from age to age. “Their morning is the itch of cupidities; their noon is the heat of lust; their evening anxiety and their night torment.”
But is there, then, no hope for their final restoration? No, for they know what they have freely chosen, and they prefer it immeasurably to heavenly good and truth. Their will is formed, their choice is made. Heaven would be hell to them were they lifted up thither by force. They are happier in Hell, and so they are permitted to remain there forever.
Reader, would you have a more objective and nearer view of Hell? Look then, in the light of these teachings, upon the state of this “Christian” world in which we live! And look nearer still, into your own heart, and you will find that Hell is not very far away, nor foreign to our nature. But while we are in this world we may still escape from the Hell within us, if we will.
The ignorance concerning Heaven, and the disbelief in a life after this is so great among Christians, that but few think about it or wish to know what it is. They reason that if there is a Heaven then they will learn all about it after death. In the meantime they prefer to bury their minds in the things of this world.
Whatever ideas are prevalent in regard to Heaven, are either so vague as to amount to nothing, or else so filled with the hopes of sensual and selfish gratifications, as to be gross and revolting to a spiritually-minded man.
Some picture Heaven as a cloudy dreamland, without substantial reality or actual human life, where angels, with wings on their backs and palm-branches and harps in their hands, fly about the throne of God or pray and sing without a pause.
Others imagine that life in Heaven consists in everlasting church-going, or in eternal feasting with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or in unending promenades in heavenly paradises. Each one, in fact, makes up an imaginary heaven of his own the chief blessedness of which is to consist in the free and eternal indulgence in his particular “weakness of the flesh,” whether this be some form of religious frenzy, or sloth fulness, or the satisfaction of some bodily appetite.
But mouth-worship or self-gratification, cannot be the true service of God in which men are to spend a whole eternity. What then is Heaven? We are taught “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God,” and “Thy will be done, as in Heaven, so upon the earth.” But how are we to find the Lord‘s Kingdom, and how are we to do His will on earth, if we do not know nor care to know how it is done in Heaven and what Heaven is?
It is to dispel this universal ignorance that the Lord Himself has now vouchsafed an immediate Revelation concerning Himself and His Kingdom in the Writings of His servant, Swedenborg. These revelations are not the vapid mutterings of any spiritistic medium about ” the summer land,” etc., but they present the universal laws of eternal life and order in a light so rational as to be self-evident, and established throughout by the testimony of the Scriptures.
The Lord is the God of Heaven, This is the first and all-important truth concerning eternal life. The Lord Jesus Christ,— not any three divine persons,—is the one and only God, who is acknowledged, worshiped and loved in Heaven. In the Sun of Heaven, which is the Divine sphere of glory surrounding and emanating from Him, the Lord Himself is constantly visible as the Divine Man, the “Father in the Heavens,” before the eyes of the angels,
“To Me is given all power in Heaven and on earth.”
“The Lord is a Sun and a shield,’1 (Ps. 84: it, )
“Unto you that fear My name, shall the Sun of righteousness appear, with healings in His wings.” (Mal. 4:9.)
“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say tin to you, that in Heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father who is in Heaven” (Matth. 18: 10)
“I and the Father are One. He who sees Me, sees the Father.”
From the sun of Heaven there proceed or emanate spiritual heat and light, which is the Divine Good and Truth. These fill and make the universal Heaven. This heat gives light to the angelic love of God and of the neighbor; and this light makes the whole of angelic wisdom and intelligence. The angels, therefore, do not in themselves make Heaven, but Heaven is in and with the angels, because the Lord is in them and they in Him.
“God is Love, and he that dwelleth in Love, dwelleth in God, and God in him,” (1 John 4:16.)
But who are the angels? Are they, as is commonly supposed, certain favored beings, who were created in Heaven in the beginning? And did some of them fall and become devils? No, this story is an allegory, quoted by Jude from an ancient oriental work, in which the fall of man from Eden was symbolically described. How could any “fall” take place in Heaven itself, where nought that is evil can enter in? All angels, and all devils, who are in the spiritual world, have been men on earth, and have here developed their heavenly or their infernal nature.
An evil man is even here a devil, in so far as he is in falsity and evil; and a good man is even here an angel, in so far as he is in love to the Lord and to the neighbor.
” Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil” (John 6: 70.)
“When they shall rise from the dead, they are as the angels in the Heavens.” (Mark 12: 25.)
Heaven is a Greatest Man. As the Lord is the Divine Man, and as His Divine Humanity makes Heaven and all the angels in His own image, so the whole of Heaven, or all the angels regarded together as a whole, are spiritually in the form of a Greatest Man,
As we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, being many, are one body in Christ.” (Rom. 12:4,5.)
There are three distinct heavens. And as the body is most generally divided into three parts,—the head, the trunk, and the extremities,—so is the Greatest Man, or Heaven as a whole, distinguished into three Heavens, the one superior to and more perfect than the other.
“Behold, the Heaven, and the Heaven of Heavens, is the Lories.4‘ (Dent 10:14.)
“I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell: God knoweth); such a one was caught up into the third Heaven.” (2 Cor. 12:2.)
The lowest of these three heavens is called “the natural heaven,” the angels there being more than the others similar to men in the natural world. These angels are such as in this life had not advanced very far in love and wisdom, yet in simplicity believe and obey the LORD and do good to the neighbor.
The second or middle heaven is called “the spiritual heaven,” and consists of such angels as in this life had not advanced as far in the love of God as in the love of the neighbor, The delight of their life is to understand clearly the spiritual things of the Church, and to perform the offices of charity to the neighbor, whom they love as themselves.
The third or inmost heaven is called “the celestial heaven,” because it is the only perfect and truly “heavenly” heaven. Here, in bliss inconceivable, dwell those who in this life had reached that state in which they love the neighbor more than themselves, and the Lord above all They do not reason about truth, for or against, but perceive it and do it instantly, and they are in innocence, humility and perfect trust as little children before their Heavenly Father.
“Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven,” (Matth. 18:3, 4.)
The innumerable Societies of Heaven.
Not only are there three distinct Heavens, but in each there are innumerable Societies or associations of those who are in greater similarity of love, wisdom and use. These Societies are to the Greatest Man what the various organs are to the human body. Each Society performs a distinct and special use to the whole. And even in each Society each member or angel performs a different and distinct use. No one is or does exactly the same as any other. Some are wiser, others more simple; some are masters, others servants; some govern, others obey, but all are inspired by the universal love of serving the Lord and the neighbor.
” He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” (Luke 22: 26.)
“Well done, thou good and Faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matth. 25:21)
Mansions in Heaven, To each angel a house is given by the Lord in the Society of which he is a member, a mansion which in beauty and grandeur corresponds to the degree and abundance of love and wisdom in his own mind. The angels, therefore, do not fly about in space, but each one lives in his own heavenly home, with his own wife (for what would a home be without a wife?),
“In my Father’s House are many mansions.” (John 14:2.)
“For we know, that if our earthly house of tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens.” (2 Cor. 5; 11)
Worship in Heaven. Life in Heaven does not consist in everlasting church-going and mouth-worship, for that would prevent any actual service of God in the loving service of the neighbor. But each angel is continually worshipping and serving the Lord in his life, and each heavenly home is a temple dedicated to this service. Nevertheless, there are also public Temples in Heaven, of unsurpassable magnificence and beauty, and here the angels, at stated times and together with one another, engage, also in the external worship of the Lord, and are instructed more and more in the deeper mysteries of faith and life, through discourses of wisdom delivered by preachers who are inspired from the Lord.
The Happiness of Heaven. The angels possess magnificent palaces and beautiful garments, delicate food and drink, every innocent amusement and pleasure, and this in a degree of perfection incomparably exceeding our earthly conceptions. Yet these things do not constitute Heaven and heavenly felicity to them, but are as nothing when compared with the unspeakable joy and blessedness which they receive from their love of serving the Lord and the neighbor, without any thought or motive of self.
Yet such service does not consist in the mere thinking and speaking about God and the neighbor, or in the mere sensation of loving emotions in the breast.
“Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father, who is in Heaven.”(Matth. 7: 21.)
And the will of the Heavenly Father, the will of the Divine Love, is that each one, in that office and work for which he is best fitted and which he loves best, should do good to his neighbor, should strive to be of the greatest possible use to him. Heaven, therefore, is a ” Kingdom of Uses,” a kingdom of love expressed in acts and works.
This, it is to be feared, is not a “popular” idea of Heaven, for to most men work is a curse and not a blessing, and hence they have imagined Heaven to be a kingdom of everlasting idleness. Yet they ought to know better from the Scriptures :
“My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” ( John 5: 17.)
“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bring forth much fruit.” (John 15: 8)
“To such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His Commandments to do them, the Lord hath prepared His throne in the Heavens,” (Ps. 103: 18.)
But is not Heaven a kingdom of “eternal rest?” Is it not said, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours?” Yea, verily, Heaven is eternal peace and rest, rest from the “labours” of temptations, from the struggles against evil, but not rest from a life of blissful usefulness, for the same verse continues and their works do follow them.”
The occupations of the angels are as manifold and varied as is the number of angels in Heaven. For as every plant and every animal has been created by the Lord for some particular and distinct use in the Great Economy, so also has every man been created for some distinct purpose and use. Circumstances may prevent a man from finding this his special calling in this world, but in Heaven it will be given to him, and in it he will find Heaven itself. In it he will find his angel-hood, for angels are
“All ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of” salvation.” (Heb. 1:4.)
The angels, one and all, minister to the spirits of men upon the earth, gently insinuating and suggesting good affections and thoughts, drawing men nearer to God and to Heaven, and at the same time warning against evil, and protecting and defending men against the soul-destroying assaults of evil spirits.
Another general use performed by them is to instruct and prepare for Heaven such spirits as have newly arrived from the earth. And beside these, there are innumerable uses and offices of charity performed by the angels to one another, in all the various functions of a perfectly organized community.
Children in Heaven. But one of the most excellent of all heavenly uses is the use of education, that is, of preparing for Heaven such tender spirits as have left this world in infancy and childhood. For not one of these little ones is lost. All, whether of Christian or Gentile parents, whether baptized or not, are received by the angels immediately after death. Here they are at first given into the loving care of women-angels, such as in this life had tenderly loved little children. These they are taught to look upon as their mothers, and upon the Lord as their only Father Afterwards, as they grow up, they are most carefully taught and trained by angel teachers, and finally, when matured men and women, they are introduced by the Lord into Heaven and made members of some angelic Society.
“Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in Heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matth 18: 14.)
Age in Heaven, The Lord’s Heavenly Kingdom is eternal innocence, peace, strength, beauty and youth. To grow old in Heaven is to grow young. Aged and decrepit men and women, when they become angels, regain the first bloom and vigor of youth, for youth means the fulness of life, and Heaven is complete and eternal life from Him who is Life itself.
Love is life and life is eternal. Every pure and holy love is therefore in itself eternal, and hence it is that Conjugial Love, or the love of marriage, remains after death and continues unto eternity.
Marriage in Heaven. Marriage in this world is regarded by most people rather as an evil necessity than as an ideal condition, A wicked and adulterous generation cannot sever from their thought about marriage the idea of what is merely sensual and impure, and hence they cannot imagine that marriage exists in Heaven, Hence in the wedding ritual of many denominations the contracting parties agree to abide with one another until death do us part.”
But in the Church of the New Jerusalem marriage is an eternal and spiritual covenant, pure and holy above every earthly love. For here it means a conjunction of minds as well as of bodies, an internal friendship and mutual inclination which death cannot rend asunder.
For the soul or spirit of the male man is clearly masculine in every thought and affection, and so is the spirit of the woman feminine in all and every respect. It is not the external difference in the bodies that makes the two sexes, but the fundamental, unchangeable difference in. the minds. After death we shall still be men and women, attracted spiritually to one another as now naturally. Is it not a common saying that “marriages are made in Heaven,” and do not all true lovers trust that they shall find one another after death? Would God disappoint so holy a hope?
Spiritual nuptials. But, is it not expressly Stated in the Scripture that there are no marriages in the other life? Is it not said that
“Those who shall be accounted worthy to attain to another generation, and the resurrection from the dead, shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, neither can they die any more,” (Luke 30; 35)
Reader, the “letter killeth” but the “spirit giveth life,” But in the spiritual sense these words of the Lord refer to the spiritual marriage, which is the same as the regeneration of man, for they begin by speaking of ” another generation”or another birth, the new birth, by means of which “resurrection from the dead.” or salvation from spiritual death is given. This is self-evident to any one who observes the context. The “marriage” spoken of here is the marriage which must take place within each individual man, the marriage or conjunction between his will and his understanding, between his faith and his love.
When this conjunction has been effected within man, then it is that he has “attained to another generation” and has “arisen from the dead.” But these spiritual nuptials must take place within him while he is in this life. If he has not been born anew while here he cannot be born anew in the other life. But if thus “married” in his spirit when entering the spiritual world, the process of regeneration, of temptation and victory, is not repeated there, nor will he ever be in danger of losing his soul, for “neither can he die any more.”
The Divine Marriage
Heaven and the Church are everywhere in the Word spoken of as the Divine Marriage union between “the Lamb” and “the Bride.” Heaven itself is this marriage, and the angels partake of the married nature of that whole of which they are the constituent parts.
All the angels are married, and none can enter Heaven who is opposed to this holy covenant. To each man-angel is given a woman-angel, a conjugial partner who from the beginning was provided and appointed for him and for him alone.
By each others’ side and in each others’ arms the angelic husband and wife find the supreme bliss of Heaven, Thus they progress together unto eternity, becoming more and more closely conjoined in every thought and affection, until they become, internally, one heart, one mind, one angel.
On these subjects read, further, Swedenborg’s works on “Heaven and Its Wonders, the World of Spirits and Hell,” and “The Delights of Wisdom Respecting Conjugial Love.”
Part II. CONCERNING THE WORD OF GOD.
THE BOOK OPENED.
The Bible, the Sacred Scripture, or the Word of God, is generally acknowledged in the Christian Church to be Holy and Divine, the infallible canon and foundation of all true faith, of all genuine religion.
Yet when asked wherein the holiness and perfection of the Word resides, Christians can point to it only as being the general evidence of God’s Love and Wisdom, but are utterly unable to come to a common agreement in regard to the sense and understanding of the Scriptures; they cannot offer any rational explanation of the many apparent contradictions and obscurities occurring in the text; they have no power to show the harmony between the Word of God and the principles of human reason and science, and hence they stand helpless against the ever-increasing attacks of skepticism and infidelity.
“For the Lord hath poured out upon them the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed their eyes, and the vision of all is become unto them as the words of a hook that is sealed, which a man delivereth to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee, and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed.” (Isa. 29: 10, 11)
But now, in the light of the New Jerusalem,
“The deaf shall hear the words of that Book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness,” (Is. 29; 18.)
For now is the time of the Second Advent of the Lord, the time of which He spoke, when He told the disciples:
“These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs but the time cometh when I will not speak in proverbs, but shall show you plainly of the Father.” (John 16: 25.)
And now is fulfilled the promise implied in the words:
“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot hear them now ” (John 16: 12)
This Advent of the Lord has taken place in the revelation of the spiritual or internal sense of the Word, which is concealed within the literal or earthly sense, as the soul is hidden within the body, as the sweet and nutritive kernel is hidden within the stony shell. This revelation of the internal sense of the Word is contained in the theological writings of the servant of the Lord, Emanuel Swedenborg.
THE INTERNAL SENSE.
That there is a deeper, internal sense or understanding of the Sacred Scripture is evident from this simple truth that the Word of God is spiritual and Divine, and hence of infinite and eternal application. But the Letter, or the surface sense of the Word, treats mostly of finite and temporal things; it deals to a very great extent with the history of the earth and of men and nations; spiritual principles appear only here and there. It is evident, therefore, that there must be a spirit, an interior sense, a more genuine understanding concealed beneath the surface of the Letter.
Is not this self-evident from the teachings of the Letter itself?
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” (John 6: 63.)
“If I have told you of earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3: 12 )
“Onto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to others in parables: that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.(Luke 8: 10.)
“And all these things spake Jesus unto the multitude m parables. And without a parable spake He not unto them, That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet saying, I will open my month in parables: I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” (Mark 13; 34.)
“Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24: 45.)
Equally clear are these teachings of the Apostles:
“The Letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.” (2 Cor, 3:6.)
“It is the spirit that beareth witness, because the spirit is truth,” (John 5: 6.)
“For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.” (Rom. 7: 14.)
“The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2: 14.)
“Which things are an allegory,” [i.e., the history of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Ishmael.] (1 Gal. 4 , 24,)
“The priests that offer gifts according to the law serve unto the shadow and example of heavenly things, as the pattern of the things in Heaven,” (Heb. 8: 5)
As the soul and spirit of man is not confined to the brain of man alone, but fills the whole body and animates every fibre and atom, so does the internal sense fill the literal sense, not only in general, but in every particular sentence and word. In the original Hebrew the syllables and the single letters and even the curves and horns of each letter are pregnant with an interior significative meaning, representing and corresponding to spiritual and Divine things. Hence it is said:
“Until Heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall not pass from the Law, until all be fulfilled.”(Matt. 5: 18)
THE WORD IN THE HEAVENS.
The Word of God is the light of life, not only for the men of this world, but also for the countless host of angels in the Heavens, For we read:
“Forever, O Lord, thy word is established in the Heavens.” (Ps. 119:89)
The Word in the Heavens, which the angels read, is the spiritual sense, which is contained within our Scriptures, for these, as a whole and in every particular, “serve as the shadow and example of heavenly things, the pattern of the things in Heaven.” What we understand naturally, when reading of Jerusalem. Israel and the Jewish people, the angels understand spiritually, as treating of the Lord’s spiritual kingdom, and the spiritual life of man. When we think of Joseph and David as men on earth, the angels think of the heavenly Joseph and of the almighty King whom David foreshadowed. And thus in every case.
And as there are three heavens, one above the other, so there are three degrees of the internal sense of the Word, one within and more wonderful than the other.
The sense which is nearest to the Letter is called the internal historical sense, and treats in general of the spiritual quality and history of the nations that are mentioned in the Letter.
Within this sense is the spiritual or internal sense itself, which treats of the establishment of the Lord’s Church in the individual man. It is the continuous history of the reformation and regeneration of the individual by means of the birth and development within him of charity and faith.
And inmostly within this spiritual sense there is the third or highest sense, called the celestial, which treats of the Lord alone, His Love and Wisdom and Power, His incarnation, temptations and victories; the glorification of His human, and His work of Redemption and Salvation.
This, then, is what is typified by the ladder which Jacob in his dream saw standing on the earth, its top reaching unto Heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it. By means of these degrees of Truth in the Word, more and more internal, as they are gradually opened to his understanding, man will be able to approach nearer and nearer to his God and Lord, who stands inmostly in the Divine glory of His Word. For inmostly and supremely the Word no longer treats of the Lord, but is the Lord Himself.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14)
CORRESPONDENCES AND REPRESENTATIVES
In order to contain all these infinite things within a finite and comprehensible compass, the Word of God is written throughout in parables, allegories and symbols, or, to speak more correctly, in significatives, correspondences and representatives.
Correspondence is the harmony in quality and use of an external thing with an internal thing; it is the answer or agreement of the one with the other. Thus the eye corresponds to intelligence, for it performs the same use to the body as the intelligence to the mind. On the same ground there is a correspondence between the heart and the will or love of man, between the hand, and spiritual power, between the sense of taste and spiritual judgment or discernment, etc. And so, in the world about us, light corresponds to truth from the heavenly Sun; heat to the life of good received from the same source; the earth to the Church on the earth; mountains to sublime states of love and nearness to God; valleys to the lower states of selfish and worldly loves.
In this manner, through the universal law of correspondence, the whole created Universe may be seen as the external image and likeness of the microcosm or little world, which exists within ourselves.
Representation, however, is a somewhat different relation from correspondence. The latter is based on interior agreement in actual quality, but representation is based on the more external similarity of form and temporary use, irrespective of the real quality. Thus a lion, a mighty but an evil beast, represents, but does not correspond to the Divine omnipotence of the Lord, who is called “the lion of Judah.” Similarly all kings and priests mentioned in the Scripture represent the Lord, or bring back to the mind the idea of His Royalty and Highpriesthood, and this on account of their office itself, no matter whether these kings and priests were good men or evil.
It is in such correspondences and representatives that the Word of God is written, and this not only in spots, or in certain parables, but throughout, in every sentence and word, from beginning to end. The whole system is unfolded in the writings of Swedenborg, with a consistency miraculous, superhuman and all-convincing.
No human composition can be similar. The nations of the ancient world, the Egyptians and Assyrians, for instance, did indeed have a knowledge of this long-lost science of correspondences, and embodied it in their hieroglyphics They wrote all their books in a symbolic sense. Solomon did the same in his Song of Songs, but in these ancient boots the correspondences are detached and scattered, and not continuous as in the sacred codes which were written by the direct inspiration and dictation of the Lord Himself.
The presence or absence of this continuous internal sense determines which of the books, at present included in the Bible, are truly the Word of God, and which are not. According to this test, we learn from the Writings of the New Church that the following books were written by Divine inspiration, and consequently belong to the genuine canon:
The five books of Moses, the Judges, Joshua, the two books of Samuel, the two books of the Kings, the Psalms and all the Prophets, the four Gospels and the Revelation of John. The rest are all good and useful books of doctrine for the Church, but are of human origin, and are not to be mistaken for the Word of God,
Does this internal sense, then, dissolve the Law and the Prophets? Nay, but it establishes them, It explains and dissolves all the “clouds” of apparent contradictions and obscurities in the Letter, reconciles science and morality with true Religion, and restores and confirms the faith of man in the absolute holiness, infallible authority and complete Divinity of the Word of God even in its most ultimate, literal sense.
For this Letter, according to the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, is the “Basis, Continent and Firmament of the spiritual and celestial senses, and in it alone is the Divine Truth in its fulness, its holiness and its power”
Why, then, was the Word written in this manner? In order that the Divine Truth might be accommodated to the understanding and capacity of all classes and conditions of men, to the simple and ignorant as well as to the wise and learned; to men on earth as well as to the angels of Heaven. Otherwise it could not be the lamp of doctrine and the light of life to all men.
ALL DIVINE TRUTH IS THE WORD OF GOD.
Since the Word of God is nothing but the Divine Truth, it follows that all Divine Truth, in any inspired Revelation, is also the Word of God, holy, Divine and infallible.
The Divine Truth, which was “written upon the hearts” of the most ancient men, when they were still in Paradise, was the Word of God.
The Divine Truth, which was revealed to the men of the subsequent age, and which was written in books that are now lost or hidden,—as in the “Book of Jasher” (Josh. 10: 13), the “Wars of Jehovah” (Num. 21: 14), and the “Prophetical Annunciations” (Num. 21; 27-30),—was the Word of God.
The Divine Truth, which was revealed in the Hebrew books of the Old Testament, and the Greek of the New Testament, is the Word of God.
And the Divine Truth, now revealed to the Church of the New Jerusalem, and written in Latin by Emanuel Swedenborg,— not by means of verbal dictate but by rational inspiration,—is the Word of God, the unfolding and the crown of all preceding Revelations.
For further teachings on this subject see the “Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scriptures,” by Emanuel Swedenborg.
The continuous internal sense of the books of Genesis and Exodus has been explained by Swedenborg in the great work, the “Arcana Caelestia, or Heavenly Mysteries which are in the Word of the Lord,” and the internal sense of the Revelation of John in the “Apocalypse Revealed” and the “Apocalypse Explained,” by the same author.
Part I. CONCERNING THE LORD.
There is a God, and He is One! No man with religion and sound reason will deny this.
But who, and what, is this One God?
The old Christian Church, Catholic or Protestant, teaches that “God is a Spirit, invisible and incomprehensible, without body, parts, or passions,” and that He created the universe out of nothing.
Is this the true idea of God? Would not the absence of any “parts” indicate the absence of a whole? Is not the lack of “passions,” i.e. of affections, the same as lifelessness and unconsciousness? What has no body has no form, and what has no form can have no permanent and substantial reality. How can we form any conception of what is invisible and incomprehensible? And how can we approach and love that of which we have no conception? Such an idea of God is an idea of nothing, out of which comes—nothing.
Here we are taught that there is a God, and that He is One; that this One God is Divine Man, in Himself eternal and infinite Love and Wisdom, and yet both visible and comprehensible, possessing actual though not material substance and form, with self-consciousness, affections, thoughts and distinguishable qualities, and that He created the universe, not out of nothing, but out of Himself, by means of His Word.
It is self-evident that God is Love itself in substance, and Wisdom itself in form, for it must be admitted by all that He is Life itself, since He is the fountain of all life. And Life is nothing but love: take away all love, all interest in life, and life is done Wisdom is nothing but the form, the manifestation, the expression of love. God, therefore, is nothing but Love and Wisdom, eternal, infinite, omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent.
God is Man, the Divine Man, the only real Man, for love and wisdom, received from Him in some small finite degree, are what make men human, are what distinguish them from beasts, God is man, for He created us men, in His own image and likeness.
God is visible, for He is Truth itself, and Truth can be seen. He is visible in an actual human body, for the Truth, that is, the Word,
“became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Men have seen Him on earth in this body, and He ascended to Heaven in a human form. We can still see Him as a Man in His Word, and hear His own voice:
“And in Heaven the angels do always behold His face.” (Matth. 18: 10.)
He has a Body, for in the Scriptures we read of His face and His eye, His mouth and nostrils, His arms and hands and feet. If He possesses all these parts, what else can He possibly lack? And who is He?
“In Jesus Christ dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Col. 2:9)
“In Jesus Christ dwelleth the Fulness of the Godhead bodily.” In Him, in His one Divine Body and Person, resides the whole of the Divine Trinity.
This is the key that opens the mystery of the Trinity in God, in regard to which the whole Christian Church has gone so utterly astray.
Protestants and Catholics alike maintain that the Trinity in God means that there are three distinct persons in the Godhead, one in essence, but differing in operations and attributes.
Examine this doctrine in the light of Scripture and of reason, and you will find that it is contrary to both. Consider it in any reasonable way you please, you still can make of it only a plurality of gods. One human person is one man; three human persons three men. One Divine Person is One God; three divine persons three gods.
Those who framed the Athanasian Creed (just before the Dark Ages) were caught in this dilemma, and could compel faith only by direful anathemas and by the declaration that although we are compelled by Christian verity to confess each person, one by one, to be God and Lord, yet we are forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say there are three Gods and three Lords.”
If this be the extent of harmony between Christian verity and Christian Religion, what, then, shall we think of a Christian morality which bids us think one thing but say a totally different thing?
How have Christian artists, inspired by Christian teachers, depicted this Trinity? As one God? No, but as two distinct gods, one old and one young, with a dove soaring above, Or else as a monstrous head, with three faces flowing into one.
To whom of these three are Christian prayers addressed? To all three, as one? No! To the Lord Jesus Christ, who hath all power in Heaven and on earth? but to the invisible Father, for the sake of his Son. If these two are truly believed to be one single God, why this division in the inmost thought?
If God is a being consisting of three Divine persons, and if He created us into His own image and likeness, how is it that each one of us does not consist of three persons?
Clearly, sound reason has no part in this doctrine of a Divine tri-personality, and the inquiring mind is therefore silenced by the dictum that this is an “incomprehensible mystery of faith,” and that “the understanding must be held captive under obedience to faith.”
If this be true, and if by “faith” is meant the dogmas framed by human councils, then will we become the blind slaves of men, and not the free servants of God. But do not put your faith in councils, for they are but human, and it is human to err. Rather
“‘Search the Scriptures, for they are they which testify Of Me.” (John 5:39.)
Search the Scriptures through and through, and you will not find a single statement concerning any three persons in the Godhead, nor any personal manifestation of the Father or of the Holy Spirit, except in the Son. But one single Divine Person has ever revealed Himself, even Jesus Christ, and He alone.
Nevertheless it is most true that there is a Trinity in God, but not a tri-personal Trinity. It is a trinity of essentials, not of persons. It is the Trinity of Divine Soul, Divine Body, and Divine operation, till in the one Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. By the “Father,” in the correspondential and significative language of the Scriptures, is meant nothing else than the Divine Soul, which assumed a human body in the virgin Mary. By the “Son” is meant the human nature itself, which was tempted and crucified, died, and rose again, but which, by victories over all evil, was glorified and made one with the Father or the Divine within. By the “Holy Spirit,” finally, is meant not a third person or god, but the Spirit of Divine Truth, flowing from the Divine Human, the Divine Power or operation, which enlightens, leads and regenerates all who receive it. This is what is represented by the “dove.”
There is the image of this Trinity in all things of creation. We have it in our own soul and body and operation. We have its representation in the Sun, in which the essential fire is the “father,” the heat and light proceeding as one, the “son,” and the emanating life and effective power the “spirit,” It exists in every human thought and action, which consists of end, cause and effect, or purpose, means and result. It is seen in every single thing of nature, which consists of substance, form, and resulting use.
With this doctrine in your mind, read the passages in the New Testament, where the Son appears to converse with the Father and to pray to Him, and you will see that these describe only how the tempted human nature of the Lord turned to the indwelling Divine Soul, asking and receiving thence Divine instruction and power to conquer its own inherited evil inclinations. Then look into your own heart, and observe the voice of conscience warning your own lower and evil nature against sin, and notice the protests and the unwillingness of that nature to be crucified and die. This may illustrate what is meant by the Divine Trinity.
But hear the testimony of the Word of God:
GOD IS ONE.
“I am the Lord thy God, and thou shalt have no other Gods before My faces”‘ ( Ex. 20: 3.)
“Hear, O, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deut. 6: 4)
“In that day shall the Lord be king over all the eartb1 in that day shall the Lord be one and His name one.” (Zech. 14: 9,)
JESUS CHRIST IS THAT ONE GOD.
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6.)
“A Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and His name shall be, Immanuel, God with us,” (Is. 7: 14; Matt. 1: 22,)
“We abide in the Truth in Jesus Christ. This is the true God and life eternal. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John. 5; 20, 21.)
“To Me is given all power in Heaven and on earth.”(Matth 27: 18.)
“Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and His Redeemer Jehovah Zebaoth, I am the First and the Last, and beside Me there is no God.” (Is, 44: 6.)
“To Jesus Christ be glory and strength. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev, 1:5,8)
HE AND THE FATHER ARE ONE
“Unto to us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and His name shall be called, God, Mighty, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace,” (Is, 9: 6)
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness. Prepare ye the way of Jehovah” (Is. 11: 30)
“Behold the days are coming, when I shall raise up unto David a just Branch who shall reign King, and do justice and judgment in the earth, and this is His name, Jehovah our Justice ” (Jer. 23:5,6)
“If ye had known Me, ye would have known My Father also, and from henceforth ye have known Him and have seen Him. Philip saith unto Him, Lord, show us the Father and it sufficeth us. Jesus Faith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet thou hast not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father.” (John 14: 7, 9.)
I and the Father are one.” ( John 10: 30)
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS HIS SPIRIT,
“The Holy Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7; 39.)
[This has been wrongly translated in the Authorized Version, where it is said that “the Holy Spirit was not yet given.” The word “given” does not occur in the original Greek.]
After Jesus had been glorified,
“He breathed upon the disciples and said, Receive ye the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22.)
“A new heart I will give unto you, and a new spirit. I will put My spirit in the midst of you.” (Ezech. 36: 26.)
When the Comforter cometh, the Spirit of Truth, He shall testify of Me.” (John 15: 26, )
“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you, and ye shall see Me.” (John 14: 16-19 )
“The Lord is that Spirit,” (2 Cor. 3:17.)
If, then, there is but one person in the Godhead, what becomes of the doctrine of Redemption? Have we not been taught, in all churches, that Christ came to propitiate the wrath of the Father, and to procure for us the grace of God by His own sufferings and blood? If Christ and the Father are one person, who was there to propitiate, and from the wrath of whom are men redeemed?
Why did God Himself come down to this world? Why was He born, tempted and crucified?
The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem teaches, that the Lord came down to redeem and save mankind, not from the wrath of God—for there is no such thing,—nor from any well-merited punishment for crimes committed—for God is Justice,—but from the love of evil, and from the overwhelming power of Hell, which at that time threatened the entire human race with destruction and damnation.
The love of evil is like an avalanche, which increases in volume and in destructive force as it descends. From generation to generation, ever since the Fall, mankind had become worse and worse, through the accumulation of hereditary inclinations to evil. Ever greater hosts of evil spirits had been entering from this world into the other world, until the power of Hell had become so great that no human power could withstand it, and until the demons were actually taking open possession of the minds and bodies of men. The worst of all nations on earth was the Jewish, God’s “own, chosen people,” among whom pride and hypocrisy, hatred and avarice reigned as nowhere else.
It was to this nation that the Lord came down, taking upon Himself, from a Jewish woman, flesh and blood tainted with an hereditary inclination to all evil, even the grossest and most vile. He came down to the very bottom of the abyss of human nature, in order to reach and save all men, even the vilest; in order to be tempted to all evil, and in order to conquer in all temptations and thus to break the power of all the demons.
No one but a man could be thus tempted! and no one but God Himself could be thus victorious. The God-Man, Jesus Christ, did this for us. Himself without sin, He bore in His body the inclination to all sins. But He yielded not. To every infernal suggestion He replied, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God,” and “Get thee behind Me, Satan!” Thus He broke the force of evil, compelled the infernal crew to fall back, cowed and in trembling obedience to Himself. Thus He redeemed and set us free from spiritual slavery, and cleared a way through Hell into Heaven, a way upon which all who wish are free to follow Him.
The last and most direful of these temptations, the final and most desperate assault of Hell, was the passion of the Cross. The very robber on the cross beside Him bade Him descend and free Himself from suffering and death. To the Man, in His despair, it seemed for a moment as if the God within Him had forsaken Him. Yet He yielded not, hut committed His spirit into the hand of the “Father.” and expired, exclaiming: “It is finished.”
What was finished? The lifelong and ever victorious struggle against Hell; the universal Divine work of Redemption; the complete expulsion of hereditary evil from the assumed human body and nature, whereby this nature itself became glorified and was made one with the Divine Soul or “Father” within.
In this glorified and Divine body He rose again out of the grave, and with this Divinely Human body He ascended into Heaven. And thus it is that men can even now see, hear and understand Him, love, worship and become conjoined with Him as God-Man, our Father in the Heavens, our Creator, Redeemer and Regenerator.
How different from these teachings are the doctrines of the old Church respecting the bloody sacrifice of Christ, the Atonement, and the Redemption! From these latter it would appear, 1st that God the Father had given poor, weak mankind a Law which He well knew they had not the power to keep; 2d, that He condemned universal mankind to eternal death because of the sin of Adam; 3d, that He had determined to destroy the race in His terrible wrath; 4th, that blood alone would appease Him; 5th, that His only begotten Son offered to sacrifice Himself for us; 6th, that the Father permitted this substitution; and, 7th, that Christ became sin and curse for us, taking our actual sins upon Himself, past, present and to come, and bearing the natural punishment though not the eternal damnation which we had merited.
Reader, think of it! Could God, who is unchangeable Divine Love, be angry and revengeful? Could the Divine Mercy seek the eternal death of any of His creatures? What satisfaction to Him would be the blood of any such specks in the universe as we? Could He, who is justice itself, permit the innocent to suffer for the guilty? Can sins—and especially sins that have not yet been committed — be transferred from one person to another, like so many pieces of clothing? And how could Christ, who is God and unchangeably pure and holy, become “sin itself” and “a curse,” without losing His Divinity.
Such is the very corner-stone and jewel of the Old Theology, which was established at the Council of Nice in the year 325, and which has reigned supreme through all the dark ages, even unto this nineteenth century.
Yet, where is the religion, the Christianity in all this? Where the morality, the common sense, the justice of it all? What would we think of a judge in a court of justice who would venture to follow such an example?
Happily, it is not true that God is such a monster. Do not believe it for one moment.
Hear the Scriptures:
“He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is Love.” (1 John 4: 8)
“For I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal. 3:6.)
“Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God, and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” (Ezech. 18: 23.)
“The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the sou. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him,” (Ezech. 18: 20.)
“He took not on Him the nature of angels, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.” ( Heb. 2: 19.)
“We have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4: 15.)
“In that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted,” (Heb. 2; 10)
“Ye are clean through the word that I have spoken unto you.” (John 15: 3.)
For further instruction respecting the Lord, the Trinity and the Redemption, read the “Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord,” and “The True Christian Religion,” Vol. I.
In presenting a brief view of the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning Providence, we can do nothing better than to quote the following from the writings of Swedenborg himself:
“The Universal Government of the Lord is called Providence, and it extends to the most minute particulars of the life of man: for there is only One Fountain of life, from whom we have our being and live and act and that Fountain is the Lord
“They who think of the Divine Providence from worldly affairs conclude that its operations are only of a general nature, and that particulars depend on human agencies. But such persons are unacquainted with the mysteries of Heaven, because they form their conclusions under the influence of the love of self and the love of the world and of their gross delights.
“Hence, when they see the wicked exalted to honors and acquire riches, more than the good, and when they see success attending the artifices of which they avail themselves, they say in their hearts, that these things would not be so if the Divine Providence were universally operative and if it extended to every particular of the life of man; not considering that the Divine Providence does not regard that which is fleeting and transitory and which terminates with the life of man in this world, but that it regards that which remains to eternity, thus which has no end,
“Of that which has no end it may be predicated, that it is; but of that which has an end it may be said, respectively, that it is not. Let him who is able consider whether a hundred thousand years be anything when compared to eternity, and he will perceive that they are as nothing; what then are a few years of life in this world?
“Whoever rightly considers the subject may know that worldly rank and riches are not real Divine blessings, although man, from the pleasure which they yield him, calls them so; for they pass away, and also seduce many, and turn them away from Heaven.
“But that eternal life, and the happiness thence resulting, are real blessings bestowed on man by the Lord. He himself plainly teaches in these words:
“Provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the Heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:33, 34)
“The devices of the wicked are attended with success, because it is according to Divine Order that whatever man does he should do in the free exercise of his reason and from freedom of choice; unless therefore he were left to act according to his reason, consequently unless the artifices which he thence construes were followed with success, he could in no wise be disposed to receive eternal life. For eternal life is insinuated into him when he is in a state of liberty and of enlightened reason.
“No one can be compelled to do good, because nothing forced is permanent with man, since it is not his own. That alone becomes his own which he does from liberty and in accordance with his reason. What he does from liberty is done from his own will or love, and the will or love is the man himself. If a man were compelled to act contrary to his will, his thoughts would continually incline towards the dictates of his will. Besides, everyone strives after what is forbidden, for everyone strives to act from liberty. Hence it is evident, that unless man were preserved in liberty he could not be provided with good.
“To leave man to think, to will, and, so far as the law does not restrain him, to do evil, from his own liberty, is called Permission.
“When man is led, by the success of artful schemes, to the enjoyment of happiness in the world, it appears to him as the result of his own prudence; when yet at the same time the Divine Providence incessantly accompanies him, permitting and continually withdrawing him from evil. But when man is led to the enjoyment of felicity in Heaven, he knows and perceives that it is not effected by his own prudence, but by the Lord, and is the result of the Divine Providence, disposing and continually leading man to good.
“It is to be particularly observed, that beside Providence there is also Previdence or Foresight. Good is provided by the Lord; but evil is previded. The one must needs accompany the other, for what proceeds from man is nothing but evil, but what proceeds from the Lord is wholly good,” (New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine, Nos. 267-275.)
See also on this subject, Swedenborg’s work entitled “Angelic Wisdom Concerning the Divine Providence.”