The Grace Of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The Grace Of Our Lord Jesus Christ
By the Rev. Eric H. Carswell

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“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen”
(Revelation 22:21).
At the end of many New Church services the minister’s final
words are the benediction, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be
with you all. Amen.” Other than this you would probably hear only
rare reference to the word “grace” within the New Church.
The terms, grace, mercy, and forgiveness are interconnected,
but not the same. One of the appealing ideas associated with the
Lord’s message in the New Testament is the concept of Divine
forgiveness. We don’t have to live a perfect life to make it to heaven,
and indeed we are incapable of being perfect. We all fall far short of
perfection. Even the most loving and wise angel doesn’t remotely
approach perfection. We are not perfect because our understanding
is always limited and our motivations are never completely pure.
Sometimes these qualities have only faint effects on our actions and
sometimes we, as human beings, knowingly, and with intention
choose to think, say, and do evil things. In the words of Revelation, all
that we do is written in our book of life. By the measure of perfect
truth, then each of our book of life would keep us from heaven. But
the Lord isn’t just perfect truth. He is perfect love and this love lifts all
to heaven, as it were overcoming the evil loves and false ideas that
we have attached to our lives.

The Lord as King governs each and all things in the universe
from Divine truth; and as Priest, from Divine good. Divine truth is the
very order of His universal kingdom, all the laws of which are truths,
or eternal verities Divine good is the very essential of order, all things
of which are of mercy. Both of these are predicated of the Lord. If
Divine truth alone were His, no mortal could be saved, for truths
condemn every one to hell; but Divine good, which is of mercy, uplifts
from hell to heaven (Arcana Caelestia 1728).

It is very important that each of us thinks of ourselves as being
capable of learning what is true and good and becoming better and
better able to do what is truly useful. Sometimes a person’s thoughts
can so focus on his flaws and ignorance that he feels incapable of
being useful or is encouraged into feeling irresponsible about even
trying to become a better person. But if we overcome these false
ideas, and become better and better at living a truly useful life, it is
important for us to know and acknowledge that we will always need
the Lord’s help.

Every one believes at the present day that the evil loves and
false ideas in a person are entirely separated and abolished during
regeneration, so that when he becomes regenerate, nothing of this
evil or falsity remains, but he is clean and righteous, like one washed
and purified with water. This notion is, however, utterly false; for not a
single evil love or false idea can be so shaken off as to be abolished;
but whatever has been hereditarily derived from infancy, and
acquired by act and deed, remains; so that a person, notwithstanding
his being regenerate, is nothing but evil and falsity, as is shown in a
living way to souls after death. The truth of this may be sufficiently
manifest from the consideration, that there is nothing of good and
nothing of truth in a person except from the Lord, and that all evil and
falsity are the person’s from those things that are his own; and that a
person, spirit, and even angel, if left in the least to himself, would rush
of himself into hell; wherefore also it is said in the Word that heaven
is not pure. This is acknowledged by angels, and he who does not
acknowledge it cannot be among angels. It is the Lord’s mercy alone
that frees them, and even draws them out of hell and keeps them
from rushing thither of themselves.

That they are kept by the Lord from rushing into hell, is clearly
perceived by the angels, and even in a measure by good spirits. Evil
spirits however, like people, do not believe this; but it has often been
shown them (Arcana Caelestia 868:1).

This passage states that it is the Lord’s mercy that frees us.
There are actually three distinct concepts of how the Lord’s
forgiveness is received by a person. The first is a dangerous falsity
that has led people away from following the Lord and trying to live a
good life. This is the belief that a person is forgiven and receives the
benefits of the Lord’s mercy purely by means of faith or an
acknowledgment of Christ’s death on the cross. This idea of
forgiveness and mercy, together with other supporting ideas, has led
some to assert that how a person lives his life makes no difference,
as is spoken of in the following passages:

“From this one error [that truth is the essential of the church, and so
essential that truth, which people call faith, has power to save without
the good which is of charity], very many other errors have been
derived, which have infected not only doctrine, but also life; as for
instance that no matter how a person lives, provided he has faith he
is saved; that even the most wicked are received into heaven if in the
hour of death they make profession of such things as are of faith; and
that every one can be received into heaven merely from grace,
whatever his life has been. In consequence of holding this doctrine
they at last do not know what charity is, nor do they care for it; and
finally they do not believe there is such a thing, nor consequently that
there is a heaven or a hell (Arcana Caelestia 4925:2).

“[A false principle of religion] is the doctrinal idea of a church
which acknowledges faith alone as a principle, as that a person is
justified by faith alone, that then all sins are wiped away from him,
that he may be saved by faith alone even in the last hour of his life,
that salvation is merely admission into heaven through grace, …
These and the like are the special things belonging to the principle of
faith alone. But if the church would acknowledge as its principle the
life of faith, it would acknowledge charity toward the neighbor and
love to the Lord, consequently the works of charity and of love, and
then all these special things would fall to pieces; and instead of
justification it would acknowledge regeneration” (Arcana Caelestia
4721).

Both of these passages mention the word “grace” and it might
be concluded from its association with a clearly false idea, that it
perhaps makes one with a false idea of forgiveness and salvation, but
this is not the case.

The Writings of the New Church distinguish a fundamental
difference between grace and mercy that has to do with the
recognition a person has of his or her need for the Lord’s help. Those
people whose approach to the Lord is more dominated by what they
know and acknowledge to be true are called spiritual. Those people
approach to the Lord is more dominated by what they love and
acknowledge to good are called are called heavenly, or “celestial.”
Those who, at the core of their life, are led by their understanding (or
I believe by simple obedience) acknowledge in their thoughts that
they are not perfect and that they need the Lord’s help. They
nevertheless are not so aware of their faults and flaws other than
intellectually. Consequently their humility is affected by the fact that
they sense that they see their faults and flaws with their own
intellectual ability.

A person can acknowledge, from his own reflection that he has
trouble telling the truth and the whole truth about a situation, can
acknowledge that this evil, feel remorse for this fault, and still have it
all be significantly a matter of thought. Such a person may have a
genuine humility in his approach to the Lord, but it is limited. Such a
person knows that he needs the Lord’s help in fighting this evil
tendency, knows that he needs the Lord’s forgiveness for the times
that he has lied to himself and others, and knows that as he fights this
tendency he will receive the Lord’s help and forgiveness. This state of
mind seeks what the Writings would call the Lord’s grace.

But if a person, at the core of his life, is led by a love of what is
good, he will sense the presence of evil loves and false ideas in his
life with a horrifying and saddening clarity. He will sense at a very
deep level of his life that he is absolutely dependent on the Lord’s
help. His humility before the Lord will be from his heart and far, far
surpass that of the person who is led more by his understanding.
Such people are the ones that the Writings state really understand
the Lord’s mercy.

This distinction is indicated in the following passages: “The
mercy of the Lord involves and looks to the salvation of the human
race; and so does His grace. In the Word however a distinction is
made between mercy and grace, a distinction which depends in fact
on the difference in those who are their recipients. Mercy applies to
those who are heavenly, but grace to those who are spiritual, for
heavenly people acknowledge nothing other than mercy, while
spiritual people acknowledge hardly anything other than grace.
Heavenly people do not know that grace is, while the spiritual
scarcely know what mercy is, for they make mercy and grace to be
one and the same. The reason for the difference springs from each
one’s humility. People in whom there is humility of heart plead for the
Lord’s mercy, but those in whom there is humility of mind seek His
grace. Or if the latter do plead for mercy they do so in a state of
temptation or with the lips only and not with the heart”
(Arcana Caelestia 598:2).

“People governed by an affection for truth are not able to
humble themselves sufficiently so as to acknowledge from the heart
that all things are attributable to mercy; and this being so, instead of
mercy they speak of grace. Indeed the less affection for truth is in
them, the less humility there is within their speaking of grace. On the
other hand the more affection for good exists with someone the more
humility there is within his speaking of mercy” (Arcana Caelestia
2423).

The Holy Supper is the act of worship that most clearly reflects
our need for the Lord’s help. In it we turn to the Lord, seeking to
receive more of His life within our own. The bread represents the
Lord’s love that we need within our own hearts, fundamentally
changing what we care about and make most important. The wine
represents the Lord’s wisdom that we need in our thoughts,
fundamentally changing how we see ourselves, others, and the life
we are to lead. Each of us, if we are to approach the Holy Supper
worthily, need to be actively acknowledging that we have specific
faults and flaws that harm us, others, and the uses we seek to
achieve. We need to acknowledge these evil loves and false
ideas to ourselves and to the Lord. We are to pray for His help in
fighting their influence and we are to be doing the best we can to
change the quality of the thoughts, words, and deeds that have been
tainted by them in the past.

To begin with this effort will be more a matter of intellectual
acknowledgment and we will in reality be seeking the Lord’s grace.
As the miracle of regeneration occurs we will come more and more to
recognize and acknowledge on a progressively deeper level that we
can not be the person we want to be or accomplish the things we
hope to without the Lord’s constant presence and help. From an ever
greater humility we will turn to the Lord for this help. More and more
we will truly know what His mercy is.

We cannot instantly change who we are. In fact, by ourselves,
we cannot change at all. With the Lord’s help we can gradually
become better and better human beings. Where ever we are in
spiritual growth, may we turn to the Lord, acknowledging as best we
can our need for His help. May we do our part to receive His life, His
love and wisdom more and more within our lives. And from this we
will become more and more useful human beings, all who our lives
touch will be blessed by this growing ability, and we ourselves will
grow in fulfillment and blessedness.
AMEN.
Lessons: Revelation 22:12-21, Arcana Caelestia 598:2, Arcana
Caelestia 242

https://newchurch.org/

DAILY INSPIRATION

“To acquire a heavenly selfhood a person needs to do good from themself and to think truth from themself, but still must know that all the good and all the truth are from the Lord. ”

Arcana Coelestia 2883

The Transfiguration Of The Lord

The Transfiguration Of The Lord
A Sermon by Rev Kurt H. Asplundh

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“A bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice
came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am
well pleased. Hear Him!'” (Matt. 17:5)
Our subject is the Transfiguration of the Lord, that amazing
event recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, when the
Lord was transformed before the eyes of Peter, James and John. We
will consider this in four parts, each answering a question: First, what
took place and how did it actually happen? Second, what did it teach
about Jesus? Third, what is its representative meaning? And fourth,
What does it mean for us? What did happen?

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

Peter, overwhelmed at this wondrous sight, said, “Lord, … let us
make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one
for Elijah.” (Matt. 17:4) As he said this, a bright cloud overshadowed
them, and from the cloud a voice saying, “This is My beloved Son, in
whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matt. 17:5). All three disciples
heard this and fell on their faces, greatly afraid. When the Lord came
to touch them and raise them up, the vision had ended. He was
alone, no longer surrounded by flaming glory and glistening light.
What happened on this occasion was a real experience, not a
dream or hallucination. The three disciples were introduced briefly
into conscious life in the spiritual world. Their spiritual eyes were
opened and, for a few moments, they saw as the angels see:
beholding the deeper spiritual qualities of their Lord that are visible in
that superior realm. Indeed, the disciples saw the face of the Lord like
the sun because His Divine love shines forth in the spiritual world as
a sun. The doctrine of the New Church teaches that He is seen by the
angels above the heavens, encompassed by the flaming brilliance of
His own Divine love.

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

Having considered so far what actually happened at the
transfiguration, let us now ask what it teaches about Jesus. The voice
from the cloud which put the disciples into a state of such profound
humility and fear identified him as the “Son of God.” “This is My
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matt. 17:5)
Who is this “beloved Son”? The doctrine of the New Church
describes Him as the “Divine Human,” God in Human form. “Before
the Lord came into the world He was present with men of the church
but only medially through angels who represented Him; but since His
coming He is present with men of the church immediately, and this
because in the world He put on also a Divine Natural [form] in which
He is present with men.” (TCR 109) Jehovah God put on a degree of
life called the Natural, “thereby becoming Man, like a man in the
world,” we are told, “but with the difference that in the Lord this
degree … is infinite and uncreated … ” (DLW 233, emphasis added)
He made His Natural Divine.

We are told that while the Lord “was indeed born as is another
man, … this human the Lord entirely cast out, so that He was no
longer the son of Mary, and made the Human in Himself Divine …
and He also showed to Peter, James, and John, when He was
transfigured, that He was a Divine Man.” (AC 4692:5) “It was plainly
the Divine Human of the Lord that was thus seen” and identified by
the voice heard from the cloud as the “beloved Son” (AE 64:3). Many
gospel teachings show the importance of this recognition of the
Divinity of Jesus; from John, for example, where it says that “No one
has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son … He has declared
Him.” (John 1:18) Again, “Jesus said … I am the way, the truth, and
the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
In another instance, when the disciple Philip said to Jesus: “Lord,
show us the Father … ” He answered: “He who has seen Me has
seen the Father… ” (John 14:9) “I and My Father are one,” He said.
(John 10:30)

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

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

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

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

“The Word in its glory was represented in the Lord when He
was transfigured” (True Christian Religion 222; Doctrine Concerning
the Sacred Scripture 48). We are told in different words that “when
the Lord was transfigured, He presented Himself in the form in which
the Divine truth is in heaven” (Apocalypse Explained 624e). In other
words, He caused Himself “to be seen as the Word” (Apocalypse
Revealed 24).

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

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

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

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

“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him
… ” (Revelations 1:7)

While the transfiguration of the Lord represents the Word in its
glory, the overshadowing cloud represents a particular aspect of the
Word called in New Church doctrine the “sense of the letter”
(Doctrine Concerning the Sacred Scripture 48), or Divine truth in its
outmost or literal meaning. (Apocalypse Revealed 24)

When we read of anything in Scripture, as we read here of
clouds, we can interpret the meaning on different levels literal or
symbolic. For example, to believe that Christ will return to earth
surrounded by clouds when the Last Judgment is at hand is to think
literally. We can also think of the same statement symbolically.
The Writings of the New Church have much to say about the
symbolic or representative meaning of clouds. This comes from the
fact that clouds appear in the spiritual world as well as in the natural
world, “but the clouds in the spiritual world appear beneath the
heavens, with those who are in the sense of the letter of the Word,
darker or brighter according to their understanding and reception of
the Word …consequently bright clouds’ are the Divine truth veiled in
appearances of truth … and dark clouds’ are the Divine truths
covered with fallacies and confirmed appearances … ” (Apocalypse
Revealed 24)

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

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

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

The remarkable thing to note, however, is that the voice which
identified Jesus as the “beloved Son” came from the cloud. This
revelation, so crucial to Christian belief, is powerfully given in the
sense of the letter of the Word rightly understood. The Writings give
this explanation: “The bright cloud’ which overshadowed the disciples’
represented the Word in the sense of the letter; so from it a voice was
heard, saying, This is My beloved Son; hear ye Him,’ for no
announcements or responses are ever made from heaven except
through outmosts such as are in the sense of the letter of the Word,
for they are made by the Lord in fullness.” (Doctrine Concerning the
Sacred Scripture 48, emphasis added; see Arcana Coelestia 9905)

This teaching that Divine revelations must be made in the
statements of Scripture is illustrated in the parable of Lazarus and the
beggar. Lazarus, the rich man who went to hell, pleaded with Father
Abraham to send someone to his brothers on earth to warn them of
this fate. The answer was: “They have Moses and the Prophets …. If
they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be
persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:29-31). Unless
revelations are stated in and confirmed by truths in external form,
they have no power. When presented in that form they have
awesome power and effect. Thus, it was that Peter, James and John
humbled themselves profoundly when the voice came out of the
cloud. It was not only the voice that affected them, but the message:
that their Lord was Divine Man God in Human form!

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

There is a wonder here a miraculous transformation of
Scriptural teachings that have meant little or nothing to us now
suddenly glowing with Divine love and enlightening our minds with
Divine wisdom. Second, it is sensing a holy fear at the presence of
the Lord in His Word. It is humbling ourselves before Him, being
willing to serve and obey Him. It is saying to the Lord and really
meaning it, “Not my will but Thine be done!”

Lastly, it is being touched by Him and lifted in spirit by His
presence and His words. For He said, “Arise, and do not be afraid”
(Matthew 17:7). When we consider the entire sweep of the Lord’s
ministry and its impending conclusion, do we see a reason He
brought these disciples to the mountain for His transfiguration? Would
the experience strengthen them for the days ahead, for their lives as
apostles? Do not we need such strength for the days ahead? Do not
we need the same encouragement to learn and live our faith? We do!
What a comfort it must have been to Peter, James and John,
being greatly afraid during the transfiguration, to have Jesus
afterward touch them and say, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” They
lifted their eyes and saw no one but Jesus only. (Matthew 17:7, 8)
Here is a representative parallel for us. He is all we need. In our times
of fear and need the Lord Jesus Christ can touch and comfort us. He
extends His Divine mercy and love to us wherever we are spiritually
because He has drawn near by assuming our nature.
This is what the transfiguration can mean to us. It can mean a
renewal of our religious resolve and a rededication to the worship of
the Lord Jesus Christ in His glorified Human.
Amen.
Lessons: Exodus 19:9-11, 16-20; Matthew 17:1-9; Apocalypse
Revealed 24

https://newchurch.org/

DAILY INSPIRATION

“Nobody can be joined to the Lord except by means of love and charity. Love is spiritual conjunction itself.”

Arcana Coelestia 2349

Man Who is Taught from the Word is Taught by the Lord Alone

Lastchurch - The Eternal PurposeSelection from Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

The Lord is the Word, and that all doctrine of the church must be drawn from the Word. Since, then, the Lord is the Word, it follows that the man who is taught from the Word is taught by the Lord alone. But as this is not easily comprehended, it shall be illustrated in the following order:

(1) The Lord is the Word because the Word is from Him and treats of Him.

(2) Also because it is the Divine truth of the Divine good.

(3) Thus to be taught from the Word is to be taught from the Lord.

(4) That this is done mediately through preaching does not take away the immediateness.

First: The Lord is the Word because the Word is from Him and treats of Him. That the Word is from the Lord is denied by no one in the church. That the Word treats of the Lord alone is not denied, indeed, but neither is it known. This has been set forth in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord (n. 1-7, 37-44); also in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture (n. 62-69, 80-90, 98-100).

Since, then, the Word is both from the Lord alone and treats of the Lord alone, it follows that when man is taught from the Word he is taught from the Lord, since the Word is the Divine; and who except the essential Divine, from whom the Word is and of whom it treats, can communicate the Divine, and plant it in the heart? When, therefore, the Lord speaks of His conjunction with the disciples He says:-

That they should abide in Him, and His words in them (John xv. 7). That His words are spirit and life (John 6:63).

And that He makes His abode with those who keep His words (John xiv. 20-24).

To think from the Lord, therefore, is to think from the Word, seemingly through the Word. [That all things of the Word have communication with heaven has been shown in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture, from beginning to end.] And since the Lord is heaven, this means that all things of the Word have communication with the Lord Himself. It is true that the angels of heaven have communication; but this, too, is from the Lord.

Secondly: The Lord is the Word, because it is the Divine truth of the Divine good. That the Lord is the Word He teaches in John in these words:-

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word; and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (John 1:1,14).

As heretofore this has been understood to mean only that God taught men through the Word, it has been explained as a hyperbolical expression, not meaning that the Lord is the Word itself; and for the reason that it was unknown that by “the Word” the Divine truth of the Divine good is meant, or, what is the same, the Divine wisdom of the Divine love. That these are the Lord Himself is shown in Part First of the work on The Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom; and that these are the Word is shown in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture (n. 1-86).

How the Lord is the Divine truth of the Divine good shall also be briefly told.

Every man is a man not from his face and body but from the good of his love and from the truths of his wisdom; and because it is from these that a man is a man, every man is also his own truth and his own good, or his own love and his own wisdom. Apart from these he is not a man.
But the Lord is good itself and truth itself, or, what is the same, He is love itself and wisdom itself; and these are the Word which was in the beginning with God and which was God, and which became flesh.

Thirdly: Thus to be taught from the Word is to be taught by the Lord Himself, because it is to be taught from good itself and truth itself, or from love itself and from wisdom itself, which are the Word, as has been said. But every one is taught according to the understanding that belongs to his own love; what is beyond this is not permanent.

All those who are taught by the Lord in the Word are taught a few truths in the world, but many when they become angels; for the interiors of the Word, which are Divine spiritual and Divine celestial things, although implanted at the same time, are not opened in man until after his death, thus in heaven, where he is in angelic wisdom, which in comparison with human wisdom, that is, man’s former wisdom, is ineffable. That Divine spiritual and Divine celestial things, which constitute angelic wisdom, are present in all things, and in each thing of the Word, may be seen in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture (n. 5-26).

Fourthly: That this is done mediately through preaching does not take away the immediateness. The Word must needs be taught mediately through parents, teachers, books, and especially the reading of it. Nevertheless it is not taught by these, but by the Lord through them. And this the preachers know, and they say that they do not speak from themselves but from the spirit of God, and that all truth, like all good, is from God. They are able, indeed, to declare the Word, and bring it to the understanding of many, but not to the heart of any one; and what is not in the heart perishes in the understanding; “the heart” meaning man’s love. From all this it can be seen that man is led and taught by the Lord alone, and is led and taught immediately by Him when this is done from the Word. This is the arcanum of arcana of angelic wisdom.

(Divine Providence 172)
June 17, 2017
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Conjunction of the Lord with Angels

  Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose
Selection from Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

All conjunction in the spiritual world is effected by means of looking [*by intent regard]. When any one there is thinking about another from a desire to speak with him, the other immediately becomes present, and they see each other face to face. It is the same when any one is thinking about another from an affection of love; but this affection produces conjunction, while the other produces presence only. This is peculiar to the spiritual world, for the reason that all there are spiritual beings; in the natural world, in which all are material beings, it is otherwise.

With men in the natural world the same takes place in the affections and thoughts of their spirit; but inasmuch as there are spaces in the natural world, while in the spiritual world the spaces are merely appearances, that which takes place in the thought of every one’s spirit, in the spiritual world takes place actually.

This has been said to make known how the conjunction of the Lord with angels is effected, and how the apparent reciprocal conjunction of angels with the Lord is effected. For all angels turn their faces to the Lord, and the Lord’s look is upon the forehead, because the forehead corresponds to love and its affections, while angels behold the Lord with the eyes, because the eyes correspond to wisdom and its perceptions. Nevertheless angels do not, from themselves, turn their faces to the Lord, but the Lord turns them to Himself; and He turns them by influx into their life’s love, and through that love enters into the perceptions and thoughts; and thus He turns them about.

Such a circle of love to thoughts and from thoughts to love from love, is in all things of the human mind. This circle may be called the circle of life. About this something may be seen in the work on The Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom, as the following:

Angels constantly turn their faces to the Lord as a sun. All the interior things of the angels, both of mind and of body, are likewise turned to the Lord as a sun. Every spirit, of whatever quality, turns himself likewise to his ruling love. Love conjoins itself to wisdom, and causes wisdom to be reciprocally conjoined with it. Angels are in the Lord, and the Lord is in them; and because angels are recipients the Lord alone is heaven.

The Lord’s heaven in the natural world is called the church; and an angel of that heaven is a man of the church who is conjoined with the Lord, and who becomes an angel of the spiritual heaven after he leaves this world. From this it is clear that what has been said of the angelic heaven applies equally to the human heaven that is called the church. That reciprocal conjunction with the Lord which makes heaven in man is revealed by the Lord in these words:-

Abide in Me and I in you. He that abideth in Me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit; for apart from Me ye can do nothing (John 15:4, 5, 7).

(Divine Providence 29, 30)
(*emphasis by editor)
June 9, 2017
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Appearance Of The Lord

Appearance Of The Lord
A sermon by Rev. Grant R. Schnarr

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The Lord had appeared before His disciples, most of them rejoiced that
they had seen Him again. But He was alive. All the times that He had
spoken of, rising on the third day, had come true. They remembered,
they believed Him.
And yet there was Thomas who was a very earthly kind of person,
known as “Doubting Thomas,” who said, “I won’t believe in the Lord
unless I can put my finger in the holes in His hands and put my hand in
His side.” What happens? Eight days later the Lord appears before
Thomas and says, “OK, Thomas. Reach your finger in my hands. Put
your hand in my side. Handle me and see that it is I.” Thomas didn’t
need to do that any more.

He said to Him, “My Lord, my God.”
And the Lord said to Thomas, “You have seen. That’s why you have
believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed
in Him.”

Why was it that the Lord appeared to His disciples after His crucifixion?
It might have been to show that He was alive, that He had conquered
death. That’s a great part of Christianity, that He is the resurrection and
the life. But even more than this, He appeared to His disciples so that
they would worship Him in His risen form, that they wouldn’t think back
on Him historically, think about His life in the world, but to see that, yes,
He is very much alive now. He has risen, He’s alive, He’s with them still.
“Lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age,” He said to them.
The Lord came on earth to make Himself visible to the human race, to
make Himself accessible to people so that they could know Him, so that
they could understand Him, so that they could, if they chose, be one
with their Creator through that understanding.

Before the Lord had come, what kind of God did they worship at that time?
The Writings for the New Church say that they worshipped an invisible God,
incomprehensible. After all, if God is love itself, life itself, reality itself, that’s pretty
incomprehensible for us finite beings. How can the finite comprehend the infinite?
It’s impossible. Beyond that, though, they had a perception of the Lord within.
They could think of His humanity, so to speak-His love and wisdom withinperceive
what it was. But there was no external form, no concrete image, to put
that into. Again, it was an invisible God, sort of perceiving who God was, but not
really being able to grasp Him in their imagination.

And then through the process of time, as people turned away from the
Lord, as the leaders of the church at that time, began to make up teachings,
began to lead the people to themselves rather than from God, that picture of the
Lord became very clouded. And so we can look at the Old Testament, and we
see their concept of God – an angry God, a punishing God, a God who can
repent, a God who wants vengeance. This is the way they saw Him because of
their infantile state, because of the dark state that they were in.
Where was the relationship with God and man? If you think of God as
being love itself and desiring nothing more than to be one with that which He had
created, that wasn’t taking place and the end of creation was in danger, so the
Lord came to her (?) “Jehovah bowed the heavens and came down,” the Psalms
say. He presented Himself to mankind so that could understand Him, so that they
could see Him, so that they could see the infinite God in human form as Jesus.
He could set up a new church that had the opportunity to worship Him in truth
and sincerity, had an opportunity to be joined with their Creator like never before.
So the Writings for the New Church say the following, “By means of the
Human, Jehovah God sent Himself into the world and made Himself seen before
the eyes of men, and thus accessible. The Lord made the natural man in Himself
Divine in order that He might be the first and the last, that He might thus enter
with men even into their natural. He was then able to conjoin Himself to man in
His natural, yea, in His sensual. And at the same time to His spirit or mind in His
rational, and thus to enlighten man’s natural light with heavenly light.

It’s not as if the Lord said goodbye, to His disciples and zoomed off a
million miles away, or into some other realm of existence. No, He was still right
there. He’s right here today. He hasn’t gone anywhere. In our natural lives we
cannot see Him, but God exists around us, within us, in a way that He didn’t
before His Advent. He came into the natural, He made that natural within Him
Divine so that He could be with us, not only from within, from our perceptions, but
also without, so that now we can grasp God in a form and understand Him. So
now we can have a personal relationship with our Maker.

So how do we have that personal relationship with the Lord? We have to
recognize His Humanity, not like many Christian churches have done today,
solely seeing His Humanity and sort of separating it from His Divinity and the
Divine Father appear in Jesus, my friend and buddy, my pal. If we do that, if we
separate it out, then we take away that Divinity of the Lord. And when we take
that away we take away some of the respect He had, the admiration, the love,
the responsibility that we have to the Lord. We can’t see Him as merely being
human, we’ve got to see Him as Divine, life itself, in the Human form.
The Writings say that we should look at God from essence to person, think
of His essence first, that God is life itself, that God is love itself, the very reality of
these two concepts of God. His essence though, shows itself in the human form
of Jesus Christ. And we can take all these unknowable things and put them down
in a form that can be grasped.

And we can see the Lord with His arms open, waiting to take us in. And
He will take us in and hold us as long as we want Him to, in our own freedom.
That’s how we should see the Lord.
So the Lord said, “He that has seen Me has seen the Father.” He that has
seen that Humanity has seen the Divine within. “I am the Way, the Truth and the
Life. No one comes to the Father, but by Me.” No one comes to that Divinity but
through the Human of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Divine Human.
You know, many of us who are receivers, wandered away from traditional
Christianity because of that very point, that it made Christ too human, that they’ve
made God more of a fable, made God a comic strip character, rather than
something real and living.

But we can go too far. We can make God a complete abstract concept in
our life. God is life itself. God is love itself. God is impersonal. God is a concept.
But what good does that do us in our relationship with Him to do that? We can’t
worship an It. We can’t be conjoined with an It. We can’t love life itself, the esse,
the first principle. Reality, what does it mean? We can’t talk to it. We can’t love it.
We can’t be one with it? Why should we obey what it says? What good is it going
to do us? That’s the whole reason the Lord came, so that we could see Him in
that Human form, see that Divinity, so that we could be one with Him and have a
personal relationship with Him, see that He is a very real God, very real person.
So, when He appeared before Thomas, that’s why Thomas said, “My Lord and
my God,” to that Divine Human.

One of the ways we form a relationship with the Lord is through turning to
His own Word. This book is unlike any other book that has ever been written. Not
only does it teach us about God, but it is a living book. If we read the New
Testament alone, think of the picture that we get there, seeing God in human
form. What a picture that is! What a beautiful picture of who God is, how He
presents Himself.
Look at the New Testament. Look at the Lord’s life and see how He
presents Himself to us, not with preconceived notions, but take a good, honest
look. We see the Lord joking around with His disciples. When He was talking to
Peter He said, “Peter, from now on your name will be the Rock.” He was saying.
Petra. “From now on I’m going to called you Petra.” That’s like saying, “Rick, from
now on I’m going to call you Rock.” Or saying, “Stanley, from now on you’re
Stonely.” It was a pun. It was comical. And yet it says something deeper.
How about when He appeared, when He was whipped in front of the
whole Sanhedrin who were judging Him. And Caiphus says, “Are you the Christ,
the Son of the Living God?”
He said basically, “You said it. It is as you say,” right back to them.
When Pilate said to Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You said it.”

How many times have we heard in pulpits in different churches, “Are you
the king of the Jews?” “It is as you say. And they led Him away,” in a monotone
voice.
The Lord was human. “You said it. Yes, I am.”
We see Him laughing, the Scribes and the Pharisees, “You whited
sepulchers.” “You who strain at a gnat and yet swallow a camel.”
Human.
When He’s in the temple, clearing out the temple. “My house should be a
house of prayer and you have made it a den of thieves.”
And then we see another side of Him. As He’s trying to raise Lazarus from
the dead, and all these people don’t believe it. He’s been with them for three
years and no one really understood. There He is. He’s weeping. He’s weeping
because of their disbelief.

When He was in the Garden of Gethsemene, that Human was going
through such anguish, knowing what would happen, that it was said that He
sweated as if drops of blood.
Remember when He was even riding into Jerusalem, and all the people
were cheering, Luke tells us the Lord was weeping at that time. Why was He
weeping? Because God had come to the light into the darkness to save His
creation, and the darkness comprehended Him not. As John said, “He came to
His own and His own received Him not.”

A human God, someone we can relate to. He shows us all the different
aspects of humanity on purpose, so that we won’t see Him as a God afar off, so
that we won’t see Him as an abstract concept, but we can see Him as someone
who has gone through many of the things that we go through, and even worse.
We can relate to Him, that we can be with Him, that He understands us, that He’s
here and now. He’s not somewhere else.
Keep that in mind. The Lord is very real. If you picture the Lord as an old
man with a beard, holding a scepter, way off there somewhere, you’re missing
out on a lot. The Lord is very real. He’s here and now.
He’s there, ready to have a relationship with us, if we are willing to open
our minds and hearts to him.

We can see Him in the literal meaning of the New Testament so easily.
The Writings also say that there are deeper meanings to the Word, that the
whole Old Testament, for example, has a continuous internal sense, a
continuous inner symbolic meaning which deals with many different aspects of
our lives, which deals with the Lord. So that story of the Israelites coming out of
Egypt through the wilderness into the promised land, is also a story of the Lord’s
life on earth, how He came out of the slavery of that human hereditary evil and
worked toward the promised land, His glorification, making Himself Divine. And
the Writings lay out a lot of this for us in the Arcana Caelestia, 12 volumes. The
Psalms, for example, are not just prayers of David, but on a deeper level, a
symbolic level, are prayers of the Lord to the Father – that human part of Him –
praying to the Divine within, becoming one with it.

And when we read the Word in that sense, study it, and look for the
symbolism, the deeper meaning, all of a sudden the Word becomes alive. It’s a
living book. The Lord is there speaking to us. So, John says, “In the beginning
was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” That’s how
the Lord shows Himself to us, can talk to us in His Word. It’s alive. The Writings
say that the Word is the soul medium of conjunction between the Lord and man,
the sole medium of communion between the heavens and the human race, that
when we read the Word with simple minds and simple hearts that the angels of
heaven affect us. Whereas we understand the literal sense, they understand the
deeper internal sense. And when we read the Word we are affected by it. The
Lord can be with us in a special way to the degree that we can read the Word
with the willingness to be led, to understand.

Some people read the Word as if it’s a textbook and they are going to
have a test on it. They look for the facts. If you do that all you’re going to get are
the facts. If you look at the Word with pessimism as you read, all you are going to
get is pessimism. If you look at the Word with preconceived dogmatic notions
about what you’re looking for in certain doctrines, then all you are going to see
are certain doctrines. The Writings say, “Those who approach the Word with
preconceived doctrines, it’s as if they only read one page and flip it over, they
miss this page, they read the next one, they flip that over. They’re only reading
half the Word.” The approach is like that.

To approach the Word with open minds, open hearts, those who approach
the Word with a willingness to be led, simply to say, “Help me.” To read it, even if
you were reading something about David going off and doing this or that, or Saul,
or Solomon, you are going to get something from it. Sometimes you will be
amazed at the answers you get in the Word. When you ask a specific question
about your life, “How am I doing? How can I do better?” the Lord will answer you
in an incredible way, an astounding way. You’ll see this is a living truth. This is
alive. At other times it’s much more subtle. It was pointed out once that a lot of
the time it’s just a feeling you walk away with, a feeling that we’ve been
somewhere, a feeling that we’ve been with someone, that they are still with us in
a special way. And that someone is the Lord.
The Word is very important to read. But not only to read the Word, but to
do something with that.
There is also prayer, the whole realm of prayer, come to know our God, to
understand Him. The Lord’s prayer is a very special prayer. After all, the Lord
gave us that prayer. He says, “When you pray, say this..” He gave us that prayer.
The Writings of the New Church say two things about the Lord’s prayer. One, that
that prayer in its deeper, inmost sense, deals with all the different facets of our
relationship with God and man, and when we say that prayer we are saying a
general prayer to help us out in all fields. And if we can see that deeper, inner
sense we’d understand that it has all kinds of things to do with our life.

But beyond that, we’re told that when we say the Lord’s prayer, because
of the way it’s been written, that we can communicate, can have communion
with, all of the heavens, all the different societies of the heavens. So that prayer
has a special power, a power for good, an effect on our own lives and hearts.
There’s more than just reciting prayers. It’s funny, it’s amazing, many
churches haven’t picked up on this, especially some of our larger churches. The
Lord said, “Do not use vain repetition as the heathen do, for they think that they
will be heard for their many words. Therefore, do not be like them.” When we
pray, sometimes all we have to do is talk to the Lord. The Writings define prayer
as “speaking with the Lord.” It’s very simple. Talking to Him, “How am I doing
today? Help me out in this one. Help me to get through this. Thank you.” There’s
many things we can do, just to talk to Him. At first when we do that, when we are
not used to it, it may seem a little strange, talking to the Lord. You remember that
Paul Newman movie, Cool Hand Luke, after he had escaped for the third or
fourth time, in that church he was looking up and talking to God, he looked up
seeing if someone was listening to him. We’ll feel that way a little bit when we
first start. But what happens is, after a while when we do this, we begin to feel
the Lord’s presence in a very real way. And we begin to feel it’s more than what
we bargained for. It’s not as if we do this and ended up all of a sudden feel it,
there’s some kind of psychological reason for it. No. The Lord comes into our
presence, His presence comes into us even more than it would have at that time,
and we can feel Him and understand Him. We will be astounded.

Even more than this probably, the most important thing, we want to have a
relationship with the Lord. If we want to bring Him into our hearts and tell Him,
we’ve got to put ourselves in the order of His creation.
We’ve got to shun that evil and selfishness that we all know we have
within, that block out the Lord’s life, that block out His love. That’s why
He’s given us His teachings, so that we can use them to get our act together, to
put ourselves back in that order, to put ourselves on the right path, that He can
flow into us with His wisdom, He can come into us with His love. And with that
love comes joy and happiness. It could be sometimes, that we like God to be way
up there in an abstract concept because when we want to do what we want, He’s
not there to make us feel bad or make us feel guilty.

Think about that. How uncomfortable would you feel if you are doing
something that really was raunchy, and had that real awareness that the
Lord is right there with you, it would be a bad feeling. Sometimes we leave Him
way off in the distance. We keep Him close enough so that when we feel guilty
we have somebody to turn to, but for the most part in our lives, we keep Him way
off there. If we are going to do that, and we have a perfect right to do that, the
Lord lets us be free to do that, but if we do, let’s be honest with ourselves. We
are creating a hell in ourselves, and that after death that’s exactly where we will
go.

The Lord is not a God afar off. He is here with us. He has His arms open
to us ready to receive us into Himself. When we hold the key, we can open that
door and let Him into us. We do that by learning of Him in His Word which He
has given us, by turning to Him for help, by being aware of His existence, and by
following His teachings. When we do that, we open our eyes to Him. We can see
Him. More than that, He will be with us. And even more than those disciples, we
will know the Lord, who He is even more than Thomas, and we will be able to say
at this time with full hearts as we comprehend our God, “My Lord and my God.”
Amen.

https://newchurch.org/

DAILY INSPIRATION

“True repentance means not only examining what one does in one’s life, but also what one intends in one’s will to do.”

True Christian Religion 532

Little angels

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

My daughter Bridget died 21 months old. She had never walked or crawled but could sit propped up. She couldn’t see. She was born three months premature, the first of twins. Her brother was stillborn.

She was a much-loved sister to my three grown-up stepsons. She gave so much joy in her short life.

After the shock of her death one of my first thoughts was that now she would be able to walk and skip and run and move about like other children – and see! She would be able to see other children and play with them.

What a surprise it must have been to her to ‘wake up’ and see people. What a strange experience for her, never having seen anyone before. I wonder if an angel mother held her while she moved from our world to the next. She had been used to the sense of touch, of being held, and that would be comforting. Seeing would be a strange new dimension in a whole new world.

That she could run and see I had no doubt. Her frailties of this life belonged here. She had, so to speak, emerged from her frail body like a butterfly from a chrysalis, leaving behind all the infirmities associated with it. This was the image I had of her – a young child running and skipping and seeing. A loss to us, but such a gain for her – wholeness in body and health.

She had hydrocephalus and was in hospital because of a blocked shunt preventing the water draining from her brain. My last real memory is of holding her in my arms in the ambulance as she was transferred from the local to the specialist hospital.

Angel mother
Bridget was in hospital. I was at home when she died. I wasn’t there with her.

I can imagine her being held by an angel mother as she left this life; just held in the comfort of those strong, loving arms for as long as it took to be ready to ‘waken up’ in her new life.

She would be bathed and clothed and fed by her angel mother and cared for in her home. The body she now has is in every way like the physical body she had in this world except that it is of spiritual substance, not material. She has a head, body and limbs, eyes, ears, nose and mouth and senses.

I wonder if her angel mother held her hands while she took her first steps. Did she crawl first of all, trying out her new-found strength in her arms and legs, and pull herself to her feet? What an adventure! What a brave new world opened up to her!

New family
I wonder how many other children her new mother had? How many new brothers and sisters for Bridget to play and grow up with? For grow up she would eventually. She would grow and develop in her new home with her new family.

Initially resting in their loving sphere and tender care she would come to know them and they to know her. Her mother would know her needs. All in the next life are aware of each other’s thoughts and feelings. Nothing is hidden. They are who they are. No dissembling.

As Bridget got used to the new strength in her body, what freedom she would find moving about, exploring! Before, she had only been able to be where she was placed, unable to move around. I imagine there would be lovely gardens to play in, water to splash about in, sand and clay to build and mould.

I’m sure she would learn by imbibing things from others and doing as they did. She would learn to speak the soft-sounding language of heaven and watch dramatic presentations – a great way of learning.

Growing up
In her young innocence she would grow up nourished by the love of those around her. She would gain knowledge and understanding, learning that, all she has, is given her by her Heavenly Father. She has no good of her own but receives it as she learns to live a useful life loving her Heavenly Father and her brothers and sisters – all God’s children. She will grow in wisdom.

She will be ‘naughty’ like all children, going her own way until she feels the sadness this causes others.

Grown up
I wonder if she has a partner, a husband? She would have been 33 years old by now – no longer my little Bridget! I shall have to think of her now as a wise and loving angel!

Is she caring for other children newly-arrived from this world? IS she teaching them as they grow up? She won’t have the joy of children of her own but she will have the joy of sharing her happiness, innocence and love – these will be her children.

How I look forward to being with her again one day!

“All children, no matter where they are born, within the Church or outside it, of devout parents or otherwise, are received by the Lord when they die and educated in heaven.” (Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell section 329)

Copyright 2012 Mary E Duckworth

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

 

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The New Age And Its Messenger

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THE NEW AGE AND ITS MESSENGER

by Warren Felt Evans (1817-1889)

The writings of that most remarkable man of modern ecclesiastical history, Emanuel Swedenborg, have taken a deep hold upon my mind, and affected my whole inner life. He who comes to the perusal of them with an unprejudiced mind, with a sincere desire to learn the truth for the sake of truth—who loves truth for its own divine self—will not fail to find in them principles of great value. He will find there a true spiritual philosophy. He who loves truth for its own sake, and who incorporates it immediately into the life, is in that moral condition which renders the mind of man receptive of enlighten­ment from the Lord, the infinite fountain of all light. There are some minds peculiarly fitted to receive truths of a certain class, as those relating to some one of the sciences. But a soul in the moral attitude referred to above, drinks in spontaneously all spiritual truth. ” He that doeth truth, cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (Jno. iii. 21.) ” If any man,” says our Saviour, ” will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (Mat. vii. 17.)…

There is the belief of the Church that a brighter age and a better dispensation would have its birth in the future. This hope has shone the brighter when the moral darkness has been the most profound. It has seemed reasonable to some that there will be three grand dispensations of the Church, corresponding to the three manifestations of the one God to the world, as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. There has been the dispensation of the Father. This comprehends the whole period before the incarnation. In the Old Testament how little is said of the Son. Christ is there (for every sentence of the older Scriptures is Messianic, and not here and there a passage), but he is there veiled beneath sensuous symbols. It is an age of obscurity. We have had the age of the Son or the Logos—the intellectual age, the dispensation of faith. This has continued until the present. The next, which we doubt not has had its birth, will be the age of the Holy Spirit, when Christ will come as the Comforter, the Paraclete, to impart a new and higher life to the souls of men. In the first the sensuous predominates, in the second, the intellect; the third will be the dispensation of love. Love and its intuitions will predominate in the glorious Church of the future. This better dispensation has been generally denominated the Millennial Age. A moment’s reflection, however, will convince any one that its proper and Scriptural designation is the New Jeru­salem, which term marks the last and most perfect stage in the development of the Church on earth. It is admitted that in the symbolic language of prophecy, Jerusalem sig­nifies the Church. A New Jerusalem, then, can mean nothing but a New Church, or a new and better dispensa­tion of grace. If there is to be a new dispensation, it is self-evident that it must have a beginning somewhere. If the New Jerusalem is to come down from God out of heaven, there is some one to whom it must first come. This Divine influence or effluence from God through the heavens into the Church on earth—which is signified by the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven—must find its first receptacle in some mind fitted to receive it, and to be the centre of its diffusion abroad. Look back upon the history of the Church in all the past ages, and you find that every dispensation of grace has had its rise, and small mustard-seed beginning, in some one individual. So it manifestly must be in the New Jeru­salem stage of the Church’s progress. That Immanuel Swedenborg, servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, was the instrument of Providence in ushering in a new and better age of the Church, seems to me clear. I think there is found in his invaluable spiritual writings the germ of a new and higher dispensation. No one who is at all observant of the signs of the times cam doubt that he is to have at least a most important influence in shaping the theology and the life of the future church. I will give some reasons for this belief, which, it is hoped, will be satisfactory to some sincere inquirers after truth, and who are conscious of wants and spiritual yearnings, that the prevailing religions, with their literature, fail to supply. This work is given to the world for the reason given by another for a different work. ” It is one of our nobler human instincts, that we cannot feel within us the glory and the power of a real conviction, without earnestly striving to make that conviction pass into other minds.” (Comte’s Philosophy of the Sciences, by G. H. Lewes, p. 1.)

Author: Warren Felt Evans (1817-1889)

 

 

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