Self Discovery

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Self Discovery

It’s all right here.

That’s how most of us will feel on awaking to “the life beyond” – which is really the life inside us now.  We’ll feel still ourselves, among similar people and surroundings. Indeed we may think we’ve come into a heaven that is just like earth. We’ll want food, rest, human contact, and so on, and assume we need to seek them in the usual ways.  (Emanuel Swedenborg calls this the first state after death, experienced in the world of spirits.)  But quite soon we’ll get a big surprise:

Help, they know what I’m thinking!

We’ll wake up to the fact that in this inner dimension of life we can’t hide behind the masks which we have assumed on earth.  People will know the thoughts and motives that govern our outward behaviour.  Hypocrisy will be impossible, and so will any shyness about kind feelings and good ideas.

No longer will life be about putting on appearances.  (This is the second state after death.)  Now we really have to face up to the big questions:

What kind of life do I really want? 

Am I after an easy time?  Plentiful possessions?  Control over people?  Unlimited sexual contacts?  (Do I expect these as my “reward in heaven”?)  Or do I want true friendship?  Adventure and discovery?  Higher knowledge?  Useful achievements?  To show appreciation? We may feel confused as to which of these matters most to us, but we will come to realise that one motive lies at the centre, organising all the others.  (Swedenborg sometimes calls this the ruling love.)   Basically it’s a question of putting self or others first, but for either of these many variations are possible

Full self-knowledge

This opening up of our character is described in the Bible by scenes of judgment. It may be hurtful and frightening.  But God is not judging us and will not punish us but we are judged by the light of Divine Truth.  He lets us sort ourselves out in the light of the spiritual world, and in the end it’s liberating. At last we can be ourselves without pretence or half-heartedness, and find fulfilment in truly expressing ourselves, in showing people how much we love them – or maybe don’t.  We will have embarked on a journey of self discovery in which our true spirituality will be fully disclosed.

Where do I belong?

Other people around us will be likewise discovering themselves.  As a result, our relationships are likely to change, perhaps painfully.  Some friends we have felt close to will move away from us, while we recognise new depth and beauty in former strangers, and feel drawn to them.  We may feel that we have moved to a new place and yet we will have truly come home – the home where our heart really is!

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The Doctrines Of The New Church

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PSK734b<< THE DOCTRINES OF THE NEW CHURCH >>
A SPIRITUAL SCIENCE.

“Behold, I make all things new.”—Revelation xxi. 5.

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WE live in a miraculous age. Our lot has been cast in the midst of those tremendous changes in man’s spiritual condition which could be fitly typified only by the most stupendous convulsions in the material world, —by the darkening of the sun in the heavens, the falling of the stars from their places ; by conflagrations and cosmic storms ; and by the creation of new heavens and a new earth.

It is our happiness as New-Churchmen to know the meaning of these prophetic symbols, and, secure from harm from these convulsions, and unterrified by the noise and wild fury of old systems falling to ruin, and the collision of chaotic forms of belief, to stand upon the new earth rising fresh and fair from the ruins of the old, and to see the new heavens, clear and serene, overarching human life,—heavens whose moon is brighter than the sun of the former age, and whose sun shines with seven-fold splendor.

I ask your attention to one of the distinct and peculiar characteristics of this age, one which clearly entitles it to the claim of being the fulfilment of the Divine promise, ”Behold, I make all things new;” which will make it enduring as the power of the Lord to create human souls, will give it the excellence of heavenly graces, the beauty of heavenly forms, the power and glory of Divine truth, and imbue it with the blessedness of heavenly peace ; which will make it the Lord’s kingdom on earth. I say, “will make it,” for this new day of the Lord, even to the most advanced minds, is yet only in the gray of the morning. Its full-orbed sun is yet below the horizon, and the mass of the people are still asleep in the shadow of the valley. Some of them are indeed stirred by a new breath of power, but “whence it cometh and whither it goeth” they cannot tell. It is the unconscious influence of the Divine force which precedes the light, which opens the eyes and prepares them for its reception. But enough of the light has been seen by some minds, watching for the morning, to reveal its true nature and to give undoubted assurance that it is not the twilight of an age passing away, but the morning of a spiritual age which is new in spirit, new in form, new in power, and will be new in life. The characteristic of the new age to which I invite your attention is one peculiar to its genius, which gives it a surpassing excellence. I propose to speak of the truths of the New Church as a spiritual science.

By science I mean the laws of the Divine order as they exist in the creation, the methods of the Divine wisdom in effecting the purposes of the Divine love in their connections and relations. The Lord’s methods of working in nature constitute natural science. When we discover those methods and the relation of one substance and of one form to another, and of causes to their effects, that knowledge constitutes science. Science treats of substances and forces and forms in their connections and relations, and reveals the laws and methods by which many things make one. Science is spiritual when it relates to spiritual subjects. The same conditions are essential to a spiritual as to a natural science. Let us consider what those conditions are. . First, science must be based upon facts. It is as impossible to construct a science without facts as it is to build a stone wall without stones. Science cannot be constructed with fancies, or opinions, or of facts even as they appear to the senses. Nor can it be formed by a mere accumulation of facts. Science is formed by insight into the intrinsic forms and qualities of isolated facts, by which their relations to other facts are seen, and the higher laws and qualities common to all the particular facts are discovered.

It is now known that all the kingdoms of nature, and all the individuals in each kingdom, are bound together, penetrated, and moved by substances and forces of a finer and more subtile nature than the coarse concrete forms which clothe and hide them. The knowledge of these forces and the laws according to which they act upon every particular object, and of how the stone and plant and animal welcome and treat, receive or reject, use or reflect these, to them, heavenly visitors, is the science of nature.

Spiritual science requires spiritual facts. These are given us in the doctrines of the New Church. Swedenborg’s introduction into the spiritual world, and his statement, from living experience, of what is done there by the Lord and angels and spirits, was just as necessary to a spiritual science as a man’s introduction into this world and the ability to see and hear what the Lord is doing here, and what men are doing, and how they are doing it, is an essential condition of any natural science. The claim of Swedenborg to have done this, a claim to which men take strong exceptions, is absolutely essential to the work he performed. His doctrines of man’s nature and relations are not based upon fancies or opinions, but upon facts, upon what takes place in the spirit. He has also rendered to men this further service and given this larger evidence of the truth of his claims ; he has shown us how to descend from the palaces of spiritual truth into the paradise of nature, and to find the higher laws of the spirit ruling in corresponding forms and working by similar methods in animal, plant, and mineral.

One of the causes which has made the endless discussion of religious questions so fruitless in results is the want of any fixed and clearly-defined subject of spiritual knowledge. The New Church stands on the solid basis of spiritual substance. It deals with realities. The spiritual world is the real world, the spirit is the real man ; its laws of culture and development are as definite and immutable as the laws of nature ; they are also ascertainable and capable of precise application. We have the same basis for progress in spiritual knowledge and life that we have for progress in natural knowledge and life in this world. The spiritual body is presented to us for examination, as real and substantial as the material body which is presented to the physiologist for his study.

We are introduced into a distinct and substantial world, and we are furnished with true principles for our guidance. So far as regards a substantial basis, therefore, we are as thoroughly equipped for progress in spiritual knowledge for the attainment of some distinct and desirable end as the men of science are for knowledge of physical laws and their use in our natural progress.

There is also no dearth of material for endless advance in spiritual knowledge. The science of correspondences, which reveals the definite relation between natural effects and spiritual causes, opens in nature, and especially in the natural symbols of the Sacred Scriptures, exhaustless depths of spiritual knowledge. Every natural object and act mentioned in the Scriptures is the outward form and expression of a spiritual fact or a series of facts, one lying within the other, and all so connected and related that they reveal the means and the order of man’s spiritual creation and of his relations to the Source of life. We shall never want for facts, therefore. Science will sooner exhaust nature than any finite mind can exhaust the forms of spiritual truth contained in the Sacred Scriptures.

The doctrines of the new age possess also in an eminent degree the second essential of a true science ; they are organized truth. They are not assertions made upon personal authority ; they are not detached and unrelated truths ; much less are they conflicting statements which destroy one another. They bear the same relation to spiritual facts that a house does to the materials of which it is constructed, or that the wonderful structure of the body bears to the food which nourishes it. They are a symmetrical whole, composed of intimately related parts, a house fitted to be the home of heavenly affections and the indwelling life of the Lord.

Science teaches us how to use facts. Rational knowledge shows the ratio or relation of one thing or of one being to another, by which the unity of life is discovered. The plan and form and function of the various mental faculties are shown by true spiritual science. In this respect we are better equipped for spiritual progress than the scientific man is for natural progress. Here we find again the inestimable service which Swedenborg has rendered us. He has given us the laws of spiritual life as they are derived from the Lord and exist in man. We have only to learn them and to examine spiritual facts in their light to see their true nature and relations. We can verify the general law by particular facts. The principle is seen at first in outline more or less distinctly ; but every new particular fills up the outline, brings new light to it, and is a new witness to its truth. Having rational knowledge we know how to dispose of the facts as we learn them. We see their relations to other facts and to the central principle which underlies the whole. They fall into their places and tend to unity. Beneath the illusion of appearances we see order, harmony, and the most powerful forces working according to immutable law for human good.

This is a new and distinct step, and gives man the same help in spiritual progress that a rational knowledge of the substances and forces of nature has given him in natural progress. It forms a basis on which he can stand. It gives him power to wield his materials, to build up his life, and to come into orderly and helpful relations to others. His knowledge changes from a thicket, in which he gets entangled by a multiplicity of apparently unrelated and incongruous forms, to a garden with sure paths which lead from blossom to fruit, from labor to attainment. He comes out of confusion and chaos into harmonious and established order.

The doctrines of the New Church are a statement of the laws of man’s regeneration, spiritual culture, and growth in heavenly life, and of his relations to the Lord, to angels, spirits, and men ; to the spiritual world on one side of his nature, and to the material world on the other. They possess all the qualities of a true science of the spirit ; they will meet every requirement for the most varied and fullest development of our spiritual faculties and the attainment of every natural, spiritual, and heavenly good which man can conceive and the Lord can give.

Science not only introduces us into a world of new truths, gives us clearer light, enlarges the horizon of thought, and reveals to us the beauty and harmony of the Divine order, but it teaches us how to employ the substances and forces we have discovered for our own use. We are all familiar with the achievements of natural science in this respect. It has discovered and brought into common use tireless forces of exhaustless power which bear our burdens, run upon our errands, do our work, and minister to our comfort in manifold ways. Science has not only revealed them, but it has taught us how to use them. It has harnessed them to our service ; it has put the reins into our hands by which we can control and guide them. Spiritual science will render the same service to us on the spiritual plane of life. It not only introduces us into a new world of spiritual truth, illuminates the understanding with its light, and charms the soul with its beauty ; it not only places us in the midst of the Divine harmonies and unveils the forms of spiritual substances and forces as much superior to natural forces in power and capacity for human good as the soul is more excellent than the body, but it teaches us how to use them to overcome our spiritual enemies, to remove the obstacles to our progress, and to help us in the development of our noblest faculties and the attainment of our highest good.

There is conclusive evidence that men, urged by their needs and stimulated by their hopes, are demanding a knowledge of spiritual truth which is based on facts, which is logically consistent, and leads to practical results. Wearied with fruitless labor, distracted with doubts, tormented by conflicting passions, despairing of help from the past, hungry for meat that will feed their famished souls, and with aspirations for a higher life than they have found the method and means of obtaining, they are waiting in despair or turning with hope to a new day. They find that all things in the material world are related and indissolubly bound together ; that unconnected existence, even for the stone, is impossible. They see method, order, subordination existing in all things great and small, and immutable law governing all the Lord’s operations in nature, and they logically conclude that the same principles and methods rule in the realm of spirit. They see that the Lord does not work at random in the creation and development of the plant and the material body, and they pertinently ask why He should do it in the formation of the spirit. All the tendencies of the age, all its movements, its hopes, and even its doubt and denial and despair, and all those subtile and delicate but powerful currents which sway the feelings before they awaken thought, which kindle hope and turn the face in the direction of the new light, point with unerring finger to a scientific and rational knowledge of spiritual truth ; they prophesy the existence of an order, method, and law of the spirit, of the same nature as those which exist in the material universe. The claim that a spiritual science is possible does not come from a few minds alone disaffected with the confusion and comparatively fruitless religious doctrines of the past ; it comes from every form and movement in nature ; the stone embodies it, the grass and the vine and every tree of the forest speak of it, the instinct of the animal proclaims it. Every principle in man’ s nature declares the possibility of a spiritual science, because it is itself the embodiment of it. But especially the rational faculties of the mind demand rational knowledge as the eye demands light, the fin water, the wing air, and the body food ; and whatever the Lord has given man the power to want. He has provided the means to supply. The existence of a Divine order in spiritual growth and attainment is certain, and the ability of man to receive and understand the knowledge of it and come into the Hfe and joy of it is as sure as that plants will blossom and bear fruit, and that seedtime and harvest will continue.

Let us then notice some of the effects which a rational knowledge of spiritual truth and a life conformable to that knowledge must legitimately and certainly produce. Fortunately we are not left to conjecture concerning these results. We have a complete demonstration of the power of rational knowledge in the miracles which science has wrought on the natural plane of life. If a true knowledge of the forms, forces, and qualities of nature can change the face of the world, modify all human conditions, and bring into the service of man a multitude of powerful, tireless forces to bear his burdens, run upon his errands, and in manifold ways minister to his wants, what limits can we assign to the power of a rational knowledge of spiritual substances and the laws of their activities and relations? The results of such knowledge must be as much greater and more beneficent in the spiritual realm of life as the knowledge itself is higher in degree and more excellent in its forms. It is not possible to overestimate its beneficent effects, for it is a knowledge of causes, of vital forces ; it deals with the sources of power; it is the true knowledge of God and of man and of theirrelations to each other.

The effects of a rational knowledge of spiritual truth will be both negative and positive. The truth not only gives man power and light, but it frees him from many obstacles to his progress. The truth makes him free. It frees him from groundless fears. When we do not know the way we fear that every step may lead to danger. It is natural for us to fill the unknown with terrors. Before the light of science had dawned upon the earth, any deviation from the accustomed order of nature, as an eclipse of the sun or moon, filled the minds of men with superstitious fears. They trembled at the dire calamities which they supposed such phenomena to forebode. The same occurrence now gives pleasure to millions, and is the means of much useful knowledge. In spiritual life men are tormented and held in cruel bondage by groundless fears. There is the fear of coming evils which never come and have no existence ; the fear that the Lord is our enemy when He is our infinite and unchangeable Friend ; the fear of death as the most terrible calamity, when it is an orderly step in life ; and a multitude of other fears, wholly groundless, which destroy man’s peace and paralyze his power. A knowledge of spiritual truth will disperse the darkness of ignorance in which these spiritual fears are bred, chase them away as the coming sun dispels the night and all its hideous forms.

Again, genuine spiritual knowledge will free the mind from doubt. Man’s progress in spiritual life is constantly retarded by doubts. He goes to and fro instead of moving on to new attainments ; he stands still instead of advancing ; he rejects the truth when offered to him ; his steps are halting, his courage weak ; he hesitates and lingers and is distracted by conflicting influences, misses the chances of life, and fails of any great attainment in spiritual development, because he is not sure of the path which leads to it. The misgivings, the fears and torments which the noblest minds have suffered from this cause are one of the most mournful phases in the sad history of humanity. Men do not doubt about what they know ; it is when they do not know, or when they see in the twilight only the flitting forms of appearances that they doubt. Genuine knowledge carries the conviction of certainty with it. This is the eflect of the doctrines of the New Church upon those who know them. This benign power will increase until all doubts are dispelledand man will walk in the freedom and joy of the new light, with firm and sure steps, in a straight path to the attainment of the highest ends.

A result of rational knowledge is constant increase of light. Every new truth verifies the principle to which it relates. Every new truth is a new star in the firmament of the mind. All progress in knowledge, natural as well as spiritual, is from evening to morning, and from morning to bright day. Many have accepted the doctrines of the New Church, at first with a hope tremulous with fear that they might come to a point where they would find their way obstructed with insoluble problems and darkness again gathering over them. But it has been their blessed experience to find the way becoming clearer ; difficulties vanish, problems which were supposed to be beyond human skill to solve yield readily to the new power, paths open into broad spaces which seemed closed to human approach, mysteries are understood, and light increases at every step. When we come into the harmonies of the Divine order we begin to see truth in the light of truth. Genuine truth is its own witness ; it shines with its own light, it reveals its own nature, and it fills the mind with light. This is the history of science, and it accords with the experience of every man and woman who has come into the light of the new age.

This gradual and constant increase of light also produces a conviction, which finally amounts to a certainty, that we are on the right road to the attainment of the end we are seeking. When we discover new truths in harmony with those already known, we get new and stronger confirmations of what we have already learned ; we are attracted by the new beauty, we are stimulated to new activity, we are always attaining ; new gates open into broader fields of truth, and the’ certainty of conviction that we are on the right path which leads to the everreceding goal of perfection fills the mind with a sweet and profound peace. We are coming into the order of the Divine wisdom ; we see the way to make ourselves a part of the Divine harmony.

It is a remarkable fact in the history of humanity that men have regarded those who were the most friendly to them as their direst enemies, and those steps in life which have been provided by infinite love and wisdom for their highest good as the most terrible calamities. They have fled from their friends, they have been blind to the richest treasures of truth which lay before them, they have been tormented with groundless fears, have wandered in darkness when the light was shining all around them, and have been crushed with self-imposed burdens when almighty power was offered to lift them from their shoulders.

The rational knowledge of the new age clears away all these shadows, dispels the appearances which have surrounded human life with illusions, and places man in the midst of forces of omnipotent power friendly to every human interest, and teaches him how to use them for the development of the highest plane of his being. It gives him definite, practical knowledge. It reveals to him the true ends of life, puts the means of attaining them into his hand, and shows him how to use them. It must, therefore, render him the same service as a spiritual being, as a citizen of a spiritual world in which he is to find his home and to dwell forever, that a knowledge of the finer substances and forces of nature has rendered him as a material being- and son of earth and time. It must change the whole aspect of human life ; it must give an immense impulse to progress in spiritual knowledge ; it must give fulness, clearness, directness, and precision to every effort for spiritual culture ; it must bring man into such relations to the Lord that he will know what to do and how to do it to come into orderly relations with Plim, and to open every faculty of the soul to Divine influence, to be with the Lord where He is, and thus to dwell in the centres of life and move in the peaceful currents of the Divine order to the attainment of new joys and the rest of an ever-deepening peace. It must make all things new. We stand in the morning of this new day ; its privileges and its responsibilities rest upon us. No men ever had greater interests committed to them ; no men ever possessed larger means and grander opportunities for their own spiritual attainment and to make themselves a blessing to humanity. Much has been given to us ; much will be required of us. Let us be faithful to our trusts ; let us counsel wisely and labor diligently to make known to men those spiritual and Divine truths in which the Lord is making His second coming to men, and by which He will subdue all things unto Himself

Author: Chauncey Giles, From Progress in Spiritual Knowledge, 1895

http://www.scienceofcorrespondences.com/doctrines.htm

Copyright © 2007-2013 A. J. Coriat All rights reserved.

 

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Emanuel Swedenborg

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EMANUEL SWEDENBORGSwedenborg7

As of the Lord‘s Divine mercy it has been given me to know the internal meaning of the Word, in which are contained deepest arcana that have not before come to any one’s knowledge, nor can come unless the nature of the other life is known (for very many things of the Word‘s internal sense have regard to, describe, and involve those of that life), I am permitted to disclose what I have heard and seen during some years in which it has been granted me to be in the company of spirits and angels. [AC 67]

I am well aware that many will say that no one can possibly speak with spirits and angels so long as he lives in the body; and many will say that it is all fancy, others that I relate such things in order to gain credence, and others will make other objections. But by all this I am not deterred, for I have seen, I have heard, I have felt. [AC 68]

Man was so created by the Lord as to be able while living in the body to speak with spirits and angels, as in fact was done in the most ancient times; for, being a spirit clothed with a body, he is one with them. But because in process of time men so immersed themselves in corporeal and worldly things as to care almost nothing for aught besides, the way was closed. Yet as soon as the corporeal things recede in which man is immersed, the way is again opened, and he is among spirits, and in a common life with them. [AC 69]

As it is permitted me to disclose what for several years I have heard and seen, it shall here be told, first, how the case is with man when he is being resuscitated; or how he enters from the life of the body into the life of eternity. In order that I might know that men live after death, it has been given me to speak and be in company with many who were known to me during their life in the body; and this not merely for a day or a week, but for months, and almost a year, speaking and associating with them just as in this world. They wondered exceedingly that while they lived in the body they were, and that very many others are, in such incredulity as to believe that they will not live after death; when in fact scarcely a day intervenes after the death of the body before they are in the other life; for death is a continuation of life. [AC 70]
THE CONSUMMATION OF THE AGE, THE COMING OF THE LORD,
AND THE NEW HEAVEN AND NEW CHURCH.

THE CONSUMMATION OF THE AGE IS THE LAST TIME OF THE CHURCH OR ITS END.
There have been several churches on this earth, and in the course of time they have all been consummated, and after their consummation new churches have arisen, and so on to the present time. The consummation of the church takes place when there is no Divine truth left except what has been falsified or set aside; and when there is no genuine truth no genuine good is possible, since every quality of good is formed by means of truths; for good is the essence of truth, and truth is the form of good, and without form there can be no quality. Good and truth can no more be separated than will and understanding, or what is the same thing, than love’s affection and the thought therefrom. Consequently when truth is consummated in a church, good is also consummated there; and when this takes place, the church comes to an end, that is, is consummated. [TCR753]

The church is consummated by various means, especially by such things as cause falsity to appear to be truth; and when falsity appears to be truth, good that is essentially good, such as is called spiritual good, is no longer possible. The good that is then believed to be good is merely natural good, such as is brought forth by a moral life. The chief cause of the consummation of truth and of good along with it, is the two natural loves that are diametrically opposed to the two spiritual loves, and that are called love of self and love of the world. Love of self when it is predominant is the opposite of love to God, and love of the world when it is predominant is the opposite of love to the neighbor. Love of self is a wishing well to oneself alone, and not to any other except for the sake of self; and the same is true of love of the world; and these loves when they are fostered spread like gangrene through the body, gradually destroying every part of it. That such love has invaded the churches is manifest from Babylon and the way it is described (Gen. 11:1-9; Isa. 13; 14; 47; Jer. 50; Dan. 2:31-47; 3:1-7 seq.; 5; 6:8-28; 7:1-14; and Rev. 17 and 18 from beginning to end of both). Babylon has finally exalted itself to such a degree as not only to transfer the Lord’s Divine power to itself, but also to strive with the utmost energy to grasp all the riches of the world. That like loves would break forth from many of the leaders of the churches outside the pale of Babylon, if their power were not restricted and thus curbed, may be deduced from certain signs and appearances not altogether without meaning. What then follows but that such a man will regard himself as God and the world as heaven, and will pervert all the truth of the church? For it is impossible for the merely natural man to recognize and acknowledge real truth, which is truth in itself, nor can such truth be given him by God, because it falls into what is inverse to it and becomes falsity. Besides these two loves there are still other causes of the consummation of truth and good, and consequently of the church; but those causes are secondary and subordinate to these two. [TCR754]
THIS SECOND COMING OF THE LORD IS NOT A COMING IN PERSON,

BUT IN THE WORD, WHICH IS FROM HIM, AND IS HIMSELF.
It is written in many places that the Lord will come in the clouds of heaven (as in Matt. 17:5; 24:30; 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 9:34, 35; 21:27; Rev. 1:7; 14:14; Dan. 7:13). And as no one has hitherto known what is meant by “the clouds of heaven,” it has been believed that the Lord would appear in them in Person. Heretofore it has not been known that “the clouds of heaven” mean the Word in the sense of the letter, and that the “glory and power” in which He is then to come (Matt. 24:30), mean the spiritual sense of the Word, because no one as yet has had the least conjecture that there is a spiritual sense in the Word, such as this sense is in itself. But as the Lord has now opened to me the spiritual sense of the Word, and has granted me to be associated with angels and spirits in their world as one of them, it is disclosed that “a cloud of heaven” means the Word in the natural sense, and “glory” the Word in the spiritual sense, and “power” the Lord’s power through the Word. That such is the signification of “the clouds of heaven” may be seen from the following passages in the Word:

There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun who rideth in the heaven, and in magnificence upon the clouds (Deut. 33:26-27).
Sing unto God, praise His name; extol Him that rideth upon the clouds (Ps. 68:4).
Jehovah rideth upon a light cloud (Isa. 19:1).

[2] “To ride” signifies to instruct in Divine truths from the Word, for “a horse” signifies understanding of the Word (see Apocalypse Revealed, n. 298). Who does not see that God does not ride upon the clouds?

Again:

God rode upon cherubs. He made His pavilion thick clouds of the heavens (Ps. 18:10, 11).

“Cherubs” also signify the Word (see Apocalypse Revealed, n. 239, 672).

Jehovah bindeth up the waters in His clouds; Him spreadeth His cloud over His throne (Job 26:8, 9).
Give ye strength unto God; His strength is in the clouds (Ps. 68:34).
Jehovah will create over every dwelling of Mount Zion a cloud by day; for over all the glory shall be a covering (Isa. 4:5).

The Word in the sense of the letter was also represented by the cloud in which Jehovah descended upon Mount Sinai, when He promulgated the law; the principles of the law that were then promulgated were the first fruits of the Word.

[3] As further proof, the following may also be added: In the spiritual world as well as in the natural world there are clouds, but from a different origin. In the spiritual world there are sometimes bright clouds over the angelic heavens, but dusky cloud over the hells. The bright clouds over the angelic heaven signify obscurity there arising from the literal sense of the Word; but when these clouds are dispersed, it signifies that they are in the clear light of the Word from the spiritual sense; while the dusky clouds over the hells signify the falsification and profanation of the Word. This signification of “clouds” in the spiritual world has its origin in the fact that the light which there goes forth from the Lord as a sun, signifies Divine truth; for which reason He is called “the Light” (John 1:9; 12:35). And for the same reason the Word itself there which is kept in the sacred recesses of the temples, appears surrounded by a clear white light, and its obscurity is induced by clouds. [TCR776]
THIS SECOND COMING OF THE LORD IS EFFECTED BY MEANS OF A MAN TO WHOM THE LORD HAS MANIFESTED HIMSELF IN PERSON, AND WHOM HE HAS FILLED WITH HIS SPIRIT,
THAT HE MAY TEACH THE DOCTRINES OF THE NEW CHURCH FROM THE LORD BY MEANS OF THE WORD
Since the Lord cannot manifest Himself in Person, as shown just above, and nevertheless has foretold that He was to come and establish a new church, which is the New Jerusalem, it follows that He will do this by means of a man, who is able not only to receive these doctrines in his understanding but also to publish them by the press. That the Lord manifested Himself before me, His servant, and sent me to this office, that He afterward opened the eyes of my spirit and thus introduced me into the spiritual world and granted me to see the heavens and the hells, and to talk with angels and spirits, and this now continuously for several years, I affirm in truth; as also that from the first day of that call I have not received anything whatever pertaining to the doctrines of that church from any angel, but from the Lord alone while I have read the Word. [TCR779]

In order that the Lord might be continuously present with me He has unfolded to me the spiritual sense of His Word, wherein is Divine truth in its very light, and it is in this light that He is continually present. For His presence in the Word is by means of the spiritual sense and in no other way; through the light of this sense He passes into the obscurity of the literal sense, which is like what takes place when the light of the sun in day-time is passing through an interposing cloud. That the sense of the letter of the Word is like a cloud, and the spiritual sense is the glory, the Lord Himself being the sun from which the light comes, and that thus the Lord is the Word, has been shown above. That “the glory” in which He is to come (Matt. 24:30), signifies Divine truth in its light, in which light the spiritual sense of the Word is, can be clearly seen from the following passages:

The voice of one crying in the desert, prepare ye the way of Jehovah; the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it (Isa. 40:3, 5).
Shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee (Isa. 40:1 to the end).
I will give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles, and My glory will I not give to another (Isa. 42:6, 8; 48:11).
Thy light shall break forth as the morning; the glory of Jehovah shall gather thee up (Isa. 48:8).
All the earth shall be filled with the glory of Jehovah (Num. 14:21; Isa. 6:1-3; 46:18).
In the beginning was the Word; in Him was life, and the life was the light of men. That was the true Light. And the Word was made flesh, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father (John 1:1, 4, 9, 14).
The heavens declare the glory of God (Ps. 19:1).
The glory of God will lighten the Holy Jerusalem, and the Lamb is the light thereof, and the nations that are saved shall walk in the light of it (Apoc. 21:23, 24).

Besides in many other places. “Glory” signifies Divine truth its fullness, because all that is magnificent in heaven is from the light that goes forth from the Lord, and the light going forth from Him as the sun there, is in its essence Divine truth.[TCR780]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

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How to Acquire Spiritual Faith, which is Faith ‘from’ Charity

Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose

Selection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

It is known in the world that there is a natural man and a spiritual man, as also that the natural man is worldly and the spiritual man heavenly; but still it is not known what spiritual faith is, and how it differs from natural faith.
(1) That every man has two minds, one natural and the other spiritual; and as it is the mind that wills and thinks, every man has also natural will and thought and spiritual will and thought. The natural mind wills and thinks like a man in the world, and the spiritual mind wills and thinks like an angel in heaven. From this it follows that as faith is in man, it, too, is natural or spiritual; and that natural faith is according to man’s will and thought in the world, and spiritual faith is according to his will and thought in heaven. It is said the will and thought, because all things from which man is a man have relation to these two, for from the will he acts, and from the thought he speaks. And as a man acts and speaks either from self or from God, so he wills and thinks either from self or from God. From this it is clear, in the first place, that there is natural faith and spiritual faith; and that natural faith apart from spiritual faith is to think such things as are in the Word from self, while natural faith from spiritual faith is to think such things as are in the Word from God; although this also seems to the man to be from himself.

(2) As every man has two minds, a natural and a spiritual, and the natural mind is opened and formed by such things as are in the world, while the spiritual mind is opened and formed by such things as are in heaven, and as the things that are in heaven are all spiritual, so a man’s spiritual mind must needs be opened and formed by such things as are in the Word, in which all things are spiritual because they are Divine. In the Word there are truths that are to be known and thought, and goods that must be willed and done; therefore it is by these goods and these truths that man’s spiritual mind is opened and formed. From this it follows, that unless the spiritual mind is opened and formed by truths and goods from the Word it remains closed; and when this is closed the natural mind only is opened and formed by such things as are in the world, from which man, indeed, derives a natural lumen, but such as has in it no wisdom from heaven. From this it is clear, in the second place, that faith is not faith so long as the natural mind only is opened, but that if the thought that a thing is so is called faith it is historical faith, which is nothing but knowledge from which the natural man thinks.

(3) That the spiritual mind may be opened and formed it must have a storehouse from which it may draw its supplies; since unless man has such a storehouse he is empty, and in emptiness there can be no Divine operation. This storehouse is in the natural man and it is its memory, in which everything knowable can be stored up and can be drawn forth from it. In this storehouse for the formation of the spiritual man there must be truths that are to be believed and goods that are to be done, both of them from the Word and from doctrine and preaching from the Word. These man must learn even from infancy. But all these things, however abundant they may be, although they are from the Word, are natural until the spiritual mind is opened; for they are mere knowledge. Thought from this storehouse is what is called faith by those who separate faith from good works in doctrine and in life.

(4) The spiritual mind is primarily opened by man’s abstaining from doing evils because they are contrary to the Divine commandments in the Word. If man abstains from evils from any other fear than this the spiritual mind is not opened. The following are the reasons why this is what opens the spiritual mind: First, that the evils with man must be removed before communication and conjunction with heaven can be granted him; since evils, which are all in the natural man, keep heaven closed, and yet heaven must be opened, for otherwise man remains natural. The second reason is that the Word is from the Lord, and consequently the Lord is in the Word, even so that He is the Word; for the Word is Divine truth all of which is from the Lord. From this it follows that he who abstains from doing evils because they are contrary to the Divine commandments in the Word abstains from them from the Lord. The third reason is, that as far as evils are removed so far goods enter. That this is so can be seen by man from natural lumen alone, for when lasciviousness is removed chastity enters; when intemperance is removed temperance enters; when deceit is removed sincerity enters; when hatred and the delight of revenge are removed love and the delight of love and friendship enter; and so in other cases; and this for the reason that the Lord enters, and heaven with Him, so far as man from the Word abstains from doing evils, since he then abstains from them from the Lord.

(5) But this shall be illustrated by examples. Take for illustration the four commandments of the Decalogue, “thou shalt not commit adultery,” “thou shalt not steal,” “thou shalt not kill,” “thou shalt not bear false witness.” These commandments are Divine, since they are in the Word. When anyone shuns and averts himself from adultery because of the fear that it is against the Lord, against heaven, and against the spiritual life, to be in accord with which is eternal felicity, he loves chastity and loves his consort, because true conjugial love is chastity itself. When anyone shuns and averts himself from theft because of a like fear as from adultery, he loves sincerity, and loves the good of the neighbor as his own good. When anyone shuns and averts himself from murders or from deadly hatred from a like fear he loves the neighbor and is in charity. When anyone shuns and averts himself from false testimony because of a like fear he loves justice and loves truthfulness, and this from the Lord, because from the Word; consequently when after death he becomes a spirit he is like an angel of heaven, and therefore becomes an angel of heaven. But when one does not shun adultery from such a holy fear, but from a fear for his reputation, and thus of the loss of honor and gain, or from a fear of the law, or of disease, or because of weakness, he is still unchaste, since he merely fears the world and the loss of his prosperity in the world, and does not fear the Lord, and thus does not fear the loss of heaven and of eternal life. In like manner when anyone abstains from thefts, from murders or deadly hatreds, and from false testimonies, from natural fear only and not from spiritual fear, he abstains from these from self and not from the Lord; and he who does this from self still remains in them; and no one can be withdrawn from these except by the Lord. From this it can be seen that the spiritual mind with man is opened by this, that from the Word he abstains from doing evils; and that it is opened in the same degree in which he abstains from them by shunning and turning away from them.

(Apocalypse Explained 790:3-7)
April 14, 2017

Divine Truth

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We tend to think of “truth” as something dry, cold, lifeless: information that is valid and important, but not something moving or inspiring. Yet Swedenborg’s works say repeatedly that divine truth – truth from the Lord – was the actual agent of creation, is the ongoing agent in sustaining life, and is, in fact, the Lord Himself. That is difficult to conceive: How can truth make something? How can truth sustain something? How can truth be a person?

But imagine if you could mix elements of dreaming and being awake. In this scenario, you would have the usual control over your thoughts and feelings, and your thoughts and feelings would be continuous, as they are when you’re awake. But the reality around you would be able to bend and shift the way reality does in dreams. If you wanted to climb a skyscraper, jump from it to fly over the Grand Canyon, then dive to the ocean floor, you could do so, with the full experience of reality you have in a deep dream. If you wanted to see your grandmother, who died five years ago, she would be there, to hug you and talk to you and share your tears. Other friends and loved ones would be just a thought away, and you’d be surrounded by beauty limited only by your own imagination. And while all this was happening, your physical body would lie there sleeping.

In such a state, your physical body and physical surroundings are not a factor – in fact, you could say they don’t actually exist in that internal world. The “body” you experience, the surroundings you see, the things you hear and see and taste, all are simply products of your thoughts. So your thoughts actually create the world you live in, and go on creating it every moment.

In a typical dream, of course, that world is a product of only your own thoughts. So imagine that such a world could be shared by many people, or even everyone. In such a world, when you talk to your grandmother, it really is your grandmother, and she is having a similar “dream” experience of talking to you. When you see your friends, they really are your friends, experiencing similar dream-like states.

A number of books and movies have been based on such a concept. In the books and movies, though, the goal typically is to get back to “reality,” meaning back to the physical world. Often, the death of the physical body would mean the death of the dream worlds, too.

But think about it. With all the power you can have in the dream world, the things you can do and people you can see, why would you want to go back to the stiff, limited world of physical reality? And what if the death of the physical body did not snip the thread to the alternative world, but instead freed you to enter it fully?

Such a world is actually close to spiritual reality, as described in Swedenborg’s works. The big difference is that ultimately the “dream” is the Lord’s, and His thoughts and His affections are the ones constantly forming and empowering it, like a great tapestry of potential experience. As humans we are like swirls in the fabric, patterns that can be more or less aligned with those divine thoughts and feelings. Each swirl is unique in the way it weaves together the threads of divine thought, and thus has a unique set of experiences. And the miracle of miracles is that we are free to swirl as we will; that’s what we were created to do. In fact, the whole reason for physical reality – which is a projection of spiritual reality into dead material – is to separate us from divine thought enough to actually experience that freedom.

That divine thought is what Swedenborg means by “divine truth.” It carries all the possibilities for all of our lives, and is by its nature exquisitely, infinitely loving, since it carries the Lord’s love to us and strives constantly to coax us into alignment.

It’s also incredibly powerful, because the more we align ourselves with the Lord’s thoughts, the more we can receive His love and the more truly alive we can be – we can be swirls following the grain of the fabric, and that much more a part of the whole. Also, the more we align ourselves, the more we can see the patterns of the fabric around us – we can see the Lord’s plans for us and everyone else in the world, and fit in to serve His goals. Mentally this is like being in light, and Swedenborg’s works say the divine truth is the actual light of heaven.

So why does “truth” sound so cold and dry? The problem is in us, of course. We’re born into the physical world and our senses are filled by physical things, so we tend to think of “truth” as the aspects of divine thought that can be projected into the physical world. And those aspects are the coldest and driest, with the love awaiting us on the spiritual level.

(References: Apocalypse Explained 219, 434, 594, 748, 950; Apocalypse Explained 130 [2]; Apocalypse Explained 411 [4]; Apocalypse Explained 412 [2]; Apocalypse Explained 700 [2]; Apocalypse Explained 768 [15]; Apocalypse Explained 948 [3]; Apocalypse Explained 997 [2-3]; Apocalypse Revealed 193; Arcana Coelestia 4724, 6880, 8200, 9905, 10026, 10060; Arcana Coelestia 4687 [3]; Arcana Coelestia 5321 [2]; Arcana Coelestia 6996 [3]; Arcana Coelestia 7004 [2]; Arcana Coelestia 7056 [2-3]; Arcana Coelestia 7058 [2]; Arcana Coelestia 7270 [2-4]; Arcana Coelestia 8705 [3]; Arcana Coelestia 9407 [13], [1-3]; Arcana Coelestia 9410 [5]; Athanasian Creed 145; Canons of the New Church 15; Doctrine of Life 32; Heaven and Hell 13, 127, 232, 347; Heaven and Hell 137 [2-4]; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 25; True Christian Religion 39, 85, 86, 142, 224; The White Horse 14)


 

 

The Law Restored

The Law Restored

A Sermon by James P. Cooper

Toronto, August 31, 2008

 revcooper.ca

Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes. …And the king went up to the house of the LORD … and he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the LORD. (2KI 22:11, 23:2)

When we were children, everything was so simple. Things were either good or bad, true or not true. Our beliefs were defended not from reason but because that’s what our parents, our teachers, our own friends thought – and therefore they were good and just. Perhaps we look back with affection and longing for those times of simplicity and innocence, but with becoming an adult comes both the freedom and the burden of the rational mind. No longer are things simply good or bad, true or false, but instead there are many degrees of good and shades of truth. As adults we have to worry about the reasons behind our actions, we have to consider far-reaching consequences and the effects we have on other people’s feelings. We have to think before we act! Weeks can go by where the press of business and family concerns prevent us from thinking about anything from the Word, and then suddenly we are drawn to some teaching that brings us up short, as we realize how appropriate that doctrine is to the very situation in which we find ourselves. It’s almost as if the Lord taps you on the shoulder.

With this in mind, let us return to the story of Josiah as it was read in the lessons. Josiah was one of the last kings of Judah, ruling at the end of a long decline as the kingdom drew away from the Lord and became more and more secular. Josiah, however, was unlike most of his predecessors because he was a good, moral man. He saw that the temple was in ruins from generations of neglect and ordered that repairs begin.

The letter of the Word tells us that there were “damages” to the temple, or breaches in the walls, which signify “falsity which comes (from) the separation of good from truth…” and also the “infraction of truth and perversion of it by separation from good…” (AC 4926:2,6)

Josiah, as their leader, represented the Jewish people. The temple, as the centre of worship for the Jewish people, signified the central doctrinal core of the Jewish faith. We can see from this that Josiah can also stand for the adult member of the New Church, and the temple in Jerusalem his core belief structure, a doctrine which has become like a ruin from lack of use. This story is really about a person who has become too busy to live according to the truths of the church learned in childhood and youth from parents and teachers.

We do not have an accurate description of exactly how the temple looked at that time, but we do know that it had not been used in many years. The dust and dirt of years of neglect, the cracks and fissures in the wall, the dark and empty rooms all create a vivid picture of what happens to a person’s faith and doctrine when he does not care for it by bringing it actively into his life. The idealistic faith of our youth crumbles away like an unused, un-repaired building.

Josiah the king represents an adult who is in the midst of establishing home, family, and career, and who finds these concerns take so much time that he just does not have the time for the things of the Church as he did when he was younger, with more energy and fewer responsibilities. There are only so many hours in the day, after all, and they are all filled with the efforts required to establish a secure and comfortable home and place in the world. The temple of doctrine (from historical faith) that was built up in childhood and youth begins to crumble and decay from lack of use and failure to care.

It must be emphasized that Josiah was the first good king that had ruled in Judah in many generations. The kings before him had stripped the wealth from the temple to pay for luxuries for themselves, to bribe the rulers of other countries to betray treaties, or to ransom themselves out of slavery. These kings had even at times worshipped other gods within the walls of the temple – but not Josiah. With Josiah, the neglect had been benign. He simply did not know or understand the significance or the importance of the temple in Jerusalem!

Of all the various attributes of the Jewish faith, that which stands out as most important to that faith is the Mosaic Law, that is, the Ten Commandments and all the other laws regarding every aspect of life and worship in the Jewish Church, laws that were given to Moses by Jehovah Himself. It is incredible to say, but Josiah, a king of Judah ruling in Jerusalem, did not know the Mosaic Law! It was no longer taught or known anywhere in Judah. Again, this is a picture of what can happen when we allow ourselves to get so involved in our natural pursuits.

And even so, the Lord constantly tends to every one’s eternal welfare, seeking to lead each one of us to heaven no matter what our state. He does so gently, imperceptibly, and according to each person’s own loves. So the Lord led Josiah.

Josiah lived in the shadow of the great temple of Solomon, and saw its sad condition. Perhaps he decided to order the renovation of the temple for some personal, selfish reason. Perhaps he wanted to associate his kingdom with that of Solomon. Perhaps he was moved by some undefined feeling of respect for his ancestors. We cannot see how the Lord bends the course of own lives, so we cannot expect to see clearly how He has bent the course of the life of another, but we do know that for whatever reason, Josiah was moved to order the temple repaired. We also know that the direct result of that order was that a copy of the Mosaic Law was found, brought to him, and read to him.

In response to hearing the law for the first time in his life he tore his clothes in agony and humiliation for he was suddenly made aware of the kinds of evils that he and his people had been committing against the Lord all these years. Even though they may have been done from ignorance, he was still distraught at the realization of just how far he and his people had travelled from God.

The hells love to keep our evils hidden from us, for as long as they are hidden, we cannot do anything about them, and unless we see them and reject them as-of-ourselves, the Lord cannot remove them from us. Thus the hells use our natural concerns for the welfare of our homes, families, and careers to direct our attention anywhere but towards self-examination. We may know that we should examine ourselves for evils, but we keep putting it off to some fictional later time when we will “have more time to do something about it.”

If we were left entirely to our own devices, we would happily continue along this course into hell, all the while thinking well of ourselves for being so selfless and concerned for others, when in fact we are concerned only with selfish things: making the home comfortable for the sake of our own pleasure; getting ahead in business for the sake of wealth and the power that it brings and only incidentally for the welfare and comfort of our family; and many other things that are outwardly respectable, but inwardly from hell.

Fortunately we are not left entirely to our own devices. The Lord is continually watching over each one of us, endeavouring to quietly, gently bend us away from our selfish loves and towards Himself. From time to time He may find it appropriate to stir something in our remains, to touch a fond memory, remind us of a friend and something said to us that was important, perhaps a word or gesture that made us feel loved and valued. A little thing like this, seen in the right context at a critical point in our lives, can turn us, turn us as Josiah turned towards repairing the temple, turn us towards the Lord in His Word.

This might express itself in so simple a form as returning to church after a long absence. A long absence from church can be accompanied with feelings of fear, and guilt which make it more difficult to return. To gain control over those feelings is an act of humiliation, as if we were literally tearing our garments.

The Heavenly Doctrines teach that since “garments” represent truths (AC 2576:15), to rend or tear the garments signifies “humiliation because there is nothing pertaining to them that is signified by the adornment of garments” (AC 2576:16). This means that it is recorded that Josiah tore his garments to signify that the truths represented by a king’s garments were not present with him, and that he was humiliated to discover that he did not have those truths that he should have had. Another passage in the Doctrines tells us that Josiah tore his garments to signify “mourning on account of lost truth,” it being lost to him because it was only known, and not lived. (See AC 4736:6)

Josiah represents an adult who has been living without much thought of the Church, except in matters of habit, who is brought up short. A crisis brings some teaching from the Word, so memory from childhood into sharp focus. He suddenly, perhaps for the first time, sees the doctrine of the Church as speaking specifically to him, to his own life, to his own particular situation. It suddenly becomes clear to him that his life is not as orderly as he thought. He cries out in his own mind that he didn’t know, that he simply didn’t understand. He has come from an “accidental” self-examination to a fully developed state of temptation, complete with humiliation, anguish, and despair that he might ever be saved. When this happened to Josiah, he said,

Go, inquire of the LORD for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us (2KI 22:13).

Josiah’s words indicate that he is in a state of deep despair and anguish for himself and his people. He clearly sees that they have been doing none of the things that the Lord has commanded, and that they have been doing all of the things that He had forbidden. Josiah turns to the only source of help that he can think of – a prophet, or in this particular case, Huldah, the prophetess. Josiah’s purpose was to immediately confess his ignorance and his sin, and then ask for forgiveness and it was traditional to use a prophet to serve as a means of conjunction between man and God, for a prophet represents the truths of the Church in the letter of the Word.

When brought to the depths of a state of temptation, when a person sees nothing but evil and feels nothing but despair, what better source of comfort and hope is there than to turn to the Word, to the simple passages learned in childhood, to the Lord’s prayer itself? To ask the Lord, in the genuine humility of temptation, for Him to lead you in the way of His will, is the most profound prayer of all. It is the most profound because it becomes the turning point from which a person stops despairing of his own ignorance and troubles and begins to see that the Lord has provided the Word for him to follow, to uplift him, to reform and regenerate him. In this state, a person can turn away from himself and towards the Lord, away from the negative and hellish and towards the affirmative and heavenly, to the doctrine of genuine truth from the Word.

Huldah the prophetess tells Josiah that even though he and his people had been doing evils, because his heart was tender and because he humbled himself before the Lord, the Lord has heard him, and has promised that he would be gathered unto his fathers, and into his grave in peace (2KI 22:19,20). While this may not seem like much of a reward for us, we must remember that in those days a king’s peaceful death would be both unusual and welcomed. Since their idea of the afterlife was limited to that shady place known as “Sheol,” the promise that he would be gathered to his fathers must have sounded very appealing. So too with the man who returns to his Church after a long absence. The initial anxiety and fear are replaced with a state of comfort and peace.

However, by Huldah’s promise is represented nothing less than the Covenant, the promise given by the Lord that if we will as of ourselves flee from evils as sins, He will teach us the doctrine of the church and give us the loves to conjoin with the doctrine. We read from the Arcana Coelestia,

“The … Word is a covenant … because it is the Divine from the Lord, thus the Lord Himself. And therefore when the Word is received by man, the Lord Himself is received” (9396:9).

At the beginning of the story from the Word, king Josiah was just another ancient man. He was known to his people as a “good” king. In other words, he treated his subjects fairly and well. He brought all his people into the knowledge of the law of the Lord, so that they could learn to follow the law and love the Lord too. He was led by the Lord to begin the restoration of the temple, which set events in motion that changed him and his whole kingdom for the better, but only after it had taken him to the depths of despair and humiliation, only after he had truly seen what he was in and of himself, and called upon the Lord in His Word for help. As the prophetess said to Josiah,

Thus says the Lord God of Israel. …Because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, …and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you, says the Lord. Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace….” (2KI 22:18-20) AMEN.

First Lesson: 2KI 22:8-20

Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. {9} So Shaphan the scribe went to the king, bringing the king word, saying, “Your servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of those who do the work, who oversee the house of the LORD.” {10} Then Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king. {11} Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes. {12} Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Achbor the son of Michaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king, saying, {13} “Go, inquire of the LORD for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” {14} So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke with her. {15} Then she said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Tell the man who sent you to Me, {16} “Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants; all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read; {17} ‘because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore My wrath shall be aroused against this place and shall not be quenched.’” ‘ {18} “But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, in this manner you shall speak to him, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Concerning the words which you have heard; {19} “because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the LORD. {20} “Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.” ‘ “ So they brought back word to the king.

(2KI 23:1-2) Now the king sent them to gather all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem to him. {2} The king went up to the house of the LORD with all the men of Judah, and with him all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the LORD. Amen.

Second Lesson: AC 9396 [9]

The reason why Divine Truth or the Word is a covenant or joining together is that the Word is the Divine from the Lord, thus is the Lord Himself; and this being so, when the Word is received by a person the Lord Himself is received. From this it is evident that it is through the Word that the Lord is joined to a person; and since the Lord is joined to the person, so too is heaven joined to that person. For heaven is called heaven by virtue of the Divine Truth emanating from the Lord and therefore from the Divine. This explains why those in heaven are said to be ‘in the Lord’. Amen.

Copyright © 1982 – 2008 General Church of the New Jerusalem.
Page constructed by James P. Cooper

Page last modified September 27, 2009

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THE LORD GOD JESUS CHRIST

THE LORD GOD JESUS CHRIST

A Sermon by Rev Grant R. Schnarr March 3, 1997

Our idea of God is the most important concept we can have. Our spiritual lives are based on this concept. Our spiritual destiny, including our home in the other world, is formed by our view of God. Every aspect of our eternal life revolves around our understanding and our relationship with our Maker.

Developing a true and working concept of God, though, can be a challenge. We bring our own conceptions and misconceptions to this image. Historically, humans have perverted or destroyed the picture of God over and over again, and have used a twisted understanding of God and His will to do many twisted things. The Spanish Inquisition, Hitler, and others claimed to worship the Lord, and performed hurtful deeds in the name of the Lord. People can make up their own God to suit their own bias rather than worship the true God.

Culture and the times can be biased against a true picture of God. For instance, God the judge might be popular at times, or the punisher, the warrior, or a remote and uncaring ruler. Or the opposite kind of God can be held up as an ideal: the ineffective, permissive, enabling, anything-goes God, weak and unable to lead or effect change in the world. The discussion of gender in relation to God is a good example of the struggle between cultural bias on every side of the issue and a struggle to understand revelation.

In the past history of the Christian Church, truth has certainly taken precedence over good. The Writings tell us that a faith-alone world developed, where good did not count for much, if anything. A natural outcome was that the world became perceived as a male’s world, and even as good was suppressed and put down as nothing, so were women treated the same. In a faith-alone culture, male attributes have been held up as an ideal, and it can be argued that even much of the feminist movement in the western world in the past quarter century has made the mistake of joining that illusion rather than dispersing it. This has caused deep wounds in many, and is not to be taken lightly or overlooked as an oddity. When love, perception, gentleness, and nurturing are looked upon as second-rate feelings, many of them to be shunned, those who excel in these areas receive the constant message that they are not good enough, that they do not count. From a truth-dominated culture a false concept of God is created, a static God firmly entrenched in a groundwork of rules seemingly unconnected to life. God becomes a judge whose favor limits the variety of the human race to those few who hold the correct set of ideas, and who punishes those who do not. God can seem to become a distant Father who is never home, or who arrives home on Sundays to lecture and scold, only to disappear again Monday morning. What would it be like to have nothing at all in common with this God and be told that this is the true God and that you must worship Him? Cultural bias affects not only our view of God, but our lives, and the wounds caused by false doctrines presenting false gods are real.

And so it is that the Heavenly Doctrines come into the world to bring back the balance between truth and good, to honor both sexes in their own right, and to offer everyone with an open mind a visible image of God in a Divinely Human form for what is actually the first time in religious history. (Read TCR 787 and following.) The Writings call upon society to rethink the entire picture of religion, the entire concept of God. They present a radically different concept where love and wisdom both reign in the Divine and in life. The Writings say “no” to a truth-alone world, and firmly present the marriage of truth and good in use as the essence of perfection (see DLW 28-33).

However, while acknowledging the wounds created by false doctrines of the past, how do we form a true picture of the Lord which reflects all of humanity without bias from past or present culture? How do we begin to heal the wounds that many have felt by cultural misconceptions of God, and at the same time not create more wounds by creating more misconceptions? We want to see God through our own eyes, but how do we do this without creating God with our own hands, in our own image?

Wounds heal over time, and there is no quick solution, but there are answers to all of life’s questions that can help heal. The Writings are called the leaves of the Tree of Life for the healing of the nations. Revelation from God is the source of healing if one will approach it and accept it. Revelation was given to guide us to an ever-growing understanding of the Lord. Revelation presents a picture of the Lord, a living picture, and through this window into eternity we can behold the face of our Creator and see our own face reflected therein.

What does revelation teach us? More than we can learn in a lifetime. Truth from the Word is infinite, but we can take a few principles and apply them to begin to build a healthy and genuine concept of God.

First, the Heavenly Doctrines teach us to look to our Maker from essence to person, and not from person to essence. This is an important teaching to help us approach our Maker. “Everyone who thinks of God from person only,” the Writings say, “and not essence is thinking materially. For instance, a person who thinks of the neighbor from the form only and not the quality is thinking materially . . . . Think of God from essence, and from that of His person, and do not think of His person and from that of His essence. For to think of His essence from person is to think materially of the essence also; but to think of His person from essence is to think spiritually of His person” (AR 611:7).

Thinking of God from person to essence is not helpful to us. Looking at the Lord’s material body from a corporeal point of view and translating that into the essence of God is not helpful. In modern terms, getting “hung up” on the physical form of the Lord while He was on earth, and allowing the physical form of the Lord to dictate how we think of the essence, is not helpful. An example of this would be statements that say the essence of God is male or female. That is thinking of God from person to essence. God is the I AM. While He is the origin of gender, God in essence is above gender. To attribute qualities of creation to the Uncreated is like calling the potter “clay.”

But that does not mean that all attributes of what we call humanity are not from the Divine. Of course they are, and that is why every human being, whether white, yellow, black, male, female, disadvantaged, disabled or healthy and whole can approach and be conjoined with the Lord.

But this is accomplished by approaching the Lord from essence to person. Through a recognition of the all-encompassing God, the all-loving, all-wise, ever-creating, ever-nurturing Force from whom all people and things come, we look to the Divine Human. We see these infinite and Divine qualities in the Lord Jesus Christ. When we do this, we allow the invisible God to be visible, as the Writings say, in the air or on the sea with His arms opened inviting us into His embrace (see TCR 787). This is how conjunction with God takes place, through the visible, tangible, lovable, approachable Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in His Word.

But we are to worship Him as the Lord Jesus Christ and no other. To worship Divine attributes by any other name is to make God invisible. The Writings tell us: “As to His Divine Human the Lord is the Mediator, and no one can come to the Divine Being itself within the Lord, called the Father, except through the Son, that is, the Divine Human . . . . Thus the Lord as to His Divine Human is the actual joining together. And if people cannot do this in thought, how can they be joined to the Divine itself in love?” (AC 6804:4)

The Writings go on to say, “He was pleased to take upon Himself human form, and thus to allow people to approach Him . . . . It is this Human which is called the Son of God, and this it is which mediates. . . . This is why the Son of God, meaning the Human of God . . . is called the Savior, and on earth Jesus, which means salvation” (TCR 135:4).

And so the Lord said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known the Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him” (John 14:6-7).

The invisible soul of God is at once revealed and made manifest in His own Humanity, now revealed in His Word and proclaimed to us in the Heavenly Doctrines as the Lord God Jesus Christ.

Can we see the essence of God within His person? Can we allow God to be both Divine and Human? The image of the Divine Human is a blessing to those who long to understand and be conjoined with the Lord. A newcomer to the church once said, “When I was young I heard about God, the great and powerful Almighty. He clapped His hands, the thunders roared. He batted His eyes, the lightning flashed. Boom! God? God scared me. But when I read in the Writings that this gentle shepherd named Jesus, who called Himself a lamb, who held the children, healed the sick, and taught so many loving things, that this man was God, well, that did it for me.” The question might be asked, “What does it do for you?”

The image of the Lord Jesus Christ as it appears in the Gospels and as it is explained in the Heavenly Doctrines is given to the human race to bring conjunction with the Divine, the true Divine, and with that, healing. Although it is no doubt difficult for some, because of real abuse of false doctrines in the past, approaching this image as presented in the Word will bring healing. This image when viewed from essence to person can be infilled with a variety of descriptions from the Word, which represent every aspect of humanity. Jesus does bless the children, heal the sick, feed thousands of hungry mouths, cry for His people, and call each of us to arms of love and compassion. He says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). He cries out to a church that has gone astray in faith alone. He says and listen to His words “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, `Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord'” (Matt. 23:37-39).

Can we say these words? Can we see our Lord and Savior as all-encompassing, containing the source of all that is human and Divine? And can we worship Him as He has revealed Himself in His own Word? Then we will truly be able to see Him, and say with full hearts, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

What is the essential message of the New Church? Is it that God is inaccessible to some people for no fault of their own? Is the message that if you have a hard time picturing God that you should give up and go somewhere else? The answer is “No!” Is the message of the New Church that anything goes you can make up your own God here, in any fashion you choose? The answer is “No!”

The message of the New Church is clear in the Writings, preached by the lips of the apostles themselves, and held as a hope for all people everywhere, from whatever background or origin, so that they may be conjoined with their Creator. This message is for everyone, to be infilled by every individual in a way that she or he must, in order to see and feel what it means to them. The message is that the Lord God Jesus Christ reigns, and His Kingdom shall be forever and ever. Blessed are they who come to the marriage supper of the Lamb (see TCR 791). The Lord promises us: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to give to everyone according to his work” (Rev. 22:12). May our response be with open hearts and minds, and with joyful lips: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).

Lessons: Isaiah 42:1-9; John 14:1-11; AC 8705


Arcana Coelestia

8705. “And bring thou the words unto God.” That this signifies mediation and intercession is evident from the signification of “bringing the words unto God,” when said of the Divine truth, as being to mediate with the Divine Itself and to intercede, for he who mediates and intercedes brings the matters to Him who gives aid. Mediation and intercession are of the Divine truth, because this is nearest with the Divine good, which is the Lord Himself. That the Divine truth is nearest with the Divine good, which is the Lord, is because it proceeds immediately from Him. As the occasion offers, it shall here be told how the case is with the Lord’s mediation and intercession. They who believe that there are three Persons who constitute the Divine and who together are called one God, from the sense of the letter of the Word have no other idea of mediation and intercession than that the Lord sits at the right hand of His Father, and speaks with Him as man with man, and brings the supplications of men to the Father, and entreats that for His sake, because He suffered the cross for the human race, He may pardon them and have mercy. Such is the idea of intercession and mediation which every simple person has from the sense of the letter of the Word.

But be it known that the sense of the letter is according to the apprehension of simple men, in order that they may be introduced into interior truths themselves; for the simple cannot have any other idea of the heavenly kingdom than as of an earthly kingdom, nor any other idea of the Father than as of a king on the earth, and of the Lord than as of the son of a king who is the heir of the kingdom. That the simple have such an idea is plainly evident from the idea of the Lord’s apostles themselves about His kingdom; for at first they believed, like the rest of the Jews, that the Lord as the Messiah would be the greatest king upon the earth, and would raise them to a height of glory above all the nations and peoples on the whole globe. But when they heard from the Lord Himself that His kingdom is not on earth but in heaven, then neither could they think otherwise than that His kingdom in heaven is altogether like a kingdom on the earth. And therefore James and John asked that in His kingdom the one might sit on His right hand and the other on His left; and the rest of the apostles, who also wanted to become great in that kingdom, had indignation, and disputed among themselves which of them should be greatest there. And as such an idea cleaved to them and could not be rooted out, the Lord indeed said unto them that they should “sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (see Mark x. 37, 41; Luke xxii. 24, 30; Matt. xix. 28); but they did not then know what the Lord meant by the “twelve thrones,” and by the “twelve tribes,” and by “judgment.”

From all this it can now be seen what the idea is, and whence it is, concerning the Lord’s mediation and intercession with the Father. But he who knows the interior things of the Word has a totally different notion about the Lord’s mediation and His intercession, namely, that He does not intercede as a son with a royal father on earth, but as the Lord of the universe with Himself, and as God of Himself, for the Father and He are not two, but are one, as He Himself teaches (John xiv. 811). He is called “Mediator” and “Intercessor,” because by “the Son” is meant the Divine truth, and by “the Father” the Divine good (see n. 2803, 2813, 3704), and mediation is effected through the Divine truth, because by means of it access is given to the Divine good; for the Divine good cannot be approached, because it is like the fire of the sun, but the Divine truth, because it is like the light therefrom, which gives to man’s sight, which is of faith, passage and access (n. 8644) . . . .

When the Lord was in the world, and before He was fully glorified, He was the Divine truth; wherefore at that time there was mediation, and He interceded with the Father, that is, with the Divine good itself (John xiv. 16, 17; xvii. 9, 15, 17). But after He was glorified as to the Human, He is called “Mediator and Intercession” for this reason, that no one can think of the Divine Itself unless he presents to himself the idea of a Divine Man; still less can any one be conjoined through love with the Divine Itself except by means of such an idea. If any one without the idea of a Divine Man thinks of the Divine Itself, he thinks indeterminately, and an indeterminate idea is no idea; or he conceives an idea of the Divine from the visible universe without an end, or with an end in obscurity, which idea conjoins itself with the idea of the worshipers of nature, and also falls into nature, and thus becomes no idea. From this it is evident that there would not be any conjunction with the Divine through faith, nor through love . . . .

Nevertheless, what is remarkable, all who think from themselves or from the flesh about God, think of Him indeterminately, that is without any determinate idea; whereas they who think of God not from themselves, nor from the flesh, but from the spirit, think about Him determinately, that is, they present to themselves an idea of the Divine under a human form. So the angels in heaven think of the Divine, and so the wise ancients thought, to whom also, when the Divine Itself appeared, it appeared as a Divine Man; for the Divine passing though heaven is a Divine Man. The reason is that heaven is a Grand Man, as has been shown at the end of many chapters. From all this it is evident of what sort are the intelligent of the world, and of what sort are the intelligent of heaven; namely, that the intelligent of the world remove from themselves the idea of the human; and consequently between their minds and the Divine there is no mediation, whence they have thick darkness whereas the intelligent of heaven have an idea of the Divine in the Human; thus the Lord is to them mediation, and consequently in their minds there is light.