Compassion – Where does it come from?

Compassion is defined as a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune. It is accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. This desire, it is said, can be so strong that some people are willing to sacrifice their own basic comforts to help others.

One view is that people act with compassion because of a future benefit to themselves. For example they hope for the reward of heaven or the prize of good karma. However, I would ask, is it not possible for one to feel selfless compassion for the sake of those in need rather than for any advantage to oneself?

If you doubt that this is possible, just read a book like the City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre. This is an amazing true story about the Anand Nagar slum in Calcutta in the 1970’s. Based on thorough research, including two hundred interviews in various languages, it has a fascinating authentic ring.

The reader discovers the plight of peasants who came from famine-struck rural areas in India. Death from malnutrition was a very real possibility. They slept on the city streets and, if they were lucky, worked very long hours in appalling conditions to scrape together survival rations.

I found this to be a tough book to read but it demands the reader’s attention. Its power comes from the vivid detailed non-stop descriptions of the terrible hardship yet compassion of the inhabitants. There are amazing accounts of a generosity of spirit of those, themselves, in dire need.


Head of a Muslim family, Mehboub lived with his wife, 4 children and his mother in a single room, six feet by four, with no window, water or electricity. He was a wiry, muscular little man in his thirties with shaggy eyebrows.  After 14 years of employment at the naval yard, it was no longer possible to put off giving him a contract of employment. And so he was laid off. With no income, this sturdy man began to waste away. His stomach racked with hunger, he walked miles each day in search of any way of earning a crust of bread. The family had to survive on the 20 rupees that the eldest boy, only aged 10, earned each month in a sweat shop. There, the child for 12 hours per day, dipped the clips for ballpoint pens into a chrome bath, whilst inhaling toxic vapours from the metal under electrolysis.

At night, when the cries of his youngest daughter’s empty stomach could not be distracted with a song or story, Mehboub  would take her in his arms and go into the neighbouring courtyard to beg for a piece of chapatti. A poor person would never close his door to him. Despite their desperate lives, they helped each other when they could. That level of compassion was often found among these extremely poor people.  Perhaps, if you have experienced help, you acquire a sense a duty to help others in the same plight as yourself.

Blind Christian widow

The blind widow was so thin that her shrivelled skin accentuated the angles of her bones. Leprosy had reduced her hands to stumps and eaten away her face. In a corner of her room, her four grandchildren, aged between two and six years, slept on a piece of threadbare matting. Her neighbours were all extremely poor Hindu. Yet, everyday they took turns bringing this Christian woman a dish of rice and vegetables, helping her wash, doing her housework, looking after her grandchildren. Helping someone in need because of wanting what is best for them is loving others as oneself.  This broken woman suffered from no lack of love.


Bandona was four years old when her family set out for Calcutta. Five years later her father died. Alone, her mother brought up four children by retrieving metal objects from the rubbish heaps and selling them to a metal scrap dealer. From the age of twelve, after a two-hour bus ride and walking three miles, Bandona worked in a workshop that turned out parts for trucks. She went out at five o’clock in the morning and rarely got back before ten o’clock at night. Earning just four rupees a day, she become her family’s only support when her mother was struck down with tuberculosis.  This was just enough to pay the rent and guarantee the family a bowl of rice or two chapatis once a day.

On Sundays and feast days, instead of resting, Bandona would prowl the slum  looking for distressed people to help. She knew how to listen to the confessions of the dying, how to pray with the families of the dead, wash the corpses, or go with the deceased to the cemetery or the funeral pyre. No one had ever taught her, yet she knew it all through intuition derived from friendship and love. Her extraordinary capacity to communicate enabled her to go into any compound, any hut, and sit down among people without encountering any prejudice of caste or religion. When you really have compassion for others you have concern for their well-being more than your own comfort. This is an act of selfless love.

Source of compassion

Kind-heartedness and generosity may come naturally to many people but is not compassion that amounts to self-sacrifice, a gift? I believe it is a transforming one that can only come from the humanity of the Divine Being of Love.

“It is a great consolation for me to remember that the Lord, to whom I had drawn near in humble and child-like faith, has suffered and died for me, and that He will look on me in love and compassion. (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composer)

Copyright 2016 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems


The Lord’s Ascent from Galilee

The Lord’s Ascent from Galilee

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

Over the past few weeks we have been focusing our attention on the doctrine of the Lord because our minds are naturally led to think about the Lord and His Divinity as we celebrate the Easter season. And even though we go to more trouble, in a natural way, about Christmas, Easter really is the most important date on the Christian calendar, because it was during His last week on earth, and His few brief post-resurrection appearances, that the whole nature and purpose of His Advent were revealed. It has taken us another two thousand years to begin to see the depth in the truths that He gave to us then.

Having covered His entrance into Jerusalem as a king, His arrest, trial and crucifixion, His resurrection, and His early post-resurrection appearances, it only remains to examine the events surrounding His final ascent into heaven from Galilee.

Our text for today is taken from the book of Acts because it is there that Luke gives the fullest description of the Lord’s actual ascent into heaven, and these are the passages that the Heavenly Doctrines refer to most often in regard to this subject.

The Lord said in John, No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven (3:13). He said this here, and in several other places, because He was trying to teach the disciples, and us, that the Divine Human which had been born from eternity, was also born in time. And He was also teaching that that which had been born in time was the same as that which was glorified. In other words, He was trying to establish the Divine identity of Jesus Christ. He was saying that the aspect of Jehovah that loved to teach and to save men, which is called the Son from eternity, became visible to men in the world when it clothed itself with a physical, human body at a particular place and time, and through the process of conquering in temptation, that body was glorified and taken back to heaven. The Son of Man came down, was known to men in the world, and then ascended into heaven. (See AC 2803:3)

Some people have trouble with the idea that the Lord was born “from eternity” or that the Lord has existed from eternity. In order to understand this idea we need to remember that it was the Lord who spoke through the prophets, and that both for this reason, and the fact that Divine Truth came from Him, He was called the Word “Which was made flesh.” In order for that to be true, He must have pre-existed the flesh. The Word, that is, Jesus Christ from eternity, the Son of Man, stands for all truth in heaven and on earth which comes from the Divine. (See AC 3704:12)

Once the Word had become flesh, once that aspect of the Divine had finited Itself in that particular place and time, It immediately began the process of re-uniting the Human with the Divine. This is what was meant by the Lord when He said that He had come forth from the Father and had come into the world, and that He would be going again to the Father. Another way of putting it would be to say that His coming forth from the Father means that the Divine itself had taken on the Human; His coming into the world means that He was as a human being; and His going again to the Father means that He would unite the Human Essence to the Divine Essence. (See John 6:62, AC 3736)

Like everything else in the Word, these teachings about the nature of the Divine also have their application on other levels, and in other series. For example, the Doctrines teach in the Arcana Coelestia that the ‘Son of man’ denotes the Divine truth in the heavens for this comes down, and therefore ascends, because no one can ascend into heaven unless Divine truth comes down into him from heaven, because the influx is Divine, and not the other way about. (AC 9807:9)

The Lord appeared to the disciples about 12 different times over a period of 40 days after His resurrection. We might note in this connection that 12 represents ‘all the goods and truths of the church’ while 40 stands for a period of temptation which has been successfully overcome. Through His appearances to the disciples He taught them that He was God, and that they should go out into the world and follow His example and His commandments. We know that the two essentials of the church are the acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as the one God of heaven and earth, and to do good in His name; and so we can see that all the goods and truths of the church were contained in His final instructions to the disciples. We also know that this was time when the Lord was drawing all things concerning His glorification to a conclusion, bringing His 33 years of temptation to a close, and so, symbolically, He appeared 12 times to the disciples over a period of 40 days.

At the end of the 40 days, the Lord met the disciples in Galilee. Luke reports in his gospel that

He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God (Luke 24:50-53).

The disciples had seen Him eat; they had seen Him offer to allow Thomas to touch His wounds, He had walked with them, and talked with them, and they were convinced by this that He was in fact, no longer dead. And yet He had also entered and left rooms where the doors were closed, and had done other things that were very much things that only a spirit could do. And now, in their plain sight, He was carried up into heaven. They were now beginning to understand that He was both God and Man, they could now understand that they had daily walked and talk with and been instructed by Jehovah God Himself, and they were overcome with the joy of their realization. In their newly born and rapidly growing understanding, they were compelled to return to Jerusalem, in spite of the danger that they faced there, and went into the temple to praise God for the blessings they had received.

The Lord ascended to Heaven in their presence specifically to teach them these things, to show them that the body that He had taken on in the world from Mary had been drastically changed, that He had accomplished His goal of glorifying the Human so that He could rise, unlike any man, with His glorified Human.

Our understanding of exactly what happened to His physical body is not complete, but certain spiritual principles and open statements of the Heavenly Doctrines allow us to see the big picture, even if some of the details remain clouded.

The Lord rose with the whole body, unlike any man (Lord 35:9,10). This is the clear and frequent teaching of the Heavenly Doctrines. Yet there are also many passages which speak of how the Lord had put off the human from the mother. He cannot have both put off the human and risen with it. How are we to understand this apparent contradiction?

A possible resolution of this question lies in a passage that speaks in more detail about what it was that the Lord put off:

As men rise again after death, therefore the Lord willed to undergo death and to rise again the third day, but to the end that He might put off every thing human that He had from the mother and might put on the Divine Human; for every thing human that the Lord took from the mother He rejected from Himself by temptations, and finally by death. (AE 899:14)

Since you cannot reject flesh and bones by temptation, something else human that He received from His mother must be meant.

There is not the time to go deeply into the doctrine of heredity at this point, so it must suffice to say that the heredity we receive from our mother is different than that which we receive from our father. The heredity from the father is part of the soul itself, and even though we may conquer an evil from our paternal heredity, it is not removed, but rather encapsulated. The heredity we receive from our mother, being associated with the physical body, is entirely removed through regeneration.

As far as we are concerned as we go about our daily lives, there is no difference between the two types of heredity. The heredity from both of our parents has an equal influence on our lives, the evils there are equally difficult to repent of, and once they are removed by the Lord through the process of repentance, reformation, and regeneration, they are equally gone. So practically, to us, there is no difference.

But for the Lord there was a world of difference. The hereditary evils which He received from Mary could be completely removed, put off, as He conquered them in temptation. This could not have happened with hereditary evils from an earthly father. This is why He had to have been born of a virgin – so that the heredity from His father would be completely pure of evil because His father was God.

This also answers the question of what it was from Mary that He put off as He glorified Himself: He put off the evils of His maternal heredity, He put off the misconceptions and falsities learned in His childhood; while the body, being incapable of harboring evil, was glorified and thus made Divine.

By putting on a Human from the Divine Itself that was in Him, He glorified Himself, that is, made His Human Divine; therefore in the spiritual sense His death and burial do not mean death and burial, but the purification of His Human, and glorification. He taught this when He spoke about the grain of wheat that must first die and be buried in the earth so that it might rise again and bear fruit (See John 12:24). The Lord then gathered His disciples to witness His ascent into heaven because in the spiritual sense ‘To ascend to His Father’ means the uniting of His Human with His Divine, the human from the mother being fully rejected. (See AE 899:14)

While the Lord was careful to ascend into heaven in such a way as to clarify the nature of His mission in the world, He was also preparing the way for His second coming. Recall how Luke described the ascension in the second lesson:

While they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11).

As the Lord ascended into heaven and was lost to their view as He entered the clouds, two angels announced to the disciples, and thereby to us, that the Lord would return in the same manner as they had seen Him go, that is, in the Glorified Human, not a physical body, and in the clouds, that is, in the literal sense of the Word.

John tells us that in the beginning “The Word was made flesh … and dwelt among us” (1:1,14), and we see that at the end of His time on earth, He returned to the Word as represented by the clouds of heaven. (See TCR 764:3)

The work that He had set out to do was accomplished. He had been born of a virgin; He had received the temptations from every hell and defeated them with His own power; He had glorified His human; every aspect of His life on earth was the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Old Testament; and in the act of fulfilling the prophecy of the Old, He was laying down the prophecy of the New, preparing the way for His return, not in the body, or in the world, but into men’s minds through their understanding of the spiritual sense of the Word. Amen.

First Lesson: Acts 1:1-11

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, {2} until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, {3} to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. {4} And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; {5} “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” {6} Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” {7} And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. {8} “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” {9} Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. {10} And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, {11} who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Amen.

Second Lesson: TCR 764

As the successive states of the church in general and in particular are described in the Word by the four seasons of the year, spring, summer, autumn, and winter, and by the four divisions of the day, morning, noon, evening, and night; and as the present church in Christendom is the night, it follows that the morning, that is, the beginning of a new church, is now at hand. That the successive states of the church are described in the Word by the four states of the light of day, can be seen from the following passages:– An end has come, the end has come; it has dawned for you; behold, it has come! (EZE 7:6)

[2] In these passages “evening” and “night” mean the last time of the church, and “morning” the first. The Lord Himself is also called the morning in the following passage:– “I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” (REV 22:16).

Because the Lord is the morning, He arose from the sepulcher early in the morning, being about to begin a new church (MAR 16:2,9)

[3] That it is the Lord’s coming that is to be waited for can be clearly seen from His prediction respecting it in Matthew:– Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the consummation of the age?” (MAT 24:3)

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (MAT 24:29-30)

[4] In the Acts of the Apostles:– Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, Who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (ACT 1:9-11)

In the Apocalypse:– And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place. “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each one according to his work. (REV 22:6,7,12)

Copyright © 1982 – 2008 General Church of the New Jerusalem.
Page constructed by James P. Cooper
Page last modified September 27, 2009



A Sermon by Rev Terry Schnarr Preached in Sydney, Australia December 1990

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us” (Matt. 1:23).

The virgin birth of the Lord is a hard thing to believe. Yet the Word teaches it so clearly and vividly that there can be no doubt that the claim of the Bible is that the Lord, Jesus Christ, was conceived from God and born of a virgin woman. Scholars of the Christian Church have claimed that the Greek word for virgin really means young woman and not necessarily one that has not had intercourse with a man. But the Bible also clearly states that Mary had not known a man, which obviously makes her a virgin. This is a fact that must be accepted if we are going to know and love the Lord as the one and only God of heaven and earth, yet we find it so incredible.

The Lord’s soul, from His conception in the womb to His resurrection from the sepulcher, was God Himself, the Infinite and Omnipotent Creator of the universe. It is of paramount importance to the New Church concept of God that He was born into the world of a virgin. He could not have united the Divine and the Human if He had taken a soul from conception by a natural father. In order to save the human race from the damnation of the hells, it was absolutely necessary for God Himself to come into the world, take on an infirm human covering, then put it off again by combating and conquering the hells, and thereby subjugating them to His own omnipotent eternal control. To attain this end, He had to be conceived in a virgin and born of a virgin. The virgin birth is essential to the New Church concept of Jesus Christ as the one and only God of heaven and earth.

It is prophesied in Isaiah that the Lord would be born of a virgin, and it is recorded as a fact in Matthew. Joseph was betrothed to Mary, and betrothal was considered a legal marriage. But before the marriage had been consummated, before they had been bodily conjoined, Mary “was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” Joseph did not at first know of this, and it is said that “being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, he was minded to put her away privately” (Matthew 1:19). But the angel of the Lord came to him in a dream and told him that the child she bore was conceived of the Holy Spirit, adding, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, `Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us'” (Matthew 1:23).

Even though Joseph was not the father of the Lord, it was important that in the eyes of men it should appear that he was. It was necessary that He be born under the protection of a legal marriage. Joseph was needed as a guardian, provider, and instructor. It was Joseph who led them to safety in Egypt when Herod sought to kill the baby Jesus. It was Joseph who worked to provide Mary and Jesus and their other children with food, clothing, and shelter. And it was Joseph, as the head of the household, who was responsible for the instruction of his children. The Lord as an infant and child was helpless and dependent, as all of us are, on His natural guardians.

The miracle of the virgin birth is perhaps the hardest to believe of all the miracles recorded in the Word. Other miracles, even though they seem improbable, can be grasped by our natural minds as being remotely possible. We can see with most of them how there could be natural explanations for them even though we believe that the miracle was that they happened at the right time or in the right place. We can see, for example, the possibility that God could string a number of natural phenomena together to produce the miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea at the right time. We are familiar with occasions where people have been pronounced dead and have come back to life. We are familiar with circumstances where people have seemingly been miraculously cured of incurable diseases and ailments. Because of our familiarity with these events, and our knowledge of natural science, we can naturally envision the possibility of these miracles taking place, and we can therefore easily believe them. But the miracle of a virgin birth is utterly inconceivable to our natural minds. It is something we are not at all familiar with. It is unprecedented in history, and it has not been repeated. Our natural minds cannot, therefore, conceive of it. The result is that in general we either blindly accept it, ignore it, doubt it, or deny it. The New Church presents us with another idea rational understanding and belief.

We are thinking in the wrong way when we think in such a way as to accept these miracles only when we can understand them as natural possibilities. As we heard in the third lesson, this type of thinking leads to all folly and insanity. We ought to first believe in the Word, or in the doctrine therefrom, and then confirm that doctrine by rational things of natural science and sense experience. “He who assumes as a principle,” we read, “that nothing is to be believed until it is seen and understood can never believe, because spiritual and celestial things cannot be seen with the eyes or conceived by the imagination. But the true order is for man to be wise from the Lord, that is, from His Word, and then all things follow . . . . It is by no means forbidden to learn the sciences, since they are useful . . . but it must be from this principle to believe the Word of the Lord, and, as far as possible, confirm spiritual and celestial truths by natural truths, in terms familiar to the learned world. Thus man’s starting-point must be the Lord and not himself; for the former is life, but the latter is death” (AC 129, emphasis added). In other words, we ought to believe that the miracles recorded in the Word actually took place simply because the Lord in His Word says they did, and then merely confirm our belief by natural reasonings and explanations which seem to make them possible.

The virgin birth is a case in point. We ought to believe it because the Lord says it is so in His Word. We can try to confirm it by natural reasonings and explanations. For example, we are taught that the soul of every man is a graft, or an offshoot, from his father’s soul. It consists of finite, spiritual substances, so formed as to receive life from the Lord. Carried in the sperm from the father at conception, the mind, disposition, nature, inclination, and affection of the father’s love dwell in the souls of his offspring, from generation to generation (see TCR 103). Thus, we read, “the hereditary evil from a father is internal and remains to eternity. For it cannot possibly be eradicated” (AC 1573).

If Joseph, or any other natural man, had been the father of the Lord, He would have had such a finite soul, with hereditary evil inclinations that could not be eradicated to eternity. It would not have been possible for Him to unite His human to the Divine Soul. He would not have been God Incarnate. This is why it is so important that we believe that He was born of a virgin. His soul was Jehovah God Himself. It was Life Itself, infinite and uncreated. His soul had no evil tendencies, but only infinite love for all mankind. It was not a finite substance, formed to receive life. And in no sense was His soul a graft, or an offshoot, of the Divine, for the Divine is one and indivisible. Therefore, we are not to think of the Divine as being limited, or confined in any way, by the Lord’s body as an infant, as a boy, as a man, or at any time during His life on earth.

We might wonder how God could rule and sustain order in the universe while He was living in the world as a child or a grown man; but this is to think of His Essence from His Person, limited by His physical person, and we are taught to think of His Person from His Essence, nevertheless to think of and approach the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In other words, God’s omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience were no way limited by the material body of the Lord. His soul was unchanged. His soul was infinite and unobstructed in its operation at all times, continually recreating and sustaining the universe as it always has and always will. The Lord’s soul was God Himself, the Creator and Ruler of the entire universe, life itself, infinite love, and infinite wisdom. His soul was the indivisible God of heaven and earth in its totality. He called His soul “Father” and spoke to it even as David speaks to his soul in the psalms.

However, the Lord’s body which was formed of natural substances from the womb of Mary was full of the hereditary evil tendencies of the human race. Through this infirm human the hells could approach and tempt the Lord during His life on earth. He combated them from His own power in His Divine Soul, and was victorious, subjugating them to His eternal control. He thus put off the infirm human nature from His mother, and glorified His Human by uniting it to the Divine which was His soul.

In states of glorification, then, He was Jehovah God Himself on earth, fully aware of all that His soul was doing. In states of temptation or exinanition, however, God appeared as someone separate from Him, and He was then not consciously aware of what His soul was doing. When He was fully glorified there was nothing left of the infirm human nature He had taken on in the womb of Mary. He was God-Man, Divine and Human, Emanuel, God with us. Thus He denied His mother from the cross.

The infant Jesus was born of a virgin so that He could become “God with us.” The purpose of His coming into the world was so that He could be in direct contact with people in the world forever after. How is He immediately present with us here today?

He is here in His Word, but His Word is not a book. Before He came into the world in His own Human, He was mediately present by means of a book. But now, the Word, which was in the beginning, which was with God, which was God, and by which all things were made, became flesh and dwelt among us (see John 1:lff). Jehovah God Almighty came into the world to manifest the true form of the Word the Divine Human. He came into the world to show His true nature in physical ultimates. He came into the world to become visible in His own Human form, which is Divine in Essence. He came into the world so that people could know and love Him as He really is, Divine and Human, Divinely Human. God is the one and only Divine Human Being. He is Divine Love in human form.

The form He is visible in today, the form in which He is immediately present with us today, is as Divine love in Human form. The book upon our altar, and the books upon our shelves, are not in Human form. He is not then immediately present and visible there. But when the contents of His Word have been brought into the forms of human minds and have been loved, thought about, and lived, His Divine love is then received and is immediately present in a visible human form.

When the Word becomes flesh and dwells within people like you and me, the speech and actions of our lives will manifest an image and likeness of the Lord’s Divine Human. The miracle of the virgin birth will be repeated in each one of us, and we “shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emanuel, which being interpreted, is God with us” (Matt. 1:23). Amen.

Matt. 1:18-25; 2:1-16
Isaiah 9:1-7
AC 2568 (portions)

Arcana Coelestia 2568

[2] As regards man, it is one thing to regard the doctrine of faith from rational things and altogether another to regard rational things from the doctrine of faith. To regard the doctrine of faith from rational things is not to believe in the Word, or in the doctrine thence derived, until one is persuaded from rational things that it is so; whereas to regard rational things from the doctrine of faith is first to believe in the Word, or in the doctrine therefrom, and then to confirm the same by rational things.

[4] There are therefore two principles, one of which leads to all folly and insanity, and the other to all intelligence and wisdom. The former principle is to deny all things or to say in the heart that we cannot believe them until we are convinced by what we can apprehend or perceive by the senses: this is the principle that leads to all folly and insanity, and is to be called the negative principle. The other principle is to affirm the things which are of doctrine from the Word, or to think and believe within ourselves that they are true because the Lord has said them; this is the principle that leads to all intelligence and wisdom, and is to be called the affirmative principle.

[5] The more they who think from the negative principle consult things rational, the more they consult memory knowledges, and the more they consult things philosophical, the more do they cast and precipitate themselves into darkness, until at last they deny all things. The causes of this are that no one can apprehend higher things from lower ones, that is, spiritual and celestial things, still less Divine things, from lower ones, because they transcend all understanding, and moreover everything is then involved in negatives from that principle. On the other hand, they who think from an affirmative principle can confirm themselves by whatever things rational, by whatever memory knowledges, and whatever things philosophic they have at command; for all these are to them things confirmatory, and give them a fuller idea of the matter.

[6] Moreover, there are some who are in doubt before they deny, and there are some who are in doubt before they affirm. They who are in doubt before they deny are they who incline to a life of evil; and when this life carries them away, then insofar as they think of the matters in question, they deny them. But they who are in doubt before they affirm are they who incline to a life of good; and when they suffer themselves to be bent to this by the Lord, then insofar as they think about those things, so far they affirm.