Selection from Doctrine of Faith ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Verses 28, 29. Verily I say to you, All sins shall be remitted to men, and blasphemies with which soever they shall blaspheme; but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit has never remission, but is exposed to eternal judgement.—What is signified by “sin and blaspheme against the Holy Spirit,” and by a “word against the Son of Man,” has not yet been known in the church, and this by reason of its not having been known what is properly meant by the Holy Spirit, and what properly by the Son of Man. By the “Holy Spirit” is meant the Lord as to Divine Truth, such as it is in the heavens, thus the Word such as it is in the spiritual sense, for this is Divine Truth in heaven; and by the “Son of Man” is meant Divine Truth such as it is in the earths, thus the Word such as it is in the natural sense, for this is the Divine Truth in the earths. When it is known what is signified by the “Holy Spirit,” and what by the “Son of Man,” it is known also what is signified by “sin and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,” and what by a “word against the Son of Man;” it may also be known why the sin and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be remitted, and why a word against the Son of Man can be remitted. For “sin and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” consist in denying the Word, also in adulterating its essential goods, and falsifying its essential truths; but a “word against the Son of Man” consists in interpreting the natural sense of the Word, which is the sense of its letter, according to appearances. The reason why a denial of the Word is a sin which cannot be remitted in this age, nor in that which is to come, or to eternity, and why it exposes to eternal judgement, is, because they who deny the Word, deny a God, deny the Lord, deny a heaven and a hell, and deny the church and all things belonging to it; and they who deny those things are Atheists, who, although they say with their lips that the creation of the universe is the work of some Highest Being, Deity, or God, yet in heart they ascribe it to Nature; such persons, inasmuch as by denial they have loosened every bond of connection with the Lord, must of necessity be separated from heaven, and conjoined to hell. The reason why the adulteration of the essential goods of the Word, and the falsification of its essential truths, is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which also cannot be remitted, is, because by the Holy Spirit is meant the Lord, as to Divine Truth, such as it is in the heavens, thus the Word such as it is in the spiritual sense, as was said above. For in the spiritual sense are genuine goods and genuine truths, but in the natural sense are the same goods and truths as it were clothed, and not naked except here and there, wherefore these are called apparent goods and truths; these are what are adulterated and falsified, and they are said to be adulterated and falsified when they are explained contrary to genuine goods and truths, for in such case heaven removes itself, and man is put to pieces from it, by reason that genuine goods and truths, as was said above, constitute the spiritual sense of the Word, in which the angels of heaven are principled. As for example:—If the Lord and His Divinity be denied, as was done by the Pharisees, who said that the Lord worked miracles from Beelzebub, and had an unclean spirit, this is to commit sin and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, because it is against the Word. Hence also it is that Socinians and Arians, who, although they do not deny the Lord, still deny His Divinity, are out of heaven, and cannot be received by any angelic society. To take another example. They who exclude the good of love and the works of charity from the means of salvation, and assume faith exclusively as the only means, and confirm themselves in this idea, not only bv doctrine, but also by life, saying in their hearts,—” Goods do not save me, neither do evils condemn me, because I have faith;” these also blaspheme the Holy Spirit, for they falsify the genuine goods and truths of the Word, and this in a thousand passages, where love and charity, deeds and works, are named. Moreover, as was said above, in all and singular things of the Word, there is a marriage of good and truth, thus of charity and faith, wherefore when good or charity is taken away, that marriage perishes, and adultery is committed in its place; hence it is, that neither are such persons received into heaven. The reason also is, because in the place of heavenly love they have earthly love, and in the place of good works they have evil works, inasmuch as they proceed from earthly love, which, separate from heavenly love, is infernal love. But it is otherwise with those who indeed believe from the doctrine of the church, and from teachers, that faith is the only means of salvation, or who know, and do not interiorly affirm or deny, and still live well, under the guidance of the Word, that is, because it is commanded by the Lord in the Word: these do not blaspheme the Holy Spirit, for they do not adulterate the goods of the Word, nor falsify its truths, wherefore they have conjunction with the angels of heaven; Few of them also know that faith is any thing else than to believe the Word; the doctrine of justification by faith alone without the works of the law they do not comprehend, because it transcends their understanding. These two examples are adduced to the intent that it may be known what is meant by “sin and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,” and that sin against the Holy Spirit consists in denying the Divine Truth, thus the Word, and that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit consists in adulterating the essential Goods of the Word, and in falsifying
its essential Truths. The reason why a “word against the Son of Man” signifies to interpret the natural sense of the Word, which is the sense of its letter, according to appearances, is, Because by the “Son of Man” is meant the Lord, as to Divine Truth, such as it is in the earths, thus such as it is in the natural sense; and the reason why this “word” is remitted to man, is, Because most things in the natural sense, or in the sense of the letter of the Word, are goods and truths clothed, and only some naked, as in its spiritual sense; and goods and truths clothed are called appearances of truth. For the Word in the ultimates is as a man clad in clothing, who yet as to the face and hands is naked, and where the Word is thus naked, there its goods and truths appear naked as in heaven, thus such as they are in the spiritual sense; wherefore it can never come to pass but that the doctrine of genuine good and genuine truth, derived from the sense of the letter of the Word, may be seen by those who are enlightened of the Lord, and be confirmed by those who are not enlightened. The reason why the Word is such in the sense of the letter, is, that it may be a basis for the spiritual sense; hereby also it is accommodated to the apprehension of the simple, who can only perceive those things which are so said, and when they perceive, can believe and do them. And whereas Divine Truths, in the sense of the letter of the Word, are most of them appearances of truth, and the simple in faith and heart cannot be elevated above those appearances, hence it is not sin and blasphemy to interpret the Word according to appearances, if so be principles are not formed from them, and these confirmed even to the destruction of Divine Truth in its genuine sense. AE 778.
By “saying a word against the Holy Spirit” is meant to speak well and to think ill, and to do well and to will ill, respecting those things which relate to the Lord, His kingdom and church, and also which relate to the Word, for thereby a false principle lies concealed inwardly in the truths which are spoken, and in the goods which are done, which false principle is hidden poison, whence they are called an offspring of vipers. In the other life it is allowed to an evil spirit to speak what is evil and false, but not what is good and true, inasmuch as all in that life are compelled to speak from the heart, and not to divide the mind; they who do otherwise are separated from the rest, and are immersed deep in hells, from which they can never come forth. That such are they who are meant by “saying a word against the Holy Spirit,” is manifest from the Lord’s words on the occasion,—” Either make the tree good and the fruit good, or make the tree corrupt and the fruit corrupt; how can you speak what is good when you are evil?” (Matt 12:33, 34.) The “Holy Spirit” is the Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord, thus the Holy, Divine Principle Itself, which is thus principally and materially blasphemed. The reason why it will not be remitted to them is, because hypocrisy or deceit about holy Divine things infects the interiors of man, and destroys the all of spiritual life belonging to him. AC 9013. See also, AC 882, 9264, 9818. Also, DP 98, 231. Also, TCR 299.
” Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” is blasphemy against the Lord’s Divinity, and “blasphemy against the Son of Man” is something against the Word, by giving a wrong interpretation of its meaning; for the “Son of Man” is the Lord as to the Word, as was shown above. D. Lord. 50.
Verses 31—35. Then came His brethren and mother, and, standing without, sent to Him. And looking round on those who sat about Him, He says, Behold My mother and My brethren! For whoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and mother.—That a “servant” denotes the Humanity belonging to the Lord, before it was made Divine, may be manifest from several passages in the Prophets; the reason is, as has been occasionally observed above, that the Humanity belonging to the Lord was nothing else but a servant, before He put it off and made it Divine. For the Humanity belonging to Him was from the mother, thus an infirm Humanity, having with it an hereditary principle thence derived, which He conquered by temptation-combats, and altogether expelled, insomuch that there remained nothing of the infirm and hereditary principle derived from the mother; yea, at length, nothing at all from the mother, so that He totally put off the maternal principle, in such a manner as to be no longer her son. To this purpose He Himself also says in Mark,—” They said to Him, Behold, Your mother and Your brethren, standing without, seek You; and He answered them, saying, Who is My mother or My brethren? And looking round about on them who sat near Him, He said, Behold My mother and My brethren; for whoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and My mother.” (Mark 3:32-35; Matt 12:46-49; Luke 8:20, 21.) And when He put off this Humanity, He put on a Divine Humanity, from which He called Himself the Son of Man, as on several occasions in the Word of the New Testament, also the Son of God; and by the “Son of Man” was signified the essential Truth, and by the “Son of God” the essential Good, which His Human Essence had when made Divine. The former state was that of the Lord’s humiliation, but the latter of His glorification, concerning which, see above, AC 1999. In the former state, namely, of humiliation, when as yet He had an infirm Humanity belonging to Him, He adored Jehovah as one distinct from Himself, regarding Himself as a servant, for the Humanity respectively is nothing but a servant. AC 2159.
It is to be noted that the Lord successively and continually, even to the last moment of life, when He was glorified, separated from Himself, and put off what was merely Human, namely, what He derived from the mother, until at length He was no longer her son, but the Son of God, not only as to conception, but also as to nativity, and thus One with the Father; and Himself Jehovah. That He separated from Himself, and put off all the Humanity which He had from the mother, so that He was no longer her son, is manifest from the Lord’s words in Matthew,—”A certain person said, Behold, Your mother and Your brethren stand without, seeking to speak with You; but Jesus answering, said, Who is My mother, and who My brethren? And stretching forth His hands over His disciples, He said, Behold My mother and My brethren! for whoever shall do the will of My Father who is in the heavens, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother.” AC 4649.
My brethren,—The reason why the Lord calls those His “brethren” who do the will of His Father, is, because in heaven no other affinities are given but such as are spiritual, thus no other fraternities; for in heaven they do not become brethren by virtue of any natural nativity, and they too, who have been brethren in the world, do not there know each other, but every one knows another from the good of love; they who are most conjoined in that good, are as brethren, and the rest, according to conjunction by good, are as relations and also as friends. Hence it is that by “brother,” in the Word, is signified the good of love. That in heaven all are consociated according to spiritual relationships, which are of the good of love and of faith, and that they know each other as relations, see the “Treatise on Heaven and Hell,” 205, and AC 685, 917, 2739, 3815, 4121. That hence by “brethren” in the Word are meant those who are conjoined by good, see AC 2360, 3303, 3803, 10490. AE 46.
By the “disciples,” over whom the Lord stretched forth His hand, are signified all who are of His church; by His “brethren” are signified those who are in the good of charity from Him; by “sisters” those who are in truths derived from that good; and by “mother” is signified the church consisting of such. AE 746. See also AC 685, 917, 2739, 3815. NJHD 9.
Verse 35. Whosoever shall do the will of God, &c.—By “doing the will of God,” is understood to do His precepts, or to live according to them from the affection of love or charity. The “will of the Lord” is, in the Old Testament, called His good pleasure, and in like manner signifies the Divine Love; and to “do His good pleasure,” or “His will,” signifies to love God and our neighbour, thus to live according to the Lord’s precepts. AE 295.
Is the Bible literally true?
Cut off my right hand?
“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30)
Can my eye cause me to sin? Am I actually supposed to gouge out my eye or cut off my hand if I want to stop sinning? The Writings for the New Church explain that these instructions are not meant literally: “The ‘eye’ represents in the spiritual sense everything belonging to the understanding and to thought, and the ‘right hand’ everything belonging to the will and to affection, it is evident that ‘if your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out’ represents that if one thinks evil, the evil must be rejected from the thought; also ‘if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off’ represents that if evil is willed the evil of the will must be cast out. For the eye itself cannot cause sin, nor can the right hand, but the thought of the understanding and the affection of the will, to which they correspond, can.” (Apocalypse Explained §600:8)
Is Jesus coming in the clouds?
“Men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And He will send His angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.” (Mark 13:26-27)
Will this really happen on earth? When? This passage refers not to an anticipated event, but an event that has occurred on a spiritual level: “By ‘the clouds of heaven’ in which He is to come, nothing else is meant but the Word in its literal sense (which sometimes hides/obscures the true meaning such as a cloud obscures the sun); and by ‘the glory’ in which they will see Him, the Word in its spiritual sense (in which all is revealed)” (Apocalypse Revealed §24). The Writings for the New Church give us the spiritual sense of the Word, which descends through the clouds, and then the literal sense becomes accessible and applicable.
Did a flood cover the earth?
“Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters were on the earth. So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood…and it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth. The windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.” (Genesis 7:6-12)
The story of Noah and the flood is not a literal story about life being wiped off the earth, but rather a story that represents the personal struggle and temptation that each of us faces in life—and the ways we can protect ourselves in these times of spiritual trials. The book Secrets of Heaven explains the inner meaning of this story: the ark that Noah, his family, and the animals go into for protection from the flood represents the church that carries us through hard times (§639). “By the ‘flood of waters’ is signified the beginning of temptation” (§739-740). The flood represents the temptations that come in life and threaten to wipe out everything good if we give in to them. It is further explained that “‘Noah went into the ark, from before the waters of the flood’ signifies that he was protected in temptation.” In the story Noah’s wife, his sons, and his sons’ wives came with him into the ark because they represent the resources Noah had to help him resist temptations. Noah’s wife represents goods, his sons represent truths, and his sons’ wives represent truths that are connected to goods (§742). We can see that while the story seems literally impossible it stands for something very real in our lives—turning to the church and the goods and truths that sustain us when we are faced with temptation.
by Abigail Echols,
from an article from New Church Connection
“God is one, and He is the Creator of all things and the Preserver of all things; so He is God of heaven and God of the earth.”
Arcana Coelestia 10815
The Forgiveness of Sins