July 15, 2017

The Lord — The Essential Prophet

Selections from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
The Lord was willing to be tempted even to the passion of the cross, because He was the essential Prophet.

Prophets formerly signified the doctrine of the church from the Word, and therefore the state of the church was represented by them in various ways, some of which were unjust, grievous, and abominable, and these representations were enjoined upon them by God. But because the Lord was the Word itself, He, as the essential Prophet, represented in the passion of the cross the Jewish church in its ways of profaning the Word.

To this reason another may be added, namely, that thereby He might be acknowledged in the heavens as the Savior of both worlds; for all things pertaining to His passion signified things pertaining to the profanation of the Word; and while men of the church understand these naturally the angels understand them spiritually.

That the Lord was the essential Prophet is evident from the following passages:
The Lord said, A prophet is not without honor save in his own country and in his own house (Matt 13:57; Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24).

Jesus said, It is not meet that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem (Luke 13:33).

Fear took hold on all, praising God, and saying that a great prophet is risen up among us (Luke 7:16).

They said of Jesus, This is the prophet of Nazareth (Matt. 21:11; John 7:40, 41).

That a prophet was to be raised up from the midst of the brethren to whose words they should hearken (Deut. 18:15-16).

Surely He hath born our griefs and carried our sorrows Jehovah hath laid on Him the iniquities of us all by His knowledge He hath justified many, in that He hath borne their iniquities (Isa. 53:4, 6, 11).  This whole chapter treats of the Lord's passion.

That the Lord as the essential Prophet represented the state of the Jewish church with regard to the Word is evident from the particulars of His passion; as that He was betrayed by Judas: was seized and condemned by the chief priests and elders; that they buffeted Him; smote Him on the head with a reed; put a crown of thorns on His head, divided His garments, and cast lots for His vesture; crucified Him; gave Him vinegar to drink and pierced His side; that He was buried; and that He rose again the third day.

His betrayal by Judas signified — He was betrayed by the Jewish nation, which then possessed the Word (for Judas represented that nation); His seizure and condemnation by the chief priests and elders signified — this was done by the whole Jewish church; their buffeting Him, spitting in His face, scourging Him, and smiting Him on the head with a reed, signified — they did like things to the Word in respect to its Divine truths; their putting a crown of thorns upon His head signified — they falsified and adulterated those truths; their dividing His garments and casting lots upon His vesture signified — they dispersed all the truths of the Word, but not its spiritual sense, the Lord's vesture signifying that sense; their crucifying Him signified — they destroyed and profaned the whole Word; their offering Him vinegar to drink signified — the truths they had were wholly falsified, and therefore He did not drink the vinegar; their piercing His side signified — they wholly extinguished everything true and good in the Word; His burial signified the rejection of everything — was left in Him from the mother; His resurrection on the third day signified  — His glorification, or the union of His Human with the Divine of the Father.

Evidently, then, "bearing iniquities" does not mean taking them away, but it means representing the profanation of the truths of the Word.

(True Christian Religion 129, 130)

July 14, 2017

Illustrations of Redemption

Passage from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
The subjugation of the hells, the restoration of order in the heavens, and the institution afterwards of a church, is a work that may be illustrated by various similitudes.

It may be illustrated by comparison with an army of robbers or rebels who invade a kingdom or a city, and set fire to its dwellings, plunder its inhabitants, divide the spoil among themselves, and then rejoice and exult — while redemption itself may be compared to the lawful king who advances against these rebels with his army, puts some to the sword, and some in prison, recovers the booty, and restores it to his subjects, thereafter establishing order in his kingdom, and rendering it secure against like assaults.

It may also be illustrated by comparison with a troop of wild beasts issuing from a forest, attacking flocks and herds and even human beings, so that nobody dares to go outside of the walls of his city to till the ground, and therefore the fields become deserts, and the townsmen are threatened with starvation — while redemption may be compared to the slaughtering and scattering of these wild beasts, and the protection of the fields from any such irruption thereafter.

It may be likened also to locusts consuming every green thing of the ground, and to the means to prevent their further progress; and again, to worms in early summer, which strip the trees of their foliage and thus of their fruit, so that they stand bare as in midwinter, and to the extermination of the worms, and the consequent restoration of the garden to its state of bloom and fruitfulness.

Thus would it be with the church, if the Lord had not by redemption separated the good from the evil, casting the evil into hell and raising the good to heaven.

What would become of an empire or kingdom if by the exercise of justice and judgment the evil were not separated from the good, and the good protected from violence, so that everyone might dwell safely in his own home, or, as is said in the Word, sit in peace under his own vine and fig tree?

(True Christian Religion 117)

July 13, 2017

Faith Leads to Charity

Extract from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Faith leads to charity, because it teaches what charity is, and charity receives its quality from the truths of faith; but the truths of faith receive their essence and their life from charity...
(Arcana Coelestia 4060)

July 12, 2017

Why in the Sense of the Letter, 'God Appears As Three'

Selection from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Jehovah the God of heaven is the Lord's Divine Itself; for by "Jehovah," so often named in the Word of the Old Testament, is meant the Lord alone; for all things therein in general and particular treat of Him in the internal sense; and all and each of the rites of the church represented Him; and that the men of the most ancient times, who were of the celestial church, understood by Jehovah no other than the Lord.

In the sense of the letter — the appearance is that another, who is higher, is meant by "Jehovah;" but the sense of the letter is such as to separate what the internal sense unites; and this for the reason that the man who is to be instructed from the sense of the letter cannot have an idea of a one, unless he first has an idea of more than one; for a one with man is formed from many; or what is the same, from successive things is formed that which is simultaneous.

There are many things in the Lord, and all are Jehovah. This is the reason why the sense of the letter makes a distinction, while heaven by no means does so; but acknowledges one God in a simple idea, and no other than the Lord.

(Arcana Coelestia 3035)

July 10, 2017

Media of Regeneration

Selection from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
When a man is being regenerated, he is kept by the Lord in a kind of mediate good. This good serves for introducing genuine goods and truths; but after these have been introduced, it is separated from them.

Everyone who has learned anything about regeneration and about the new man, can understand that the new man is altogether different from the old; for the new man is in the affection of spiritual and heavenly things, and these produce its delights and pleasantnesses; whereas the old man is in the affections of worldly and earthly things, and these produce its delights and pleasantnesses. Consequently the new man has regard to ends in heaven, but the old man to ends in the world. From this it is manifest that the new man is altogether different and diverse from the old.

In order that a man may be brought from the state of the old man into that of the new, the concupiscences of the world must be put off, and the affections of heaven must be put on. This is effected by innumerable means, which are known to the Lord alone, and many of which have also been made known by the Lord to angels; but few if any to man. Nevertheless all of them both in general and particular have been made manifest in the internal sense of the Word.

When therefore a man, from being the old man is made a new one (that is, when he is being regenerated), it is not done in a moment, as some believe, but through a course of years; nay, during the man's whole life, even to its end; for his concupiscences have to be extirpated, and heavenly affections have to be insinuated; and the man has to be gifted with a life which he had not before, and of which indeed he knew scarcely anything. Seeing therefore that the man's states of life have to be so greatly changed, it must needs be that he is long kept in a kind of mediate good — in a good which partakes both of the affections of the world, and of the affections of heaven; and unless he is kept in this mediate good, he in no wise admits heavenly goods and truths.

... But man is kept in this middle good no longer than until it has served this use; but this having been served, it is separated. ... That there is an intermediate good, and that it is separated after it has subserved its use, may be illustrated by the changes of state which every man undergoes from infancy even to old age.

It is known that a man's state is of one kind in infancy, of another in childhood, another in youth, another in adult age, and another in old age. It is also known that a man puts off his state of infancy with its toys when he passes into the state of youth; that he puts off his state of youth when he passes into the state of young manhood; and this again when he passes into the state of mature age; and at last this state when he passes into that of old age.  And if one will consider he may also know that every age has its delights, and that by these he is introduced by successive steps into those of the age next following; and that these delights had served the purpose of bringing him thereto; and finally to the delight of intelligence and wisdom in old age.

From all this it is manifest that former things are always left behind when a new state of life is put on. But this comparison can serve only to show that delights are means, and that these are left behind when the man enters into the state next following; whereas during man's regeneration his state becomes altogether different from his former one; and he is led to it, not in any natural manner, but by the Lord in a supernatural manner; nor does anyone arrive at this state except by the means or media of regeneration, which are provided by the Lord alone, and thus by the mediate good of which we have been speaking.  And when the man has been brought to that state in which he has no longer worldly, earthly, and corporeal things as his end, but those which are of heaven, then this mediate good is separated. To have anything as the end is to love it more than anything else.

(Arcana Coelestia 4063:2-5)

July 8, 2017

The Divine Providence is Unceasingly in the Work of Saving Men

Selection from Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
The operation of the Divine providence for the salvation of man is said to begin at his birth and to continue unto the end of his life. To understand this it must be known that the Lord sees what man is, and foresees what he wills to be, thus what he will be; and that he may be a man and therefore immortal the freedom of his will must not be taken away. ...

Consequently the Lord foresees man's state after death, and provides for it from his birth until the end of his life. With the evil the Lord provides by permitting evils and continually withdrawing them from evils; while with the good He provides by leading to good. Thus the Divine providence is unceasingly in the work of saving men.

But no more can be saved than are willing to be saved, and those are willing to be saved who acknowledge God and are led by Him;
and those are unwilling who do not acknowledge God and who lead themselves; for such do not think about eternal life or about salvation, while the others do. This the Lord sees and still He leads them, and leads them in accordance with the laws of His Divine providence, contrary to which laws He cannot act, since to act contrary to them would be to act contrary to His Divine love and contrary to His Divine wisdom, which is to act contrary to Himself.

Since, then, the Lord foresees the states of all after death, and also foresees the places in hell of those who are not willing to be saved, and the places in heaven of those who are willing to be saved, it follows that — for the evil — the Lord provides their places by permitting and by withdrawing — and for the good — by leading; and unless this were done unceasingly from every one's birth until the end of his life neither heaven nor hell would continue to exist, for without that foresight and providence together neither heaven nor hell would be anything but confusion. ...

This may be illustrated by this comparison. If an archer or a marksman should aim at a mark, and behind the mark a straight line were drawn for a mile, and if he should err only by a finger's breadth in his aim, his missile or ball keeping on to the end of the mile would depart very far from the line. So would it be if the Lord did not every moment — even every least fraction of a moment — regard the eternal in His foreseeing and providing every one's place after death. But this the Lord does because the entire future is present to Him and the entire present is to Him the eternal. ...

It is also said that the operation of the Divine providence will continue to eternity, since every angel is perfecting in wisdom to eternity, but each according to the degree of that affection for good and truth in which he was when he left the world. It is this degree that is being perfected to eternity. Anything beyond this degree is outside of the angel and not within him, and that which is outside of him cannot be perfected within him. This is meant by the

Good measure, pressed down and shaken together and running over, that shall be given into the bosom of those who forgive and give to others (Luke 6:37, 38),

that is, who are in good of charity.

(Divine Providence 333,334)

July 6, 2017

Opening the Mouth of the Well

Passages from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
The Word is said to be closed when it is understood solely as to the sense of the letter, and when all that is in this sense is taken for doctrine.  And it is still more closed when those things are acknowledged as doctrinal things which favor the cupidities of the love of self and of the world; for these especially roll a great stone upon the mouth of the well, that is, close up the Word; and then mankind do not know, neither do they desire to know, that there is any interior sense in the Word, when yet they may see this from many passages where the sense of the letter is unfolded as to the interior sense; and also from the doctrinal things received in the church, to which by various explications they refer all the sense of the letter of the Word.
For insofar as a man is immersed in loves of self and of the world, and in the cupidities of these loves, so far the Word is closed to him; for these loves have self as their end, which end kindles a natural lumen, but extinguishes heavenly light, so that men sharply see the things of self and the world, but not at all those of the Lord and His kingdom; and when this is the case, they may indeed read the Word, but it is with the end of acquiring honors and riches, or for the sake of appearance, or from the love and consequent habit of it, or from piety, and yet not from a purpose of amending the life. To such persons the Word is in various ways closed; to some so much that by no means are they willing to know anything but what their doctrinal things dictate, whatever these may be.

For example: should anyone say that the power of opening and shutting heaven was not given to Peter, but to the faith of love, which faith is signified by Peter's keys, inasmuch as the love of self and of the world opposes this, they will by no means acknowledge it. And should anyone say that saints ought not to be worshiped, but the Lord alone, neither do they receive this. Or if anyone should say that by the bread and wine in the Holy Supper is meant the Lord's love toward the universal human race, and the reciprocal love of man to the Lord, this they do not believe. Or should anyone assert that faith is of no avail unless it is the good of faith, that is, charity, this they explain inversely; and so with everything else. They who are of this character cannot see one whit of the truth that is in the Word, nor are they willing to see it, but abide obstinately in their own dogma; and are not even willing to hear that there is an internal sense wherein is the sanctity and glory of the Word, and even when they are told that it is so, from their aversion thereto they loathe the bare mention of it. Thus has the Word been closed, when yet it is of such a nature as to lie open even into heaven, and through heaven to the Lord, and it is closed solely in relation to man, insofar as he is in the evils of the love of self and of the world in respect to his ends of life, and in the consequent principles of falsity. ...

As regards the Word being opened to the churches, and being afterwards closed, the case is this: in the beginning of the setting up of any church, the Word is at first closed to the men of it, and is afterwards opened, the Lord so providing; and thus they learn that all doctrine is founded on the two commandments-that the Lord is to be loved above all things, and the neighbor as themselves.
The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.  Mark 12:29-31
When these two commandments are regarded as the end, the Word is opened; for all the Law and the Prophets, that is, the whole Word, so depend on these commandments that all things are derived from them and therefore all have reference to them. And whereas the men of the church are then in the principles of truth and good, they are enlightened in everything they see in the Word; for the Lord is then present with them by means of angels, and teaches them (although they are unaware of this), and also leads them into the life of truth and good.

This may be seen also from the case of all churches, in that they were such in their infancy, and worshiped the Lord from love, and loved the neighbor from the heart. But in process of time churches withdraw from these two commandments, and turn aside from the good of love and charity to the so—called things of faith, thus from life to doctrine; and insofar as they do this, so far the Word is closed. ...

(Arcana Coelestia 3769; 3773)