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CONCERNING THE GLORIFICATION OF THE LORD's
HUMANITY, WHICH INVOLVES. THE NEW CHURCH
“Now is the Son of MAN GLORIFIED, AND GOD IS GLORIFIED IN Him.''—John xiii. 31.
In the preceding lecture we explained the doctrine of the Sacred Trinity as it is taught in the writings of the New Jerusalem Church, and showed its perfect agreement both with reason and Scripture. We also stated, that, according to these writings, the Lord Jesus Christ when upon earth, was the person of Jehovah manifested in the flesh : i. e. that the Divine Being became clothed with a natural human form, and thus exhibited Himself personally in this natural world, for the purpose of redeeming and saving mankind : which doctrine was also shown to be in accordance with the teaching of Scripture.
The Word of God therefore, rightly understood, agrees fully with what the writings of the New Church teach upon
this subject, viz., that God is one in essence and in person, and that the Lord Jesus Christ the Savior is that God :-that in his Divine Person dwells all the fulness of the Godhead, or the whole of the Divine Trinity which is called in the Scriptures, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: consequently He is the only God of heaven and earth, and therefore the only proper object of religious worship. For if, (as the Scriptures plainly teach, and as a very large proportion of the Old Church profess
to believe, the Lord Jesus Christ be really a Divine Person, and there be any other Divine Person whom it is proper to worship, then it certainly follows that there must be more than one God—which is a doctrine alike contrary to reason and Scripture.
It was stated in the last lecture, that by the Father is denoted the Lord as to his essential Divinity, or the Divine Love; by the Son, the Lord as to his Divine Humanity, or the Word which is Divine Truth ; and by the Holy Spirit, the Lord as to his Divine Power or operative energy, which proceeds from the union of the Divine with the Human, or from the glorified person of the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we behold our Creator, Redeemer and Regenerator. It was also stated in that lecture, that this Trinity in Jesus Christ has its corresponding image and likeness in every man, which are the soul, body, and resulting sphere of life and actionor will, understanding, and their proceeding operation. While therefore, there is an infinite difference between the Lord and man, there is yet such a complete image of the one in the other, that we may obtain a distinct and intelligible idea of the Divine Trinity from what we know of its image in man. The Lord is Divine; man is human. The Lord is self-existent, uncreate, and infinite ; man is dependent, created, and finite. The Lord is the Giver of all things; man is a receiver. The Lord is Life itself; man is but a recipient of life. The Lord hath an uncreated and divine soul,* which is the inmost or esse of his life, and is called the Father; man hath a created and human soul. The Lord hath a divine body, which is the external or existere of his life, and is called the Son; man hath a human body. The sphere of life proceeding from the Lord as the spiritual Sun, which sphere is called the Paraclete or Spirit of truth, is holy, divine, and infinite, since nothing can proceed from Him but what partakes of his own nature, and is Himself; the sphere of man's life is imperfect, human and finite.
* See Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Love and Divine Wisdom
According to the writings of the New Church therefore, God is not a mere abstraction, but a real, living, divine, infinite Person, in perfect human form; in whom also dwell, and from whom continually proceed, as the rays of light and heat proceed from the natural sun, all truly human principles and all the creating and sustaining power in the universe. There are many persons at the present day who do not think of God as existing in any form, but who yet profess to believe in the strict personality of the Deity. But such persons do certainly deceive themselves for a real belief in the personality of God involves an idea of Him as existing in a human form; and without such an idea the mind does not rest upon or contemplate any person, and we are really in the denial of the personality of God, however we may profess to believe it. To regard love, truth, beauty, power, &c., as together constituting God, and as being everywhere diffused through the universe, yet nowhere centering in a living, human form, from which they continually proceed, is to make the Divine Being a dead abstraction, or some interior and subtle principle of nature—which is virtually to deny that God hath any personal existence.
*“One argument against the divinity of the human nature of Christ, is, that humanity has a forin ; and that it is absurd to consider a human form to he divine, because form implies limit, boundary, termination; whereas God is infinite and unbounded, being every where equally present. To this we reply, that if we cannot attribute form to God, because it in plies Jimit; so neither can we, for the same reason, attribute anything to Ilim, or frame any conception of his nature. For all the ideas we can enter. tain of Him necessarily imply limit, inasmuch as the ideas themselves are limited, being those of a limited, finited creature ; yet we do not, for that reason, cease to consider certain perfections as belonging to the divine nature. None but an infinite being can have infinite and therefore adequate ideas of himself; all finite ideas, however exalted, must have form, limit, and boundary, as truly so as the senses or sensations of the body. The objection, therefore, derived from the idea of form, is as applicable to all intellectual ideas, however abstracted, as it is to sensational impressions. Let any ideas of God entertained by a creature, however intellectual, how. ever abstracted, nay, however angelic or spiritual, be embodied; and that embodiment will as certainly present a definite limitation, as any object presented to the senses. The objection, therefore, derived from the idea of form, if allowed, would tend to deprive us of entertaining any idea of the Deity whatever; for the only other idea we could entertain is that which is forinless; hence indefinite, indeterminate, chaotic, confused; which is virtually no idea, because it has no form ; and that which has no form, has no quality, and that which has neither form nor quality is a nonentity."-Clissold's End of the Church, p. 393.
No.--Because we are taught that “ God is a Spirit," it by no means follows that He does not exist in a human form, any more than it follows as a just conclusion, that man no longer exists in a human form, after he is divested of his material body and has become an inhabitant of the spiritual world.* The natural sun is selfluminous, and on this account it is essentially different from all the planets, which are opaque, and which receive from him their light and heat. But because the sun is self-luminous, it does not follow that it is not a body; or because his light and heat are diffused everywhere throughout the solar system, it does not follow that there is no central source whence they emanate ; nor that the sun is not a body even more substantial than any earth in the universe. And as we cannot conceive of light and heat diffused as they now are, and in active operation, without a luminous body from whence they continually proceed, no more can we conceive of truth and love diffused as living principles, without their proceeding from a living, self-existent Person as their eternal source.
The difference between the sun and the planets in respect to this attribute of self-illumination, affords a good illustration of the difference between God and man. The sun of itself is luminous--the planets opaque ; so God of Himself is luminous, and men are opaque. The sun from itself continually emits light and heat, and the planets receive them ; so God from Himself emits wisdom and love, and men receive them. Yet the sun is in a spherical form as well as the planets; so God is in the human form as well as man.
Hence also it may be seen why the earth corresponds to the Church or to any man who is a church in the smallest form, since the sun corresponds to the Lord.t
'** It is generally the case that those who are not willing to think that God esists in human form, do not think of man as in the human form after death, nor indeed as having any form until he shall have resumed his material body.
It would be well for such persons to consider whether they do not in heart deny the existence of God and the reality of the spiritual world
+ " That the Lord appears as a sun in heaven," says Swedenborg, "is evident from His transfiguration before Peter, James and John, that His face shone as the sun. (Matt. xxvii. 2.) The Lord was seen thus by those disci.
Having explained the doctrine of the New Church concerning the Sacred Trinity, we come now to consider the doctrine as it is taught in the writings of Swedenborg, concerning the glorification of the Lord's humanity, or that union of the Divine with the Human which is properly signified by the Atonement. But before proceeding to do this, it may be useful briefly to notice the doctrine of the Atonement as it is held and taught by the prevailing religious sects of the Old Church. We shall thus be the better able to judge whether the Old or the New doctrine upon this subject be the imaginary one, or the offspring of human contrivance.
It was stated in the last lecture, that, inasmuch as the great central doctrine of the Christian religion as it is now believed and taught in the Old Church--the doctrine concerning the Divine Trinity in the Lord, which has been corrupted into a trinity of persons-is false, therefore all the other leading doctrines of that Church must be false likewise. The most prominent and at the same time the most captivating and ruinous falsity, which is the legitimate offspring of the doctrine of the tri-personality of God, is that concerning the Atonement as at this day held and taught by the prevailing Church.
This doctrine, e are aware, has been differently understood in the Old Church at different times, and by different individuals in that Church at the same time. And notwithstanding the supreme importance, which is properly enough attached to a right understanding of it, probably very few could be found at the present time among Trinitarians of the Old Church, who would explain this doctrine precisely alike. However that may be, we can easily obtain from the confessions of faith and other authorized publications of that Church, a statement of the doctrine as it is commonly received and taught there. We find a summary statement of it in Buck's Theological Dictionary under
ples, when they were withdrawn from the body, and in the light of heaven. Hence it was that the ancients, with whom the Church was representative, turned the face, when they were in divine worship, to the sun in the east; from this it is that they gave to temples an aspect towards the east. (Heaven and Hell, n. 119.)