<< THE DOCTRINE OF THE DIVINE UNITY, >>
IN ITS RELATION TO THE SPIRITUAL LIFE
Swedenborg, like Abraham in a former age, was raised up by the Messiah’s Providence, to restore to the world and the Church the true idea of the unity of God. This idea, which is fundamental in the spiritual life, was fading from the mind of the Church, and especially of the learned. With the latter, the Trinity had become in reality Tritheism, which is a long step towards Polytheism. Swedenborg has shown from the Word of God, that there is one God, in whom there is a Trinity, and that Jehovah Jesus is that God. Since the Council of Nice, the Trinity was viewed not as a Trinity of one Divine Being or Person, but of three, which destroys in thought, if not in theory, the Unity of God, and thus removes the essential basis of the whole spiritual life. It was foretold by the prophet Zechariah that the idea of one God, who is the Lord, would be a marked peculiarity of the Church in the latter day of glory, when holiness unto the lord should be the common experience. ” The Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord, and His name one.” (Zech. xiv. 9.) This grand characteristic of the Millennial or New Jerusalem Church is nowhere seen as among the followers of Swedenborg. There are those who hold to the unity of the Godhead, but who reject the Divinity of Christ. But in the theology of the New Church, while the unity of God is insisted upon, the Lord is made Divine even as to His Humanity.* Before the Church can be advanced to a higher spiritual life, it must come into the faith of One God, and that Jehovah Jesus is that God. Without this the soul must remain in the natural plane of life, and cannot be so illuminated as to become truly spiritual. Our salvation is according to conjunction with the Lord, and this cannot be effected while there lies in the mind the conception of three Divine Beings or Persons, each God by himself. In this case the union cannot be intimate, or in a high degree redeeming in its character. This union of the Lord and His people is called by Swedenborg, for sufficient reasons, the marriage of the Lord and the Church. This can be effected only when His Divinity is acknowledged, even as to His Humanity. He says, ” That when the Lord’s Humanity is acknowledged to be Divine, there is a full marriage of the Lord and the Church, may appear almost without explanation; for it is well known in the reformed Christian world, that the Church is a Church by virtue of its marriage with the Lord, for the Lord is called the Lord of the vineyard, and the Church is the vineyard; moreover, the Lord is called the bridegroom and husband, and the Church is called the bride and wife. That there is then a full marriage of the Lord and the Church, when His Humanity is acknowledged to be Divine, is evident; for in this case God the Father and He are acknowledged to be one, like soul and body; and when this is acknowledged, the Father is not approached for the sake of the Son, but the Lord Himself is approached, and through Him God the Father, because the Father is in Him as the soul is in the body, as was observed, Before the Lord’s Humanity is acknowledged to be Divine, there is indeed a marriage of the Lord with the Church, but-only among those who approach the Lord, and think of His Divinity, and not at all whether His Humanity be Divine or not; this the simple in faith and heart do, but men of learning and erudition do so but seldom. Besides, there cannot be given three husbands of one wife, nor three souls of one body, wherefore unless one God is acknowledged in whom there is a Trinity, and that that God is the Lord, there can be no marriage.” (Apocalypse Revealed, 812.) As certainly as polygamy destroys necessarily the marriage union, so the conception of three Divine persons or individualities prevents a saving conjunction with the Lord. The Lord must be approached immediately and alone. We must not have in our thought the idea of any other Divine Being. If we do, it obstructs the inflowing of the Divine life, which is love and wisdom, into our souls. The reception of this influx from the Lord constitutes the spiritual and heavenly life. If we would attain to that higher position of Christian life which constitutes the New Jerusalem state, we must have One Lord, and His name must be One. ” Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.” (Ps. cxliv. 15.)
This fundamental doctrine of Christian life and experience is taught by the Psalmist in a symbolical way. He says, ” In thy fear will I worship towards thy holy temple.” It was the custom of the devout Jews, wherever they were, to direct their prayers towards the temple at Jerusalem. In whatever land they were, they faced that way in their public and private devotions. There was profound spiritual significance in this, though perhaps they were not aware of it. The temple, in its highest sense, signifies the Lord’s Divine Humanity, or the human nature as the habitation of the fulness of the Deity. Christ said fo the Jews, ” Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” This he spake of the temple of His body. (Jno. ii. 19, 21.) And St. Paul asserts that in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (Col. ii. 19.) In our prayers, and all our worship, we should look to and address the Divine Humanity, for that is the habitation of the Deity in His undivided wholeness, and, at the same time, the medium of communicating His gifts and His nature to us. The body is the habitation of the soul, (2 Cor. v. 1,) and the means of communicating with the invisible spirit. We speak to a man’s body, and not directly to his mind. So the humanity of Christ is as the body, and the Supreme Divinity whom we call the Father, as the soul. In His fear, that is, in love to Him, we should worship towards His holy temple, for this is the Divinely appointed order of approaching the Father, who is Jehovah from eternity. The Humanity is the Mediator, or Intercessor, or is that which comes between us and the invisible Divinity, the Divine esse, and is the medium through which the Lord conveys to us His gifts of grace and life. They proceed from the Father into the Son, or Divine Humanity, and emanate from Him to us. The Son does not intercede for us by constantly praying the reluctant Father to have mercy upon us, as is commonly taught, but simply by being the medium of communication with Him. The Lord says, ” The time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in parables, but I will show you plainly of the Father.” That is, in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, the New Jerusalem stage of the Church, He will admit the soul to the spiritual or interior sense of the Holy Scriptures, and to a higher knowledge of God. ” At that day ye shall ask in my name.” To pray in the name of Christ is to address the Deity by the name of Christ, or as He is manifested in Him. It is to address the Supreme Divinity through the glorified or deified Humanity, just as we speak to a man’s soul through the medium of his body. ” And I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you, for the Father Himself loveth you.” (Jno. xvi. 25, 26.) The Father and Son are one, as the soul and body are one in man, for the Humanity became the habitation of the whole of the Divinity. When we look towards this holy temple, we should as much expect to be put into a living and saving connection with the only living and true God, as when we address our words to one’s body, we expect we shall communicate with his soul; for the body is only the external manifestation of the invisible soul. The Father is in Christ, and Christ is in Him. He and the Father are one, and not two distinct individualities. The idea of God out of Christ is an essential and hurtful falsity. We must find the one God in Christ, or nowhere. This is the door of the New Jerusalem state. Blessed is that man who approaches the Lord immediately, and finds the Divine plentitude in Him. and who has, not even in thought, the idea of any other God.
” Whate’er the Almighty can
To pardoned sinners give,
The fulness of our God, made man,
We here with Christ receive.”
* It seems obvious that generally with those who believe in theory, in three distinct Divine individualities, that in thought at least, there is a denial of the Supreme Divinity of Christ. When the name of God is mentioned, Christ is not thought of; and when Christ is mentioned, God is not in the conception; but only the idea of a mere humanity, like that of any other man. Thus, while there is the idea of the Divine Unity, there is the fundamental and hurtful heresy of the rejection of the Godhead of the Son.
Author: Warren Felt Evans (1817-1889)