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of the New Church doctrines, which assure us, that he who is un. holy will be unholy still; that the man who in the present life is at heart a sanguinary murderer, or an incorrigible robber, will remain the same in a future life, and for this sufficient reason, because they are evils grounded in the heart; they are his predominent ruling love, which love cannot be extirpated but with an extinction of life, and the extinction of spiritual existence is equivolent with annihilation, which is opposed to the laws of the Lord's Divine order.
Let it then be noticed with all the attention which the vast importance of the subject demands, that the mere death, or putting off the body, produces no change in the soul or spirit. Does a man unhappily live the willing slave of lawless passion, the deliberate robber, the relentless murderer, in the lust of gain, even at the expence of his neighbour's life? such, there is too much reason to fear, will he remain to all eternity; and the only change he will experience by death, will be a more extended scope for the perpetration of crime; for being a murderer in principle, as well as in practice, unobstructed by natural impediments, were he not restrained by the power of omnipotence, he would be in the constant thirst for murder in the spiritual, as he had previously been in the natural, world.
The too prevailing mistake on this momentous subject, is, that corporal punishment is in itself expiatory; but that any punishment, even death itself, will produce any radical change in the state and quality of the will and affections, is an error against which we can none of us be too much on our guard. Christian brethren be not deceived by the plausible sophistry of human contrivance, rest assured, "that which a man soweth, that shall he also reap." If, therefore, through negligence or supineness, we permit the seeds of sin and evil to luxuriate undisturbed and uncontroled by any endeavor to correct their growth, the consequences will lead to certain shame and disgrace in the present world, and misery in that which is shortly to succeed. But on the contrary, if the seeds of virtue be really implanted in the mind, and cherished by culture so as to produce their corresponding fruits, the reward will be incalculable in the present life; and the end of such a man will be crowned with that peace of God which passeth all understanding. Would we then profit by the awful examples of profligacy and sin, with which we are daily surrounded, would we escape the contaminating and dangerous doctrines by which wicked men are encouraged in their evils; be it our earnest prayer to the great Father of our spirits, that we may be preserved from the snares of error and falsehood, and more especially from the deceitfulness of
our own hearts. Now is the accepted time and day of salvation! in the grave, there is neither knowledge, wisdom nor device; and in every moment of our allotted time we are preparing ourselves for mansions in the heavens, or for that state of darkness and woe where hope can never enter. Solemn, awful thought! how should its reality and certainty excite us to watch and pray, that we enter not into temptation! with what earnestness should we lift up our eyes and our hearts to the great Majesty of heaven and exclaim with the psalmist, "search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
T. F. CHURCHILL.
ON THE PHRASE INCARNATE GOD. To the Editors of the New Jerusalem Magazine. GENTLEMEN,
I have no doubt but many passages might be found in the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, like those produced by your correspondents, in defence of the doctrines of an Incarnate God, whose body is supposed to be Divine; and yet, without exception, they would only serve to shew, when connected with the explications and definitions which the author himself gives of what he means by a Divine Body, that he has been altogether misapprehended on the doctrine of the Divine-human of the Lord. Having remarked how repeatedly, and how studiously he endeavous to guard against mistake, by defining his own meaning of expressions, many of which are peculiar to himself, and which otherwise would inevitably have been perverted by all who could not, without difficulty, raise their thoughts above the gross imperfections of time and space even in what should be their purest and most elevated contemplations, it is to me no less astonishing, than deeply to be lamented, that another doctrine should have been substituted most completely at variance with those principles of reason, or universal truths on which the theology of the New Church is built. But until these universal truths be seen and applied, as the author in many instances has done, to all passages like those which have been brought forward by your correspondents, the church, on this its chief doctrine, must continue to wander in the wilderness of the natural mind, walking about, and beating the ground, but not advancing, and mistaking the fallacies of the senses, for the interior truths of the Holy Scripture.
No one can understand, far less perceive, the doctrine of the Lord, unless he first learn to distinguish in his own mind between
the Divine Esse, or the Infinitum in se, and the Divine-human, who is Infinitum a se in finitis; and for that purpose examine what Swedenborg says of the latter, with respect to the mode and condition of its manifestation. We trifle away our time, so long as we use the various words, which are expressive of the Divine Glorification, without a clear and definite meaning; but we do worse, when we apply to them a meaning which is drawn from the fallacies of the senses, for then we defile the pure stream of truth, by stirring up the bed over which it flows.
Allow me then briefly to point out what, as it appears to me, is the cause of the error into which many have fallen, and afterward cite but one among a multitude of passages, where Swedenborg defines or explains what he means when he speaks of the Divine Body of God-man. The cause of the error lies in supposing that the term, Divine-human is meant to signify THE ABSOLUTE, and not THE RELATIVE, and in attributing to the former, that which rightly can only be attributed of the latter. In number 3869 of the Arcana Cœlestia, our author concurs with the generally received position, that "Jehovah has neither ears nor eyes, as man has," adding that "the Attribute, predicable of the Divine Essence, which is signified by ear and eye, is Infinite Will and Infinite Intelligence," and that "these, in the supreme sense, are understood by the ear and eye, when they are attributed to Jehovah." In more than one passage, he declares that no quality whatever can be attributed to the Divine Esse, for that strictly speaking we can say no more of Him than that HE IS. On the other hand, the Divine-human, he says, is the quality of the Divine Esse; and to this Divine-human, or God-man, he attributes, as in the passage quoted by your correspondent, ears and eyes, along with the other senses, and organs of the body. This then is the first point to be considered, if we would follow Swedenborg, under the guidance and direction of the same light of spiritual truth which guided and directed him. He attributes a Divine Body to God-man, and not to an imaginary Incarnate God, any more than to the Absolute Divine Esse; and along with that Divine Body, celestial and spiritual qualities, which, when so attributed, he denominates the Divine-celestial and Divine-spiritual of the Lord.
Having reached this point, let us now examine how it be possible for the Divine Esse and the Divine-human to be one and the same Being, seeing that we are to attribute to the latter what is expressly denied to the former; that we are to represent the one to our minds as having not only angelic qualities, but those lowest faculties of humanity which are comprehended in the sensuous
organs, and with them the viscera and members of the body, while the other, the Divine Esse, is expressly denied them all. To see this great truth, stript of the mystery of actual and absolute coverings superinduced over the Divine Esse, which are supposed, like the integuments of the body, to veil the wonders of the Inmost Being, we have only to advert to Swedenborg's definition of God-man, whenever he shews, as he does in many places, the mode and condition of his manifestation. In number 11, of the Divine Love and Wisdom, but two pages before the passage quoted by your correspondent XANTHUS,-he says, "that in all the heavens, there is no other idea of God, than of a Man." And why have they this idea? "Because they can think only according to the general and particular form of heaven, and that form is the form of a man." Hence it is that being internally in will and intellect of that form, and externally of a corresponding bodily form, all their conceptions of the Divine Essence must be in that form also; for it would be as impossible for them to think otherwise than according to the constitution of their own minds, as it would be to see with another's eyes or hear with another's ears. It is on this account said that in heaven, every angel sees the Lord under a different aspect, for he sees Him, as the Divine-human, in the ground of his individual state. "Thought," as our author observes, in harmony with the principles which pervade the doctrines of the New Jerusalem, "proceeds only according to the form of heaven, and this (the human form) being the form of heaven, they can think no otherwise." The author here, as in other places, when he speaks of form, does not mean that symbolic representation only, which is usually called the bodily form, but the finite mind through its several degrees, in its state of reaction to the Divine Influx.
In this sense of relation to the ultimate faculties of angels and of men, are we to understand the expression Divine Body, when applied, not to an Incarnate God, but, to God-man. The Divine Body of God-man is the divine substance or support of all sensuous representations, but preeminently is the Divine Object which is manifested in and according to the state of the sensuous mind. There is no absolute Divine Body, for there is but ONE ABSOLUTE, THE DIVINE ESSE, to whom no quality is attributable, and least of all, the qualities which are the products of the senses, and that, not from the absence of perfection, but simply because He is THE PERFECT, and THE ABSOLUTE, and therefore unapproachable, and incomprehensible: but in the finite ground of the angelic mind through its several degrees, down to the ultimate faculties of the human mind, He is, according to the respective states of those
who receive Him, the Divine-celestial, the Divine-spiritual, the Divine-natural, sensual and corporeal, all of which are comprehended in the terms, God-man, the Divine-human, our Father, in, and not above the heavens.
Do I then deny a Divine Body to God-man? far from it: all that I deny is that gross mistake which gives a Divine Body to God Incarnate, which is the same thing as God in a finite and imperfect body, because such a view involves many and manifest contradictions, and I also deny it to the Divine Esse, as an actual covering, or absolute superinduced something-nothing, which cannot be divine because it is human, nor human because it is divine, which yet by some strange mixture is imagined to partake of both; for by so doing I should indirectly oppose the whole, and directly the chief doctrine of the Lord's New Church, no less than reason itself, and the interior light of Revelation. For throughout the whole system this universal truth prevails: that every object, which the mind can contemplate, whether it be an object of the reason, of the understanding, or of the senses, is intirely dependent upon the state of the faculty for the mode and condition of its manifestation, and is actually generated by and according to the state of the mind in its reaction to the Divine Influx. Hence, though we must acknowledge the ONE ABSOLUTE, or DIVINE ESSE, as the one only substance and life of every thing that exists and lives, we can only approach in worship the Divine-human, or, the Divine Esse manifested in the ground of our individual states. In this way, and in this way alone can we rationally see and acknowledge the Divine Esse and the Divine-human to be one and the same BEING. As the former we know that HE Is, and no more, for there is no relation between the Infinite in Himself and the finite; but as the latter, the Infinite in the conscious ground of the finite, he can be known and worshipped by every Divine-human quality which the mind can embrace; all of which, though comprehended by a few terms, as the Divine Love, Wisdom, &c. are various and even different in every individual mind to whom they are presented.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the only object of worship, not because He is an Incarnate God, for in the New Church God is not now incarnate, but because, having put off every thing finite, He is Jehovah God in relation to the natural, sensual and corporeal degrees in man, and being the Divine-human in the ultimate faculties, or the Omega, He is, or should be, at the same time, with respect to the inmost faculties, the Alpha also; He is the Beginning and the End, who is, who was, and who is to come, in all the progres sive states of regeneration, both here and hereafter, the Almighty.