Sermons On The Word by Edward S. Hyatt
Yet every man is apt to have the idea that he is able to regard the Word without any prejudice; even when this teaching is known, he is apt to think that he is, or has become, an exception and is able to read the Word and receive teaching therefrom in an altogether unprejudiced manner. Let each mark, therefore, that this is only so with an altogether regenerated man; but that the unregenerated natural in each is always more or less under the influence of false doctrine. For doctrine is falsified in many insidious ways and takes on most plausible forms. The test is does it favor self, or does it lead to the denial of self; does it lead us to be satisfied with ourselves or does it even make it more evident to us that the Lord's thoughts and ways are entirely different to the thoughts and ways which we naturally cherish and seek. Unless it does the latter we may be sure that the doctrine we are influenced by is Like in some way. Doctrine of whatever quality it be has always the tendency to confirm itself both by the Word and by experience. How necessary therefore it is to be on our guard against false doctrine; and we cannot be sufficiently so unless we recognize that it is in everything which makes us satisfied with ourselves as we are, in everything which confirms our natural tendencies.
“From these things it can appear that they who read the Word without doctrine are in obscurity concerning every truth, and that their mind is wandering and uncertain, prone to errors and also easily falls into heresies, which also they embrace, if favor or authority agrees, and if reputation is not endangered. For the Word with them is like a candelabrum without light and they see as it were many things in the shade, and nevertheless scarcely see anything, for doctrine alone is the lamp. I have seen such explored by the angels and it was found that they are able to confirm from the Word whatever they wish, and that they do confirm those things which are of the love of self, and of the love of those things which they favor; but I saw them stripped of their garments, a sign that they were without truths, — garments there are truths”, T.C.R. 228.
So far as a man is without clear doctrine he is in obscurity as to the truth and his mind is wandering and uncertain: but if he be influenced by the false doctrine which favors self-love and the love of those things which it favors, so far he seems to himself to be in clearness and certainty, although it is as to his false persuasions, and therefore is really in obscurity as to every truth. Let none therefore conclude simply because he does not seem to be in obscurity that he is led by true doctrine, for it is only those who read without teaching, true or false, who are consciously in such obscurity.
We may by the name of other gods, especially the name of those gods of self and the world which rule in every un regenerated mind, come into fancied clearness as to the truth, and it is to save us from such an error that the command of the text is given: And the name of other gods ye shall not mention.
“It shall not be heard upon thy mouth, that it signifies that it is not to be obeyed with any affirmation, appears from the signification of to hear, that it is to obey, and from the signification of not to be upon the mouth, when concerning the doctrine of what is false, which is signified by the name of other gods, that it is not to affirm”, A.C. 9284.
False doctrine is not to be obeyed with any affirmation. This implies that it is one thing to obey it without any affirmation and another to obey it with any affirmation; for it is the latter which is specifically forbidden here. This distinction can only be understood when it is seen that the natural man is entirely under the influence of false doctrine, and that everything done from the natural man therefore is done from obedience to false doctrine. This is so with every man until he has ceased to have a merely natural part of his mind, that is until he is fully regenerated. In the meantime, however, if he is seeking to become regenerated, let him beware of obeying false doctrine with any affirmation. Every regenerating man must see and humbly acknowledge that much of what he does is from the natural man only, and from the teaching (necessarily false) which the natural man in him favors, but let him beware of affirming that teaching as a right principle of life, which he is apt to do because it is his own, for if he does, it will so far become the more difficult, if not altogether impossible, for him to escape from its dominion. Affirm only such doctrine as involves denial of self, that the Lord may be obeyed instead of self, and as teaching what is altogether opposite to what self favors. And the name of other gods ye shall not mention, it shall not be heard upon thy mouth.
“That doctrine is to be drawn from the sense of the letter of the Word and to be confirmed by it”, T.C.R. 229.
This is to be understood in agreement with what is elsewhere taught — that the Lord's teaching is to be found nowhere else than in the written Revelations which He has given. He never teaches man by internal influx, neither do the angels, who in this, as in all respects, are governed by His example. The teaching by which the Lord saves those who are guided by it, is all given in the form of written Revelation, wherein all who will can directly approach it that they may observe to do according to all that is written in it.
“The reason is because the Lord is present there and teaches and enlightens, for the Lord never operates anything except in fulness, and the Word is in its fulness in its sense of the letter, as has been shown above; hence it is that, doctrine is to be drawn from the sense of the letter”, T.C.R. 229.
The Lord is in the internals of man altogether according to reception, which reception is always more or less imperfect, if not altogether perverted. Hence if the Lord taught by internal influx, there would unavoidably be imperfection in the teaching. For not only would the teaching be imperfectly received which is always the case, but there would be nothing to prevent the imperfections from being confirmed in such a way as to prevent any advance in the reception of genuine teaching. That is, unless the Divine teaching for men rested upon some basis independent of himself and his own states, the teaching could only be used to confirm the states he as already in and would not serve to lead him out of those states into higher ones. This would be an evil even if the state to begin with were good as a step to a higher one — much more so when man has to begin from an altogether inverted state. Thus the Lord in His Providence has provided a base for His teaching such as is perfect in its adaptation to the purpose — namely the literal forms in which He reveals Truth. When teaching is drawn from this written source, being founded upon a perfect correspondential basis, the reception of it, however imperfect at first, can be gradually perfected, that is made to more and more approximately agree with Truth Itself. The literal basis being perfect the Lord is fully present in it, and therefore can become ever more manifest therefrom to all who regard it from innocence. Other expressions of truth — thus such expressions as a Priest uses in his teaching, may be of temporary use to lead to a better understanding of Truth, but no other expressions can continue to express Divine Truth in an increasing degree for ever, without limit on its part, limited only by the finite states of the recipients. If truth were taught by an internal. way, man would never be able to realize how opposite the Lord's thoughts are from man's thoughts. He could be led only to try to improve; his own natural ideas — which nevertheless are essentially opposite to the Divine, however plausible they may externally appear. Even as it is, man is naturally averse to recognizing this, and can only do so when he suffers the Divine to elevate his understanding clearly above his will, and humbly
expect to be taught something quite different from what he naturally inclines to believe. To this end it is necessary not only to look to a source of Divine Teaching outside of himself but it is also necessary that the ultimate basis of that teaching should be outside of himself and of a form not controlled by himself. The Lord Himself must provide and be the First and the Last, and when man approaches Him in the right spirit as the First and the Last, he can be led to receive those intermediate forms of good and truth which make heaven, and which though always intermediate, forever continue to approximate more closely to the Divine. Thus the Lord as the Word appears in the lasts or ultimates of written Revelation. That thou mayest observe and do according to all that is written therein.
“The doctrine of genuine Truth can also be fully drawn from the literal sense of the Word", T.C.R. 229.
Consider what is meant by the word "fully" here. It cannot mean that it can be infinitely drawn thence by the recipient at any given time, for what man receives, what even the highest angel ever receives at a given time, is limited or finite. It cannot therefore be fully in the exhaustive sense of the word, but fully in regard to its entire fitness to meet man's needs. If it were true that in an exhaustive sense of the expression that doctrine could be fully drawn from the literal sense of the Word of the Old Testament, for what purpose did the Lord again ultimate His Word in His New Advent in the form of the Writings? For the purpose of meeting the needs which it is given to satisfy doctrine can be fully drawn from the literal sense of each Divine Revelation ever given. For the plane of life for which the Old Testament was given, doctrine can be fully drawn from the very letter thereof. Butalthough essential general truths are most plainly set ford, in the letter there, the specific doctrines necessary to form the spiritual rational in man, could never have been drawn thence. The Lord had to give a written Revelation for that purpose also, from the letter of which again doctrine for the rational mind can be fully drawn. Not only could this teaching not have been drawn from the previous forms of Divine Revelation, but even the general Truths there set forth in the letter were on the point of being entirely lost to man by perversions. But still it was not merely to restore the knowledge of these that the Lord came again, but also to provide a New Revelation of Himself from the letter of which teaching for man's rational mind could be fully drawn. As the Lord provides specifically for the needs of each plane of life in the world, so He does for each discrete plane of life in heaven; for each He provides a Written Revelation from the very letter of which each respectively can fully draw the teaching needed there. So it is true in regard to each plane of life, both here and in the spiritual world, that the Lord has provided for each that a literal sense of His Word should be plainly ultimated in just the way best fitted for each, in order that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written
“For the Word in that sense is like a man clothed, whose face is bare and also his hands are bare — all the things which pertain to the faith and life of man, thus which pertain to his salvation are bare there; but the rest are clothed; and in many places where they are clothed they show through like objects appearing to a woman through thin silk before the face”, T.C.R. 229.
The face and the hands bare — the face expressing the essential affection and the hands standing for application to actual work. The essential affection of the Lord that it is for man's salvation is plainly manifested in the letter of every Divine Revelation — as is also the practical work which the Lord would have man do, especially that which lie should not do. The expression of these can be seen expressly declared in the letter of each form of the Word by everyone who is willing to see them and be governed by them — as it is further said: — "All things which pertain to the faith and life of man, thus which pertain to his salvation, are bare; but the rest are clothed". The things which really pertain to man's salvation are bare — the rest are clothed. Thus what is concealed from man at any given time, is only that which is not yet necessary to his salvation. Of course this does not apply to that which he cannot see only because he is not willing to see or is not willing to do. But if he be really willing to be led in all things by the Lord and not by self, all of genuine truth that he is prepared to receive will appear bare to him in the letter of Divine Revelation. Only the rest which he is not yet prepared for is clothed and hidden from him. Thus as he advances in preparation to receive genuine truth it becomes increasingly realized that genuine truths, even where they are clothed, shine through, like objects appearing to a woman through a thin silk before the face.
“Also the truths of the Word as they are multiplied from the love of them, and as they are ordered by this, so they shine and appear more and more clearly”, T.C.R. 229.
Thus the clothing of the Word, that which is called the letter of Divine Revelation, is of such a nature, that it leaves bare to those who rightly approach all the genuine truth that practically pertains to their life, and as they be-come able to bear and do more, the clothing itself becomes more and more transparent to the genuine truth within it. Thus though there is actually an infinity of Truth hidden from us, compared to what we can sec, the things which it is needful for us to apply to life, if Ave would be saved, can always be seen to be plainly written — to be bare to our sight. It is thus that the Lord gives us our daily bread — ever enough for today's use — neither more nor less. What the Lord has given us to see now as plainly set forth in written Revelation, that much is His command to us for today — if we observe to do that much now, we will be prepared to use more to-morrow and it will be given us to see more. To everyone who is really willing to do the Lord's will rather than his own, there is enough of Divine Revelation bare to his sight for him to do — if he is faithful and advances, the very clothing will become more and more transparent, but whether it be little or much that it is thus given to you to see as plainly written — it is that you try to do all that you see: That thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein.
“It can be believed that the Doctrine of genuine truth can be acquired by the spiritual sense of the Word, which is given by the knowledge of correspondences: but doctrine is not acquired by that, but is only illustrated and corroborated, for as said before, man is able by some known correspondences to falsify the Word by conjoining and applying them to confirm that which inheres in his mind from some adopted principle”, T.C.R. 230.
It is a popular error among some members of the Church, that genuine truth is acquired in just the way which is here condemned —namely that it is from the spiritual sense of the Word of the Old and New Testaments which they draw forth thence, by means of the knowledge of correspondences which they have obtained from the Writings. But here the genuine truth is laid bare to us in the very letter of the Writings that the knowledge of correspondence has not been revealed to us for that purpose at all; but only illustrating and corroborating, thus for confirming the genuine truth which is literally revealed, and which manifests the spiritual sense to all who are really willing to see and obey it. It is legitimate to confirm the Truth by any means. Truth is truth simply because it is what the Lord says — being received thus from the written Revelation which. He has given us, and in which it lies sufficiently bare for all our present needs, at any given time now or in the future — it is lawful to use the knowledge of correspondences for the confirmation of it, by whatever we meet with — by the objects of nature, by our experience and also by the letter of Divine Revelation. If these are not used by us to confirm what the Lord says, that is, what He has written — they will be used, as they most commonly are, to confirm the conceits of mere human prudence, and intelligence, which invariably confirm only mere human self-will. If a man depends upon what he can draw from the Word by means of his knowledge of correspondence for acquiring the spiritual sense of the Word, what he does acquire as such will be really only a confirmation of those principles which he naturally favors — and the principles a man naturally favors are always false and evil until their determination is changed by regeneration. In order to change their determination he must learn to put his trust solely in the genuine truths which are laid bare to his sight in what the Lord has written for his guidance.
“Moreover the spiritual sense is not given to anyone except by the Lord alone and it is guarded by Him as the angelic heaven is guarded, for that heaven is in it”, T.C.R. 230.
Man cannot discover the spiritual sense himself — nor can he acquire it by any effort of his own — even though he be thoroughly familiar with the science of correspondences — it is given by the Lord to those who sincerely and honestly try to do what they plainly see the Lord has writ-ten for their guidance. This is the way to the spiritual sense, and the only way, which the Lord Himself has provided. All who try to climb up by some other way are spiritually thieves and robbers. If a man is really willing to follow that way, he will see the truths which express the spiritual sense as bare to his sight in written Revelation, and there is no limit to the gradual increase of what will thus be made clear to him as expressed in the very letter of Divine Revelation, either altogether bare there, or as transparently clothed. Only do, or sincerely strive to do, all that you see to be plainly written for your guidance in what the Lord has revealed and continue in the same endeavor as it is given you to see more and more, as in that case it surely will. For the Word is given, each form of the Word is given, In order that thou mayest observe to do all that is written in it.
As long as the error of predestination is avoided, there cannot be too strong a realization of how all-pervading is the government of the Divine Providence. Every man is born for heaven — and every man ultimately attains heaven unless he leads the kind of life which is incompatible with heavenly order. The Lord preserves in everyone full freedom in determining his own life according to his own choice. But so far as it can be done without interfering with the free determination which belongs to each individual— the Divine Providence is in finitely active in every detail of life to do whatever can be wisely done to lead each and everyone to heaven. Yea even if man chooses self-government above heavenly government, Divine Providence still does all that can be done to lead to the greatest possible amelioration of his eternal state. Thus in every case where a man’s eternal lot fails to be that which the Lord would have him to fill in heaven, the responsibility rests absolutely on the free choice exercised by the individual himself. In preserving individual freedom of choice and at the same time doing all compatible with that for him, there is no imperfection in the Divine Providence. And although human instrumentalities are used, it is not because they are necessary, but because the human instruments themselves are benefited by having uses which they are permitted to do as of themselves, but which nevertheless are so controlled that they become the acts of Divine Providence in their effect upon others. This is not only so with angels and regenerating men, but with all — even the activities which devils are permitted to enter into, are of Providential use in regard to all who are effected by them. However men may appear to do injury to others, and however much external injury they may actually do, it is impossible for anyone to do the least spiritual injury to another beyond what that other freely chooses to bring upon himself. It is the same with spiritual benefits — they cannot be conferred upon anyone except so far as each, individually for himself, chooses in full freedom to appropriate them. If it were possible for men to be saved in spite of their own choice — all would be saved by the Lord. But He in His Infinite Wisdom only saves man as far as it can be done without interfering with his own freedom of choice.
Therefore it is, that as a rule, the Lord does not permit others to see, that is, understand, Divine Truth than those who are willing to be led by it. If it be a man's choice to be self-guided, it is of the Divine Providence that he is neither able to see nor hear Divine Truth, so as to understand it. Such a one only sees the appearances of Truth — not the genuine Truth within them. As the Lord Himself declares in the text: Wherefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, neither do they understand.
In this morning's lesson the Lord presents the same teaching in rational form.
“That the genuine truth in the sense of the letter of the Word which must be of doctrine, does not appear to others than those who are in enlightenment from the Lord. Enlightenment is from the Lord alone, and is with those who love truths because they are truths, and who make them uses of life — with others enlightenment in the Word is not given”, T.C.R. 231.
To love truths because they are truths is to love them be-cause they are of Divine authority, hence it involves choosing to be led by the Lord. Only to such as do so does the Lord give enlightenment. Those who do not He leaves in the darkness of their own intelligence, and keeps genuineTruth hidden from them in the appearances of parables.
“That enlightenment is from the Lord alone, is because the Word is from Him, and hence He Himself is in it; that enlightenment is with those who love truths because they are truths, and make them uses of life, is because they are in the Lord and the Lord in them, for the Lord is Truth Itself, as was shown in the chapter concerning the Lord: and the Lord is then loved when there is life according to His Divine Truths, thus when uses are done from them, according to these words in John: In that day ye shall know that ye are in Me and I in you. He who has My precepts and does the, he loves Me and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. And I will come to him, and will make an abode with him, 14 : 20—23.
“These are those who are in enlightenment when they read the Word and with whom the Word shines and is translucent”, T.C.R. 231.
Some have the conceit that they are themselves able to see and understand Truth; others try to excuse themselves from the study of it on the ground that it is too difficult for them. Both are wrong. On the one hand no one by any effort of his own can attain the understanding of genuine truth; but on the other hand to anyone who really desires to be led by the Lord nothing is simpler or easier to understand the Truth by which the Lord would lead them, for the Lord Himself gives them enlightenment.
“That the Word with these shines and is translucent is because in the single things of the Word there is a spiritual and a celestial sense, and these senses are in the light of heaven wherefore the Lord by them and their light inflows into the natural sense of the Word, and into its light with man; hence a man acknowledges Truth from interior perception and afterwards sees it in his thought, and this as often as he is in affection of truth for the sake of truth; for from affection comes perception, from perception thought and thus the acknowledgment is made which is called faith”, T.C.R. 231
Thus ability to understand truth does not depend upon the acuteness of the intellect, but upon the right determination of the affection. The ability to see Divine Truth is from the Lord and comes to those who strive to determine their affection so that it may flow in the stream of Divine Providence. This gives a perception of the truths which guide that stream, and opens their eyes to see the hindrances themselves that need to be removed.
“The contrary takes place with those who read the Word from the Doctrine of a false religion, but more with those who confirm that doctrine from the Word, and then have regard to their own glory and to the wealth of the world; with these the truths of the Word are as if in the shade of night, and falses as if in the light of day — they read truths, but they do not see them, and if they see their shadow they falsify them. These are they concerning whom the herd says that they have eyes and do not see, and that they have ears and do not understand, Matt, 13 : I4, 15. Hence their light in the spiritual things which are of the Church be-comes merely natural, and the sight of their mind like that: of one seeing spectres in bed when he awakes, or like that of a. sleep-walker who believes himself to be awake when he sleeps", T.C.R. 232.
The blindness to genuine truth which thus comes in is all the worse because it is accompanied with the persuasion that they see better than others, and this because falser seem to them to be clearly true. Remember, however, that this is of Divine Providence and do not strive against it. If there are indications of this state in others do not strive to convince them of the Truth in spite of themselves. If you fund difficulty in understanding the truth yourselves, do not try to overcome it by sheer effort, but rather by combating the love of self, and determining your affections from self and the world towards the Lord and His Kingdom. Above all be on your guard against the self-deception which leads you to regard falses as truths which is invariably done whenever the love of self-leading is allowed to govern. This morning's lesson describes those who are thus self-deceived, thus:
“It has been given to speak with many after death who believed themselves to be as stars about to shine in heaven, because as they said, they had the Word holy, they read it through often, they collected many things thence by which they confirmed the dogmas of their faith, and on account of that they were celebrated as learned, from which they believed themselves about to be Michaels and Raphaels. But many from them were explored, from what love they had studied the Word, and it was found that some from the love of self that they might be worshipped as primates of the Church and some from the love orthe world that they might gain wealth. When these were also explored as to what they knew from the word it was found that they knew nothing thence of genuine truth but only such as is called truth falsified which in itself is putrid false, for it smelt putrid in heaven; and it was said to them that they had this from the cause, that themselves and the world were their ends when they read the Word and not the truth of faith and the good of life; and when themselves and the world are their ends, then the mind when reading the Word adheres in themselves and the world, and thence they think constantly from the proprium and the proprium of man is in thick darkness as to all the things which are of heaven and the Church; in which state a man cannot be led up by the Lord and be elevated into the light of heaven, therefore cannot receive any influx from the Lord through heaven. I have also seen these admitted into heaven and when it was there found that they were without truths they were cast down, but there still remained with them the pride that they merited”, T.C.R. 233.
The great bulk of those in the Old Church are in this state, providentially blinded to the truth, because of their lack of affection which would make the right use of it. But itis for the members of the New Church to learn to see that the teaching has application to themselves also. So far as they are still unregenerated they too are providentially blinded from much truth which they would otherwise see. As long as there is any of the natural man left unregenerated there is so far blindness to spiritual truth. Even when there is much intellectual grasp of the truth, the natural man always tends to be blind to application to his own self — and when there is blindness to this, the truth itself is not seen. The Lord comes to man in Truth in order to save him if he will. But to save him is to expose his own evils to him in order that he may combat and shun them as sins. If a man therefore does not see in them their application to his own evils, he is blind to what is the very spirit and essence of the truth for him, he is deaf to just that which the Lord has come to teach him in particular. Let each reflect upon this, and he will find that his natural tendency is to be blind in this respect. A man may clearly see the truth in its application to others and yet be blind to its application to his own self, and that is to be blind to the truth which the Lord has given for him. There is infinity in every Divine Truth; but however much of this a man may see, if he does not see that in it which has particular and practical application to himself, he is blind to the very means in which the Lord has come to save, he is blind to the only means by which he can be saved. Is not this for all practical purposes as fully blindness to the truth as it is with those who reject it externally also. It is important therefore that each examine himself in this respect, and seek the means by which his blindness can be cured. In faithfully examining himself he will find that the heart of man is deceitful above all things, that the natural will exercises the greatest cunning in regarding the truth in all aspects but just the one which will condemm itself — it will most skillfully fence with every endeavor of the conscience to bring it home — even when the external application is recognized, there will still be a constant tendency to evade seeing its internal application, for this it is which touches the very life of man — that life however which he must be willing to lose if he would become truly the Lord's disciple. In seeking the means by which such blindness may be cured, let it be always remembered that the blindness itself is of the Divine Providence, and cannot be wisely removed unless the natural determination of the affection be inverted. Unless therefore men individually strive to be actively willing to give up their own will that the Lord's will may be done instead, they will he blind to just that in the truth which is necessary to save them, and that however fully they may enter into it intellectually; and they will be of those of whom the Lord declares now as much as ever: Wherefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, neither do they understand.
How fully man's life depends upon the Word of God is little realized. By the man of the world it is not realized at all; and the man of the Church is tempted as the Lord was to believe that life may be acquired by good alone, even by such good as is taught by natural truths — that stones may be turned into bread. But man is not only not sustained by that good, but is not sustained as to his spiritual life by the good which proceeds from the Lord except so far as it is appropriated from the Word going forth from His mouth. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word going forth through the mouth of God.
Moreover in answering the temptation to sustain life from other good, the Lord answers by appeal to the written Word. It is written He says; that is, He appeals to the letter of the Word, and declares that life will be sustained byevery word which goes forth from the mouth of God. The same teaching is written in His Word to the New Church, as read in this morning's lesson:
“That by the sense of the letter of the Word there is conjunction with the Lord and consociation with the angels”, T.C.R. 234.
This conjunction and consociation is spiritual life to all who have part therein.
“That by the Word there is conjunction with the Lord is because He Himself is the Word, that is, the very Divine Truth and Divine Good therein. That there is conjunction by the sense of the letter is because the Word in that sense is in its fulness, in its holiness and in its power... That conjunction does not appear to man, but it is in the affection of truth and the perception of it”, T.C.R. 234.
Every man has a certain affection for truth, for what he regards as truth; but naturally he regards as truth only what can be made subservient to his own will, or what is flattering to his own intelligence, because he seems to have searched it, out for himself. But the affection of truth which alone effects conjunction with the Lord, is one with affection for His Word, that is, affection for what the Lord says, which regards truth as truth simply because it is what the Lord has said and caused to be written for man’s guidance.
“That by the sense of the letter there is consociation with the angels of heaven is because in that sense is the spiritual sense and the celestial sense, and in these senses are the angels, the angels of the Lord's Spiritual Kingdom in the Spiritual Sense of the Word, and the angels of His Celestial Kingdom, in its celestial sense. These two senses are evolved from the natural sense of the Word when a maxi who has the Word holy, reads it. The evolution is instantaneous, therefore the consociation is also”, T.C.R.234.
The word evolution is used at this day to express the common notion that higher things are gradually produced from lower, a notion that is favored by many appearances, but which is nevertheless diametrically opposite to the truth. Moreover evolution means unfolding, and nothing can be unfolded which has not first been folded up — involution must always precede evolution. Thus it is with the Lord's Word which has been successively folded up in coverings to accommodate it to the various needs of angels and men — in celestial and spiritual coverings for heaven and in various natural coverings for men in the world. Now it is said that when a man reads the Word who has it holy, there is an instantaneous unfolding or evolution of its internal senses, but this unfolding is not to man's conscious thought; for as taught in the concluding number of this morning's lesson, man does not come into the spiritual sense itself until after death, but the unfolding is such as practically to effect consociation with the angels who are in the internal senses. Neither men nor angels have any particular perception of this consociation but only a general one, nevertheless it is fully effective as a mediate source of life for men, and as the most ultimate basis for the reception thereof by angels.
This consociation is various, that is, the different portions of the letter communicate respectively with corresponding portions of heaven — the Word as well as Heaven being in the human form — every part of the letter therefore corresponds and immediately communicates with some particular part of the Greatest Man. Just which is which -c e do not know. Similarly we know that the various nations of the world now have a like correspondence with the various parts of the human form; but it has not been given us to know what that correspondence in each case is. If it were useful it would have been revealed — and unless the use is clear, the very endeavour to obtain such knowledge is an abuse. Notice what is said about those in the other world who set themselves to discover which particular societies of heaven particular portions of the letter of the Word communicate with:
“There are also spirits who are below the heavens and n ho abuse this communication, for they recite some savings Front the sense of the letter of the Word and immediately observe and note the society with which communication is effected”, T.C.R. 235.
The acquiring of knowledge for any purpose, but the single one of knowing what the Lord wishes one to do, in order that one may do it, is an abuse. This is especially so in regard to spiritual knowledges. Men, like the spirits, are fond of prying into various spiritual things for quite other reasons. Such things as mesmerism, spiritualism, occultism, have quite a charm for many. Men crave such knowledges as will give them control over others, such as will enable Hein to put themselves in place of Providence, and interfere ill matters which can only be rightly regulated by Divine control. Let those therefore who would be truly the Lord's disciples beware lest they seek even knowledges of the Word for such ends as these, for to do so is to abuse them. The interior knowledges revealed in the Writings lend themselves to such abuse more fully than the comparatively external knowledges revealed in other forms of the Word. Seek in the Word, search the Scripture, only For the end of finding there what the Lord would have you do, especially to learn what He commands you not to do. Shun using knowledge thence to acquire power for yourselves, or to feed conceit of superior intelligence, or indeed for anything but the rendering innocent obedience to the Lord — otherwise you will not receive spiritual life from the Word, you will not obey the command that Man shall lire by every Word going forth out of the mouth of God.
As example a brief statement is given in this morning's lesson of the various senses of four of the commandments. As the commandments are dealt with particularly in the uex1: chapter of the Trine Christian Religion, it will suffice now just to notice what is the general distinction of the various senses. The natural sense treats of man's external set; the spiritual sense treats of man's internal attitude towards the neighbor, and the celestial sense treats of man's attitude towards the Lord. This shows that there is a celestial and a spiritual sense for men, as well as the more distinctively celestial and spiritual senses which are respectively for the celestial and spiritual angels, and moreover that there must be regard to all three senses in all living reception of the Word. Thus the Word cannot be obeyed so as to effect salvation, unless its celestial sense be obeyed — that is unless man takes the right attitude towards the Lord. Man cannot spiritually live from the Word unless he do this. He must shun self-leading and humble himself before the Lord with the desire that His will and not his own may be done. This is to obey the celestial sense of the Word, and opens man to the reception of what is the inmost of all heavenly or regenerate life. The lowest angel has something of this life, as also does the man who is at all regenerated. The celestial angels differ from the others only in having it in a discretely higher degree; but in some degree it must be the inmost of all who would live by the Word going forth from the mouth of God.
Examples are also given from the three kingdoms of nature, how each thing therein draws from the general stock what it needs for its own life, illustrating how it is with angels and men as to their reception of life from the Word, that each can take from the infinity there just what is necessary for his own regeneration and spiritual life, and that in like manner, each part of the individual man can take its own life — the new will lives from the celestial sense of the Word, the new understanding lives from the spiritual sense of it, and the external man from its natural sense — thus all three are necessary to the complete life of each individual. In this way, while each regenerating individual is associated with his own society of heaven in particular, he is in general associated with all the heavens, for together they are as one before the Lord, of which one all the parts contribute to the welfare of each single part, and each single part contributes to the perfection of the whole, for all live from the same Word, and like the Word they are all one internally although so various in external form.
“That the consociation of man with the angels is effected by the natural or literal sense of the Word, the reason also is because in every man there are from creation three degrees of life, the celestial, spiritual, and natural; but man is in the natural as long as he is in the world, and then he is so far in the angelic spiritual as he is in genuine truths, and he is so far in the celestial as he is in life according to them; but still he does not come into the very spiritual and celestial until after death, because these two are shut in and hidden in his natural ideas; wherefore when the natural goes away after death, the spiritual and celestial remain, from which the ideas of his thought then are. From these things it can appear that in the Word also is spirit and life, as the Lord says: ‘The words which I speak to you are spirit and are life’, John 4 : 63. ‘The water which I will give to you, will become a fountain of water leaping up unto eternal life’, John 4 : 14. ‘Man does not live from Bread alone, but from every word going forth from the month of God’, Matt. 4 : 4. ‘Work for the food which remains into life eternal, which the Son of Man will give to you’, John 6 : 27”, T.C.R. 239.
Man is in the natural as long as he is in the world — and therefore each form of the Word in the world is of necessity natural externally. But just as the angels of the natural leaven are distinguished into those who are relatively celestial-natural and spiritual-natural, so men in the world are distinguished into three degrees of the natural, the celestial-natural, the spiritual-natural, and the merely natural. And likewise the Word in the world has three forms similarly distinguished, to provide life for the corporeal, the sensual, and also for the rational mind. Mark the Lord's expression that man shall live by every word going forth from the mouth of God, and consider how fully this confirms the teaching that the Writings are the Word for anyone who receives their authority at all, for Swedenborg is caused to solemnly declare in them:
“As regards myself I have not been allowed to take anything whatever from the mouth of any spirit, nor from the mouth of any angel, but from the mouth of the Lord alone”, DE VERBO 13.
Either the Writings which make this
declaration are false, or they are the Word going forth from the mouth of the
Lord to give spiritual life to man's rational mind, and that by
the letter thereof the rational too may have conjunction with the Lord and
consociation with the angels.
“That the Word is in all the heavens and that angelic wisdom is thence”, T.C.R. 240.
That the Word here means a written Word, or the Word in a literal form is fully shown by the context of this morning’s lesson. That there is such a Word in all the heavens is because thence and thence only does the Lord teach those who would be led by Him. Wisdom does not come to the angels, anymore than to him, in any hidden and mysterious —way it, is acquired from the study of the Lord’s written Word, read with the end of applying it to life. Even in heaven the Lord does not teach by internal influx, but only from His Word so far as the angels voluntarily apply themselves to learn therefrom. Some apply themselves more and some less and hence some acquire more wisdom than others. Those who study the Word least are in the lowest or most external parts of heaven, while those who study it most deeply are in the highest. This results from the degree of their love to the Lord. All in heaven love Him, that is, love to do what He teaches so far as they know it; but some are satisfied with learning comparatively little, while others are ever eager to learn more, so that their work may be done in ever closer and closer conformity with the Lord’s will. With even the highest angels there is room for improvement in the way they do their work, and they more than all are in acknowledgment that it is so, and in the endeavor to learn from the written Word to effect improvement in it. How much more must this be the case with even the least imperfect of us! To learn from the Lord how to rightly perform the work of one’s own calling is what the Word is given for, both to angels and men. Angels are but men who have fully begun to do their work so, and men are really of the Church just so far as they are trying to initiate such a beginning in their own work.
“That the Word is in the heavens has not hitherto been known, neither could it be made known, as long as the Church was ignorant that angels and spirits are men, al-together similar in face and body to men in our world, and that with them are similar things as with men in all respects, with the sole difference that they are spiritual and that all things which are with them are from a spiritual origin, and that men in the world are natural, and that all things with them are from a natural origin. As long as this was hidden it could not be known that the Word is also in the heavens, and that it is read by the angels there, and also by the spirits who are under the heavens”, T. C.R. 240.
Thus there is the same single difference between the Word as it is in the heavens, and the Word as it is in the world, in the one it is spiritual and in the other natural. But these terms like most in human language have a relative rather than an absolute meaning. This is indeed necessarily the case, more or less, with all finite languages, even that of the heavens, as well as those in the world. The absolute is in the Lord alone; finite creatures become rational just in the degree in which they learn to know the true ratio between different things, that is, their relative, value, and the proper proportion which should obtain between them. The words reason and rationality literally mean this ability. All that finite beings learn is based upon comparisons and contrasts. Good is clearly recognized only by contrast with its opposite evil. The varieties of good which are from the Lord are understood by learning their true relative value, the ratio and proportion which they bear Lo each other as parts of the human form. It is from the lack of a proper recognition of this that the Lord's teachings appear contradictory to some. In necessary accommodation to man's finite capacity the Lord in His teaching has to deal with things in their relation to one series at a time. But the same thing may form the beginning of one series or the last of another, or the middle of yet another. Thus the world of spirits is internal in relation to this world, it is external in relation to heaven, it is intermediate in relation to the whole spiritual world. Again the lowest heaven is celestial and spiritual in relation to this world; but it is natural in relation to the two higher heavens. Hence discrimination must be exercised in our under standing of all such terms — and the ability to rightly discriminate their use in the Word depends upon the state of willingness on the part of the one studying it to give up his own will, in order to learn to do the Lord's instead. If willingness to do this be absent, either confusion manifestly results, or else what seems to be clearly seen is only seen with its relative value inverted and its proportion distorted. Now the Word in the heavens is spiritual, compared to the Word in this world; but in relation to those to whom it is given the Word is always natural, that is, its form is always perfectly accommodated to the nature of those to whom it is given. The Word in relation to the angels is just what the Word with us is to the men of the Church — the Lord Himself as He ultimately appears to teach them. Hence it is that it could not be made known that the Word was in the heavens as long as it was sup-posed that the angels were an altogether different order of beings from men; until it was known that angels are simply men who have become what the Lord creates all men to be, and which all those are actually becoming who are really in the endeavor to deny themselves that they may follow Him. The Word in the heavens is to the angels just what the Word with us is to the men of the Church — knowledge concerning the Word in the heavens is therefore inseparable from knowledge concerning the angels that they are men in all respects, except the gross bodies by means of which men enter into the uses of the material world. Hence our lesson continues in regard to knowledge concerning the Word in the heavens:
“But lest this should be hidden in perpetuity, it has been given to me to be in company with angels and spirits and to speak with them and to see the things which are with them, and afterwards to report many things which I have seen and heard. This has been clone in the work concerning HEAVEN AND HELL, published in Londen in the year 1758; from which it can be seen that angels and spirits are men, and that all things are in abundance with them which are with men in the world”, T.C.R. 240.
They have similar things for similar reasons and purposes as men have them, that is, men of the Church. They as finite beings are all imperfect in relation to the Lord, and need to constantly realize and to advance from that imperfection for ever. They have Divine worship that they may cultivate a. right attitude toward the Lord, and come into ever fuller humility before Him. They have preachings in temples, that they may be led in their study of the Word by those whose use it is to apply themselves more systematically than others to that study, and also that they may receive the Lord's teaching through the hearing as well as through the sight. They have writings and books for the game reason that such exist in this world, namely for the sake of the Word, for it is specifically taught that that is why the Lord has provided that there are writings in the heavens and that also was the real reason why printing was invented in this world. They have Sacred Writings or the Word in literal form for the same purpose for which the written Word is given to the Church here, that each may therein directly approach the Lord and see for himself that what is taught is from the Lord. Concerning the Word in the heavens it is further written:
“The Word is from the Lord, Who is the supreme, let down through the three heavens in order even to the earth, and hence it has been made accommodated to each heaven; wherefore also the Word is in each heaven, and almost with each angel in its own sense, and it is read by them daily and also preachings take place from it as in the earth. For the Word is Divine Truth itself, thus the Divine Wisdom proceeding from the Lord as a Sun, and appearing in the heavens as light; the Divine Truth is that Divine which is called the Holy Spirit; for it not only proceeds from the Lord but also enlightens man and teaches him, as it is said concerning the Holy Spirit. Since the Word in its descent from the Lord has been made accommodated to the three heavens, and the three heavens are conjoined as inmosts through means with ultimates, thus also there are three senses of the Word. Hence it is evident that the Word has been given that by it there may be conjunction of the heavens with each other, and also that there may be conjunction of the heavens with the human race, for whom is the sense of the letter which is merely natural, and hence the basis of the three remaining senses”, A.E. 1024.
That there may be no doubt that the Word exists in each heaven in literal or written forms, the kind of letter in which it is there written is described:
“As concerns the Word in the heavens this is written in a spiritual style, which altogether differs from the natural style; for the spiritual style consists of mere letters, of which each involves a certain sense, and there are little lines, marks and points, above and between the letters and in them which exalt the sense. The letters with the angels of the spiritual kingdom are similar to the typographical letters in our world (In the Diary it is said that the writing in the spiritual heaven is similar to the writing in the world in Latin letters, 5561, which are the same that are used in English) ; and the letters with the angels of the celestial kingdom are with some similar to Arabic letters, with some similar to ancient Hebrew letters, but inflected above and below, with signs above, between, and within, of which also each involves a complete sense”, T.C.R. 241.
Here we have Hebrew and Latin letters specifically mentioned, making it probable that the intermediate Greek letters are also included in the expression "typographical letters in our world". Moreover no names of persons, or places, are mentioned but in place of them, the signification given to them in the Writings.
“From these things it can appear that the Word in heaven is as to the literal sense similar and at the same time corresponding to our Word, and thus that they are one”, T.C.R. 241.
The similarity here concluded cannot be seen to be nearly so full if the Writings are not regarded as being included as a portion of our literal Word, for otherwise Latin letters do not appear with us in that connection, nor do spiritual significations take the place of names.
“This is wonderful that the Word in the heavens is so written that the simple understand the Word simply and that the wise understand it wisely; for there are many marks and signs which as was said exalt the sense; the simple do not attend to these neither do they know them; but the wise do attend each according to his wisdom, even to the highest. A copy of the Word written by angels inspired by the Lord is with every larger society, kept in its Sacrarium, lest the Word elsewhere should be changed as to any point. The Word which is in our world is similar to the Word of heaven in this, that the simple understand it simply and the wise wisely, but this is effected in a different manner”, T.C.R. 241.
Every person who approaches the Word with anything of angelic innocence does so in order that he may discover therefrom what are the evils in himself which he should combat and shun. Hence if his evils be simple in their nature, he only needs to understand the Word simply; but if they are or a more insidious kind he needs to enter into wiser understanding of the Word in order to expose their real quality. Thus also external evils are plainly pointed out in the Word of the old Testament; but spiritual evils are fully exposed in the Writings. These evils are carefully defended by man's natural rational which causes them to appear as good, which false appearance can only be penetrated when the rational is reformed by the rational truths of the Writings. Here as last week, it is made evident that the Word is not given to provide men with knowledges merely regarded as such, but is accommodated in such a way, that each one may find his own evils exposed there if he will, and if he does not will this his attitude is not like that of either the wise or the simple angels.
“That the angels have all their wisdom through the Word, this they themselves confess, for so far as they are in the understanding of the Word so far they are in light. In the Sacrarium in which a copy of the Word is kept, there is a and bright white light exceeding every degree of light which is outside of it in heaven”, T.C.R. 242.
A sacrarium simply means a sacred place, which we in adopting the custom call a repository. That in heaven the light shining with the sacrarium where a copy of the Word is kept, exceeds every degree of light outside of it in heaven, shows that the Word manifests light more abundantly than even the angels receive it:
“The wisdom of the celestial angels exceeds the wisdom of the spiritual angels almost as the wisdom of these angels exceeds the wisdom of men.... This is the cause that the Word in the Celestial Kingdom of the Lord is written differently from that in His Spiritual Kingdom”, T.C.R. 242
The cause I similar why the Word in the Writings is written differently from the Word in the Old and New Testaments, namely because the rational mind, for which the Writings are, is receptible of higher wisdom than the lower planes of the mind to which the other forms of the Word are accommodated.
“From these things it can be concluded of what quality is the wisdom which lies hidden in the Word which is in the world, for in it lies all angelic wisdom, which is ineffable, and into that wisdom man comes after death, who has been made an angel by the Lord through the Word”, T.C.R. 242.
In it lies all angelic wisdom and within that the Divine Wisdom itself; but there is no wisdom there lower than angelic wisdom except in the mere appearances of the letter. It has not been given to convey worldly wisdom though this may he read into it by those who read it from themselves. Indeed the Word may be said to be given solely for the angels and thus for heaven — in the first place to make angels and afterwards to perfect angels to eternity. Without this latter use the first world be incomplete. Into eternity, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in the heavens.
“By Ephraim in the Word is signified the understanding of the Word in the Church. Since the understanding of the Word makes the Church therefore Ephraim is called a Precious Son and a Child of Delights, Jer. 31 : 20; the Firstborn, Jer. 31.: 9; the Strength of the Head of Jehovah, Ps. 60 : 9; 108 : 9; the Powerful, Zech. 10 : 7; filled with the Bow, Zech. 9 : 13; and the sons of Ephraim were called the Armed and Shooters with the Bow. Ps. 78 : 9; for by the Bow is signified Doctrine from the Word fighting against falses. Therefore also Ephraim was transferred to the right hand of Israel and was blessed, also he was accepted in place of Reuben, Gen. 48 : 5, 11, seq. And therefore Ephraim with his brother Manasseh in the blessing of the Sons of Israel by Moses was under the name of Joseph, their father, exalted above all, Dent. 32 : 13, 17", T.C.R. 247.
By Joseph in the Word is represented the Lord's Spiritual Kingdom — specifically the internal or celestial of that Kingdom and by his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, the truth and good from that internal. Thus Joseph represents the internal good and Manasseh the external good, while Ephraim represents that understanding of truth which brings internal good forth into the external, thus the very means by which the external is reformed and regenerated. It is because of this, because he represents the very means by which all regeneration is effected in the spiritual Church, that Ephraim was exalted above all in the blessing of Moses. The Church is provided by the fiord for the sake of man's regeneration, and its quality therefore altogether depends upon its effectiveness in accomplishing this purpose, which accomplishment again depends upon this understanding of truth which prevails in the Church, thus upon the extent to which Ephraim, accompanied by his brother Manasseh, predominates therein. In this series the truth represented by Ephraim comes before the good represented by Manasseh, because the quality of all external good is determined by the quality of truth which guides and forms it and therefore ten thousands or myriads are predicated of Ephraim and thousands of Manasseh.
“Ten thousands signify innumerable things, similarly thousands; but ten thousands are said concerning truth and thousands concerning goods…. That myriads and thousands signify innumerable things, is because ten signifies many and thence also a hundred, a thousand, and ten thousand, for numbers multiplied by a similar number signify what is similar with the simple numbers by which they are multiplied. ... Moreover when two numbers multiplied, the one greater and the one less, which signify what is similar, are said together, as when ten and a hundred, or a hundred and a thousand, then the less number is said concerning goods and the greater number concerning truths, the reason is because each good consists of many truths, for good is formed form truths and hence good is produced by truths; from this it is that the greater number is said concerning truths and the less number concerning goods.... That thus it is may be illustrated by this — one delight of affection can be presented by many ideas of thought, and be expressed by various things in speech; the delight of affection is what is called good, and the ideas of thought and the various things in speech which proceed from that delight or good are what are called truths; it has itself similarly with one thing of the will and many things of its understanding, and also with one thing of the love towards the many things expressing it. Hence also it is that much and multitude in the Word are said concerning truths, and great and magnitude concerning good, for what is great contains many things in itself. But these things are said to those who can be enlightened by examples, that they may know whence it is that myriads signify innumerable equally as thousands, but still that myriads are said concerning truths and thousands concerning goods", A.E. 336.
“That the Church is according to the understanding of the Word is because the Church is according to the truths of faith and the goods of charity and these are the two universals which are not only spread through the whole literal sense of the Word, but also lie within like precious things in treasuries; those things which are in its literal sense appear before the eye of every man, because they inflow directly into the eyes, but the things which lie in the spiritual sense, they do not appear except to those who love truths because they are truths and do good because they are goods; before these there is manifested the treasury which the literal sense covers and guards and those are what essentially make the Church”, T.C.R. 244,
That goods and truths make the Church is a literal statement of the Word which is familiar to everyone in the New Church; but still it is a statement which is capable not only of various understanding but of opposite understanding. For it may he understood more or loss according to genuine doctrine or it may be understood only according to the natural impulses which prompt man to regard whatever he loves as good and whatever favors that good as truth. This leads to the putting of the good of the external first and the truth second, even as Joseph wished to put Manasseh first and Ephraim second. But as all external good needs to be, regenerated and to receive an altogether new quality from the internal before it can be heavenly and as this new quality can only come from the internal by means of genuine truth, it follows that external good can only be heavenly and thus good of the Church so far as the genuine truth of doctrine enters into and forms it.
That the Church is according to its doctrine is known, but still Doctrine does not establish the Church, but the integrity and purity of the doctrine, consequently the understanding of the Word”, T.C.R. 245.
The Church is established by the doctrine or teaching of the Word, so far as that teaching is presented and received in its integrity and purity. There are those who trust more in their own prudence than in integrity of doctrine for this end, and who would therefore pick and choose from the teaching of the New Church what they think would be most acceptable to their hearers, some with the idea that the other things can be presented later when some beginning has been made, and others with the idea that these unacceptable things are already out of date. But from the first it is integrity of doctrine and that only which can establish the Church on any permanent basis, or indeed in any way that is not merely an appearance. But what does this integrity of doctrine involve, for clearly it cannot mean that all the teachings in their completeness should be presented at once -- for man can only learn step by step and little by little and therefore there must he accommodation to his under-standing. Each general truth however when taught in its integrity is so fully an expression of innocence that it involves the potential reception of all the rest. Thus from the first such teaching involves the attitude towards Divine Revelation that whatever is there, is to be received as a matter of course, not only in spite of its contradiction of man's own ideas, but with the expectation that such contradiction must be met there and accepted. How could a Revelation he the Divine expression of infinite wisdom, without contradicting the natural ideas which man forms for himself? If Divine Revelation did not contradict man's natural ideas, there would be no need thereof. Divine Revelation is given to teach men that which they would never have learned of there selves and without which they would have believed the very opposite. Doctrine or teaching of Divine Truth must keep this principle ever before men, in order to have integrity. By this means an affirmative attitude will be taught to-wards the innumerable particulars of teaching which the man of the Church has yet to receive. Without this affirmative attitude his understanding of the Word cannot grow, nor can the Church which is altogether according to the understanding of the Word increase with him. Thus while the right understanding of many points of doctrine cannot be taught until they are reached step by step, and the teaching of such must therefore be deferred till then, there should not be even the appearance of avoiding any statement of doctrine because it might offend men's natural ideas, because such an idea is injurious to a proper affirmative attitude, and is therefore detrimental to the reception of any teaching in its integrity. The man of the Church needs to realize more and more fully that every genuine spiritual truth, spiritually understood, is contrary to his natural ideas, and the right application thereof is always in diametrical opposition to his natural inclination. There can be no integrity of teaching or reception, even of the most elementary doctrines unless innocence be thus therein. Representatively it was the innocence of wisdom that caused the aged Israel to put Ephraim before Manasseh, attributing to the first tens of thousands and to the second only thousands.
“Both integrity and purity of doctrine are necessary to the understanding of the Word which establishes the Church. Integrity as just shown involves that it must include innocence: purity involves that it must exclude the promptings of man's own intelligence. Just as the integrity or completeness of doctrine can only be received potentially by man, to be actually received step by step, so with regard to the purity of his reception from the promptings of his own intelligence it is actually attained only by slow degrees, but yet there ought to be from the first that denial of self which is the denial that self intelligence has any ability to teach the way to heaven, and the constant acknowledgment therefore that its promptings ought to have no weight in the study of doctrine. For man is naturally full of the life of his own intelligence and its actual removal can only be done little by little, even as the Canaanites were not removed from before the Israelites in one year lest there should be a desolation. Nevertheless the truth that it needs removing should be kept continually before the mind in order that there may be any purity in man's reception of doctrine. For unless the promptings of self-intelligence are constantly resisted they are sure to defile the doctrine received by turning it into compliance with the unregenerate will. [Marginal note here: "good not first"]. So far as there is the practical endeavor to resist self-intelligence, a man will be potentially in purity of doctrine, and will also be-come increasingly receptive thereof actually. These two then, integrity and purity of doctrine, give the under-standing of the Word which establishes the Church and which is meant by Ephraim who is exalted in the text: And these are the myriads of Ephraim, and these are the thousands of Manasseh.
“But Doctrine does not establish and make the special Church which is with man in the singular, but faith and life according to that Doctrine; similarly the Word does not establish and make the Church specifically with man but faith according to the truths and life according to the goods which he derives thence and applies to himself”, T.C.R. 245
It is the life which a man really lives which makes the Church in him individually. How often this doctrine has been perverted into the idea that a man can form the Church in himself by leading a good life without much regard to doctrine. But the life which makes the Church in man is the life which is according to doctrine in its integrity and purity. The idea is too commonly entertained that a man can live better than he believes. When this is so it is only an appearance. A man may, like many heathens, be potentially better than the faith which he intellectually holds. But as to actual spiritual life a man cannot live better than is the quality of his understanding of the Word. The best he can do is to constantly reach after this attainment of life which will be in accord with his understanding of the Word and if he attains some approximation thereto he will do well. So far is it from being a fact that he can live in advance of his understanding of the Word that actually he can never live perfectly up to even that degree of understanding of the Word which he has. Unless indeed his understanding of the Word be a perverted one. When the understanding of the Word is perverted it is at bottom in order to make it agree with the desires of man's own will. It is easy to live up to such a perverted understanding of' the Word. But if the understanding of the Word he formed, as all genuine understanding of it is, from doctrine received in the integrity and purity which it has from the Lord, man can only follow it, seeing it ever before him, but never absolutely reached even to eternity, and yet at the same time so accommodated to each individual that it is never further in advance of him than he is prepared to endeavor to follow it if he will. The Lord ever leads gently, but He does lead — He is always in advance of His followers in the doctrine which He enables them to see, teaching them a quality of life which they have not yet actually attained. Thus with the regenerating man the understanding of the doctrine of the Word in its integrity and purity must always be exalted and humbly followed. For:
“The Church is of such quality as is the understanding of the Word, i.e. it is excellent and precious if the under-standing be from genuine truths from the Word, but destroyed, yea filthy if it be from falsified truths”, T.C.R. 247.
Nothing causes the falsification of truth but the inclinations of man's own will which constantly incite his self-intelligence to justify them, even by truths if possible. The inclinations of man's own will are the good which the world seeks and cultivates with more or less refinement and skill. Man can never escape from the worship of the good which the world regards as such unless the necessity of under-standing the genuine truth of the Lord's Word be exalted, and made the sole standard of what should be striven after, and unless that good of life alone be given a place in the Church which results from striving after that standard regarded in its integrity and purity. Ephraim must go before Manasseh and be exalted above all the sons of Israel. They are the ten thousands of Ephraim and they are the thousands of Manasseh.
In the SUMMARY EXPOSITION it is said that the two verses from which this text is taken are concerning those who will worship the Lord from the affection of truth and of good. Both these affections must be in all genuine worship. The one affection without the other, or unless it lead to the other, is without any value. It is to no purpose that the affection for truth is cultivated unless the affection for good is also. And it is just as fully useless to cultivate the affection for good without the affection for truth being cultivated also. Neither is it possible by cultivating them as two independent things to attain heaven, for heaven is from and according to the marriage of these two affections. Thus it is to no purpose that there should be, as there appears to be with some, on the one hand an affection for certain truths and on the other hand an affection for a certain kind of good of life, each. affection going forth in practical independence of the other, however they may be externally associated together in the same mind. There must he the marriage of those two affections and genuine marriage can only be effected between such affections as are capable of entering interiorly into the most intimate relations with each other so that one may contribute the form and the other the life of what is essentially one quality — truth must contribute the form thereof and good the life. Thus there can be conjoined in marriage to a truth only that good which is the actual practice of what that particular truth teaches. The relation of marriage is incompatible with anything of a promiscuous nature. This is because it is altogether so in the spiritual marriage of good and truth — Goods and truths cannot be conjoined promiscuously so as to form the heavenly marriage, and that however genuine the truths may be as such, or however desirable the good may seem to be. That each truth must be married to its own good and no other, is made very evident even in the very letter of every form of the Word to all who regard the Word according to the rational teaching presented in this morning's lesson.
“That in the single things of the Word there is the marriage of the Lord and the Church and hence that of good and truth, has not been seen hitherto, neither could it be seen, because the spiritual sense of the Word was not disclosed before, and that marriage could not be seen except through that sense; for there are two senses in the Word lying in the sense of its letter which are called the spiritual and the celestial sense; and in the spiritual sense all things which are of it in the Word refer themselves chiefly to the Church, and those in the celestial sense chiefly to the Lord; also in the spiritual sense those things which are of it refer themselves to Divine Truth and those in the celestial sense to Divine Good; hence it is that in the Word there is that marriage”, T.C.R. 248.
The revealed Word is the means by which the marriage of the Lord and the Church is effected, or what is the same thing, the marriage of the Lord and the regenerating of the human race. Therefore that marriage is expressed everywhere in the single things thereof — not just here and there, inasmuch as every single detail has reference to the Lord on the one hand and to man on the other. For every detail is about what the Lord has done and what He desires to teach; and every detail is also about man and what he ought to do. Acknowledgment of this marriage in the Word therefore involves acknowledgment of the Divine authority of the Word on the one hand, and acknowledgment that it has application to a man's own self on the other. Both these are essential to any genuine reception of the Word. Acknowledgment of its Divine authority does not avail anything towards regeneration unless there is also acknowledgment that all its details have practical application to each man's own self. The natural tendency is to think of this detail of the Word us having application to such a one and that detail to someone else; but just as they all apply to the Lord's glorification, so in a finite degree they all apply and are necessary to the regeneration of each and every individual. On the other hand it avails nothing to regeneration if the Word is obeyed and applied to oneself, unless it be done because of its Divine authority. Thus a man may on the natural plane obey the command not to steal, yet unless stealing be shunned simply because it is contrary to the Divine command, shunning it contributes nothing to spiritual salvation. Thus while there is a celestial sense which is specifically for the angels of the highest heaven, there is also a celestial sense as well as a spiritual sense for every man of the Church, who regards the celestial sense of the Word which is for him, when He considers its Divine Authority, and who regards the spiritual sense which is for him only when he considers the application thereof to his own spiritual states. Only when he has regard to both these does he look to the Lord as the Bridegroom and the Church in himself as the Bride, only so far can there be spiritually heard in him the voice of joy and the voice of gladness.
“But this does not appear to anyone except to him who from the spiritual and celestial sense of the Word knows the significations of words and names, for certain wards and names are predicated concerning goad, and certain concerning truth, and certain ones include both; where-fore without that knowledge, that marriage in the single things of the Word could not be seen. This is the cause that this arcanum has not been disclosed before”, T.C.R. 248.
Before the Writings were given the Word was not revealed to man's rational mind and therefore there could be no rational understanding of what marriage involved. Without the spiritual sense which alone can form the rational spiritually, the relation between good and truth was not clear the natural mind indeed tends to resist the reception of the clear leading concerning it—it prefers to be its own judge of what is good, and to accept truth only so far as it seems to him to agree with that good. It is therefore only from that sense of the Word which reveals what spiritual marriage essentially is, that the ultimation of it in the Word can be seen. Otherwise he regards those ultimations as mere repetitions, even as he regards woman as merely a repetition of man, different from man only as the result of different circumstances and surroundings. And he regards those apparent repetitions as having only the most external relation to each other, even as he regards the marriage of man and woman as only an external relation which has no place in the spiritual world, still less in heaven. But not only is the Divine Marriage involved in the conjoined celestial and spiritual sense which is in every single expression of the Word, but it is also manifested in the numerous pairs of expressions which occur — and in which each expression has its own proper partner.
“Since there is such a marriage in the single things of the Word, therefore many times in the Word there are two expressions which appear as if they were repetitions of the same thing; nevertheless they are not repetitions but the one refers itself to good and the other to truth and both taken together make the conjunction of those, thus one thing. Hence also is the Divine sanctity of the Word, for in every Divine work there is good conjoined to truth and truth conjoined to good”, T.C.R. 248.
Hence in everything there is some appearance of sex and marriage. Good and truth are indeed one in the Lord, but because man is so created that he can think one way and act another, his will and understanding thus acting separately, therefore the Lord could not accommodate Himself to man's comprehension unless He spoke of Him-self as if Divine Good and Divine Truth in Him were two, and likewise unless He presented good and truth to man as two. For man must accept heaven voluntarily and there-fore he must effect the marriage of good and truth which makes heaven in himself voluntarily and as of himself.
“It is said that in the single things of the Word there is the marriage of the Lord and the Church and hence the marriage of good and truth, for this latter marriage is from the former; for when the Church or the man of the Church is in truths, then the Lord in His truth inflows with good and vivifies them or what is the same, when a man of the Church is in the understanding of truths then the Lord by the good of charity inflows into his understanding and infuses life into it”, T.C.R. 249.
Truth comes to man by an external way, good by an internal way. But good cannot remain heavenly in quality unless it be received into the form of truth. The Lord gives good to all, for life is good, even the life of the natural man, but it is good perverted in its reception. In order to receive good without perverting it man must acquire truths and by endeavor to live according to them open each one In himself to the reception of that good which gives life to it, and causes it to be internally what it outwardly expresses.
“There are two faculties with every man which are called the understanding and the will; the understanding is the receptacle of truth and thence of wisdom, and the will is the receptacle of good and thence of charity. These two faculties must make one in order that a man may be a man of the Church, and they make one when man forms his understanding from genuine truths and this is done to appearance as if by himself; and when his will is infilled with the good of love this is done by the Lord; hence man has the life of truth and the life of good, the life of truth in his understanding and the life of good in his will, which when they are united make not two but one life. This is the marriage of the Lord and the Church also the marriage of good and truth with man”, T.C.R. 249.
The will and the understanding are separated in man naturally in order that he may be able to exercise free determination in his reception or rejection of heavenly life. If his understanding could not be raised above his will to enable him to see temporarily truth which teaches a different life from that of his own will, he could never know that there was any good except what gratified his natural love, still less could he resist his natural love, and seek a good altogether different and higher than that which brings merely natural gratification. Nevertheless the will and understanding must be conjoined before a man is really a man of the Church, that is the marriage of the will and understanding must have been begun before the Church can be said to be in a man, and it must come to a state of fulness before he is regenerated and fitted for heaven. But again this marriage is not the marriage of the will and the understanding which a man naturally possesses. If a man only enters into that it is the infernal marriage, where the understanding is the slave of man's own will, which it always naturally tends to be. For when the understanding is elevated above the will to see the truth which the Lord has taught, it will fall back to the level of self-will, unless the will is resisted and by Sell-compulsion obedience is rendered to the truth then seen. Then a new will is given by the Lord which agrees with the elevated understanding which is thus obeyed. Thus in the heavenly marriage the elevated understanding leads and the will follows. Now just as the natural will and understanding can only enter into the infernal marriage when the will leads and the understanding is a mere slave thereto, so a man and woman who are merely natural and not striving to be regenerated can only enter into an infernal marriage with each other ill which the woman really rules either obviously and openly, or else cunningly and indirectly, while outwardly seeming not to. Hence while it may sometimes appear with tile, merely natural that the man rules, it is only where boil, are seeking that the understanding of genuine truth and. not their own will shall rule, that the man really leads and the woman really loves him to do so. The spiritual state which results from regeneration is always the inverse of that which naturally obtains. The infernal marriage has its delights indeed, but there is no happiness therein, there is neither true joy in the will nor true gladness in the understanding. It is only as regeneration makes conjugial marriage possible that there begins to be heard therein the voice of joy and the voice of gladness.
“That both joy as well as gladness are said is because joy is predicated concerning good and gladness concerning truth, or joy concerning love and gladness concerning wisdom, for joy is of the heart and gladness is of the spirit, or joy is of the will and gladness of the understanding”, T.C.R. 252.
This joy and gladness conjoined make heavenly happiness.
“Heavenly joy itself of such quality as it is in its essence cannot be described because it is in the inmosts of the life of the angels and hence is in the single things of their thought and affection and from these in the single things of speech and in the single things of action. It is as if the interiors were fully opened and unloosed for receiving delight and happiness which is dispersed into the single fibres and thus through the whole; whence the perception and sensation of it is such that it cannot be described; for what begins from the inmosts this inflows into the single things which are derived from the inmosts, and they propagate themselves always with increase towards the exteriors. Good spirits who are not yet in that delight, because not yet elevated into heaven when they perceive it from in angel from the sphere of his love are infilled with such delight that they come as it were into a, sweet swoon. This has been sometimes done with those who desired to know what heavenly joy was", H.H. 409.
What heavenly joy is to the will, heavenly gladness is to the understanding. It is into such joy and such gladness that the Lord desires to lead all who would follow Him. Those who suffer Him to lead them into these are in those happy states to eternity. Of what account then are the troubles of the temptation states which must intervene but which last but a few years at most. Now it is declared that this joy and gladness of the inmost is propagated always with increase towards exteriors. Thus the joy and gladness of the heavenly marriage within, comes into its fulness of conscious realization by being ultimated in external marriage also. The marriage of the Lord and the Church within each conjugial partner is the source of all heavenly life; but it is realized in all its joy and gladness in the relation which obtains in externals from internals with every angelic husband and wife. This is the state which is meant by this place in the text: There shall be heard in this place the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride.
“Thou shalt not commit adultery, that it signifies that those things which are of the doctrine of faith and charity are not to be perverted, thus are not to be applied to confirming falses and evils; also that the laws of order are not to be inverted appears from the signification of adultery and scortating, that in the spiritual or internal sense, they are to pervert the good and falsify the truths which arc of the doctrine of faith and charity and because these are signified by committing adultery, applying the Word to confirming evils and fakes is also signified, for the. Word is the verimost doctrine of faith and charity and the perversion of truth and good there is application to falses and evils”, A.C. 8904.
Thus this commandment in its internal sense forbids the evil treated of in this morning’s lesson, the evil of con-firming heresies taken from the letter of the Word which is declared to be damnable. Using the letter of the Word to confirm the evils which are contrary to innocence, or the falses which support or encourage such evils is spiritual adultery.
“That these are signified by committing adultery in the spiritual sense scarcely anyone at this day knows, from the cause that at this day it is known by few what the spiritual is and how this differs from the natural, and scarcely by anyone that there is correspondence between both, and indeed such that an image of the one is presented in the other, that is, the spiritual is represented in the natura1; consequently that the spiritual is as its soul and the natural as its body and thus by influx and thence conjunction they constitute one, as in the regenerated man his internal man which is also called spiritual and his external which is also called natural. Because such things are not known at this day therefore it cannot be known what committing adultery signifies further than being illegitimately conjoined as to the body”, A.C. 8904.
And yet breaking the commandments in the spiritual sense is the cause of breaking them in the natural sense — the spiritual sense is their soul. Man may, by external reason, be restrained from breaking the commandments naturally; but the love of breaking them, even in the natural sense, can never be overcome and removed in any man until he has fought against and conquered his love of breaking them in the spiritual sense. Thus no one can overcome the love of adultery until he has overcome his love for confirming his own natural ideas by the letter of the Word. For a man's own natural ideas are all essentially false, for they all tend to justify him in going his own way, that way which is naturally good in his own eyes but which nevertheless always leads directly away from innocence and heaven. Let all who would be wise therefore take heed against the tendency to use the letter of Divine revelation to confirm the falses with which they naturally sympathize. Let not those of the New Church flatter themselves that falses do not exist with them, and that therefore they are in no danger of confirming falses. The natural man, that is the unregenerated part of every man, is thoroughly imbued with falses. In the New Church they are apt to be more subtle than elsewhere in disguising themselves by confirmations from the Word, and the Writings afford even more plausible means of doing so than the other forms of the Word. How easy it is to confirm oneself in merely natural good as being sufficient to fit one for heaven — by the many literal statements that truth becomes secondary to good in the more advanced stage of regeneration. How flattering it is to a man to be able thence to regard his own preference to just do what seems good to himself rather than to painfully compel himself to obey, the truth, as a sign of his own advanced regeneration when good rules rather than truth. But let each remember that to confirm any form of self-leading by the letter of Divine Revelation is to commit spiritual adultery, and thereby to shut off the communication with heaven which the Word would otherwise effect for him. Every idea which favors self-leading is false; every genuine truth_ teaches innocence. Keeping this in mind will enable each to recognize the tendency in himself to cherish such falses, and also to confirm them. The Lord would teach him to shun doing so as damnable adultery.
“Because those things, as was said, are not known at this day, it is allowed to say the cause, why to commit adultery in the spiritual sense signified to pervert those things which are of the doctrine of faith and charity thus to adulterate goods and to falsify truths. The cause, which at this day is secret, is that conjugial love descends from the marriage of good and truth which is called the heavenly marriage; the love which inflows from the Lord, which is between good and truth in heaven, is turned into conjugial love on earth, and this by correspondence. Hence it is that the falsification of truth is scortation and the perversion of good is adulteration in the internal sense. Hence also it is that those who are not in the good and truth of faith, are not able to be in genuine conjugial love either; also those who take the delight of life in adulteries are not able to receive anything of faith anymore; I have heard it said by the angels that as soon as anyone commits adultery on earth and takes delight in it, heaven is closed to him, that is, he refuses any more to receive thence anything of faith and charity. That at this day in the kingdoms where the Church is adulteries are reputed by very many as of no account, is because the Church is of no account, and thus there is not any faith any more, because there is not charity, for the one corresponds to the other, where there is no faith the false is in place of truth and evil in the place of good, and thence it flows, that adulteries are not more reputed as crimes, for heaven being closed such things inflow from hell”, A.C. 8904
This is the state which obtains in the world about us, a state which though it can be kept from going forth into act by external restraints, cannot be cured as long as genuine truth is rejected. It exists with those of the New Church too; but it is curable there if the members of that Church only render spiritual obedience to the truths received. In the Writings as well as other forms of the Word truths are clothed in appearances, though in rational appearances which agree with the truth itself if only they are understood in their own light. But if men accept those appearances only according to the light of the natural rational they will only serve to confirm their natural rational states, and where those are thus confirmed by the Word spiritual adultery is committed
“Heresies themselves do not damn man, but confirmation of the falsities which are in the heresies, from the Word, and by reasoning from the natural man, and evil life, they do damn”, T. C.R. 245.
The falses which are in all heresies derive their essential falsity from this, that they all teach more or less, openly or by insinuation, that man is able to lead himself. Such falsity confirmed makes hell. All who hold themselves in the right attitude towards the Lord embrace genuine truths when they are presented; it is man’s turning to himself that causes him to confirm falses, and thus the Church inhim is false to her Divine Husband. Moreover:
“The confirmed falses remain and cannot be extirpated; for the false after confirmation is as if one swore to it, especially if it cohere with the love of self, or with the pride of intelligence”, T.C.R. 254.
“Every man after death is instructed by angels and they are received who see truths and from truths falses; but only they do see truths who have not confirmed themselves in falses, but they who have confirmed themselves are not willing to see truths, and if they do see them they turn themselves backward and then either laugh at them or falsify them. The genuine cause is that confirmation enters the will and the will is the man himself and disposes the understanding, at pleasure, but bare knowledge only enters the understanding and this has not any authority over the will so it is not in the man otherwise than as one stands in the court or in the doors and not as yet in the house”, T.C.R. 255.
“Confirmation enters the will because a man only really confirms that which he is willing to do. Confirmation as used then means very much the same as justification. Thus a man confirms a falsity when he justifies himself in acting according to it. Everyone who justifies himself in going his own way, confirms the false which favors it, and if he does it by means of the letter of Divine Revelation he spiritually commits adultery.
“That it is damnable to confirm the appearances of truth which are in the Word, since by that it is made fallacious and thus the Divine Truth which lies within is destroyed, the very cause is that all and single things of the sense of the letter of the Word communicate with heaven, for as .vas said above a, spiritual sense is in all and single things of the sense of its letter, and this is opened when it passes from man towards heaven; and all things of the spiritual sense are genuine truths, wherefore when a man is in falses and applies the sense of the letter to them then the falses are therein, and when falses enter truths are dissipated, which takes place in the way from man to heaven”, T.C.R. 258.
It is also taught that communication with heaven is effected by the letter of the Word. This is the case where a literal statement may be easily falsified if it be separated from other statements bearing on the same matter. The letter will effect communication with heaven, externally for the simple, but it effects it more internally in proportion as the genuine truth in it is understood. On the other haul as here taught it does not effect such communication it all if the letter of the Word in man's mind be filled with false ideas. As is further declared:
“It is similar with the reading of the Word by a man who is in falses and applies some things of the sense of its letter to his falses, that then it is rejected in the way towards heaven lest such a thing should inflow and infest the angels; for the false when it touches truth is like the point of a needle when it touches the fibril of a nerve, that the fibril of a nerve immediate revolves itself into a spiral and retreats into itself is known, similarly that the eye at the first touch of it covers itself with the lids. From these things it is evident that falsified truth takes away communication with heaven and closes it. This is the cause that to confirm any heretical false is damnable”, T.C.R. 258.
Let it be kept continually in mind what falsification essentially is, namely that it is turning the truth to self and causing it to confirm what self `loves — whereas truth is genuinely understood just in the degree that innocence is therein, that is in the degree in which the truth is seen to teach the denial of self that the Lord may be followed instead.
“The Word is like a garden which may be called a heavenly paradise in which are delicacies and delights of every kind, delicacies from fruits and delights from flowers, in the midst of which are trees of life, next to which are fountains of living water, and around the garden are forest trees. The man who is in Divine Truths from Doctrine is in the midst where the trees of life are and he actually enjoys its delicacies and delights; but the man who is not in truths from doctrine but only from the sense of the letter is in the surrounding part and sees only the things of the forest: but he who is in the doctrine of a false religion and has confirmed its false with himself is not even in the forest, but outside of it in a sandy place where there is not grass either”, T.C.R. 259.
Truth from doctrine is here distinguished from truth from the letter — Truth is from Doctrine When man suffers himself to be really taught by Divine Revelation something entirely different from anything he could have learned or evolved himself. Truth is only from the letter — whenlitera1 statements from Revelation are taken only to confirm what a man had thought before. Such people only see the outside of Divine Revelation and nothing at all of the genuine truth within its letter.
From the correspondence of adultery with the confirmation of falses by the letter of the Word it can be seen what it is that essentially constitutes falsity. Whatever leads the Church to be false to her Divine Husband thus whatever favors being led by self-intelligence is false and the literal forms of truth, even those of the Writings, are falsified if they are so understood as to make them favor self-intelligence or natural rationality. In the command Thou shalt, not commit adultery the Lord speaks to you as a professed member of the Church which is His Bride and Wife and commands you not to be unfaithful to Him. Natural tendencies and spiritual temptation both entice you to receive the seed of truth from self or from the world, the doing of which is the real cause of all adultery internal and external.
“And a sharp two-edged sword going forth out of His mouth, signifies the dispersion of falses by the Word and by doctrine thence from the Lord. In the Word sword is often said and by it no other is signified than truth fighting against falses and destroying them, and also in the opposite sense the falses fighting against truths. For by wars in the Word are signified spiritual wars which are of truth against the false and of the false against truth. Wherefore by the arms of war are signified such things Icy which fighting is done in these wars. That the dispersion of falses by the Lord is here understood by a sword is evident because it was seen to go forth from His mouth, and to go forth from the mouth of the Lord is to go forth from the Word, for by this mouth the Lord has spoken”, A.R. 52
The truth of the Word is the sword by which all falses and evils must be conquered by the man of the Church. Against his spiritual foes no other weapon is of any avail —without it man is helpless against them. But it should always be borne in mind that it is a two-edged weapon, and may be used to defend falses as well as to destroy them. The fact is familiar in the New Church that most things there have an opposite sense as well as a genuine sense; but here this is expressed in the very letter, where the sword is called two-edged. As also in Genesis where it speaks of a sword as turning hither and thither to guard the way of the tree of lives. Because it can thus be turned in the way one chooses, the letter of the Word is to a considerable extent popular among men — even among such as have an utter aversion for genuine truth. The letter of the Word can easily he turned to the defence of falses and evils. The letter as given in the Writings is easily turned to the defence of the things of self-intelligence which men love, and can be used as a weapon to oppose every attempt to expose the evils of being led by one's own rationality, of seeking only the good which is good in one's own eyes and such like. But the very ease with which this can be done is an effectual guard over the genuine truth which lies within the letter. Seeing that the letter can be made to defend his own loves, the natural man is satisfied to receive it thus, and is unwilling to penetrate further, thus he never even reaches the truth itself. For he calls that the truth which defends and supports what he loves and nothing else. This may not always be easy as to external acts; but it gets easier and easier as applied internally. This is because the internal is free, while the external is more or less under restraint. The internal of all evil is some form of the love of leading oneself; it is so easy to bend the truth to the defence of this, that it is done without the one doing it being aware of it unless he be on his guard against so doing and keep a vigilant watch over that tendency in himself. Indeed it is necessary to know and keep in mind that the Lord's teaching always leads in a direction contrary to man's own natural inclinations, acid that therefore it is this very opposite which men should look for when they are seeking; genuine truth. Otherwise they will take credit to themselves as being seekers of truth, when in reality they are only seeking what will defend and support the good which makes their natural life. Truth of the letter is a two-edged sword, it can be used to defend the good which man naturally loves, or it can be used to defend heavenly good. Those who only assume to be of the Church do the former, only those who are really of the Church, that is, those who are actually striving to become regenerated, do the latter.
The sense of the letter has been given by the Lord to convey to man that genuine truth which will fight against and destroy his evils if he apply it to himself. Man however is apt to use it only to fight against what he regards as evil, that is, against whatever he regards as being injurious to his own natural life. Accordingly he is apt to understand the Word as teaching that this should be done, which understanding is opposite to that which is received by one who reads the Word in innocence that is, whose object in reading is to be led by the Lord and not by self. Nevertheless variety in understanding of the Word by different people is not injurious, indeed as the Truth is infinite, there can be infinite variety in all finite understanding of it. Each one who approaches the Word in innocence will be given to see that understanding of it that will expose the particular varieties of evils which he loves, and that will enable him to conquer them.
“That the sense of the letter is understood otherwise by one than by another does not injure; but it does injure if man infers falses which are contrary to Divine Truths, which is done solely by those who have confirmed them-selves in falses”, T.C.R. 260.
Here it is taught that only those who have confirmed themselves in falses infer from the letter falses which are contrary to Divine Truths. It is well therefore to have a clear idea as to what kind of falses are meant as being contrary to Divine Truths. For it may be said that all falses are opposite to truths as it is this opposition which causes them to be falses. Falses of ignorance are not meant, however opposite to truth they may be in form; but falses which induce upon the mind an opposite character to that which truth does. Such falses are inferred from the Word only by those who have confirmed themselves in falses, which means those who have received them into their will. Such men may indeed study the Word and appear even to themselves to be seekers of truth thence, but, what they infer is always made to agree with their natural love, and by that is falsified however little the form may be changed. By that also they do injury to themselves for they thereby confirm themselves in states opposite to those of heaven, which they then defend more strongly than ever. Thus is the letter of the Word which should be for the defence of Divine Truth turned to the defence of internal falses. Thus is the letter of the Word which should be used for destroying falses used instead for destroying the forms of Truth which such have received. Thus is it a two edged sword which if not rightly used will injure the one who handles it and not his spiritual foes. Let the man of the Church therefore take heed of this and resist his natural tendency to use the Word to defend what he naturally loves, turning it instead against the only spiritual foe which he need fear, against him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell — the love of self-leading.