Selections From De Hemelsche Leer (DHL)
on the Divinity of Doctrine
Fascicle IV, p. 37 ff
A Correspondence On The Essence Of The Latin Word And The Divinity Of The Doctrine Of The Church
Rev. Ernst Pfeiffer To Rev. Albert Bjorck
There are three discrete degrees, even with man as long as he lives in this world, of seeing truths that teach love to the neighbor and of living accordingly, and there are three discrete degrees of seeing truths that teach love to the Lord and of living accordingly. In your letter of March 3rd you explicitly deny the existence of a discretely distinct natural Doctrine, spiritual Doctrine, and celestial Doctrine, although these are spoken of in the Third Testament itself (cf. for instance A.R. 350), and moreover they can clearly be seen in the comparative description in the ARCANA of the Adamic and the Noachic and the Hebrew Churches.
From our study of the difference between the natural and the rational, ? which indeed as to their basis both belong to the natural degree of the mind, ? we are led to hold that there are with man three discrete degrees of Doctrine, and thus of doctrinals, cognitions, and scientifics. We readily admit that these degrees are not in themselves discrete, but that they in reality only appear to be discrete because they are discretely qualified by the influx of the spiritual and the celestial degrees. But nevertheless, this apparent discreteness is as real, as if it were really a substantial discreteness, and there is no relation between these apparently discrete degrees but that of correspondence. Each of these three apparently discrete degrees of the natural mind has its own discretely different doctrinals, cognitions, and scientifics.
According to our understanding it is the interior natural that makes the man of the natural Church; it is the exterior rational that makes the man of the spiritual Church; and it is the interior rational that makes the man of the celestial Church. According to this view it is thus plain that it is a qualification of the natural degree of the mind into apparently discrete degrees, by the influx of the spiritual and of the celestial, that makes the difference between the natural, spiritual, and celestial Churches. For all of those degrees, namely the interior natural, the exterior rational, and the interior rational, as to their basic essence, belong to the natural degree of the human mind. If this were not the case it would not be necessary for man to be born first in the natural world.
Here you may see how the teaching that the natural degree of the human mind regarded in itself is continuous, but that there comes into existence the appearance of discreteness by the influx of the spiritual and celestial degrees, has fully been realized in our position. Regarded as to their basis the interior natural, the exterior rational, and the interior rational, form a continuous degree, because all of them belong to the natural degree of the human mind; but through correspondence with the two higher degrees, namely the spiritual and celestial, if these flow in, there is the full appearance of discreteness.
As long as an interior natural man lives in this world, he is sensuously conscious only in the external of the interior natural; when he leaves this world he becomes sensuously conscious in the internal of the interior natural. As long as a spiritual man lives in this world, he is sensuously conscious only in the external of the exterior rational; when he leaves this world he becomes sensuously conscious in the internal of the exterior rational. As long as a celestial man lives in this world he is sensuously conscious only in the external of the interior rational; when he leaves this world he becomes sensuously conscious in the internal of the interior rational. And whereas, as I pointed out before, the external of even the celestial man is discretely lower than the internal of the interior natural man, it is quite plain why in one specific sense it is said in the number quoted by you (A. 8443), that man compared with the Angels is in the lowest, namely the sixth, degree.
But this regards rather the full sensuously conscious enjoyment of the different degrees of truths than the essential possession of the concepts of the different degrees of truths. Therefore it is said in this specific sense that man cannot grasp the higher degrees of truths. But on the other hand it would seem evident that the doctrinals. cognitions. and scientifics of the Adamic man were discretely higher than those of the Noachic man ? although this discreteness is not a discreteness in itself but draws its origin from the influx of the two higher degrees ? and likewise, in a general way, that the doctrinals, cognitions, and scientifics of a celestial man are discretely higher than those of a spiritual man, and those of a spiritual man discretely higher than those of a natural man.
The Doctrine, doctrinals, cognitions, and scientifics of the celestial man of the New Church will be discretely higher than those of the men of all previous Churches except the Adamic. Those men could never grasp these thoughts and concepts. Your statement, however, that "the highest rational sight of spiritual truth that man in the world can ever acquire is on a lower degree than that of the angels", would give to the Angels of the lowest Heaven a higher rational insight of spiritual truth than to a spiritual or even to a celestial man, a conclusion which, it seems to me, can hardly be maintained, if one realizes that the spiritual man thinks out of the exterior rational, and the celestial man out of the interior rational or out of the rational proper (cf. A. C. 1914), while an Angel of the ultimate Heaven cannot think in the rational proper at all but can only think in the interior natural, receiving an unconscious influx of the rational.
In using the words "the highest rational insight that man in the world can ever acquire" you seem to indicate that you look for the cause of the difference between the state of man as long as he lives in the world and his state after death in the apparently discrete degrees of the natural degree of the mind ? namely the different degrees of the rational which can be distinguished ? while in reality the difference of these degrees is valid for both Angels and men alike. The real difference between the states of man before and after the death of the body, does not lie in the difference between a lower and a higher rational, but between the external and the internal of the different degrees of the rational. Both Angels and men alike are distinguished by the different degrees of the rational; but man is sensuously conscious only in the external of his respective degree, while the Angels are sensuously conscious in the internal of their respective degree.
To illustrate this still further: If a man has become a celestial man this is by virtue of the fact that he has been introduced from the Lord into the interior rational, or the rational proper. This is the highest degree of rational insight for both men and Angels alike. Nevertheless as long as he lives in this world he is sensuously conscious only in the external of it, and the thoughts of the celestial Angels who are in the internal of if, exceed by far his own thoughts, so that they cannot be compared. But it would be a wrong conclusion to think that "his rational insight" is on a lower degree than that of the Angels of the second or of the ultimate Heaven. He has truly rational concepts which the lower Angels could never grasp, the Angels of the lowest Heaven not being in the rational at all, but in the natural, and receiving only an influx of the rational.
And yet it is true that the light of truth of the Angels even of the lowest Heaven in a certain sense exceeds his light, because they are sensuously conscious in the internal of the interior natural which is discretely higher than the external of the interior rational in which he is sensuously conscious. Yet they are only in an interior natural light, while he is in a truly rational light. I would say that this is confirmed by the fact that the states of regeneration represented by the life of Isaac refer to things which must occur as long as man lives in this world, and not only after the death of the body. But nevertheless we have fully taken into account the great importance and significance of your central argument on the part which the natural degree plays in man's life, as long as he lives in this world.
For the sake of illustration I would like to ask you what you would think of the following formulation of the contents of the second paragraph on page 68 of your pamphlet. I would suggest to have it read like this: "The celestial sense of the Third Testament as it is with the Angels in the Third Heaven, cannot be seen by man on earth, but it can be seen in a corresponding form by man on earth, and that form is the form the Divine Truths take in the external of the interior rational of a celestial man. And likewise, the spiritual sense as it is with the Angels in the Second Heaven, cannot be seen by man on earth, but it can be seen in a corresponding form by man on earth, and that form is the form the Divine Truths take in the external of the exterior rational of a spiritual man. And likewise, the spiritual-natural sense as it is with the Angels in the First Heaven, cannot be seen by man on earth, but it can be seen in a corresponding form by man on earth, and that form is the form the Divine Truths take in the external of the interior natural of a spiritual-natural man".
In the third paragraph of the same page you say: "The internal sense which men of the Church in the world can see is one with their rational understanding of the Word...", but exactly the same is true of the Angels likewise, as you pointed out yourself on page 48, line 2?10. This is thus not where the difference lies of man's state before and after the death of the body. The difference to us, as I pointed out before, would seem to lie in the fact that as long as he lives in the world, man is sensuously conscious only in the external of the different apparent degrees of the natural degree, while after the death of the body he becomes sensuously conscious in the internal of those degrees. This internal is the truly angelic spiritual or celestial itself, into which man can never come as long as he lives in this world. But with both Angels and men alike the discreteness of the different degrees of the mind is dependent on the same qualification not of the two higher degrees but of the natural degree into a very substantial though in itself only apparent discreteness.
I suppose you will have received the proofs of the article by Mr. Groeneveld on The Coming of the Lord for Conjunction with the Church, together with an elucidation which I gave of this article [Third Fasc. pp. 86-108]. From this, our position with regard to the discrete degrees of internal truths which since the Incarnation of the Lord must become the basis for the thought of the Church, may become quite clear. It seems to us that unless there would be a qualification of the natural degree itself into a practically very real, though in itself only apparent, discreteness, the difference between a celestial, a spiritual, and a natural Church, would be non-essential. And therefore it seems to me that your central point, namely on the great significance of the natural degree of the mind in its relation to the two higher degrees, is the very stronghold of our position; for the foundation of the celestial and spiritual degrees does not lie in these degrees themselves, but in the natural degree, with both Angels and men alike.
I would also be grateful if you would let me know what you think of what has been developed in these proofs concerning the ages of the human race; namely that the Third Testament is essentially addressed to the old age or celestial state of the human race, when it is prepared to enter into the interior rational. I wonder how you think this compares with your thought that the Third Testament is the Lord speaking to the human race when it has arrived at the age of rationality (see page 70, paragraph one). The age of rationality of which you speak, if I understand you correctly, is that of early manhood (juventus), when the influx of the rational is being received in the interior natural.
Rev. Theo. Pitcairn To Rev. Albert Bjorck
March 28th 1932. Dear Mr. Bjorck.
Thank you for the pamphlet you sent me. I think it will perform an important use if read extensively; it appears to me that it would be very useful for the NEW CHURCH LIFE to publish it, and thus bring it to the attention of the Church at large.
One of your statements which does not appear in agreement with the Latin Word is to the effect that the Doctrine of the Church is not Divine. In the ARCANA CELESTIA 3712 we read: "Divine Doctrine is Divine Truth; and Divine Truth is all the Word of the Lord. Divine Doctrine itself is the Word in the supreme sense; ... from this Divine Doctrine is the Word in the internal sense; ... Divine Doctrine is also the Word in the literal sense; and whereas the literal sense contains within it the internal sense, and this the supreme sense, and as the literal sense altogether corresponds thereto, therefore also the Doctrine therefrom is Divine.
But Divine Truth is the Divine Good appearing in Heaven before the Angels and on earth before men, and although it is apparent, nevertheless it is Divine Truth." The APOCALYPSE REVEALED, n. 157, like many other passages, speaks of "Divine truths out of the Word" with men. In n. 193 in reference to the New Church it says that "Divine Truth will be written on their hearts". While n. 920, also referring to the New Church, says that "All who are in the good of life and believe in the Lord, will there live according to Divine truths, and will see them inwardly within themselves as an eye sees objects". The APOCALYPSE EXPLAINED, n. 395, says that "The white robes which were given them, signify the Divine Truth from the Lord with them".
From these and other passages it is clear that the genuine truths from the Lord with the man of the Church are called Divine truths. Yet it is also clear that there is an infinite difference between the Divine truths with man and the Divine Truths that were with the Lord, or, to use the representation in the above passage, between the garments of Angels and men and the garments of the Lord. In the Latin Word the word "Divine" is most frequently used in relation to the Divine Itself, and the Divine Human itself, that is, to the Divine above the Heavens. Wherefore the word Divine as used in the Church is usually synonymous with the Infinite. Yet the Divine which makes Heaven and the Church, that is, the Divine goods and truths which have been received in the Church, are also called Divine, although being in a finite receptacle they are not infinite.
From the above it is evident that in the New Church there will be a Doctrine of the natural Church, a Doctrine of the spiritual Church, and a Doctrine of the celestial Church, and that these Doctrines are communicated from Heaven out of the spiritual and the celestial sense of the Word. In your STUDIES you have brought out passages which teach that while man lives in the body, he thinks on the plane of the natural mind, and the natural mind is continuous. While the natural mind is continuous, its form is totally qualified by the internal degree that is opened, so that it is as it were discrete, as is illustrated by the following comparison. The body of an animal, a tree, and a stone, are all in the same degree, nevertheless due to the soul or atmosphere which acts upon them and forms them, there is as it were a discrete degree of difference between the body of an animal, a plant, and a stone.
DE HEMELSCHE LEER teaches throughout that the literal sense of the Doctrine .of the Church is natural, nevertheless the literal sense of the Doctrine of the Church is totally qualified by the degree of the mind of the Church which has been opened. Thus the literal sense of the Doctrine of the natural Church, of the spiritual Church, and of the celestial Church, would differ in a corresponding way as a stone, a tree, and an animal differ.
While a man in the natural world thinks in the natural, this does not mean that essentially a man who has had the celestial degree of his mind opened, is not wiser than an Angel of the natural Heaven; for a man in. Heaven, comes into the essentials of the things he had on earth. It is evident that a man of the Most Ancient Church was essentially wiser while living on earth, than a man of the Hebrew Church is in Heaven.
Your letter has just come to hand. You state: "The sentence I have quoted from DE HEMELSCHE LEER, Second Fasc. p. 125, implies, or rather says in so many words, that not only the truths and goods from the Lord in man are Divine, but also man's reception of them". Your statement of the case would not be correct, for man's reception of them could never be Divine. What DE HEMELSCHE LEER states is that "The reception with the regenerate man is Divine, for the reason that the Lord dwells in His Own with man". Thus it is not man's reception that is Divine, but the Lord's reception with man that is Divine.
In this connection the following number from the ARCANA CELESTIA is of importance: "The case is like this: With no man is there any understanding of truth and will of good, not even with those who were of the Most Ancient Church. But when they become celestial it appears as if there were a will of good and an understanding of truth with them, but it is of the only Lord, as they also know, acknowledge, and perceive. So it is with the Angels also; so much so that whoever does not know, acknowledge, and perceive that it is so, has nothing whatever of an understanding of truth or of a will of good. With every man and every Angel, even the most celestial, that which is his proprium is nothing but falsity and evil; for it is known that the Heavens are not pure before the Lord, and that all good and all truth are of the only Lord.
But so far as a man or an Angel is capable of being perfected, so far, out of the Lord's Divine Mercy, he is perfected, and receives as it were an understanding of truth and a will of good; but his having these is only an appearance. Every man can be perfected, and consequently receive this gift of the Lord's Mercy, in accordance with the actual doings of his life, and in a manner suited to the hereditary evil implanted from his parents" (n. 633).
The above makes it clear that the understanding of truth and the will of good are the Lord's and are thus Divine, and that it is only an appearance that man has an understanding of truth or will of good; if man had an understanding of truth or a will of goad, this would mean that man's proprium was not wholly evil. It is known that it is the Lord's proprium that makes the Church and not anything of man's proprium, and as it is the Lord's proprium with the Church which receives good and truth this reception is Divine.
This can be confirmed by innumerable passages; the following few must here suffice. We read in HEAVEN AND HELL: "Man is so far in innocence as he is removed from his proprium; and so far as anyone is removed from his proprium, he is in the Lord's proprium" (n. 341). In the APOCALYPSE REVEALED: "The Divine can be with man, but not in his proprium; for the proprium of man is nothing but evil; and therefore he who ascribes what is Divine to himself as his proprium ... profanes it. What is Divine from the Lord is exquisitely separated from the proprium of man, and is elevated above it, and never immersed in it" (n. 758). "Heaven is not Heaven from the things proper to the Angels" (n. 882).
In the MEMORABILIA: "All good is the proprium of the Lord" (n. 1178). "The Holy with Angels and spirits is the proprium of the Lord; and that which is the proprium of an Angel and spirit is evil and unclean" (n. 1370). In the APOCALYPSE EXPLAINED: "The Lord is not conjoined with the proprium of man, but with His Own with him. The Lord removes the proprium of man, and gives out of His Own, and dwells in that" (n. 254). "As man as to his proprium is such, therefore out of the Lord's Divine Mercy means have been given by which he can be removed from his proprium. These means are given in the Word; and, when a man operates by these means, that is, thinks and speaks, wills and acts out of the Divine Word, he is then kept out of the Lord in Divine things, and is thus withheld from the proprium; and when this lasts, as it were a new proprium, both voluntary and intellectual, is formed with man from the Lord, which is completely separated from the proprium of man" (n. 585).
The means by which the proprium of the Lord is built into a Church is described in the formation of Eve out of the rib of Adam. We read: "By Adam himself is there meant the Loud as to the Divine Itself and at the same time the Divine Human; and by his wife the Church, which is called 'Chavah' from life, because it has life from the Lord, and of her Adam said, she was his bone and his flesh, and that they were one flesh, because the Church is from the Lord and out of Him and as one with Him" (CONCERNING THE SACRED SCRIPTURE FROM EXPERIENCE XIV).
From the above it is evident that it is the Proprium of the Lord with man that receives good and truth, and hence that the reception is Divine. The cooperation on the part of man is "as of himself" for the sake of appropriation. Nevertheless, as stated above, "Man receives as it were an understanding of truth and a will of good; but his having these is only an appearance", for the reason that the reception of good and truth is the Lord's and hence Divine, and is not at all man's.
While man is a receptacle of life and a receptacle of good and truth, or rather may become such a receptacle, it is not a merely passive receptacle, but a reactive receptacle. If man were a passive receptacle he would be like a stalk. Man as to his proprium or as to what is his own is not a receptacle of good and truth, but of their opposites. The question is, what is the reactive essence in the receptacle, which is the basis of the reformation and regeneration of the receptacle so that it can receive good and truth from the Lord. Since the Coming of the Lord this essential reactive in the receptacle is the Proprium of the Divine Human of the Lord.
Hence it is that the Lord is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, in the regenerated man, that is, the Lord works from what is His Own in man both in firsts and lasts, and the Church is built out of the Proprium of the Lord as lasts, as Eve was built out of the rib of Adam. Eve is said to be the celestial proprium, which is built out of the Lord's Proprium. As the Lord builds the celestial proprium of the Church out of His own Proprium in the Church the celestial proprium is the Lord's and not man's.
Thus the Lord dwells in His Own in man, and not in anything which is man's, wherefore the essential of reception is the Lord's and not man's and is hence Divine. Nevertheless the Lord provides that man feels the new proprium from the Lord as if it were his own, and hence he may be in good and truth as if from himself, but he must acknowledge that this is only an appearance, and that all good and truth with man. are not the man's but are entirely the Lord's, and hence are Divine.
How the Proprium of the Lord is built into the celestial proprium, (usually translated heavenly proprium), contains the deepest arcana which we cannot enter into now. In n. 633 of the ARCANA COELESTIA, quoted in my last letter, it says that "When men become celestial it appears as if there were a will of good and an understanding of truth with them, but it is of the only Lord. Man receives as it were a will of good and an understanding of truth".
The will of good and the understanding of truth with the Church are the Lord's and are hence Divine, but man is held in these by the Lord, as if they were the man's, hence man as it were has a will of good and an understanding of truth; but man must acknowledge that he has no will of good or understanding of truth, and that all will of good and understanding of truth are wholly the Lord's and not at all man's; and that it is of the mercy of the Lord, he can as it were have a will of good and an understanding of truth, while he acknowledges that he does not have these, but that they are the Lord's, and that whatever man has that is not the Lord's is nothing but evil and falsity. If man had the least thing of the will of good or the understanding of truth, then, as is said in THE TRUE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, n. 470, life would be in man, and man would not be a receptacle but would be life, yea he would be God.
The men of the Most Ancient Church we are told had the Word written on their hearts, that is Divine good and truth were written or impressed on their will; but although it was written on their hearts and they were thus kept by the Lord in Divine good and truth, the Word was not theirs, but was wholly the Lord's. Because they were held in Divine good and Divine truth, and indeed had these written on their hearts, when they fell and thus perverted this Doctrine into its opposite, they claimed the Divine good and truth which had been written on their hearts as their own; thus they made themselves gods.
To deny that the will of good and the understanding of truth are Divine is to deny that it is wholly the Lord's and not at all man's, that is, to confirm the fallacy of the senses spoken of in T. C. R. 470. Note that the will of good and the understanding of truth is not the vessel but the active; it is the vessel which causes the appearance that they are as it were man's own, and which thus causes them to be attributed to man as if they were his. Men are in appearances, but appearances are not the will of good nor the understanding of truth, but if man acknowledges that the appearances with him are appearance and that the will of good and the understanding of truth are the Lord's and are not man's, then the will of good and the understanding of truth are in the appearances, and the Lord dwells in man and man in the Lord.
P. S. Since writing the above I found the following number in the APOCALYPSE EXPLAINED bearing on the subject: "And I went unto the angel, saying, give me the little book, signifies the faculty to perceive from the Lord of what quality the Word is. The Lord gives to every man to perceive this, but yet no one does perceive it unless he wishes as it were out of himself to perceive it. There must be this reciprocity from the side of man in order that he may receive the faculty to perceive the Word; unless a man wishes and does this as out of himself no such faculty can be appropriated to him; since in order that appropriation may be affected, there must be an active and a reactive. The active is from the Lord, so is the reactive, but the latter appears to be from man; for the Lord Himself gives this reactive, and thence it is from the Lord and not from man; but as man does not know otherwise than that he lives out of himself, and consequently that he thinks and wills out of himself, so he must needs do this as out of the proprium of his own life".
==========Fascicle II, p. 112 ff
Rev. Ernest Pfeiffer
The Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg are the Word itself, or the Divine Truth in lasts, in its fullness, holiness, and power. There is an essential difference between the Word and the Doctrine of the Church. The Word is the infinite Divine Doctrine itself. The Doctrine of the Church is not the Word but out of the Word. We read in the ARCANA COELESTIA: "The Word in the letter cannot be grasped except through Doctrine out of the Word, made by one who is enlightened" (n. 10324).
It is clear that such a Doctrine cannot but be from the Lord alone, and is by no means a human production; how otherwise could it be a lamp to the understanding when the Word is being read? Therefore it is also expressly said, "That the Doctrine is spiritual out of celestial origin, but not out of rational origin" (A. C. 2496, 2510, and the whole of the twentieth chapter): and, "That the Lord is that Doctrine itself" (A. C. 2859). The spiritual essence out of celestial origin of the genuine Doctrine has, in its essential particulars, been shown and described in De Hemelsche Leer (First Fascicle, pp 14-17; 56-65; 97-125).
Thus there is the Divine Doctrine, that is, the Word itself. The Divine Doctrine in itself is above the Heavens and cannot be grasped by man or Angel; it is infinite. And there is the Doctrine of the Church; it is a natural Doctrine in a natural Church and in the last Heaven; it is a spiritual Doctrine in a spiritual Church and in the middle Heaven; and it is a celestial Doctrine in a celestial Church and in the highest Heaven. These three degrees of the Doctrine of the Church correspond to each other, and there is no relation between them but that of correspondence.
From this it appears clearly that also the cognitions of the different Doctrines differ entirely from each other, and that there is no relation between them but that of correspondence. So, for instance, the cognition of God: this cognition is different in the natural Heaven, different in the spiritual Heaven, and different in the celestial Heaven. A cognition of a higher Heaven cannot possibly be grasped by an Angel of a lower Heaven; and this is so also with regard to the cognitions of the discrete degrees of the Doctrine of the Church. Indeed, man comes into the full enjoyment of the spiritual and the celestial only when he has put off his natural body, but this has nothing to do with the opening of the three discrete degrees of the Church, and thus of the Doctrine of the Church.
That this opening has to take place during the life in the natural body, and that there is a natural Church, a spiritual Church, and a celestial Church, is well known out of the Third Testament; consequently that there is a natural Doctrine, a spiritual Doctrine, and a celestial Doctrine (cf. N. J. C. D. 107; A. R. 350).
Compiled by Leon James
See also the discussion in Theistic Psychology, Volume 4, Section 18.104.22.168 at: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/theistic/ch4.htm#divinity-doctrine
Back to Leon James Full Text Articles: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy/leonarticles.html