« PreviousContinue »
of separate existence. Thus there are various occasions in which Jesus is recorded to have prayed to the Father, and at some times with the greatest distress and anxiety; the reason of which was, because he was then in his state of humiliation, or the sphere of his consciousness was chiefly in the infirm Humanity taken from the mother; and, being engaged in combats with the infernal hosts, these at such times prevailed so far, as to shut out the perception of communication with his Divine Essence, and to occasion doubt to his unglorified human nature whether its union therewith could ever be effected, and, of consequence, whether the salvation of the human race, which depended upon that union, could be accomplished. Man, in his Christian progress, undergoes states in some degree similar : for he cannot always be kept in a state of elevation, in the perception of those heavenly principles which he has received by the internal man from the Lord; but he sometimes sinks into the external man merely, and finds himself there so beset with impressions opposite to heavenly ones, as to be brought to doubt whether he has ever really received any thing of a heavenly nature or not. Such, also, was the case with our Lord; except that his internal part was not only, as with others, formed by principles of goodness and truth received from the Divine Being, but Divine Goodness and Truth themselves; and that in his external part he had to combat with the whole infernal host, under forms of horror and overwhelming terror that would infallibly have destroyed any merely finite being—any man whose soul was any other than Divinity itself. No wonder then, if, when in such states, he sometimes appeared at a distance from his Father, and prayed to him in a manner that might lead us to regard him as a Being different from himself! At other times he gives thanks to the Father ; which, though not implying so great an idea of distance as in the former cases, still
conveys to the uninformed mind an idea of separation. To give thanks to the Lord, in the language of Scripture, implies an acknowledgment, that all that we receive, which is the subject of our thanks, is from him. And when Jesus gives thanks to the Father the meaning is the same; he acknowledges by the action, that it is from his Divine Essence that Divine Love, Wisdom and Life, are imparted to his Humanity. Our Lord, accordingly, constantly declares that he does nothing of himself, but that “the Father that dwelleth in him, he doeth the works ;" by which he instructs us, that his Humanity alone, were it separate from his Divinity, would be powerless, but that by union with the Divinity it has Omnipotence. This may be clearly illustrated by the case of the soul and body of man : the body separate from the soul would be a mass of dead matter ; but in union with the soul it has all the power of the soul in it: nay, further : the soul, without the body would have no power whatever in this world of nature to which the body belongs; and just so, when man had sunk into a merely natural state, the divine influences were rendered incapable of affecting him in a saving manner, till they had invested themselves with the requisite instrument, by clothing themselves with a Humanity capable of making them felt in that sphere of life in which man then stood. It would, however, be absurd, because the body has nothing but what it receives from the soul, to regard the body as a distinct person from the soul; nor is it less so, because all the power of the Lord's Humanity is a consequence of the Divinity's dwelling within it, to consider it as a distinct person from the Father. Accordingly, it was only while the work of glorification was in progress that Jesus either prayed to the Father or gave him thanks.
After it was accomplished he never did either the one or the other; but although, for the sake of conveying the notion of Divinity and Humanity in the Lord, distinct mention continues to be made of the Son and of the Father, both in the gospels after the resurrection and in the Apocalypse throughout, there is no hint whatever of any address from the one to the other. Only let this fact be fairly looked at, and it must be seen to be decisive. From the period of the resurrection, there is no hint whatever of any address of any kind, from the Son to the Father or from the Father to the Son : all trace of inferiority on the part of the Son disappears : the angelic hosts, with equal reverence, sing, “ blessing and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever." The reason is, because, the union between them being fully accomplished, all the Divine Essence belongs equally to the Humanity, and the Humanity is the perfect form and adequate instrument of action of the Divine Essence. While this work was in progress only, our Lord prayed and gave thanks to the Father—ascribed all to him; but after its accomplishment he does so no longer, because there is no longer any thing in him which is not absolutely one with the Father : on the contrary, he now assumes to himself the most absolute and incommunicable of the Father's attributes ; as when He says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, the First and the Last, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."
“ Thus, when it is known that there was no Son of God born from eternity but this is the proper title of the Humanity born in time; and when it is known that this Humanity, though not divine when born, was rendered such by a process which it was undergoing during the whole period of our Lord's existence on earth; it is obvious that all objections to the doctrine of the New Church respecting the Divine Trinity, as concentered in the Glorified or Divine Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, fall com
VOL. I.NO, IV.
pletely to the ground; and we see how it is true, that, notwithstanding his having appeared in the form of an ordinary man in the world, in a form which was liable to infirmities, to sufferings, and to death,-he now ever liveth and reigneth, with the Father an Indivisible One, the only God of heaven and earth.
“ We will confirm this truth by one or two general observations.
“ It is certain, that the one God has, from the beginning of creation, manifested himself to his people under various characters, expressed by various names, suited to their various states of necessity. Thus we find God saying to Moses, “ I am Jehovah; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, by the name of God Almighty ; but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.” Whether this name was altogether before unknown, is disputed among commentators : but it evidently was either first assumed, or was assumed anew, at the founding of the Israelitish Church by the calling of Moses : was it not then to be expected, that, when God founded the Christian Church, the character of which, compared with all that preceded it, was so entirely new, he would again manifest himself by an entirely new name? Now we may be certain that he never called himself by a new name, but in reference to some new manifestation of his character : was it not then to be concluded, that when he should appear in the character of Redeemer, it would be with some new development of the infinite perfections which are comprised in his essence; yet that it could not be as a separate Divine Person ; just as, when he manifested himself as Jehovah to Moses, it was under a new character, but without any difference as to person from that in which he was known as God Almighty ? Accordingly, both prophets and evangelists unite in proclaiming that such is the fact. Isaiah declares, over and over again, that the Being who redeems the church and human race is Jehovah; and not only so, but that Jehovah the Redeemer is he that formed the human race, that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by himself. It is impossible for words to be framed to express more strongly the Sole Divinity of the Speaker, or to declare more explicitly, that the Redeemer of the church is the Only God. “ Thus saith Jehovah thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb : I am Jehovah that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.” Isa. xliv. 24. What can be more clear? especially when coupled with the declarations of the chapter preceding, where we read, “I, even I, am Jehovah, and beside me there is no Saviour." But Jesus is constantly called the Saviour in the New Testament : nay, the very name, Jesus, means the Saviour: but Jehovah declares, that beside himself there is no Saviour : the very name, Jesus, the Saviour, involves then a blasphemy, unless the being who owns it is the alone Jehovah. How clearly, too, is this established by the declarations of Jesus himself! When Philip blindly thought of the Father as a separate person, and said, “ Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us;" Jesus answered, “ Have I been so long with you, and
yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father ; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father ?” It is impossible for language to be more explicit ; and I have never seen any attempt to explain it to any but the New Church sense, which did not wear the character of most miserable subterfuge, most palpable violence. Thus, while the Old Testament openly declares, that there is no Saviour beside Jehovah, and no Creator but Jehovah the Redeemer, the Redeemer of the New Testament corroborates the testimony with his solemn assurance, that there is no Father, that is, no Jehovah, out of him. If he that hath seen him hath seen the Father, it can only be, because, He is HIMSELF THE PERSON OF THE FATHER, who dwells in him as the soul dwells in the body. Hence he is the proper Object of worship. As, when we address a man's body, we address his soul at the same time; and in fact, if he is a sincere man, we see his soul in his body, because it shines through it, and causes it to express all its sentiments; so, when we address the Lord Jesus Christ, we at the same time address the Father ; and, in fact, we see the Father in him; because his Person is “ the brightness of the Father's glory, and the stamped impression of his substance” (as the original of that passage expresses it, — not person, according to the sense now attached to that term, because the Father, since the coming of Jesus Christ, has no Personal Form distinct from his.)
“Altogether, then, I trust, the Candid and Reflecting will admit, that these first truths of theology are most certain, and assailable by no valid objection : that as there is, and can be, but One God, so the Lord Jesus Christ is He: that in his Glorified Person the whole Trinity centers; the Divine Essence, or Father, being his Divine Soul, the Divine Manifestation, or Son, being his Divine Form, and the Divine Influencing Power, or Holy Spirit, being his Divine Effluent Life and Operation ; thus that the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ is the proper Person of the Father, and is the sole Dispenser of the gifts of salvation.”
ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURE.
APOCALYPSE i. 1, 2, 3, In the explanation of the Apocalypse, which is here commenced, we do not endeavour to prove that there is a spiritual sense within the literal sense, but to show what the spiritual sense is. We do not, therefore, consider ourselves as addressing those who doubt or deny the existence of an internal sense to the sacred scriptures. Such persons we would refer to the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Concerning the Sacred Scriptures, the Apocalypse Explained, the Apocalypse Revealed, the Arcana Celestia, by Swedenborg; and also to the work of Rev. Samuel Noble on the Plenary Inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures. But we consider ourselves to be addressing those who wish to know what the spiritual sense is; and this we will endeavour to explain as perspicuously as we can,-or rather to permit the spiritual sense to speak for itself.
The Apocalypse, or Revelation, has been commonly understood to relate to changes in the kingdoms of this world, and it is not improbable that many predictions, contained in this book, have been fulfilled by events of a political and worldly nature, and that others may yet be; for as it is necessary and useful that the Apocalypse should be given for ages previous to the accomplishment of the events which it describes,—so, to the same end and for the same use, it may be necessary that these prophecies should be naturally and visibly fulfilled previous to their spiritual consummation. These natural fulfilments are only another form of the prophecy, and they perform the uses of prophecy in preparing for spiritual ends; and they keep alive an interest in the prophecy, awaken expectation, and strengthen confidence in a providential result.
But the words of the Apocalypse relate primarily to the kingdom of the Lord, which, upon earth, is the church. It relates to spiritual things--to what constitutes a church, and to the changes which must take place in order to the establishment of the New Jerusalem Church upon earth. Thus it relates to something quite above worldly affairs—to events which will come forward after the kingdoms of this world have passed away, and the heavens are unrolled as a scroll—to things, for the sake of which, all other things are ordered and permitted.
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him to show unto his servants. It is called the revelation of Jesus Christ, because it is a revelation of divine truth given after the Lord had glorified his humanity, and after he had overcome the powers darkness, and restored the spiritual world to order ; and it is a revelation concerning what is to be done in the world and in man,