The Divine Trinity (pt 14)

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
(Continued pt 14)

So, too, unless a new heaven and a new church were established by the Lord there could no flesh be saved.

It is said in Matthew:

Then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days be shortened no flesh would be saved (24:21, 22).

This chapter treats of “the consummation of the age,” by which the end of the present church is meant; therefore “to shorten those days” means to bring that church to an end and establish a new one.

Who does not know that unless the Lord had come into the world and wrought redemption no flesh could have been saved? To work redemption means to found a new heaven and a new church.

That the Lord would again come into the world He foretold in the Gospels, Matt. 24:30, 31; Mark 13:26; Luke 12:40; 21:27; and in the Apocalypse, particularly in the last chapter. That He is also effecting a redemption at this day by founding a new heaven and establishing a new church to the end that man may be saved…

The great mystery that unless a new church is established by the Lord no flesh can he saved, is this:

That so long as the dragon with his horde remains in the world of spirits into which he has been cast, no Divine truth united to Divine good can pass through that world to men on earth without being perverted and falsified, or without its perishing.

This is what is meant in the Apocalypse by the words:

The dragon was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Woe to those that inhabit the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down unto them having great anger (12:9, 12, 13).

But when the dragon had been cast into hell (10:10),

John saw a new heaven and a new earth, and he saw the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven (21:1, 2);

“the dragon” meaning those who are in the faith of the present church.

In the spiritual world I have several times talked with those who believe that men are justified by faith alone; and I have told them that their doctrine is both erroneous and absurd, and induces upon men security, blindness, sleep, and in spiritual things a night, and consequently death to the soul; and I have exhorted them to discard it; but I received the answer, “Why discard it? Does not the superiority of the learning of the clergy over that of the laity hang upon that sole doctrine?” I replied, “In that case they do not regard the salvation of souls as any object, but the superiority of their own reputation; and as they have adapted the truths of the Word to their false principles, and have thus adulterated them, they are those angels of the abyss, called Abaddons and Apollyons (Apoc. 9:11), who signify those that destroy the church by a total falsification of the Word.”

But they made answer, “What do you mean? By our knowledge of the mysteries of that faith we are oracles, and from it as from a sanctuary we give responses; therefore we are not Apollyons but Apollos.” Indignant at this reply I said, “If you are Apollos you are also leviathans – your leaders the crooked leviathans, and the rest of you the stretched-out leviathans, whom God will visit with His sore and great sword” (Isa. 27:1). But at this they laughed.

To be continued…

(True Christian Religion 182)
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Divine Trinity (pt 13)

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
(Continued pt 13)

This is the source of that “abomination of desolation, and that tribulation such as has not been nor ever shall be,” which the Lord foretold in Daniel, and in the Gospels, and in the Apocalypse.

In Daniel we read:

      Upon the bird of abominations shall be desolation even until the consummation and decision, it shall drop upon the devastation (9:27).

In the gospel of Matthew the Lord says:

      Many false prophets shall arise and shall lead many astray. When, therefore, ye shall see the abomination of desolation predicted by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place, let him that readeth note it well (24:11, 15);

and afterwards in the same chapter:

      Then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be (verse 21).

This tribulation and that abomination are treated of in seven chapters of the Apocalypse; they are what are meant:

      By the black horse, and the pale horse going out of the book, the seal of which the Lamb opened (6:5-8).

Also by:

      The beast coming up out of the abyss which made war upon the two witnesses and killed them (11:7 seq.).

Also by:

      The dragon which stood before the woman about to be delivered, that he might devour her child, and which pursued her into the desert and there from his mouth cast out water as a river that he might drown her (12).

Also by:

      The beasts of the dragon, one from the sea and the other from the earth (13).

Again:

      By the three green spirits like frogs which went forth out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet (16:13).

And finally by this:

      That after the seven angels had poured out the bowls of the wrath of God, in which were the seven last plagues, into the earth, the sea, the fountains and rivers, upon the sun, upon the seat of the beast, upon the Euphrates, and at length into the air, there was a great earthquake, such as was not since there were men upon the earth (16).

The “earthquake” means the overturning of the church, which is done by falsities and falsifications of truth, and this is signified also by:

      The great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world (Matt. 24:21).

The following words have a like meaning:

      And the angel thrust in his sickle and gathered the vineyard of the earth, and cast it into the great wine-press of the anger of God; and the wine-press was trodden and there went out blood even unto the bridles of the horses for a thousand and six hundred furlongs (Apoc. 14:19, 20);

“blood” signifying truth falsified. Besides other things contained in those seven chapters.

In the Gospels (Matt. 24; Mark 13; and Luke 21) the successive states of decline and corruption in the Christian church are described; and “the great tribulation such as hath not been since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall be” which is there mentioned means (as in many other places in the Word) the infestation of truth by falsities, even until no truth remains that is not falsified and consummated. This also is meant by “the abomination of desolation” there mentioned; and again by “the desolation upon the bird of abominations” and by “the consummation and decision” in Daniel; and the same thing is described in the Apocalypse in the passages just quoted from that book.

This has come to pass because the church, instead of acknowledging the unity of God in trinity and His trinity in unity in one person, has acknowledged these in three persons; and in consequence the church has been based in the mind upon the idea of three Gods, and on the lips upon the confession of one God; and thus men have separated themselves from the Lord, and at length to such an extent that no idea of Divinity in His Human nature is left with them, when in fact He is God the Father in the Human, and therefore He is called:

      The Father of eternity (Isa. 9:6)

And He said to Philip, He that seeth Me seeth the Father (John 14:7, 9).

But it may be asked, Whence is the very stream of that fountain from which has come forth an abomination of desolation such as is described in Daniel (9:27), and a tribulation such as was not nor shall be (Matt. 24:21)?

The answer is, that it comes from that same universal faith of the Christian world, and from its influx, operation, and imputation according to traditions. Wonderful it is that the doctrine of justification by that faith alone (which, however, is no faith but only a chimera) controls every point of doctrine in Christian churches; that is, with the clerical order it rules as almost the sole theological principle. It is what all students of divinity eagerly learn in the schools and drink in and absorb; and afterwards, seemingly inspired by heavenly wisdom, they teach it in the churches and publish it in books; and by it they strive after and acquire a reputation and fame and praise for superior learning; and on account of it, diplomas, degrees, and prizes are bestowed upon them; and all this is done, although by that same faith alone-

The sun at this day is darkened, the moon is robbed of her light, the stars have fallen from heaven, and the powers of the heavens have been shaken, according to the words of the Lord’s prophecy in Matthew (24:29).

It has been proved to me that the doctrine of this faith has today so darkened men’s minds that they are not willing, and therefore as it were not able, to see any Divine truth inwardly, either in the light of the sun or in the light of the moon, but only outwardly on the mere rough surface by the light on a hearth at night; and I am therefore able to declare, that if Divine truths respecting the real conjunction of charity and faith, respecting heaven and hell, the Lord, life after death, and eternal happiness, were sent down from heaven written in letters of silver, those who hold to justification and sanctification by faith alone would not deem them worth reading. But it would be wholly different if a treatise on justification by faith alone were sent up from the hells; this they would receive, and would kiss it and carry it home in their bosoms.
To be continued…

(True Christian Religion 179 – 181)
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Divine Trinity (pt 12)

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
(Continued pt 12)

The faith of every church is like the seed from which all its dogmas spring.

It may be compared to the seed of a tree, out of which grows everything belonging to the tree, even to its fruit; and also to the seed of man, from which offspring and families are begotten in successive series. Therefore as soon as its leading tenet, which from its predominance is called saving, is known, the character of a church is known.

This may be illustrated by the following example-

Suppose the faith to be that nature is the creator of the universe; it will follow from this faith that the universe is called God, that nature is its essence, that the ether is the supreme Deity whom the ancients called Jove, that the air is the goddess they called Juno and made the wife of Jove; that the ocean is a god below these, which after the manner of the ancients may be called Neptune; and as the Divinity of nature reaches to the earth’s very center, there is a god there also, who, as with the ancients, may be called Pluto; that the sun is the court of all the gods, where they meet whenever Jupiter calls a council; moreover, that fire is life from God; and thus the birds fly in God, the beasts walk in God, and the fishes swim in God. It follows also that thoughts are merely modifications of the ether, as the words flowing from them are modulations of air; and that love’s affections are occasional changes of state caused by the influx into them of the sun’s rays; and along with these notions, that the life after death, together with heaven and hell, is a fable concocted by the clergy for the purpose of acquiring honors and wealth, which, although a fable, is useful, and not to be ridiculed openly, since it serves the public interest by keeping simple minds in the bonds of obedience to magistrates; but those that are inveigled by religion are in fact often devoted to abstractions, their thoughts are fantasies, their actions ludicrous, and they themselves drudges of the priests, believing in what they see not, and seeing what transcends the sphere of their minds.

The belief that nature is the creator of the universe includes these consequences, and many more like them, and they proceed from that belief when it is laid open. They are presented here to show that-

within the faith of the present church, which in its internal form is a faith in three Gods and in its external form a faith in one, there are swarms of falsities

and that as many falsities can be drawn out of it as there are little spiders in the egg-sac of a single spider. Who that has a mind truly rational does not see this by light from the Lord; and how can any other mind see it so long as the door to that faith and its offshoots is shut and bolted by the decree that it is unlawful for reason to look into its mysteries?

To be continued…

(True Christian Religion 178)
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Divine Trinity (pt 11)

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
(Continued pt 11)

From the Nicene Trinity and the Athanasian Trinity together a faith arose by which the whole Christian church has been perverted.

That both the Nicene and Athanasian trinities are a trinity of Gods can be seen from the creeds above quoted (pt 7). From these the faith of the present church has arisen, which is a faith in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, in God the Father that He will impute the righteousness of His Son the Savior and ascribe it to man, in God the Son that He will intercede and covenant, and in the Holy Spirit that He will in reality inscribe upon man the Son’s imputed righteousness, and confirm it with a seal, by justifying, sanctifying, and regenerating him.

This is the faith of the present day; and it is sufficient evidence that a trinity of God[s] is what is acknowledged and worshiped.

From the faith of any church flow forth not only all its worship but also all its dogmas; thus it may be said that such as its faith is such is its doctrine. From this it follows that inasmuch as the faith of the present church is a faith in three Gods, it has perverted all things belonging to the church-

for faith is the first principle and doctrinals are derivatives; and derivatives derive their essence from the first principle.

If anyone will put these doctrinals one by one under examination, as the doctrine of God, of the person of Christ, of charity, repentance, regeneration, freewill, election, and the use of the sacraments, baptism and the Holy Supper, he will see plainly that there is a trinity of God[s] within each one; and even if it does not actually appear within each, they all flow from it as from their fountain. But as such an examination cannot here be made (and yet in order that man’s eyes may be opened it is well worth making), an Appendix shall be added to this work in which this will be shown. See the ‘Coronis‘ Appendix to True Christian Religion.

• The faith of the church respecting God is like the soul in the body, and doctrinals are like the members of the body.

Or again

• Faith in God is like a queen, and dogmas like the officers of her court; and as these all hang upon the word of the queen, so do dogmas upon the utterance of faith.

Solely from the faith of a church it can be seen how the Word is understood in that church; for a faith inwardly adapts and draws to itself, as if by cords, whatever things it can.

If the faith is false it plays the harlot with every truth therein, and perverts and falsifies it, and in the spiritual things makes man insane.

But if the faith is true the whole Word sustains it; and the God of the Word, who is the Lord God the Savior, pours light upon it and breathes upon it His Divine assent and makes man wise.

It will also be seen in the Appendix that the faith of the present day (which in its inward form is a faith in three Gods, but in its outward form a faith in one God) has quenched the light in the Word and taken away the Lord from the church, and has thus changed its morning into night. This was done by heresies before the council of Nice, and further by heresies arising from that council and after it. But what confidence is to be placed in councils which:

Enter not through the door into the sheepfold but climb up some other way (according to the Lord’s words in John 10:1, 9)?

Their deliberation is not unlike the walking of a blind man in the daytime or of a man not blind at night, neither of whom sees a ditch until he has tumbled into it. What confidence, for example, can be placed in councils that established the vicarship of the pope, the canonization of the dead, the invocation of the dead as deities, the worship of their images, the granting of indulgences, the division of the Eucharist, and other things? Or what confidence is to be placed in a council that established the unspeakable doctrine of predestination, and hung it up before its church buildings as the palladium of religion?

But, my friend, go to the God of the Word, and thus to the Word itself, and so enter through the door into the sheepfold, that is, into the church, and you will be enlightened; and then as from a mountain top you will see for yourself the goings and wanderings, not only of the many but your own also previously in the gloomy forest below.

To be continued…

(True Christian Religion 177)
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Divine Trinity (pt 10)

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
(Continued pt 10)

That the Apostolic church had not the least knowledge of a trinity of persons, or of three persons from eternity, can be clearly seen from the creed of that church which is called the Apostles’ Creed, in which are these words –

“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary;” and “I believe in the Holy Ghost.”

Here no mention is made of a Son born from eternity, but only of a Son conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary; for they knew from the apostles:

• That Jesus Christ was the true God (1 John 5:20)

• And that in Him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9);

• And that the apostles preached faith in Him (Acts 20:21);

• And that to Him was given all power in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18).

What confidence is to be had in councils when they do not go directly to the God of the church? Is not the church the Lord’s body, and He its head? What is a body without a head? And what sort of a body is that upon which three heads have been put, under the auspices of which men hold consultations and pass decrees? Does not enlightenment (which is spiritual when it is from the Lord alone, who is the God of heaven and the church, and also the God of the Word) then become more and more natural and at length sensual? And then not a single genuine theological truth in its internal form is perceived without being instantly cast out of the thought of the rational understanding, and like chaff from a winnowing machine blown into the air. In this state fallacies steal into the mind instead of truths, and darkness instead of rays of light; and men stand as if in a cave with spectacles on the nose and torch in hand, shutting their eyes to spiritual truths, which are in the light of heaven, and opening them to sensual truths belonging to the fatuous light of the bodily senses. And it is the same afterwards when the Word is read; the mind is then asleep to truths and awake to falsities, and becomes like the beast described as rising up out of the sea:

• With a mouth like that of a lion, a body like that of a leopard, and feet like those of a bear (Apoc. 13:2).

It is said in heaven that when the Nicene Council had finished its work, that had come to pass which the Lord foretold to His disciples:

The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken (Matt. 24:29);

and in fact the Apostolic church was like a new star appearing in the starry heaven.  But the church after the two Nicene councils became finally like the same star darkened and lost to view, as has sometimes happened, according to the observation of astronomers, in the natural world. We read in the Word that:

Jehovah God dwells in light unapproachable (1 Tim. 6:16).

Who, then, can approach Him, unless He take up His abode in light that is approachable, that is, unless He come down and assume a Human, and in it become the light of the world (John 1:9; 12:46)? Anyone can see that to get near to Jehovah the Father in His own light is as impossible as to take the wings of the morning and fly on them to the sun, or to feed upon the sun’s rays instead of material food, or as for a bird to fly in the ether, or a stag to run on air.

To be continued…

(True Christian Religion 175 – 176)
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Divine Trinity (pt 9)

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
(Continued pt 9)

A Trinity of Persons was unknown in the Apostolic Church, but was hatched by the Nicene Council, and from that was introduced into the Roman Catholic church, and from that again into the churches separated from it.

By the Apostolic church is meant the church that existed in various places not only in the time of the apostles, but also in the second and third centuries after.

But at length men began to wrench the door of the temple off its hinges, and to break robber-like into its sanctuary.

The temple is the church; the door is the Lord God the Redeemer; and the sanctuary His Divinity; for Jesus says:

Verily, I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into the sheep fold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. I am the door; by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved (John 10:1, 9).

This crime was committed by Arius and his followers.

On this account a council was convoked by Constantine the Great at Nice, a city in Bithynia; and in order to overthrow the pernicious heresy of Arius-

it was devised, decided upon, and ratified by the members of the council that there were from eternity three Divine persons, a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit, to each one of whom belonged personality, existence, and subsistence, by Himself and in Himself; also that the second person, or the Son, came down and took on a Human and wrought redemption; and therefore His Human, by a hypostatic union, possesses Divinity, and through that union He has close relationship with God the Father.

From that time heaps of abominable heresies about God and the person of Christ began to spring up from the earth, and Antichrists began to rear their heads and to divide God into three persons, and the Lord the Savior into two, thus destroying the temple set up by the Lord through the apostles, and this until not one stone was left upon another that was not thrown down, according to the Lord’s words (Matt. 24:2), where by “the temple” not only the edifice at Jerusalem is meant but also the church, the consummation or end of which is treated of in the whole chapter.

But what else could have been expected from that council, or from those that followed, which in like manner divided the Godhead into three, and placed God in the flesh beneath them on their footstool? For by climbing up some other way they took the Head of the church away from its body; that is, they passed Him by, and mounted beyond to God the Father as to another, with the mere mention on their lips of Christ’s merit, that is, that God on account of it might be merciful, and justification might thus flow into them directly with all that goes with it, namely, remission of sins, renovation, sanctification, regeneration, and salvation, and this without any meditation on man’s part.

To be continued…

(True Christian Religion 174)
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Divine Trinity (pt 8)

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
(Continued pt 8)

The idea of three Gods cannot be effaced by a lip-confession of one God, for the reason that-

from childhood this idea has been implanted in the memory, and it is from the things contained in the memory that everyone thinks.

The memory in man is like the ruminatory stomach in birds and beasts; into which they thrust the food from which they gradually derive nourishment; and from time to time they draw the food from it and convey it to the true stomach, where it is digested and meted out to the various uses of the body.  The human understanding is this latter stomach, as the memory is the former.

That the idea of three Divine persons from eternity, which is the same as the idea of three Gods, cannot be effaced by a lip confession of one God, can be seen by anybody from this fact alone, that it has not yet been effaced, and that among the notable there are some who do not wish it to be effaced; for while they insist that the three Divine persons are of one God, they obstinately deny that God, on account of being one, is one person.

But what wise man does not think within himself that the term person can not in this case mean person but that it predicates some quality, though what quality is not known? And this not being known, what has been implanted in the memory from childhood remains, as the roots of a tree remain in the ground, and from them, even if the tree be cut down, a shoot will spring forth.

But, my friend, not only cut down the tree, but also dig up the root, and then plant in your garden trees bearing good fruit.

Thus beware, lest in your mind there should lurk the idea of three Gods, while your mouth utters the words one God, with no idea in them. In that case is not the understanding (which above the memory is thinking of three Gods, and at the same time below the memory is causing the mouth to utter one God), like a player on the stage able to act two roles by running from one side to the other, at one side saying one thing and at the other just the opposite, and by such contradiction playing on the one side the wise man and on the other the fool? What else can result from this but that when the understanding stands in the center and looks both ways it will conclude that neither this nor that amounts to anything, and so, perhaps, that there is neither one God nor three, thus that there is no God?

The prevailing naturalism of the day is from no other source.

In heaven no one can utter the words, A trinity of persons each one of whom singly is God; for it is resisted by the very aura of heaven, in which the thoughts of those there fly and undulate, as sounds do in our air. Such words can be uttered only by a hypocrite, and the sound of his speech grates in the heavenly aura like the gnashing of teeth, or is like the croak of a raven trying to imitate a bird of song. Moreover, I have heard from heaven that to efface a belief established in the mind by confirmations favoring a trinity of Gods, by means of a lip-confession of one God, is as impossible as it is to draw a tree back through its seed, or a man’s chin through a hair growing out of it.

To be continued…

(True Christian Religion 173)
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