For permission granted to quote from copyrighted works, the following acknowledgments are gratefully made:
To Duell, Sloan and Pearce, Inc., for a quotation from Archibald MacLeishs The American Cause.
To Harper & Brothers, for a quotation from Harold J. Laskis Liberty in the Modern State.
To Little, Brown and Company, for quotations from Walter Lippmans The Good Society.
To The Macmillan Company, for quotations from James Bryces Modern Democracies.
KEY TO REFERENCES
TO THE WRITINGS OF THE NEW CHURCH
AC Arcana Coelestia.
AE Apocalypse Explained.
CL Conjugial Love.
HH Heaven and Hell.
TCR True Christian Religion.
The substance of what is set forth in the following pages was first presented in a series of lectures to the Bryn Athyn Society in 1943. We were at that time deeply impressed with the importance to the New Church of the principles of government, both stated and implied, in the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg We were convinced that a knowledge and understanding of those principles was of tremendous importance to the firm establishment and future growth of the New Church.
Nothing has happened since then to modify that conviction. We are grateful, therefore, to Mr. Raymond Pitcairn for making possible the publication of these lectures, and we would acknowledge with keen appreciation the assistance of Prof. W. C. Henderson in the task of preparing the manuscript for the press.
George de Charms.
I. INTRODUCTION 1
II. THE NATURE OF DIVINE GOVERNMENT 13
III. DIVINE GOVERNMENT IN HEAVEN AND HELL 23
IV. DIVINE GOVERNMENT ON EARTH 35
V. THE THEORY OF DEMOCRACY 46
VI. ECCLESIASTICAL GOVERNMENT 60
Because of the present world-wide struggle between two completely opposite political ideologies there is widespread interest in the subject of government. In spite of the fact that two world wars have been fought presumably to make the world safe for democracy there is great uncertainty and confusion of thought as to what democracy really is. The Soviet rulers claim that their government is democratic, but they can do so only by giving the term an altogether different meaning from that which is generally understood by the Western nations. Even among these nations the definition of the term has been greatly obscured because it has been interpreted so differently in different countries. What is lacking is a common understanding of basic principles. There is no agreement as to the origin of government. There is wide difference of opinion as to whence the authority to govern is rightly derived. What is the real purpose of government, and what are its limitations! These are questions to which no one has a wholly satisfactory answer.
Yet it is a notable fact that the fundamental principles of government have been Divinely revealed by the Lord at His second coming.
In the application of these principles to the solution of political and economic problems there will always be variety of opinion among us. It cannot be otherwise, for any attempt to formulate doctrine into a political or economic system identified with our religion, and therefore made binding upon the conscience, would be destructive of spiritual freedom. Civil affairs are on the plane of effects. In the sight of the Lord they are external means which merely serve as tools for the promotion of spiritual and eternal ends. The application of universal principles on this plane must necessarily vary, therefore, according to changing spiritual states and needs. The varieties of spiritual states are innumerable, and their changes are unpredictable. For this reason there is no system of government that is of universal application or that can be regarded as permanently valid. The kind of government that is best for one nation may not be best for another.
The conscience should not be bound to that which is temporary and valid only within narrow limits. If it is so bound, man, as to his spirit, cannot be kept in conjunction with the Lord or in consociation with the heavens. The Lord is infinitely aware of mans spiritual needs, and the Divine Providence ever looks to his eternal welfare. In the Lords sight, therefore, external things, including all forms of human government, are of use only so far as they serve spiritual and eternal ends. The purpose of religion is to bring mans will into harmonious co-operation with the Lords will. If, then, man is bound by religious conscience to external forms, to modes of procedure or of application, so that from spiritual affection he is induced to cling to them after their real usefulness has passed; or if he is led to insist upon them for all men and for every nation, regardless of differing spiritual states and needs, his will cannot fail to become alienated from the Divine Providence. When this happens, mans religion loses its vital soul and becomes a natural superstition out of touch with genuine truth.
When he thinks from the truth of the Word, man is called upon to seek its application to the particular conditions of his own time, to the special needs of his own country, and to the fulfillment of his personal duty, both as a citizen and as a member of the church. To think, will, and act from the Word is the very life of religion. But if some system of government is made a matter of conscience--as if it had Divine sanction for all men and for all time--rational judgment concerning it is at once inhibited. Man becomes blind to any need for change, and loyalty to a natural form of government takes precedence over adherence to the teaching of the Word.
Yet some have supposed that it is the duty of New Church men, and the manifest destiny of the New Church to produce from the Writings a system of government that will finally be acknowledged by all men as being most in harmony with revealed truth.
* It is understood, of course, that these forms of government are not mutually exclusive, but may, and frequently do, exist in combination.
From the beginning, the leaders of the General Church of the New Jerusalem have seen the fallacy of this view, and have sought to guard the church against any binding of mans conscience to a particular form of government. Yet we are not immune to this danger. When we are fully convinced that a particular application of doctrine on the civil plane is right, it is hard fur any of us to understand how other New Church men can think differently. Especially when emotions are aroused, the vital importance of protecting the freedom of others to think from their own conscience, although acknowledged in principle, is easily ignored in practice. This may seriously injure the church by alienating us from the spirit of charity, and by inhibiting free inquiry into the deeper meaning of the Writings. That is why it is of such great importance that we should be familiar with the fundamental principles of government now revealed, that we should continually seek to advance in our understanding of those principles, and that we should endeavor to think from them with reference to all matters of civil and political life.
In our application of these principles to the affairs of the church we must strive to think and act together. A common agreement in regard to modes to be adopted at any given time as being in harmony with principles of revealed truth is a very different thing from a permanent binding of the conscience to external forms.
It is not intended that, as the church spreads, any one particular form of ecclesiastical government shall become universal. Each race and nation should develop its own government in accord with its particular genius and form of mind. Differences in modes of government will not essentially divide the church as long as all look directly to the Writings for guidance, and as long as a spirit of charity prevails.
That there must always be great variety in the external forms of government is evident both from history and from the teaching of the Writings. Patriarchal government existed on this earth in most ancient and ancient times, and it still exists among primitive peoples.
So far as is revealed, monarchy, the government of hereditary kings, exists only on our earth. It arose with the decline of the Ancient Church, and its adoption is spoken of as a sign of retrogression. Yet it was Divinely sanctioned, and proved to be of great service through a period of the worlds history after patriarchal government ceased to be appropriate to the needs of the great majority of mankind. In its highest development, under a benevolent ruler who was wise and God-fearing, monarchical government was truly representative of the Lords kingdom. That is why it was established by the Lord with the Jewish and Israelitish nations, and was incorporated into the Word of the Old Testament. For the same reason the rule of princes could be retained in the heavenly societies formed from those who had lived under a monarchical form of government on earth.*
* See AC 5044; 3; CL 11, 15, 266; TCR 76.
In the degree that this absolute power was later restricted by the will of the people as expressed through their chosen representatives, kingly government lost its distinctive character and approached more nearly to the form of a republic or a democracy. A constitutional monarchy is a combination of monarchy, on the one hand, and representative government on the other.
Representative government, which may take many forms, is relatively modern. Obviously, it is adapted to a people of advanced educational and cultural development who are capable of assuming individual responsibility. Historically, it first appeared in ancient Greece, and later in Rome; but at that time it had only a very limited acceptance and a short duration. The world was not yet ready for it. Nevertheless, those first attempts performed an important use, implanting the seeds that would spring up as soon as the soil had been prepared.
Experience clearly demonstrates, therefore, that there is no single form of government that is right in itself and of universal application. Although we find democracy as we understand it best adapted to the needs of the United States, we should not wish to impose it upon the entire world; nor should we take for granted that it is to be perpetuated without change even in our own country. We must be prepared to see it modified in accord with rapidly changing social, economic, and political conditions, indeed, as we shall endeavor to show later, as it is at present conceived, the idea of democracy contains elements that are contrary to revealed truth. These in time must be removed.
However, if we are to see clearly the true principles of government we must first investigate the nature of Divine government, and from this seek to deduce the essential nature of human government. We propose therefore to consider in the chapters to follow, the Lords government in the heavens, in the hells, and in societies of men on earth. We shall attempt to define the part that spirits and men are given to play in this Divine government. We shall seek to draw the basic distinction between ecclesiastical government and civil government, and shall present certain conclusions concerning the present and future government of the New Church.
THE NATURE OF DIVINE GOVERNMENT
All who believe in God, however various their ideas of God may be, unite in confessing that He governs the universe of His creation. It is quite impossible to conceive of one who creates, sustains and preserves all things, yet who does not control or govern. In the practical conduct of human affairs on the plane of civil and political life, however, this confession is for the most part little more than a pious abstraction. Having made it, men promptly ignore it and proceed exactly as if it were not so. It is obvious that in spite of the universality of the Divine government there is imperative need in every form of human society for government by men. In the common view this means that certain chosen individuals must be regarded as having a recognized right to command obedience from others, as if God had ceded to them a part of His own government, or had relinquished into their hands a portion of His power. It may be supposed that this authority is an immediate gift by Divine selection or appointment, as with hereditary kings, or with dictators who imagine that they have been Divinely commissioned;
In the exercise of that right, however, it is generally considered legitimate, at least within the limits of the powers conferred upon him, for the governor to impose his will on his subjects. The very safety of society requires that the authority of constituted government should be sustained, if not by a willing acquiescence or by persuasion, then by force. If this is not done, then in effect the government, or the actual control, passes into the hands of others.
All of this is true only in appearance. The truth is that never, even to the least degree, does the Lord yield His government to the hands of men. He grants no legitimate authority to any man or body of men to rule from arbitrary will. Every effort to usurp this power is secretly overruled by the Divine Providence. Although he appears to do so, man does not govern, even though he holds positions of the highest authority. The Lord alone governs, either through human rulers or in spite of them. So far as a ruler, by self-imposed restraints, subjects his own will to Divine leading, the Lord governs through him. On the other hand, so far as he arrogates power to himself, placing his own will above the law, the Lord still governs, but in spite of him.
In this highest sense there is no such thing as human government. In the sight of the Lord a human governor is merely one who administers the Divine law and thus serves the Divine will. No attempt on the part of man to govern in defiance of the Divine will can in the least succeed. In fact, even the wisest human government, that of the celestial angels, is constantly overruled by the Lord because it is not wise enough. Only government by infinite wisdom can be permitted to prevail, lest the heavens fall.
That the Lord alone governs is therefore by no means a pious abstraction, but a constant and irrevocable truth. Only a deep and living acknowledgment of this truth, one that profoundly affects every Judgment and every decision of a human governor, can render his government effective in the sight of the Lord. By a living acknowledgment cannot be meant merely a vague affirmation. It must be a love of serving the Lord that seeks instruction and guidance from Him continually. The wisdom of the government will be measured, not only by intent or desire, but by knowledge and intelligent understanding. In the exercise of responsibility, decisions must be made. These decisions will be right only as far as they are in accord with Divine law and order. This law, then, must be known, and in some degree understood, before a wise judgment can be made.
It is now revealed that even the Lords government is not arbitrary. It is the government of infinite love moving steadily toward the accomplishment of a single unchanging purpose--the purpose of producing a heaven from the human race, and eternally perfecting it. From the pursuit of this end, God Himself cannot depart because He will not. To do so would be to act contrary to His own love, and thus in opposition to Himself. Thus the goal is fixed and the course of Divine government predetermined. The activity of the Divine love, the mode of its operation, the way it acts in order to achieve its purpose, is what is called the Divine wisdom. There is and can be only one such way. It is the very form of the Divine love, the inherent nature of its life, the only order, and the only law whereby it can act.
This operation of the Divine love, moving steadily toward its goal, is the law of life that governs all things. It is the order of the universe, an order that is impressed upon creation from the beginning, and is perpetually maintained. To act in accord with this Divine law, in greatests and in leasts--this is the government of the Lord.
Every means that contributes toward the achievement of the Divine end is called a use. The Lord, from His wisdom, foresees uses and provides for them. Everything He creates is a form of use, minutely designed in form and structure to perform the use for which it is intended. The performance of this use is its very life, its sole raison detre. As long as the use persists, the organ created to perform it is protected by the Lord. If the use changes, the organ must be modified. If the use ceases, the organ, deprived of all inflowing life, dies. The only thing, therefore, that the Lords government sustains and perpetuates is use; wherefore it is said that the Lords kingdom is a kingdom of uses.
The end of creation is a heaven from the human race; but by heaven is meant the joy of love to the Lord and the happiness of performing. a use from love to Him. To act from love is to act in freedom, for love cannot be compelled. It follows that without freedom there can be no heaven. Freedom involves the ability to choose. The choice that is offered to man is either to receive the Lords guidance or to reject it. Only by virtue of this free choice can man receive guidance from love rather than from necessity. Because this freedom is a prerequisite to mans salvation, and because without it man can never know the happiness of heaven, the supreme purpose of the Lords love is that man may be free. It is more important that man be free than that he be saved, because all salvation depends upon it.
Because, above all else, the Divine government looks to the protection of mans freedom, we are confronted by a curious paradox. Man is governed in such a way that he may be free, that is, that he may not be governed. If he is really governed he is not free, and if he is really free he is not governed. The truth is that man is always governed, but so subtly that he appears to be free. The Lords will, His life, His love inflows so secretly that its influx is not perceived. The man feels it as if it had its origin in himself; thus as if it were his own will, his own life, his own love. Yet the truth is that it perpetually inflows, and its influx is constantly under the Lords control. By controlling the influx of His life, the Lord actually governs all things of mans life. So regarded, human freedom is only an appearance.
However, the love that is insinuated is not single but double. Man feels it as two opposite loves, between which the Lord preserves a perfect balance or equilibrium. Man is empowered by the Lord, nay, he is required to choose between these two opposites. In reference to this choice his freedom is not an appearance but a reality.
It should be noted, however, that real freedom is an attribute, not of natural life but of spiritual life. Some appearance of freedom exists in all things of nature. In it resides the image of God. This appearance grows stronger and more perfect as we ascend the scale from the mineral, through the vegetable and animal kingdoms, up to man. Yet even man, as to all the functions of his natural life, the life of his body and brain, is only apparently free. He is continually under the government of irrevocable and inescapable laws--the laws of nature, of physics, chemistry and mechanics, the laws of health, of social, civil and moral life. The violation of these laws carries with it its own remedial penalties. Thus, as to natural things, man is beset on every hand by necessities. He is subject to the limitation of physical strength, of space, of time, of climate, of wealth, and of human restrictions imposed by others. The same applies to all the functions of spiritual life, to the operations of the mind. Man is born with innate faculties, with hereditary tendencies, with specific abilities, all strictly limited, and beyond which he cannot go. The laws governing his spiritual life, the laws of influx, of reformation, of regeneration, are just as exact and as inescapable as natural laws.
The Lords government of man, therefore, is not a government from without by command or by necessity, but a government from within by influx, by conscience, by a subtle leading of the will. Concerning this we read: The Lord does not compel man to receive what flows in from Himself, but leads in freedom; and so far as man allows, through freedom leads to good. Thus the Lord leads man according to his delights, and also according to fallacies and the principles received therefrom; but gradually He leads him out of these, and this appears to the man as if it were from himself. Thus the Lord does not break these things, for this would be to do violence to freedom, which, however, must needs exist in order that the man may be reformed (AC 6472). Man is led by the Lord by influx and taught by illustration. Man is led by the Lord by influx because leading and inflowing are expressions relating to love and the will.... That every man is led by himself from his own love, and is led by others according to it, and not from the understanding, is known.
The special point that we wish to make here is that all government belongs to the Lord alone, and has supreme regard for mans spiritual freedom. Human government derives its only legitimate authority from the Lord. It is genuine only so far as the acknowledgment of this truth is present and dominant in the mind of the governor. It is genuine only to the extent that it is inspired by the same ruling end as the Divine government, namely, the protection of human freedom. Foremost in the mind of every governor must be the desire to protect the real freedom of those whom he governs.
DIVINE GOVERNMENT IN HEAVEN AND IN HELL
We have stressed the point that the supreme end of all Divine government is the protection of mans spiritual freedom, his freedom to accept or to reject Divine guidance, and thus to keep the law of God from love rather than from necessity. To realize this truth, and to appreciate its implications, is the very first essential of any genuine understanding of the Divine government. It offers the only rational explanation of the Divine Providence, which otherwise appears to human sight so inexplicable and so self-contradictory. It explains why evil, once confirmed in mans mind, can be removed only by a slow process, if at all. It enables us to understand why the Lord is so long-suffering, so willing to tolerate, even for centuries, falsities of religion and evils of life with men, showing infinite patience with their states of ignorance and perversity. It explains why the Divine power is apparently limited, and why it is impossible even for omnipotence to save all men by any arbitrary act that would compel belief or suddenly remove the evils from which the race is suffering.
Because the Divine law is universal, government in accord with it must be inmostly the same for all; yet it must be minutely adapted to the particular states and needs of each one. These states are obviously so various, that the modes of Divine government appear to be extremely divergent, and we fail to perceive their inner unity. That is why, in our human sight, the ways of Providence seem so mysterious and mutually contradictory. We see only its outward manifestation. We do not know the spiritual states, either of ourselves or of others, to which the Lord constantly looks in everything He does. We cannot possibly know what is necessary in any individual case; nor can we know at any time in the history of the world what is required to protect mans freedom of choice.
Government in heaven is effected entirely by influx. Divine order, we are told, is for the Lord to flow in through the interiors of man into his exteriors, thus through the will of man into his action. This takes place when the man is in good, that is, when he is in the affection of doing good for the sake of good, and not for the sake of himself (AC 8513). This means that the Lord does not govern in heaven by command, but by an enlightened conscience. He gives instruction through the Word which causes truth to be seen and interiorly acknowledged. The angels receive this truth with joy and gladness of heart. To comply with it is their highest delight, and thus they act according to it, not from any sense of external compulsion, but from inmost freedom. This is true even when instruction is given through the instrumentality of wiser angels. To command, we read, is influx, because in heaven no one is commanded or ordered; but thought is communicated and the other acts willingly in accordance therewith (AC 57, 92).
The number continues: Communication of thought together with a desire which wills that something be done, is influx, and on the part of the recipient, is perception, and therefore by commanding is signified also perception. Moreover, in heaven they not only think, but also talk together, but about things of wisdom; yet in their conversation there is nothing of command from one to another, for no one desires to be master and thereby to look upon another as a servant; but everyone desires to minister to and serve the others (Ibid.). In another passage we read: There is no archangel in the heavens. There are indeed higher and lower angels, also wiser and less wise; and in the societies of angels there are governors who are set over the rest; but yet there are no archangels in obedience to whom others are held by any authority. There is no such government in the heavens, for no one there acknowledges in heart any one above himself except the Lord only (AE 735).
The forms of government in the societies of heaven differ widely in different parts of the Lords kingdom. There is a major difference between the government of those who are in the celestial kingdom, and the government of those who are in the spiritual kingdom. Government in the Lords celestial kingdom, we are told, is called righteousness because all in that kingdom are in the good of love to the Lord from the Lord; and whatever is from that good is called righteous. Government there belongs to the Lord alone. He leads them and teaches them in the affairs of life. The truths that are called truths of judgment are written on their hearts; everyone knows them, perceives them, and sees them; and in consequence, matters of judgment there never come into question, but only matters of righteousness which belong to the life.
In the Lords spiritual kingdom the government is called judgment; because those in that kingdom are in spiritual good, which is the good of charity toward the neighbor, and that good in its essence is truth; and truth pertains to judgment, as good pertains to righteousness. These, too, are led by the Lord, but mediately; and in consequence they have governors, few or many according to the need of the society in which they are. They also have laws according to which they live together. The governors administer all things in accordance with laws which they understand because they are wise, and in doubtful matters they are enlightened by the Lord (HH 215). We understand this to mean that in this kingdom doubts arise as to what is true. The laws are acknowledged and understood by all in general, but in particulars the angels are in obscurity greater or less according to the degree of their wisdom. In varying degrees they understand truth when it is presented, but they must acquire it gradually, by study and reflection.
In both kingdoms there are innumerable lesser varieties of government. There are various forms of government, we are told, differing in different societies, the variety being in accord with the functions performed by the societies.... All these forms of government agree in this, that they look to the public good as their end, and in that good, to the good of the individual; and this is so because every one in the whole heaven is under the auspices of the Lord, who loves all, and from Divine love ordains that there shall be a common good from which each individual shall receive his own good. Each one, moreover, receives good according as he loves the common good; for so far as he loves the common good, he loves all and every one; and as that love is the love of the Lord, he is to that extent loved by the Lord, and good comes to him (HH 217). Judging from the teaching given in other passages, we would conclude that the external forms of government in heaven differ, not merely in accord with the functions of the societies, but also in accord with the forms of government that have been known on earth.
In hell also, government is effected, so far as is possible, by influx; but to this is added government by command, and by the external compulsion of fear. Government by influx obtains with reference to thought, imagination, and internal will. These are not coerced, but are allowed free rein, however false or evil they may be. To inhibit them would deprive the spirit of all semblance of life. One whose ruling love is evil can neither think nor will from any other affection. If he could not exercise this love he would have no thought, no will, and therefore no life. The only delights that evil spirits can know are those of willing evil and of thinking falsity. The Lord permits these delights, and at the same time controls them. As far as possible He controls them by influx; that is, by bending the will. Evil spirits, like evil men, restrain the outward expression of their malevolent desires in order the more completely to achieve their end.
But the love of evil is insatiable. Being centered in self it can prosper only at the expense of others. It leads therefore to inevitable conflict. When each is pretending to help the other, and yet is thinking only of himself, the time must come when opposing interests openly clash. Then the deceit appears, and each is revealed as the treacherous enemy of the other. Apparent friendship is then turned into manifest hatred. In the midst of this welter of conflicting ambitions, the Lord, by influx, that is, by an imperceptible bending of the will, directs the balance of power. He permits one spirit or one society of spirits to gain the ascendancy, and thus for a time to rule, in order that the more grievous evils may be checked and held in external bonds by those that are less grievous. The bonds imposed by evil spirits themselves are those of fear induced by cruel punishments. But since each governing party takes advantage of its power to rush into ever deeper evils, it in turn must be checked, and the Lord permits the opposing forces to gather strength until the force of the growing evil is broken.
Concerning this we read: How the hells are ruled by the Lord shall be briefly explained. In general the bells are ruled by a general outflow from the heavens of Divine good and Divine truth, whereby the general endeavor flowing forth from the hells is checked d restrained; also by a particular outflow from each heaven and from each society of heaven. The hells are ruled in particular by means of the angels, to whom it is granted to look into the hells and to restrain insanities and disturbances there; and sometimes angels are sent to them who moderate these insanities and disturbances by their presence; but in general all in the hells are ruled by means of their fears. Some are ruled by fears implanted in the world, and still inherent in them; but as these fears are not sufficient, and gradually subside, they are ruled by fears of punishments; and it is especially by these that they are deterred from doing evil. The punishments in hell are manifold, lighter or more severe with in accordance with the evils. For the most part, the more wicked who excel in cunning and in artifices, and who are able to hold the rest in subjection and servitude by means of punishments and consequent terror, are set over them....
This is not a bad description of our modern world, which displays all the opposites of heavenly government. In it freedom is ephemeral, and there is no sense of security or peace, no real delight in serving others, but only a feverish struggle for self-advancement, a constant fear, a continual pretense of morality and justice, but only for the sake of self. Thus there is no basis for mutual confidence, no assurance that another will keep faith or abide by a promise, because under every appearance of friendship, enmity and cruel hatred lie concealed. Such is the present-day struggle between East and West. Under these conditions, force is the only law that will be respected, and government must be by compulsion.
Let it be noted, however, that these external bonds are never imposed by the Lord. In spite of the apparent difference, His government is interiorly the same in hell as it is in heaven. It is government by influx--unseen, calm, powerful, irresistible in its purpose to protect the good, to maintain internal freedom, and by directing the balance of evil forces, to prevent the evil from increasing beyond the bounds of use. Against this supreme government of the Lord, evil has no power. He who has reduced the hells into order and holds them in perpetual subjection to His will controls the destiny of the race and overrules the selfish designs of men and spirits. Because He leads the good by open teaching and the self-compulsion of conscience, and leads the evil by an imperceptible bending of the evil will toward external order and obedience to law, and at the same time by controlling the balance of power, the Lord alone reigns, and His Divine will prevails.
DIVINE GOVERNMENT ON EARTH
Although Divine government appears so different in its application to the varying states of men, it is actually the same for all. We have noted how opposite, in outward seeming, is the Lords government in heaven from that in hell. In heaven it is almost invisible, insomuch that it scarcely appears to be government at all: this because it is effected through the truth of the Word, which is gladly received and willingly obeyed. The angels accept its guidance freely, of their own choice. Where this is the case each one appears to be his own governor. Those who are in positions of government demand no obedience. They rule, not by command, but by instruction, making the truth of the Word clear to those who are in obscurity with reference to it. When this is done, those who are taught respond to the truth from affection, with gratitude for the enlightenment received and without any sense of external compulsion. Such is what the Writings call government by influx.
In hell, on the other hand, the appearance is that Divine government is effected by means of fear. The truth of the Word is denied and its counsel is rejected.
Only when we realize that the Lord, by influx, governs both the good and the evil alike, can we begin to understand the nature of the Divine government in the world of men where the good and the evil are indistinguishably mingled. Here the government of heaven and that of hell must operate together. It must prevail over all, whatever their quality. It must operate simultaneously upon all who live in any community or in any country, whether under a monarchy, a dictatorship, republic. It must operate continually upon each individual, through all the varying states of his life--through states of self-will and rebellion, as well as through states of innocence and loyalty to the truth of the Word.
The Lord always governs by an imperceptible influx into the will. Men suppose that evil arises from ignorance, and that it can be eradicated by instruction. This is the appearance because when truth is known and acknowledged it forms the conscience. It brings to light hidden evils and falsities, that they may be removed. But instruction would not lead to the removal of evil unless the man were willing to obey the truth. The will alone is the mainspring of action. Indeed, without will or love there is no interior enlightenment. Though truth be presented ever so clearly, and even acknowledged superficially, its implications will not be perceived. If there is no heart in the application of the truth to life, there will be no reformation.
The Lord governs, therefore, not by instruction, but by insinuating a love that opens the mind to the reception of truth, together with a desire and intent to live according to it. This desire and intent are what produce conscience, not instruction without them. Where such a conscience cannot be implanted because man rejects it in favor of self-will, the Lord can govern only through this will, subtly bending it toward a lesser evil, and if possible, toward good.
This government by influx into the love of man is effected through societies of angels and spirits in the other world, both good and evil. We are taught that the affections of man, from which are his thoughts, have extension into societies in the spiritual world on every side, into more or fewer of them according to the amount and quality of the affection.
Note here that the Lord leads and governs both the evil and the good, the one through hell and the other through heaven. The mode whereby He leads is the same in both cases, but where He leads depends upon mans freedom of choice. There are three planes of conscience by which the Lord rules man. They are a conscience of spiritual truth from the Word, a conscience moral and civil truth, and an apparent conscience or a willingness to do what is just and equitable for the sake of self and the world (See AC 4167). Except those who are insane or those who are openly criminal, all men have a conscience on one of these three planes. Those who have not can be governed only from without by external compulsion and fear.
By means of a spiritual conscience the Lord rules those who have been regenerated, thus all who are in heaven. By the same means He rules all on earth who are in a state of regeneration, or whenever the love of spiritual truth is active and dominant with them. By means of a conscience of what is just and equitable the Lord rules those who have not yet been regenerated, but who can be regenerated and who are being regenerated, if not in the life of the body, yet in the world of spirits after death. This includes the simple good everywhere, Gentiles who are ignorant of the Word or in falsities of religion, and yet who are well-disposed. By means of an apparent conscience, or a willingness to act in accord with justice and equity for the sake of self and the world, the Lord leads the evil, bending them to lesser evils from those more grievous, so far as they are willing to follow in freedom. The same applies, we understand, to the good when they are in proprial states, or when selfish and worldly loves are dominant with them. The love of truth, whether it be a love of spiritual truth or a genuine love of civil and moral truth, constitutes an internal bond--a bond of conscience. But a mere willingness to abide by civil and moral laws for the sake of self-advantage constitutes an external bond. Thus we read in the Arcana Coelestia:
In regard to human government on earth, this teaching clearly indicates how the Lord governs through the instrumentality of men, or in spite of them, in such a way that the Divine law overrules, and thus the Divine end is assured. For the sake of mans freedom, Divine government must operate mediately through the administration of human governors. This is true, not only in hell and among the evil on earth, but even in heaven, and indeed in the highest heavens.
Government implies the power to direct the course of action, to fix and determine policy, and thus to administer the law within a prescribed jurisdiction. It implies that this shall be done according to the free will and the personal judgment of the governor. Except in an absolute monarchy, or in a dictatorship, this power is limited by an established constitution, by custom and tradition, and by other means; but only to the extent that it is not inhibited can one be said to govern. The governor actually rules so far as his will and his judgment prevail. Note, in this connection, the situation in Great Britain. The Crown represents the fixed and established law that is acknowledged by all citizens, and that is constant regardless of which political party may, at any time, be in power; but the Prime Minister, who is called upon to interpret the application of that law to the specific need of the day, is the real governor. He alone can exercise judgment and direct policy. The responsibility of government rests upon him.
A human governor may be either good or evil. He may act either from patriotism and a genuine regard for the common good, or from the love of power and for the sake of self-aggrandizement. In either case he is not only free to act according to his own will and to use his own judgment, but he cannot avoid doing so.
THE THEORY OF DEMOCRACY
It is astonishing that in the midst of a gigantic world struggle to preserve and extend democratic institutions we should find such great confusion as to what democracy really is. Definitions of it are legion, most of them being expressed in terms of the end or goal that democracy seeks to attain. Thus it is defined as government by all the people as contrasted with government by an individual or by a small group. It is defined as a government based on the proposition that all men are created equal, and that the state exists for the benefit of all its citizens. It is defined as a government that exalts the dignity and worth of the individual, and protects his personal rights, providing equal opportunity for all to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is defined as a government that recognizes no special privilege, accords preference to no group, class, or section, but looks to the common good of all. It is defined as a government that guards the ramparts of liberty against the encroachment of any civil authority--one that insures freedom of religion, freedom of speech and of the press, freedom of peaceable assembly, freedom from search and seizure without due warrant, and freedom of trial by ones peers.
Yet in the two countries that have been the greatest exponents of democracy, and that are now partners in a life-and-death struggle to preserve it, there is a rapid and seemingly irresistible trend toward governmental control. As the same writer points out: Virtually all that now passes for progressivism in countries like England and the United States calls for the increasing ascendancy of the state: always the cry is for more officials with more power over more and more of the activities of men (Ibid., p. 5). And this in the name of democracy! The contention is that with the mechanization of industry, mass production, the disappearance of geographical frontiers, and the development of rapid transportation, mans intimate dependence upon his fellow man has greatly modified the real meaning of liberty. The individual freedom of earlier times no longer is thought possible. That which provided for the greatest measure of freedom yesterday will not do so today. Under modern conditions it is only so far as government takes the responsibility for planning and directing the national economy, and for turning individual effort into the most fruitful channels, that some measure of individual liberty can still be preserved.
The enemies of democracy make the charge that the cry for freedom is merely a pretense; that democracy itself is a form of special privilege; that the so-called democratic nations, having acquired by force a major portion of the worlds wealth, and having set up a controlling power over the world, have used that power to exploit other peoples for their own advantage, and are now fighting to retain these superior benefits, as of right. The answer given is that the democracies propose to extend the blessings of their form of government to all peoples; that they are not fighting to defend the status quo, but to open the gates of opportunity to every race and nation in order that freedom may find congenial soil, and may spring up and flourish in every part of the world. The claim is that the dominant nations of the Western civilization owe their wealth and power to democracy, and that how far similar benefits may accrue to others will depend upon how far democracy can be established with them also. Opposition to democracy, it is said, arises only because that form of government is not understood. Therefore, in the words of another modern writer: What is necessary now is one thing and one thing only--that the issue of democracy be made precise and clear (Archibald MacLeish, The American Cause, New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, Inc., 1941, p. 28).
Some of the confusion disappears if we define democracy, not in terms of its objectives, but in terms of the political means regarded as essential to the attainment of those objectives. James Bryce, in Modern Democracies, does this. The word Democracy, he says, has been used ever since the time of Herodotus to denote that form of government in which the ruling power of a State is legally vested, not in any particular class or classes, but in the members of the community as a whole. This means, in communities which act by voting, that rule belongs to the majority, as no other method has been found for determining peaceably and legally what is to be deemed the will of a community which is not unanimous. Usage has made this the accepted sense of the term, and usage is the safest guide in the employment of words (James Bryce, Modern Democracies, 2 volumes, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1921, I, p. 20). Rule by majority vote of the people is thus regarded as the way to achieve free government. This is on the theory that the cornerstone of our whole democratic edifice is the principle that from the people, and the people alone, flows the authority of government (Address of the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt). Yet this definition also leaves us in uncertainty because the ideal of equal suffrage for all within a country has never been fully attained. Furthermore, suffrage, when exercised, does not endow all with the same measure of participation in government.
However we may define it, or fail to do so, the ideal of democracy is simple and plain for all to see. It contains a fundamental truth from which all its power has been derived; but it also embodies a basic error that has proved a continual source of weakness. The truth in it is worthy of our complete devotion; namely, that the foundation of all human progress--the basis on which rests not merely the natural welfare of society, but every hope of mans spiritual regeneration--is the freedom of the individual. Human government, if it is to be patterned after the Divine government, must make individual freedom its first and highest aim.
The New Church, as an everlasting, kingdom of the Lord on earth, must be made up of men and women capable of receiving this revelation and of assuming the new responsibilities it involves. Such a church can flourish and grow only in the soil of freedom. That is why the Lord, through all the ages, has been present with those who have struggled to increase the freedom of mankind.
The basic error in the commonly accepted idea of democracy is the belief that government rests with the people and derives from them its authority. This is not true. All authority is derived from the Lord and rests with the Divine laws inherent in His creation. It cannot rightly be ascribed to the people as a whole any more than it can be ascribed to a select group or to an individual. The fact is that government, meaning by this the inauguration of policy and the active administration of affairs in accord therewith, is a function of rational judgment, and this is necessarily individual. It is a particular use, calling for specialized knowledge, experience, training, and illustration. As we have pointed out, the Divine influx whereby the Lord governs, and whereby He gives illustration, is always into the will; and the will is intensely individual. There is no such thing as a common will, except such as may arise by the conjunction and free co-operation of many individual wills.
The average citizen is interested in government only from time to time, and only at specific points of contact. If he is to form any opinion that can influence the direction of affairs, that interest must be roused and focused by those whose lives and uses are dedicated to the study and practice of government. If many wills are to be organized for mutual co-operation, leadership is necessary. To quote again from Bryce: Co-operation must be expressed in and secured by the direction of some few commanders whose function it is to overlook the whole field of action and issue their orders to the several sets of officers. To attempt to govern a country by the votes of masses left without control would be like attempting to manage a railroad by the votes of uninformed shareholders, or to lay the course of a sailing ship by the votes of the passengers. In a large country especially, the great and increasing complexity of government makes division, subordination, co-ordination, and the concentration of directing power more essential to efficiency than ever before (James Bryce, Modern Democracies, II, pp. 546, 547).
The function of the people in government is not an active, but a reactive one. They can give or withhold their consent. They can express a choice between two or more proposed courses of action which are placed before them by those in the governing function. From a number of candidates they may select those whom they wish to represent them, thus giving sanction to their exercise of government, and this sanction can also be withdrawn. In this sense alone can the authority of government be said to reside with the people.
It is therefore an error to suppose that the authority of government rests with the people in the sense that what the majority decides must be regarded as right, or just, or wise. The belief that the larger the number of those who share in governing the more will there be of wisdom, of self-control, of a fraternal and peace-loving spirit has been rudely shattered. Yet the rule of Many is safer than the rule of One ... and the rule of the multitude is gentler than the rule of a class (James Bryce, Modern Democracies, II, p. 608). This is the most that can be said in favor of ascribing authority to government by the people; and even this, we believe, is true only where there is sufficient public education, knowledge, and enlightenment to render a people capable of self-government. As we have seen, influx is into the will of each individual, and it can produce opinions and judgments only according to the knowledge present in the mind of each one. A good will cannot give rise to wise decisions where ignorance prevails.
We conclude that democracy, in our modern world, and where public education is sufficiently developed, may well afford the greatest opportunity for political freedom that has yet been devised by man. It is not, however, as is commonly supposed, government by the people, as contrasted with the rule of an individual or of a select group. It is no more than the check of popular opinion on the arbitrary will of a governor. Neither this nor any other political system can guarantee freedom. Freedom depends, in the last analysis, on character; that is, on self-control from consideration for the good of the community. Democracy is possible, therefore, only among those who have reached a certain stage of social development, a stage sufficient to make possible an intelligent use of the ballot. This form of government will succeed only where there is with the people an individual conscience formed by civil, moral, or spiritual truths. Such a conscience must direct the choices presented to the citizens for decision. It must also direct the judgment of the governors who have been freely elected and sanctioned by the people. Even then, such measure of civil and political freedom as results must be re-established by each succeeding generation. Like the manna of old, it cannot be kept until the morrow;
In The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine no. 311, we read: There are two things which ought to be in order with men, namely, the things which are of heaven, and the things which are of the world. The things which are of heaven are called ecclesiastical, and those which are of the world are called civil. Here it is clearly indicated that the church and the state should be distinct, because they are related to one another as are the things of heaven to the things of the world. But how is this to be understood? The church, as well as the state, exists on earth. It is an organization of men living in the natural world, confronted with all the problems and the necessities of natural life. How can such an organization be identified with the things which are of heaven?
Everyone, even while he lives on earth, possesses not only a body, but a mind or spirit that transcends the things of bodily life. This mind is not governed by the laws of the material universe. Its life is actually in the spiritual world. It is not governed even by the civil laws of an earthly society: this because it has its own independent and individual life, concealed from the sight of others.
The state is an association of men co-operating in the performance of external uses, the uses of earthly society which are concerned with providing food, clothing, shelter, recreation, and protection for the body and the lower mind or animus. Civil government is designed to guard these uses, and in so doing to insure justice, equity, and equal opportunity for everyone in the pursuit of them. This it does by prescribing rules and enacting laws that all are required to obey. It does so by establishing courts to administer the laws, and by setting up police powers to enforce them. By these means the state controls the outward conduct of its citizens, and establishes the external order that is essential to freedom. But because these same citizens possess an inner mind that cannot be brought under the bonds of civil law, civil government by itself is not sufficient. There are higher needs to be provided.
It is evident that the church and the state, dealing as they do with the same people, must be intimately associated and mutually interdependent, yet they must be kept distinct, and the autonomy of each must be respected. The state must protect the civil rights of the church. It must preserve religious liberty, and place no external bond on the spiritual conscience of its citizens. On the other hand, the church should not seek temporal power. It should teach patriotism and respect for law. It should not resort to measures of external compulsion, except the power of separation, which is to be applied only in extreme cases and for the sake of self-preservation.
Of course the ideal is that the Lord should govern the state as well as the church; but this is brought about only so far as the church builds up in its members a spiritual-moral and a spiritual-civil conscience. By this we mean a conscience based on an intelligent understanding and an abiding love of Divine law and justice. The church indeed, as a natural organization, must have an order and a government of its own. How, we may ask, does the ideal of this ecclesiastical government differ from the ideal of civil government as expressed in the term democracy? The two run parallel in that they both seek to provide the greatest possible freedom for the individual. But they differ in this, that the state has for its end the protection of civil, political, and economic freedom, while the church looks to the protection of spiritual freedom. By spiritual freedom we do not mean the liberty to adopt a creed of ones own choice, or to select ones church affiliation. These freedoms fall within the jurisdiction of the state. We mean instead, the freedom that is born of spiritual knowledge and understanding, the freedom to distinguish evil from good and falsity from truth, the freedom of the internal mind to reject what is evil and false, and to choose what is good and true.
As conceived in our own body, the church is not an ecclesiastical democracy. It has no humanly devised constitution. It acknowledges nothing but the plain teaching of the Heavenly Doctrine as the ultimate authority. It looks to this alone as the source of all law and the fountain of all government. The law itself is Divine, but it must be interpreted and administered through the instrumentality of an educated and ordained priesthood. This the Writings specifically declare, for it is written that governors over those things with men which relate to heaven, or over ecclesiastical affairs, are called priests, and their office is called the priesthood (HD 314).
The government of the General Church is similar to the government of a democracy, in this, that it is exercised only by the consent of the governed.
Referring to the natural desire to protect the church by means of legal restraints, the late Bishop W. F. Pendleton said at the General Assembly held in 1897 for the purpose of organizing the General Church: No external bond should be placed upon any member, or official, or part of the church; a bond so placed is a bond placed upon the whole Church. You cannot bind a part without binding the whole. You cannot bind another without binding yourself. This is the inevitable spiritual law. If the Church is interiorly in evil it cannot be held together, except by external bonds; but if it is in the process of being made internal by reformation and regeneration--is in the way of spiritual growth--then an external bond is unnecessary and hurtful; it is better to run the hazard, yea, to suffer many evils, than to establish and confirm so great an evil as the voluntary suppression of the freedom of the Church, by introducing the principle and practice of external compulsion into its workings, whether this proceed from one man, or from a number of men together. . . . If the Church would have the heavenly form and be in heavenly order, it must be governed in an image as the Lord governs the heavens, or as the Lord governs the individual, regenerating man, or as the spiritual world governs the natural, or as the soul governs the body--according to the law of spiritual influx and not of physical influx, from within and not from without, from above and not from below, from heaven and not from the world (Bishop W. F. Pendleton, Notes on the Government of the Church, New Church Life, Volume XVII, July 1897, p. 107).
For the same reason the church should not formulate any doctrine by council. It should make no decisions that bind the future. It should not bind its governors in matters of judgment by a majority vote. As we have pointed out, majority opinion is produced by some individual opinion, and is dependent upon it. A majority can do no more than choose between two or more such opinions, and give voice to one of them. The vote of a majority, therefore, is just as arbitrary as the decision of a governor, and no more reliable. But if a governor judges on the basis of Divine revelation, and clearly presents to the people the teaching on which his judgment is founded, all who love the truth will respond freely, with no sense of external compulsion.
Such a government is possible only in a church made up of men and women who have freely accepted a Divine revelation as the sole source of authority, and who willingly submit themselves to its guidance. Even then, the degree of freedom achieved will depend upon the faithful adherence from conscience to the teaching of the Word on the part of both the governors and the people.
In looking to use there is protection, as Bishop Pendleton again points out: To incorporate distrust in the organic life of the body makes the Church natural, and it cannot become spiritual so long as such an incubus is laid on its internal activities. Still we have a knowledge that there is such a thing as human frailty and human weakness; we know that there is such a thing as perversion of truth and abuse of power.
To govern from use, for use, and to use, means to legislate for the present to meet present needs, to provide for those immediately in prospect, but to leave the future free, untrammeled by the weight of precedent or by the heavy hand of tradition. Conditions change continually, and with them the application of doctrine changes in ways we cannot foresee.
Instead of government by a majority vote of the people, the church substitutes rule by council and assembly. This gives opportunity for instruction, for free discussion, for acquainting the governor with the views, opinions, and feelings of the people, without at the same time placing him under any external bond. His judgment should be influenced, not merely by his own interpretation of revealed truth, but by the state of the church, by its intellectual and affectional readiness to accept the interpretation as being in accord with the Divine truth. The governors mind always should be open to revision or modification in the light of new knowledge or information gained from others. If the matter in question is one of conscience that cannot be modified, there should be delay, awaiting further enlightenment. This is because of the desire not merely to acknowledge the right of a minority to protest while a majority opinion prevails, but to protect the conscience of the minority by awaiting virtual unanimity before action is taken. It may not always be possible to do this because action may become imperative. But where there is primary regard to use, where there is a desire to protect uses, and to think and act together for the sake of use, there will be a disposition to set aside personal prejudices and to act in harmony, even against ones individual judgment.
Such an ecclesiastical government, although distinct from the state, is nevertheless dependent upon it.
The most important need, however, is to realize the difference between the concept of government as it must necessarily exist in the state--even in an ideal state--and the concept of government that is peculiar to the church and essential to its spiritual life. Civil government, even in that highest form which we call democracy--a form that above all things has regard to the freedom of the individual--must impose external bonds. It is concerned with the natural man, with the body, and the world. Its purpose is to establish and preserve external order, justice, and liberty. But the church, through its ecclesiastical government, cannot impose external bonds without destroying the very freedom for the sake of which it is established.
These things do not come spontaneously just because we have a church founded upon this ideal.