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Nine Questions #2

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Did the Lord have from Jehovah the Father a rational soul to which the Divine Esse was united, whence He became truly God and truly Man?


The Lord from eternity, or Jehovah, was Divine Love and Divine Wisdom, and He then had a Divine Celestial and a Divine Spiritual; but before He assumed the Human He did not have a Divine Natural; and because the rational can be attributed solely to the celestial and spiritual natural, it follows that Jehovah, the Lord, did also put on the Divine Rational by assuming the Human. He had a Divine Rational before assuming the Human, but this was by means of an influx into the angelic heaven, and whenever He manifested Himself in the world it was by means of an angel filled with His Divinity. For the purely Divine Essence, which, as has been stated, was purely Divine Celestial and Divine Spiritual, transcends both the angelic and the human rational, but existed by means of influx. Its nature can be inferred from what is said below in connection with the sixth question. Luther and Melancthon teach that in Christ Man is God and God is Man; and this is in accordance with Holy Scripture. See True Christian Religion 137 n.. But Calvin denied this, affirming merely that only Christ is God and Man.

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From Swedenborg's Works


True Christian Religion #137

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137. The fourth experience.

I was told that a council had been summoned, made up of people famous for their books and learning, to discuss the present state of faith, and how the chosen are made righteous by it. This took place in the world of spirits, and I was allowed to be present at it in the spirit. I saw a gathering of clergy, composed of both those who agreed and those who disagreed with this. On the right stood those who in the world were called the Apostolic Fathers, and lived in the period before the Council of Nicaea 1 . On the left stood men who since that time had been famous for their books, either, printed or copied in manuscript by apprentices. Many of these were clean-shaven and wore wigs made of curly women's hair; some of them had rolled collars, some winged collars. The other party, however, had beards and their own hair.

In front of the two parties stood a man who was a judge and reviewer of worldly writings. He rapped for silence on the ground with a staff he held in his hand. Then he went up the steps to his chair of office, and uttered a groan; he intended to follow it with a loud cry, but the groan choked his breath back in his throat.

[2] At length he was able to speak as follows: 'Brothers, what an age is this we live in! A person has arisen from the throng of laymen, one without the cap and gown of learning nor honoured with academic laurels, and has dislodged our faith from its place in heaven, and hurled it into the river Styx. What a dreadful crime! Yet that faith alone is our guiding star, shining like Orion by night, and like the Morning Star at dawn. For all his years that man is totally blind to the mysteries of our faith, because he has not opened it up to see in it the righteousness of our Lord and Saviour, and His mediation and propitiation; and not seeing these, he has failed too to see the wonders of how He makes us righteous, the remission of sins, regeneration, sanctifying and salvation. This man has taken away our faith with its outstanding saving power, because it is directed to three Divine Persons, and so to God in His totality, and concentrated it upon the Second Person - and not even all of that, but upon His Human. We do of course call this Divine as the result of the incarnation of the Son from eternity, but no one thinks of it as anything but purely human. And what then can come from this but a faith which is a plentiful source of nature-worship? That sort of faith, lacking spirituality, is little different from faith in the Vicar of Christ, or in a Saint. You know what Calvin in his time said about worship founded on that sort of faith. Will one of you please tell me, what is the source of faith? Surely it comes directly from God, in whom lies everything needed for our salvation?'

[3] At this his companions on the left, the party without beards, who wore curly wigs and a rolled collar about their necks, clapped their hands and shouted: 'Most wisely spoken! We know that we cannot receive anything which is not given to us from heaven. Let that prophet tell us the source of faith, and what else faith is. It is impossible for it to be other or of other origin. It is as impossible to present any other faith, which truly is a faith, as it is to ride to some constellation in the sky, catch a star, and bring it back stored in one's coat pocket.' This speech was designed to make his companions laugh at any new sort of faith whatever.

[4] On hearing this the party on the right, who wore beards and had their own hair, became angry. One of them got up, an old man, though afterwards he appeared young, because he was an angel from heaven, where people of any age grow young again. He spoke and said: 'I have heard what sort of faith you have, the faith that was so highly praised by the man who holds the chair of office. But what is that faith but our Lord's tomb after the resurrection, when it was sealed again by Pilate's troops? I opened it up and I could see nothing in it but some conjurers' wands, which the wise men of Egypt used to perform their miracles. Rather, your faith is outwardly in your eyes like a bookcase of solid gold, set with precious stones, which when opened is empty, except perhaps for a little dust from the relics of Roman Catholics in its corners. For they have the same faith as you, only it is nowadays wrapped up in outward displays of holiness. To go on with comparisons, it is like the Vestal Virgin of antiquity, who allowed the sacred fire to go out, and was buried alive. I can assure you that in my eyes your faith is like the golden calf around which the Children of Israel danced, when Moses had gone away to climb Mount Sinai to Jehovah.

[5] 'You need not be surprised at my using such comparisons to speak of your faith, because that is how we speak of it in heaven. On the other hand, our faith is, has been, and ever will be in the Lord God the Saviour, whose Human is Divine and whose Divine is Human. This makes it easy for us to accept, as uniting the Divine spiritual to the natural of men. So it becomes a spiritual faith at the natural level, and this makes the natural as it were translucent, as the result of the spiritual light which illuminates our faith. The truths of which it is made up are as numerous as the verses in Holy Writ; all its truths are like stars, which by their light show it forth and give it form. A person acquires faith from the Word by means of his own natural powers of enlightenment, which are based upon knowledge, thought and false belief. But with those who believe in the Lord, He turns these into conviction, trust and confidence. This makes the natural faith spiritual, and charity gives it life. This faith appears to us like a queen decked out with as many jewels as the wall of the Holy Jerusalem (Revelation 21:17-20).

[6] 'But to prevent you believing that my words are mere exaggeration and consequently not to be taken seriously, I will read you some passages from the Holy Word, which will show plainly that our faith is not in a man, as you think, but in the true God, in whom is all that is Divine. John says:

Jesus Christ is the true God and everlasting life. 1 John 5:20.

Paul says:

In Christ all the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily, Colossians 2:9.

In the Acts of the Apostles:

Paul preached both to Jews and Greeks repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, Acts of the Apostles 20:21.

The Lord Himself said that to Him was given "all power in heaven and upon earth" (Matthew 28:18). These are but a few quotations.'

[7] After this the angel looked at me and said: 'You know what those who call themselves Evangelical believe, or should believe, about the Lord the Saviour. Recite some of their tenets, so that we can know whether they are so foolish as to believe that His Human is purely human, or whether they attribute any Divinity to it, and, if so, how.'

Then in front of the whole assembly I read out the following statements from the handbook of orthodoxy called 'The Formula of Concord,' published in Leipzig in 1756:

In Christ the Divine and the Human natures are so united as to make one Person. (pp. 606 762). Christ is truly God and Man in one undivided Person, and remains so for ever. (pp. 609 673, 762). In Christ God is Man and Man is God. (pp. 607, 765).

Christ's human nature was raised to fully Divine majesty; this is also said by many of the Fathers. (pp. 844-852, 860-865, 869-878).

Christ as to His human nature is omnipresent and fills all space. (pp. 768, 783-5.)

Christ as to His human nature has all power in heaven and on earth. (pp. 775-776, 780).

Christ as to His human nature sits at the right hand of the Father. (pp. 608, 764).

Christ as to His human nature is to be invoked; this is proved by quotations from Scripture (p. 226).

The 'Confession of Augsburg' gives the highest degree of approval to that mode of worship (p. 19).

[8] After reading these statements I turned to the man in the chair of office and said: 'I know that everyone here is paired with someone like him in the natural world; please tell me whether you know who your colleague is.'

He answered in a solemn tone: 'Yes. I am paired with a famous man 2 who is a leader of the noble troops of the church militant.'

Since he spoke in such a solemn tone, I said: 'Forgive my asking, but do you know where this famous leader lives?'

'Yes,' he said, 'not far from Luther's tomb.'

I smiled at this and said: 'Why do you say "his tomb"? Do you not know that Luther has risen again, and has now renounced his erroneous doctrines about justification by faith in three Divine Persons from eternity, and has therefore been transferred to live with the blessed of the new heaven, where he sees and laughs at those who follow him in this madness?'

'I know this,' he replied, 'but how does it concern me?'

So then I addressed him in equally solemn tones: 'Put the idea,' I said, 'into the mind of your famous man who is paired with you, that I am afraid that contrary to the orthodoxy of his own church, he then for the moment took His divinity away from the Lord, or allowed his pen to plough a furrow, in which he unwittingly planted the seeds of nature-worship, when he wrote an attack on the worship of the Lord our Saviour.'

To this he answered: 'I cannot do this, because he and I are of almost one mind on this subject; but he does not understand what I say, while I have a clear understanding of everything he says.' This was because the spiritual world enters into the natural world and perceives the thoughts of people there, but not the reverse. This is the nature of the association between spirits and men.

[9] Since I had now begun a dialogue with the holder of the chair, I said: 'If I may, I should like to put in another question or two. Do you not know that Evangelical orthodoxy, as stated in their church's handbook called 'The Formula of Concord', teaches that in Christ God is Man and Man is God, and that His Divine and His Human are in one undivided Person, and so remain for ever? How then could he, and how can you, defile the worship of the Lord with nature-worship?'

To this he answered: 'This I know, and yet I do not know.'

So I went on and said: 'I put the question to him, absent as he is, or to you in his place, what was the source of the soul of the Lord our Saviour? If you answer that it was from His mother, you are mad; if that it was from Joseph, you are doing violence to the Word; but if that it was from the Holy Spirit, you are right, so long as by the Holy Spirit you understand the Divine coming forth and working, so that He is the Son of Jehovah God.

[10] 'I ask you again, what is the meaning of hypostatic union? If you answer that it is like a union between two, one of whom is above and the other below, you are mad, for in this way you could have made God the Saviour into two, just as you make God into three. But if you say that it is a union in one person, as between the soul and the body, you are right. This too is in accordance with your doctrine and that of the Fathers: see The Formula of Concord, pp. 765-768. See also the Athanasian Creed, which contains these words:

The correct belief is that we should believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is God and Man; and though He is God and Man, there are not two, but there is one Christ. He is in every way one, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of Person. For just as the reasoning soul and the flesh make one man, so God and Man make one Christ.

[11] I ask yet further, what else was the abominable heresy of Arius, which led to the calling of the Council of Nicaea by the Emperor Constantine the Great, but a denial of the divinity of the Lord's Human? Tell me further, whom you understand by these words in Jeremiah:

Behold, the days will come, when I shall raise up for David a righteous shoot, who will reign as King, and this will be his name, Jehovah our righteousness, Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15-16.

If you say the Son from eternity, you are mad; He was not the Redeemer. But if you say the Son born in time, who was the only-begotten Son of God (John 1:18; 3:16), you are right. He by His redeeming act became righteousness, on which you base your faith. Read too Isaiah 9:6 and other passages, which predict that Jehovah Himself was to come into the world.'

The holder of the chair kept silence at this and turned away his face.

[12] When this was over, the presiding officer intended to close the meeting with prayer, but from the party on the left there suddenly sprang out a man, who had a cap on his head and a hat on top of it. He put his finger to his hat and said: 'I too am paired with a man in your world, who occupies a high position there. 3 I know this because I can speak his mind like my own.'

'Where,' I asked, 'does this eminent person live?'

'At Goteborg,' he replied. 'I have on occasion gathered from his thoughts that your new doctrine smacks of Mohammedanism.'

At this I saw all the party on the right, where the Apostolic Fathers were standing, amazed and crestfallen, and heard exclamations rising from their minds to their lips: 'What an abominable thing! What an age we live in!'

To allay their righteous anger I held up my hand and requested to be heard. When permission was given, I said: 'I know that a man of the eminence you describe has written something of the sort in a letter, which was subsequently printed. But if he had then known what a grave slander it is, he would surely have torn it in pieces, and consigned it to the flames. That is the same sort of insult as was meant by the Lord's words to the Jews, when they said that Christ performed His miracles by some other power than God's (Matthew 12:22-32). In addition, the Lord also says there:

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me, scatters, Matthew 12:30.

When I said this, his colleague lowered his gaze, but after a little raised it again to say: 'I have never heard you speak so harshly.'

'The reason,' I replied, 'is the two dogmas of nature-worship and Mohammedanism, which are criminal lies cunningly invented, and two lethal blows designed to lead men's wills astray and repel them from the holy worship of the Lord.' I then turned to the second colleague and said: 'Tell the man in Goteborg if you can, to read the Lord's words in Revelation 3:18, and also the passage at Revelation 2:16 of that book.'

(References: Matthew 20:30)

[13] When I said that, uproar broke out; but it was quelled by a light which shone down from heaven. This induced many of the party on the left to cross over to those on the right. But those remained on the left whose thoughts were entirely vacuous, and who therefore hang on the lips of any teacher, as well as those who think of the Lord as wholly human. The light streaming down from heaven seemed to be reflected off both these last two groups, but to flow into those who crossed over from left to right.


1. AD 325.

2. The reference is to Dr Ernesti (1707-1781), who lived at Eisleben in Germany. He published a violent attack on Swedenborg, who replied briefly, referring to this passage. See 'Small Theological Works and Letters,' ed. Elliot, p. 197.

3. This may refer to Dr O. A. Ekebom, Dean of Goteborg in Sweden in 1761.

(References: Exodus 32)

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